China to build first underwater platform in South China Sea


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BEIJING: China will build its first long-term underwater observation platform in resource-rich South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with many south-east Asian countries including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The platform aims to observe underwater conditions in real time.

“Construction work on the long-term observation platform covering key areas in the South China and East China seas will be done with the help of Shanghai’s Tongji University and the Institute of Acoustics,” Wang Pinxian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.

Building the observation network showcases that China is actively joining in the international competition, Wang told scientific forum in Shanghai last Saturday, state-run Global Times reported.

Institute of Acoustics refused to reveal the exact location and further details of the researches on the platform due to its sensitive nature, it said.

China has maritime disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

It claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic and has huge amounts of oil and natural gas BSE -0.15 %.

The waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China also contests Japan’s hold over the islands in the East China Sea.

Quoting a report from ‘sciencenet’, Global Times report said the observation platform will probe the undersea physical, chemical, and geological dynamics, and will also be used for other purposes.

At an offshore drilling project led by Chinese scientists, 33 scientists from 13 countries including the US, France, Italy and Japan left Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on February 7 for the South China Sea.

The scientists have completed the first drilling task of the expedition to the South China Sea.

The first hole, identified as U1499A, has reached 3,770 meters below sea level, for collection of sediment samples, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Sun Zhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, chief scientist of the research expedition team, a preliminary lithologic study was conducted on sediment believed to have been formed eight million years ago.

The study will contribute to understanding how marginal basins grow.

A total of 66 scientists from 13 countries will participate in the expeditions, as part of the International Ocean Discovery Programme.

Source

Sirens to alert people in case of earthquakes in Uttarakhand


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DEHRADUN: IIT-Roorkee has developed a regional early warning system which will alert people in Uttarakhand in the event of an earthquake by sounding a siren.

A siren will scream after getting required signals from sensors to be put up in quake-sensitive areas across the state and alert people in case of earthquakes so they get enough time to reach safety, seismic scientist from IIT-R Ashok Kumar said in a presentation at a meeting of the Advisory Group Committee on disaster management chaired by Chief Secretary S Ramawamy.

84 sensors have already been installed in quake-prone areas of Uttarakhand out of a total of 1,100 sensors to be put up throughout the state, Kumar said at the meeting.

After the installation of sensors is complete, sirens will begin to be installed in sensitive areas, an official release quoting him said.

A mobile app has also been developed which will alert users about a quake by producing a unique beeping sound.

n areas where there is no mobile connectivity, the early warning system will be connected with All India Radio.
An early warning system software has also been prepared, Kumar said.

Via

— TimesofIndia

 

Jio 4G won’t be free after March 31 but it will be cheaper than expected: Report


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Jio 4G

Currently Jio 4G users are enjoying free service, which includes free data and free calls, as part of Reliance Happy New Year Offer. This offer, as specified by the company earlier, will end on March 31. But at the same time, Jio is said to be working on new tariff plans, which will make Jio the cheapest telecom service in the country.

Although Jio had announced the details of the commercial plans earlier in September when it opened the 4G service for public, a report by Economic Times says that the company is now working on newer — and cheaper — plans. The report says that as part of making the service popular, Jio is likely to come with the Rs 100 offer to all the people using the service. It will ask consumers to pay Rs 10 each month for three months until June-end for free data and free voice calls after the Happy New Year Offer ends on March 31.

Although the plan is seemingly in the early stages, it makes a lot of sense for Jio to come up with something like this. Specifically, such a plan will take care of three things.

One, the plan will ease the consumers, who would be using Jio free for nearly 6 months, into a paying for a plan. If Jio asks consumers to pay a higher price for less data, the consumers using it for free may not immediately turn themselves into paying customers. But a more modestly priced plan of something like Rs 100 for the same unlimited services may help Jio convert more free users into paying consumers.

Two, it will help Jio fine-tune its network further. Once the paid services of Jio start, it is expected that many existing Jio users, who are using the Jio SIM as their secondary, data-only SIM, may drop off. By working for three more months with consumers who are willing to pay, Jio may be able to gauge the network performance in a better way. In a way, this would follow the standard alpha and beta testing that companies do for their products. The current Jio phase can be considered alpha testing. The upcoming three months with Rs 100 offer could be the beta, when Jio will not only be able to test out network but also its customer response and billing systems.

Finally, the Rs 100 offer will help Jio stave off the regulatory challenge posed by Airtel and others. These companies are already furious that Jio has been allowed to extend its free offer beyond December 31. If Jio wants to test its services further and want to extend the free services beyond March 31, it may not be possible for the company at all. Hence, a Rs 100 will help it counter the argument from Airtel and others that Jio services are free and hence unfair competition.

R.I.P. Google+?


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Google’s Google+ social network, touted by some as a potential “Facebook killer” upon its 2011 release, could end up split into multiple parts.

“Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true—I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!” Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz wrote on his Google+ page. “It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.”

While there’s no official word from Google on whether Google+ is headed for the digital chopping block, Horowitz’s posting suggests the service could undergo a significant rebranding in coming months. If so, “Photos” is a logical candidate for a standalone service. Over the past few years, Google+ has developed a reputation as a place where digital shutterbugs congregate to share images, so it seems logical that Google would double down on that aspect of things.

The second allusion in Horowitz’s posting, “Streams,” is much more ambiguous. It presumably refers to the activity/news streams that dominate the profiles of Google+ users, but it remains unclear how exactly Google will shift things around to emphasize this functionality.

At this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai also told the audience that Hangouts, the popular communications platform that currently exists as part of Google+, might end up as a standalone product of some sort. “And we’re going to put more energy into it,” he said, according to The Verge. “We’re seeing good traction there and so we’ll work hard to get to the next stage.”

At least one thing is clear: Google+ will likely end up looking very different in the months and years ahead—if it even continues to exist under that name.

Source: Techgig

Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list


Lost among the scores of available Android apps are some specialized tools that might really come in handy. Tom Merritt runs through a few you may not have come across.

If you’re an Android user, you know the Google Play Store is filled with apps — many of which are outstanding, but some of which… are not. Finding a few of the hidden, lesser-known gems isn’t a terribly challenging task, but it can take a while. So to save you a bit of time, I searched the Play Store and came up with five apps you may never have heard of but might benefit from using. Let’s see if any of them fits your bill.

1: Greenify

Greenify (Figure A) will help you identify any apps on your phone that are misbehaving and place them into hibernation. This will effectively save your device battery from prematurely draining. But unlike some other apps that prevent a suspect app from working, Greenify allows you to continue using the application in question. It hibernates suspicious apps only when they are not in use, thus preventing them from draining your battery.

Figure A

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Greenify itself uses little in the way of resources. At most, it uses 5 MB of RAM, zero CPU, and zero battery. A word of warning: Do NOT Greenify your alarm clock, instant messaging, or widget-enabled apps — and DO verify the impact of Greenifying apps you rely on. You also should know that on a non-rooted device, you must manually hibernate apps (which requires just a single tap of the hibernation button). You can automate this process via an accessibility service Greenify provides. The only caveat to using the accessibility service is that Greenify will observe your interactions with apps and retrieve window content. Some users might consider this a bit too intrusive and prefer to handle the hibernate process manually.

2: ProxyDroid

ProxyDroid (REQUIRES ROOT) makes setting a proxy on your Android device incredibly simple. This free app (Figure B) supports HTTP/HTTPS/SOCKS4/SOCKS5 proxy, as well as basic, NTLM, and NTLMv2 authentication methods. With ProxyDroid you can set up a proxy for an individual app or several apps. By unsetting the global proxy feature, you can select specific apps. You can also set up multiple profiles, which means you can set a proxy for certain apps and another for yet more apps.

Figure B

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As far as proxy apps are concerned, ProxyDroid makes it worth taking the time to root your device. You’ll also find a handy widget for enabling/disabling proxies. Note that when you use the widget, you must have selected the profile to be active within the ProxyDroid settings window. If you’re looking for the single most powerful proxy app available, root your phone and look no further than ProxyDroid.

3: Total Commander

Total Commander (Figure C) is, by far, one of the ugliest file managers you’ll ever use. It is also one of the best. If offers a built-in text editor, properties dialog, FTP/sFTP/WebDAV/OBEX support, plug-ins for cloud services, and features that let you copy/move whole subdirectories, drag and drop, zip/unzip/rar, select/unselect groups of files, search, select a range of files/folders, and much more.

Figure C

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Total commander is like getting the old-school UNIX Midnight Commander on your Android device… only with an updated feature set and a slightly updated interface. One cool interface feature: If you’re viewing in portrait mode, Total Commander displays a single pane. However, when viewing in landscape mode, you see a dual-pane interface.

4: RedLaser Barcode & QR Scanner

RedLaser (Figure D) is a great price-comparison shopping app. Just scan a barcode and it will crawl the internet and display the best online prices available. From there, you can tap the top price to open the item in a web browser and purchase it.

Figure D

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I have found that RedLaser has one of the fastest barcodes scanners available. You won’t waste time trying to line up the camera to the laser. In fact, RedLaser picks up the barcode almost before you have the item/camera lined up — it’s that fast. You can also get local pricing, facts about a product, and reviews. When scanning food items, you’ll get a ton of relevant details, such as allergen information. You can also scan and save your loyalty cards into the app, so you don’t have to pull out your keys or wallet to use those cards (and you can see deals associated with each card).

5: Ambio

When you’re traveling for business, you often wind up in unfamiliar locations (and sometimes in less-than-ideal hotels). Ambio (Figure E) is an ambient sound generator that can help you sleep or focus on the task at hand.

Figure E

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If you can’t sleep because there’s just too much quiet, Ambio will soothe you into slumber with the sounds of the ocean, rain, ticking clocks, fans, airplane cabins, heartbeats, white noise, and much more. And if you don’t like the included sounds, you can download more (including premium sounds). You can even pause sounds and create your own mixes (combining four sounds to create the perfect cacophony of noise to make you forget you’re in an unfamiliar hotel bed trying desperately to get enough sleep to make the next day of work possible.

Source: Techgig.

Microsoft Sparta web browser features leaked


NEW DELHI: Microsoft’s plan to replace its Internet Explorer browser was leaked late last month but there has been no word on it apart from a single blurry screenshot that does not reveal any features of the browser. Until now that is.

Images of the replacement for Internet Explorer, codenamed Spartan, have been leaked by technology website Neowin. The images show the new design language adopted by Microsoft as well as a few features of the upcoming browser.

The leaked images show the UI of Spartan, which shows the favicon, name of the website and a small ‘X’ to close the tab on top. The design of the tabs is characterized by sharp edges, a departure from the look of the tabs in the latest version of Internet Explorer.

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(Image Courtesy: http://www.neowin.net)
The screenshots show that the browser will have a reading mode beside the bookmark button. This will strip all multimedia content like videos and images, leaving only the text; Apple’s Safari browser also has a similar feature.

Next to the Reading Mode button is a folder icon, a share button and an icon (marked by three dots) to enter the settings page.

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(Image Courtesy: http://www.neowin.net)

Spartan is expected to be preloaded with Windows 10, along with a version of Cortana.

New iPhone feature will completely transform how you use apps.


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Apple’s new operating system for mobile phones and tablets, iOS 8, is slated to release in the fall, and one of its features will transform how you use your apps.
Apple calls it Extensibility, and it basically allows your apps to share both information and functionality with one another, which means less time spent switching among apps.
Let’s say you have a favorite app for editing your photos, such as Adobe Photoshop Express.
Before Extensibility, you would need to be inside Photoshop Express to use its editing tools. But with Extensibility, you’ll be able to access those same editing tools right from within Apple’s native Photos app. The editing tools from Photoshop Express would act as the “extension” in this case, and the Photos app would then have access to that extension, allowing you to take advantage of Photoshop Express’ unique features and functionality even from within outside apps.

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Popular password management app 1Password has already demonstrated how it will use Extensibility to let users easily fill in password info from within any app. Before, you had to boot up 1Password, copy the password for a site or app, and then open the site or app and paste it in. But Extensibility eliminates those extra steps. Other apps can plug into 1Password and let you use it without opening a separate app.

So how does it work?

There are different types of extensions depending on how and where they will share information with other apps. Apple wants to prevent apps from simply having full access to all of the information in your other apps, so extensions are focused on particular functions and tasks, like Share, Action, and Photo Editing.

It’s important to note that an app won’t be able to randomly request important info from another app without your consent. You have complete control over when an app makes a request to use an extension, meaning an app can’t request your PayPal password from 1Password unless you ask it to.

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Apple
Besides being secure, Extensibility means more information at your fingertips, and faster.

Apple, for example, is allowing extensions to plug directly into your iPhone’s Notification Center, where it will act as a widget. If you want to stay up to date on the latest scores, you could enable ESPN’s Sports Center app to see its extension in Notification Center, allowing you to quickly check out what’s going on without opening the Sports Center app.

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MacRumors
You won’t only be able to glimpse information from within Notification Center; extensions will also let you take action.

Say you were using the Philips Hue app to control your smart light bulbs. Right now, that’s all done within the app. But Philips has shown off an iOS 8 concept for an extension that would let you turn on and off your smart lighting, even select some pre-set mood lighting, all from a simple swipe up of the Notification Center.

At its WWDC conference in June, Apple highlighted how an eBay extension would allow you to keep track of auctions from within Notification Center. And because extensions can also include actions, you’re even able to place a bid without opening the app.

Extensions can also be used to share things to your favorite social media site. Apple has limited sharing features integrated into iOS 7, but iOS 8 will usher in the ability for any social media app to design its own extension.

Say you’re browsing the internet using Safari. With Extensibility, you’ll be able to tap the image, select which social media website or app you’d like to share the picture with, and you’re done.

Extensibility even extends to core Apple software, like its keyboard. If another app has a keyboard that you like better than Apple’s, simply enabling a keyboard extension will give users the ability to replace Apple’s keyboard with their own.

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At its heart, Extensibility will both remove friction and empower preference, letting users take their favorite app’s killer feature and use it from within another app.

It’s a giant step in the right direction for Apple, and it means that apps will no longer have to compromise on polish in the name of being able to “do it all.” Instead, they’ll be able to focus on creating a unique experience that users will be able to take with them into other apps.

Extensibility will be available when iOS 8 launches as a free download this fall.

Hands on with the Audi A3 with Android Auto


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Google wants to be everywhere. It’s on your desktop, in your pocket, on your wrist and now in your car. Well maybe not your current car. But possibly your next car.

At today’s Google I/O developer event, the search giant showed off Android Auto. Like Apple’s Car Play, the feature lets you make calls, control and listen to your music, and get you where you’re going all without having to grab your phone and potentially put your life and the lives of others in danger.

We got a quick demo of Android Auto in a red Audi A3 on the second floor of Moscone West. While a giant screen in the foreground played scenes of cars driving along worlds from around the world, we were presented with the system.

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Google wants you to make sure that the system doesn’t want you to read. Instead of visual cues or text of what you’re asking for, a voice gives you a voice cue. Ask the car to navigate to Fresno, CA and the car will respond, “Navigating to Fresno, CA.” It’s pretty slick but if the car has an issue understanding what you’re saying or its reply is phonetically correct but not technically correct you could end up at the wrong location.

Still, anything that keeps your phone out of your hand and your eyes on the road is great. The audio app integration is great. In addition to Google Music, there are 10 apps ready to go including Spotify, Pandora and MLB At Bat. While the main screen looks the same with a color skin to match the app, each app can add its own categories to the navigation. You can also make voice calls and reply to texts with you voice.

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The system is part of the Open Automotive Alliance. In addition to the Audi, there was a Kia with the system installed. Cars from Mazda, Ford, Subaru, Volkswagen and others should be on the road in the future. Until then, keep your phone in your bag while you drive.

It’s ‘internship time’ at Facebook, Google, Apple


MOUNTAIN VIEW: Sitting in a kitchen stocked with free food, a handful of 20-something Google summer interns weigh their favorite perks, but where to begin? With bikes, buses, massages, swimming pools, dance classes, nap pods, parties and access to their tech heroes, it’s a very long list.

“Unlimited sparkling water?” someone says.

In the end, however, the budding Googlers are most excited about the work.

“The project I’m working on is super high impact, and I’m looking for ways to make my mark,” says Rita DeRaedt, 20, studying visual communication technology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She admitted to being a bit star-struck after she was assigned to a team headed by a designer she’s long admired.

With summer’s arrival comes an influx of thousands of Silicon Valley interns. Well paid and perked, young up-and-comers from around the world who successfully navigate the competitive application process are assigned big time responsibility at firms such as Google, Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter.

Silicon Valley tech firms pay their interns more than any other sector in the US, according to a Top 25 list of 2014 intern pay by online career website Glassdoor.

Palantir Technologies, a Palo Alto-based cybersecurity firm, topped the list with $7,012 average monthly base pay. Also on the list: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Google and Apple, all of which pay more than $5,000 a month, or $60,000 annually if these were full time jobs.

And that’s not counting the perks, which at Facebook even include housing in this high rent region.

Executives hope that a fun and stimulating summer will motivate them to come back after graduation to launch careers. It’s money well spent in a field fighting for talent, says Keck Graduate Institute professor Joel West in Claremont, who hired interns when he ran his own software company, and now helps place students at internships.

(Image courtesy: Google)

(Image courtesy: Google)

“When you’re an employer, interns are a win-win, because you get relatively cheap labor and you get a first look at talented and ambitious people,” he says. “You get first dibs on them.”

Indeed, many of the internships turn into careers.

Max Schireson, CEO of database startup MongoDB, with offices in Palo Alto and New York, says they nurture former interns, 35 this summer selected from a pool of 3,000, when they return to their respective schools – primarily Brown, MIT, Stanford and Princeton.

“We try to keep in touch with them both to keep that relationship warm but also because they can help us in identifying our next crop,” Schireson says.

Schireson says that while there’s solid pay, with food, drink and candy around the office, there are limits. Ultimately, he says, “we want people attracted mostly by the workplace challenges.”

Typically, interns are assigned to collaborative teams working on specific projects; computer science student might be writing software code to make failed passcode attempts erase data, while a human resources student might be creating online learning modules for new hires.

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(Inside Facebook headquarters)

Serial entrepreneur Jon Bischke, currently CEO of San Francisco-based Entelo, a tech recruiter, said interns better arrive ready to hustle.

“Companies in Silicon Valley are growing faster than literally any companies anywhere since the beginning of time,” he said. “The energy is palpable and for people who appreciate fast-paced environments, you won’t find anything faster than what’s going on in Silicon Valley right now.”

But there is an effort to keep hours reasonable, and many said East Coast financial sector interns work longer hours for less pay.

“We believe in paying for work and paying our interns, full stop, but we don’t believe in making interns work all hours of the day unnecessarily, and think there are lessons to be learned in terms of managing time and workflow,” said Google spokeswoman Meghan Casserly. Overtime is allowed, however, for projects that warrant it, she says.

Chris Crawford was 18, a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, when he landed his first internship at nearby Cupertino-based Apple. He spent the next five summers interning at Apple, two in public relations, three at iTunes.

“I love Apple technology, I’m a musician and I loved what they were doing in the music industry, and I got real life business experience there,” says Crawford, who went on to launch his own startup, Loudr.fm, in 2009, an online service where musicians can sell cover songs and original music to fans, or through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other sites.

Now and then, he says, their little firm of eight even gets an intern.

Google’s head of global staffing Kyle Ewing says the biggest misconception about their interns is that they are all computer scientists from elite universities. Instead, Google, and many other firms, have outreach programs to both diversify their workforce and provide opportunities for non-technical students.

First impressions: Samsung Galaxy K Zoom


K Zoom is surprisingly light for what it offers. It weighs just 200 grams and that makes a big difference in how well it feels in hands. At 20mm, it is also quite slim.

K Zoom is surprisingly light for what it offers. It weighs just 200 grams and that makes a big difference in how well it feels in hands. At 20mm, it is also quite slim.

SINGAPORE: Samsung is trying to break into the camera market with its Android-powered cameras for the last two years. It had some success but not as much as it would have liked to. Combining a smartphone and a camera in single device is not easy and on earlier occasions when we reviewed cameras we found that often cons outweighed pros in these devices.

Galaxy K Zoom looks like a device that may have more pros than cons.

The biggest difference between K Zoom and earlier Galaxy cameras is the design. K Zoom is surprisingly light for what it offers. It weighs just 200 grams and that makes a big difference in how well it feels in hands. At 20mm, it is also quite slim. While it was possible to carry earlier Galaxy cameras into pocket, K Zoom is the first device in the series that we feel would easily slip into the pocket, almost like a phablet.

Earlier Galaxy cameras were awkward to use as smartphones. The lens bulge was too big on them. But K Zoom can be used as a smartphone without too many compromises. The lens bulge in the device is surprisingly flat compared to what earlier Galaxy cameras had. Samsung claims that in K Zoom it is using a different (and unique) lens that retracts to form a very compact module.

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In terms of design, K Zoom borrows heavily from the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S3. The back cover of K Zoom uses the same matte finish plastic found on Galaxy S5. This feels good in hand. The overall design, with its rounded corners and a curved back, is similar to that of Galaxy S3. Ergonomically, the design is good and makes using K Zoom easier despite its bulk.

The device runs a modified version of Android kitKat. Unlike Galaxy phones, K Zoom has a hardware button for camera. When the device is locked and the screen is off, this camera button can be used to quickly access the camera app.

The device we checked out had good performance and we did not see any lag.

But the screen did not seem as nice as what users get on the high-end Galaxy phones. The screen shows vibrant and punchy colours (it is AMOLED panel) but the brightness and sharpness is not as good as what Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy S5 screens offer. For the sharpness bit, the reason is simple: unlike the Full HD screen in flagship Galaxy phones, Samsung is using 720p screen in K Zoom.

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We took some photos with K Zoom in the low light scene. The performance seemed acceptable, though not exceptional. But question on image quality is something that we can only answer properly after using the device for a while.

In the past, Galaxy cameras have offers decent image quality. However, they have also carried a rather high price for what they offer.

The design of K Zoom is definitely attractive and practical. The performance seems good. We will take a better look at the image quality offered by K Zoom and the price is something that Samsung would reveal when it launches the device in India. However, even if the Galaxy camera offers image quality similar to what earlier Galaxy cameras had managed but comes with somewhat better price, we feel it may turn out to be a good competitor for the conventional cameras.