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Yes HD, No 3D

Sulabh Puri and twitter-logoNidhi Singal         Print Edition: September 2011

CASIO XJ M255
CASIO XJ M255
Price: Rs 99,995
Specs: Image projection up to 300 inches; 3000 Lumens brightness; 1800:1 contrast ratio; DLP projection; Keystone correction; 3D, USB, Wi-Fi; Ethernet, HDMI; 0.4 W standby power; 3.9 kg

Bag It Or Junk It? The HD is alluring, but forget the 3D.

Casio has a premium range of projectors that are much slimmer than most of their kind. Take the flagship model from Casio's Signature range. Most projectors are bland box-type machines. The XJ M255 is too-with a difference. It is attractively designed to be the perfect projector for your home-theatre set-up.

The 3D Bump: Yes, the XJ M255 is 3D ready and on paper has all the capabilities to astound: it not only projects 3D images, but it can also convert 2D signals into 3D. In operation, however, the 3D is not so great. The images are not sharply defined chromatically in 3D, more so in fastaction scenes. The glasses too are bulky and irritate after a little while. The projector has HDMI support but 3D is not supported in that mode. To see 3D, therefore, you have to scale down to standard composite mode.

Hurrah For Hi-Definition: Disappointed with the XJ M255's USP-3D imaging-we did not expect much from the other aspects. So we were unprepared for the brilliance that flooded our walls when we streamed HD signals from a DTH connection to the projector. It is mind-boggling brilliant. The projected pictures were superb and retained the colour and clarity of the original. The on-board mono speaker is extraordinarily pleasant for regular TV and movies. At the back of the machine are all the ports you would need for home or office projection. While it is essentially an office device, we wouldn't mind lugging it home to see Virender Sehwag taking the English bowlers to task. Just for the HD, this projector will win many points.

Final Words: The XJ M255 has an Ethernet port but also comes with a USB wireless dongle for Wi-Fi. The full function remote is very handy. The XJ M255 does get a little hot, so keep it at a comfortable distance. Minus this and the 3D experience, it is one projector that will not disappoint at home or office.

FUJIFILM T200
FUJIFILM T200

Price: Rs 10,999
Specs: 14 MP sensor; 10X optical zoom; 3200 ISO; 2.7 inch LCD; 72
Bag It Or Junk It? High megapixel rating, good zoom, great pictures.

Feature Rich: Over the past few years we have seen the gap between compact cameras and prosumer cameras closing. Most compact cameras have picked up prosumer features such as demanding shooting modes and higher optical zooms. One such example is Fujifilm's latest production, the T200. It is a powerful 14 MP camera with a lens capable of 10X zoom. With the lens shut, the camera neatly tucks into a 28.8 mm frame. The designing is fresh and seems inspired by a DSLR camera. On the picture making front, this camera is not bad either.

It can take good shots in normal as well low light. Its macro photos are the best. It also comes equipped with a new panorama mode. Instead of clicking and then panning trying to find the correct edges, this camera uses a "plus" pointer. All you have to do is move a plus icon to the right or left of the screen and fit it into the plus base to capture the next shot; leave the rest to the camera. The T200 can also record movies in 720P AVIs. These are not very sharp and the colours look a bit faded. But overall, this camera has some of the latest features incorporated in a compact.

CORSAIR HS1A
CORSAIR HS1A

Price: Rs 4,200
Specs: 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response; 50 mm drivers; 32 Ohms impedance at 1kHz; Microphone; 3-metre cable with audio control
Bag It Or Junk It? A lavish headphone that will have gaming geeks gleeful.

Game Ready: Corsair had till now been a company providing superb RAM modules and power supply. Now the company seems to have increased its base by foraying into new sectors. It has come out with a headphone for gaming aficionados. We must hand it to Corsair for making an extremely good looking headphone. It uses 50 mm drivers within a soft cushioned circular chamber. This provides both comfort and keeps the external noise at bay.

The headphone comes with an extra pair of foam bands, which can replace the already fitted ones when they get worn out. Hook the headphone on and hear it roar. The sound is nastily nice. The audio is perfect for gaming and you would know exactly where the enemy is approaching from. For convenient team chats, Corsair has attached a flexible microphone to the left speaker. If you are a bit of a music lover as well, then you need not buy another pair of headphones. The HS1A will provide the correct resonance for all your musical needs as well. In other words, the Corsair HS1A is a treat for everyone.

CANON HF R205
CANON HF R205

Price: Rs 22,995
Specs: 18X optical zoom; 3-inch touchscreen; 3.28 MP sensor; Dual SD card slots; Mini HDMI port; 270 gm.
Bag It Or Junk It? Efficient, no-fuss machine.

Natural Colours: Finally, here is a new range of HD video cameras from Canon's factories. The stalwart of the collection is the R205, which records full HD videos on SD cards-actually two SD cards. If you flip the screen, you will find twin SD card slots that can accommodate up to 64 GB memory. Because the R205 employs SD cards and not other media, it manages to keep both its size and weight low. The looks of the camcorder are excellent. While the grip is comfortable, the operation buttons are big and easily accessible. The 3-inch LCD touch screen is first-class for previewing videos. It shows colours as naturally seen by the naked eye. The R205 can record almost six hours of 1080P hi-definition video on a single 64 GB card.

It has optical zoom of 18X, with a provision for 25X as advanced zoom. However, we recommend a maximum of 18X since any more adds noise to the video. The optics are efficient and record clear HD moving pictures. The electronic image stabilisation also works very well and reduces the tremors normal at high zoom. This is a good HD camcorder for a very reasonable price. But don't forget, you need to spend a bit more on the extra memory.

Netgear Neo TV550
DO-IT-ALL FOR A PRICE

Media players are quickly becoming an alternative to DVD players. DVD players ruled because of their lower prices. But they are now facing competition from media players, which are coming with more new features. Here are two media hubs that perform well enough, but are they bargains?

Netgear Neo TV550
Price: Rs 14,649
Specs: Full HD support; 2 USB ports; HDMI, Ethernet; Component, E-Sata; JPEG, WMA; H.264 playback
Bag It Or Junk It? A couple of thousand rupees less would've been attractive.

Netgear has launched a pricey but stylish media player to please the consumer. The Neo TV550 is a player that can do it all. But first the looks. The build is sturdy though it is not spectacular. The front has USB and SD card slots and the rear stores the other ports such as HDMI, Ethernet and component.

The bright part about this media hub is that it can stream movies and music from the Internet. Just connect it to your Net router and you are good to go. This HDTV ready device displays beautiful images and video. Most popular audio and video formats are supported. These are all great features-but the asking price is a little too much.

Onida NexS Media Player
Price: Rs 6,490
Specs: Full HD support; 2 USB port, HDMI, Ethernet; JPEG, WMA, MPEG 4; H.264 playback.
Bag It Or Junk It? The NexS has good features, but still costs more than others.

Onida, the latest entrant in the media player segment, gives us NexZ, which has neat looks, clean lines and a glossy shell. This media player sports two USB ports which can connect two external drives. It can play Full HD content as well as popular formats like MPEG4. H.264 is also supported.

Users can also connect it to an HDTV using HDMI and stream 1080P movies, music files and pictures. Using the Ethernet port, the NexS can be attached to a PC or notebook for streaming shared media. Overall, NexS has the features that one expects of a good media player. However, the price is a point of concern-similar media players are available for less.

Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i7
Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i7

Price: Rs 21,600
Specs: 4 cores; 3.4 GHz clock speed; 8 MB cache; Graphics on board

Core Competency: We gave Intel's Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor a hard time, and it did not baulk. Coded 2600K, this processor is the latest off the die. It is impressively quick on the charts and can do just about anything. It has a quadcore structure, which eases the multi-tasking experience. It also has a unit that takes care of graphical performance on the PC. This not only avoids the need for an additional graphics card, but also lowers power consumption. Put to the test, it scored an excellent 12,000 points on PC Mark Vantage. This score indicates extremely good performance for everything, no matter what your PC is used for-gaming, video editing, graphical animations or just HD movies playback.

The Sandy Bridge Core i7 clocks at 3.8 GHz and has an 8 MB cache. Intel HD Graphics 3000 works at 850 MHz base frequency. Not everyone can afford this chip since it is priced at a premium. If your money can't buy you this, take a look at the less costlier Intel i5 processors.

SONY WALKMAN E363
SONY WALKMAN E363

Price: Rs 4,990
Specs: 4 GB storage; 2-inch LED screen; 30 hours audio playback; 4 hours video playback; 2 hours full charge time; FM, voice recording.
Bag It Or Junk It? A good bargain

Sony is out with yet another MP3 player to woo the first time buyer. Yes, the entry-level segment is flooded with manufacturers, but Sony is the king here. The new E series walkman MP3 player is another great product from the Japanese company. The design is very similar to the rest of the E series Walkmans and has similar edges and play buttons. Since the last generation, though, the buttons have grown a bit larger. A major difference is in the availability of a new pearl white colour -  you can be sure this gives the E363 an edge.

This MP3 player has 4GB memory on board and can play MP3s, movies and pictures on its 2-inch screen (a tad small for movies, wouldn't you say?) It is fine for basic videos. The audio, though, leaves nothing to complain about. The high and low tones are clearly audible. FM works great and one can record over 60 hours of voice. The battery gets charged in two hours with an option of a fast 80 per cent charge in just 45 minutes. E363 is a good looking MP3 player for music lovers. Video enthusiasts look somewhere else.

Motorola Xoom 3G
MOTOROLA'S XFACTOR

Motorola Xoom 3G
Price: Rs 39,990
Specs: Android Honeycomb; 10.1-inch touch screen; 32 GB memory; 1 GHz processor; 1 GB RAM, 3G, Wi-Fi; 5 MP rear, 2 MP front camera; 730 gm
Bag It Or Junk It? A good tablet, except for its asking price.

We saw this well chiselled piece of art displayed in the Motorola booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Lag Vegas in January. At the time, the Xoom was still in the prerelease stage. Now the butterfly has left its cocoon to show the world its beautiful wings. There is plenty of action in this tablet. But first let's talk about its design.The build is superior and so it looks much better than the plastic hugging metallookalike tablets out there.

Silver anodised aluminium makes up most of its rear. Also at the back, you will find a 5 MP camera with dual LED flash, the first of its types. But what is this? The power button is located next to the camera. That's an unusual place for a power button. Not that one is complaining because it does not make much of a difference or blemish the beauty. The Xoom's curved sides give it a much slimmer look. The sides also hold the audio keys, SIM slot and connectivity ports. The front has a large 10.1-inch WXGA 720P screen that can make most of its competitors blush away in shame. It also has a 2 MP front camera for video chatting.

Powered by 1 GHz dual core processor and with 1 GB RAM, the Xoom runs the Honeycomb version of Android and is, therefore, faster and has a friendlier user interface. Users get five home screens which can handle all the widgets and applications. This is the 32 GB version which has Wi-Fi and 3G. Unlike in the iPad, you need not instal a micro SIM card for 3G. It can hold the regular 3G SIM. Multi-touch works well and navigation is easy. But what really takes the cake is the entertainment features. HD Videos looks exceptionally beautiful and don't even get us started on the gaming. The Android store has thousands of apps and games for the Xoom. Clicking pictures and videos is an easy job as well. The battery lasts for about two weeks when in standby. Xoom is a great tablet, but pricing could be a damper.


JABRA STONE 2
JABRA STONE 2
Price: Rs 7,999
Specs: Lightweight; Charging dock; Leather finish; Voice commands; quick charging.
Bag It Or Junk It? A stylish, feature-rich headset worth flaunting.

Soft On The Ears: Among the new affordable Bluetooth headsets available in the market is Jabra's Stone 2, a stylish looking, unique accessory. The lightweight, comma shaped headset has a textured finish. While it has a physical (multifunctional) key placed at the bottom to control most of the features, including power off/on, call answer/reject, and other activities, the volume control is located in the centre of the headset. The battery and connected status indicators are placed at the back. The headset comes accompanied by a pebble-shaped charging dock that makes it comfortable to carry around.

But the basic idea behind the dock is to provide charging on the move. According to the company's claim, the Stone 2 can be given a quick charge in 20 minutes that will power the headset for 10 hours.

Voice command is an important feature of this headset. For every incoming call, it reads out the number and the user can respond by saying "yes" or "no". It notifies when a call is ended. One drawback: the Stone 2 can be worn only on the right ear.


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