Archive for April, 2012


I have always derived pleasure from getting to experience the latest technologies in person but it has been mostly about raving of the specs and features than getting into intricacies. And since everybody has Smartphones these days, one of my colleagues just kept comparing his entry level HTC Explorer with my LG Optimus P725. At first, I just gave a hearty laugh at his naivety but once I used his phone for some time, I realized he wasn’t lying.

That is the first time Mr. Techie Boy Shivansh made me aware of Overclocking in CPU’s and Android Smartphones. In layman terms, overclocking is simply altering the operating clock speed of your phone’s CPU beyond the limit specified by the manufacturer. You root your phone and flash (or install) certain software while reducing operating voltage speeds to get both performance and efficiency at the same time. What it translates to is faster processing speeds, extremely responsive interface and the ability to install applications not possible at rated clock speeds.

Now this guy had somehow managed to overclock his Explorer’s 600 Mhz processor to an astounding 1 Ghz while lowering the operating voltage to get optimum performance. He was running apps that could only run on high-end Smartphones without the slightest bit of lagging. Naturally, I started to question about whether my Smartphone could be over clocked from 1.2 Ghz to a feasible limit to which he nodded and even offered to take my phone home for the day to do it. The only reason I didn’t hand him the phone at the time was the lack of a second contact number. And honestly, that saved my handset.

Two months on, the same guy has upgraded to HTC One X. And that is because his Explorer died on him a few weeks after overclocking. There were constant heating issues and reduced battery life along with multiple errors which prompted him to fiddle with his phone even more. The harsh result, his CPU going completely dead with a system failure. Since then, I have gained considerable knowledge on Overclocking and Underclocking and even though I am not against it I would only suggest doing this zero-budget upgrading if you have substantial knowledge and are ready for the potential risks it holds. The biggest deterrent should be that overclocking voids manufacturer’s warranty as it is being operated well above the specified configuration. I would rather trust the manufacturer’s judgment on this as they only launch products after considerable R & D and are well aware of the capabilities and limitations of the key components in the Smartphone they have assembled.

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Be it a layman consumer or an experienced head, the ever increasing options in brand names and technologies has made it impossible for us to make a cohesive choice when purchasing a new TV. And the biggest challenge is to comprehend the product features in accordance to the price at which it comes. The fact is that there are simply too many questions in mind that you ultimately end up getting swayed by brand popularity and end up purchasing a TV which might be technologically inferior. Let me address a few of the questions that generally pop up during this process –

1)      LCD, LED or Plasma: This question is one for the enthusiasts. Experts consider Plasma as the best performer as the color output and dark levels are much superior to LCD’s and LED’s. Even though it’s relevant in comparison to the older models, the new generation of LED’s with advanced panels (IPS and S-VA) are capable of producing brighter, more vivid pictures with equally comparable blacks. Now the concern that comes is whether display technology is a major thing to ponder over then I would say yes. LCD is the standard that has replaced a traditional CRT in Indian households (at least most of them). LED was the next step with panels being lit with LED’s rather than fluorescent tubes and majority of LED’s now are edge lit. The thing that needs to be understood is that step up to an LCD is a basic upgrade, to a Plasma is enhanced picture quality while an LED achieves a strong balance between looks and visual output.

2) Picture Quality: This is the single most important factor that needs to be tested before you narrow your options. There is no so called best TV in that regard. My advice would be first have a mental picture of the TV set up in your place and then check for screen gloss, color output and black levels, frame rate and input lag while gaming through a console.

3) HD or 3D? : Another dilemma you may encounter while looking for a TV is its 3D-capability. Naysayers will have you believe that 3D is nothing more than an expensive gimmick while neutrals may have the view of 3D being a good add-on feature. Now my opinion on 3D is that it is in fact an extra layer of cream which enhances your viewing experience. Moreover with an increased focus on ultra HD and 3D content these days, it can be said to be a future-proof investment when purchasing your TV. However, the most important part is that most 3D TV’s are in fact full HD. So would you like the extra cream with your coffee?!

 

 

4) Active vs. Passive 3D? : This is another one of those never-ending debates that refuses to cease and desist. What is the benefit and flaws of either one of them? Well in simple terms, active 3D works on analogue camera shutter mechanism and requires its battery-powered 3D glasses to do the tedious 3D generation work. Passive 3D on the other hand has a thin film attached to its screen and lets your brain configure the 3D for you. The two major issues of flicker and crosstalk (image ghosting) are absent in passive 3D systems which makes for easier viewing. Another misconception about passive 3D is that it is not full HD. Do check the views of HDTVTest to get a more clear idea on this.

5) Idiot Box or Smart TV? : Now this is one factor which is entirely dependent on personal preference. If one simply views TV as just that then a basic HDTV should suffice. But with the various connectivity options like Wi-Fi, WiDi, DLNA and Smart Share at disposal, a Smart TV is now very close to becoming a centralized display and operation hub for almost all the smaller gadgets you might possess. So whether it’s a smart network through a single interface or the current use of smart gadgets is entirely your call. A cheaper alternative (barring the connectivity options) for making your basic TV Smart would be going for a Smart TV Box.

6) Price and After Sales service: Last but not the least is the price factor. With the expansion of consumerism in India, the pattern of product purchases have become very conscious and cautious at the same time. The only feasible suggestion is to put some time and effort to understand the best deals available in your area as well as scour through forum and review sections to get a fair idea of a particular brand’s after sales service and customer grievance solution time.

For some, upgrading electronics like TV might be a piece of cake but for most of us it is a long-term investment. One needs to try and understand what he realistically expects out of his TV and then only proceed with the buying process.

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