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Resident Evil HD Remaster Review: Monster’s Ball

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Resident Evil HD Remaster Review: Monster's Ball

Resident Evil is a long-running video game franchise with a dedicated audience that's known even outside gaming circles thanks to a series of (mostly awful) movies starring Milla Jovovich. Resident Evil HD Remaster is a recent remake of a 2002 Nintendo GameCube game, which was a remake of a 1996 game for the original PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC. There's a lot of history in this title, and it's a very faithful remake that helps highlight just how much the series – and gaming in general – has changed in nearly two decades.

For a game that's based on code that's 13 years old, Resident Evil HD Remaster looks stellar. It might not have the eye candy of remasters of last generation games such as Metro Redux or The Last of Us, but it is significantly better looking than the Resident Evil 4 remaster, which looked just a shade above the GameCube original. Playing on a PC with anti-aliasing enabled further improves the graphics, with the game still being capable of hitting 60 frames per second.

It also brings back the "tank" controls of the series – something that was dropped completely from Resident Evil 6. This control scheme allowed you to either move, or turn – something that was necessitated with a fixed camera system that changed perspectives because of character movement, and compounded by the fact that the original PlayStation did not have analog sticks.

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These controls are there in the remaster as well, so you have to stop, then turn, and then move back or forward. Some people will appreciate the authenticity and the added tension these controls create, but we were pleased to see that a modern control scheme that lets you move and turn at the same time using the analog sticks is also there in the options, and it makes the game much more accessible, especially to a newer audience.

There are other signs too that you're playing a classic game. You will frequently have to backtrack through the game's world, navigating through it by rote memorisation. The puzzles are confounding and more often than not you'll find yourself back in the same area you were a while earlier, dealing with vague clues to solve seemingly impossible enigmas.

Most modern games abhor backtracking and the lack of a hint system, Resident Evil HD Remaster is a throwback to a time when 3D had its first impact on game design and production. The end result is one fraught with frustration and the inevitable feeling of success amplified by the sheer obtuseness of the puzzle design that will have you glued to your favourite game walkthrough site as you progress. It's a heady mix that compels you to trudge on.

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There's an inventory system that demands you to make the most of each item you come across. Space is limited and this pushes you to choose items wisely. Anything you come across can be placed in storage in the mansion's safe rooms making item management a meta-game in itself, like a survival horror themed game of Tetris. Take the wrong item with you and you'll find yourself trudging back more often than not.

Another throwback to simpler times is the save system. Instead of modern checkpoints that automatically save your game, here you'll find yourself scrounging around drawers and cabinets in search for ink ribbons; these can be used up at typewriters you'll find in different places to save your progress.

This is one part of the game we wish was modernised in the remastered version. The last thing you want is scurrying around with low ammo and walking corpses galore as you search for ink ribbons and a typewriter to save your progress.

If you're not smart with your inventory, this will be a regular occurrence as we soon discovered. All this makes Resident Evil HD Remaster more suited for long hours of play than quick 20-minute bursts, so make sure you have time set aside.

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And we highly recommend you do set the time aside. The game itself remains a classic, with a wide array of enemies from rabid zombie dogs to gargantuan spiders, with a liberal sprinkling of the shambling dead that make for survival horror gold. All of this is accentuated by the game's setting, and barring a few additional scenes, very little has changed. The game puts you in the shoes of Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, investigating a series of murders that involve cannibalism. The clues lead them to Spencer Mansion, which is teeming with an assortment of monsters and puzzles galore. The two have their own unique skills – Chris is tougher, while Jill has more ammunition and can pick locks.

The combat heightens the horror. You can't run and shoot as you would in most modern titles – you have to stand still to aim your guns, and that, coupled with perennially low ammunition means you have to pick your fights wisely. Avoiding open firefights is the better choice more often than not.

Resident Evil HD Remaster's design restrictions heighten the game's survival horror feel, proving that less is indeed more. It delivers tension, horror, and fear liberally. In exchange, you have to commit your time to the game, and put up with some seemingly archaic conventions. In today's world of in-app purchase-laden affairs, it's a welcome throwback to when games demanded you, instead of money.

We played a retail copy of Resident Evil HD Remaster on the PlayStation 4. Resident Evil HD Remaster is available on the PC for $19.99 (around Rs. 1300) on Steam; PS3 and PS4 for Rs. 1,664 and Xbox One at Rs. 1,120. Globally it's out on the Xbox 360 as well, but the Indian Xbox 360 digital store did not have it listed last we checked.

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Original article from NDTV Gadgets

Brainwavz Jive Review

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Brainwavz Jive Review

Brainwavz is a relatively new company, established in 2008 with the aim of bringing good personal audio products to users at affordable prices. True to its motto, the company produces a wide range of affordable products, including the Brainwavz S0 and Blu-100, which we found impressive.

The company now has more of a presence in India, and one of its first official launches is the Brainwavz Jive. These in-ear headphones are priced at Rs. 1,899, and offer budget buyers a good option for their first aftermarket personal audio upgrade. We find out all there is to know about the Brainwavz Jive in our review.

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Design, specifications and comfort
As with most in-canal earphones, the Jive features an extended earpiece that sits deep inside your ear canal, which gives it excellent sonic isolation. Additionally, the sales package includes a pair of Comply Foam ear tips, which ensure top-notch fit and improved isolation. Also included in the package are three pairs of silicone ear tips in varying sizes, a shirt clip, a cable wrap, a hard carry-case and strangely, a Brainwavz logo sticker as well, if you are into that kind of stuff.

The build quality is fantastic, thanks to the solid metal casing. The Jive earphones are available in some interesting colour options as well, and our purple review sample looked rather nice. The cable and in-line remote and microphone are also colour-matched. Although plastic, the remote is decent enough, with a three-button layout. The volume buttons work with iOS, while Android devices will only be able to use the centre button for answering calls and playing or pausing music. The cable is an ordinary rubber-wrapped affair which makes it fairly durable, but it’s extremely tangle-prone as a result. There are slight issues with cable noise above the Y-splitter.

On the technical side, things are pretty straightforward with the Brainwavz Jive. The headset has 9mm dynamic drivers, with a 16Ohm impedance rating, 20-20,000Hz frequency range, 98dB sensitivity, and a 1.3m cable. The large hard carry-case that comes with the package is extremely useful for storing the headphones safely.

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Performance
We used our reference Fiio X1 high-resolution audio player, an Android smartphone, and a Windows laptop as source devices when reviewing the Brainwavz Jive. Reference tracks for the test were Delta Heavy’s Ghost (Zomboy Remix), Shpongle’s Brain In A Fishtank, and The Avalanches’ Close To You.

We started with the remix of Ghost, an aggressive dubstep track with a solid low-end and more attack than an invading army. Something that was immediately clear is that the Jive is not built for bassheads, and lacks any real attack or punch, as was evident when we didn’t immediately feel the excitement in the bass drop. In fact, there’s a slight reduction in the low-end response which keeps the headset from sounding particularly intense with bass-heavy tracks. We found the excitement missing in the earphones.

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Moving on to Brain In A Fishtank, we found that the Jive offers an unbelievably clean and sharp sound. Sonic separation is particularly good, as well as soundstaging and three-dimensionality of the sound. Every individual element of the track resonated clearly, with crisp responses in the mid-range. The mids tend to sound flat and equal all through the lower and upper mid-range, which helps in achieving this level of clarity.

Finally, with Close To You, we found that the Brainwavz Jive is a bit heavy at the top of the range. There is an audible boost to the top-end and this translates into a bit more sparkle in the treble than we’re used to. This isn’t too bothersome, but can occasionally sting if the volume is too loud. On the whole, the Brainwavz Jive maintains a level of clarity and mid-range capability that is impressive for the price.

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Verdict
At Rs. 1,899, the Brainwavz Jive is a great purchase. It’s built well, comfortable, comes with lots of useful add-ons and accessories, and offers a decent sonic signature. With a focus on clarity and crispness, the Jive is good for all kinds of music. However, the lack of bass and the slight shrillness at the top-end means that it might fall short of the expectations of a lot of bass-oriented listeners.

While lacking in sheer excitement and attack, it more than makes up in the clarity department, and can be incredibly immersive with the right kind of music. If you’re looking for a sharp pair of earphones under Rs. 2,000, this should be on your audition-list.

Price (MRP): 1,899

Pros

  • Decent build
  • Good fit, comfort and isolation
  • Clean, crisp sound
  • Excellent in-line remote and microphone

Cons

  • Lacking in bass
  • A bit shrill at the top-end

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Performance: 4
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall: 4

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Original Article

Lenovo Launches Global Wireless Roaming Service

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Lenovo Launches Global Wireless Roaming Service

China's Lenovo Group Ltd will launch a global wireless service for its mobile devices to cut roaming costs for its users, it said on Sunday.

The service, called Lenovo Connect, allows users to travel to 50 countries and use their devices at local prices on mobile Internet, without installing new SIM cards, Lenovo said in a statement on Sunday.

For years, roaming or extra charges for the use of telecoms services outside a person's home country have been a source of consumers' ire as many were confronted with high phone bills after returning from holiday.

The European Union has agreed to abolish mobile roaming charges across the 28-country bloc by June 2017, requiring telecom operators to treat all Internet traffic equally.

Lenovo said it could offer the service through its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) activities, which currently has 11 million users globally.

MVNOs are operators who rent access on bigger rivals' networks and tend to sell cheaper mobile plans, often without a long-term contract.

The Lenovo service will be available in China on its LeMeng X3 smartphone and MIIX 700 tablet from this month. Some users of Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops in Europe, Middle-East and Africa can start using the service sometime during the first quarter.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Original NDTV Gadgets

How to Record PC Games With GeForce Experience

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How to Record PC Games With GeForce Experience

Felix Kjellberg (better known as Pewdiepie) has made a career out of playing video games, whilst recording said video game and himself. His YouTube channel earned him $12 million (approx. Rs. 82 crores) in 2015, and since then he has expanded his partnership with Disney-owned Maker Studios into newer avenues to produce original content for YouTube’s paid subscription service – YouTube Red – and collaborate with fellow web stars for a whole variety of things in Revelmode.

While we can’t help you develop the personality that is behind the continued success and loyal support of Pewdiepie’s Bro Army, we can show you the right set of tools you need to record your game videos – as a hobbyist or as a professional.

There are dozens of free screen recording tools you can pick up that will do the job; if you’re on Windows 10, then the pre-installed Xbox app has some simple recording features as well. The problem there is that the control and flexibility is limited. Other apps like Fraps are an option, but they consume a huge amount of space to record video.

But one of the best ways to do this that we have used, is the GeForce Experience, a companion app for the video cards that makes it extremely simple to record gameplay footage. If you have a PC with an Nvidia card – and most gamers do – there is no need to install anything. Thanks to its software suite, called the Nvidia GeForce Experience, you won’t have to look far at all. Hence, for the purposes of this tutorial, we shall focus on what Nvidia has to offer.

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What do you need?
Whether you’re planning to record and share to YouTube or stream live to Twitch, the Nvidia GeForce Experience is quickly becoming your simplest bet. The game recording feature of GeForce Experience is called ShadowPlay. There are a few boxes your PC must tick before you can record your videos. First and foremost, any ordinary Nvidia card won’t do. Current requirements state the following:

  • Desktop GPU must be
    • GeForce GTX 600 series or higher
  • Notebook GPU must be
    • GeForce GTX 660M
    • GeForce GTX 670MX / 675MX
    • GeForce GTX 680M
    • GeForce GTX 700M series or higher

You will also need a minimum of 4GB RAM, and Microsoft Windows 7, 8, or 10. There’s an easy way to tell if your system is compatible: open GeForce Experience and look at the top right. If you see a ‘ShadowPlay’ button, you’re all set.

Recording video games: The options at your disposal
Open the ShadowPlay floating box by clicking in the top right corner. The power switch on the left controls whether ShadowPlay is on or off. There are four buttons to the right of the power switch, which control how you record your gameplay footage and its different properties. And a two-line summary above the buttons states all the options chosen by you. By default, it goes: In-game resolution, 60 FPS, 50 Mbps, H.264.

The first of those four buttons controls the record mode, and there are four options: Shadow & Manual, Shadow, Manual, and Twitch. If you’re planning to edit and splice together footage after you’ve played the game, you need to concern yourself with only the first three. The fourth one is self-explanatory, in that it connects to your Twitch account and lets you stream your content live. Nvidia has said it will build in support for YouTube Gaming, Google’s answer to Twitch, soon.

Picking your record mode
So what do Shadow and Manual mean? Manual is the simpler one. All control is on you – the user and the player – and you decide when to start the recording and when to stop. This is controlled by keyboard shortcuts found under preferences, which you can change to anything that suits you. By default, Alt + F9 initiates and ends a recording.

Shadow on the other hand, helps gamers capture those “Oh God!” moments that would make great viewing, but weren’t manually recorded because you weren’t expecting them at all.

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How does it work? If you select either Shadow & Manual, or Shadow, the GeForce Experience service will continuously record your game in the background. And after you – for instance – score a beautiful goal in EA Sports’ FIFA, or a massive kill streak in DOTA 2, and realise you need to save that moment for all time, then you just need to hit the save Shadow data button (Alt + F10 by default). All the action that happened will be saved in all its glory.

The Shadow Time button allows you to set how much is recorded and kept in a temporary folder as you continue to play. You can choose from anywhere between a minute to 20 minutes. The moment you hit Alt + F10, it will save those specified minutes. The only thing to keep in mind with this setting is that the file size can get humongous, especially at higher bit rates. At 1080p game resolution, 60 FPS and 50 Mbps – a recorded file comes in at 1.9GB for XX minutes of video.

Storage is a serious concern
You can end up using over 50GB of storage after two hours of playing Rocket League, as we managed in a recent playthrough. That’s where the third button – the quality decider – is of use. It offers three presets – low, medium, and high – and a custom option to set your own resolution and file bit rate. If you stick to the given settings (1080p at 60 FPS) a 5 minute record will result in: 563MB at low, 825MB at medium and 1.9GB at high. Obviously with custom, the file size depends on the settings you choose.

Here’s what we recommend
If you’ve a fairly powerful CPU and GPU, and tons of free hard drive space, here’s what we recommend in terms of Nvidia GeForce Experience settings to record in-game video:

  • Go for Shadow and Manual for the best of both worlds: flexibility and control
  • Shadow time at 10 minutes
  • Quality at high, which is 60 FPS at 50 Mbps
  • Record at in-game resolution, preferably 1920×1080 or higher
  • Only in-game audio

Now that you are armed with this new-found knowledge of recording video games, load up your favourite game, because it’s time to become the next Pewdiepie. Or something like that.

For more How Tos, visit our How To section.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

10 Big Technology Trends Likely to Emerge in 2016

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10 Big Technology Trends Likely to Emerge in 2016

Predicting the future is a dangerous game. It’s easy to speculate and easier still to hope, but what we have to do is carefully look at all the promising developments we’ve seen in the recent past and then evaluate how we think they’ll keep going, and what else they’ll lead to. Some companies are kind enough to provide roadmaps and projections, but surprises can pop up out of anywhere, anytime.

We’ve looked at the state of tech and of the world at large to bring you our list of ten things we think will be significant in the world of personal technology in 2016. From global-scale trends that will shape politics and policy to the individual features of our next smartphones, there’s a lot to think about.

1) The death of the traditional desktop OS
With Microsoft taking full control of Windows 10 updates and doing whatever it can to push users to its latest OS, the traditional notion of the OS is dead in 2016. From forced updates to a dependency on being completely online and licenses tied to specific hardware, we’re heading into a world of subscriptions and service fees that can’t be avoided.

Google already pushes ChromeOS as a gateway to its own services, which are barely usable offline. A steady stream of minor updates will mean there’s no concept of a version number anymore – and your rapidly depleting data cap will make you wish Internet connectivity was better.

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2) Broadband becomes our lifeblood
You’re only as good as your Internet connection. The music and gaming industries have been quick to adopt streaming as a revenue model, and that means more pressure on your bandwidth limit. This year saw a plethora of music streaming services and 2016 could see the launch of even more – there is also some serious speculation that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will arrive in India. It doesn’t stop here.

Both Sony and Nvidia have made their intentions to stream video games to every device on the planet clear as well. Almost every game on PC, PS4, and Xbox One ships in an unfinished state on disc and requires massive updates before you even start playing. What this means is that you need to start upgrading your broadband connection before you upgrade your gadgets.

3) Hardware evolves and improves
Possibly the safest bet to make – 2016 is set to bring about some big changes on the hardware side of things – from televisions to smartphones to home Internet. Most televisions today use LED-backlit LCD panels, but LG brought OLED to the market in 2015 and more manufacturers, including Samsung, Haier and TCL, have announced plans to follow suit in 2016. OLED TVs use a thin, electrically charged organic film to emit light, and each pixel generates its own light. OLED TVs have many advantages, including lighter and thinner panels, deeper blacks, and wider viewing angles.

USB Type-C ports are also expected to become commonplace on smartphones and PCs, and will finally make it easier to plug your phone into its data cable or charger. On the connectivity front, 4G network capabilities will grow, and more operators will be available for to users in India to choose from, and 5G will begin trials in some parts of the world.

More phones will have high-resolution screens, and more flagship smartphones will have to step up to at least Quad-HD or 4K resolution. Finally, we hope to see e-SIM cards also make an appearance. This would mean that it would no longer be necessary to insert a different SIM card into your phone for different operators; all you’d have to do is select the network of your choosing.

4) Devices may take on fresh new shapes
Smartphones, tablets and computers in 2016 will adopt new form factors. Samsung is expected to finally bring its foldable screens to market, which will allow devices to be truly flexible. It may be possible to fold your huge smartphone and put it away in your pocket, or bend it just as much as you like. Curved screens are also expected to become more common. This will allow for more variety in the designs and form factors of our devices.

We can expect smartphones in 2016 to keep getting slimmer. Reports have already emerged that the iPhone 7 will be 1mm slimmer by ditching the 3.5mm socket, and Android manufacturers will surely follow suit. There is an increasing demand for slimmer phones, and manufacturers will do all they can to cater to it.

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5) Virtual reality and augmented reality will still be just around the corner
Virtual and augmented reality experiences are closer than ever, but as far as mainstream acceptance is concerned, they’re still going to be just beyond the reach of most of us. Ever since the Oculus Rift first burst onto the scene with its blockbuster Kickstarter fundraiser, we’ve tried out a number of different headsets, and the frontrunners today are essentially down to the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR.

These are all supposed to launch in 2016, though the requirements in terms of space, compatible hardware, and high pricing means that none of them are going to be accessible to most people. Augmented reality, in the form of Microsoft’s Hololens for example, is a different kind of experience – instead of immersing yourself in the virtual world, augmented reality is about bringing virtual elements into the real world. Google Glass is another example.

Hololens will be expensive, and like the leading VR solutions, it will not be relevant to the majority of people in 2016. Both VR and AR are very exciting technologies that are making huge strides forward, but there’s still going to be a little wait before they become truly mainstream.

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6) The ‘Make in India’ initiative will gain momentum
The Indian government’s initiative to make this country a global manufacturing hub is going to really explode on a big scale next year. The wheels are already in motion as over the past few months, smartphone makers including Xiaomi, Asus and Gionee have announced plans to assemble phones at Foxconn’s Sri City facility in Andhra Pradesh. Qualcomm too, recently put forward its program to encourage product and ecosystem creation for smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT) across sectors like banking, healthcare, agriculture, wearables and smart cities. The initiative has also been noticed by the likes of Twitter, which has recently launched a special emoji to symbolise it.

There’s a mega event being scheduled by the government of India in Mumbai from February 13 to 18 called ‘Make in India Week’, which will highlight the people, policies and partnerships which are paving the way forward for a digital India.

7) The Internet of Things (IoT) is only going to get bigger
The Internet of Things (IoT) concept has been just that, a concept, but 2016 could be the year it goes mainstream. Chances are, you won’t even notice it. Gartner estimates nearly 6.4 billion connected devices in use globally, which would be a 30 percent jump from this year. These might not be actual devices that you have on your person, but still gather information about your habits in order to give you personalised experiences. For instance, the next time you step out to buy a train ticket, the automated ticket teller could already know your daily travel route and dispense the appropriate ticket without you having to do anything.

Smart devices have already started percolating into the Indian market. Cube 26’s Smart Bulb and Philips’ Hue are two such examples, and we expect many more to arrive next year. The policy framework for IoT is still being laid out and India is aiming for a six percent share in this $300 billion global industry. In addition, Amazon Web Services has launched a cloud platform for IoT which helps devices with limited memory or battery life communicate with each other. Global bigwigs including Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, Vodafone and Samsung, to name a few, are all heavily invested in IoT and believe this is where the future of personal technology is heading.

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8) Privacy and security become political weapons against Internet freedom
As incidents of terrorism and violence occur, security and early detection become the topics that politicians most love to harp on. Right at this moment, multiple agencies in countries around the world are trying to force manufacturers to add backdoors to their hardware and software, reduce the strength of commonly used encryption standards (or ban them outright), spy on all kinds of communications, and bump up surveillance using the best technology available.

As private citizens, our lives will be impacted heavily by whatever results from these efforts. We might begin to see a world in which devices track you all the time whether you like it or not. It’s already tough enough to buy a SIM card, but France is trying to ban the Tor network, Kazakhstan wants to force all users to allow remote access to their devices, several countries want to restrict Internet access, and the upcoming US presidential election is already full of rhetoric about the Internet and what Silicon Valley should do.

9) Devices gain cognitive capabilities
Cognitive computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and neural networks: all overlapping terms for the kind of advanced device behaviour we’re going to start seeing in 2016. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to expect our gadgets and accessories to learn about us and our environments in order to make specific, subjective decisions. Qualcomm will start shipping its flagship Snapdragon 820 processor, which it touts will be able to identify subjects in photographs along with lighting and composition in order to quickly adjust settings, amongst other things. There are even applications in security, such as malware pattern detection, and in natural user interfaces, such as speech and handwriting processing.

Over time, developers will be able to create all kinds of new experiences, and assistants like Siri will be able to interact naturally and deliver results to us depending on our schedules and preferences. This is not only going to be the next huge smartphone feature, it’s going to change all kinds of digital devices, starting in 2016.

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10) The sharing economy’s troubles are far from over
By now, we’ve come to be familiar with Uber, Airbnb, and various other platforms that let us turn our skills, possessions and time into money. On the flipside, there are those which want to make our lives easier by outsourcing errands such as grocery shopping and food delivery. The two concepts work together, since there are people willing to pay for such conveniences, and people willing to earn by providing them. Sitting pretty in the middle, platforms take a cut and have very little to do other than manage supply and demand.

The second half of this year has seen an explosion of such hyperlocal startups, focusing on specific tasks or pain points that they can help people overcome. We haven’t yet seen how well they will work and how long they will all last – but it stands to reason that 2016 will see a lot of consolidation as not all platforms which duplicate each-others’ functionality can hope to survive.

Customers who try these services and become used to them should be prepared to have them wind up in short order – especially if they’re providing unsustainable discounts. On the other hand, those which have built up their user bases will ease up on promotions and then you’ll have to decide whether they’re worth the expense.

What do you think will change the world of tech in 2016? Let us know via the comments section below.

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Original NDTV Gadgets