Feature Star

     Print Edition: March 2012

Price: Rs 29,900
Specs: 800 x 600 resolution, LCoS engine resolution, 4:3 aspect ration, 200:1 rated contrast ration, 32ANSI Lumens brightness, Analog VGA
Bag it or Junk it? Good pocket projector, but picture could be better.

Pico projectors have been around for a while, but only recently have they started doing things beyond basic projection. The MP180 from 3M is a pocket projector which stands out from the other small projectors on the sheer number of features available. The projector is the size of a torch with a length of 5.9 inches and a weight of around 350 gm. The unit has a LCD resistive touchscreen, using which you can choose from a wide range of sources. While you can plug the projector to a VGA cable to connect it to a PC, it is the MicroUSB slot and the inbuilt 4GB storage that will be of more use to the target audience for this device.

The touchscreen can be used to access the video (.mov & .mp4) and picture files and the same can be played directly using the device. It can also open and project a range of documents from Word files to PDF and Excel sheets. The unit has Bluetooth and Wi-FI connectivity and saving files on to the device is a hassle-free exercise. However, getting the PIN set up for Bluetooth pairing can be a bit of a pain. An added feature is the ability of the device to use the Wi-Fi network to access the Internet directly. Users can click the web icon in the menu and open pages using the touchscreen keyboard. But this is a tough task as it is really difficult to click the keys you want on the small screen. It took us a couple of minutes to just write "google.com".

But this is still a unique feature and will come in handy if you are on the move. Despite all these features, the MP180 falls short in one basic aspect: its projection. Yes, it a pocket projector and cannot be compared to larger units, but the 32 ANSI lumens really leaves you wanting more. Though the throw area is much smaller than for other projectors this size, once you start blowing up the picture beyond 20 inches, you start to see something amiss. And there are no picture modes to adjust the image, maybe make it a bit brighter. Adjustments are limited to the focus wheel just below the bulb. If you are looking for a projector to impress your clients with presentations, then look no further. But if you were planning to buy the MP180 to rig up a home theatre, then maybe you should search for other options. But then you don't also get a projector with so many features for Rs 29,990.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

The Scribble Pad

Price: Rs 6,200
Specs: 9.5-inch LCD; stylus; 8 MB storage; seven-day battery backup on average use, 325 gm.
Bag It Or Junk It? Great interactive board but is highly overpriced in India.

Most of us now associate tablets with devices that can fetch emails, browse the web or download apps. But the original tablets were what the dictionary terms as "a flat slab or plaque suited for or bearing an inscription". And that is the sort of tablet the Boogie Board RIP tries to be. It might not have an operating system, but the LCD writing tablet can store what you scribble on its surface. So you won't be wrong in calling it an electronic scribble pad. The board comes with a stylus that can be used to sketch or scribble on the surface. Once done, the content can be saved by pressing the save key on the top.

This is stored in the internal memory in the form of a PDF file. But the same can be accessed for review only through a PC and not from the board. Pressing the 'erase' key clears the surface for the next document. The biggest drawback is that the erase key wipes out the surface completely and there is only partly erase something. With an internal memory of 8MB, the board is capable of saving up to 200 documents. The companion software, which can be downloaded, launches a similar window on the PC to view action on the board in real-time. It even lets one email the PDF directly. Light weight, the board is easy to carry around. The natural pen paper interface makes it intuitive to use and can come in handy for note taking or even for designing. On an average use, a single charge lasts close to a week.

Text by Nidhi Singal

Object Imager

Price: Rs 6,500
Bag It Or Junk It? Good for scanning objects with about average result.

The term 'portable scanner' reminds of us the Portronics Scanny series-a portable and independent scanning device. Now, iBall has also come up with a portable scanner, though with a different concept. Unlike the Scanny, this isn't a pen-like device. Instead, it looks more like a plastic table lamp. The scanner has a 2 MP camera placed on the corner of the movable hand that captures whatever comes in its range. But it doesn't have any hardware key for capturing the image to scan. In fact, it has to be connected to a PC and the scanner can be operated only using the accompanied software which takes ages to instal. Launching the software automatically displays the documents or objects placed below the camera that can be later scanned.

The scan results are saved in JPEG format at 96 dpi resolution horizontally and vertically. Capable of scanning only A4 documents, a black cloth has been added to the box that can be used for the exact placement and clear scanning. The scanned results were not impressive for A4 documents as the ambient light came into play. However, it did a fairly neat job while scanning objects. The company claims it can used as a copier for printing and as a video recorder for demonstrations.

-Text by Nidhi Singal

A Fine Picture

Price: Rs 10,999
Specs: 14 MP, 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor; Fujinon 18x optical zoom lens; SR AUTO; Instant zoom, Face Detection and versatile playback functions.
Bag It Or Junk It? Good mid-level option, but no rechargeble battery pack.

The Fujifilm Finepix S2950 looks and feels like a high-end digital camera. That is one misconception that will be cleared as soon as you open the battery flap. Instead of a rechargeable battery pack which has sort of become the standard with digital cameras now, the S2950 has space for four AA type alkaline batteries. That is the end of high-end for you. But except for that initial disappointment, this camera turned out to be a surprise package. Starting with a grip you would loved to have even in a DSLR, the S2950 feels like it's made for better things that just point and shoot.

Yes, you can do your focus and click on full auto, but then there is also an auto mode with Scene Recognition. The 3-inch LCD screen is larger than what you would find in other cameras of this price range. But the real hero here is the Fujinon lens combined with the 18x optical zoom. Often you find that the picture pixelates a bit at the higher end of the optical zoom, but we had no such problems with this camera. The lens is also on show when you shift to the 1280p fullHD mode. Overall, the S2950 is a good option for people who would like to advance a bit with their digital photography.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

Top Gun


Price: Rs 26,999
Specs: 12.1 MP; 3-inch LCD; DIGIC 5 imaging processor; ISO 80-6400; 15 - 1/2000 sec shutter speed; JPEG, RAW CR2, GPS logger.
Bag It Or Junk It? Great features and build quality, but priced like a DSLR.

The build quality of the Canon Powershot S100 is so good it seems like it was made in a Smith & Wesson factory. But then the S100 is no regular camera. It comes with a ring control for zooming, unheard of in point-and-shoot cameras of our times. There is a zoom toggle on top with the click button, but you will hardly need to use it with the ring taking most of the workload.

The S100 is 12.1MP camera, but the new HS System improves image quality drastically, especially in low light situations. If the light is still not good enough, there is a periscope-like flash that pops out of the top, but you wouldn't need it except maybe during the night. The macro end of the lens is crystal clear, while the 5x optical zoom combines with a 4x digital zoom to give a 20x combined zoom. The image stabiliser also ensures that unnecessary blur and distortions are removed. There is a dial around the function buttons too. This is a handy feature to flip through the menu and settings, especially since there is a lot to choose from. Along with the regular modes, there is also a built-in HDR mode. In the video mode, the S100 can shoot fullHD video at 1920x1080p. Despite issues with low light, the super slow motion option seemed like an interesting feature.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

A new start in the galaxy?

Price: 26,499
Specs: 7-inch capacitive display; 3.2 MP camera; 16GB onboard storage, expandable to 32 GB; 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; 345 gm; 4000 mAh battery.
Bag It Or Junk It? Feature packed, but it comes at a time when new tablets with better specs are about to be announced.

As the world waits for the quad core tablets to be announced at the Mobile World Congress 2012, Samsung has come out with a tablet featuring a dualcore processor. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 620 is the best looking among the 7-inchers available in the market, due mainly to its sleek 9.9mm body which has been accentuated by curved and rounded edges. Plus, the tablet weighs just 345 gm and doesn't become a pain if you hold it for long periods.

Controls and connectors are evenly spread along the four edges. The left panel has the SIM card and the memory card slots. Although the two are hot swappable, the tab still restarts when the SIM card is removed or inserted. Switched on, the tablet greeted us with the same old Android interface. The tab had a Google Search icon on the top left with the apps launcher on the right top. Being a Honeycomb tablet, there are no physical keys. Instead, the touch keys at the bottom are dominated by the back, home and multitasking keys.

There was also an up arrow which opened a tray with some apps like messaging, task manager, pen memo, calendar, music player, calculator and world clock. Unlike Android phones, the notification icon here is at the bottom instead of the top. There was a noticeable lag while launching the application launcher. Along with the regular Google Services like Gmail, GTalk, Search, Market and the browser, Samsung has added a few apps of its own like Social Hub, Samsung Apps, Polaris Office, Photo editor, Pulse, memo and AllShare. It neatly handled our emails and was sprightly while surfing the net. Typing was a breeze in the portrait mode.

The Tab 620 performs well in the media department as the onboard video player eliminates the need of downloading a third-party application. It can also play Full HD (1080p) videos. The tablet is not fully up there for still imaging though since it can capture photos at a maximum of just 3.2 MP resolution. Powered using 1.2 GHz dual core processor the overall performance wasn't anything revolutionary. It performed decently with a battery backup of close to a day with average Internet usage. The battery drained much faster when the tablet was used for playing full HD videos.

Text by Nidhi Singal

Flying High

Price: 9,990
Specs: 7.0 inch touch display; front facing camera; Wi-Fi, USB port, HDMI port, Micro USB, 1GHz processor ; 4GB internal memory.
Bag It Or Junk It? One of the best tablets at this price point.

Tablets are not just the reserve of the rich. After the Reliance Tab, many affordable, sub-` 10,000 tablets have come into the Indian market. The latest in this breed is the one from Digital Waves. The TabPlus Rio is an Android tablet featuring a 7-inch capacitive LCD display with HD video playback. The user interface looks similar to the one on phones, but has been slightly tweaked. The home icon has been moved to the top. Even the physical keys for back and options have been neatly replaced by touch keys on the display itself. However, the tablet impresses most with its connectivity options. Along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the tab had an HDMI, micro USB and USB ports at the bottom.

As the tablet doesn't have a SIM slot, the USB port can be used for plugging in a 3G dongle. We tried to play some HD videos via the USB port. At first, the device froze. However, when reinserted, we were able to play the movie from the file browser on the main menu. The video clarity was good, but only when the screen was at its brightest. Unlike other tablets, this tablet only has a front-facing camera that cannot be put to much use. With a 1GHz processor and 512 MB RAM, it managed to score 1306 on the Quadrant test, slightly above the Samsung Galaxy S. Our only complaint was the 3000 mAh battery, which drained out in just four hours of continuous usage.

Text by Nidhi Singal

An earful and more

Price: Rs 8,100
Bag it or junk it? Everything is great except for the typical Bose pricing.

Last year, the Bose AE2 set new benchmarks in high-end headphones. This year Bose wants to recreate the magic with the OE2. Though much more compact than its predecessor, the OE2 does not in any way limit itself as far as the music quality is concerned. We did not find anything that actually pushes up the quality of the audio-anyway a tough ask with the kind of standards Bose sets itself-but the ear cups are definitely softer and smaller.

While the OE2 does not cover your ears, the memory foam cushion on the cups cut out all external noise. So with the cups on, you see people talking in mute even though you haven't switched on the music. The headband is adjustable and fits perfectly without your feeling a halo on your scalp. The fold-flat design of the headset makes it easy to pack and carry around. As always the sound is superb and you can actually make out the difference that Bose's TriPort Technology brings to the headset when you try it with any other high-end competitor. Bose lets you hear notes which you never knew existed and for that it does not matter if you are travelling in a metro or having your morning cuppa at home. But then you have to earn every note you hear on a Bose for the small little OE2 costs ` 8,100. Certainly not music to most ears.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

Sound & Sturdy

Price: 895
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? A good option if you are not after bigger brands

If you are the type who has to spend long hours chatting with friends or clients on your computer, then the Genius HS-400A headset could be the thing for you. With adjustable ear cups and head band as well as a rotating microphone, this headset lets users customise it to their most comfortable position. The striped design coupled with the green band running around it makes the leatherette ear cups funky. The sound is good too and the ear cups keep most of the external noises out. However, the ear cups do heat up a bit after about an hour of usage, despite the best efforts of the company to keep the temperatures down.

But things don't get bad enough for you to take off the headset. Usually the microphone, especially the rotating types, tend to be flimsy with the wire connection giving away after a few rotations. The HS-400A, however, has a sturdy looking, and feeling, microphone stick which gives the impression that it will last as long as the rest of the headphone. The headband is all-plastic, but not in a plasticky kind of way, and feels robust too. Thankfully, there is an extra long cord with in-line volume controls so that you can lie back and enjoy the music
if you decide to take a break.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

Big and Bright

Rs 23,999
Specs: 27-inch W-LED; 20,000,000:1 Smart Contrast; 1 ms response time, 16:9 aspect ration with optimum resolution of 1920 x 1080; VGA/DVI/DP inpu
Bag It Or Junk It? Buy it you are willing to pay a big premium for going green.

The Philips Professional 273P3 LED is all about real estate. At 27 inches there are not many other monitors out there that give you more space. Even if they did, you would not be able to handle anything bigger on your desktop. The dimensions are so vast that you can easily open a word file, watch a movie and keep an eye on the stock ticker while still leaving aside some space for another window you might want to open. Still, this monitor does not believe in being a power guzzler.

The intelligent PowerSensor built into the front of the screen knows when there is no one in front of it and automatically switches to a low consumption mode, saving up to 80 per cent power. The touch sensitive control panel activates the SmartImage utility which lets you choose the best mode. The monitor came out in flying colours every time we threw a 1920x1080 pixel HD image at it. Then there are inbuilt speakers good enough for you to get rid of the headphones or extra table top speakers. It is easy to adjust the height and inclination, but this also means the settings change if someone keeps their hand on it.

Text by Nandagopal Rajan

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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