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New and strong

This diesel version of the Corolla Altis has the style and performance to satiate the class-conscious users.

Sulabh Puri | November 19, 2010 | Updated 12:07 IST

We didn't see much action in the mid-level segment of sedans in the past one year or so. Toyota and Volkswagen probably were the only ones who created some buzz. Toyota did so by bringing in a new variant of Corolla Altis, its ever-popular sedan. The new Altis sibling thrives on diesel.

Priced a bit high, this upgrade brings in several interesting and also some not-sointeresting features on board. Externally, not much has changed compared to the petrol version. The only noticeable change is the new front grill to jazz up the old look. The interiors are comfortable. The driver gets the manual height adjustment option though it is not electronically operated. The wooden steering wheel looks luxurious and grips well, but the wood-look plastic that adorns the space below the CD changer mars the overall feel of the interiors. The car has sufficient passenger space. The rear passenger might have to struggle a bit but only if a really tall person is in the driving seat. Otherwise, both the front and rear passengers get adequate space so as not to cramp their legs.

Driving was fun. The car was stable and we never felt the sense of being out of control, no matter what the speed was. The manual gearbox yields easily to a push and as soon as you hit the first gear, the car swoops off. In other words, it is perfect for both city and highway driving.

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No USB? No worry?
If you still own the old CRT TV or an LCD without a USB port, here's a multimedia hub from Seagate. The Freeagent Go Flex may not be a looker- its plain and not-so solid body does not entice-but it has everything that you look for in the multimedia hubs, HD output and support for most of the common audio and video formats,for instance.

It is the regular plug-andplay hub; you need not prepare to use it by installing a software. You can connect and access content from two devices connected to the USB. Besides the regular Composite and Component ports, it also has ports for HDMI and Ethernet.

It read almost all the formats we threw at it. Although the supplied remote made browsing through the multimedia content and Web fun, the icons displayed on the screen were way too small for comfort. And strangely there was no option to change their size. Don't expect it to be as speedy as your DVD players are. The hub takes a few seconds to respond to key presses. Multiple presses at one go, in all probability, will hang the system.

In tune with TVs
Multimedia hubs, those innovative offerings from WD and Seagate, made life a lot easier for those who were saddled with old tech. Like a magic box, a hub mysteriously transforms your CRT idiot box into a smart one that plays content from USB devices. The newest is Apacer's AL670, a smart all-in-one HD multimedia player.

The AL670 sports a simple yet modern look. It has two USB ports to connect two pen drives or hard disks simultaneously. It also has an Ethernet port. If you are wondering what use an Ethernet port is in a multimedia hub then you should know that it powers streaming directly from the Web. But you do require a hispeed Internet connection otherwise the experience could prove frustrating.

These days some of the latest slim TVs, like Sony Bravia and VU Intelligent TV, have this feature built-in. And those who lack it can make use of this cute attachment for some movie and music magic.

Bag it or junk it?
Must buy for CRT owners or people who want to stream movies/videos from the web on their HD-ready CRT.

Apacer AL670 media player
Price: Rs 6,500

Specs: Full HD support; 2 USB; Ethernet ports; HDMI; Composite; Component; MP3/WAV /MPEG4/FLV support; 4:3/16:9 aspect ratio support

-Sulabh Puri

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