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Features

Featured stories about gadgets, software, hardware and more.

Want to buy Google Sniper 3.0? first, here’s an overview of the chapters

June 23, 2015 |

Though we are not allowed to provide the contents of the Google Sniper system because of legal obligations, we are providing you with an overview of the course layout and the chapters thereby aiding your decision of buying it or not.Read More

Google Sniper review – a tool that is true to its words

June 23, 2015 |

George Brown is a famous and successful Internet marketer, and his tool Google Sniper is possibly one of the best courses you can find that will teach you the ins and outs of affiliate marketing.Read More

Linux 3.12 features

September 3, 2013 |

Linux 3.11 has now been released after an eventful set of rc releases [rc7, rc6, rc5]. We already have a lowdown of the exciting features of Linux 3.11 kernel here and today we bring to you the features you can … Read More

FreeBSD 10 features

August 24, 2013 |

With FreeBSD 9.2 RC2 out and final release slated for August 31, the distribution’s developers are already busy developing the next major version of the operating system – FreeBSD 10, which will pack quite a lot of interesting features.

There … Read More

Linux 3.11 features

July 12, 2013 |

Linux 3.11 merge window is about to close, most probably this Sunday, and most of the pull requests have been merged. Here we are listing out the highlights of the expected Linux Kernel 3.11 features.

Disk & File System

The Linux 3.10 successor is bringing with its support for LZ4 compression, Zswap for compressed swap caching, XFS file system improvements, Btrfs performance tuning, F2FS file system updates, EXT4 file system updates and inclusion of Lustre file-system client for the first time.

LZ4 compression can now be used as an alternative to Gzip, BZIP2, LZMA and LZO to compress the Linux kernel. LZ4’s compression and decompression speeds easily beat those of its alternatives like LZO, Snappy, and zlib. Available only for ARM hardware for now, the compression speeds top 45.6MB/s as compared to 25.2 MB/s with LZO on an ARMv7 1.5GHz board. The commits can be found here.

After being in development for a long time, Zswap has been merged into Linux 3.11. Zswap is basically a lightweight compressed cache for swap pages. The pages, which are in process of being swapped out will be taken up by Zswap and compressed into a dynamically allocated RAM-based memory pool. According the Linux kernel documentation, “zswap basically trades CPU cycles for potentially reduced swap I/O. This trade-off can also result in a significant performance improvement if reads from the compressed cache are faster than reads from a swap device.” You can find the commit here.

Linux 3.11 brings with it Btrfs file-system changes including regular work on performance fixes, bug-fixes, and code-cleanups. The merge includes tuning of “crc code as well as our transaction commits.” The improvements also bring with it resolution of issues related to early enospc.

XFS file system improvements encompass bug-fixes, performance improvements related to inode creation and deletion, buffer readahead, work on project quotas and group quotas, and blukstat among others.

F2FS doesn’t bring a whole lot of new things to Linux 3.11 but, it does include a fix for regression found in Linux 3.10. The performance of the file system is slower with 3.10 as compared to 3.9 in some workload cases notes Phoronix. This particular bug was reported by other developers as well and has been taken care of. Beyond that the F2FS updates also bring with it fixes related to little and big endian conversion as well as support for xattr security labels – a feature used by SEAndroid.

EXT4 file system improvements include optimization in ext4_writepages() and extent cache shrink mechanism. The ext4_writepages() can now be used for nodelalloc and ext3 compatibility mode thereby allowing page writes to be submitted as a single request rather than individual 4k writes. The extent cache shrink mechanism has been updated such that it doesn’t have the scalability bottleneck caused by the i_es_lru spinlock. Some other optimizations include changes that result into reduced CPU usage “to avoid issuing empty commits unnecessarily.”

Lustre, which is a high performance parallel distributed file system, has been included for the first time with Linux 3.11. The file system is particularly popular with high-performance cluster computing as well as super-computers. You can find more about Lustre here and here.

Graphics

Linux 3.11 will bring with it Radeon dynamic power management support, new DRM display driver, Intel Haswell improvements along with Valley View / Bay Trail support, H.264 / MPEG2 video decoding for Nouveau and early GK110 GPU support

Back on June 26, Alex Deucher of AMD went ahead to post a massive patch set that included 165 patches that included Dynamic Power Management (DPM) support for R600 GPUs (Radeon HD 2000) through to Southern Islands (Radeon HD 7000). The DPM supports clockgating, dynamic engine clock scaling, dynamic memory clock scaling, dynamic voltage scaling, and dynamic PCI Express Gen1/Gen2 switching. You can find the patches here.

The new DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) driver merged into Linux 3.11 is for the Renesas R-Car SoC. The ARM cortex-9 based SoC is basically used in high-end car ‘infotainment’ systems wherein the graphics are powered by PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics core. The commit notes read, “The R-Car Display Unit (DU) DRM driver supports both superposition processors and all eight planes in RGB and YUV formats with alpha blending.” Even though VGA and LVDS encoders are supported, it has to be noted that they are only to do with the display portion and not the PowerVR 3D graphics.

Intel’s Daniel Vetter prepared a pull request back in May for Linux 3.11 the key highlights for which were: Intel Valley View (aka Bay Trail) is no longer preliminary and is now stable for use with Intel Atom Bay Trail hardware; Frame-Buffer Compression (FBC) support for Haswell; SVDO and TV clean-ups; various mode-setting fixes / improvements.

The Nouveau DRM changes within the Linux 3.11 would include fixes benefiting concurrent running of Piglit, which would make buffer object deletion asynchronous. The merger also includes context/register initialization updates. H.264/MPEG-2 video decoding is also now supported via the VP2 engine for some PureVideo HD graphics cards.

The Nouveau driver has support for 2D EXA acceleration and X-Video support for NVIDIA’s “NVF0” aka GK110 GPU used in NVIDIA GeForce TITAN and GeForce GTX 780. There has been a rare xf86-video-nouveau commit following which there was more code push to the Nouveau DRM repository and mainline Mesa. The new code brings with it 3D support for the GK110, still in its infancy, which when used in conjunction with updated DDX and Nouveau DRM would bring with it basic OpenGL support.

CPU

Linux 3.11 will include AVX2 Crypto optimizations, IBM PowerPC improvements, ARM improvements and 64-bit support for XEN and KVM virtualization.

Optimizations in Linux 3.11 for AVX2 include more work on the Camellia AES-NI acceleration and as the Crypto is present in Intel Haswell CPUs faster performance can be leveraged from new Crypto code-paths for encrypted disks. Beyond this there are new SHA224 and SHA384 shims that have been added to the widely-present SSSE3 instruction set extension. The new update to AVX2 however drops the defunct Blowfish and Twofish implementations. There are further fine tuning to Crypto including not idling OMAP SoC devices between crypto operations happening in one session, support for FreeScale’s DCP co-processor, unaligned buffer self-tests, and a PCLMULQDQ optimization for CRCT10DIF.

IBM is pushing forward quite a few Power PC architecture updates including support for transparent huge pages for 64-bit processors, Power8 Event-Based Branch providing user-space interrupts for performance monitor events, PStore infrastructure enabling kernel oopses and other errors to be written to non-volatile RAM, improvements to EEH PCI error handling and recovery operations.

Linux 3.11 ARM improvements also include support for KVM and Xen virtualization on 64-bit hardware (AArch64), Hugetlbfs and transparent huge-pages, cache flishing improvements, clps711x, STI driver includes support for STiH415 and STiH416 SoC, Texas Instruments keystone ARM, Rockchips RK3xxx ARM platform. You can find more information about ARM improvements here and here.

Others

Beyond the disk and file system improvements, graphics and CPU improvements Linux 3.11 will also bring in improvements in input devices as well as audio / sound and Wine will be able to handle Windows RT apps.

Input device improvements include touchscreen driver for Cypress 4th generation touch devices, PS/2 support on the OLPC via a specialized controller, Haswell MacBook Air patches among others.

Linux audio stack has been improved and comes with support for more than 32 card instances, Intel Bay Trail, ALC5505 DSP support in the HDA driver, AC’97 refactoring bug-fixes, etc.

Lenovo S920 vs. Lenovo S890: specification comparison

July 9, 2013 | 2

Lenovo has been trying to strengthen its market presence in Indian smartphone market with launch of both budget-friendly as well as some top of the range phones. Here we are presenting a comparison between the recently launched Lenovo S920 and its predecessor S890.

Both the handsets are very good smartphones from Lenovo and if we go by price comparison, the S890 was priced similar to the S920 at launch time just about six months back.

CPU

The Lenovo S890 is a dual-core smartphone and is powered by a MediaTek 6577T processor clocked at 1.2GHz. On the other hand the S920 is a quad-core smartphone powered by MediaTek 6589 processor also clocked at 1.2GHz. But, considering that the S920 has a couple of extra cores, the smartphone beats its predecessor when it comes to performance.

Internal Storage & RAM

Lenovo has put the same amounts of storage as well as RAM in both the handsets. Internal storage stands at 4GB with expandability of up to 32GB using a microSD card whereas RAM is 1GB. This year quite a few smartphone vendors have upped the ante by increasing the onboard storage they provide with the phone but, Lenovo it seems isn’t budging from its 4GB mark.

Display

The Lenovo S920 definitely is better than the S890 in this segment. With 5.3-inch 720×1280 pixel display at pixel per inch density of 277, the former provides you imagery with the right mix of colours. The latter has only a 5-inch 540×960 pixel display with pixel per inch density of 220. Big-screen smartphones are taking flight and with 5.3-inch screen the S920 does take away the game from S890.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity both the phones are at par with each other. Both the smartphones are equipped with GRPS, EDGE, HSPDA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connectivity options. Both the phones are dual-SIM smartphones.

Operating System

Lenovo S890 runs the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean whereas the Lenovo S920 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Both are definitely Jelly Bean variants but the 4.2 is more feature rich compared to its predecessor and users would get more out of the S920.

Camera

When it comes to rear camera, the Lenovo S920 and S890 are both equipped with an 8-megapixel shooter with the capability of recording 720p videos. But in the front camera segment, S920 takes the lead with its 2-megapixel camera as compared to just a VGA one in S890.

Price

Lenovo S920 was launched just a few days back and is priced at ₹19,900 whereas the S890 can be bought for as low as ₹14,999.

Verdict

Lenovo S920 definitely is a more advanced phone as compared to S890 when it comes to almost all parameters like CPU, Display, and OS. If you do have a little extra cash to shell, the S920 may not prove to be a wrong choice as compared to the S890.

Micromax Canvas 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S4: specifications compared

July 8, 2013 |

Micromax just revealed its Canvas 4 today at an event during the afternoon and some of the specifications did turn out to be as expected. The Canvas 4 will be sold at ₹17,999 and users who prebooked the device would need to pay another ₹12,999 before it gets delivered to them.

We have had a comparison between Samsung Galaxy 4 and Micromax Canvas 4 earlier but, now we are updating the comparison following the official revelations of the specifications. Read on…

Canvas 4 is powered by the powerful Mediatek Quad-Core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, and has 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage expandable to 32GB, 5-inch 720p IPS HD display, 13-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front one, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean among others.

On the other hand Samsung Galaxy S4 has 4.99-inch screen with 1080X1920 resolution, Octa-Core processor with 13 Mega Pixel Super Quality camera; 16GB, 32GB or 64GB internal storage expandable to up to 64GB; Android 4.2.2, 13-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front one.

Below is the table of comparison:

Specs Samsung Galaxy S4 Micromax Canvas 4
Screen Size 4.99 inches 5 inches
Display type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen IPS HD
Resolution 1080 x 1920 1280 x 720
OS Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean [upgradable to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie] Android 4.2 Jelly Bean [upgradable to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie]
Processor Exynos 5 Octa 5410 Cortex A15 Mediatek quad-core
Number of cores Eight Cores Four Cores
Processor speed 1.6 GHz 1.2 GHz
RAM 2GB 1 GB
Internal Storage 16, 32, 64 GB 16 GB
Expandable Storage 64 GB 32 GB
Primary Camera 13-megapixel autofocus with LED flash 13-megapixel autofocus with LED flash
Secondary Camera 2 megapixel 2 megapixel
Camera features Face and Smile Detection, Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video Call and Beauty Face, Best Photo, Best Face, Drama, Rich Tone (High Dynamic Range), Sound & Shot, Sports, Continuous shot All Android camera features
Colours White Frost, Black Mist White and Black
Price Available at ₹37,900 ₹17,999

LG Optimus G Pro: Initial impressions

July 6, 2013 |

Optimus G Pro, which was launched just a couple of days back and carries a price tag of over ₹40,000, is powered by a 1.7Ghz quad-core processor – something is even powerful than my uncles’s netbook. Awesome!

The Optimus G Pro does give you a comfortable feeling while holding it despite its size. The back cover has a weave pattern that instantly reminded me of the Google Nexus 4. However the cover in case of the Optimus G Pro does separate from the phone revealing the removable battery, a microSIM and a microSD slot.

Next up – the display gives a perfect video output that is crisp when indoors thanks to the IPS+ screen and I hope the display is at its best while outdoors as well. If you have an LG smart TV, you can use the phone as a remote and play HD videos on televisions. The rear camera is a 13-megapixel one that managed to take crystal clear images, but a lag was observed while focusing. HD videos can be shot using the smartphone as well.

The G Pro runs Android 4.1.2 and we do want to see it running 4.2 or 4.3 in near future. There is a custom user interface featuring Q Slide, which is a stack of shortcuts for apps.

The price tag does indicate that the smartphone from LG is definitely its next flagship that will compete with the likes of HTC One, Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S4 but, we wouldn’t pass any judgment on the phone up until we have tested it out.

Quad-core challenge: Lenovo S920, Xolo Q600, HTC Desire 600 compared

July 5, 2013 | 1

Within a span of just three days we witnessed the launch of three smartphones: Lenovo S920, Xolo Q600, and HTC Desire 600. All three smartphones are powered by Android Jelly Bean and pack a quad-core processor. But, the similarity just ends there. We have compared all three smartphones so read on to find out which one is better than the other.

Processor

While Xolo Q600 and Lenovo S920 are both powered by quad-core MediaTek 6589 SoC clocked at 1.2 GHz we have the HTC Desire 600 which packs a Qualcomm MSM8625Q Snapdragon 200 SoC clocked at 1.2 GHz. The 6589 chipset is based on Cortex-A7 whereas the Snapdragon 200 is based on Cortex-A5. The processor from MediaTek has been released after the Snapdragon 200 and is comparatively better when it comes to performance as well as pricing. Both Q600 and S920 have an edge over the Desire 600 in this department.

Memory

Xolo has only put 512MB RAM in the Q600 whereas Lenovo and HTC has put 1GB RAM each in their respective handsets. Considering that there is more memory in Lenovo S920 as compared to the Xolo Q600 the former definitely exceeds the latter in terms of specifications as well as performance. Desire 600 on the other hand has 1GB RAM but the Snapdragon SoC does have its limits and may restrain performance of the handset to some extent.

Storage

Flash memory is getting cheaper by the day but Xolo and Lenovo have both stuck to just 4GB of internal storage as compared to HTC which has pumped 8GB flash into the Desire 600. All three handsets offer storage expansion through a microSD card but Desire 600 has an edge over the other two has it provides up to 64GB of expandable storage as compared to 32GB.

Camera

We do know that clicking picture using a smartphone is not all that great but, it is a feature that does govern the buying decisions of many. With that in mind Q600 is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum with just 5-megapixel camera as compared to the 8-megapixel option provided by S920 and Desire 600.

Display

Q600 and Desire 600 both have 4.5-inch display but the resolutions are different. Q600 has a 480 x 854 pixel resolution whereas Desire 600 boasts off a 540 x 960 pixel resolution. Lenovo on the other hand has given a massive 5.3-inch screen with 720 x 1280 pixel resolution enabling the smartphone to even display full HD videos.

Pricing

There is a huge difference when it comes to pricing of all three handsets. Xolo Q600 is priced at ₹8,999 whereas Lenovo S90 has been priced at ₹19,900 and HTC has priced its handset at a whopping ₹26,860.

Verdict

Xolo does beat the other two by huge margins but, we believe that performance inferiority could be a huge hurdle for this phone. HTC Desire 600 is definitely way to pricey for the Indian markets and that too for the middle-income group that puts Lenovo S920 just right there at the edge of being a descent quad-core phone with all the required features as well as an affordable price tag. We will be reviewing all three smartphones so do check back.

Specification Xolo Q600 Lenovo S920 HTC Desire 600
Processor MediaTek 6589 1.2GHz MediaTek 6589 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 1.2GHz
RAM 512MG 1GB 1GB
Storage 4GB (expandable 32GB) 4GB (expandable 32GB) 8GB (expandable 64GB)
Camera (primary) 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Camera (secondary) VGA 2-megapixel 1.6-megapixel
OS Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Display (size) 4.5-inch 5.3-inch 4.5-inch
Display (resolution) 480 x 854 pixels 720 x 1280 pixels 540 x 960 pixels
Connectivity GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB v2 GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB v2 GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB v2, Infrared, NFC
Pricing ₹8,999 ₹19,900 ₹26,860

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Micromax Canvas 4: Spec showdown

June 18, 2013 |

[Update: 08/07/2013 12:10 GMT] Please, find the updated comparison here based on the actual specifications of Canvas 4.

[Update: 28/06/2012 09:00 GMT] Canvas 4 pre-booking start at ₹5,000.

Samsung has been busy selling its Galaxy S4 smartphone across the globe but, the sales are stagnating lately in Europe as well as Korea according to new reports and to add to that the ever increasing competition from the local vendors in India, Samsung is definitely going to have a hard time selling its flagship device in India.

Micromax Mobile has announced that it will be launching its fourth-generation flagship Smartphone Canvas 4 sometime soon but, no real details have been revealed expect for a couple of images and a teaser video.

Canvas 4 can directly be placed against the Samsung Galaxy S4 based on the information we have captured so far. The smartphone is powered by the powerful Mediatek Quad-Core processor and would probably be clocked at around 1.2 or 1.4 GHz. There are rumours that the smartphone will be fitted with atleast 1GB of RAM to complement the processor thereby allowing users to use multiple apps concurrently.

As compared to the 4.99-inch screen of the S4, Canvas 4 boasts of a marginally bigger 5-inch screen and will most probably be an IPS Screen. From the image of the Canvas 4 it is also evident that the rear camera is a 13-megapixel camera with Autofocus and LED flash. There are no news yet about the internal storage but, we peg it to be at 8GB and Micromax is going to allow expandable storage of up to 32GB with a microSD card.
micromax canvas 4
We are not saying that the Canvas 4 and Galaxy S4 can be compared head-to-head considering Samsung has put in the best components available in the market – an Octa-Core processor with 13 Mega Pixel Super Quality camera; a 4.99 inch screen with 431 pixel per inch density resulting in 1080 X 1920 resolution among others.

Pricing is another thing that Micromax is known for and we expect that the handset may be priced at somewhere below the US $300 mark or ₹16,000. If this does turn out to be true then the Indian consumers would be in for an amazing handset considering the cost.

Canvas 4 pre-orders are starting June 28 and the shipments would start sometime in second week of July.

Specs Samsung Galaxy S4 Micromax Canvas 4
Screen Size 4.99 inches 5 inches
Display type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen Expected IPS
Resolution 1080 x 1920 Expected 1080 x 1920
OS Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean [upgradable to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie] Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean [upgradable to Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie]
Processor Exynos 5 Octa 5410 Cortex A15 Mediatek quad-core
Number of cores Eight Cores Four Cores
Processor speed 1.6 GHz Expected to be either 1.2 GHz or 1.4 GHz
Graphics processor PowerVR SGX 544MP3 Not known
RAM 2GB At least 1 GB RAM
Internal Storage 16, 32, 64 GB 8 GB
Expandable Storage 64 GB 32 GB
Primary Camera 13-megapixel autofocus with LED flash 13-megapixel autofocus with LED flash
Secondary Camera 2 megapixel 2 megapixel
Camera features Face and Smile Detection, Dual Shot / Dual Recording/ Dual Video Call and Beauty Face, Best Photo, Best Face, Drama, Rich Tone (High Dynamic Range), Sound & Shot, Sports, Continuous shot All Android camera features
Colours White Frost, Black Mist White and Black
Price Available at ₹37,900 Expected to be priced at ₹16,000 or less