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10985

In Summary

What we like:
High speed 4G LTE connectivity
Compact design
Nexus like OS experience
Reasonable price
What we don’t like:
Limited amount of internal storage
Outdated OS
Average camera performance

Introduction

Around an year ago, Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s largest and leading telecommunication service provider, took a bold step with the launch of their own “Dialog branded” smartphones to the local market. The Dialog i-series as it was known, offered smartphones running Android OS at less than Rs.9000. Decent hardware offerings and competitive pricing made the devices popular around the country. This led Dialog to launch an upgraded K-series later that year.

Meanwhile, Dialog also became the the first operator in Sri Lanka to introduce 4G LTE for mobile devices, last year. Mobile LTE brought unprecedented high speed internet on smartphones at affordable prices. On the other hand, it also had hardware limitations since subscribers needed to have 4G enabled smartphones, that cost a fortune in Sri Lankan market. To overcome this limitation, and as part of expanding their self-branded device line-up, Dialog has launched Dialog Q 143L – an affordable 4G enabled smartphone to the Sri Lankan market. This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990. Dialog also offers free voice, SMS and data bundles along with the device for a limited period of time. Dialog also offers credit card payment plans to their customers who want to purchase this device. And yes, the device is network locked for Dialog.

This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990.

We were lucky enough to try out the device at the time of launch. I have been playing with the device for a while now and even took the risk to use it as my daily driver for few days.

Inside the Box

Inside The Box

Inside the box: Power adapter, Data cable, Headset, Battery, and the Device

The device comes in a simple packaging. Inside the package, you get a wall adapter, a USB cable that can be used for charging and data transfer, and a standard headset along with the device itself and a battery. For a detailed look, check out our exclusive un-boxing video below:

Hardware Specifications and Design

The Dialog Q143L can be considered as a mid-range device, considering the specifications and price. The device is manufactured by ZTE, which holds a huge market share in many Asian countries along with competitor Huawei. To be more specific, Dialog Q 143L is a re-branded version of  ZTE Grand X LTE T82, which was originally released during the latter part of 2012. True, the original hardware is pretty old for 2014, but it still manages to  stack up well against the mid range offerings available today.

Specs Sheet

The Dialog Q143L packs a 1.5 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon chipset powered by ARMv7 processor, a power efficient model in the market. The device has 1GB of RAM along with 4GB of internal storage. If that sounds underwhelming, note that it supports upto 32GB of external storage support via a microSD card and thankfully the device comes with a 4GB microSD card preinstalled. I did not encounter any issues related to internal storage during my temporary usage. But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage. The Q143L sports a 4.3 inch qHD screen (540 x 960 pixels) with around 256 ppi of pixel density. The screen looks crisp. I did not encounter any specific issue while browsing or playing games. The device measures 130.9 x 65 x 11.2 mm and weighs around 150 grams. The device does feel a bit bulky once the battery is inserted. I did feel the difference since my current device weighs around 20 grams less than Q143L.

But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage

Front View: Plain and Simple

Front View: Plain and Simple

The front display looks plain, except for the speaker grill on top. There are no physical buttons on the front. The nexus-style onscreen buttons appear only when the device is unlocked. The silver-outline gives the device a premium look. The device does not feel cheap on hand. The overall design is compact, and well suits one handed usage. The rear of the device has a textured finish which provides a good grip. It also has a little hump at the bottom edge, which reminds me of the Galaxy Nexus. Another notable addition is a rear flap next to the camera, which, once opened,  reveals the external antenna connector. Even though we rarely see this on devices these days, it can be useful if you are planning to use the device as a 4G hotspot and require steady coverage.

Textured back. The little hump reminds me of Galaxy Nexus.

Textured back. The little hump reminds me of Galaxy Nexus.

Camera

Dialog Q143L is equipped with an 8MP camera with autofocus capabilities and an LED flash. It is also capable of recording 1080p videos. There’s nothing extraordinary here. But 8MP is the best offering on a mid-range device. It more than enough for the daily Instagramming needs one might have. But I must admit, I am not a fan of the camera interface. It takes up almost half of the screen thereby limiting the viewfinder area. The camera software does not have anything special to offer either. The device also has a 1.3 MP front facing camera which can be used with video calling apps.

Battery

The device is powered by a 1900 mAh removable battery which is one of the positive aspects of the device. The device has been optimized well that it easily managed to last more than one day of average use, with 4G data switched on almost all the time.

Connectivity: LTE for the win!

If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.

The connectivity options are what make this device stand out from the rest and make it worth the buck. Apart from supporting, the usual 2G, 3G and even DC-HSDPA (dual carrier) the Q143L provides support to 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz LTE bands on category 3, which means download speeds upto 100 MBPs. If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.

The OS: Outdated but doesn’t disappoint.

The Dialog Q143L runs on Android 4.0.4 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. In my opinion, this is the only notable area (apart from internal storage) where I would have loved improvement. The reason is that the OS is pretty outdated for 2014, even though there are large number of devices still running ICS. But since ICS is visually similar to Jelly Bean, you will not need to worry much. It also offers support to almost all the latest apps in Google Play. Google recently released Android 4.4, aka Kitkat, a much smoother and updated version. Notable part of KitKat is that it is designed in a way to run smoothly even on low end devices with standard hardware configurations. I do feel Dialog should consider providing an OS update to KitKat on Q143L which will definitely improve the quality of the device.

The UI gives a Nexus feel

The UI gives a Nexus feel

Since this is a Dialog branded device, Dialog has added their personalized booting animations to the device. Dialog Q143L also comes pre-installed with many Dialog branded apps including D-App, MyTV, Star Points App and My Traveller App. It also has SETT browser, which supports browsing local language websites, pre installed. It is specially useful since Android ICS does not offer full support to local language font rendering. Overall experience feels smooth since there is no noticeable visual changes done to the default look of Android (unlike Samsung or HTC devices). The UI almost feels like that of a Nexus device. Other little additions are the unlocking pattern/animation and the shortcut options available on the home screen when you swipe the unlock icon. It is enabled through the Mi-EasyAccess app that comes pre installed.

Performance

The overall performance is good. The device feels snappy. I did not face any issue in running most apps. Those who love to play games on their phones need not to worry too. Dialog Q143L is powerful enough to run most of the games, including the ones with heavy visual effects. But when running heavy apps, I did  feel a slight lag. It is rather common in any device of this specs in my opinion. I do feel this can be overcome with a software update. I also ran some benchmarks tests on the device. The Q143L scored 10879 on AnTuTu Benchmark; slightly higher than galaxy S2. It also scored 1633 on PassMark performance Test. In this case slightly lower than Galaxy Nexus. On Quadrant Standard, the Q143L performed better much better than Galaxy Nexus and got a score of 4577. On CF-Bench, the CPU and memory benchmark tool, the Dialog Q143L  once again scored better than Galaxy S2 with a score of 11727. Even though the benchmark scores are affected by various factors, the Q143L gave some consistant results mostly in the range of galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus, two extremely popular Android devices. AnTuTu Score

Competition

So how does the Dialog Q143L stack up against the competition in the current market? Is it really worth spending 35K on this 4G enabled smartphone? As I mentioned earlier, the options available for 4G enabled devices in Sri Lankan market is very limited, specially when it comes to affordability. So the Digit team did some market research and came up with a head to head comparison of the cheapest 4G LTE enabled handsets in the Sri Lankan market. There are two types of offerings in the local market. One is from the authorized dealer of a certain brand. The dealer provides the warranty and after-sales service. Prices are standardized by dealers for the local market. Usually smartphones sold through Sri Lankan mobile service providers also come through these authorized dealers. Apart from dealers, there are mobile phone shops that import the devices directly and sell it locally. The warranty and service is provided by the respective shops.

The difference I am trying to highlight is the price. In the local market the authorized dealer prices are usually very high compared to prices at mobile phone shops in places like Liberty Plaza. Also availability of certain variants/ models of the smartphones also differs between authorized dealers and non-dealers. Taking all this into account we came up with the following chart.

Note that there is a wide gap between price ranges. For example the cheapest of the list, LTE enabled Galaxy Ace 3 variant was available only at selected shops. (Not with authorized dealer). The closest competition to Dialog Q143L in terms of price were, Xperia V and Lumia 820. But then again their prices from authorized dealers were clearly higher than that of Q143L. Overall, considering the warranty, after sales services and the additional benefits, I feel Dialog Q143L can be considered as the most affordable 4G LTE enabled smartphone in the Sri Lankan market. This is specially applicable if you are a Dialog customer.

Verdict

Dialog Smartphone score 7/10Q143L is a mid range Android device targeted at Dialog customers who want an affordable device to experience the high speed internet offering.  In other words, Dialog has tried to bridge the gap between high end specs (LTE) and affordability, with the Q143L. It is a welcoming move. It is also a bold step taken by a Sri Lankan service provider to launch their own branded device which may lead to them launching latest devices with affordable contract plans like in many other countries. Looking at the specs and network limitations, the Q143L may not be for the expert users who like more customization. It is rather suitable for new users looking to convert to Android from other platforms (like Blackberry) or users who want to try a smartphone for the first time. The LTE connectivity is definitely the winning point of the device while the OS and internal storage could have been better.

Dialog Smartphone performance chart

19919

Few months back Sri Lanka reached a new milestone in the travel industry, with the deployment of the “Touch Travel Pass” – an NFC enabled contactless smart card that can be topped up and used to pay the bus fare. It became the first ever initiative to bring NFC technology to the transport sector in Sri Lanka.  Lanka Private Bus Owners Association took the bold step to propose the said system to the National Transport Board and the first phase was launched last June.

Sri Lanka’s mobile giant, Dialog Axiata PLC joined as the principal sponsor for the project and along with Lankan based contactless payment specialist, Orik Payment Solutions. They decided to deploy NXP’s MIFARE DESFire technology for this secure contactless payments and transport ticketing system. Initially the system was introduced on the 138 bus route and few weeks ago, the project got expanded with more bus routes (122, 125 etc) being included. During the course of this year, Dialog has planned to roll out the system throughout the Western Province and eventually nationwide, for the benefit of an estimated 20.6 million Sri Lankan commuters.

NFC and Travel Industry

Near Field Communication (NFC) on a wider scope enables wireless transactions and data transfers between two end points. Over the years, NFC has come along a rough journey filled with love and hate from various entities. For example Google has been a strong backer for the technology. From Android Beam to Google Wallet, the company has tried hard to push the technology to the consumer market. Google wallet payment is accepted by many merchants in the US. In New Jersey you can pay your transport fares via Google Wallet. But whether these NFC implementations have been a success, is not an easy question to answer; for the availability and adaptation levels vary in different countries. On the other hand, Apple, which is pushing iBeacon – a possible competitor to NFC technology, has always been a criticizer of NFC implementations. Leaving these aside, a recent report says that in 2014 around 416 million handsets will ship with built in NFC modules. The target is to get the number to 1.2 billion by 2018.

If you can remember, Dialog launched an NFC sticker sometime ago to manage their Star Points system

With these interesting developments, some experts say “2014 will be the year of NFC”. Well, we may need to wait to see the progress. As you can see, smartphones have played a big role in the rise of NFC. But the availability of NFC enabled handsets is still quite limited in many markets. For example, you don’t get NFC in feature phones mostly. iOS devices don’t come with the NFC module.

World Shipments of NFC Enabled Cellular Handsets

Smartphones are not the only option to take the benefits of NFC to the masses. If you can remember, Dialog launched an NFC Touch sticker sometime ago to manage their Star Points system. The stickers come pre-programmed for the mobile number and can be pasted on the phone or wallet and can be used at the merchant’s POS machines to earn and redeem Star Points, without the need to do the process manually. The NFC enabled touch-cards are another way to do it.

How does “Touch Travel Pass” work?

The Touch Travel Pass card is available for purchase at merchants along the deployed routes. They’re priced at Rs.200, that includes a refundable deposit of Rs.175 (i.e you can claim it back if you decide to stop using the card.). After buying the card, the commuter will have to top it up with credit (just like reloading a prepaid mobile number). The merchants have been educated on how to handle the recharges. Dialog also plans to expand the recharging facility to 14,000 eZcash recharge points around the country, along with the expansion of the project.

After buying the card, the commuter will have to top it up with credit (just like reloading a prepaid mobile number)

The merchants will utilize the special POS machines for this process. And once recharged, you can start using it on the bus. You can pay for the bus tickets by holding the  Touch Travel Pass near the special POS equipment carried by the Bus conductors. The card does not need to be tapped on the machine. Holding it close to the machine (around 2 or 3 inches) would do. According to Western provincial Council Transport Minister, “with the expansion of this system, Commuters’ frequent complaint of not receiving balance money properly could be addressed”.

On the consumer point of view, that’s the most useful part. For the bus owners, this method gives the opportunity to monitor the amount collected by the conductors, since the amounts are automatically updated on their bank account. Further more, this will also mean the owners can show this “daily income report” to the banks whenever they need to obtain loans. (Banks do expect you to show them you have a steady income).

Dialog has produced a nice video to explain how the Touch Travel Pass works in the bus. Check it out below.

Immediate Challenges

Technology improves the way of living in urban towns, like Colombo. But this will also bring challenges to both the involved parties and consumers. For example, there are lot of parties involved in this project. From Government bodies, transport associations, mobile service provider and the technology provider along with the top-up merchants and the bus conductor. So whom does the commuter reach to when he/she encounters an issue with the card or payment? As of now, Dialog has provided a dedicated “Touch Service” hotline through 1415, which has an option for the Touch Travel Pass related information. But how solutions will be provided through this service and the time frame, are still unknown. I tried contacting the number to ask how it works, and I was told they don’t have any details as of now, since the project is still in trial phase.

As of now, Dialog has provided a dedicated “Touch Service” hotline through 1415, which has an option for the Touch Travel Pass related information

Educating the conductors and merchants will also be a time consuming challenge. According to sources, bus owners are provided with loan facilities to purchase the ticket machines needed for this system with the coordination of the People’s Bank. It is also learnt that so far 840 bus owners have applied to purchase the ticket machine. It will be necessary to train the conductors accordingly. I’m sure Dialog is aware of this challenge, since they have already faced similar ones when they launched the eZcash payment system.

It has always been pointed out that NFC lacks standardization. This also has brought security concerns over time. There has been incidents where security experts have pointed out how these smart cards can be exploited using everyday technology. But it is also undeniable that over the years, the security aspect of NFC has improved a lot. And security may not be an immediate issue in Sri Lanka, at least until the cards begin to be used for transactions beyond purchasing bus tickets.

The Future

In addition to transport ticketing, Touch Travel Pass can be improved to work as a payment solution in shops and taxis in the near future. It’s the way to go forward, I guess. Specially this will be useful when you travel in taxis (meter tuk-tuks) where passengers usually end up without having change money. It will function more like a debit card (or like the rechargeable Sampath web card?) without the need of your signature.

As a frequent train commuter, I’d really like to see this in railway stations

One should also note this is more suitable for small payments which you perform on the move. As a frequent train commuter, I’d really like to see this in railway stations. Commuters spend a lot of time in queues purchasing tickets and end up missing the train they had to take. This will also be a great service for the tourists visiting Sri Lanka, who are most of the time unaware as to whether they are paying the right amount, and often get cheated while commuting.  It is also planned to use this technology to enable NFC-based mobile phone ticketing in the near future.

2194

All great things start with someone dreaming big about an idea. Experience of dreaming about such an idea is joyful and you soon realize it’s the next big thing. This state of mind gets shattered when this idea reaches the point of execution. Reason for this is the dreams are seen in perfect world mindset and execution takes place in real world.

This book helps the entrepreneurs to come out of the perfect world and accept the reality in making the business venture a success. Therefore “Reality Check” gives a pulse of the bitterness of real world when it comes to starting and nurturing a business.

“Reality Check” is an in depth explanation of Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start”. Topics are discussed in greater detail by bringing in specialist opinion for related topics and diving in to technicality with greater detail.

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Continuing his style of breaking the topics based on the phases of a startup, Kawasaki explains the reality of many key milestones. Some of the notable elements from these chapters are as follows.

  • Conceptualizing and funding the idea of a startup are crucial as the entrepreneur is moving from a “The idea” mindset to a “Will it work” mindset. Kawasaki starts the discussion with the fairy tale of entrepreneurship. Then he provides guidance on how to overcome the shocks mainly in identifying the time to “commercialize the idea”.

The approach of educating the reader about investor mindset through his personal experience and expert opinion would be valuable for a reader who has plans of becoming a venture capitalist. He also introduces his unconventional “Venture Capital Aptitude Test” model which can be used as a tool to evaluate the qualifications to become a venture capitalist.

In an attempt to provide insight to venture capital law, Kawasaki has included an interview of Fred Greguras who is a specialist on the subject matter. As the legal explanations are deeply technical, attractiveness of the reader diminishes.

  • Planning, executing & innovating are the most critical phases of a startup. Also these are continuous processes which require high level of focus. Kawasaki shares his wisdom in these areas in a chapter named “Zen of business plan”. The most attracting factor is the link he bridge between pitching and planning, which would benefit the entrepreneur in many aspects including funding.

Advising on execution, he explains the challenging aspect of it and hence to make it a worthy effort. Then Kawasaki writes the best chapter of this book “After the Honeymoon”. This focuses on few highly practical issues faced by a startup immediately after the initial success phase. What makes this chapter special is the candidness of problems highlighted, it signifies the causes and most importantly it provides practical solutions which meet the reader’s expectations.

This also includes the story of building one of his startups “All top” presented in a very interesting manner.

  • Marketing, Sales& Communications are equally important for any startup to get the bucks to flow and spread the name across. This becomes a challenge with initial financial constraints and over spending can bring things to a grinding halt.

This section of the book stresses the importance of balancing market adaptation without trying costly, ineffective approaches to add numbers which hinders real market adaptation.

The reader would also come across guidance on startup focused branding techniques, aspects to be mindful in delegating marketing activities and importance of managing the extent to which the customers should be influenced in selling.

Many young entrepreneurs struggle when they are exposed to corporates in business development aspects. One of the main reasons for this is weakness in communication and lack of presentation skills. Therefore, Kawasaki has dedicated special emphasis to this sharing his own amazing techniques which he believes that would result in standing ovation, a chapter from Garr Reynolds and an in-depth analysis of Majora carter’s TED Talk.

  • Beguiling &Competing is important especially after the launch of a startup. Beguiling assists an entrepreneur to attract and influence people in network building and recruitment. In this chapter Kawasaki stresses the importance of capitalizing on networks an entrepreneur builds. He points out frequent mistakes done in following up with the built contacts and signifies how costly it could be.

When network building results in business partnerships, getting partners to deliver results become challenging. This often happens when the partner has higher bargaining power compared to the startup. In order to overcome this, Kawasaki points out the ground rules to be laid, how exit strategies to be put and how to drive internal acceptance to reap benefits from such partnerships.

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Focusing on competition, Kawasaki recalls his experiences at Apple’s Macintosh division where competition was at peak internally and against IBM. He guides the reader how to take the tide and how not to get carried away with competition. Emphasizing on understanding the mindset of competition, Kawasaki also lists down some of the best examples including how Virgin Atlantic took on British Airways in 1986 which proves that competition is best handled by tackling minds.

  • Managing HR &Operations would not be the task an entrepreneur will handle in the mid/long term. But the way an entrepreneur handles this at the inception would determine how it would be practiced as it would embed to the culture. Therefore, hiring, firing & managing day to day operations is been paid extra attention in this section. 

Kawasaki uses his experience with Steve Jobs to explain hiring which includes the famous “A players hire A+ players” example he initiated at Apple. Among other valuable points, presenting a challenge to the candidate is noteworthy. Kawasaki mentions the challenge Steve Jobs gave to John Scully when he was recruited to highlight the importance of this.

Continuing his style, Kawasaki turns the table to guide the reader in tackling these situations as a candidate.

Vitality of being responsible, firm and providing chances in laying are being discussed in greater depth to enlighten the reader of risks involved.

Focusing on business operations, Kawasaki lists out a number of tips covering many aspects to enjoy work and be productive.

Kawasaki concludes this chapter with some “Must Read” radical topics related to work place politics and also provides his unconventional models to tackle them.

Ensuring the completeness and relevance of this book to all types of startups, Kawasaki has written the final chapter Reality of Doing Good. This section gives insights in to challenges faced in social entrepreneurship and transforming corporations in to Nonprofits. He also shares his way of viewing life in a chapter named “My Hindsights in Life” and asks ten questions from the reader which he calls the “Checklist of Reality Check”.

Mentioned below are some views about this book from a holistic standpoint

  • In this book, Kawasaki’s attention to detail on key elements of a startup is commendable. Throughout the book he stresses the importance of developing simple and attractive customer interfaces to enhance customer experience which is a critical success factor.
  • Also, this is a book full of lies. Truth about lies that Entrepreneurs, Venture capitalists, Engineers and Lawyers tell each other when they play their part. These are real lies which you would tell/hear and hence provides guidance to how to be creative in telling new lies.
  • This book consists with number of chapters where technical experts were interviewed. In many instances these chapters are discussed in greater detail. This has negatively impacted on the flow as it dilutes focus from the core subject matter. Alternatively, a summarized version in Kawasaki’s own opinion would have added more value.
  • Another distinct feature about Reality Check is that it puts the reader in to many different tough situations and provides guidance to tackle those situations. Advising on handling situations such as founder not performing is a clear evidence for this.final1

In conclusion, Reality Check would gain a rating of 6 out of 10 for the validity of points mentioned above. Better selection and sequencing of sub chapters, less number of expert interviews anda much brief approach would have resulted in a better rating.

2090

While going through a startup struggle, writing a review for this book has been immensely challenging as this turns out to be my first book review. However, the beauty of this book is that it has motivated and guided me to complete crucial phases of my startup as I read through it.

The GIST of this book is that it’s about the PURPOSE of everything an entrepreneur experiences in building a successful startup. This book is clearly exclusive as it is written to address key issues of entrepreneurship for many reasons briefed below.

Guy Kawasaki has used his expertise on this subject from various aspects of his career being an evangelist, an entrepreneur & a venture capitalist. This gives Kawasaki the perfect leverage to attract and give the reader an interactive experience.

One main reason for success of this book has been the precision in identifying and sequencing phases of a startup. Discussed below are some of the most notable elements of the important phases.

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-          Causation is the starting point of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is helpless at this stage and often gets in to hasty conclusions to prove what he/she believes is correct. This chapter provides guidance to rigorously question and clarify the purpose of initiating a startup.Kawasaki continues to prove his mastery practicality by highlighting the importance of stepping in to the executing phase while planning for long term. Simultaneously there is focus on launching a prototype along with building your Mantra.

-          Articulation is undoubtedly the bitterest phase of a startup for any entrepreneur,and is often rushed through. As a result, most good startup concepts fail and never take off. In this chapter the venture capitalist in Kawasaki takes a different approach compared to accepted norms.Kawasaki engages the reader closely by diving into tactical aspects of positioning, pitching & planning. Practicing the concepts of “10/20/30 Rule”and“Answering the little man”mentioned under this chapter, guides the reader to smoothly cross through the Articulation phase.

-          Activation is the phase that an action biased entrepreneur is anxious to achieve. This is also widely known as the toughest phase of a startup. In this 40 page chapter, whilst emphasizing on the truth of making ideas happen, Kawasaki reinstates the saying;“It’s not about the idea, it’s about making the idea happen”. Building bottom up forecasts, shipping before testing, making money through your Mantra and making recruitment a daily practice could be some of the most valuable lessons a reader would learn.

-          As the startup moves to next levels, gaining acceptance (market & internal) becomes a key driver for success. Therefore the chapters of Proliferation & Obligation are focused on this element. Tactics for building a brand and identifying opportunities for rainmaking are discussed comprehensively while making connections to interesting concepts through other sources.

The above reasons are only a minor contribution to the success of Kawasaki’s book. However, following are the main reasons readers and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to this book making it a phenomenal success.

-          Entrepreneurs by nature are casual and informal people. They rarely follow manuals and procedures.As an entrepreneur himself, Kawasaki has applied this informality in his writing to display an authentic feel of the different phases of startups. Each heading/sub heading of this book is constructed in an informative and advisory format.Through this Kawasaki ensures the reader remembers the key messages.

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-          Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. Gradually those mistakes turn out to be the very reasons for the success of a startup. At the beginning of each heading, Kawasaki has highlighted all mistakes that startups do before contrasting it with the right means to go out tasks. This approach is far more effective in comparison to dishing out the right methods to readers.

-          Many books provide exercise pauses for the reader to think through and action relevant tasks.This is often skipped and never revisited. However, the distinctiveness and practicality of points laid and appropriateness in selecting exercises convinces the reader to complete those.

-          Frequently Avoided Questions is one of the favorite elements of this book. The reader would find appropriate answers for questions which are ignored by their advisers and most importantly new questions shaped to provide food for thought. rating

-          One may question whether this book is being intended only for small startups. The answer is No. Guy Kawasaki brings in his real life experience of working at Apple Inc. to unveil some valuable thoughts on how to nurture startups within large corporations. This is rarely found in traditional books on entrepreneurship.

In conclusion, this book deserves a ranking of 4 out of 5 for above mentioned reasons.However, more real world startup examples in relation to specific topics discussed would have been a value addition.

Reading “The Art of The Start” should definitely be Part of The Start – Ruzan Ahamed

13063

Pros: Solid design and build, Touch screen along with pre-installed Windows 8, good performance thanks to 4th Generation processor, Exceptional battery life.

Cons: The reflective screen is not great for outdoor performance, port placements could have been better, No dedicated graphics card.

The Dell Inspiron series has been around here for sometime. It is one of the widely used and loved series of Dell laptops. Dell’s mantra has been simple; produce mid-level computers that suit the budget of the average consumer. They have indeed seen great success in this line.

 

But Dell has refreshed the Inspiron line up as of late and the latest edition of the series comes with Intel’s 4th generation processors dubbed as Haswell; successors to Intel’s Ivy Bridge range. We have got our hands on the Dell Inspiron 5537 model which combines the power of Dell and Intel with a touch-enabled screen that is made for Microsoft’s Windows 8.

The front view (pic courtesy Dell.com)

The front view (pic courtesy Dell.com)

So how does the Inspiron 15R 5537 deliver? Has Dell done a grave mistake by omitting dedicated graphics? Does it lives up to the Haswell hype and eliminate the need of a dedicated graphics card? Are the 4th generation processors better power-managers? Let’s have a look!

 

Specifications first

 

Our review device (Inspiron 15R 5537) comes with the Intel Core i5-4200U Processor, from the latest 4th Generation Haswell series. Intel also has models like Core i3-4010U and Core i7-4500U in the market. At first glance we’re surprised that there’s no dedicated Graphics unit. But processor also has integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400. In Intel’s own words, “Intel’s HD graphics together with Intel Core processor brings you a vibrant visual experience without the cost of a separate graphics card”

Features at a glance

Features at a glance

 

The Inspiron 5537 has a Seagate 750GB hard drive (5400 RPM, 690+ GB usable) along with 6GB of DDR3 memory (5.7+ GB usable, can be upgraded upto 16GB). The laptop has a 15.6” HD multi touch-enabled display  that gives a pleasurable experience in using the pre-installed 64-bit edition of Windows 8.

 

The looks

 

The Inspiron 5537 is not distinctively different from it’s predecessor models when it comes to looks. But Dell has done a great job in making it thinner and lighter than the previous models. Also the use of Aluminium blended plastic materials for the chassis gives a much deserved premium look to the latest Inspiron. This is notable because the previous Inspirons had that cheap-plastic look for a great extend. The shiny Dell logo on the back of the lid adds some class. The lid, the wrist rest and the keyboard tray have this great looking “brushed-metal” pattern on them which really gives better looks.

Inspiron 5537: Brushed metal pattern on the lid surface adds a premium look.

Inspiron 5537: Brushed metal pattern on the lid surface adds a premium look.

 

Overall look of the exterior is metallic and rigid. You will probably need to use both your hands to open the lid thanks to the tight hinges that connect. So be extra cautious when you are on the move in a vehicle and need to open the laptop with one hand, while having a soft drink or your mobile phone on the other hand.

 

The laptop isn't very thin. It doesn't look bulky either.

The laptop isn’t very thin. It doesn’t look bulky either.

The Inspiron 5537 is not noticeably thin or light. But it definitely is thinner and lighter than the previous models in the series.

 

Display

 

The display is touch enabled

The display is touch enabled

The 15.6” display (1366 x 768 pixels) is a pleasure to use. No, it is not an extraordinary display. It is rather average when it comes to pixel density. But it is a touch enabled display that goes hand in hand with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system experience. Well, it is natural to doubt how a touch screen display would come handy on a full size laptop of this kind, that has a built-in full keyboard. But the response times are really swift that you will fall in love with the display immediately. To add to that, apps like “Fresh paint” take the touch screen experience to a different level.

Apps like Fresh Paint redefine things you can do with a touch screen

Apps like Fresh Paint redefine things you can do with a touch screen

 

Disappointing part of the display? The glossy touchscreen is very reflective. Reflective to the level that you may not see what’s on the screen (or whether the screen is ON) while using it outdoors. This part was one of the most annoying things I encountered while using the device.

If you can see my old bicycle in the reflection; then you know what I mean.

If you can see my old bicycle in the reflection; then you know what I mean.

I, sometimes, end up tilting the screen to reduce the reflections. Another let down is that the display is prone to fingerprints. But keep in mind, this is intended for a mid range market and isn’t intended for gamers and professional graphic designers. (I’m neither one of them and I’ve always seen most designers using Apple computers over any other brand. ;) ). So, the display is not entirely bad either.

The reflective screen may not be perfect for outdoor use.

The reflective screen may not be perfect for outdoor use.

Was trying to impress my editor. Realized I can't even do decent coloring work.

Was trying to impress my editor. Realized I can’t even do decent coloring work.

Keyboard and Touchpad

 

The keyboard is nice, I have no complaints.

The keyboard is nice, I have no complaints.

The Inspiron 15R 5537 comes with a full island-style keyboard with the number pad on the right. That’s not surprising for a 15.6” model. The flat-top keys are perfectly sized. The larger right-shift key is a welcome addition. But that also makes the already small arrow keys look even smaller. They typing experience is great including the accuracy level. I have no complaints there except few warnings: The keyboard is not back-lit. Well, after all back-lit keyboards are individual preferences. Also, it’s advisable to watch out for dust accumulating in between the keys. (Although it was not a problem during the few days I used the unit)

I wish the arrow keys were larger. The large right shift key is great though.

I wish the arrow keys were larger. The large right shift key is great though.

The default onscreen keyboard

The default onscreen keyboard

It's always good to have a full numeric keyboard.

It’s always good to have a full numeric keyboard.

 

I love the matte surface of the touchpad

I love the matte surface of the touchpad

I love the touch-pad on this device. It is one of the best I have seen in recent times on a device of this category. (I’m looking at you HP) The matte surface means no stickiness in sight and the multi-touch gestures work just fine.

The touchpad along with mouse buttons.

The touchpad along with mouse buttons.

The dedicated mouse buttons have the brushed metal look inline with the wrist pad areas. Dell also provides a built in application to control everything from the sensitivity to the gestures on the touch-pad. Sometimes you can’t hate the bloatwares. :)

Connectivity

 

The Inspiron 15R has 4 USB ports. But only two of them are USB 3.0 compatible. That may not be an issue with the average user but it’s high time laptop manufacturers focus on high speed options only.

The left side. USB 3.0 for the win.

The left side. USB 3.0 for the win.

 

Also Dell has done a disappointing job by placing 3 of the 4 USB ports on one (left) side. You ask me why? Well, that brings up a situation where only two of the ports can be used simultaneously (if you use a regular Kingston pen-drive and regular HSPA modems or dongles as they are widely known). I would have loved them to place two ports each on either sides leaving considerable amount of space in between adjoining ports to make lives easy. One USB 2.0

port sits alone on the right side along with the DVD burner and the Kensington Security Slot (a.k.a Kensington lock).

 

Another confusing addition (at least for me) is the outdated Ethernet port on the left along with USB ports. On the good side, Dell has managed to add an HDMI port on the left side. Overall the connectivity options are adequate except I would have loved better placement.

Power socket along with the air vent (pic courtesy Dell.com)

Power socket along with the air vent (pic courtesy Dell.com)

The single audio jack, power socket and the air vent are the rest that make up the (already crowded) left side.

Suddenly the USB port in the middle becomes unusable

Suddenly the USB port in the middle becomes unusable

 

You’re bound to miss the card reader which has been placed on the front side just below the mouse button area. But, assuming the card readers are used less frequently, there’s nothing to complain about the placement.

Even the slimmest design can't have it's space. Bad.

Even the slimmest design can’t have it’s space. Bad.

 

The WiFi card used here is  the “Dell Wireless 1705” (from Atheros to be specific). Along with 2.4 GHz networks and the 802.11 b/g/n transmission support, it also provides support to Bluetooth 4.0.

The old fella; placed with the cool kids

The old fella; placed with the cool kids

Another hardware feature you may fail to notice is the stereo speakers in the front (or rather bottom). Even though I had my initial doubts about the speaker placement and how it will affect the sound quality, I was indeed impressed by the output. The advertised “Waves maxxAudio” (Dell Audio) application provides options to control the audio output along with equalizer options. This helps to make maximum use out of the audio components. The integrated webcam on the front panel makes the system complete.

Card reader. You'll miss it at first glance.

Card reader. You’ll miss it at first glance.

The DVD writer. The companion for the lone USB port.

The DVD writer. The companion for the lone USB port.

The lone USB port on the right.

The lone USB port on the right.

 

 

Speaker grills at the bottom. They are good.

Speaker grills at the bottom. They are good.

Battery Life

 

What makes the Haswell processors unique? When Intel introduced the processors, they claimed that the ultra low-voltage Haswell processors will be 20 times more power efficient at idle than the existing ones. They also claimed it to be the greatest battery life increase in the Intel history.

 

Now the question. Does it live up to the hype? It does, without any doubt. Seriously, the best part of using the Inspiron 15R 5537 was the battery life. I could use it moderately for a full day (till 11pm) and it will still have 10% battery life which is exceptional. A heavy user can easily get up to 8 hours of battery life without much trouble. That equals at least 3 to 4 movies back to back.

View of the bottom. Two speaker grills on either side. Card reader in the middle.

View of the bottom. Two speaker grills on either side. Card reader in the middle.

Side-view of the 15R 5537 (Pic courtesy Dell.com)

Side-view of the 15R 5537 (Pic courtesy Dell.com)

 

Final Verdict

The Dell Inspiron 15R 5537 is an all rounder. It does live up to the expectations from a mid-range laptop intended for regular day to day use. Some of the features may well require some improvements but the exceptional battery life and built quality outshines the negatives.

 7

7214

Dell announced the latest in its line-up of ultra-portable laptops with the thinnest and lightest 14-inch Vostro laptop to date, the Dell Vostro 5460. Measuring a mere 18.3mm and weighing in at just 1.54kg, the ultra thin Vostro 5460 delivers more power and portability for value-conscious customers and professionals, and IT decision makers looking for mobility and performance at the right price.

“Dell’s Vostro line of laptops has always focused on delivering computing performance in a portable package, and today we are proud to bring that promise a step further,” said Lackshmindra Fernando, Dell Country Manager for Sri Lanka. “The thin and ultra-lightweight Dell Vostro 5460 offers users a much sought-after level of mobility, performance and support together with business-friendly features to enhance everyday productivity.”

Sporting an expansive 14-inch high definition widescreen LED (HD WLED) True Life display that supports up to 1366 x 768 pixels, the new Vostro 5460 comes with integrated stereo speakers and a dedicated subwoofer powered by HD audio with Waves Maxx Audio 4.0. Users get to enjoy 720p video content in immersive audio and visual detail.The laptop also features an integrated 720HD 1MP camera with microphones for high-definition web-conferencing.

The Vostro 5460is equipped with a full-sized Chiclet keyboard, a multi-touch gesture touch pad allowing users to fluidly navigate through either Windows or Linux operating systems, and a sophisticated cool-to-the-touch aluminum palm rest to ensure comfort for users. All these rich features are encased within a sleek brushed-aluminum chassis in graphite silver and supported by a 3-cell integrated Lithium Ion battery providing up to 5 hours of battery life.[i]

Connectivity is a breeze on the Vostro 5460 with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0and RJ-45 Ethernet port. Users can enjoy and share multimedia through three USB 3.0 ports, including one with Power Share, a SD Card Reader slot, a headphone/microphone combo jack and a HDMI port.

 Dell Vostro 5460_1

With third generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processors and integrated HD4000 graphics at its core (or optional 2GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT630M graphics), users can opt for either the standard or Ultrabook configurations of the Vostro 5460. The 500GB HDD allows for plenty of documents and multimedia files to be stored and accessed on the go; and the 32GB SSD in the Ultrabook configuration delivers speedier performance and added storage.

The Vostro 5460 comes standard with Dell’s In-Home Service after Remote Diagnosisii, as well as Dell Backup and Recovery Manager for reliable and fuss-free data protection. For added security of personal data and system files, the Ultrabook configuration also comes with Intel Anti-Theft Technology and Identity Protection Technology.

Consumers can opt to choose either the “Standard” or “Ultrabook” configuration depending on their needs. Below is a summary of the possible specifications of the Vostro 5460:

  • Processor: Standard configuration – Intel Core i3-3120M (2.5GHz), Intel Core i5-3230M (2.6GHz, up to 3.2GHz), Ultrabook configuration – Intel Core i3-3227U (1.9GHz), Intel Core i5-3337U (1.8GHz, up to 2.7GHz)
  • Operating System: Windows 8 or Linux Ubuntu
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000 Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce GT630M 2GB GDDR3
  • Display: 14-inch LED (1366 x 768)
  • Hard Drive: Up to 500GB HDD and 32GB SSD (for Ultrabook configuration only)
  • Battery: 3-cell Lithium Ion

Availability and Pricing:

The Dell Vostro 5460 is available today, starting from Rs. 125,000.



[i]Tested system equipped with 2GB memory, Intel Core i3-3227U, Intel HD graphics, 500GB HDD, 32GB mSATA Mini SSD, and Windows 8 operating system.

 

1747

Singer Sri Lanka (PLC), national distributor for Huawei, has launched the much anticipated Ascend W1, and also simultaneously launched the Huawei Ascend G510 and Y300 smartphones in the local market.
Packed with enticing features, including a 4-inch display, 1GHz dual core possessor, a 5-megapixel AF dual camera with flash and 4GB onboard storage (with expandable storage up to 32GB), the Ascend W1 also has a powerful battery which gives users up to 470 hours of standby time, considered the longest among all smartphones in its class and considered extremely practical for users on the go.
“The Windows 8 mobile platform is considered the most intuitive and streamlined interface, placing focus on ease of use with the introduction of its innovative Modern UI, a key feature of which is the user’s ability to multi-task efficiently,” stated Asoka Pieris, CEO Singer Sri Lanka PLC. “The Ascend W1 is a smart and stylish alternative for consumers looking for great technology at a competitive price.”
“The Ascend W1, powered by the intuitive Microsoft Windows 8 operating system and featuring cutting-edge design, ensures that this is a smartphone geared for productivity and functionality to complement the consumer’s lifestyle,” explained Daniel Sun, CEO Huawei Technologies Lanka Ltd. “Seamlessly integrating Windows applications and tools from the familiar desktop Windows operating system, users will find that the Ascend W1 is akin to a personal computer in the palm of their hand.”
The Ascend G510, which was also launched with the Ascend W1, possesses great functionality; equipped with 1.2GHz dual-core CPU together with 512MB of RAM and 4GB internal memory, the smartphone boasts outstanding specifications in a smart and stylish package. In addition, the Ascend G510 also comes with a 4.5-inch 850×450 IPS display, 5-megapixel rear camera and 0.3-megapixel front camera and is powered by a 1750mAh battery utilising HUAWEI’s leading battery optimization technology, thus giving users 30% longer standby time. A key feature of the Ascend G510 is the NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities. Huawei’s Ascend Y300, targeted at youth, brings users the very best technology and smartphone experience in its class. The smartphone has a 4-inch screen, a 1730mAh battery, five megapixel camera with auto-focus, flash, panorama function and video record at 30 frames per second.
The Ascend Y300 runs Android 4.1 Jellybean, giving users access to hundreds of thousands of apps via the Google Play store. Face Detection is a new and exciting feature of Jelly Bean products which can be enjoyed by consumers in both the HUAWEI Y300 and G510 models. “We are excited about the introduction of this range of HUAWEI smartphones to the local market and to see our strong partner, Singer brings the Windows Phone 8 experience through the HUAWEI Ascend W1 to more Sri Lankans,” noted Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager – Microsoft Sri Lanka who was a special guest at the event.
The range of smartphones will be made available at Singer Mega, Singer Plus and Sisil World stores and dealers island-wide and are available with a two year warranty. Singer Sri Lanka PLC is exclusive distributor for the Huawei range of smartphones and devices in the country. With a 161 year tradition of service excellence, Singer is recognised for its diverse multi-brand product portfolio.
The company has a strong presence and expansive network island-wide in order to make Singer’s range of products easily accessible, and presently stocks a range of world-renowned Huawei devices.  Singer is the No. 01 destination for smart phones, stocking the world’s leading brands which are made available at over 390 Singer Mega, Singer Plus and Sisil World stores island-wide and offers the best range and value for money.

Source: Huawei Ascend G510 and Y300 simultaneously launched in the country DailyFT

1942

The FIFA World Cup ended as a disappointment for most of us. We all waited anxiously for the past four years for it to start and within a week after it was started I couldn’t wait until it was finished. The football quality that we see week in week out it the major European leagues was not there and there were so many controversies. What’s more, my favorite team got their butts kicked by the team that I hate the most. But most importantly to us gamers, usually with every world cup we can get our hands on the official FIFA World Cup game as well. But this time around we PC gamers didn’t get that opportunity either and that made the time period even more boring. The reason being that EA sports did not release a PC version of the FIFA World Cup game so the less fortunate people like us who cannot afford a PS3 or an Xbox360 (even iPhone users got a bite of the cherry) could do nothing but to watch YouTube videos about it.

New Home Screen for Manager Mode

On that note I thought of writing about EA’s new installment of their football game, FIFA 11. If you are a FIFA fan, you will be aware that EA tends to release the game with the start of the European football season. PC gamers would be delighted by the announcement that EA has implemented the same game engine and the gameplay that they’ve been using for the PS3 and Xbox for the PC platform as well. Well it took them more than 3 years to implement a next gen engine for PC and maybe that’s an indication that EA has finally sensed that Konami game engine is far better that there’s and lets thank god for that.

 

Better Transfers

Now if you are a PC gamer let me just add something before you go taunt your console gaming buddy. The consoles will still be getting something more, as they will receive a updated game engine, which still leaves PC gamers one step behind. Again. But to be honest different stories breakout everyday with mixed feelings since some people say nothing much has changed but on the other hand EA is saying that this will be a totally new and a different experience for PC users. But one thing remains certain. Console users will still get a better game.

 

As usual FIFA have upgraded the players’ appearances and mind you Wayne Rooney looks more handsome than last time which is in fact good news. A new feature called Personality Plus is introduced and this feature claims to add another layer of real-life authenticity to the players from their stature and size, down to their playing attributes and technical skills.

As Konami catching up fast lest hope that this edition of FIFA will be a life saver for EA and we the PC users can finally experience something new. I have to say, over the last couple of seasons, the Japanese have their noses ahead in my book. Let’s hope we have a new favorite after 28th September.

 

Game   FIFA 11

Platforms   PC / PS2 / PS3 / Xbox360 / DS / Wii

Developer   EA Sports

Publisher   Electronic Arts

Release Date   28 September 2010

Genre   Football Sim

ESRB Rating   E

 

System Requirements

Operating System   Windows® XP SP3 / Windows Vista® SP2 / Windows® 7

Processor   Intel® Dual Core 2.4 GHz or equivalent

RAM   1 GB for Windows® XP / 2 GB for Windows Vista® and Windows® 7

Graphics   256 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800, ATI Radeon™ HD2900

Disk Space   Approx 7 GB

 

Image sources:

Gamespot.com

1556

I was first introduced to a book of David Meerman Scott (World Wide Rave) by Sukanti Husain (@sukanti) in April/May 2009 and have been a fan of books by David ever since. His site has been a great resource for some of my work and in addition to the books for sale, he has practiced what he preaches by giving away free ebooks on his site.

So now David has got together with Brian Halligan (CEO of Hubspot) and published a book titled ‘Marketing lessons from the Grateful Dead’.

Truth be told, for someone living in Sri Lanka (with interest mostly in local music) and for being born in the 80s, I had not heard of the band ‘Grateful Dead’! But after I got the book from Wiley Publishers, I checked them up on Google (and Bing for that matter) and was overwhelmed by the work that they had accomplished. I ain’t a ‘deadhead’ but have been intrigued by the ways in which they were able to satisfy their fans. This is clearly reflected in the chapters highlighted by David and Brian.

We see many new artists giving away music for free but it was Grateful dead who came up with the ‘freemium’ business model way back in the 1960s! And they have been successful at it.

David (left) and Brian (right) at Barnes & Noble in Burlington

 

What David and Brian have done in this book is shown how to think and market like the band, thinking of ways to market differently from the competition. In addition to the crisp clear writing, I like the “Rock On” sections at the end of each chapter which acts as an excellent guide to inspire new ideas and ways to do things differently. It felt like David and Brian were sitting next to me and guiding along and encouraging as I read each chapter.

Just like with Chris Brogan’s book ‘Social Media 101’ which I reviewed last month, this book also has short chapters which makes it very easy to grasp all that is being said in the 192 pages. Each chapter focus on one element of the Grateful Dead’s marketing.

In each chapter you get little orange boxes which highlight some important aspect of what the Grateful Dead had done and these can even be printed and put up on walls for inspiration.

This book is clearly broken down into 3 parts with the first focusing on the band, the second focusing on the fans and lastly on the business.

Just like the band choosing a memorable name, David and Brian share their own story about having a memorable brand name like HubSpot and David using his middle name ‘Meerman’ to distinguish from the other ‘David Scotts’ out there. Ahem.. I guess I am on the right track myself by using my initials W.G.T.Fernando to differentiate from the other ‘Gihan Fernandos’ out there. I have a long way to go but the start has been made. Maybe it’s not late for you to use a clear brand to differentiate yourself from the pack either.

The duo talk about having ‘digital citizens’ in a company’s team and creating a diverse team like the Grateful Dead did. It’s all good advice and are worth looking into in order to sustain and be successful in this technology driven world we live in.

Chapter 7 was a very heartening one since it opened up avenues by redefining the boundaries set for raising funding for a startup. David and Brian had used ‘Y Combinator’ as an ideal example in which to explain about redefining boundaries and going the extra mile to be different and making things happen. This chapter is a must read for any startup company and a chapter to watch out for traditional VC firms.

The Grateful Dead had respect for its loyal fans. For e.g. they announced tours to fans first and treated supporters to the best seats. Just like the band showing a lot of loyalty to the fans, businesses nowadays should also adopt this approach. David and Brian highlight a few occasions where companies have gone the other way by only trying to gather new customers and ignoring and alienating the old ones. Great examples that can be taken from the band that can be easily adopted by companies that want to survive in the market.

Talking into consideration a chapter from the 3rd section ‘Business’, chapter 15 focus on upgrade to premium. The Grateful Dead encourages people to record shows for free but also sells high quality recordings directly via their site. This approach is one which many companies are adopting where they provide a limited edition of a product for free but if want the best quality/full product, you pay a small premium. We have a few companies (http://creately.com & http://curdbee.com to name a few) in Sri Lanka as well who have adopted a similar approach. Like I mentioned at the start of this review, David has a similar approach where he has a few titles of his which can be freely downloadable, once you like his style of writing, you would then want to buy his remaining titles. A classic case of an individual showing by example.

The book concludes with the chapter titled ‘Do what you love’. “We are taught as children that work and play are opposing forces in nature. This teaching is incorrect- it is possible that your work can be like play!’ says the authors and I won’t argue with that. We need to live our own dreams and not someone else’s. Be passionate about your job, else do yourself a favor and find another place. Like Confucius said ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’

Not only is the content of the book worth the money invested, with some great photographs by Jay Blakesberg and illustrations by Richard Biffle, it amplifies its worth.

So go ahead and dive into this title and pretty soon, you too will look at things differently and be a change maker. Are you up for the challenge?

You can purchase the book from this link (amazon affiliate link): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470900520?ie=UTF8&tag=socmedempavet-20…

Book details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (August 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470900520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470900529
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces

 

Image Source:

http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Third_Party_Photo/2010/07/28/intro__1…

1057

A phone has not wow’d me in a long time like the Galaxy did!

The first impressions of the Galaxy are impressive. With its big 4-inch, colorful and crispy AMOLED screen, you have a hard time taking your eyes off the screen. Made in a form factor which closely resembles the iPhone, but a little larger but lighter phone just made me want to switch to a Galaxy! After all, it resembles the iPhone!

It’s not just the display. The Galaxy packs a 1 GHz processor inside its tiny, lightweight form factor. Come to think of it, it’s half the speed of my laptop! And I can definitely remember my first computer which was just one tenth the speed of the Galaxy! This phone packs quite a load of computing power into your hands.

Galaxy S was also my first hands on experience with the android OS. And I have to admit, I dispelled most of my skepticism. The Galaxy S comes with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI skinning over Androids native UI.

The UI has a dual home screen concept, which is very similar to what you get on Samsung Wave as well. There is the home screen with the widgets which can span to multiple screens based on the number of widgets. And then there is the application screen, which lists the applications. The widgets sometimes can take up one whole screen based on its size. But the applications screen is very iPhone’ish.

The Galaxy had some interesting Widgets. The ones I particularly liked was the Buddy Messenger and the Twitter client. With back ground services running, this widget can is always upto date, just like a streaming client. I loved this as it no longer required me to refresh the Twitter client to see the latest updates from the tweeps I follow.

The notification bar on the top of the phone, apart from showing the usual notifications for new mails and other application notifications, also has buttons for WiFi, Bluetooth and Silent/Vibration. This is a very handy feature. On the iPhone I use a jailbroken app to get this functionality. But one little irritant I experienced was once you view an SMS, it doesn’t always clear the notification. Seems like a little bug, but confusing nevertheless and somewhat defeats the purpose of the notifications as after a while you tend to ignore the notification.

Calling on the Galaxy was pretty standard. I like the iPhone’ish phone menu. One thing I noticed was the need to keep the answer and end buttons pressed for about 3 seconds to answer and terminate a call. Maybe this is done to prevent accidental call answering and terminating with the unintended touches on the screen. But I am not sure whether this is a smart move or a nuisance. But it sure needed some getting used to.

Galaxy S allowed me to sync up all my four email accounts and 500 odd contacts from my Google Contacts. The email interfaces were very intuitive and thanks to the larger screen, the keypad was also more thumb friendly. One thing I still noticed was the lack of predictive text support while you type. But this phone being an Android, you are able to replace the default keypad with something that does have predictive text support. But I think this is something that should have been enabled out of the box.

And the phone tended to slow down with my mail boxes, contacts and the calendar synced up. Given that it is a brand new phone which was in use for just a couple of days, and also the fact that it is powered by a 1GHz processor, this was something I did not expect. When I researched, I found a few complains on line as well and the answers generally pointed towards the Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Maybe if it had the default Android UI things would have been better.

One area that the Galaxy really shines is the Camera. It is a pleasure to snap away on the Galaxy, with its 4-inch AMOLED screen. I had more fun taking pics on this phone than I do on my digital camera. It is a pleasure to take pictures on this. With the ability to select the area that you want focused on the picture with a tap on the screen, and the multitude of camera modes, and the decent 5MP camera, if you are a person who carries a digital camera along with you, with the Galaxy S, you can leave your camera at home, during the day. But sadly, due to the lack of a flash, you may still want to take your camera during your night escapades. But the Galaxy gave me pretty decent picture in the night in well lit up spaces.

The other feature that goes along is its video recording capability. With the HD video recording can capture pretty amazing footage. With video playback the Galaxy S shined as well. It supports a multitude of video formats MPEG4, DivX, Xivid being the formats I tried out. According to the specs the Galaxy also supports H.264, H.263, WMV, AVI, MKV formats among others. The audio playback on the Galaxy was decent. I tried it out with a third party audio headset as I was not given the Samsung headset that comes with the Galaxy.

One more handy feature I liked was the radio with auto-scanning and the ability to preset radio stations. This is something I would have used, as I prefer the radio to my own music collection.

Galaxy S back

My data connection is on my phone is a Dialog Broadband Data package. The Galaxy indicated a little H instead of the usual 3G on my iPhone, which means that the Galaxy supports HSPA, which is a pretty cool feature. I did not try tethering, but it will be a boon for those who want to tether Internet connections.

One limitation I faced was the inability to sync multiple calendars with the phone calendar. This is something the iPhone does beautifully and since I have four different calendars, on four different Google apps domains, I rely on my phone calendar to show me the consolidated view. But I was told by an enthusiastic android fan that there are third part apps that can accomplish this.

One big disappointing factor of the Galaxy S was its battery life. Though the phone packs a ton of features, it drains the battery like a express workout. It hardly lasted 8 hours on a full charge. Of course I had the background (push) services enabled and did a bit of data usage. But I hardly made any calls. It was mainly twitter and emails. It’s awful battery life made me nervous about the phone. I like my phone battery to last a day with me. That means staying alive for at least 12 hours. But the good thing is, unlike in the iPhone, you can swap the battery. So if you are going to use data services heavily you might as well get additional batteries and a stand-alone charger.

On a final note, it is phones like the Samsung Galaxy S that will allow Andriod to gain its market share in the smartphone showdown. It is a well designed phone that will sure win many converts to the android platform.

Image sources:

http://www.wootmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Samsung-Galaxy-S-Android-2.jpg

http://stuff.tv/csfiles/blogs/future/GalaxyS-back.jpg