Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Computing with a Stick!
You can carry the PC hardware and software in your pocket. But is it worth it?
 
Computing is becoming truly mobile. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, has come up with a device so small that it fits in your pocket, but can turn any monitor or TV with high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port into a smart computing device. Intel’s Compute Stick with Windows 8.1 is available in India on Flipkart at Rs9,999. Another version may cost a little less (it was not available in India when I was writing this piece). While, as a concept, the Compute Stick definitely looks promising, the question is: Can it be a game-changer, especially for a country like India? Remember, India is a country obsessed with low-cost mobiles and hungry for more power (processor with higher speeds and big random access memory or RAMs).
 
The Intel Stick is powered by Intel Atom processor with integrated graphics, 2GB of RAM, 32GB inbuilt storage and micro secure digital (SD) slot for expandable memory. It has a universal serial bus (USB) 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 and connects to a TV or monitor through an HDMI port. The device also has a mini USB that is used for power. The Stick with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS has 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory. Since the Stick does not have a battery, you need to keep it powered either through the charger or through a power bank. Don’t worry, it consumes very little power. 
 
According to Intel, the Compute Stick can transform any HDMI TV, or a monitor, into a full computer, allowing you to search the web, share your vacation photos, keep up on your email or do any of the tasks that you do on your computer today. All you need is a wireless keyboard and mouse, and you are set. As per reviews from major tech portals, this device is only good for basic computing. “You can run a real browser, install plug-ins, and stream 1080p video from any source. You can run Office just fine and even Photoshop at a pinch. Generally, you won’t notice its limitations, but with 2GB of RAM, you won’t want to multi-task too heavily or at all,” a review in PC World says. 
 
One hurdle is requirement of a wireless keyboard and mouse, combo preferred. At best, the Stick can be used to turn your old TV or monitor into a ‘smart’ device, the reviews say.
 
In India, most of us still use wired keyboards and mouse. Therefore, you have no option but to carry your wireless keyboards and mouse combo. Since the Stick has just one USB port, you must have a combo for keyboard and mouse, else you can use only either of them. 
 
Another issue specific to India is the availability of HDMI port in old TV or monitors. Some of the old TVs have RCA connectors, while old monitors came with digital video interface (DVI) or video graphics array (VGA) ports. This means that you need to buy an adaptor with HDMI port and then use the Compute Stick. Most users are not that adventurous and, thus, would turn away from using old TV or monitor with the Stick. On the other hand, the majority of the latest TVs (read LCDs/LEDs) are being sold as ‘smart TVs’ do have some other basic functionality to browse the web and watch videos or view images. 
 
Apart from Intel, there are several others who are selling similar devices. Unfortunately, not many are available in India. There are a few devices—either available or upcoming—like iView Cyber PC Compute Stick, Tronsmart Mk908II, Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300, Archos Stock PC, iBall Splendo PC-on-a-stick (Rs8,999) and Asus Chromebit. All of them can be bought for less than Rs10,000. Additionally, since most manufacturers take advantage of Windows with Bling from Microsoft, you will find this OS on many of the Sticks. Very few feature Android and Linux, though.

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Reliance Industries net up 4.4 percent but on lower turnover
In line with analysts' expectations, Reliance Industries on Friday said its consolidated net profit for the first quarter of this financial year was up 4.4 percent at Rs.6,222 crore (around $1 billion) from Rs.5,957 crore in the like quarter of last year.
 
On a stand-alone basis, where the entities held by the company are treated separately for accounting purposes and reflect more on the actual financial health of a parent company, the net profit for the period under review was up 11.8 percent at Rs.6,318 crore from Rs.5,649 in the year before.
 
But the company's turnover on a consolidated basis, which includes the accounting numbers of subsidiaries held by the company, declined 23 percent to Rs.83,064 crore from Rs.107,905 crore during the periods under review, the company said in a regulatory filing with the exchanges.
 
"Our financial performance reflects the benefits of integrated hydrocarbon chain activities in a benign oil price environment," chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said in a statement.
 
"The sharp increase in demand for transportation fuels helped us realize strong refining margins. Oil product demand globally is estimated to have grown at over 1.6 million units year-on-year, resulting in high refinery runs across all regions," he said in the statement.
 
"Our petrochemicals business recorded a strong quarterly performance supported by high operating rates and margin strength in the ethylene chain. In retail business, we have reached significant milestones over the past couple of years and continue the high growth trajectory."
 
Ahead of the announcement of the results, which came afte the closing bell at stock exchanges, the shares of Reliance Industries ended lower at Rs.1,025.05, despite having touched Rs.1,050, intra-day.
 
The company attributed the decline in revenue to a 43.3 percent year-on-year decline in benchmark (Brent) oil price.
 
Exports from its Indian operations were also lower by 44.9 percent at Rs.36,717 crore, as against Rs.66,600 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year due to lower product prices in line with lower crude oil prices.
 
Highlights of the results (stand-alone):
 
• Revenue decreased by 28.1 percent to Rs.71,412 crore ($11.2 billion)
 
• Exports decreased by 44.9 percent to Rs.36,717 crore ($5.8 billion)
 
• Profits before income tax increased by 16.2 percent to Rs.11,125 crore ($1.7 billion)
 
• Profit before tax increased by 14.3 percent to Rs.8,263 crore ($ 1.3 billion)
 
• Cash Profit increased by 13.7 percent to Rs.8,806 crore ($1.4 billion)
 
• Net Profit increased by 11.8 percent to record Rs.6,318 crore ($1.0 billion)
 
• Gross Refining Margin of $10.4/bbl for the quarter, highest in past six years 

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Nifty, Sensex may try to rally – Weekly closing report
A dip in Nifty to 8,500 may attract buyers
 
We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that the Nifty, Sensex rally may pause and that Nifty’s medium term uptrend may continue as long as it manages to stay above 8,355. The Indian stock markets have been range-bound and the major indices have dipped a little, compared to last week’s closing values. On Friday, the movements of the major indices were as follows:
 
 
Over the week, on Monday, the stock market indices closed marginally in the red on the back of worries surrounding the monsoon progress, a likely troubled parliament session, and the upcoming monetary policy review.
 
On Tuesday, lower-than-expected first-quarter results and the logjam on the first day of Parliament's monsoon session dampened the sentiments in the Indian equity markets. Major results like Infosys, HDFC Bank, Sun Pharma and Hindustan Unilever released on Tuesday had the biggest impact on stock- or sector-specific indices. Investors were also anxious about the ability of the government to pass key bills like Goods and Services Tax (GST) and land bill during the monsoon session.
 
On Wednesday, investor's sentiments were buoyed after positive statements were made by the government, indicating political willingness to resolve the impasse on crucial legislations like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the land bill. The major indices improved by more than 1% on just the positive indications from the government.
 
On Thursday, political uncertainty continued. The logjam in parliament and anxiety surrounding a rate hike in the US subdued the Indian equity markets. Key economic data revealed a recovery in the US economy just before the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meet on July 29, which will give further clues as to when the rate hike might take place there. With higher interest rates in the US, the FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) are expected to be led away from emerging markets such as India. On Friday, there were no negative macroeconomic cues, but the Parliament logjam on ethics in politics is continuing to cast a shadow over the market. India Vix closed at 15.46, down 0.40%. NSE turnover was at 81.03 crore.
 
Out of the 27 main sectors tracked by Moneylife, top five and the bottom five sectors for this week were:
 

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