Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sony Cybershot DSC-H50 - How I went about buying it?

What is my need for a new camera?
The Nikon Coolpix S1 camera at home is not working. So, I will give my big LCD Sanyo Xacti E6 to them. While I will go for an upgrade. The ideal upgrade would be an SLR. But considering the cost (40K+), amount of manual operation and maintenance required, I thought I should go for something lower than that. So, I thought I should go for one in the prosumer category.
My requirements are
1. Good Optical Zoom 10x+. When I shot the moon at night using 3x zoom, it appeared just like a white dot.. It also helps to take some good people's photo from a distance without their notice ;-)
2. Large LCD screen. I am used to 3 inch screen in my earlier camera. It indeed was a useful luxury. And it will be difficult to go below it.
3. 4 Mega Pixel is more than enough for me. And even the most basic models and Mobile Phones have more than 4MP.
4. Video is necessary but an average quality 640x480 would do.
5. Brand should be within the top 3 brands in India. Japanese makers seem to be leaders in this market with marquee names like Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Kodak and Fuji.

Recruitment and Selection
Checked at a few sites and Multi Brand Outlets (MBO) to get a hang of a few cameras in prosumer category. Only Sony and Canon seemed to be well distributed. So had to decide between the 4 models.
1. Canon Powershot S5IS
2. Canon Powershot SX100IS
3. Sony Cybershot H50
4. Sony Cybershot H10
The Sony versions were superior to Canon's w.r.t LCD (3 vs 2.5 inch) and Lens (Sony has Carl Zeiss lens). Sony was priced slightly lower and their models were released later (April 2008) than Canon's(2007). But Canon did well w.r.t the screen, it could be rotated.
Between H50 and H10, H50 looked much better (15x vs 10x zoom) at not much difference in price (20K vs 16K). So, I finally decided on Sony Cybershot DSC-H50 model.

Where to buy?
Two options here too.
1. SonyWorld and Sony India authorized outlets.
2. Online shopping portals like ebay, indiaplaza and rediff.

 - Online had only 1 year warranty while Sony India has for 3 years.
 - Online companies source it from other countries like China, Taiwan, Malaysia at a cheaper price and sell it here.
 - When I contacted Sony (call centre), they said - Only ones from Sony India and sold by Sony Authorised dealers are approved. Sony India does not have or approve online channels.
 - 1GB Memory Stick free when bought offline. Non-Sony memory sticks are available in eBay at half or third the price of that of Sony Memory Sticks. But Sony India doesn't recommend using them. Obviously ;-)
 - Online portals were selling at about 15% discount i.e. 3000 Rs lesser price.
Still, I am not too sure about buying such high value items online in India. They may say, I can send it back if I am not satisfied but who has time to go through the procedures of sending back and getting a new one. so, I decided to buy from Sony India recommended channel!

Buying Experience
I visited one of the nearby Sony Authorised Dealer and this is what he had to say about Sony
 - Sony has been there in India for last 25 years and it is still the same customer centric company as it was.
 - I asked if there will be any promotion offers for Diwali. He showed me a case of 75,000 Rs LCD TV that gave just Casino Royale film CD free as a Diwali Offer. Such a small offer. Now that talks about Sony's Brand Equity. The Brand that is adored by its consumers need not come up with discounts to appeal to them. They appeal through their product, service and brand image throughout the year for so many years, so why anything special for Diwali alone?
 - No shop is allowed to give away any discounts below the MRP. Meaning all customers are same and the product is really worth the price. Even Apple doesn't give discounts on its products.
 - After I buy, within 2 days a company person will come to my residence and give me a demonstration of usage. How many companies care for their customers after the sale is made? Similarly in case of any problems later, just call them and within 24 hours they will be at my doorstep. Dell does this though.

Well, I haven't said anything about the Camera itself. I don't yet have the camera yet. I will get it tomorrow. There are enough professional reviews available in tech2, mouthshut, steve-digicamsetc. Looking forward to get the camera tomorrow, get the demonstration day after tomorrow and click some great photographs with it later.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Google Chrome - A New Web Browser

This morning I got the news of launch of a new web browser "Chrome" from Google in its official blog. Since then I have been frantically trying to download the software. I could finally do it at 12 at midnight. I am a huge fan of Google. It is one company that seems to do everything right in this Internet era. Being a leader in Web applications, it was only time before it moved into the platform where they are run i.e. the web browser.

User experience
What I like about all Google products is their simplicity. They have done away with Menu Bar, Tab Bar, Search Bar and a bar at bottom that exists in Firefox. This gives them additional vertical space equivalent to 3 bars to display webpage. Chrome has also done well in being a very fast software. It responds to events faster than other browsers I have used. Perform actions like page scroll, opening and closing tabs, typing text and so on, one will realise how fast it is. Javascripts are made to run the fastest. Sridhar Vembu of Zoho.com lauds this fact in his blog. All this doesnot come free, it uses more resources to do it. Opening each tab spawns a new process. Creating separate process has a advantage. Suppose opening a webpage fails and hangs the software, only the tab that opened the webpage is affected. Not others as in Firefox because it opens all tabs under same process. It is not common to find a webpage hanging the browser, open any unproffesionally written Indian website.

Browser's Growing Importance
After booting the OS, the browser is the first software that I run on my computer. Cloud Computing has enabled all computations and storage online i.e. at server end. Be it Office Application, Email, Music, Video, Photos, Games, etc. No hassles of maintaining files on local computer, updating and maitaining large resource intensive softwares. Anything can be accessed from anywhere. All they need is a web browser and internet connection. A thin client or dumb terminal can replace our sophisticated PC. With this web browser has become the most important software. That's why we are seeing a major browser war today.

Competetive Landscape

Source - Net Applications

Internet Explorer - Microsoft just launched IE 8. IE will continue to exist and be a leader for another 5 years atleast. The users of IE are Windows users who are not aware of Firefox and use it because it came by default with their PC. They don't realise that there are faster alternatives, don't understand that a poor browser can be a security loop hole, are not interested in trying something different.

Mozilla Firefox - Mozilla is adding almost 1% to its market share every month. The firefox 3 launch was spectacular with 8 million downloads spending hardly any advertising money. It earns money from Google itself by placing google as default search engine in its search bar. But remember Mozilla is a Free Software Foundation and is not dependent on Google's money for its survival. Mozilla has its strength in its developer network, the vast reach it already has, 3000+ free addons.

Google Chrome - Google has made it open source, in the same lines of Firefox, used the modules from firefox itself. Google's contract with Mozilla extends for another 3 years. I hope they work together to create 2 complementary browsers to give a good choice to the users. Any internet user in this world uses google.com or yahoo.com. Given its reach and brand image it is easy for Google to promote Chrome to its users. Simple value proposition could be "Use Chrome to work with our applications better".

With the launch of Chrome, I think Chrome will grow at the cost of Firefox. Because to use Firefox or Chrome, the user needs to take extra effort to download and use them. Both of them are similar. Here the user now has a choice between Firefox and Chrome while earlier it was only Firefox. But together they will fight IE.