The Bigger Alien

Sulabh Puriaand twitter-logoNidhi Singal | Print Edition: October 2011

Price: Rs 1,59,000+
Specs: 17.3-inch screen; Intel Core i7 2.2. GHz; 8 GB DDR3 RAM; 750 GB hard drive; 2 GB DDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M graphics card; Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB 3.0; Webcam.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Superb machine for those who can afford it.

The new M17X is in every way better than the last one. The looks are similar to the previous avatar, but we find the new body appealing as well as rugged. This heavy duty appliance has a very solid outlook and the hinges too do not look like they will give way. The black matt finish and the shining Alienware Skull icon works wonders for the design.

THE LOOKS: Like the earlier machine, this one also has an LED-backlit logo, keyboard and touchpad. The colours for the backlighting can be customised on the onboard control panel. It also has options for other effects. And if you thought the 17-inch screen was its only asset, you'd be delighted to know that the screen is 3D-ready and comes with NVIDIA 3D glasses to energise your gaming senses with a plunge into another dimension. For fast transfer of data, Alienware has put in two USB 3.0 ports on the side along with a Blu-ray optical drive
When it comes to configuration, the M17X R3 has the best of the best. A powerful second gen Intel Core i7 processor, clocking at 2.2 GHz, is its main brain. It also has a generous 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 2 GB DDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M graphics card and a 750 GB hard drive. On the PC Mark Vantage test, this Alienware scored a superb 7496 points. The result on 3D Mark 06 was no different. Here it managed to score 12,606 points. Both indicate supersonic speeds and performance. Regular features include Wi-Fi, HDMI port, web cam and memory card reader. If you want a final word on this machine, we would say that the M17X R3 does not give you any reason to be disappointed.


 Price: Rs 8,999
Specs: A4 paper support; 5760 x 1440 DPI print resolution;22 PPM draft black; 12 PPM draft colour; 70 ml ink tank.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Will help you avoid frequent runs to the ink shop.
What is the constant problem that you face from a printer? The correct answer is ink. Most printers come with a fairly small ink tank that just has a capacity to hold 11-15 ml of pigment. This problem has been solved in a brilliant printer from Epson called the L100. Built for users who want high quality prints without having to scurry around for new ink cartridges every now and then, the L100 can print over 6,000 colour pages without a cartridge change. This printer comes with 70 ml black and colour ink cartridges that are not likely to run dry any time soon. This large ink tank is fitted on the side of the printer. This does make the printer look bulky, but then that is the price one has to pay for continuous ink supply. The print quality is superb for both home and office use and the picture sharpness remains intact. This machine squirts out 22 pages per minute in draft black mode and 12 pages per minute in draft colour. It supports a max resolution of 5760 x 1440 DPI for A4 paper. In all honesty, the L100 is a printer well worth the price you pay for it.

SAMSUNG S22A300B : Led All The Way

Price: Rs 9,400
Specs: 22-inch LED screen; 53 mm slim; Full HD 1080P; 1000:1 contrast ratio; 5 ms response time; DVI, VGA ports.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Eco-friendly, affordable and efficient monitor.

After the successful launch of LED TVs, Samsung has now launched LED computer monitors to woo the India consumers. Coded A300B, this monitor measures a good 22 inches diagonally. Being LED, it consumes lesser energy than normal: 23 watts when working and 0.3 watts in standby. What also appeal is its super slim frame.
The overall design is very attractive and you can use it around house or at work. Samsung has taken special care to ensure excellent performance with this monitor. It provides vivid colours with deep blacks, helped by the 1000:1 contrast ratio. The screen's 16:9 aspect ratio is best for playing games and watching hidef movies. However, there is no HDMI support. Instead, you get DVI and VGA ports at the back. These support Full HD 1080P graphics. The 5 ms response time keeps ghosting low while gaming or watching HD movies. Samsung has certainly raised the bar with this monitor-at a great price too.


Price: Rs 8,999
 Specs: Full HD 1080P; USB pen drive, HDD support; Wi-Fi, Ethernet HDMI, Component ports.
 BAG IT OR JUNK IT? A feature-rich media player.

iomega is becoming very aggressive in the multimedia hub segment. Probably this why we see another innovation coming so soon from that camp. Its latest media hub, called Screenplay TV Link DX, is a new sort, one that converts your television into a multimedia monster. The looks are very similar to the rest of the Screenplay series but what this one has that others don't is a full QWERTY keypad. Yes, a QWERTY keypad is supplied with this multimedia player for easy Internet browsing. Access is facilitated by Ethernet or Wi-Fi through the supplied Wi-Fi adaptor. All the popular movie, music and pictures formats are supported, including h.264, DivX, JPEG and MP4. To connect the Link DX to the latest TV sets, iomega has included an HDMI port as well as a component port. You will also find two USB ports that can connect both pen drives as well as external hard drives. This is a good player for people looking for PC alternatives.

FUJIFILM HS20 EXR: Mixed Picture

 Price: 26 999
Specs: 16 MP CMOS sensor; 30X optical zoom; 3-inch swivel LCD; 12800 ISO; 1080P video; 730 gm
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Very good for pictures, but not so much for videos.
Fujifilm's HS20 EXR is a good upgrade over the last version of the camera, but it does have its drawbacks. But first, the good. The HS20 EXR has a 16 MP CMOS sensor built around a 30 X optical zoom lens. The design is decent, with well-placed keys for various functionalities. The 3-inch LCD swivel screen is brilliant. The camera has an on-board flash as well as a shoe to attach larger flashes. The picture quality is good at low zoom levels but loses sharpness at high zooms .

This brings us to the bad. Being a super zoom camera, you would expect image stabilisation to kick in nicely. But it fails at high zooms. Also as it has a manual zoom too, the lens does not move as smoothly as one would like. It has a ho-hum 1080P videos, while the auto focus is a struggle as well. Overall this camera excites you and then leaves you a bit disappointed at the end. While the pictures are great, the videos are not as good. The numerous picture modes are a plus but then pulling them off at high zoom is a herculean task.

AMD A8 3850: Boost For Basic Computing
Price: Rs 6900 Specs: 2.9 GHz, four cores; 4 MB L2 cache; Radeon 6550D graphics; 600 Mhz GPU.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Good news for entry-level computing.

AMD has launched another APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), which is a combination of CPU and graphics processor on one chip. What is the good news is that this one if for entry-level desktops. People who are on the lookout for cheaper but powerful options for their desktops can get the new A8 3850. This chip has four processing cores which gives day-to-day work an adrenaline shot. This processor is quite quick, can handle multiple windows and programs efficiently-and, best of all, can game well too.
You would not need an additional graphics card for your visual needs once this is installed. Though it is not as powerful as a standalone GPU, it does manage to play latest games decently. For all you casual gamers out there, this is something that you could eye. On the test bench it did fine. It scored 3750 on the PC Mark Vantage test and a 4210 on the 3D Mark 06. Clocking at 2.9 GHz with 4 MB L2 cache, this is a good contender in the entry-level PC segment.

2011 FORD FIESTA: Feast On This

 Price: Rs 10.42 lakh
Specs: 1.5 litre diesel engine; 90 PS @ 3750 RPM power; 15-inch alloy wheels; 430-litre boot; 43 L fuel tank;CD player, USB, AUX; ABS, EBD;Front airbags
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Aggressive pricing from rivals might give the Fiesta a rough ride.

Ford's new Fiesta is a car that demands attention. The looks are global-the front greets you with a smile and the side curve across the body. However, the rear does not complement the front fully. A larger back lamp and maybe a spoiler would have done the trick. But all said and done, the back does hide a very cavernous with 430 litres of space. We tested the top-of-the-line1.5 Diesel Titanium+ model that has the works. There are great gizmotics inside for the driver, a full numeric keypad to dial phone numbers, for instance. It also has Bluetooth to connect your mobile phone with the in-car entertainment. It has a USB and Aux ports for music playback.

The speakers placed around the cabin ensure there is enough boom for everyone in the car. The most impressive feature has to be the voicecontrol system. Press the speak button and bark out the commands; you can manage everything from audio playback to the climate control AC. This model comes with cruise control and rear parking sensors. Being diesel, the car is not as quiet as the petrol version, but the noise is bearable. The Fiesta is almost a rocket. It can launch in a split second and leave everyone else biting the macadam dust. The gear shift is not super smooth but is better than the Figo's. The power steering is by far the best in this category of cars. It gives immense control to the driver with a short turning radius of 5.2 metres. The driver also gets a large single-colour display screen on the dash and a smaller one on the speedometer console. Only the price goes against it.

SATGUIDE 4.3 NAVI: Commonman's Navigator

 Price: 6,490 Specs: 4.3-inch resistive display; 64 MB RAM; 128 MB memory, expandable to 8GB; 850 mAh battery; 198 gm
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? It's affordable and a good road pointer.
Stand-alone navigators never got their share of success in the Indian market. After we saw the launch of a few mid-segment navigators in the recent past, SatGuide has now come up with one for a common man. By that we mean it is affordably priced at Rs 6,490. Its name specifies the display size of the device. The big 4.3-inch display is good enough to see details of the maps from a distance.
 But this is a resistive touch display and cannot be operated with fingers. A small stylus is hidden on the side corner that makes typing and browsing relatively simpler. The device manages a connection with a satellite in less than a minute. By Searching for points of interest or street on the map, you can preview a route and follow the voice guidance. The performance of the navigator often depends on how quickly it can recalculates the route in case of a wrong turn-and this one impressed us with its quick thinking. Considering the 850 mAh battery, we were a bit skeptical about the power backup but ut managed to stay active for quite a long trip. Also, essentials such as car charger and navigator stand are included in the box. Other than navigation, you can also store images, songs and videos on this navigator.

 Price: Rs  590
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? An innovative, easy-to-use and flaunt-ready flashlight

mosimageTill date you must have used disposable or rechargeable batteries in your flash light. How about using a battery that runs on water? Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Japan-based Aqua Power System has come up with the environment-friendly NoPoPo water power battery. The odd-sounding Nopopo actually stands for No Pollution Power. Remembered for introducing a battery that worked on urine four years ago, Aqua Power has upgraded it to be powered by clean water. The Nopopo LED Flashlight comes with two battery cells. Each has two openings on the top side (+). By inserting the nozzle of the pipette provided, you can fill the battery with water. Once done, you only need to slide the battery into the flashlight and it starts working. Each refill of around 1 ml water lasts close to 6 hours. And in case of emergency, when there's no water around, these batteries can be powered using any alcoholic beverages, beer, cola, urine or even saliva. Made of aluminium, the flashlight is powered by an LED bulb that provides average illumination. While the batteries are waterproof, the body of the flashlight isn't. In addition to the hydropowered batteries, the torch light also works on the regular AA battery.

Price:  Rs 64,900
Specs: 21.5-inch screen; Intel Core i5 Quad core 2.5 GHz; 4 GB RAM; 500 GB HDD; AMD Radeon 6750M graphics; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt, USB 2.0 ports; Wireless keyboard and mouse.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? The iMac premium value is high, but then so is its utility value.

Apple's iMacs have sported the same form factor for a few years now. But they continue to be attractive. Made of aluminium, this 2011 edition of the iMac is quite the machine. The beautiful outer layer incorporates a 21.5-inch LED screen which is powered by AMD Radeon 6750 mobile graphics processor. Sadly, it does not come with a Blu-ray player, only a DVD slot. However, one can play downloaded HD content in its full beauty. The speakers are neatly hidden under the screen. These speakers are loud but not very clear at high volume. At the back you find a couple of USB 2.0, Firewire and the new Thunderbolt ports. The last allows users to connect external memory drives and transfer data at much higher speeds. The innards have seen a major facelift. The iMac now comes with the 2nd generation SandyBridge Intel Quad Core i5 processor 2.5 GHz, a 4 GB DDR3 RAM and a 500 GB (7200 rpm) hard drive.

When we put it on the rack, it returned a remarkable score of 227.21 points in Cinebench. Application-wise there is not much added to the laptop. Facetime supplements chatting with friends and family on other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 or iPad 2. Older applications include the famous Garage Band, iMovie and iPhoto softwares. The earlier Bluetooth wireless keyboard has been retained. So has the wireless magic mouse. Apple has not given the iMac much of a physical surgery, but within they have replaced the old with the new. The price has also come down but might pinch some buyers.

 Price: Rs 12,999
Specs: 7-inch display; Android v2.3; 800 MHz processor; 512 MB RAM; 8 GB onboard memory, 32GB expandable; 3400 mAh battery. BAG IT OR JUNK IT? With its smart pricing, the tablet will have many buyers.

The 7-inch Reliance 3G tablet, which costs Rs 12,999, would make you wonder why you should spend Rs 25,000 on a tablet. Besides its capacitive display, the Reliance tablet comes with 512 MB RAM, 800 MHz processor, Android v2.3, Wi-Fi, 3G connectivity and a 3400 mAh battery. It has the specs, but does it perform? Manufactured by ZTE in China, the Reliance machine weighs 389 gm, is comfortable to hold and easy to operate. While it runs on Android, the unlock screen looks different, with notifications for email, message and pending notifications. A small row of apps appear at the bottom with icons for home, dialler, phonebook, message and email that remains static even while accessing the application launcher. Replacing the interface with Launcher Pro gave it a regular Android feel and quick access. While typing, the onscreen QWERTY keypad in portrait mode was easy to use but it looked stretched and difficult to use in landscape mode.

A Google Account login is a must for access to Android Market, but since it comes from an operator, there is easy access to RWorld Online for content related to music, cricket, start talk, mobile health, etc. The preloaded set of apps include Google services such as Gmail, YouTube, Gtalk, Search, along with Twitter, Face book, Documents To Go (reader) and Orkut. Web browsing on the speedy 3G was good, as was the audio. Video playback was average. A 3 MP fixed focus camera and a VGA shooter are present. The tab can be used for calling but only over speaker or a Bluetooth headset. It lags in providing only 8 GB of memory The battery lasted a day with normal usage, including mails, Net and multimedia on 3G.

 Price: Rs 2,500
Specs: 4 USB ports; 1.2 m power cord length; 0.34kg; 3.2-5.7 (H) X 15.9 (L) X 21.6 (W) cm dimensions.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? An investment of Rs 2,500 is worth the experience.

The minute you see Belkin's Conserve Valet, you know it is perfect for home or office. Elegant yet stylish, the Conserve Valet is designed like a small raised platform. The top of the Valet is a flat surface in black with a push button. Below the surface is a casing with USB ports and a power-connection jack. This simple device can be used to charge up to four gadgets at the same time-and occupying one one power socket. But you have to attach your gadgets to it with a data cable, not the regular chargers. Thankfully, all phones/tablets/music players now come with data cables. Simply plug in the Valet to the socket, connect the gadget using the cable to any of the four USB ports and press the button.

The gadget will automatically start charging. You can place your devices on the platform while charging. Along with the convenience it provides, the Valet also comes across as an environment-friendly device. Unlike regular chargers that consume power if left plugged to the wall, this has an auto shut feature. Once your device is fully charged, Valet stops drawing power from the main line. Thus, it avoids consumption of those extra units of energy. Tip: We spied around 20 per cent discount on the Valet on online shopping portals. Keep an eye out.

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