The last few weeks have seen a flurry of gadget launches in India. Expected, around the Diwali festival time, but if you thought the excitement for the year was done and dusted, think again. We would suggest you hang on to your cash for some time, because a flurry of new gadgets will arrive at a shop near you.. Before the end of the year, the choice for you will be wider than ever.
Tablets: Android vs. iOS, all over again!
How can the year be complete without the new Apple iPad(s)? Equally, you have the Nexus on the other end of the spectrum. Honestly, these will not be the only tablets launching in India, but without doubt, these will generate the maximum excitement.
Google Nexus 7 by Asus (2013 edition): It has been fairly perplexing as to why Asus keeps on delaying the official launch of the new 2013 Nexus 7 tablet. Just like the Nexus smartphone, the tablet also has a legion of hardcore fans, who would not buy any other tablet. No official word from Asus regarding the exact date when the tablet will be officially available in India, but we would expect it to happen sometime around the end of November. The Nexus 7 gets a very different build quality from last year’s effort, and looks to be worth considering. An extremely powerful processor - Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, paired with 2GB of RAM, and the promise of the latest Android updates without delay just adds to the untouched Android experience.
The prices of the first generation Nexus (16GB) have dropped to below Rs. 10,000 on certain online stores, and that paves the way for the updated Nexus to slot into a relatively similar price bracket. The price of the highest end 32GB LTE version has been announced, but the India pricing of the Wi-Fi only 16GB (US $229) and 32GB (US $269) versions is still not known. If the entry level version is priced around Rs. 18,000 (direct conversion at the time of writing this is Rs. 14,200), that will be a rather sweet spot for a very powerful 7-inch tablet.
Expected Launch: November-end
Announced Price: Rs. 25,999 (32GB LTE version)
The Nexus 7 on the left, and the Nexus 10 on the right. The new and the old, if you look at the life of the product. But, both are meant for different audiences. Still, the newer Nexus 10 would have been more welcome!
Google Nexus 10 by Samsung (2012 edition): Well, not all of us are pleased about the fact that the Nexus 10 arriving in India is last year’s edition. But this is what we are getting, so we have to deal with it. Unlike the 7-inch Nexus which is made by Asus, this one is made by Samsung. You still get a 2560 x 1600 pixel 10.1-inch display, and is certainly aimed at someone who doesn’t care about the latest gen-hardware and wants to go the whole hog with a 10-inch tablet. Admittedly, you will be better off with the latest generation hardware of the Nexus 7 in most use cases, but for the no-compromise attitude towards the screen size. If we were to get the newer Nexus 10 with the blazing fast Snapdragon 800 processor, our recommendation would certainly change.
Expected Launch: November-end
Announced Price: Rs 29,999 (16GB version)
Apple iPad Air: The most awaited tablet of the year, and thankfully it does not wield the moniker- 'The New New Apple iPad!' The de facto device that most people visualize the moment they think of tablets, the iPad Air just takes the game to the next level. Slimmer and lighter than the fourth generation, to make the new iPad true to the “Air” moniker. The new A7 processor may just be dual core, on paper, but the performance is blazing fast. The 64-bit capability adds the level of future-proofing that will help with future apps.
All that goodness aside, let us talk about the money matters. The 16GB Wi-Fi version is priced in the U.S. at $499, which roughly converts to Rs. 31,000. Now, what would the India pricing be? Two questions at play here - 1. Will Apple bring in the iPad Air at the same price points the current 4th Generation iPad is selling at? Or 2. Keep a higher margins for currency fluctuations and give this an even more “premium” price? If the iPhone 5s pricing is the beginning of a trend, expect the iPad Air to be at least Rs. 6,000 more expensive than the current iPad. Important to remember that Apple was possibly the only smartphone and tablet manufacturer who didn’t increase the prices at the time the Indian Rupee was taking a tumble, these past few months. Surely, they will not only keep some buffer, but also attempt to recover some of the losses they may have made, then.
Expected Launch: mid-December
Expected Price: Rs. 34,500 (16GB - Wi-Fi) onwards
The iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina Display - possibly the most awaited tablet refresh in 2013. The pricing details have not been announced, but do be ready to pay a lot of money for these devices.
Apple iPad Mini Retina display: Despite the rumor mill making attempts to convince you every time that they have unearthed something unexpected, the 7.9-inch Retina Display update was as sure to happen as the sun rising tomorrow. In terms of power, the Mini is at the same level as the iPad Air, with the Apple A7 processor. The design and the form factor have been carried forward as it is, which makes complete sense.
Again, the question really boils down to the price. The 16GB Wi-Fi version, the entry level version, is priced at $399, which works out to around Rs. 25.000. Carrying forward the pricing argument from the iPad Air write-up, expect the iPad Mini Retina to arrive in India at around Rs 28,000 onwards.
Expected Launch: mid-December
Expected Price: Rs 28,500 (16GB - Wi-Fi) onwards
Smartphone: The Nexus 5. Full stop!
Anyone who already has a Nexus 4 doesn't really need to worry about upgrading. But for everyone else who wants a top quality Android phone, the Nexus 5 will be pretty much the final word. It doesn't get much better than this, at least for the pure Android experience.
With the new iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c out of the way, you don’t have many hot smartphones waiting around the corner. To be honest, Google has waited for the perfect time to bring the Nexus 5 to India - with the undivided attention of the consumers, and the media. Listed as “coming soon” on the Google Play Store India, the Nexus 5 sports a price tag of Rs. 28,999. Pretty much in the expected range, following the trend set by the Nexus 4. Packs in the very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, and a bigger screen with a higher resolution than the previous Nexus. Anyone who already owns a Nexus 4 might want to skip this generation, unless the 720p to 1080p resolution jump is a big thing for you. And if you are pedantic about experiencing the power of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. For everyone else, the Nexus 5 would possibly be the most value packed Android smartphone - powerful hardware, good display, pure Android experience and the promise of OS updates without delay.
Expected Launch: Anytime now!
Announced Price: Rs. 28,999 (16GB version)
The Gaming Consoles
The next generation consoles - the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One. Designed to impress, loaded with features, and will take the gaming experience a step further. Also, coming ever closer to becoming the one-stop device for gaming and media playback.
These tablets and the smartphone were the devices that you will be able to officially buy in India before we big adieu to 2013. However, a couple of exciting products will not be making it to our shores in the next few months. Yes, the gamers would know what we are talking about - the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One.
One thing common with both the new consoles is simple - everything has been redone, inside out. The PlayStation 4 has a Single-chip custom processor, x86-64 AMD "Jaguar", 8 cores, the 1.84 TFLOPS AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine and 8GB GDDR5 RAM. The redesigned console retains the Blu-Ray playback capabilities, but gets the upgraded DualShock 4 controller with fine-tuned analogue sticks and a dedicated Share button. The specs description will only tell half the story, because the upgrade in graphics quality and the gaming thrill is something you need to experience yourself. Unfortunately, Sony isn’t launching the console in India, in the near future. You could ask a friend or relative to pick one up for you when it launches in North America on 15th November and hits Europe on 29th November.
For the Xbox One, Microsoft has taken the entire Xbox offering to the logical next level, in an attempt to make this much smarter at more stuff than just gaming. The Blu-Ray player for starters, the HDMI pass-through capability for your Cable/DTH box allowing for compatible services to offer the OneGuide info, as well as multi-tasking via multi-screen - game and Skype at the same time, on the same screen. The Xbox One hits shelves in the U.S., on 22nd November for $429.
Just to get you mentally prepared, both consoles will fly off the shelves rather quickly. There may be a waiting period before you can get your hands on one, even within the U.S., with global availability still not clear. If you plan on purchasing it online, through eBay Global Easy Buy for example, be ready to pay a premium over the sticker price. But then again, that is the price you pay for getting the console immediately after launch.
Are there any other gadgets that you are waiting for? We would love to hear from you. Get in touch with the writer directly, via Twitter.