Tech Shopping: Feature Gadget OR Performance Gadget?

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Gadgets

Gadgets: Features or Performance?

“8MP Camera with LED flash, 1Ghz Dual Core Processor, 512 MB RAM, AMOLED display, Android 2.3 (Grrh.. should have been able to  boot two OSs), Capacitive Multi Touch Screen, QWERTY Keyboard. I want a “Power Packed” phone.” Excuse me if I missed to mention some other necessary specifications. Somebody was asking me for a phone that has all these features. Phone or computers, whenever we are up for gadget shopping we want to ‘buy’ as many features as we can. Let’s see what makes a good gadget, the features or the performance?

Simplicity in Design:

A friend once asked me, ” Do you get bored of the Google’s Home Page design?”. No you don’t or perhaps you don’t even care about it! You don’t get bored of simplicity, you only get bored of stylish designs. Let not the fancy styles and extra make up of your new gadget deceive you. Choose a design that is simple and would look fresh even after a year!

Simplicity in Use:

Why do people love the iPod and the iPhone? You’d say because of the “Apple Hype”. But what/who creates the “Apple Hype”? Steve Jobs? Why is he able to do that? It’s because Apple products are easy to use. You can use them straight out of the box, without reading the product manual. Go back to an Apple Keynote, and you’ll see they always talk about what your new Apple toy can do, and little details on it’s features. Features tell, Benefits Sell!

Technology should simplify things, not complicate them.

The Speedometer:
Fasten your seat belts. Speed!  More Speed! More Speed! Arghh.. Crash!  High processing speeds would definitely not crash your system but why go for a Core i7 when you can work even on a Core i3 processor.  Agreed, new applications need good horse power to run  but adding more cores to the processor doesn’t really affect the performance of your application after a certain limit.

Our Obsession with the Mega Pixels:
Phones, laptops, tablets, PCs – camera’s have crept everywhere and we need the camera’s with the most mega pixels in it. Why not buy a good digital camera then? A good camera comes with a good lens, one that has enough size to capture good number of photons and give you a high resolution picture.   So a 5MP camera with a good lens may be as good as a 8MP one with an ordinary lens.

Critics and their stars:
The stars of the gadgets are in danger after Mr. Critic has given his ruling.

1- I tried it for two minutes on the go and it’s pathetic.

2- I haven’t used the gadget.  I am reviewing after reading some other reviews on the internet!

3- I like it. (Because everyone in the international market does).

4- Amazing. My “personal” favourite.

5 – The Company is our main sponsor. How can you neglect this product?

I am not against critics. But I don’t like the way they rate the products. They never analyze the performance of the gadgets. The rating comes out the next day of the product launch. How can you review something that you have just used for a few minutes perhaps.!

It could be a better idea to look at video reviews, reviews from users or the ones which come feature in reputed media.

What I didn’t mean?
I definitely didn’t mean  that go for an old model of your gadget that did wonderfully well years back. I didn’t mean bag all the good old technology and get it for a cheaper rates!

What I really meant?
The moral of the story is that trade features for performance. Sacrifice on a feature if it’s no use to you! Choose something that performs betters.  Say if it’s a portable device – it has a better battery. It is lighter and easy to carry. If it’s a phone and you already have a good digital camera, neglect the camera specs.

Your investment on features must yield some good performance!

Difference between Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors

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3<5<7. Toh Core i3<Core i5, Core i7 bhi hua na?” – Curious me. Was quizzing a computer vendor on my last visit to buy a pen drive!

So, second in series of processor analysis, I bring to you the technical yet readable differences between the Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Absolutely right, Core i7 is more powerful than Core i5 and Core i5  is more powerful than Core i3. But what exactly makes them different? To explain that, I first need to describe two technologies:

1. The Intel Turbo Boost Technology: Intel Turbo Boost Technology helps deliver more performance when and where you need it. If the processor detects that it is below its power, temperature, and current limits, its clock frequency increases to boost performance for active processor cores.  (Processor Cores. What are they? Read my previous post). Optimization of available resources. So if you are running a multi threaded application, that requires more power the technology intelligently increases the clock frequency. And  if you are running a legacy application that is not multi-threaded the clock speed is increased further. Now for an analogy to this. Relate this to the problem of allocation of resources. Suppose you work for a construction company, and the company is working on construction of multiple buildings. With the available resources you have two options: Either divide the entire work force for different constructions or deploy some and keep a buffer. What Intel Turbo Boost Technology does is analogous to keeping a buffer. So you see that the Swimming Pool construction needs more labour, you direct the buffer to that. Or may be all except one building are complete, you direct the entire work force there. So what happens is that all work is completed in time and you make the best use of your available resources.

2.The Intel Hyper Threading Technology: This is the ‘HT’, you’ve seen over the Pentium 4 logo some years back. What this does is that, it allows multiple threads to be processed by a single core. But what’s a thread? I quote from the famous Wikipedia:

In computer science, a thread of execution is the smallest unit of processing that can be scheduled by an operating system. (For more, check the link at the end of post).

More simply relate multi threaded applications to be multiple applications. I safely make that statement as many of the Intel Technologies videos use the same terminology. Since this is a technology we have also seen with the Intel Pentium 4 processors, this must be coming as a standard with all processors? No, not all processors use the Hyper Threading Technology, and it may be even that the processors without Hyper Threading Technology are faster than the ones with it. To understand that better, let’s analayse the working of different kind of processors.

Single Core Processors: Processors that processed  just single threads.

Single Core Processors with Hyper Threading Technology: Process Multiple Threads at single Time. The Pentium 4 stuff.

Dual Core Processors: Two threads are processed in two separate cores on a single processor. The important point here is that this isn’t Hyper Threading, since one core is processing only a single thread.

Quad Core Processors: The same technology as the Dual Core Processors, except that the Dual Cores as the name suggests have 2 cores and the Quad Core have 4 Cores. More Cores, more power!

Multiple Cores with Hyper Threading Technology: This is something really fast than any of the previous processors, I  have discussed through out the post. In such processors, every core on a multiple core processors processes 2 threads. So a Quad Core Processor with Hyper Threading Technology, can process 8 Threads at a time!

Now that you know about the different kind of processor technologies, the comparision between the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 becomes more easy to understand. (For specific clock speeds. Don’t forget to read the important note below). **

A Core i3 processor has 2 Cores, and it manages 4 Threads. Yes, it supports Hyper Threading but no Turbo Boost.

A Core i5 processor has 4 Cores and it manages 4 Threads. It doesn’t support Hyper Threading but it does support the Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

A Core i7 processor has 4 Cores and it manages 8 Threads. Yes, it supports Hyper Threading and Intel Turbo Boost Technology.

What’s also different is that the Core i7 and Core i5 processors have different cache sizes.  If you have little knowledge about cache, just take it for now that more the cache, more the speed.

**The comparison is for desktop processors with certain clock speeds. Cores on Core i7 can go up to 6, and hence number of threads up to a whooping 12. Mobile Processors, have different configuration of cores and clock speeds. But now being familiar with these technologies, you are ready to read between the lines of the technical specifications sheets.

As usual, before you leave, I request your feedback! 🙂