Gadget reviews: Macbook Pro, HTC Legend and more
If you're a gadget freak always on the lookout for the latest gadgets out there or simply like to keep abreast of the hottest gizmos around, this one's for you. Exhibit looks at seven gadgets that are sure to knock your socks off...
The new Macbook Pro
This upgrade is strictly for those whose interest is high-end multimedia. Why? Because the new Macbook Pro series boasts performance and efficiency with faster processor speeds, advanced Nvidia graphics and three hours extra battery time.
However, all this has pushed up the costs by about 50 per cent. If the older Pro line -- the 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 250GB hard drive -- was priced at Rs 72,900, the new Pro line -- the 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M and 320GB hard drive costs almost Rs 1.1 lakh.
But the best part is the level of customisation on offer. For Rs 4,400 more, you can replace the 1440x900 screen with a 1680x1050 panel. If you pay Rs 6,600 more, you get the same resolution but with antiglare.
Coming to ease of use, the previous gen required you to log in and log out between integrated and discrete graphics. But now, courtesy Apple's own Automatic Graphics Switching, it does intelligently. And yes, we agree with Apple, when it says the new MacBook Pro is 'as advanced on the inside as it is stunning on the outside.' Only, it could do with more battery power as advanced graphics work needs a lot more juice.
Price: Rs 1,09,900-1,36,900
NEXT: Olympus Pen EPL-1 camera
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Olympus Pen EPL-1 camera
This is a definite improvement from its predecessors -- the EP-1 and EP-2. For one, there's pop-up flash and Live Guide that allows you to easily change the colour saturation, brightness, and even blurs the background.
And a recent firmware upgrade has upped its auto focus speed as well. What's more, the camera menu includes basic tips on how to photograph children, pets, flowers, food, and composition. Weighing in at 535 gms with card, battery and lens, it's also smaller than the previous PEN models.
It might not have the bigger PEN's polished finish, but it scores in point and shoot photography -- the Intelligent Auto mode analyses the scene by itself and chooses among Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Sport and Macro modes.
Agreed that the mono mic might record the auto focus motor noise, but if you are a serious videographer, you could use the optional SEMA-1 stereo external mic and adapter unit. EPL-1 records AVI movies at 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480 at 30 frames per second.
You could record for seven minutes in HD mode or 14 minutes in VGA. But the best part about this SLR camera is the option to use different lenses. Therefore, if the 14-42mm kit lens isn't your roll of film, you could buy the 7-200mm lens.
And then, there's a new picture mode called iEnhance that picks out a dominant colour in a scene and enhances that one colour so it stands out more. Perfect for capturing nature, be it sunsets, flowers and landscapes. You can take 300 shots per charge. If you shoot more, take an extra battery with you.
Price: Rs 29,999
Image: Olympus Pen EPL-1 camera
An exciting touch tablet netbook that gives you the ultimate in touch technology. It has several features that make it the first of its kind as a mid-range tablet netbook in India. Some of the notable ones include touch controls for logging on and off, reading, editing pictures and listening to music, among others.
You can conveniently use the DirectShare feature, which allows you to synchronise with another netbook without having to connect to the internet. Not only does it have the stylish 180-degree swivel to fold itself, the screen itself is quite sleek.
The whole gadget not only looks trendy but also scores well in performance. What's working in its favour is its super convenient keyboard and 68-watt battery that gives you a neat four hours of usage. Its fingertip touchscreen technology works great for a netbook.
Although there is no integrated optical drive, the specs are still impressive: new Intel Atom N470 1.86Ghz processor, Intel GMA3150 integrated graphics, up to 2GB of RAM and up to 320GB hard drive. With the 'QuickStart 2.0', you can get online in seconds.
For privacy, there's the VeriFace facial recognition technology that recognises your face and logs you in. But if you try to compare it with the iPad, this might not make the cut. To begin with, the interface isn't just as smooth.
Price: Rs 30,740
NEXT: HTC Legend smartphone
Image: IdeaPad S10-3t
HTC Legend smartphone
This 126-gram unibody android smartphone revels in its shiny aluminium armour. With its predecessor Hero's trackball giving way to a more convenient optical joystick, it excels in upping the navigability quotient and longevity. With its 3.2-inch touchscreen display, you can expect clarity of 320x480- pixel resolution, which is good.
You also have the advantage of using your favourite headphones as it has a 3.5mm jack. But what scores most is HTC's 'sense' user interface. These are desktop widgets to help you customise the appearance of your home screen
and browser, among other things. Take the Friend Stream widget that combines Twitter, Facebook and Flickr into one common stream.
And then, there's Leap, which allows access to all the home screens at once. There's more convenience like the volume toning down when you pick up and going silent when face down. The other big pluses include an auto-scanning FM radio, multiple format support (AAC , AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV and WMA) and good call quality at both ends.
However, the 5MP camera and video recorder are no good at night. The speakerphone isn't too loud, the Wi-Fi is weak; and the battery doesn't last longer than a day. Despite the drawbacks, it's a worthy successor to the Hero.
NEXT: Alienware M17x
Image: HTC Legend smartphone
This is no game but serious power. Alienware M17x is one beast of a machine in anodised aluminum frame offering 17.0 inch screen presence with a wickedly expensive combination of two ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870s. When I first got my hands on the M17x , the raw power and sheer exuberance made my heart beat faster as if I had just got behind a Ferrari and my feet were craving to hit the racing pedal.
The Core i7-620M, which clocks up to 2.66 GHz, does a good job in preventing the performance from slowing down and is loaded with the fastest hardware you can put in a notebook today, including two of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 280M graphics cards and a 2.53-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme Quad QX9300 CPU.
A Kensington security slot will prevent keep preying eyes at bay. A total of five USB ports and four audio sockets, which are even able to send a full-fledged surround signal to external sound systems. Otherwise, it also has a WLAN and Bluetooth module, as well as an integrated webcam.
The built-in keyboard, which is beside a separate numerical block, has pleasantly large arrow keys and can convince in both pressure point and stroke length and it comes with the required software to tweak the keyboard and power settings, called Command Center.
Alienware offers a one-year limited hardware warranty with each purchase, and 24/7 online and phone support but trust me going by the Power Specs you will not need it.
The Alienware M17x's application performance is awesome and it cuts through hits like Call of Duty: World at War with frame rates to spare. No matter if processor, graphic card or hard disk, the existing reference rates were always achieved, if not surpassed.
Moreover, the M17x is one of the few notebooks that can, to an extent, keep up with powerful desktop systems.
NEXT: Alienware M15x
Image: Alienware M17x
We are going lower the order in power and price points but Alienware M15x is a serious player in the gaming laptop category. Without doubt it's a gaming powerhouse for serious gamers who want to dominate their competition. Not only does this laptop look fierce, with its jagged design and lights emanating from all of its pores, but it perform beastly as well. A solid feature set with plenty of interesting technology comes along for the ride too. Keep reading for a closer look.
The M15x contains the world's most powerful mobile graphics card. HD video and audio editing, 3D animation and high-end PC gaming suddenly don't seem as resource intensive as before. Increased processor efficiency means you can work away from your power cable worry-free.
The laptop is very comfortable to use over long periods, thanks to its excellent keyboard. The keys themselves have a very good tactile feedback without being noisy and the backlighting is subtle and really adds to whole gaming experience that Alienware is trying to create.
We got a very playable frame rate with Dirt2 at this high resolution.
NEXT: Alienware M11x
Image: Alienware M15x
Gaming laptops are usually big clunky machines, well how about one that is only 11" and featuring a 1GB video card? This tiny-teeny beast was unveiled at CES 2010. The M11x featuring a new NVIDIA GT335M video card can play all your media from a Blu-ray movie to playing a game at 720p seamlessly.
This laptop is a big deal because it is the first of its kind and practically speaking a good buy for office /business people otherwise looking for a power machine with smaller screen size. The killer looks just add to the oomph factor.
The M11x has discrete Nvidia GT335M graphics, the keyboard has the same squarish keys with a customisable backlight. The screen presents itself in a mirroring edge-to-edge design, to be exact a reflective plate over the entire display breadth and beyond the screen's dimensions.
The audio, however, is astounding for the M11x's size; built-in 5.1 speakers are crisp, loud, and good enough to enhance the gaming experience on their own.
At maximum volume, the M11x can rock a room. The M11x's 11.6-inch, 1,366x768 screen looked good behind its edge-to-edge glossy veneer, but there was quite a bit of glare, too, and colours weren't as bright or rich as we expected under bright lights.
Alienware hasn't only considered the central processing unit, but also the optimal weight distribution between mobility and performance. Thus, you'll find both an integrated GMA 4500M HD graphic solution as well as a dedicated Nvidia Geforce GT 335M graphic card with a 1 GB GDDR3 video memory in the M11x.
The user decides when he wants to change between both graphic cards, and can switch between both GPUs with an according key combination when required. The Alienware M11x's case was already convincing after only a few hours of use.
The compact size and the civilised weight allow for a mobile use without hesitation. Unfortunately, the display wasn't convincing, as it appeared to be too dark and therefore can get annoying in unfavorable surrounding light conditions with frequent mirroring effect and reflections.
Image: Alienware M11x