Thursday, June 9, 2011


At a time when Apple iPad2 has already upped the stakes, and close to its heels is Samsung 10.1 Galaxy Tab with Android Honeycomb 3.1 (the latest and greatest android flavour), Blackberry has announced in the Times of India regarding its Playbook launch. It has promised freebies like HDMI cable (a Rs.300 value) and a leather cover for the tablet (about a thousand bucks worth). So is this enough to lure you to buy one?


Lets in short see whats going in favour of the playbook and what's not to help you decide.


The Pros:

  • It runs QNX real time operating system which is proven, handles multitasking effectively and is known to be similar to linux in terms of capabilities

  • The user interface has been thoroughly worked upon and there will be no doubt that this tablet will present a sweet user interface which will be easy to work with

  • Being Blackberry it will no doubt come with many options, including advanced configuration options for the technically inclined, making it a great tablet to work with

  • Its ability to run multiple applications including time and memory consuming tasks such as media playback simultaneously with other things is a good effort.

  • At 425 gms this is going to be surely one easy tablet to carry around.

  • Multitouch gestures make it equivalent to Apple, but this is now an expectation more than a feature release due to the standard set by Apple!

  • 1GHz dual core processor and 1GB RAM is good to run many applications but the video and graphics rendering performance still waits to be proven

  • Adobe Flash support is a plus one over apple which does not have it

  • 3MP front facing and 5MP rear facing cameras must be enough for most jobs

  • Both these cameras are 1080p compliant which is good

The Cons:

  • India is a price sensitive market. When the 10" iPad2 is available at 29,500 for the WiFi version and the 7" Galaxy tab is available at a little lower, would a pricing of 32,500 be justified for a 7" RIM playbook? - No, in my opinion

  • They say on their website "Application rich eco system", which is a farce. No one can beat apple on the amount of applications on their app store. Not even google for some more time. With icloud launch apple just pulled another fast one on google. RIM is left in the lurch with this kind of claim and it will be ages before they get some good apps on their store. I mean, how can the availability of Need for Speed help my productivity? Get the idea?

  • This tablet is a 7". The recommended size for good fonts and readability is 10". Which is why even Samsung now has a 10" and which is why even Apple has a 10". A 7" tablet is at best good to hold and carry across. On the usability, I have my own doubts. For media viewing anything less than 10" is like a car DVD player. eye strain comes free with it.

  • Blackberry's promised support for using Android apps, has not taken off properly yet. Without this, RIM has no teeth left to face competition. This tablet would have sold well if it were priced between 20,000 and 25,000 rupees. Unfortunately at a whopping 32,500 bucks RIM is making the same mistake Samsung did with their 7" Galaxy. Now that apple has plugged the pricing hole, it has set the benchmark on how people should price their products. RIM is on the way to disaster if the pricing is what it is on the playbook.

Summarizing the article, RIM is launching Blackberry playbook at a time when the market has already smelt the meat which Apple has launched at an USA-equivalent pricing with the iPad2. Samsung which has make a killing with its 7" tablet will soon get its Android Honeycomb 3.1 10.1" Galaxy tab which is even thinner than iPad. A failing RIM has a big task ahead with the Playbook and all its similar looking QWERTY phones which it has been famous for, until now that is. Only the true and faithful would still stick to RIM and its products. At a pricing of over thirty Gandhi notes, your guess of how many tablets RIM will be able to sell is only as good as mine.


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Sunday, June 5, 2011


What is your idea of a holiday? Now that you have perhaps been to hundreds of resorts already do you still expect the 101st to be of the same ambience? Like a great reception with uniformed people welcoming you with some flowers or whatever, and then a grandoise room awaiting your fall on the bed to be in peace with yourself?
Or are you ready for a different type of experience? Are you the types who would prefer to check out something that tests your perception and mental skills a bit ? Besides that is your idea of a coffee estate something thats deep inside the clouds many thousands of feet above sea level with winds that chill your body to make you want that hot cup of tea more often than not?
My trip to Eagle eye holidays makes me think I need something like this again though i am unsure whether I would get such a right mix of things most often or not. Without much ado then let me tell you what made this trip memorable to me. Eagle eye Holidays is a coffee plantation or estate as we would often refer to it. This is situated near Kadavanthi or Kadathi, which is few tens of kilometres away from nearest proper civilization called Alduru (read: Aaldoooru). Alduru itself is few tens of kilometers from Chikmagalur which is the nearest proper town.
Reaching Chikmagalur from Bangalore requires that you partly travel on NH4 highway upto Nelamangala, and then take left to get onto SH48 which goes to Kunigal, Adichunchanagiri, Channarayapatna and Hassan along the way to Chikmagalur. The road upto Chikmagalur is what makes it worthwhile to undertake this journey. If you are a car driving maniac and are true to your wheels, you are not going to forget this hair rising highway drive. My current love is my Figo and speeds of 130kmph was a child's play on this road. Particularly the SH48.
Though the NHAI is still developing the toll booths at a few places, the road by itself is an awesome piece of highway for speed racers! Don't get me wrong, racing need not always be with another person, and need not always be of the rash type! If you are the expert driver types this drive should see you reach Chikmagalur in 4 1/2 hours flat. Such is the quality of the highway. But wait a minute... if you thought that's all this highway is about quite contrarily - NO! How about throwing in some great looking paddy fields and rural sceneries on the way? And some lakes? How about the old tree lined roads you've always seen in your childhood? Some small hillocks? Lets make it more greener - Add some windmills churning power from the winds, and some neat twists and turns of the road. This is what being cheerful on a long drive is about. You got to drive to experience the talk.
And you thought its all over when you reach Chikmagalur? Wrong again. Is this all you can think of? Assume I make the road the airport runway tarmac types, smoothen it off a bit more, add greater angle to the twists and turns, remove uphill components, and also subtract oncoming traffic. This then becomes nothing short of annilhation. Add another car who is spirited in testing your driving skills and negotiation and we have nothing short of a F1, well expect your car of course :-)
The 30 odd kms between Chikmagalur and Alduru is sheer awesomeness for both speed drivers and slow drivers alike. The pristine beauty of large trees around, the amazing tranquility and discovering your inner self. Enough to rejuvinate you for some time to come.
Every good thing or bad thing will have an end. And if the good comes first the bad comes next in the cycle. After Kadavanthi somewhere along the way the next 10-20kms of road gets bad with potholes all around and this is where you feel the need for perhaps a cheap hatchback with 20" alloys to take on the road like a monster! The map given by the resort is more of a type you would use for a treasure hunt, leave alone navigate somewhere. In this case the treasure being finding the resort itself. Add poor road signages and you are now really one with nature. If nature wills you will get to the treasure else not.
Its therefore essential that you stick to the map. Yes, take some glue, stick the map to the windshield, use the same glue and stick your nose on that map as well. Why? Because if you dont, you would forget that right turn at the paddy field landmark and the left turn at the dam gate landmark. Sounds punky in 2011 isnt it ? Welcome to some rural tones!
Oh and by the way you would like to call the resort for directions would you? Well assume that none of the mobile signals show up besides good old airtel and you are lucky to be holding phones of other operators services and there you hit the jackpot of ruining one chance to reach the resort with any sort of help.
The more I followed the second map that showed me the way to resort, the more I felt lost by each passing minute. Some 2kms away from the resort (lets correct that terminology shall we: say coffee estate) the last right turn takes you to a stone graveled road that will test your car in and out. after two gates when you take left onto the property, with a mile or more to, you begin to wonder if this is a con-job. Yes, i would say yes, its a master crafted con-job to disprove the very perceptions you had of how a resort must be.
The last mile makes you wonder whether you entered someone else's property by mistake and what if that guy let loose his gunmen on you. Straight from a movie flick. As your car struggles hard to cope the incline, you reach a dead end with a 180 sharp hair pin bend. As you wonder "what more?" and whether your car would want to take that hair pin bend, two people come to you and say "welcome to eagle eye holidays". It was a hot afternoon and we reached a bit late after some searching around and panicking. And a welcome drink was more than welcome. it was gulped down even without understanding what was given to us. The reception is more of a shack made with wood on a higher platform. And once you get onto the platform, you are no more interested in thinking about the journey.
The view of the western ghats and the valleys below soothen you down and you just want to rest a bit with the cool windws blowing on you under the thatched roof. Before we stepped into our room, lunch awaited us. The food given by resorts is always questionable. Here too some foodstuff werent great, but not all foodstuff was bad. Given this fact, Eagle Eye holidays provided good food at best if not sumptuous. Some items like the next day morning's breakfast were yummy to keep away from. The rooms themselves were well appointed and there are many different types of rooms. Valley view rooms, glass houses, (for the brave) the tree house which is mostly open and perched on tree tops, hutments, and standard rooms are available. The rooms themselves are between 2,500 bucks a night upto 5,000 a night. We stayed at a waterfall room which in my opinion is a ridiculous idea. Agreed the management wanted to save a few boulders and/or could not avoid removing a few rocks so they integrated those and few faux rock arrangements into a thematic waterfall room. However neither was there a waterfall which is swithced on for an hour, nor does the room lend itself into any kind of ambience as such. The Tree house or hutments would make better rooms to stay in in terms of practicality. Also given the foregone conclusion that the waterfall room is costly (at 5k a night) its best to avoid this altogether.
Other than that the hot water facilities are governed by solar water heaters perched atop and in between trees. Due to the tropical climate of the coffee estate, there is no dearth of hot water which gets generated by the solar during the scorching afternoons. The upholstery like blankets towels, bedspreads are hand washed daily in front of you and its a job well done compared to a washing machine type of wash cycles. Due to the sprawling nature of the 130 acre estate, there is enough room to dry clothes daily. The management have also created a 30 feet deep lake in the middle of the property. A natural trail of road leads to this lake which offers coracle rides and fishing activities. Again dont expect professional fishing equipment to be handed over to, but with whatever stick and wheat balls used to lure the fish, my cousin who accompanied me on this trip was able to catch a good sized fish. If you want to laze around and do things that are not of the usual resort type, these activities fall into that list.
Being situated at a coffee estate there is no dearth of good coffee provided at all times and there is no restriction on the amount you can have. if you are hungry you eat. Period. A stroll upto the lake, and few peaceful hours later, its time for some campfire. Of course hot drinks are served during this nightly hour with some loud music and dance to follow. To add some dazzle to the show, the clear sky makes it possible to view the wonderful constellation of all the stars for those hungry stargazers. During the day time, there are plenty of subjects to shoot photographs with in the resort - flowers, fruits, birds, objects, elevations, winding roads etc.

The only downside to this resort is that the rooms are aligned across a path which is very steep which makes it impossible for old people to climb and this could be a dampener to people wanting to go to this resort. It took over ten to fifteen minutes for me to switch between reception and room each time which shows difficultly level. Not that I am lean, well built and all that. I'm the usual paunchy type of mid-life-crisis-beating-man :-) Early mornings begin with chirping birds and a great breakfast, not to mention some games like shuttle, table tennis, and strong coffee again with a great view of the mist settling in the western ghats valleys. Post breakfast there is just about time to go for a 2 hour trek deeper into the estate. If one would like to skip it, we can have long chats over breakfast and freshen up with a bath and just enough time to pack the bags and leave. This is offically called the two-days-one-night-package-syndrome that resorts exhibit. Best part of the journey was just the occassional treats we packed for eating on the way, full meals taken care of package at resort, and some lunch on the way back home. Plus meals for your car (fuel). No other nonsense expenditure.
Its also worth mentioning that once you are in the resort its NOT worthwhile planning trips to Shringeri, Augumbe mountains, or Belur or Halebid which are all nearby. This is an exclusive deal. Not an all-in-a-single-day deal. So bottom line is would I recommend this resort to others?
  • For the off the beaten path ambience - YES
  • For the cost - SORT OF YES
  • For the meals - YES
  • For the peace of mind - YES
  • For the drive - Oh YES!!
  • For the hospitality - YES
  • For the coffee – YES
  • For their payment mechanisms – NO! (they accept only cash, so there is no confirmation of prior room booking)
The pictures would speak more than anything else. What are you waiting for? Hit the road now!

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About Me
Srikanth Eswaran
Bengloor Huduga

Srikanth is a blogger, reader, photographer, butter dosa eater, an urban car racer & an apple fanboy. He loves music, playing table tennis and traveling. Most times he would like to be solitary to introspect on what life has thrown to him and the bigger purpose of life.