Nexus 5X, iPad Air 2, Intel Compute Stick, TVs, and More Tech Deals

Nexus 5X, iPad Air 2, Intel Compute Stick, TVs, and More Tech Deals

This week’s best deals feature a smartphone, tablets, and a PC, apart from other gadgets.

1. Apple iPad Air 2 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular
If you are in the market for the high-end variant of the iPad Air 2, Paytm is offering a cashback of 8% on the 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular variant. You can grab the tablet for as low as Rs. 53,217 (effective). The same variant of the iPad Air 2 normally sells at the Rs. 57,500-57,800 price point. The iPad Air 2 is powered by Apple’s A8X chip along with the M8 motion co-processor. It features a 9.7-inch Retina Display. There’s an 8MP primary camera at the back and a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video calls. This variant allows you to use a cellular connection so you can get internet access while you’re on the move.

Price: Rs. 53,217 (MRP Rs. 59,900)

Link: Paytm

2. Intel Compute Stick

intel_compute_stick_top_ndtv_credit.jpgIf you’re looking to setup a barebones computing environment, the Intel Compute Stick is one pretty decent option. You can simply hook it up to any monitor, attach a keyboard and mouse, and you have a working computer. Initially sold at the Rs. 8,000 price point, you can now grab the Intel Compute Stick for as low as Rs. 6,969 (effective) at Paytm using code ACC15. The Intel Compute Stick is powered by the Intel Atom quad-core processor, supported by 2GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of on-board storage and runs Windows 8.1 out of the box. It includes a micro SD memory card slot for adding additional memory, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity.

Price: Rs. 6,969 (MRP Rs. 12,990)

Link: Paytm

3. LG Nexus 5X 16GB

lg_google_nexus_5x_side_ndtv.jpgThe latest Nexus device from Google and LG, Nexus 5X (Review | Pictures), is down to Rs. 26,148 (MRP Rs. 31,990) for the 16GB variant. That’s a pretty decent deal if you are looking to upgrade or switch to an Android device. Nexus 5X comes with a 5.2-inch full HD display and runs Android 6.0 out of the box. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC which includes a hexa-core processor supported by 2GB of RAM. The Nexus 5X includes a 2700 mAh battery which is decent enough to last an entire day, depending on your usage.

Price: Rs. 26,148 (MRP Rs. 31,990)

Link: Amazon

4. Samsung SCX-4021S monochrome laser printer

samsung_scx_4021s_monochrome_printer.jpgThe Samsung SCX-4021S laser printer is down to Rs. 7,689 (MRP Rs. 13,000) this week. The monochrome multifunction printer can be a great addition to your workstation at home or office if you don’t care much about colored prints. The printer offers printing, scanning and copying functionalities using the in-built scanner. It can also directly scan and e-mail, eliminating the need to manually go through the entire process. The printer comes with an Eco button which promises to save toner, paper and power.

Price: Rs. 7,689 (MRP Rs. 13,000)

Link: Amazon

5. Lenovo wireless headphone

lenovo_wireless_headphones.jpgIn the market for a wireless headphone in the Rs. 1500 price point? Snapdeal has dropped the price on the Lenovo wireless headphones to Rs. 1,559 (MRP Rs. 4,999). The Lenovo wireless headphones come with a mic and connect to your mobile device or computer using a Bluetooth connection. There’s an in-built rechargeable battery that powers the headphones and you can easily fold them and carry while you’re travelling. If you pay using HDFC Bank debit card, you can get an additional 5% cashback on Snapdeal.

Price: Rs. 1,559 (MRP Rs. 4,999)

Link: Snapdeal

6. Vu 32-inch Full HD LED TV

vu_32_tv.jpgBought a new gaming console this Diwali? You might be interested in a basic 32-inch LED TV that doesn’t break your bank account. The VU 32-inch full HD LED TV is now available for Rs. 17,990 (MRP Rs. 20,000) and if you’ve got an old TV you can even use the exchange offers (visible only on the app) to get even more discounts. VU’s 32-inch LED TV comes with two HDMI ports and two USB ports. The TV can easily be used as an additional monitor for your workstation as well. At this price, it’s a no-brainer that the Vu 32-inch LED TV offers value for money.

Price: Rs. 17,990 (MRP Rs. 20,000)

Link: Flipkart

7. Lenovo Lynx

lenovo_lynx_snapdeal.jpgThe Lenovo Lynx hybrid is now down to Rs. 22,899 (MRP Rs. 53,000) on Snapdeal. The 11.6-inch laptop runs Windows 8 and is powered by the Intel Atom dual-core processor, supported by 2GB of RAM. It comes with a 64GB SSD and a keyboard docking station. The 11.6-inch IPS display runs at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. Lenovo promises a battery backup of around 8 hours, depending on your usage. The hybrid also includes 2 USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port. The keyboard dock itself has in-built battery so it doesn’t drain the tablet’s battery. You can also upgrade the Lenovo Lynx to Windows 8.1.


Why the US Government and Tech Firms Can’t Agree About Encryption

Why the US Government and Tech Firms Can't Agree About EncryptionYour phone is getting better and better at protecting your privacy. But Uncle Sam isn’t totally comfortable with that, because it’s also complicating the work of tracking criminals and potential national-security threats.

For decades, tech companies have steadily expanded the use of encryption – a data-scrambling technology that shields information from prying eyes, whether it’s sent over the Internet or stored on phones and computers. For almost as long, police and intelligence agencies have sought to poke holes in the security technology, which can thwart investigators even when they have a legal warrant for, say, possibly incriminating text messages stored on a phone.

The authorities haven’t fared well; strong encryption now keeps strangers out of everything from your iMessages to app data stored on the latest Android phones. But in the wake of the Paris attacks, US officials are again pushing for limits on encryption, even though there’s still no evidence the extremists used it to safeguard their communications.

While various experts are exploring ways of resolving the impasse, none are making much headway. For now, the status quo favors civil libertarians and the tech industry, although that could change quickly – for instance, should another attack lead to mass US casualties. Such a scenario could stampede Congress into passing hasty and potentially counterproductive restrictions on encryption.

“There are completely reasonable concerns on both sides,” said Yeshiva University law professor Deborah Pearlstein. The aftermath of an attack, however, “is the least practical time to have a rational discussion about these issues.”

Encryption plays a little heralded, yet crucial role in the modern economy and daily life. It protects everything from corporate secrets to the credit-card numbers of online shoppers to the communications of democracy advocates fighting totalitarian regimes.

At the same time, recent decisions by Apple and Google to encrypt smartphone data by default have rankled law enforcement officials, who complain of growing difficulty in getting access to the data they feel they need to build criminal cases and prevent attacks. For months, the Obama administration – which has steered away from legislative restrictions on encryption – has been in talks with technology companies to brainstorm ways of giving investigators legal access to encrypted information.

But technology experts and their allies say there’s no way to grant law enforcement such access without making everyone more vulnerable to cybercriminals and identity thieves. “It would put American bank accounts and their health records, and their phones, at a huge risk to hackers and foreign criminals and spies, while at the same time doing little or nothing to stop terrorists,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an interview Monday.

Lawmakers on the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence remain on what they call an “exploratory” search for options that might expand access for law enforcement, although they’re not necessarily looking at new legislation.

The FBI and police have other options even if they can’t read encrypted files and messages. So-called metadata – basically, a record of everyone an individual contacts via phone, email or text message – isn’t encrypted, and service providers can make it available when served with subpoenas. Data stored on remote computers in the cloud – for instance, on Apple’s iCloud service or Google’s Drive – is also often available to investigators with search warrants. (Apple and Google encrypt that data, but also hold the keys.)

Some security experts suggest that should be enough. Michael Moore, chief technology officer and co-founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based data security firm Terbium Labs, noted that police have managed to take down online criminals even without bypassing encryption. He pointed to the 2013 take down of Silk Road, a massive online drug bazaar that operated on the “dark Web,” essentially the underworld of the Internet.

“The way they figured that out was through good old-fashioned police work, not by breaking cryptography,” Moore said. “I don’t think there’s a shortcut to good police work in that regard.”

Others argue that the very notion of “compromise” makes no sense where encryption is concerned. “Encryption fundamentally is about math,” said Mike McNerney, a fellow on the Truman National Security Project and a former cyber policy adviser to the Secretary of Defense. “How do you compromise on math?” He called the idea of backdoors “silly.”

Some in law enforcement have compromise ideas of their own. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, for instance, recently called for a federal law that would require smartphone companies to sell phones they could unlock for government searches – in essence, forcing them to hold the keys to user data.

In a report on the subject, the office called its suggestion a “limited proposal” that would only apply to data stored on smartphones and restrict searches to devices that authorities had already seized. Privacy advocates and tech companies aren’t sold, saying it would weaken security for phones that are already too vulnerable to attack.

Marcus Thomas, the chief technology officer at Subsentio and former assistant director of the FBI’s operational technology division, argued that it’s too late to turn back the clock on strong encryption, putting law enforcement in a “race against time” to obtain investigatory data whenever and wherever it can. But he urged security experts to find ways to help out investigators as they design next-generation encryption systems.

The idea of allowing law enforcement secure access to encrypted information doesn’t faze Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation – provided a warrant is involved. Unfortunately, he says, cryptographers agree that the prospect is a “pure fantasy.”


Apple’s Failed Retail Revolution: Beacons Still Won’t Be Big on Black Friday

Apple's Failed Retail Revolution: Beacons Still Won't Be Big on Black Friday

Hari Gottipati, an independent tech consultant, saw the future of shopping in 2013. In its annual update to the software for its mobile devices, Apple had just made it possible for its phones to allow super-precise location services-and that would be a major coup for the staid world of coupons.

While the global positioning system on your phone could reveal a particular store’s location closest to you, this new technology would go much farther. Advertisers would be able to determine exactly which aisle you are in. A merchant would need only beacons capable of communicating with the Bluetooth Low Energy technology on an iPhone, and shoppers would almost magically receive cereal coupons for the very boxes they happened to be viewing at that moment.

Consultant Gottipati advised retailers to get on board. Two years later, it doesn’t look as if many stores took his advice. “I go to a lot of malls, but I don’t see as many beacons as I expected,” he said. “It’s very disappointing.” Gottipati still favors the technology, which he now believes will be adopted more readily inside smart homes. There, beacons might turn off the lights when it senses that someone has left a room.

“People-associating it with Apple-expected it to work out of the box.”

(Also see:  With iBeacon, Apple aims to guide you inside its stores and, soon, everywhere)

As the annual orgy of holiday shopping officially kicks off this week, many people who shared Gottipati’s enthusiasm two years ago echo his disappointment. A survey conducted by Forrester earlier this year found that only 3 percent of retailers use beacons; just 16 percent had plans to try the technology in the foreseeable future. When Reveal Mobile, an analytics company, did a census of beacons in US retail stores this spring, it found that Apple’s own stores accounted for about 15 percent of the existing beacons.

Companies that sell beacons and related services to retailers struggle to point to big success stories, even as boosters insist that the technology is on the verge of success. For the people who run startups such as Shopkick, InMarket, or Estimote, which are based on bets that beacons will soon be everywhere, the issue is more expectations than results. Sure, the startups admit, it’s been slow going, so far. But over the summer, both Facebook and Google announced new programs for their own beacons, joining Apple as tech giants behind the technology.

“They’re not ubiquitous yet, but they will be ubiquitous in a couple of years,” said Todd DiPaola, chief executive officer of InMarket. “Facebook shows this isn’t a fad.”

Part of the problem, in fact, might stem from Apple’s association with the public introduction of beacons. Steve Cheney, co-founder of Estimote, would prefer that everyone see Apple’s iBeacon effort as a mere developer protocol, not a finished product to transform shopping. “People-associating it with Apple-expected it to work out of the box, so to speak,” he said. “It is happening at about the pace we expected.”

(Also see:  Google Launches Apple iBeacon Rival Eddystone; Unveils Nearby API)

The power of smartphones has tempted observers to predict other shopping revolutions that have yet to materialize.There was a moment when QR codes were thought to be on the verge of societal importance. The allure of mobile payments, the next big thing for years, was renewed with the release of Apple Pay last year; today people again question the underlying assumption that people need a more efficient payment form than a credit-card swipe.

Retail is an industry of fads. It has yet to be proven that beacons will be anything more than one of them. “Much of this chatter exists in a marketing-driven echo chamber,” wrote Krista Garcia, an analyst for EMarketer, in a report in August. “Real- world retail applications are sparse, and retailers’ test results have been kept under wraps, which could imply they aren’t worth bragging about.”

A basic question faces beacon boosters that’s familiar to pretty much every kind of advertising: Is the service just doing something advertisers crave, but which fails to inspire shoppers? Beacon companies insist they’re capable of connecting with consumers. Shopkick, a startup that operates beacons in such stores as Macy’s and American Eagle, says it recently ran a campaign that rewarded customers with loyalty points for visiting a dressing room in the store; the assumption is that people who tried something on would be more likely to make a purchase. This made people more than twice as likely to visit the dressing rooms, according to Shopkick.

Other companies say that location-specific coupons sent in conjunction with beacons are far more likely to be used than other marketing offers. At the same time, customers seem to have a very low tolerance for such messages. InMarket found that people basically stop using any app that sent them more than one message.

Even if you assume that people want their phones to light up with deals, several barriers face beacons. Customers must be willing to download an app that is set up to communicate with the beacons. This often means an app from retailers, hardly the most popular category in any app store. Some beacon companies have started using more popular apps such as Epicurious as gateways. At a more basic level, however, beacons can be received only by smartphone users who have activated Bluetooth, and surveys vary dramatically as to how many people have done this.

Nearly every startup that traffics in beacons claims to have retail partners that are using their technology without being willing to admit they’re doing so. While there’s reason to see this as a sign that results have been disappointing, another possibility remains: Some retailers might prefer to use beacons for something besides advertising. The technology can also assist in what people in the industry refer to as analytics-what normal people might recognize as surveillance.

Among clients of, a company that sells beacons, data collection is more popular than advertising. “It’s exactly like a loyalty card,” said Trevor Longino, head of marketing. Some clients are hesitant to bring much attention to these practices, he said, even though the company has permission to collect information. “Because it is a new technology,” Longino added, “it carries more fears.”


Black Friday Sales: The Best Online Deals for International Buyers

Black Friday Sales: The Best Online Deals for International Buyers

Wondering how you can make the most of Black Friday deals that are available right now in the US? While you can’t really get hold of most of the heavy appliances, you can easily buy other gadgets online and have them delivered to your place in India. Below are some of the best deals we could find on this year’s Black Friday sale.

(Also see – Black Friday Deals: Our Picks for Shopping From Outside US)

Here are a few pro-tips you could use to ensure you have a smooth experience:

  • Most gadgets on Amazon are shipped directly by the online retailer. They also handle collecting import fees and shipping charges. The import fees is a deposit which is used to clear your product when it enters the country. If the import duty charged is less than the amount you’ve paid, you’ll receive a refund on your deposit.
  • In case you want to buy something that doesn’t directly ship here, you have two options – use a third-party service or have someone physically bring it along.
  • If you spot a good deal, make sure you factor in the import duty and the shipping cost. Compare it with the Indian prices (if the product is available here) and you’ll know if it’s a good deal or not.
  • Avoid gadgets that are too heavy, like printers, LED TVs, and even some laptops, unless you’re ready to pay heavy shipping charges.

Also see
Black Friday Deals: Our Picks for Shopping From India
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals: How to Get Products Shipped to India
Black Friday Sales: These Websites Offer Free Shipping to India
Black Friday Deals: 5 Xbox One Games You Can’t Miss
Black Friday Deals: 17 iPhone and iPad Games Available at Amazing Prices
Black Friday Sales: 23 Popular iPhone and iPad Apps Available at Discounted Prices
Black Friday Sales: 5 Paid Android Apps You Can Buy at a Discount
Black Friday Deals: 12 Android Games Available at Deep Discounts

1. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

wd_my_cloud_amazon.jpgThe WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB personal network attached storage (NAS) is available on Amazon at $305 (Rs. 20,184). The price includes shipping to India and import duties. Amazon ships the hard drive directly so you don’t have to worry about using any third-party services. The WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB is a great device to store all your data at home or office on a network drive so that you can access it using multiple devices. You can automatically backup multiple PCs and Macs on your home network. You can also access files remotely using dedicated apps. If you have TVs and media players, you can use DLNA/ UPnP to hook up the device to access multimedia content on the big-screen TVs. The WD My Cloud Mirror can also connect with your gaming consoles to access videos and photos. The NAS comes with two 2GB hard drives pre-installed.

Price: $305 (Rs. 20,184) – includes shipping + duty

Link: Amazon

2. Netgear Arlo HD Camera

arlo_smart_home_camera_amazon.jpgLooking to secure your home or office with a wireless camera? The Netgear Arlo home security camera is now available at $217 (Rs. 14,361) on Amazon. The price includes shipping to India and the import duties involved. You get a high-definition camera that can stream videos to your computer, smartphone or tablet. Netgear promises a 100% wire-free environment. The camera supports night vision, motion detection, real-time notifications on e-mail and app. The Netgear Arlo security camera is weatherproof and can be installed outside your house or office. The package includes a camera and a smart home base station with power adapter. It ships with magnetic camera mounts so you can easily place the camera anywhere you want. The camera is also available in kits of 2, 3, 4, and so on. You can also buy an additional camera later on for around $150.52.

Price: $217 (Rs. 14,361) – includes shipping + duty

Link: Amazon

3. Bose SoundTrue on-ear headphones

bose_headphones.jpgNewegg is offering a discount of $90 on the Bose SoundTrue on-ear headphones. You can grab a new pair for as low as $60 (Rs. 3,970) on their website. The only catch is that it won’t directly ship to India. You can use a third-party service like Shop and Ship, or have it delivered to a friend in US who can carry it along when they come here. The same pair of headphones retail for around Rs. 9,500 in India. The SoundTrue on-ear headphones are light and comfortable, allowing you to use them for longer periods of time. They can be easily folded and carried in a travel pouch that ships with the headphones. If you use an iPhone or other Apple products you can make use of the inline remote to adjust volume or control music playback.

Price: $60 (Rs. 3,970) – shipping + duty extra

Link: Newegg

4. LifeProof FRE iPhone 6 case

lifeproof_fre_iphone_6_case.jpgIf you’re an adventurous type, you need a case for your mobile phone that can withstand more stress than the usual wear and tear. The LifeProof FRE case for the iPhone 6 is available at $61 (Rs. 4,036) on Amazon. The price includes the cost of shipping to India as well as the import duties. The case is shipped directly by Amazon. You can pay slightly more for shipping to get it delivered even quicker. The LifeProof FRE case features a scratch protector, ability to keep snow and water away from the phone, and handle shocks and drops from around 2 metres. You just need to make sure you install the case as mentioned in the manual to make full use of its features.

Price: $61 (Rs. 4,036) – includes shipping + duty

Link: Amazon

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

microsoft_surface_pro_3.jpgNone of the Surface devices have been available in India ever since they were launched, though that’s set to change. If you’ve been eyeing one, BestBuy is selling the Surface Pro 3 for $999 (usually $1299.99). That comes out to be around Rs. 66,114 excluding the costs of shipping and import duties. You could use a third-party service to get it shipped here but it would make more sense to have a friend or a family member bring it along for you. The Surface Pro 3 features a 12-inch display and a storage capacity of 256GB. It is powered by the Intel Core i5 processor and runs Windows 10 out of the box. There are two cameras on the device which support 1080p HD video recording. It ships with the Surface Pen.

Price: $999 (usually $1299.99) – shipping + duty extra

Link: BestBuy

6. Jaybird X2 sport wireless headphones

jaybird_x2_sport_headphones_amazon.jpgAmazon is selling the Jaybird X2 sport wireless headphones at $162 (Rs. 10,721). The price includes the cost of shipping to India and the import fees involved. The product will be shipped directly by Amazon. You can pick from a wide variety of colors, all available at the same price. The Jaybird X2 wireless headphones can hook up with your smartphone or other devices using a Bluetooth connection. The headphones offer 8 hours of music playback and a bunch of phone calls. The Jaybird X2 headphones are sweat proof so they make a great choice if you like to listen to music while working out in the gym or when you go running.

Price: $162 (Rs. 10,721) – includes shipping + duty

Link: Amazon