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Apple to stream its fall 2010 event live

By on September 1, 2010

Tonight’s Apple event is going to be streamed live at 9PM UAE time. Windows and Android users need not apply

For all the Apple fans in the region, we have some good news. Tonight’s Apple event is going to streamed live by Apple which hasn’t happened for over five years. Thats right, we will no longer be at the mercy of the refresh button and timeouts on blogs that cover Apple events.

Of course, being Apple, it does come with a catch- “Viewing requires either a Mac running Safari on Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard, an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.0 or higher, or an iPad.” What this means is that our PC and Android fans that don’t own an iDevice will probably be out of luck.

I wonder what has made Apple change its mind about streaming events. Will it be related to some kind of streaming service that they will be announcing tonight? Or was it the overload of their network at the iPhone4 event that caused the mightily iPhone4 to misbehave during its moment of glory?

Whatever, the case, I’m glad this is happening. Be sure to stick to your Mac, iPod or iPad screen tonight at 9PM UAE time. And feel free to comment on what you think will be introduced tonight. Rumors suggest that a new iPod and possibly a new Apple TV along with Netflix which sadly does not officially work in the region.


Etisalat’s eLife or du’s Real Broadband? How about neither?

By on August 24, 2010

Fiber to the home? Not mine.

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As technology buffs, few things interest us in life as much as a high speed internet connection. In a hierarchal pyramid of all things geek, it probably ranks in the order of Internet Connection > Food > Clothing > IT Crowd > Housing. So, you can imagine my joy when I heard of Etisalat’s Double Play eLife offer. Dhs204 to upgrade my Al Shamil account to eLife. That’s 8mbps over my regular Al Shamil 1mbps line and about Dhs50 cheaper as well. Having been an Etisalat consumer for over 25 years of my life, my first reaction, of course was to check for fine print — what’s the catch, Etisalat? Will there be a bandwidth cap and can I expect you to charge me a small fortune every time I exceed the bandwidth limit? To my surprise, no. It’s unlimited data. I will have to pay an extra Dhs95 per month after three months but that’s acceptable considering the offer. Brilliant! Etisalat finally comes up with a decent broadband package.

Then comes du with an even better offer — Dhs199 for 8mbps or Dhs259 for 16mbps. Can this be really happening? Fuel prices are rising and Internet prices are dropping. Could it be that our fair country is finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of broadband connectivity?

So, with great anticipation I made my way to both du and Etisalat’s office to apply for what would finally be a geek’s dream come true only to find out that neither is supported in my building. If you’re wondering how that makes me feel, it’s the sort of frustration that makes you want to put ketchup on your keyboard and eat it.

So, looks like while Etisalat and du are both offering top speed connections at great prices, I’ll have to look at all their adverts each day and remind myself of how I’m paying a great deal more money for a far more mediocre connection.

Thank you Etisalat and du for opening our eyes to a new broadband era. Now if you could open up our pavements and put some fiber optic cables in there as well, it would be greatly appreciated.


Digital Music straight to your Smartphone

By on August 9, 2010

Change is slowly coming.

Digital is where it’s at and if we at t-break Media didn’t believe that, we would not exist. From ebooks to applications and multimedia, the future for almost all kinds of content is digital. However, are we in the UAE prepared for it? Lets talk about that- taking the music industry as an example.

For the record, Apple’s iTunes accounts for 70% of worldwide online digital music sales even though it doesn’t officially exist in the Middle East. Global giants such as Nokia, Amazon and Apple are aggressively vying for an increasing share of your wallet through the sale of digital music- through online stores and over-the-air download. This obviously doesn’t go down too well with traditional music stores that are facing an unpleasant truth of declining sales. However, if they don’t change their business model radically to reflect the new digital world, they will soon be out of business.

This global reality is starting to touch UAE – following the unveiling of Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ offering earlier this year. However, bandwidth restrictions and the insane costs of mobile data communications do not necessarily allow the digital segment to grow as fast as the rest of the world. That has to, and will change over the next few quarters. The sale of digital music via over-the-air downloads onto the mobile phone is definitely here to stay, and at least Nokia expects the take-up in UAE and across the region to be swift and the volumes to be significant enough to make this a viable alternative to the traditional model.

According to Frederic Copper-Royer, Music Manager, Nokia Middle East and Africa, the global music industry has accepted that the digital distribution channel is the way forward. “Big music groups, including Universal Music Group, Sony Corporation’s Sony Music, Warner Music Group, EMI and thousands of independent labels are opting to sell songs and albums electronically with global organisations including Nokia.”

He says the opportunity for local artists opting to distribute their music digitally in UAE and across the region is important. “While online distribution (via your computer’s internet connection) is at the center of the digital music experience as we know it, the real new opportunity is selling music via the mobile device.” says Copper-Royer. “Now that these users have the very real possibility of making over-the-air music downloads we expect to see significant penetration in a relatively short time frame.”

I agree with Mr. Copper-Royer. OTA downloads to your device is certainly the way forward with Smartphones getting smart enough to become your primary connectivity tool to the Internet. What do you think?


What to look for when buying a Home Theater

By on July 27, 2010

Mr. Ojha from Panasonic shares some valuable knowledge on what to look for in a home theater.

Home Theaters come in different shapes and sizes- from the 4 Tall Boy speaker configurations (4 Tall floor standing speakers) to a Sound Bar (a bar that gives you 2.1 channels or 5.1 channel virtual output). Buying a new Home Theatre there requires several factors to be considered and below, I highlight some of the factors that I recommend you consider before making the payment.

Home Theaters have made their way to TV lounges primarily because of their aesthetic appeal. Therefore, a design matching your flat screen is recommended to add to the aesthetics. And if aesthetics is high on your list, then I suggest to go for the Sound Bar option which looks incredibly sexy and delivers high quality sound with a simple connection. Sound Bars are wall mountable and can be mounted below your flat panel TV.

Panasonic has 2 Sound Bar models- the HTB500 and the HTB10. The BT500 offers dynamic and powerful bass sound from the Kelton Subwoofer, while the HTB10 offers a simple and clean solution. Both these models provide you with clear and crisp vocals thanks to the Bamboo Cone Speakers on-board. Connecting these to your TV is through a simple HDMI cable.

If you prefer a more elaborate configuration, then I suggest our PT980 boasts stylish and glossy design speakers. These slim-sized speakers offer powerful and rich sound with heavy bass performance to bring out the best in cinematic experience. The PT980 goes a step further by allowing you to use it as a docking station for your iPods and iPhones as well.

Continuing with the integration, If you have a Panasonic display, then using out VIEra Link technology, you can have complete control over the Home Theatre, or for that matter other AV devices connected by HDMI cable to the TV, using the VIEra TV remote control. Also, the the new ARC feature lets you enjoy the TV channel sound from your Home Theatre speakers without the need for any addition cables.

If your TV is a Full High Definition TV (1920 x 1080p), you will want to invest in a Blu Ray Home Theatre so you can enjoy the Full HD Blu Ray Movies. Again, Panasonic has two Blu Ray Home Theaters to suit different room sizes. The BT735 is a 4 Tall Boy speaker model, while the BT235 is a 4 Satellite Speaker model. Both these models playback Blu Ray movies and offer a myriad of exciting features to match your Blu Ray experience.

Like always, do plenty of research to ensure that you are happy with the picture, sound and networking solutions on offer from the Home Theatre you are thinking of investing in. Panasonic has on offer a variety of Home Theatre models to suit from large lounge rooms to small bedrooms and with a bank of features to maximize your cinematic visual and audio experience. For more details on Panasonic Home Theatre models, visit panasonic.com.me or visit your nearest electronics outlets.


Firefox’s Tab Candy FTW!

By on July 25, 2010

Firefox’s Tab Candy will redefine how we surf the net.

I honestly haven’t been this excited about an upcoming technology that lets you browse the net so efficiently since tabs first came into existence way back when. And just as tabbed browsing revolutionized the way we all browse the internet today, the new Tab Candy (tab management feature) for Firefox 4 will do the same tomorrow.

In its simplest form, Tab Candy is just an Exposé style overview of all your tabs. However, it goes much further than just a simple visual representation of all of your currently open tabs. You can drag and drop different tabs into different groups, rename said groups and reorganize them in a convenient way that most suits you. In essence you can create a mind map to keep your daily browsing activities in check.

While Tab Candy pretty much eliminates the necessity for something as archaic as Bookmarks, the same concept applies, only it’s more visually appealing and in your face. Even though all of this looks pretty, the Firefox team is hard at work on optimizing this tech while also expanding its usability. Thanks to Tab Candy, I would probably never feel the need to close an important tab again, which means I could literally have more than a hundred tabs open at any given time. That said, Tab Candy is still in early development phase, and we have a good time before Firefox 4 has its final release.

As it stands, with only the ability to organize tabs in groups, Tab Candy is already a more productive tool than provided with any browser in the market. What appeals to me more than anything is the promised ability to share tab groups with your friends. This means that any specific topic that I’m researching on, I can have all the relevant tabs sent to my coworkers by sharing a group, so that we’re all on the same proverbial page. Sort of the same idea as Google Docs or Dropbox, but focused towards sharing various sources of information rather than working on the same end product.

As you can see from the video posted by one of the development team members above, Tab Candy, simply put, is one of the biggest innovations made towards a better, easier and more productive web browsing experience than anything in the past few years. If you want to experience Tab Candy at its most basic, then get the Firefox 4.0 beta.


Introducing Car Technology at tbreak

By on July 14, 2010

Interested in finding out about some of the cool technology that is featured in cars of today? So are we.

Cars. Every guy I know loves to talk about them. Some guys talk about things like torque and horsepower while other look at body kits and rims. Still others evaluate the mpg or the boot space. What fascinates me is the technology found in cars today. We have come a long way from the days of stick shift and manual windows. Electronics have become an integral part of every car now.

I still remember the first time I saw the digital speedometer in my brother’s 1998 Mazda that made me feel like Knight Rider. While we’re still years away from a car that will amuse us with corky conversations, it still fascinates me how far we have come. Things like navigation and bluetooth are pretty much becoming a standard option in the upper-class car segment and its just a matter of time before they trickle down to mainstream.

On that note, I would like to announce our new section- car technology. Like myself, there are plenty of people that want to know more about the technology featured in a car before opening up their cheque books. Things like keyless ignition and rear-view cameras have become as important as important as engine power and boot space.

We have already received our first car- the Volkwagon CC which is a tour-de-force as far as technology is concerned. Look out for our first full-featured article on some of the amazing things this car is capable of before the next newsletter reaches your inbox. Other than cars themselves, this section will also look at some of the after-market products in the upcoming months.

Its a new area for us and as always, it would be a great help if you, our readers, can help us by letting us know what and where to look for. I’m sure that it will be a fascinating ride.


What To Look For When Buying A Digital Camera

By on June 29, 2010

It is not all about megapixels. The sensor size and the optics are equally importance on the final picture quality.

Before we get into what to look for in a camera, let me briefly explain how a digital still camera works. In simple words, a digital still camera (DSC) records still pictures and videos. Essentially what happens is that the light passes through the lens and falls onto the sensor. When the shutter is pressed, it captures a picture.

The first thing that customers look for, when buying a digital still camera is, ‘how many megapixels does the camera offer’? But the question you have to ask yourself is whether you are going to print the pictures? As more people have now started to realize that to print a standard 6 x 4 picture, all you need is a picture taken in 5 to 6 megapixel resolution.

It’s not all about megapixels. The sensor size and the optics have an equal importance on the final picture quality. That means, you can have the same number of megapixels in sensors with different sizes. The camera with the larger sensor generally will produce better pictures.

Most customers out there a looking for a simple camera that looks stylish and when the shutter button is pressed, it takes a picture. These cameras are broadly called ‘point-&-shoots’. Point-and-shoot cameras require plenty of light and often product better images when used outdoors, particularly during daytime, as compared to indoor shoots or shots in low-light conditions.

If you are in the market for a ‘point-&-shoot’, look for one with a good ‘Auto mode’. One of the highly recommended DSC with a good ‘Auto mode’ is the Panasonic LUMIX with the Intelligent Auto mode. With the LUMIX, once you set the dial to the Intelligent Auto mode, the camera activates up to 6 functions and automatically changes its settings to suit the shooting object and conditions.

The limitation with the point & shoots is that camera does it all for you. That means, it decides where the focus point will be, how much light will fall on the sensor and at what speed the shutter will capture the image.

Larger, and generally more expensive than the point-and-shoots camera’s, are known as ‘bridge’ cameras. As the name suggests, these cameras act as a bridge between the point and shoots and Digital SLR’s. Bridge camera’s generally offer higher optical Zoom (18x Optical Zoom or more) and allow the users to manually change the settings for better control, that is, the ability for the user to be able to control the aperture and shutter to suit the artistic picture a user wishes to capture. However the limitation of a bridge camera is that you are limited to the capabilities of the lens mounted.

When looking for a camera with interchangeable lens option, look for one that best suits your needs. Many interchangeable lens cameras now offer ‘All Time Live View’ that allows you to frame your shots onto the LCD screen, rather than having to look through a tiny view-finder, which is perfect if you are up-grading from a ‘point-&-shoot’ or a ‘bridge’ camera. You would also want to look into a brand that offers a good selection is optional lenses to choose from. Also look for one that is compact and lightweight so you can carry it where-ever you go.

Finally, look for a camera with a good video recording capability. Certain Panasonic LUMIX models offer the flexibility of video’s being captured in AVCHD or Motion JPEG formats. AVCHD offers better picture quality and the user can record footage twice as longer as compared to footage captured in Motion JPEG on same sized SD Card. On the other hand, Motion JPEG is suitable for PC applications for playback on a PC and or uploading to websites such as You Tube.

The bottom line is that users should do as much research as possible and buy a camera that suits you style, needs and photographic requirements.


3DTV – Not there Yet

By on June 23, 2010

Looking to buy a 3DTV? I don’t think it’s a good idea just yet.

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I remember the first wave of 3D back when I was a kid. Going to the cinemas, wearing those red and blue glasses and ducking when something was thrown at you was extremely impressive- at least for a kid. The 3D continued in school stationary where I would wow or be wowed as animals moved and dancers swung.

Today’s 3D is definitely a lot more complex. Watching Avatar or How to Train Your Dragon in a theatre in 3D is certainly a good experience but I’m not sure if 3DTVs are worth the hype or the price. In a theatre, you have a very controlled experience with no distractions and time is restricted. At home, my TV is probably on for a good six hours a day out of which, I barely watch it for an hour and that too with continuous interruptions.

I call it background TV- as in the TV is playing while I do other things such as use my computer, read the newspaper or talk on the phone. Now imagine if I had a 3D TV displaying 3D content- I would be in a constant operation of putting those glasses on and removing them. That itself is an annoyance that will probably make me switch the thing off altogether. About the only time I am immersed in TV is when I’m playing a game which leads to the second issue- headaches!

Quite a few of my colleagues have mentioned eye fatigue and headaches within minutes of watching 3D content on a 3DTV. Its less with movies where you’re not necessarily continuously focusing but games that demand you continuous attention and that’s when it hits you hard. From what I know, the way 3D works is that the left and right side of the glasses alternatively turn on and off about 120 times per second fooling your brain into creating a 3D image out of 2D images. Just thinking about that gives me a headache!

I don’t think that 3D in its current form will become mainstream. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun to watch FIFA in 3D but come 11th July and you might see a dip in the sales of 3DTV. Yes, they can be used for watching good old 2D but are you willing to pay over AED 5,000 for a feature that you will hardly ever use?


iPhone 4 arrives

By on June 7, 2010

The iPhone 4 is pretty much what we expected it to be

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I was speaking to a friend in the evening today and told him that if the new iPhone is what I expect it to be, I wont be rushing out the door to buy one. And it looks like after Mr. Jobs revealed the new iPhone 4, it was pretty much what we were expecting to to be. The design looks good and it will be available in black and white but was what was leaked out. The Antennas on the side might be a good idea. Inside, as predicted the iPhone 4 has an A4 CPU and a 3,5″ screen with an incredible resolution of 960×640. I had also mentioned that I wont be surprised if the onboard storage remains at 32GB which seems to be the case. Finally, check that 5MP camera along with a front facing camera from our predictions as well.

The only thing that makes me curious about iPhone 4 is the built-in gyroscope which will certainly make some interesting gaming moments. Video chatting was the ‘one more thing’ but looks like Apple doesnt realize that we’ve had that over a 3G network for quite some time in this part of the world. Everything else is more iOS related and my 3G should be capable of handling that well. While Apple has announced a 40% increased in battery efficiency, the new features will probably put a drain 40% faster and you’ll end up with similar battery life.

iPhone 4 will be available in the US on 24th of June bu dont expect an official release in the UAE until at least September.


Predictions for the upcoming iPhone 4G/HD

By on June 5, 2010

Ready for the next iPhone? Here’s what I think is coming.

In a couple of days Mr. Jobs will go on stage and unveil the new iPhone. Unlike the last couple of years, we have had some solid proof of the upcoming device when Gizmodo purchased the stolen phone and then the Vietnam leaks. In case you missed that, here is what the new iPhone will most probably look like.

As you can see, Apple is changing the design with the upcoming iPhone- no more rounded back. Instead you have a slightly more blocky device – think of it as a mini iPad if you will. I am all for the new design as I prefer a sharper cornered device like the Motorola Milestone instead of the rounded iPhone.

With regards to the internals, I am guessing that the device will be powered by an Apple A4 CPU running at 1GHz or slightly lower. The display is also supposed to be of higher resolution- hopefully quadrupling the iPhone’s current 320×480 screen meaning you will get a 640×960 resolution screen. This is slightly lower than iPad’s resolution of 768×1024 pixels.

I’m also expecting the onboard RAM to be doubled from the 3GS meaning you will have 512MB instead of 256MB. Keep in mind that this is the memory required for applications to run and not the onboard storage that is 16/32GB already. Now, the last few iPhones have doubled the onboard storage and following that trend, the new iPhone could be available in a 64GB variety as well. However, I won’t be surprised if Apple doesn’t do that this year. 32GB is still premium on a handset.

People who like using cameras on their phones should certainly have one less reason to not jump on the iPhone bandwagon. The new iPhone will probably have a 5MP+ camera along with a flash as well as a front facing camera for video calls and chatting. We’ve already know of the 5x zoom levels on the camera from the OS4 announcement.

What concerns me the most is the battery life. As much as I love my iPhone, the battery life cannot compete with a Blackberry. Now, with a faster CPU, higher-res display and multi-tasking, Apple needs to come up with a killer battery for the next-gen iPhone, which I don’t think is going to happen. I’m sure that the battery will be better than the iPhone 3GS but with all the software and hardware advancements, I think that you’ll still be struggling by the end of the day.

What do you think will the next iPhone have? And would you buy it?


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