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BREAKING: Apple Launches iTunes Music and Movies Store in India

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This is huge. Epic. Apple has launched its iTunes music and movies store in India. Customers in India can now buy legal high quality music and HD movies from iTunes at a very reasonable price. They can also rent movies in HD on their iPad, iPhone, IPod touch or Apple TV. The music collection seems to be huge, however, the movie collection is limited to few Bollywood movies and a handful of Hollywood movies.

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Music:

Songs from new and popular albums are priced around INR 12 each which is lower than flipkart’s flyte’s pricing for same tracks. This makes a complete album to be priced around INR 100 (assuming 8 – 9 songs in an album on average). This is a very decent pricing and considering the fact that it is lower than flipkart’s price, it is a huge deal. The biggest advantage with iTunes store is that users can buy content directly on their devices. This was not possible with flyte as Apple does not allow in app purchases without cutting a 30% share. Another big plus is the ability to download purchased songs any number of times on any device.

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TataSky adds MTunes HD Music Channel

MTunes HD Logo tatasky hd logo

After a long wait and absolutely no hype, TataSky has added India’s first Bollywood HD music channel MTunes HD to its platform today. The new channel is available on channel 712 on TataSky.

TataSky used to have the least bandwidth available for addition of HD channels. However, with the recent launch of GSAT-10 communication satellite, it is expected to get a lot more transponder capacity to beam more HD channels. Addition of MTunes HD might be the start of this process.

The picture quality of the channel is pretty impressive with most content in HD quality (1080i), however, the audio seems to be just mono. It is encoded with Dolby Digital, however, there seems to be audio data in just one channel. This is a major drawback as a music channel needs to have good quality audio in addition to high quality video. We hope they will fix this glitch as soon as possible.

TataSky Planning to Launch USB Recording on its HD Set Top Boxes

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It looks like the much wanted recording feature in the HD set top boxes may soon make its way to TataSky’s platform. In the following tweet to a customer, TataSky confirmed that this feature will soon be launched for its HD set top boxes:

The hyped feature lets users connect a USB based hard drive to a normal (non DVR) HD set top box and record shows on it. It offers a cheap way to get the recording feature which is otherwise only available on the dearly priced HD+ set top box. It must be noted though that the HD+ box is a proper DVR with 2 tuner which enable you to simultaneously record two channels at once, or record one channel and watch another. Since the HD set top box only has one tunes, you can only record one channel at a time and cannot watch any other channel in parallel. However, one advantage over the HD+ box is that users can swap the USB hard disk when it gets full to enjoy virtually unlimited recording – a feature which is badly missed on the HD+ set top boxes (although, in our opinion, the USB port on the HD+ boxes can also be used to expand its memory).

Other DTH platforms like Dish and Airtel Digital TV have already launched this feature on their platform.

UnoTelly UnoDNS Lets You Access Netflix, Hulu & Other Services From India (and Anywhere Outside USA)

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Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Instant Video have two things in common – They are great services offering awesome content for cheap, and they cannot be accessed from India (or from anywhere outside of USA). People have tried using various VPN services to access these services from India, however, none have been able to provide good enough bandwidth to stream in HD. Another issue is that VPN routes all your traffic through a foreign IP, even for the services which do not have any geographical restrictions. Furthermore, another major limitation is the inability to use a VPN connection on devices like Apple TV, Xbox 360, Roku and your Smart TV.

UnoTelly’s UnoDNS service uses an innovative technology called DNS Direct Connection to overcome these limitations. DNS Direct Connection was developed by Unolab which allows high-speed and direct connection to Netflix, hulu plus and other geographically restricted services in the US. In layman’s term, you can watch Netflix USA, hulu plus & Amazon Instant Video in India without any speed-loss as you would have if you were using VPN.

I have been using UnoDNS for a few days now and totally love it. I am sharing my experience below.

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TataSky Now Offering 10 HD Channels

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Last year, we informed you that TataSky is maxed out on its capacity of HD channels and that we should not expect any new HD channels from them until they get more transponder space or figure out a way to overcome the technical limitation. Turns out, they chose to go with the latter (as getting more transponders is not in their hands). TataSky is now offering 10 HD channels on its platform with Zee TV HD and Sony HD being the latests two additions.

Video and audiophiles claim that one of the things they did in order to squeeze the new channels is lower the bitrate of all the HD channels which in turn compromises the overall quality of the channel. I do agree with them, however, I believe it was a necessary step as the competition is heating up in this space. With airtel now offering 15 HD channels, many TataSky HD customers are planning to jump the ship. The only thing which is probably stopping them is the increased prices of the set top boxes. And as I always say, the competitors should do something to poach these customers. The competition can’t get any stiffer and everyone needs to be on their toes in order to survive.

I hope TataSky is doing its best to get rid of the technical limitation. One of the things I heard that they are doing is enabling vertical polarity on the transponders to increase their capacity. Apparently, this is why they started the mega drive to run two separate cables from the dish to all the HD+ boxes wherever they were installed with a splitter. Whatever be the case, they need to buckle up and work harder to fix this as soon as possible.

Beware of False Advertisements Selling HD Set Top Boxes as HD DVR Set Top Boxes

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The DTH arena in India is heating with DTH operators trying any possible way to get more customers. One of the ways is to sell a normal non DVR HD set top box to customers claiming that it is same as their HD DVR offering at half the price. It is not true and we would like to warn our readers about these false claims.

The reason behind this claim being false is pretty simple – HD DVRs have 2 dedicated tuners in them (this is why they have 2 wires running from the dish to the box). This enables the user to record one channel and watch another in parallel. Also, one can record 2 channels simultaneously and watch a recording (or any one of the channels being recorded) in parallel. This feature will never be available in a HD set top boxes with a software update that enables recording, as they only have 1 tuner. Addition of tuner is not possible as it requires a hardware upgrade.

Both Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV have enabled their HD set top boxes to record to external USB based disk drives through a software update and the other operators are expected to launch this facility in the near future too. However, please be informed that any advertisements/sales guys claiming that the software update makes the HD set top boxes same as their HD DVRs is totally false. They are just trying to close a deal. If you want a real DVR, you should buy the premium HD DVR set top box from these operators.

TRAI Working on Regulating Advertisements on TV Channels in India

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is working on an initiative to regulate advertisements shown on TV channels in India. TRAI is said to be working on a consultation paper to devise new regulations which will set the new guidelines for advertisements on Indian television. The action has been taken up based on complaints & feedback received from subscribers about the increased duration and distracting formats of advertisements in India.

TRAI is specifically looking into the following areas:

  • Setting different maximum limits for advertisements on paid and free channels.
  • Scheduling advertisements only during valid breaks in sporting event telecasts.
  • Defining reasonable gaps between consecutive advertisement breaks during telecast of movies and other shows.
  • No more part screen advertisements (only full screen advertisements will be permitted).
  • Defining reasonable screen area for news channels to run scrolls & tickers.
  • Defining reasonable audio levels of advertisements to match that of the programs.

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Watch Indian Television Shows on YouTube

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YouTube India has partnered with Indian Television Channels to bring Indian TV shows online. Now viewers can catch up the shows they might have missed by going to youtube.com/shows. YouTube currently has 19000 episodes worth of content available to be watched online. This is a breakthrough in Indian television industry and follows the global trend of TV channels making their shows available for streaming online after they have aired.

The TV shows can be watched on a computer or any device capable of playing youtube videos. I could watch the shows on my iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and even on the YouTube app on my LG smart TV. Some of the shows are available in 720p HD quality and look pretty good on the big screen.

It is a great step forward for the entertainment industry in India. Hopefully, the internet pipes in India will also grow as more such services are available online.

Fix Boot Logo Loop Issue When Updating Firmware on a Samsung Smart TV

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This is a guest post by Rajnish Jain. Rajnish is a product development enthusiast having around 12.5 years of experience. He enjoys solving complex technical problems and has worked on wide range of technologies including Open Source frameworks, Unix (shell scripting) & embedded device programming.

Recently I purchased Samsung UA40D5500RR. Using a USB Wi-Fi adapter (not the Samsung one which is very costly. See this guide), I got it to connect to the Internet and was prompted to update its software online. By pressing “MENU” -> “System” -> “Software Update” on the remote control, I could start the firmware upgrade. It started downloading the required software from the Internet and then started the upgrade process. At the end of it, the TV turned off automatically and came up by itself.

This is where the nightmare started. There was no LED indicator on the control panel of the TV. The “Samsung SMART TV” boot logo appeared which gave me a feel that the TV is about to start normally. But to my surprise, the screen went off for a while and then again the boot logo appeared. This process continued for a long time. The only way I could completely turn off the TV was cutting off the electricity supply since it wasn’t accepting the instructions from the remote control as well.

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Using Non-Samsung Wi-Fi USB Adapter with Samsung Smart/Internet TV

samsung smart tv logo

This is a guest post by Rajnish Jain. Rajnish is a product development enthusiast having around 12.5 years of experience. He enjoys solving complex technical problems and has worked on wide range of technologies including Open Source frameworks, Unix (shell scripting) & embedded device programming.

When you purchase a Samsung Smart TV (UA40D5500RR, for example), depending on the model, it may or may not support inbuilt Wi-Fi function. If it doesn’t, then Samsung recommends using WIS09ABGN USB WiFi adapter to let your TV connect to a Wireless router. Samsung has priced this USB adapter at a very huge cost (around INR 6,000) and any other adapter is not recognized by the TV. WTF?

I tried not to fall prey to this monopolistic approach by the company and put myself on work to find out a hack so that any Wi-Fi USB adapter is accepted by the TV. I found this wonderful link which helped a lot.

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article & woikr are not responsible for any damage/malfunction caused to the TV by following the instructions written below. Please continue at your own risk.

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