Your favourite books, on the digital highway

 

Forget just reading—now you can experience books with soundtrack, videos, animation and games

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced earlier this month that it would stop publishing its 32-volume print edition. Forever. A month ago, in February, a digitally enhanced version of the Game of Thrones, the first book in the much-touted fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, was released as an eBook for iPad. The “book” is much more than a reading experience. It comes with a pop-up column of a glossary of characters and a dynamic map which tells you where all the series’ characters are at any point in the book. To add to the fun, there are clips from the audio book. To call it a book is like asking Marvin, the paranoid android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to get you a cup of coffee.

The book has evolved into a multimedia, multi-touch, customizable offering with the advent of touch-screen devices, especially the launch of the iPad. This evolved version can talk back to you, entertain you with additional videos and references and help you explore itself in non-linear ways. For want of a better phrase, the industry is calling these “enhanced eBooks”.

“Enhanced eBooks are not eBooks, or digital versions of books,” explains Sriram Panchanathan, 41, the Bangalore-based senior vice-president of Digital Solutions, part of the US-based Aptara Inc. “They are something else altogether. They have additional features to an eBook that complement or add to the reading experience.” Aptara works with some of the biggest publishers worldwide, like John Wiley & Sons, Pearson and Random House, and digital publishers like Inkling (www.inkling.com) to create digitally enhanced eBooks of their content. Their most recent titles include The Professional Chef, The Culinary Institute of America for John Wiley & Sons and Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, a self-published title.

According to Panchanathan, you can completely change the experience of reading a book on a touch-screen gadget with extra elements like audio, video, multimedia, scripted animation, a dictionary, or an interactive interface. “A year ago, publishers started with enhancing children’s and educational books with graphics, animations and audio and video but now we see a demand from them to convert non-fiction categories like cookbooks, books on gardening and even biographies,” he says. Take the example of the forthcoming enhanced title from Penguin of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. It’s a biography of the legendary black activist, features rare archival video footage of his life and photos, and has an interactive map of Harlem, Manhattan, to better visualise where he came from.

What’s helped obviously is that publishers now have the tools to embed multimedia in a digital book in a fast and cost-effective way. Epub 3, the latest update to the open eBook format .epub, and its counterpart, Amazon’s Kindle Format 8, were both released in October. While the .epub version 3 works for almost all touch-screen eReaders, including Android-based tablets and the Nook, Cobo and Sony tablets, Kindle Format 8 works only for Kindle Fire devices. Both formats use HTML 5, which can be used to embed multimedia elements directly into the eBook file, making it look much like a website. “This reduces the cost and size of an eBook and gives creators, the ability to experiment with styling, animation and scripting,” says Panchanathan.

Continue reading “Your favourite books, on the digital highway”

Dialling for the doctor

 

Your cellphone might have a convenient service for medical help, but how reliable is it?

Acouple’s sleep is disturbed in the middle of the night. Their nine-month-old child is crying in pain, and has fever. The couple try to call their family doctor but can’t get through. The mother suggests calling a health helpline on their mobile service provider. Within minutes, they are connected to a doctor who asks for the symptoms and then offers a prescription.

At the press of a button: It is a quick way to connect to a health professional for minor ailments at a nominal cost.

At the press of a button: It is a quick way to connect to a health professional for minor ailments at a nominal cost.

So goes the advertisement for Mediphone, a tele-triage (medical advice over the phone) service for Airtel subscribers that started its call-a-doctor facility across India in January. On similar lines, Spice has launchedJeeyo Healthy, a service that offers its customers doctors-on-call with health-related information and advice on their handsets. Companies such as Aircel and Tata Docomo are also offering tele-triage services.

Meant for minor problems like back, neck and stomach aches, cold and fever, tele-triage is a quick way to connect to a health professional at a nominal cost. Mediphone charges Airtel customers across the country Rs. 35 per call for consultation, a mere fraction of what it would cost to visit a doctor (which could range from Rs. 200-500).

“This is one of the reasons for its popularity,” says Nitin Verma, 43, vice-president, Healthfore, a division of Religare Technologies which runs Mediphone. Dr Verma has 25 doctors in his team. He explains that Mediphone is actually a call centre designed to answer questions related to medical problems. When you call the service, you get to speak to a medical officer or a nurse. The person ascertains whether it’s an emergency, in which case they connect you to an ambulance service. But if they feel it is a minor problem that can be resolved on the phone, they connect the caller to a doctor or resolve it themselves.

The idea of diagnose-on-call doesn’t go down well with everyone from the medical fraternity. “A doctor should never prescribe a drug without seeing a patient,” says G.K. Ramachandrappa, national president, Indian Medical Association. “If someone says I have a fever, it could be anything from typhoid to malaria or a simple virus. A basic drug like a paracetamol may harm the patient in the long run.” According to Dr Ramachandrappa, a visit to the family doctor is best. “Either that or go to the emergency ward of a hospital near you, or call up 108 for a free ambulance,” he says.

Nandu Madhava, 35, CEO of mDhil.com, an online and mobile phone portal on health education, agrees with Dr Ramachandrappa. Madhava tried tele-triage as a business model but quit after a while. “Calling and talking to a doctor just doesn’t work. Four out of five of those calls always ended with advice to call an ambulance or go see a doctor. The risk of misdiagnosis is far too high on the phone.” That pain in the groin could be anything from a pulled muscle to hernia or cancer, says Madhava, adding that this was the reason mDhil.com decided to focus on health-informative videos.

Continue reading “Dialling for the doctor”

A guide to online data plotting

 

When you’re dealing with complex data, visualization tools can help you simplify it and, more importantly, spot key trends and gain new insights

Shweta Taneja

 

Sales figures, consumer behaviour and market research – the work we do often involves understanding and communicating a lot of complex information. To make good decisions, you need to be able to understand the data, and quickly. Visualization tools can simplify data, and make it easier to understand and spot key trends.

According to Deloitte’s “Tech Trends 2011: The Natural Convergence of Business and IT” report released in March, data-visualization tools were the fastest developing area in software last year.

Data in, graphic out: Visual representations of data are easier to understand.

Data in, graphic out: Visual representations of data are easier to understand.

“Data visualization compresses information quickly,” says S. Anand, 37, chief data scientist, Gramener, a Hyderabad-based data-visualization company. “For example, in a chart, a bar can give you a data set with its height, colour and thickness, so you have already compressed a table with three columns into one graph,” he explains. “A 40-page report can easily be converted into a single page of graphics.” By doing this, a large amount of data becomes easily accessible, and trends and highlights are easy to pick out, compared to a table of numbers.

“Data-visualization tools are typically designed to highlight relevant insights, rather than just present raw data as in a dashboard,” explains Stewart Langille, co-founder, Visual.ly, a new online visualization tool. Another useful aspect of viewing data as visuals is that you can highlight the information that’s really important and even get newer, completely unexpected insights into the data sets.

Like the idea? We list some of the most innovative online data-visualization tools:

Tableau Public

Website:www.tableausoftware.com/public

After you install the software, you enter the data either as a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access) or text file with tab spaces. The software reads the file to identify variables. Once you choose the relevant variables, it creates a visual chart of your data. The software automatically tries to give the right kind of chart, but you can also manually choose from options such as bar charts, histograms, scatter plots, bubble charts, pie charts, bullet graphs, maps and heat matrix, etc. Tableau charts can also be interactive, so viewers can rearrange the data to analyse it from different perspectives. The chart is saved on www.tableausoftware.com

The downside is that visualizations and data are public—anyone can download your work. To keep it private, and for added features such as more filters and representations, you could buy the Personal Edition for $999 (around Rs. 50,300), or the Professional Edition for $1,999.

Cost: Free to use, with paid editions starting at $999.

Many Eyes

Website:www-958.ibm.com

Many Eyes, launched in January 2007, is one of the first data-visualization tools, and was created by IBM Research.

 

Continue reading “A guide to online data plotting”

The battle of the smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – which smartphone is smarter?

The two most hyped phones of 2011 are about to enter the Indian market. There’s the iPhone 4S with its magical personal assistant Siri, who listens to you and finds what you are looking for as soon as you ask for it. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). While the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be launched on 25 November, the Nexus will be launched early next month. As the Indian smartphone market readies for the launch of these phones, we send them out into the battlefield to find the smartest choice.

The contenders

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

An update to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S comes loaded with a powerful A5 processor, iOS 5, Siri and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. When it launched in the US last month, sales within a month broke all records at four million handsets and saw long lines of customers waiting to get their hands on one. The phone is already out for pre-order with a tie-up with Aircel and will launch in India later this month.

Price: 16 GB at Rs. 44,500 and the 32 GB variant at Rs. 50,900. No information available on the 64 GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

The latest Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus combines Samsung’s ever-improving hardware in a massive high-resolution, 4.65-inch screen with the latest Android 4.0. It hasn’t reached any customer yet, but is raking up a storm of anticipation. The phone is up for pre-order in countries like the US and UK and will be coming to India soon.

Price: The company has not released any information on price, though industry sources claim that it will be in the Rs. 35,000-40,000 price band.

Let the battle begin

Round 1: Display

The Galaxy Nexus comes with a whopping 4.65-inch of Samsung Super AMOLED HD curved display. With such a huge size for a screen, it walks a thin line between a tablet and smartphone and does it well (if you have rather large hands, that is). To pack a punch, it has a tempting 1280×720 resolution, which is the highest ever in a smartphone. It gives a new meaning to clarity and makes Web browsing, movie watching and gaming experience a breeze. It also eats up battery life.

Continue reading “The battle of the smartphones”

In the right direction

 

These GPS navigators are custom-made for Indian streets, so you won’t need to stop and ask about the route any more

Shweta Taneja

 

A map in hand is worth two on line when you are driving, says Amit Prasad, founder and CEO, SatNav Technologies, a Hyderabad-based GPS map-making company.

“You don’t need a phone GPRS connection, and re-routing is much faster in on-board systems,” he says. After all, cars honking behind you in traffic will not wait for the map to buffer on your smartphone. “A good GPS system talks to you and says ‘turn right’ at exactly the point where you need to take a turn,” explains Prasad. And since the maps are updated every six months, the very latest constructions are included in your map.

According to a report published last year by IE Market Research Corp., a Canada-based market intelligence and business strategy research and consulting firm, the navigation industry in India will be worth $158.4 million (around Rs. 793.58 crore) by 2014. New Delhi-based navigation company MapmyIndia’s director Rohan Verma claims his company has grown 600% in the last three years. “This is a testament to the significantly growing demand for GPS navigators,” he says, adding that guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are the main advantages GPS navigators have over smartphone maps.

Some GPS services available in India are:

Via by TomTom

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

Via by TomTom. Guidance, turn-by-turn instructions, ease of use and detailed maps are areas where GPS navigators score over smartphone options.

The Dutch navigation-system makers entered the Indian market in September with their Via series. The maps come loaded with TomTom’s unique Landmark Navigation functionality, wherein you can search for a specific place by a landmark around it, be it a famous monument, temple or park. The console also includes a “Help Me!” emergency menu that provides information about hospitals and other emergency services on the road. Of the three models available for India, Via LIVE 120 and Via 125 have voice controls, so you don’t have to stop or take your hands off the wheel. These two models also come with a mobile car-kit feature that can convert this device into a hands-free Bluetooth speaker. The mount which comes with the device attaches to the windscreen and can be turned up to 180 degrees. It comes with an 11cm or 13cm touch screen, depending on the model.

Continue reading “In the right direction”

Tweaks for tweets

 

Are endless tweets giving you a pain in the neck? We list some cool apps and websites that guide, curate and arrange the massive sea of information into bite-sized pieces for you

Time was when life was simpler. When all you had to do was reach office in the morning, check your emails, read some blogs, have a steaming cuppa and get on with your work. In the good old days, a message like “You’ve got mail!” brought a smile to your face. Heck, it even brought back the memory of a romantic movie.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

Tracking tips: Who you should follow, and how to increase your popularity on Twitter.

In Twitterverse, the voices in your feeds never stop. According to the official Twitter blog (blog.twitter.com), as of June end the micro-blogging social network was generating a whopping 200 million tweets per day. That is equivalent to a 10-million-page book of tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 epic novel War and Peace. Reading this much text would take more than 31 years, the blog tells us. Here are some efficient ways to manage the information overload on the five-year-old micro-blogging site.

Find the right people to follow

There are oodles and oodles of tweeters online, but there are only a few hundred influencers. If you don’t hear them on time, you might just miss the next big thing your fellow tweeters are talking about. Find the right influencers of your industry on Twellow (www.twellow.com) by category. The website scrounges through Twitter.com every day to come up with a list of influencers tabulated on the basis of number of followers, industry or categories such as entertainment, news, society and sports. Here you will find the people who are heard by thousands of people and whose tweets are retweeted the most, etc. TweetLevel.com, on the other hand, lets you search the right people to follow by entering a word in its search box.

Tell a tweet story

Feeling creative and want to play with your and other people’s tweets? Check Storify (http://storify.com). Still in its beta stage, the website is an innovative way of telling a story using social networks and the endless information online. You can use tweets, Flickr photos, YouTube videos and articles from the online space to tell a story about a topic, idea or concept. The interface is simple, with a search button where you can search for tweets using hashtags or words and then drag and drop them in your story. The story is publicly available and can be embedded into a website or a blog.

Archive a hashtag

Hashtags were lying forgotten on the number “3” key of your keyboard before Twitter introduced them to create tweet groupings. Now, a hashtag before any word in a tweet makes it about a group, event, occurrence, meet-up or idea. But what happens a day, a week or a month after the hashtag has been used? If you want to save the tweets of a hashtag from being lost forever in the ocean of information that is Twitter, try the Twapper Keeper (http://twapperkeeper.com) free service. It lets you archive up to two trends by hashtags, keywords or fellow tweeters. Another such free service is The Archivist (http://archivist.visitmix.com), which focuses only on hashtags. Once you link the site to your Twitter account, it can track a hashtag for you on a daily basis, and analyse it by users, volume, sources and retweets, etc., in a fancy graph.

Mute the noise

Your stream is inundated with the tweet traffic of retweets, automatically generated tweets from Foursquare or Gowalla about where your friends are or those irritating “I am sleeping now” tweets. In between all this traffic, you could miss the tweets that may actually be relevant to you. Mixero (www.mixero.com) is a Twitter client developed with the idea of “reducing the noise” or information overload. It lets you collate the people you follow by groups and see tweets according to groups, user platforms or channels….

Continue reading “Tweaks for tweets”

Powerhouse in your palm

 

The smartphone is bored. Day in and day out, we connect to the Internet, answer some emails, post a tweet or two and play Angry Birds. Sometimes we have long chats with friends or text angry messages to our boy/girl friends when they are late. However, most of us don’t realize the power we have in our hands. What most of us do with our smartphones is akin to driving a Ferrari or a Bugatti on a German autobahn at 40kmph—it’s simply sacrilegious.

So before your phone’s delicate touch screen gives in to the angst of its tedious existence, shift gears and make use of it the way it was meant to be used: innovatively.

Turn it into a Wi-Fi hot spot

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

Being ubiquitous: Don’t want to rush back to the office for a presentation? You can view the slides on your phone

It’s actually quite simple. Your phone has a 3G (or if you are still tied down to ancient technology, a 2G) Internet connection and a Wi-Fi adaptor. So why can’t it act like a Wi-Fi hot spot for your PC, tablet and other devices? All you need to do is install an app that makes use of your phone’s Internet connection and Wi-Fi adaptor and showers its Internet connectivity on to Wi-Fi-enabled devices around it. There are a lot of apps that help you do this, but the good ones offer encryption as well as password protection from lurkers— this is a must if you are using your phone Wi-Fi in a public space. Though some brands like the iPhone, HTC and the Nexus series come with built-in Wi-Fi tethering, the features are limited—it is best to download an app made for this purpose.

Start now: We like Connectify (www.connectify.me). It is a free app and can be used on Android-based systems. For Nokia phones, JoikuSpot (www.joiku.com) is a great app. Its free version turns your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot without password protection and basic Internet protocol support (which means no emails can be checked). The premium version, which costs around Rs. 580, comes with the ability to use a password to secure the network, encrypt it, and gives you full Internet protocol support. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 4.3, you can use the new Personal HotSpot, which is password- protected. For other iOS versions, try MyWi 4.0 (intelliborn.com). It can be used on jail-broken handsets and costs $19.99 (approx. Rs. 900). IPhone does not allow users to go beyond its operating system. Jail-breaking or hacking the system to install other apps is one way to bypass this.

Use it as a debit card

Bar code-based mobile payment is fast becoming a trend. In India, Airtel Money (www.airtelmoney.in) lets users load their mobile phones with money to make payments at select stores.

Continue reading “Powerhouse in your palm”

The circles of social networking

The virtual giant has done it yet again, with the Google+ Project. The latest rage, it is fun, easy to use and gives you a next-generation experience

Shweta Taneja

 

It is a little more than two weeks old, in beta stage, and already has two million users across the world. It has already crashed twice because too many people were logged in at the same time. Its regular invites are being sold on EBay.com for 99 cents (Rs. 44). A week after it was launched, Google’s marketvalue shot up by $20 billion. If you haven’t heard or read about it, you might as well have been living under a rock. Welcome to the latest rage in social networking, the Google+ Project.

Till now, social networking attempts by Google at best got responses such as “ahem” or an indifferent “so what?”. Google Wave became nothing but a techie haunt, Google Buzz stopped buzzing within a few days of its launch, and Orkut failed to attract anyone but sleazy lurkers. All of them fell off the online radar, and weren’t missed much.

But Google+ has an altogether different approach to social networking. It is fun and it offers a little bit more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut and all other social networks put together. According to Google, it aims to be a social layer on top of the search engine and all its product offerings, so that your Web experience becomes one seamless, integrated Web-social experience.

Circles and Hangouts

The social site revolves around Circles—which are specified groups of friends, family, acquaintances and the people you want to follow. You can create, edit and delete Circles with a simple drag-and-drop function. A tweet (@gstrompolos) describes the experience of putting the people you know in Circles as playing a never-ending game of solitaire with your contacts. Visually, that is what the drag-and- drop feels like.

Continue reading “The circles of social networking”

Two’s company

Ditch your multiple handsets for a sleek, popular dual-SIM cellphone, but be wary of dubious build quality. By Shweta Taneja & Krish Raghav

 

Three years ago, Mumbai-based entrepreneur Anun Charan decided to separate the phone numbers he needs for work from his personal contacts. Since he hated carrying more than one phone at a time, he bought a phone that could support two SIM cards.

“At that time, the only choice I had was to buy a cheap Chinese handset,” he says. Some months ago, when Nokia C2 was launched, Charan discarded his phone for the sturdy Nokia model. “Competitive network costs may be a factor while considering dual-SIM phones but the real plus is convenience. No two handsets, no two chargers and no two ringtones,” he says.

Delhi-based entrepreneur Rajesh Makkarhad is a frequent flyer who has to travel to Europe and the US for work. For him, swapping SIMs constantly and keeping at least one small rectangle safe and secure in his wallet at all times was a cumbersome exercise. “Nothing sucks more than constantly changing SIM cards in every continent,” he says. Samsung’s announcement of the launch of its Star Duos line of dual-SIM phones last month came to his rescue.

“Dual-SIM phones have been the latent need of Indian consumers, which MNC brands could not recognize,” says Gaurang Singh, senior editor, www.teleguru.in, a group of mobile experts who talk about the latest in the market.

The demand for dual-SIM phones is reflected in a study conducted by market intelligence and advisory firm IDC (International Data Corporation). India Quarterly Mobile Handsets Tracker, September 2010 says dual-SIM card slot phones have grown to touch as much as 38.5% of the total India mobile handset shipments, from less than 1% in the April-June 2009 quarter. Most of these phones, however, are offered at throwaway prices and are of dubious build quality.

“Dual-SIM phones also give customers an option to choose the best offer from service providers, which are coming in every month,” says Varun Krish, founder and editor of www.fonearena. com, a website that reviews cellphones. According to Singh, more phones are going to be launched in this category. “There’s a gap in the high end, smartphone category. There are just one or two phones up there, so there’s place for much more variety,” he says.

With new handsets being launched every month, and nearly 30 new mobile brands jostling for attention, here is a quick guide for those considering a dual-SIM phone.


Wynncom Y23

A small, stylish phone, the Y23 is made for someone who doesn’t have easy PC access. It comes with two SD card slots that support expandable memory up to 8 GB (4 GB + 4 GB). This makes it easier for the user to transfer data from one memory card to the other, without the need for another device. Other than this, it has the usual specs—FM, music, video player and camera, as well as practical features such as a torchlight and USB port.

Price: Rs. 1,600*

What we like: A great entry-level phone for this category.

 

Nokia C2

This is a long-awaited dual-SIM from Nokia with dual standby and a hot-swappable secondary SIM slot. This means the second SIM can be removed and inserted while the handset is still running. It’s ideal for any Nokia loyalist looking for a functional phone high on usability.The phone comes loaded with Ovi Mail, a free email tool that can be synced to multiple email addresses, and Ovi Life, another tool that provides information on healthcare, agriculture, education and entertainment. The memory capacity can be expanded up to 32 GB using Micro SD cards.

Price:Rs. 2,500*

What we like: It’s the usual Nokia—sturdy, reliable, durable, and with good after-sales service.

 

Aroma D110

Aroma is among the many new mobile brands offering basic value-for-money phones. At a throwaway price, the phone offers you a 2.4-inch 262K colour QVGA sharp display, a 1.3- megapixel camera, preloaded games, a multi-format music player and FM radio with recording. Add to that a video player, voice recorder and Facebook and MSN messenger applications and you have a nice, cheap substitute for a fully loaded feature phone. An expandable memory capacity of 2 GB takes care of all the additional things you would like to keep on the phone.

Price: Rs. 2,699*

What we like: Value for money and stylish to look at.

 

Fly MV135

It’s a basic handset that is strong on the entertainment factor, with a 2-megapixel camera, FM recording and an eBook reader. It offers Nimbuzz, Opera Mini and Snaptu for social addicts, as well as a few Java games. It includes a few nifty features such as call recording and call blacklisting, useful for those who might receive a lot of unsolicited calls (i.e, everyone). You can connect it through USB and Bluetooth with other devices.

Price: Rs. 3,949*

What we like: Good music options, including scheduled recording from radio as well as an equalizer.

 

Micromax X550 Qube

A stylish 3D interface in its 3.2-inch, touch-screen display makes it quite unique, though it tends to lag quite a bit. Other than that it has the usual 2-megapixel camera, stereo FM radio, a multi-format music player and video player. It is preloaded with Opera Mini mobile browser and social networking applications such as Facebook, Nimbuzz and Snaptu.

Price: Rs. 4,800*

What we like: Fun interface with 8 hours of talktime and six days of standby time for people who forget to charge their phones.

 

MVL G81

With a local push-mail service offer, it’s one of the basic business phones available in this category. This lightweight phone comes with a 2.4-inch colour display, a Qwerty keypad, a 3.2-megapixel camera, Quadband and FM radio with recording. The device offers Java, Bluetooth, with A2DP and EDGE connectivity. Its speed connectivity and Opera Mini, Nimbuzz and Snaptu apps make it a good choice for online addicts. You can store 2,000 phonebook contacts and 1,000 SMS entries. Featuring a mobile tracker, the device works well as a modem and allows PC sync support as well. Considered a common man’s smartphone.

Price: Rs. 4,500*

What we like: Its generous, Internet-supported attributes and push-mail service offer.

 

Motorola EX128

Launched earlier this month, EX128 is a value-for-money touch-screen model with a 3.2-inch large WQVGA display and a screen resolution of 240×400 pixels. Entertainment-wise, the phone offers a 3-megapixel camera, a video player and quick access to Gmail/Facebook/MySpace/YouTube. It’s good for music freaks as a huge library can be created in 32 GB expandable memory, the 3.5 mm jack gives you universal connectivity and long battery life ensures long hours of listening without interruption.

Price: Rs. 5,749*

What we like: A good balance between connectivity, entertainment and usability.

 

Karbonn K1212

This basic 3.2-inch touch screen is a nice overall package. The audio player features a CD-player-like interface, and plays all the standard formats. It even allows you to become DJ by pushing, pulling and rotating on on-screen disk. Entertaining, if purely decorative. You can also shake the phone to change songs and wallpapers and listen to stereo music wirelessly via a Bluetooth headset. Other than that, it comes with a 3-megapixel camera and quick access to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, eMSN and eBuddy. There is also a built-in data/fax modem.

Price: Rs. 5,100*

What we like: It’s sleek, value for money and fun to use, especially for music.

 

Samsung Star Duo B7722

There’s no smartphone in the dual-SIM market, but the Samsung B7722 comes close. The phone offers a 3.2-inch, touch-screen display with support for 262K colours. It gives up to 12 hours of talktime and uses both the SIMs for a unique 3G + 2G (HSDPA + EDGE) dual standby to expand communication networks. EDGE allows for faster downloads and file transfers while the HSDPA network connection is used to conveniently update status, upload photos and send messages through social networking sites. The handset comes loaded with a 5-megapixel camera with Power LED flash, video-recording capabilities, social networking widgets, a FindMusic service to identify songs, Document viewer, Stereo FM radio and recording. It has 250 MB internal memory, expandable to 16 GB with an SD card.

Price: Rs. 12,300*

What we like: Best battery time of 12 hours talktime, with a smooth touch screen and faster Internet browsing. Plus, it supports nine Indian languages.

* Prices listed are approximate.

For complete story, click here.