The pocket-sized DSC-RX100 features the world's first¹ 1.0 type CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm) with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels and F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 3.6x optical zoom lens. It’s the key to beautiful, detail-packed images and Full HD movie clips with very low noise. Watch the Video for Review:
A certain Karbonn Titanium S19 smartphone carrying a 13MP camera with a Sony sensor has been launched in India for a price of Rs 8999 as part of the company’s new Selfie range. The front snapper is of 5MP resolution and includes an IR film effect to let you click polished pictures of your own face.
The 13MP camera perched on the back panel of the Karbonn Titanium S19 phone boasts of an aperture of f2.0 and integrates a BSI sensor for low light photos. It comes with several useful features such as voice capture, smile detection and panorama shots. The handset runs on Android 4.4 KitKat at present and the company is also promising ‘guaranteed software updates’ for it in the future.
The 5-inch HD IPS OGS touchscreen nailed across the Titanium S19′s front is said to have gone through a full lamination process to render it extra clear and colorful. It grabs a certain iFloat Touch technology for enabling speedy access to messaging, calling, browsing and so on. What’s more, Karbonn has put Windows Phone-inspired tiles on the home screen for frequently used apps.
Karbonn Titanium S19 key specs list:
- Android KitKat v4.4 OS
- 5-inch HD OGS IPS display
- 13MP main camera, 5MP webcam
- 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal memory
- Up to 32GB expandability
- 1.3GHz quad core processor
- Dual SIM card support
- 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
- 2000mAh battery
The Karbonn Titanium S19 is available for less than its officially announced price, with the lowest rate so far being quoted by Saholic. If you’d rather pay a little more for a phone with a 5MP front camera from a better fairly known brand, there’s the Micromax Canvas Knight Cameo A290.
After teasing its high-end Eluga smartphone range in India for a long time, Panasonic recently unveiled the flagship Eluga U in India. Unlike flagships from other companies, Eluga U has hardware similar to Asus Zenfone 5 and Moto G but costs Rs 18,990. Does the top Panasonic model have what it takes to get the better of budget and mid-range phones? We find out in our Panasonic Eluga U review...
Build & design From distance, Panasonic Eluga U looks like any other Android smartphone available in the Indian market with its slab like design. It has rounded corners but no other distinguishing feature.
However, when you get your hands on it and turn it around, you realise you've seen this design before. The design of the phone's back is inspired by Google's Nexus 4, complete with a glass back panel that sports a textured pattern. Panasonic claims the glass on the back is shatter proof and in our usage we did not find it being prone to scratches. It won't be wrong to say that the back is a smudge magnet, though. It sports the rear camera and LED flash in addition to some branding.
The front of the phone is dominated by its 5-inch IPS HD display. The three capacitive navigation keys are placed below it while the 2MP front camera sits above it. Unfortunately, the capacitive keys are not backlit and don't offer haptic feedback.
The right edge features the power and volume rocker keys. The placement of the power key is awkward and makes using it cumbersome as it's located at the top right corner. Another quirk is that it's almost the same size as the volume rocker keys.
The left edge houses a flap that hides an ejectable sim-card tray and a microSD card slot. The sim-tray is like the one sported by Gionee Elife E7 mini with slots for both sim cards placed on a single tray.
The 3.5mm headset jack sits at the top while the microUSB port is placed at the bottom edge.
Overall, the phone looks better than Panasonic's previous offering but the Nexus 4 inspired design is now stale.
Display Panasonic Eluga U sports a 5-inch 720p IPS display. The display is not one of the best we've seen. It's not as bright as the ones on competing phones. This affects outdoor visibility to some extent. Also, despite being an IPS panel, the phone's display doesn't offer good viewing angles. We also noticed minor pixilation while viewing graphics and text. Other than these quirks, it's decent for casual multimedia use.
Software It's good to see Panasonic shipping the Eluga U with Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest iteration of the OS. Interestingly, the phone also includes a launcher that facilitates single hand operation. Panasonic calls it Fit Home UI. The Fit Home UI features an app launcher that takes up a little more than half of the screen and fits all app shortcuts.
This means that you don't have to go to the top most corner of the screen even if you want to access the first app and can navigate easily with just one hand. Another good thing about this launcher is that it even works in landscape mode. Unlike most Android phones, the phone's home screen also switches to landscape mode when you change the phone's orientation.
If you don't like this arrangement, Panasonic also includes the KitKat launcher (heavily inspired by Google Now launcher) that offers a stock Android-like experience.
Unlike most Android phones, to access the app switcher, one needs to double tap the Home key instead of long pressing it. Long pressing the same key launches Google Now. This is a bit confusing and you'll end-up firing Google Now most of the time.
Panasonic includes a few pre-loaded apps with the phone including its own music player called Music Cafe, a remote app for controlling Panasonic smart TVs, Pop-i-Player to play videos in a floating window (while using other apps), and a Hot n Trendy app that offers notifications related to deals and downloads. The video player also offers 'Smart Play' that pauses video when one looks away from the screen.
Camera Panasonic Eluga U sports a 13MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera.
It offers a slightly modified Camera app that offers users some control with toggles for granular settings. However, the biggest issue with the camera is shutter lag. There is considerable lag between pressing the shutter key and the phone actually capturing a scene. It's highlighted even more with an animation that involves the picture popping into the app's gallery view.
The image quality offered by the phone's rear camera in day light, is decent. However, focusing could be an issue especially while taking close-ups. Photos captured indoors in less light were very grainy. The camera is capable of shooting 1080p videos and did a satisfactory job.
The front camera captured decent quality pictures for selfies. It's also good for video chats. Overall, the camera is clearly not the talking point of this phone.
Performance Panasonic Eluga U is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. We were satisfied with the performance of the phone while navigating across the menu, launching apps, browsing the web and clicking photos.
The phone comes with 16GB internal storage out of which 13.2GB is available to the user. Storing multimedia content is not an issue since the phone supports microSD cards.
In synthetic benchmarks, the phone performs at par with Motorola Moto G barring Nenamark 2 where it lagged. The phone scored 17,635 in Antutu, 8548 in Quadrant and 53 in Nenamark 2 benchmark tests. But we'd not recommend a phone based solely on benchmarks as real world performance is different at times.
In terms of multimedia, the phone comes with FM radio, and also offers recording capability. The phone's built-in speaker offers decent sound output.
The default video player doesn't support all multimedia file formats. We were not able to play full-HD .MOV files but this can be resolved by using third-party apps.
Coming to call quality, we did not encounter any problems while making calls or any other issues while using two sim cards. We were satisfied with the phone's network reception. Voice clarity and loudness levels were also up to the mark.
The phone comes with GPS for navigation and maps and was easily able to lock a signal.
It comes with a 2,500mAh battery that offers decent backup. With moderate to high usage, including about one to two hours of making calls, playing games, clicking some pictures, listening to music and browsing the web, Panasonic Eluga U will easily last you a little more than a full working day, even if you put the screen brightness at the highest level and keep 3G turned on.
Gaming Games like Subway Surfers and Angry Birds run smoothly without any lag or stutter. Even graphics-intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger 2 performed decently with occasional frame drops. We did observe that the phone got a little warm after playing these games for more than 10-15 minutes.
Verdict At a price of Rs 18,990, the Panasonic Eluga U is an over-priced, mediocre flagship smartphone. Barring the battery life, latest Android version and decent performance, there's nothing that makes it stand out. The Nexus 4-like design language isn't fresh. The 720p display is not very vibrant and the camera suffers from shutter lag. You would be better off with a phone like Asus ZenFone 5 or Moto G (keep in mind that the next-generation Moto G is expected next month). If you have the patience (and luck), you can try grabbing the Xiaomi Mi 3 in the weekly flash sale. It is a much superior phone and costs Rs 5,000 less. If you're in the market for a good looking phone in the same range, you should look at Gionee S5.5.
Months after rolling out the KitKat update for the Korean version of Galaxy Note 3 Neo smartphone, Samsung has released the update for Indian consumers. The update is now available over-the-air as well as via Kies application.
495 MB in size, the update includes the usual KitKat goodies like performance enhancements, cloud-print support, UI improvements, updated Hangouts app, improved downloads app and more. The update will also come with Samsung-specific customisations like lock-screen improvements, new launcher settings, improved stability and more.
Among other details, the update carries build number KOT49H.N750XXUCNG6 and the exact Android version number is Android 4.4.2.
To manually check for the update, go to Settings > About Phone > Software update on your Galaxy Note 3 Neo. If you have already updated your smartphone, do let us know about the experience in comments.
LG Electronics (LG) has unveiled a pair of its new L Series smartphones - the L Fino and L Bello. According to LG, the smartphones are aimed at the first-time smartphone users in emerging 3G markets.
Powered by quad-Core processors, the L Fino and L Bello will continue LG's signature Rear Key button design and come equipped with an 8 megapixel rear camera. The L Fino will have a 4.5-inch display, while the L Bello will come with a 5-inch display.
Starting this month, LG will begin rolling out the L Fino and L Bello in key 3G markets in Latin America, with countries in Europe, Asia, and CIS to follow. Prices and additional details of availability will be announced locally at the time of launch.
The smartphones will be on display at IFA 2014 in Berlin.
L Fino: Key Specifications
Chipset: 1.2GHz Quad-Core
Display: 4.5-inch WVGA IPS (800 x 480 / 207ppi)
Memory: 1GB RAM/ 4GB
Camera: Rear 8MP/ Front VGA
Operating System: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Size: 127.5 x 67.9 x 11.9mm
Network: HSPA+ 21Mbps (3G)
Colours: White / Black / Gold / Red / Green (varies by market)
With its unique strategy that relies on word of mouth and social channels, Xiaomi has managed to re-create the buzz every Tuesday since its grand entry on July 22. After some number crunching and five fabulous Xiaomi Tuesdays, Flipkart is believed to have sold over 75,000 units. It is quite a high number to achieve in mere one month for a relatively newer Chinese brand in India.
The company has created a frenzy among users with its flash sales that puts limited units up for grabs. All the hype is justified, once we take a look at the specs of the device. For Rs 13,999, the Xiaomi Mi 3 is a steal with its jaw-dropping set of hardware. No wonder, it is being compared to booking a tatkal ticket on IRCTC. You also find a series of tips and tricks articles on how to successfully buy the Xiaomi Mi 3.
Well aware of the frenzy created by the device, not everyone is buying it to own a plush piece of tech. Some are even trying to make quick bucks, and others (foolish ones) are ready to shell out up to Rs 20,000 to buy it. Yes, you heard it right! A look at eBay and OLX and one will come across a series of ads with people willing to sell the Xiaomi Mi 3 that they successfully bagged. Bagging a device is being compared to successfully conquering an impossible task. In fact, we have a series of conversations about buying and selling the Mi 3 in our comments section of Xiaomi-related news.
Most of the ads show a sealed Xiaomi Mi 3 package from Flipkart, and the advertiser claims to have got their hands on two units. Some simply state they don’t need it as they already own a smartphone, and some others call it business. On the other hand, many readers have also begun mocking the sellers. The bottom line is simple – everyone is trying to cash in on the popularity and make some quick bucks. Now, there is nothing wrong with that as anyone who wishes to sell his phone once he or she owns it, can do so. However, the question is would really pay 19k or even 16k for a relatively newer Chinese brand?
Microsoft’s motion-tracking Kinect 2.0 sensor was supposed to be what differentiated the Xbox One from the competition. It was more than just a way to talk directly to your console: It was a tool designed to transform the game machine into a social and media hub, the tip of the spear in Microsoft’s fight to take over your living room. More than anything, it was supposed to be way, way better than the first Kinect.
Today, though, it seems little more than an afterthought.
The decision to decouple Kinect from the Xbox One in May was surprising only in that it took the company a good year to do so. We certainly saw this coming: The company spent most of 2013 backtracking on its initial stance that the Xbox One couldn’t exist without Kinect. That simply wasn’t the case.
Unbundling Kinect also made sense on paper, allowing Microsoft to lower the price of the system to better compete with the PlayStation 4. But since that move, the company has had very little to say about its once-heralded accessory. And while Kinect is still very much available, the ongoing silence has many people wondering if Microsoft is essentially walking away from the device.
At its recent press conference before the gamescom show in Germany, for instance, Kinect wasn’t mentioned at all. At E3 2014 in June, it was mentioned in a quick announcement about a new Dance Central game but otherwise flew under the radar.
Microsoft, not surprisingly, has downplayed talk that it’s de-emphasizing Kinect.
“That wasn’t, in any way, to make any editorial statement about the future of Kinect,” Phil Harrison, corporate VP at Microsoft, told IGN after the gamescom press event. “It’s just that these were the games we wanted to highlight in our briefing. The games that we focused on in our briefing were the blockbusters and exclusives for this holiday, 2014.”
Harrison’s follow-up comment, though, was more telling.
“We let the developers choose” whether they want to use Kinect, he said. “It’s one of the tools that they have in their tool belt for taking advantage of the Xbox One, and we hope they continue to do so.”
Punting the decision to use Kinect over to publishers is a graceful way for Microsoft to take a hands-off approach to its fate. That’s because developers have no real incentive to use the controller, given that creating a Kinect-less game gives game makers 10 percent more graphical processing power to tap into. The development system update that followed the Kinect decoupling, in fact, let game maker Bungie increase the resolution of the Xbox One version of Destiny.
Even Microsoft’s most notable in-house Kinect developer, legendary game company Rare, is stepping away.
Four years ago, then-Rare studio head Scott Henson announced the company’s allegiance to the peripheral, saying, “Kinect will be the main focus for Rare going forwards as it’s a very rich canvas. This is just the beginning of an experience that will touch millions of people.”
At gamescom, though, Xbox studio head Phil Spencer, in discussing what’s next for Rare, downplayed the relationship.
“I don’t want the Rare brand to mean Kinect Sports,” he said.
Kinect hasn’t been completely buried. In a prominent television campaign, actor Aaron Paul showcases its features (inadvertently turning on existing Xbox Ones around the country).
However, when that ad comes to the all-important price screen, the $399 non-Kinect version of the Xbox One is shown, presumably the version people will seek out at retail.
And Kinect games? There are only a handful in the pipeline right now: Disney Fantasia and Dance Central Spotlight from Harmonix, Shape Up and Just Dance 2015 from Ubisoft, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 from Halfbrick Studios, and the clever puzzle-platformer FRU from indie outfit Thought Games.
That’s a pretty meager crop, and at least one major publisher isn’t exactly gearing up for more.
“It depends which hat I put on,” said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, when asked for his thoughts about Microsoft downplaying Kinect at E3 this year. “When I put on the casual hat, it’s not good, for sure. We have less families with a camera. So it’s more difficult for [Ubisoft] to do content for families. [However,] when I put my gamer hat on, it makes sense.”
Without a significant slate of upcoming games to help promote it, Kinect in its current form seems destined for the bargain bin. It might not be dead yet, but it isn’t moving much.
Indian OEM Maxx Mobile has launched a new feature phone going by the name MX200 in the country at a very reasonable price of Rs 1848. But this is not as interesting as the company’s claim about it being one of the nation’s biggest brands for mobile phones and accessories, according to no one but Maxx Mobile or its PR agents.
For the present, the company does not figure among the top 5 mobile vendors in India and has been clubbed with ‘Others’ in the latest IDC report about handset market here. Coming back to the Maxx MX200, it is a basic device for those looking out for a backup or for first-time phone users.
In case you didn’t get it upon your first glance at this Maxx Mobile product’s orange and black or full black colored exterior, its rugged body is built to withstand some horseplay in all kinds of weather conditions. Since battery life is so important to users, the company has fitted in a big 5200mAh power house which can deliver about 11 hours of talk time.
Maxx MX200 specs run-through:
- 2.4-inch screen
- 8GB expandable memory
- Basic camera
- GPRS, Bluetooth, FM radio
- Dual SIM support
- 130.8mm x 57.3mm x 28.3mm
- 5200mAh battery
- Hindi, Gujarati, English support
Apart from this, the previously launched MX100 has also been upgraded from a 4400mAh battery to a 5200mAh power unit. The idea is to allow the feature phones to supply power to other compatible gadgets and since both can go on for a long time between charges, they are packaged as ideal handsets for those who live in regions facing frequent electricity blackouts.
Infibeam is currently selling the Maxx MX200 for Rs 1849, while the MX100 is going at Rs 1571.
If your kids keep borrowing your tablet to play video games and you’re thinking about buying them something of their own, Nabi is making an interesting pitch. The company recently announced launch plans for its Big Tab HD, a massive Android-powered slate that ships in 20-inch and 24-inch variants. Nabi has a history of releasing more traditional kiddie-friendly tablets, however the outfit says it’s looking to promote social interaction, which is why its new slab has enough screen real estate for two simultaneous users.
The Big Tab HD’s 20-inch model features a 1,600 x 900 display, while the device’s larger variant pushes a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, and both tablets ship with a Tegra 4 processor and 16GB of storage space. Not your typical dessert-themed version of Android, Nabi’s massive tablet runs Blue Morpho OS, which ships with parental controls and the ability to toggle between a kid-friendly experience and an unrestricted parent mode.
Set to release this fall, the Big Tab HD has a big asking price of $449 for the 20-inch model and $549 for the 24-inch version of the device.
Today, ZTE announced release plans for its nubia 5S mini, an unlocked LTE-capable budget-friendly smartphone that offers a little bang for your buck. Available on August 27th for just $280, the Chinese phone maker’s new smartphone sounds pretty decent on paper. The nubia 5S mini sports a 4.7-inch 720 x 1,280 display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 16GB of storage space, a 2,000mAh battery, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter for selfies and Hangouts.
So far, so good, but there’s a small caveat here. The nubia 5S mini ships with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean instead of Google’s current mobile operating system. Outdated OS aside, ZTE claims that the nubia 5S mini features some intuitive camera software, like independent control for focus, light metering and white balance capable of making an amateur photographer look like certified pro.
If you’re in the market for an affordable, off-contract smartphone and you don’t mind waiting for software updates, the ZTE nubia 5S mini is now available to pre-order from Amazon.
Samsung added to their line of Level audio products this morning with the announcement of the new Level Box Mini. As the name suggests, this is indeed the smaller version of their previously announced Level Box.
The Box Mini is Bluetooth speaker that offers users “a smart, seamless user experience combined with Samsung’s iconic design and premium sound technology.” The body of the speaker is “metallic,” sports a large 55mm stereo speaker and a passive radiator, which is “optimized to deliver a premium-quality sound that is powerful, crisp and balanced.” You could use it for conference calls or consume media, just like any other Bluetooth speaker. Devices are paired to it via NFC.
Through Samsung’s Level App, a user could control the Level Box Mini by adjusting volume, sending texts via speech, asking S Voice to complete tasks, etc.
Samsung noted in a press release for the Level Box Mini that it is 30% slimmer than the Level Box and includes a 1,600mAh battery that can last up to 25 hours. The Level Box Mini will be available in four colors: blue, black, red, and silver. Samsung did not mention availability or pricing.
Pushbullet, an app that continues to impress us with each new update, is back again with something that may blow your mind a little. The Pushbullet team is calling it “universal copy and paste,” because, through Pushbullet, you can now copy something on one device and then paste it through another, instantly.
To see universal copy and paste in action, be sure to watch the quick clip below. To try and explain it, though, think about a time where you are sitting at your computer and you find something on the web that you would like to share through an app on your phone that may not have a web or desktop experience. A quick copy of a URL on your desktop, for example, would then be available in your clipboard on a mobile device for sharing via app. It’s sort of like magic.
This new universal copy and paste requires the Pushbullet app for Android and the Pushbullet Windows desktop app (download). As of now, the Pushbullet team is working on Mac support. This new feature, however, does not work through the browser extensions.
Samsung is well known for launching a ton of accessories alongside their flagship devices. If the newest leak pans out, then it appears that the company is looking to improve the lives of select Galaxy Note 4 owners, as an Ultra Sonic case is reportedly in development.
With the Ultra Sonic case, the device sends out a burst of ultra sonic signals, and can then relay an audible alert of nearby objects to visually impaired users of the device. According to sources, the case features three range modes – short, middle, and long range. As the range is increased, the signal is narrowed, allowing for a further reach and return of data.
While exact use cases might be limited, Samsung will most certainly show off such ability at IFA in September if in fact the case gets released alongside the Galaxy Note 4.
Thanks to SamMobile, a detailed description of the case has been posted online, so we have pasted it here in an attempt to better understand what exactly Samsung has in store.
A new Humble Bundle is available for lovers of SEGA titles, specifically titles which involve Sonic the Hedgehog. Today, people feeling charitable can pick up Sonic 4 Episode I, ChuChu Rocket, and Virtua Tennis Challenge for whatever price they would like, but if you pay over the average of $3.70, you can also get Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, Sonic 4 Episode II, Crazy Taxi, and more to follow soon.
With Humble Bundles, you choose your price for the games, then determine where you would like the money to go. You can split it evenly between developers or can choose to give all proceeds to a predetermined charity. This Humble Bundle is directly involved in aiding the Child’s Play Charity, WaterAid, and UNICEF.
After a few days, Humble Bundle always adds in more games, so for a very low price, mobile gamers can grab a ton of great SEGA titles, so this bundle is not one to pass up. Plus, it’s for a good cause!
Last night, LG entered the Hi-Fi home audio market by introducing a new brand of audio products, called Music Flow. Music Flow, as a brand, is made up of a set of home audio speakers along with a companion app that allows you to easily listen to your entire collection of digital music both outside and inside the home.
On one side of the Music Flow equation, you have a set of Hi-Fi speakers (plus a bridge) that are setup within your house. The speakers range in power from 70W to 40W to sound bars. With the tap of your device, thanks to NFC, you can play music through a speaker with ease (a “first” in home Hi-Fi systems). If the speakers are bridged throughout your house, you could carry on your music experience in each room, a lot like how Sonos works.
On the other side of Music Flow, you have a companion app called Music Flow Player. This app is the hub and controller for your speaker system. According to LG’s announcement, the app also lets you listen to your music collection outside of your home even if the music is stored on a variety of devices. The app lets you listen to internet radio stations (Spotify, Deezer, Napster, and TuneIn) and provides recommendations for playlists as well.
If you needed an actual reason to buy these, the system may have one special feature. Should you be out and about, jamming away to your music collection via phone, but then return home, you can continue listening without interruption on your Music Flow system at home. That’s kind of cool, right?
The collection of Music Flow products will be on display at IFA during the first week of September. Availability will start in the UK this month before spreading to other European markets next month. A global rollout should happen some time after that. No pricing was announced.
Uber, the insanely popular ride requesting service that my hometown of Portland hates (personal problem), released an API this morning that allows partners to build-in Uber support to their apps and services. Through this API, apps can now “pass a destination address to the Uber app, display pickup times, provide fare estimates, access trip history and more.”
What does that mean? Well, it could be that you book a car to pick you up just after you book your restaurant reservation for tonight. Or maybe you need a ride to and from the airport, which you could book through you favorite airline’s app?
As of today, Uber has already partnered with 11 companies, including Expensify, Hinge, Hyatt, Momento, OpenTable, Starbucks, Tempo Smart Calendar, Time Out, TripAdvisoer, TripCase, and United Airlines.
Here are some other examples of how this new integration could work:
Dinner date? Request an Uber to your favorite restaurant right from the OpenTable app. Your driver will arrive already knowing where you are headed.
Catching a flight? The United mobile app shows ETAs of the closest drivers and fare estimates, so you can get reliable ride to and from the airport for less.
Night out? Time Out shows different Uber options—from low-cost to luxury—so you can be sure to arrive in style to the city’s best nightlife.
Need a place to stay? Book a room through the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts app and request a ride to your hotel right from the reservation screen.
Want a recap of your journey? Use Momento to view a timeline of your Uber trip history alongside other moments in your life.
At some point down the road, they may give apps the power to request rides, but for now, they want to keep that kind of power to a small group of partners.
To celebrate the launch of this API, Uber and many of its partners are offering $30 off first rides.
Web addresses are set to get multilingual in India. Soon you will be able to type in addresses in a web browser in the Devnagri script - with "dot bharat" standing in for the currently common "dot in" domain to begin with. The roll-out of the same begins on August 21.
In the 90-day "sunrise period" of the roll-out those with registered trademarks will be able to register domain names in languages that use the Devnagri script, such as Hindi, Marathi, Boro, Dogri etc. After the sunrise period, it will be thrown open to regular users of the internet.
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), an autonomous non-profit organisation, is responsible for peering of ISPs and routing the domestic traffic within the country. The NIXI and the government's Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) have worked on enabling this country code top level domain (ccTLD) of dot bharat. They say more such domains in different scripts and languages will eventually follow.
Currently, one can find content in various languages online. However, the URLs or web addresses are in English. With this rollout, even URLs would be in Hindi or Marathi. "Once the sunrise period runs smoothly, we will introduce other languages in other scripts such as Bengali, Punjabi, Kannada, Telugu etc. There is no timeline set for it yet, but we hope there will be enough pressure with the adoption of the Devnagri domains to implement it soon," says Mahesh Kulkarni, program coordinator at the C-DAC, heading the language technology group.
A few government websites too will be a part of the launch next week by the union minister of communications and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad. "For example, the pmindia dot gov dot in will be pradhanmantri dot sarkar dot bharat," says Dr Govind, CEO of NIXI.
While some quarters have welcomed the introduction of the new domain, others are doubtful of its success given the low internet penetration and low literacy rate in the country. A June 2014 report from research firm eMarketer, India had the third largest online user-base globally after China and the US but had the lowest internet penetration growth in Asia Pacific at 17.4%. Osama Manzar, who heads the Digital Empowerment Foundation, suggests getting more people and public institutions online rolling out local language domain names.
"This is not a bad move, but I doubt and wonder if it will encourage people to buy domain names in Indian languages. Is it in sync with the national digital infrastructure? It is important that the government encourage every department and village panchayat to get online with a website along with this," says Manzar.
Sahitya Akademi-winning Hindi writer Uday Prakash finds the Devnagri domain a welcome move, but stresses on the importance of making quality content in regional languages available online. "It's a good step and will help those who are not comfortable with English. However, the problem remains that most of the content online is in English. If I search for Robin Williams in English, I will find hundreds of webpages. But if I google the same name in Devnagri, I'll hardly find anything," says Prakash.
On the other hand, there is also the view that the move towards a multilingual web need not follow a set path. "If a poor person buys a mobile phone before he build a toilet, who are we to judge? It is a market phenomenon. Like a jigsaw, some pieces of the puzzle may be worked out in advance. There are things like Indic input keyboards, text to speech and speech to text that need to be in place before an Indic language speaker can have the same experience as an English language user of the internet," says Sunil Abraham, executive director of Bangalore-based research organization Center for Internet and Society.
In October 2013, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) delegated generic top level domains in Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts. This was under the Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) fast track process of the ICANN, which began in 2009, inviting requests from countries for territory names in scripts other than Latin. Meanwhile domestically, the union government has made a push for the use of local languages.
The recent closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios by Microsoft MSFT +1.19% as an effort to refocus the company signaled that the company’s digital TV ambitions on Xbox was likely coming to an end. Outside of a few existing projects in the works like the high profile Halo: Nightfall, it seemed that Xbox would not focus seriously on TV show content for its players going forward.
But now there’s some interesting news out of THR that says Microsoft is shopping around Xbox Entertainment Studios to Warner Bros. The media giant is reportedly considering merging XES with the video game network it already has a large stake in, Machinima, though reps for both have declined comment on the possible deal as of yet.
Many may not realize that Warner Bros. even owns a large part of Machinima, but as recently as March 2014, Warners led a $18M round of funding for them. Machinima is often viewed as the “only game in town” when it comes to high profile YouTube video game partnerships, allowing their content creators to make videos featuring game content free from many tricky copyright issues that plague the unaffiliated. Though even their partners ran into trouble during a recent YouTube crackdown on content, and many pointed the finger at Machinima for not doing enough to prevent it.
Machinima is no stranger to working with Xbox, and helped to distribute the last Halo web series, Forward Unto Dawn, which ended up being the inspiration for the new Halo: Nightfall. The deal would potentially allow for more collaborations like that, though with Warner Bros. directly involved, they may look to bring much of the digital content to actual broadcast networks. Halo: Nightfall is already in talks to come to Showtime, even ahead of this possible deal.
It should be noted that Sony is still pressing ahead with their PlayStation TV show plans, including the upcoming Powers, based on the Brian Michael Bendis comic. If Sony’s concept of video game-based TV takes off and Microsoft has abandoned those plans completely, they could end up behind the curve.
That said, it’s easy to remain skeptical about the idea. While streaming services like Netflix NFLX +1.84% and Amazon are accessible by anyone across a number of devices, which means original content by those brands makes sense, the same can’t really be said for video game systems. These shows would be restricted to not just video game consoles, but one brand of video game console and only with a specific kind of subscription (Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus). That’s limiting your audience in a pretty huge way, and it may be that Microsoft may have the right idea by partnering with a more traditional media company for possible distribution. In Sony’s case, Powers very well may be an amazing show in the end, but limited to a select audience, it may not find the reach it deserves. And certainly no one is going to pick up a game console to watch even a handful of original shows, so it mostly exists as a fun bonus for existing owners.
An XES partnership with Machinima may worry some, however. The brand isn’t exactly beloved these days in the gaming scene, with many content creators coming forward to tell tales of how they’ve been mistreated in one way or another by a company that feels like something of a monopoly in the YouTube gaming realm. As recently as today, YouTuber Broteam came forward with a lengthy diatribe explaining how his handlers were fired without him knowing, Machinima explicitly told him to change his content from retro to present day, and he wasn’t paid an amount that was initially agreed upon in his contract. The story got worse when Machinima Producer RickyFTW started joking about Broteam’s complaints on stream, and suggested his contract be extended out of spite. Needless to say, Machinima hasn’t won all that many fans as of late, and some would be wary of them partnering with XES this closely in the wake of a possible Warner Bros. deal.
None of this has come to pass yet however, and XES remains in limbo until something official is worked out. One way or another, Halo: Nightfall will at least see the night of day, but Microsoft’s other TV plans may be put on hold indefinitely, or transferred to a more traditional media giant.