TABLET WITH AN ADVANTAGE
ASUS EEE TRANSFORMER T101G
Price: RS 43,000
Specs: 10.1-inch display; Keyboard dock; Android Honeycomb; 2 USB ports, 1 HDMI mini connector; 16 GB onboard memory, expandable; 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; 5 MP camera; Combined weight 1.4 kg.
Tablets are the rage today, rapidly eating into the netbook market. While they are convenient, it is often annoying to have to type out long documents on the onscreen keyboard. Asus has cleverly added a keyboard dock to its 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablet powered by a 1GHz dual core processor that enhances its overall utility. Named the EEE Transformer, the tablet has been designed in two parts.
The 10.1-inch tab measures 12.9 mm thick with a textured panel at the back. Good enough for stand-alone use, it supports a capacitive touch display and has almost all controls on the side panel including the SIM slot, micro SD slot, volume controls, mini HDMI connector and 3.5mm jack. Only the charging port is covered when connected to the dock, though the dock itself has a charging port. In addition, the dock has two USB ports and a well-spaced QWERTY keypad with shortcuts for Wi-Fi, brightness, browser, search, etc. While it weighs 640 gm, the keyboard adds around 750 gm to the total weight, which would be about what a netbook weighs. The Transformer runs on Android and not the regular Windows, so users might take time getting used to it. It managed to give us 12 hours of battery backup when connected to the dock and seven hours otherwise.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? A beautiful hybrid that is let down by its price tag.-Nidhi SingalSWEEP OFF THE TABLEMILAGROW TABTOP PC
Price: Rs 25,000 (approx.)
Specs: 8-inch display; 2 MP camera; 16GB onboard, expandable memory; Wi-Fi; SIM card slot, USB, HDMI; 5000 mAh battery.
Android tablets are flooding the market and the latest one to join the bandwagon is the Milagrow TabTop PC, an 8-inch tablet on Android v2.3. With the broad textured bezel running around the display, this TabTop PC does not have the looks to flaunt. The curved body at the back has a very plastic feel. Most of the controls are on the side panels. The left has volume controls, back and option key, while the right is cluttered with on/off slider, HDMI, USB, mini USB port, memory card slot, SIM card slot and a 3.5 mm jack. Even with a 1.2 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM, this tablet takes ages to boot.
But once it powers up, it manages most tasks without further delay. The customised skin of the TabTop isn't very impressive. With the home key placed on the left top, the application launcher is at the bottom right. Four shortcuts can be added towards the right edge that stays static on any homescreen. Along with regular consumers, Milagrow is trying to target professionals including in hospitals, schools, etc. for which plenty of apps have been preloaded on this device. The battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh didn't last long. And at times, it failed to power up fully after a night of charging.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? It may make sense to invest in a better tablet that this TabTop PC.-Nidhi SingalQUICK CHECKBRAUN THERMOSCAN 3
Price: Rs 2,500
Specs: 3V lithium battery; 11 disposable lens filters; 1-sec reading time; Last temperature record
Using a thermometer with feverish babies is an action fraught with risks. The cranky youngsters could well damage them or hurt themselves. For such occasions, there is the Thermoscan 3 from Braun that is specially designed for infants. The compact ear thermometer has a sleek nozzle that goes into the baby's ear and reads the temperature. As infants are sensitive, Braun has taken care not to having a pointed tip. For hygiene's sake, they have a replaceable plastic cup, called "lens filter", to cover the nozzle after every reading.
Considering how delicate and fidgety children can be, the company has ensured that the reading takes only a second, and not a lingering minute like normal. The procedures for using it for infants and for kids above a year old are different. For infants, the parents have to grasp the outer edge of the ear and pull it straight back to clear the way for the device. For others, pulling the outer edge of the ear upwards works fine. Then take the Thermoscan close to the ear and push the start button. It automatically turns off if not in use for 60 seconds. Although the readings were mostly accurate, it did differ at times when compared with the concurrent thermometer readings taken of an adult. The pack contains only 11 disposable lens filters that exhausts quickly during flu season. The only relief is that these filters are easily available at the chemist shops.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Have an infant in the house? Get the Braun Thermoscan 3.-Nidhi SingalSHED SOME WEIGHTACER ASPIRE S3
Price: Rs 50,999 + tax
Specs: 13.3-inch HD display; Intel i5 1.6 GHz processor; 4 GB RAM; 320 GB dard drive with SSD; Windows 7 Home Premium; 2 USB port; 1 HDMI port.
When Intel developed the Ultrabook, the first company to take up the project was Acer. The ultra thin notebook is out now. It betters the MacBook Air with its 0.51-0.68 inch thickness. And don't miss the 13.3-inch display, metal casing and the placement of the keypad and the navigation pad. Not surprisingly, the navigation pad controls the cursor. In order to achieve the slim form factor, Acer has moved the Aspire's two USB ports, 1 HDMI port and the power jack to the back.
This is not only inconvenient to access but also uncomfortable when charging or when a pen drive is connected. Along with Windows 7 Home, Acer has packed in an Intel i5 1.6GHz processor, 4 GB RAM and 320 GB storage. The display is bright and watching videos and images is a breeze. Dolby Home Theater v4 is onboard for a great sound experience. Also, the laptop did not heat up much. The company claims the three-cell 3,280 mAh battery lasts for over six hours. However, on above average use, its life was closer to five hours.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Affordable and very very slim.-Nidhi SingalPERFECT PROJECTIONPORTRONICS SMART PROJECTOR
Price: Rs 27,990
Specs: 30 lumens brightness; 1.5 W in-built speaker; 8 GB onboard memory, expandable; 80-inch max projection; 150 gm weight.
A portable projector isn't something most of us would carry around-but ask a corporate professional what it means to him and you will admire its utility. The Portronics Smart Projector can easily squeeze into the corner of the laptop bag. It has the controls and navigation pad on the top and comes with a tiny but sturdy tripod. The Android-run device can play files in various formats, including PowerPoint, PDF, Word and Excel. We also played movies and songs in most of the formats. With 30 lumen brightness, it produced acceptably sharp projection.
The projection ranges from a minimum of 7 inches to a maximum of 80 inches. Also, it can also be used for browsing the web by connecting over WiFi, only make sure the language option is correct. The 1.5 W inbuilt speaker had enough audio power for presentations in a small room without the need for additional speakers. The battery was good enough to last 70 minutes on a single charge. The gadget comes with 8 GB internal memory and supports a 16 GB memory card.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Certainly a smart, useful and afforable projector.-Nidhi SingalTHE IMAGE KEEPERSSP CLASS 10 SDHC MEMORY CARD 32 GB
Price: Rs 2,500
Not very fancy looking, the Armor A80, a portable hard drive from Taipei-based Silicon Power, is nevertheless well suited to Indian conditions. It is dust-proof first of all, resists liquid spills and is certified shockproof to US military standards (for one, it can survive falls on concrete floors from a height of about 1.5 m-we didn't try to corroborate this). But the A80's strength is its read/write speeds. We plugged it in (two convenient USB links are provided) and a huge cache of data was transferred within no time. With its USB 3.0 interface, the transfer rate promises to touch super speeds, making it an efficient medium for toing-and-froing gigs and gigs of information between devices.
Even with USB 2.0, it offers a write speed of 480 MB/second. It is, thus, a good aide for computer users. It also comes accompanied by the SP Widget, which allows syncing and back-up of data, encryption of information and anti-virus protection-though admittedly only for a trial period. Silicon Power's Class 10 SDHC card too is a quick worker and is especially meant for use with cameras. Prolonged use of continuous shots in a DSLR did not deter the card from recording the pixel data that was being created in quick time. At no time, did it lag even when taxed with a string of images of 6-8 MB, each clicked in micro-seconds' succession. And with 32 GB of storage space, it is a great help to both professionals and amateurs.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Both the Armor A80 and SDHC card thrive on speed of operations.-Nidhi Singal and Joel RaiTOUCH TO CONTROLWACOM BAMBOO FUN PEN & TOUCH
Price: Rs 13,500
Specs: 337 x 223 x 8.5 (mm); 4 express keys; 1024 pen pressure; Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Corel Painter; Essential lifetime license.
For creative minds, Wacom has come up with a new range of Bamboo tablets. The one we tested was the Fun Pen & Touch, the highend sibling among the three. Sleek to look at and comfortable to place on the lap, it isn't, however, the most compact. But the playful use of Green colour on the black base makes this Wacom look classy. Four physical controls have been placed to the left of the Bamboo, while the stylus itself has the left and right click functions. With a pen-active area of 217 x 137 mm and various pressure levels for the stylus, it is a good help to graphics people.The back of the pen can be used as an eraser.
Existing Wacom users won't find it difficult to upgrade but might take some time to get used to the touch gestures that allows them to swipe, scroll, double click, etc. If they don't find it comfortable to use, they can happily turn off the touch mode. But in our experience, this great feature was hampered by the average touch response. Also, the connectivity cable is only 1.5 m long and falls short of the CPU if it is placed at a distance.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Go for smaller graphics tablets or else spend a bit more and get the Intuos 4.-Nidhi Singal and Joel RaiROUTE GUIDE
TOMTOM VIA 120
Price: Rs 17,000
Specs: 4.3-inch display; Indian language support; over 5,000 Indian cities; landmark navigation; 183 gm.
Personal navigation devices don't excite us because of their sameness. So, TomTom's latest is a welcome change. The Via 120 uses matte-finished plastic to give it a royal feel. With not even a single control visible on the front, it only has a stylish power key and a charging port at the back. And no car mounts for this, only a sleek, adjustable neck. The charging cable too has a curved end that goes well with the overall design. Unlike other players, this TomTom is a no-frills navigator. It straightaway loads the map window, no primping around with options such as maps, music, videos, photos and ebook.
It is also efficiently quick in establishing a connect with the satellites. While keying in the location, we could select our destination using the locality, city or even the pin code. As we keyed in our destination, it helped by prompting the possible locations we are looking for. Once done, we could also cross check the route using demo route option. There is also a route correction option that one can access by
syncing the device to the PC. Lastly, while routing, it showed what else lay in the vicinity, a sort of basic know-the-place. Using Bluetooth connectivity we were able to use it as a speaker phone.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Comes at a price but worth the experience.-Nidhi SingalLONG PLAYERPHILIPS GOGEAR RAGA 4GB
Price: Rs 2,999
Specs: : 1-inch diagonal display; 4GB storage; MP3, WAV, WMA, FLAC, APE formats; 24 gm.
Like Apple, Philips too believes in tweaking its designs. Its RaGa, the latest from the GoGear lineup, does not, however, look as good as its predecessors. Indeed, the square shape with striking blue bezel gives it a cheap look. The black front is dominated by the display along with the controls. Songs can be transferred by a simple drag-and-drop action. Philips Songbird syncs the music. The audio quality is loud and clear though there's nothing extraordinary to report. But when we used better quality headsets instead of the pack regulars, there was a noticeable difference. The equaliser comes with some predefined modes, but we loved the custom settings option. Another usual in GoGear is the FM radio. FM recording, a feature commonly seen in cell phones, is present on this music player as well. The scoring points for RaGa are its 22-hour music playback capability and a 5-minute charge for a 90-minute playback. It also comes with a wall charger, unlike other portable media players. It can, therefore, be easily charged anytime, anywhere, even when you don't have a notebook around.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Good at what it does but the design could have been better.-Nidhi SingalVERVE ON THE ROADHONDA BRIO V-MT
Price: Rs 5.1 lakh
Specs: 4 cylinder 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine; 88 PS @ 6000 RPM; 4.5 m turning radius; 150 mm ground clearance; 14-inch wheels; 35 litre fuel tank; Air bags, anti-lock braking system.
True to its name (Brio means vivacity), Honda's new hatchback zips cheerily through traffic, earning admiring looks. It has a sporty design, from its double triangle geometrical sides to the triangle shaped lamps and the only-glass rear. The Brio may look compact but has ample space within.The slim seats are designed in such a way that they are not obstacles when climbing in or getting out. The storage area near the dashboard includes the regular trimmed down glove compartment, front door pockets and three drink holders. Alongside the regular meters, there is the Eco lamp, which brightens when you are driving in an economical manner. It shows the speed as well as the average fuel consumption since the last fuel refill. The top end model that we test drove had an integrated stereo system with FM radio, USB port and auxiliary port.
The stereo controls were located on the steering wheel. With the sufficient foot space in the front, it would seem that Honda would have compromised on the boot space. However, the boot has been designed cleverly by making it deep with enough room to fit in three travel bags. Brio is light and smooth to drive, possibly the result of it having the same electric power steering and engine as the very popular Honda Jazz. The suspensions are good and the ride doesn't shock your vertebras. The gear shift is smoother in comparison with cars in the same segment. The Honda hatch packs in two SRS airbags and anti-lock braking system for safety. On the downside, there is no height adjust for the driver seat, no CD player and the rear power windows look way too old.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? Great looks, spacious interiors and an aggressive price.-Nidhi Singal
FOR FAR AND NEAR
CANON SX40 HS
Price: Rs 29,990
Specs: 12.1 MP CMOS sensor; 2.7-inch LCD panel; 35X optical zoom; Aperture: F2.7-F5.8; ISO 3200; Video 1920 X 1080; Four aspect ratio for images; SD/SDHC/SDXC storage; 600 gm (with battery).
When you consider the price of Canon's new Powershot SX40 HS, you wonder why you should be paying almost a DSLR's price for a digital camera. Then you take the camera around and you realise that the SX40 is indeed worth every paisa you pay for it. Canon's SX cameras used the CCD image sensor. The new one in the series replaces it with a CMOS sensor and this ushers in an awful lot in terms of performance. Experts will tell you that the difference between CCD and CMOS image processing is akin to picture creation on a CRT and LCD monitors.
This fact is perhaps crucial, for the SX40 is no compact digital. Its megapixel rating may just be 12.1, but it comes with an optical zoom of 35X. In 35 mm camera equivalent, this translates into an awesome 24-840 mm zoom. A lens of that capability would be a virtual cannon on a DSLR, but on the SX40, it neatly fits into a body that is small and light, if a tad plasticky. The zoom works superbly and is able to capture distinct images from a great distance away. We had to sometimes use the manual focus to ensure the sharpest image at full 35X zoom, but the results were satisfying. The colour and the sharpness are not compromised by the distance of the subject from the camera.
At the opposite end, the macro shots amazed us as well. When we clicked an ant, for a fleeting second G&G turned into National Geographic with the result; the hairy, toffee translucent ant of gigantic proportions on our computer screen was unlike any we had captured with an ordinary camera. In between, we found the camera capturing a wide swathe of scenes with colour integrity and remarkable sharpness across depths-and all with minimum fuss. From low-light conditions (Diwali afforded a great night-photography ambience) to bright landscapes, this Canon took everything in stride. As we said, the Canon SX40 HS is money well spent.
BAG IT OR JUNK IT? The super zoom is no gimmick - it works and how.-Joel RaiCourtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos