The next time you’re at a gadget store, don’t play blonde when new names, new specs and new terminology crop up. Here’s what it all means:
Drop it, throw it, shoot it with an air gun, stamp on it and chances are you won’t even scratch it. That’s why Gorilla Glass, a thin, light, almost indestructible kind of material, makes mobile, tablet and laptop-users weak in the knees. Gorilla Glass first showed up on the iPhone, but the technology, apparently, has been around since the 1960s. Today, about 20 per cent of mobile handsets worldwide use the glass, and early this year, the glassmakers Corning, even released a new version Gorilla Glass 2 – thinner but with the same scratch resistance.
Cloud or Sky Drive
When someone tells you they’ve saved their file “in the cloud,” they’re not referring to a cumulous mass in the sky where an angel is waiting with a pen drive. Cloud storage (iCloud, Sky Drive and the like) simply refers to a third party hosting your data along with that of others via a network (like the Internet) on storage servers somewhere on Earth (on land, not in the sky!). Think of it as a virtual briefcase that stores all your data and lets you access, save, delete and otherwise manipulate it via your email, a cloud storage gateway or the Web, so you never have to carry all your data around with you all the time.
LCD, LED and Plasma
These three terms that get thrown up every time you want to buy a TV.
LCD: A traditional TV used a cathode ray tube to display images on the screen. LCD TVs use cold cathode fluorescent lights (CCFLs) to illuminate the screen. These TVs are usually the most popular and are most suitable for brightly lit rooms.
LED TVs: This is the new technology – a TV that uses light-emitting diodes (LED) to create the picture we see. LEDs are typically the most energy efficient and are the thinnest TVs out there.
Plasma TV: This was the best kind of TV you could hope to own, but it’s being sidelined now by LCDs and LEDs. A plasma TV display is an array of tiny gas cells sandwiched between two sheets of glass. Each cell acts like a mini fluorescent tube, emitting ultraviolet light which then strikes red, green and blue spots on the screen, which glow to build a picture. Plasmas are the heaviest of all three options, and use more power as well.
Optical zoom and digital zoom
You’ll encounter some confusion when buying a camera. The specs will boast high zoom capabilities, but often it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Digital cameras can zoom in two ways – with an optical zoom and a digital zoom.
The optical zoom lens will actually move you closer to a distant subject, letting you take as complete an image from far away as from close range. So whether the Corbett tiger is right next to your safari jeep or hidden behind those trees at the edge of the forest, your image will have the same quality. Think of the optical zoom as a telescope – it takes you closer to the distant object.
Digital zoom, on the other hand, works more like a microscope. The camera will see a panoramic image, let you crop into the section you want and magnify that area to fit the whole frame. You lose quality this way, since you’re not looking at a whole image, just a blown-up part of it. So if you’re likely to take distance shots, a high optical zoom is what you should be looking for. If not, digital zoom is perfectly fine for close-ups of the birthday cake, the college gang and the family holiday.
Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean
Dessert in your technology? Hardly. Banana Bread, Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, HoneyComb, Ice Cream Sandwich and now Jelly Bean are versions of operating systems for Android phones and tablets. Google’s latest, Jelly Bean, means your phone will boot faster, your widgets can resize and make room for new ones automatically, the notification window is multipurpose, your transitions are buttery smooth and the overall performance of your phone is better.
Apple products have been advertising retina display and it’s had everyone excited. Here’s what it doesn’t mean: “The picture pops out of the screen, dude!” It actually means that the pixel density – 326 per inch – is so high that the human eye can’t spot pixelation (or the little squares that make up the image) at a typical viewing distance. This basically means that your texts, pictures and graphics look smoother and photos look more realistic. It does not mean that Apple has managed to replicate a human eye’s clarity of
vision. That is near impossible.
The bigger the number, the clearer the picture. But why? For the answer, you’ll need to know what a pixel is. You know how a picture sometimes breaks up into little squares when you try to blow it up to a large size? Each of those squares is a pixel. Pixel actually stands for PICture ELement and they’re stacked horizontally and vertically to make up your image. One megapixel equals one million pixels – the more the megapixels, the more densely packed the data in the image, allowing for images that you can make bigger and bigger.
Does this mean your photos will necessarily be sharper?
Unfortunately, no. Sharp images have more to do with steady hands than megapixels. Most casual-use cameras have 5 or 6 megapixels, enough for photo frames, a baby poster, and 300 shots for Facebook. Buy a camera with higher MP and all you’ll be doing is saving larger image files and compromising on space for nothing.
It’s more than a bit of plastic jutting out from the side of your laptop. The dongle is a little device that plugs into your USB port to ensure that only authorised users can access certain software apps (like paid Internet). A plugged-in dongle is like a key in a lock. Unlike a regular flash drive, it’s not just a storage device, it’s actually a passkey.
HDTV versus HD ready
What’s the difference between an HD-ready and an HDTV television set? Roughly 5,000 bucks at Croma. Okay, that’s a joke. But seriously, the main difference between the two boils down to whether the TV in question has a built-in digital tuner, which is known as an ATSC tuner. An HD-ready TV means that the set is capable of displaying a high-definition picture provided from some tuning device or set-box that is external to the set itself.
From HT Brunch, October 7
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