Sony’s Walkman series and Nokia Xpress music phones have proved that a phone-music device can be excellent at music playback. So why carry another gadget when one will do the work of both? And can a PMP download and run apps? If there’s a story in figures, here’s one: Apple sold three million fewer iPods in 2010 than it did in 2009.
Portable media player
If one had to choose one of two gadgets to lug along, the vote would go for the music phone. The loser would the PMP . Not that it doesn’t have its advantages: cheaper, music uninterrupted by calls and text messages, better battery life, more musical options like graphic equalizer. But we are talking of the future. And the future looks PMP less.
CRYSTAL GAZING:Tomorrow’s songs are on music phones.
These new computing machines are slim and light and can do anything a netbook does and better. Availability of thousands of applications, clean and easyto-use interfaces and, above all, extreme portability—these are what tablets are all about. Investment firm Jefferies’ report on tablets says for 30 per cent of people surveyed by Google, the tablet is already the primary computer. It also says tablets will sell 246 million units by 2014 from 18 million today. Do the math.
Rothin Bhattacharyya,EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, HCL INFOSYSTEMS Today people are getting mobile and always want to stay connected. We consider a tablet PC as a gadget that appeals to every individual, from a college student to an entrepreneur. Having said that, I’d say that a tablet and a netbook are two different form factors catering to different audiences. While a tablet would be apt for users who like to stay connected on-the-go, a netbook will be a second computer for users.
Once the dominant contender for the budgeted buyer looking for a portable computing option, netbooks have had a fair run but are losing out to tablets. What these smaller versions of the laptop sported—connectivity from USB to HDMI, web cams and cameras, touchscreens and Net access—are now integral features of tablets. Even the one advantage a netbook had over a tablet, the physical keyboard, has been appropriated by tablets, the Acer Iconia W500, for instance.
CRYSTAL GAZING: A resounding yes to tablets as future-ready gizmos. DSLR
What does a DSLR offer to a photographer? It’s not shooting modes or sharper focus or even quicker recording time. People buy a DSLR for two things: interchangeable lenses and a big sensor. And with the cost of DSLR cameras sliding, more people are buying what once used to be considered a pro tool. Even among casual photographers, DSLRs and ILCs are getting popular. In JanuaryApril, Japan’s CIPA reported sales of 158 million interchangeable lens cameras compared to 269 million built-in lens cameras. That’s not a big difference.
The ILC, or mirrorless, cameras nullify the advantages of a DSLR in terms of sensor size and interchangeability of lenses. What is more, ILCs can accommodate a range of lenses using adapters. Their greatest strength: compact bodies. Market research firm NPD Group says that two-thirds of consumers interested in an ILC said it would replace the purchase of a point-and-shoot camera.
CRYSTAL GAZING: No clear winner in this field. Both are likely to exist side by side and together could end the era of compacts.
Walk around with, say, the Samsung Galaxy SII, LG Optimus 2x or the Sony Ericsson Arc and you will not lack for a good camera. These and other phones with competent cameras produce pictures as good as those by compact point-and-shoots. Camera phones today sport sensors of 8 MP or more. What is more, they also have high-definition (1080p)video capability. Besides, phone cameras facilitate geo-tagging of photo locations through GPS and application stores abound in photography and imaging related apps. The question, therefore: Would you carry two gadgets around when one can do the task of the other?
Alok Bharadwaj, SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, CANON INDIA
Camera phones and point-and shoot cameras have different set of users and you cannot say that camera phones are killing the compact market. Point-and-shoots have always been a step ahead of what a camera phone does. Similarly, the sensors used in compact cameras are much better than those used in mobiles. But the multi-functional nature of mobiles is a reason that makes them so popular.
Compact cameras sell the most in the imaging industry, leaving DSLRs a distant second. They have made photographers of housewives and kindergarten students through their point-andshoot ease. But mobile phones, which once housed just VGA cameras, now come with highly capable cameras. As mobile imaging improves, basic cameras could face the heat. CRYSTAL GAZING: Yes to mobile shooters.
The DVD player has seen its best days. Not only is it being gradually replaced by Blu-ray players, but also by DVRs and streaming content on the Internet. And even as Blu-ray catches the popular imagination, market research firm In-Stat feels sales of DVD units will decline through to 2014.
Blu-ray players and multimedia hubs
Both Blu-ray players and multimedia hubs are future ready. While Blu-ray, with his Full HD capacity, is clearly the media player of tomorrow, media hubs provide a lot of viewing flexibility. You can play just about any format with these two. Connect your pen drives and, in certain cases, even SD memory cards for playback. For future TV multimedia needs, go for these without a doubt. As a pointer, consider that in three weeks after release, 6.2 million copies of Avatarsold in Blu-ray format compared to 13.5 million in DVD.
CRYSTAL GAZING:Blu-ray and multimedia hubs get the green signal.
Sound bars not only save space but also give you virtual surround sound no matter where you are sitting. These now support Blu-ray playback and look neat tucked under your HDTV. Their price may be high at present, but with sales volumes steadily rising, economics would dictate a fall in costs.
CRYSTAL GAZING: Yes, sound bars strike a better chord.
5.1 Channel Home Theatre Systems
Why do you want to go for a system that has five speakers, a woofer and metres of wires running all across the room? You do get wireless satellite rear speakers but they burn a hole in the pocket. Comparably, a soundbar is compact, wireless and and you get very similar audio resonance as a 5.1 channel. What is more, surround sound integrity does not depend on locating the sweet spot for the listener.
This is where everyone seems to be heading in. AMD’s Fusion processor is the best example of an all-in-one processor that combines the full power of a CPU with the graphics power of a GPU. An accelerated processing unit (APU) brings a CPU and GPU together on one chip. Not only does this save on costs and boosts processing, but avoids installment of a discrete graphics card . Multi-core Processors
The popular multi-core processors of today are likely to bow down to the superior processing muscle of an APU. The future lies in the marriage of a CPU and GPU on a single die. With the new technology only now developing, the availability of APUs and their motherboards is a problem—which is why most users opt for a multi-core CPU.
CRYSTAL GAZING: Yes to APUs.
COUNTRY MANAGER-CONSUMER & RETAIL, AMD INDIA
We believe that AMD Fusion processors are, quite simply, the greatest advancement in computing since the introduction of the x86 architecture more than 40 years ago. Consumers’ requirements from their PCs have changed over the years and they expect more for less. While an APU offers a smoother, more responsive performance and greater efficiency in regular computing, it enhances a PC/ laptop’s performance, thereby offering a balanced computing experience.
Personal Navigation Devices
Personal navigation devices never managed to pick up in the Indian market. First it was the high price tags. Another drawback was the restricted nature of the mapping solution—for every upgraded map, one had to shell out a few thousand rupees on a regular basis. The final blow was given by the introduction of GPS and A-GPS in the smartphone.
In mid 2007, navigation became a part of the cell phone. And since then, it has only grown. Most phones now come at least with Assisted-GPS. Unlike PNDs, which use satellites for determining location, A-GPS uses the cell-phone tower network along with satellites for the purpose. This means that even during cloudy days, where navigators baulk, cell phones are in their elements. Another plus point phones enjoy is the easy availability of Google Maps and cheaper options like Ovi Maps.
CRYSTAL GAZING: The route to the future is shown by smart phones.
3D made a lot of buzz once it left the drawing board in early 2010. But the enthusiasm waned when people realised there wasn’t enough content around. The depth-enabling glasses were also a turn-off. Once the novelty wore off, the practical problems of having a 3D at home—costly glasses each viewer, headache and discomfort over prolonged viewing, the big budget required—looked deterring. However with most DTH providers turning 3D signals on, it is likely that TV will have enough 3D content.
HD content is in abundance, both through Blu-ray and DTH services. And the cost of an HDTV is a fraction of what is it is for a 3D TV . HDTV also boasts utility features like USB drives and Net access as 3D TVs do. The popularity of HDTV will sustain in the days to come.
CRYSTAL GAZING: Most regular television viewers see the future in HDTV.
Just as incandescent lighting was replaced by CFL, the more advanced, eco-friendly LED may replace CFL. Approximately two times more energy efficient than CFLs, LEDs have up to 10 times longer life cycles. LEDs are also free from hazardous substances like lead, cadmium and mercury. With the operation cost of LED approximately half of CFLs, it is likely that over time the upfront installation cost of an LED (five to six times higher) will be compensated. While a CFL costs less than` 100, an LED bulb comes for around ` 500.
Saurabh Prasad,ASSOCIATE FELLOW,
RESOURCES, REGULATION & GLOBALSECURITY DIVISION, TERI
LED technology may be regarded to be the better of the two as it uses lesser power to produce equal lumens of light, has longer life span, is safer to handle and has lesser environment impact. But it lags on the cost front. Focused research is required to produce cheaper LEDs which may become economically viable for adoption by domestic consumers.
CFLs replaced incandescent bulbs as they were approximately 80 per cent more energy efficient when used for the same wattage and coverage. The 8-12 times better lifespan was, however, tempered by the use of mercury in its manufacture, making disposal a problem.
CRYSTAL GAZING: Yes, LED lights the way to the future.
A microwave heats food using electromagnetic radiation. As the radiations heats the moisture molecules in the food, some non-ionizing radiations passes through the dish’s content. Some experts believe that the electromagnetic waves destroy vitamins and nutrients.
Like a microwave over, an induction cooker operates on electricity. However, here the electricity produces a magnetic field that generates heat only inside the cooking vessel. It needs vessels made of ferromagnetic materials, but utilises 90 per cent of the energy generated. There’s little wastage of energy. And as soon as a vessel is removed, the induction top turns off. CRYSTAL GAZING: For sheer energy concerns, it is yes to induction cookers.
Claims of dual-core processors being able to speed-up the overall performance of a smartphone significantly have proved true. With enhanced processing speeds and great computing power, the transition between one homepage to another is quick, multitasking is better and the apps load without lag. But games and apps are still not optimised to reap the benefits of multiple core processing. And the concern that the battery would drain much faster is a myth really.
Five major direct-to-home companies are vying for the customers’ attention and each is giving something new. The latest to come on DTH is 3D signals. Soon there will be HD streaming. Set top boxes with built-in DVRs capable of 3D recording are already there.
With just a handful of smartphones on dualcore processors, the smartphone industry is still seeing the launch of some powerful smartphones on single-core processors. Additionally single-core processors are now clocking higher speeds. Smartphones with single-core processors are not outdated but if you are spending` 25,000-30,000 on a smartphone, there is no harm in picking up one that is future ready. With phones primed to do more things, the pwoer of dual-core processors will likely be the benchmark. The Nielsen Company says that feature phones—devices that can’t do too many things, like run apps, for instance—will slowly but surely die out.
CRYSTAL GAZING: The future rings in the era of multi-core phone processors.
IPTV/ Cable TV
IPTV is trying hard to beat DTH in the race to get into homes of millions to entertain them. You get automatic channel recordings on some, but they lose out on the user experience. It takes too long to start and also changing channels is a task in itself. Cable TV is a better contender than IPTV , again you do not get HD or 3D feed over the local cable operations.
CRYSTAL GAZING: The picture looks much brighter for DTH.
Dr Sandeep Sibal,COUNTRY MANAGER & VICE PRESIDENT,
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, QUALCOMM INDIA AND SOUTHASIA
The foremost advantage of having dual cores in a processor is that it enhances the processing speed of the device as there are two CPUs to work simultaneously if the need arises. Such dual-core processors are expected to drive the next generation of high-end smartphones and tablets which will cater to rich multimedia applications, high definition Stereo 3D video capture and playback, Augmented Reality applications as well as content creation on the go. The advantages of dual-core processing is evident when you use multithreaded applications. LED TV
LED televisions are slimmer, lighter, and support a bigger gamut of colours. Pricewise too, the LED cost has de-escalated and the difference isn’t much now. 3D content looks better on an LED. Plus LED does not harm the environment as its manufacture does not employ harmful material like mercury. An LED also consumes 40 per cent less energy than an LCD.
LCDs are stagnating with few innovations in sight. The efforts in this direction are all in the LED segment. The price advantage it once enjoyed too has faded.
CRYSTAL GAZING: Yes to LED TV to an eco-friendly future.
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER ,CONSUMER ELECTRONICS & HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES, VIDEOCON GROUP
LED TV provides picture with better clarity, high contrast ratio, wide colour gamut and greater dynamic contrast. The picture experience is more vibrant and colourful on LED as light emitting diodes are used. Motion viewing such as sports or movies fetches a greater impact from LEDs as the refresh rate is relatively higher. LEDs are more eco-friendly as they consume less power.It is 20-30 per cent costlier than LCD.
Wired broadband is the preferred choice for home users. Speeds of up to 8 Mbps can be achieved and is best for gaming and movie streaming. If you want it to be wireless, add a Wi-Fi hub and you have access to the Net from all over the house.
CRYSTAL GAZING: For 24x7 Internet connectivity, it’s wireless USB modems.
Wireless Internet USB modems
The choice is of convenience here. Wireless USB gives you only up to 3 Mbps speeds, but you get compensated by portability. With the help of the USB modems, you are never delinked from the global community.
VP, COMMUNICATIONS, CORPORATE AFFAIRS & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, ERICSSON
By 2016, we foresee mobile data traffic increasing by about 25 times, driven primarily by video. And that traffic will come equally from smartphones or mobile PCs. Ericsson foresees 300 million mobile broadband subscriptions in India in the next five years.