Bazaar

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2007
 
Bazaar

Lenovo 3000 Y500 
Feature-rich, priced just right                 

                                                          

This time we got the chance to test the Lenovo model that played the role of computerji in the popular quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati.

 Sporting a silver-metallic finish, the unit is quite sturdy. Weight is 2 kg. Ergonomic keys require light strokes and are placed close together, while the generously-sized touchpad feels smooth to work with, and has ample space for wrist support around it.

 The WXGA display provides excellent picture quality; viewability from wide angles isn't a problem. Powered by a Core Duo processor, it doesn't lack in the performance department either,  churning out 38 fps at 1024 x 768 in Call of Duty. It encoded our test DVD to AVI video in 182 seconds, which is good.

The feature set is sound: the buttons on the front can be used for battery management, there's a 1.3 megapixel camera on top of the display, and a media centre called "Shuttle Center" which can also be controlled using the bundled remote.

The face verification feature is also quite cool: it can distinguish faces accurately, and scans your face to log you into Windows. It even logs a cam-shot of the last user who failed the verification process, though it should be noted that the verification process can be bypassed altogether just by closing the window-no real security here.

The Dolby-certified surround sound subsystem situated on the front of the unit can be turned on or off via a switch; ditto the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Battery life is just about average with a running time of 2:33 hours under stress. Thanks to the vents provided on the left and back, the Lenovo works cool. The price of the Y5000-Rs 56,000-is just right, we think, for its configuration.

Specifications
Intel Core Duo T2250 (1.73 GHz); 512 MB RAM; 80 GB 5400 rpm HDD; 15.4-inch 1280 x 800; Intel 945GM chipset; onboard graphics; slot-in DVD-RW; Intel 802.11a/b/g; Bluetooth, 10/100 Ethernet; FireWire; 1.3 MP camera; TV-Tuner, 6c Li-ion batteries; Windows XP Home

RATINGS :
Performance : 4
Features : 4
Value for Money : 3.5
Over All : 4

Contact: Lenovo India Pvt Ltd
Phone: 080-22108412
E-mail:
pc@in.lenovo.com
Web site:
www.lenovo.com
Price: Rs. 56,000                                              

Mitashi MPF 1001  
Something for St. Valentine's Day                                                                                                                

Here's a gift idea for the 14th: the MPF 1001 comes with two headphone jacks! The body is made of jet-black, non-reflective material, which seems to be scratch-resistant.

A 2-colour OLED display provides basic navigational indications, and displays MP3 ID3 tags. OLEDs are more energy-efficient as compared to LCDs, but the low battery life of the player hardly reflects this. The Li-ion battery can be recharged via USB, and Mitashi also provides a 2-pin power adapter.

Button placement is not intuitive. There is a centre button and a button each in the four directions. However, the centre button is just for playback (instead of the usual Select), while the top "Menu" button is for "Select". The one at the bottom brings up the volume control during playback. The left and right buttons are for moving forward and backward, and also up and down. All the buttons are somewhat hard to press, and are sometimes sluggish or even unresponsive.

 The MPF 1001 recognises MP3 and WMA, but we would have liked support for formats such as AAC. Performance-wise, the sound lacks punch: while the treble is passable, the bass is seriously deficient. The bundled earphones don't help either. On top of that, they aren't comfortable, and we can't recommend they be worn for more than a couple of hours.

Storage capacity is 1 GB. The device supports two storage modes: Media Class Storage, in which the player is recognised as a removable drive, and Media Transfer Mode, which allows you to sync the device using WMP10 to transfer MP3s to the player.

Despite support for USB 2.0, data transfer is quite slow: it took us two minutes to transfer 100 MB. Other features include a car stereo adapter, FM radio, and voice recording.

Specifications
1 GB; audio formats: MP3, WMA; 2-colour OLED; dual-earphone sockets; earphones; car stereo adapter; USB 2.0

RATINGS :
Performance : 2.5
Features : 4.5
Ease of  Use : 2
Value for Money : 3
Over All : 3

Contact: Mitashi Edutainment Pvt Ltd
Phone: 022-5006661
E-mail:
contact@mitashi.com
Web site:
www.mitashi.com
Price: Rs. 3,690            

Freecom Tough Drive XXS 6 GB   
Xtra Xtra Small!           
                                                      

Talk about physical protection for your data-the Freecom Tough Drive XXS is about just that. The manufacturer says it has the ability to withstand shocks and bumps, which is something we haven't seen on any other drives in its product category. The manufacturers have drop-tested it to two metres and state that it can withstand up to 200G shock while operating. The credit goes to its tough exterior, made of shock-absorbing, soft silicone, which also gives it a rubberised look and a solid feel, and also to an internal anti-shock mechanism that insulates the hard drive from shock.

Aesthetics is not compromised, as you can see alongside. Not much larger than a matchbox, this featherweight (56 g) drive is slim enough to slip into your pocket.

The drive is based on a 1-inch, 3600 rpm microdrive built specially for mobile devices. 6 GB (5.7 GB real capacity) means oodles of free space for most practical purposes.

When the small, retractable USB 2.0 plug (which is attached to a small cable) is connected, the device is instantly recognised by Windows XP, and a little blue LED in the plug starts glowing-and flashes as data is transferred. The retractable cable is very short-hardly an inch long-and Freecom have wisely provided an extension cable.

The drive was faster in our tests than most other drives in its class. It took just under 2:30 minutes to transfer 1 GB of assorted files and just over 2 minutes for sequential files. The XXS is extremely silent, too. The bundled Freecom Personal Media Suite can compress and encrypt your files. You can also synchronise the contents of the your hard drive with the XXS.

We think this drive is everything a portable drive should be. With 4 GB flash drives available for around Rs 2,000, the Rs 10,500 price tag certainly isn't extra-small!

Specifications
1 GB; 1-inch microdrive; 3600 rpm; buffer: 128 KB; average latency: 8.3 ms; dimensions: 75 x 53 x 15; weight: 56 g; interface: USB 2.0; USB extension cable

RATINGS :
Performance : 4
Features : 4
Ease of  Use  : 4
Value for Money : 2.5
Over All : 3.5

Contact: : J. S. Equipments
Phone: 022-23810713
E-mail:
jse@vsnl.com
Web site:
www.freecom.com
Price: Rs. 10,500


Gigabyte Wireless Presentation Kit   
Present in style!
                                                   

The GM-FPB is Gigabyte's gift to all those lucky enough to be called upon to give e-presentations. This kit consists of a pen-drive-looking unit that's the receiver and the actual remote. They're both the same colour tone as well, and both units are built well. Best of all, the kit is extremely compact.

The remote is contoured well, making for a comfortable grip-a good thing, considering its intended usage patterns. The receiver doubles up as a pen drive. We received the 128 MB version and there's a 256 MB one as well.

Gigabyte opted for wireless (as opposed to the regular IR configurations), so orientation and direction will never limit usage. In case you want to play tag, there's a laser pointer built in-a complete presentation tool!

Installation is a breeze: no driver CDs needed for Windows XP users. Just plug in the receiver into a USB port and you're good to go.
The GM-FPB toggles between presentation and media player mode. While presenting, you have full control over the mouse control button. This button is like the joypad button on many cell phones. Tactile feel is good, and the pointer accelerates proportional to the force exerted while pressing the button. There's a scroll wheel on the side of the remote-which effectively replaces the keyboard and mouse combination for browsing on your PC.

 Switching to media player mode by pressing the Mode button for two seconds disables the mouse button, and your left and right click buttons become stop and play buttons! The wheel becomes a volume controller. Slick!

Signal range is good, too. We tested it up to 20 feet, which is around the maximum distance a presenter would stand from a screen anyway.

Specifications
G-MAX flex pointer, USB 1.1, 64 ID Design, 128 MB in-built flash memory, 433.92 MHz frequency range, compatible with Windows 9x/ME/XP, Mac OS 10.0
RATINGS :
Performance : 4
Features : 4
 Build Quality : 4
Value for Money : 3.5
Over All : 4

Contact: Gigabyte Tech India Ltd
Phone: 022-26526696
E-mail:
sales@gigabyte.in
Web site:
www.gigabyte.in
Price: Rs. 2,990                                              

Tech-Com DSC-520 5.0 MP
An unexpected performer
                                                

The spec-sheet for this camera is pretty much standard for most compact digicams-3x optical zoom, coupled with 4x digital zoom. (The latter is useless in our opinion, but it's an important on-paper spec to some.) The camera's built rather well-nearly all Tech-Com digital cameras we've tested are. It feels solid to hold as well.

You just can't go wrong with black and silver as a colour combination, and the DSC-520, while being far from a stunner, does look nice with an all-black face and rear and side trim silver all-round. The body doesn't pick up fingerprints-very nice again.

Button ergonomics are good. The shoot button has a distinctive half-press for auto-focus. As opposed to some cameras we've tested, here you can actually tell by the tactile feedback that the camera is auto-focusing, without having to look at any indicators. Incidentally, there's no viewfinder: you'll have to manage with the 2-inch, 1,15,000 pixel LCD-which does get grainy, especially in dimly-lit conditions, and at the end of the lens zoom. The menu layout is pretty simple-all the options are accessible under a single menu. With four white balance modes and manual ISO ratings from 80 to 400, the Tech-Com DSC-520 is definitely not meant for a lot of indoor shooting, especially in areas where there isn't sufficient lighting.

As expected, photo quality outdoors was good, except at full optical zoom (3x) where some slight graininess does creep in. Indoors, you'll be using a flash… a lot. The flash is good for around 9 feet, after which it loses effectiveness altogether. Indoor shots are decent quality, but the noise is noticeable. At 640 x 480 @ 15 fps, this digicam is also a decent video recorder.

At Rs 6,500, the Tech-Com DSC-520 is decent value for money, and for  newbies making a foray into digital imaging, a good buy.

Specifications
5 megapixel CCD sensor; 3x optical zoom; 4x digital zoom; 2-inch LCD viewfinder; ISO manual 80-400 and auto; self-timer 2/10 sec; AA batteries

RATINGS :
Performance : 3
Features : 3
Build Quality : 3.5
Value for Money : 3.5
Over All : 3.5

Contact: Shree Sagarmatha Dist. Pvt Ltd
Phone: 022-23065114 / 23200032
E-mail: techcom@
airtelbroadband.in
Website:
www.techcomindia.com
Price: Rs. 6,500


Access Digital Photo Frame
Frame From The Future
                                                

Here's a unique way to, well, frame your memories. The Access Digital Photo Frame has the ability to store images and display them on its 7-inch frame, transferred from your PC or digicam via USB or memory card. Remote-controlled, it looks just like your average photo frame.

It is supported by a desk stand, but can also be hung on a wall. But the frame can only be placed horizontally, requiring you to rotate your portrait-style images before transferring them to the device.

In addition to image slideshows, it also supports MP3 and video. Larger Images larger are automatically resized.

Niggles: the hard buttons on the remote, and the lack of crispness in darker images.

Specifications
7-inch 480 x 234 display; inbuilt stereo output; USB 1.0/2.0; CF card slot; memory card slot (MS, SD, MMC XD)

RATINGS :
Performance : 3
Features : 3.5
Ease of  Use : 3.5
Value for Money : 2.5
Over All : 3

Contact: ACCESS Co. Ltd
Phone: 022-23840789
E-mail:
cshah@bom8.vsnl.net.in
Price: Rs. 10,500

World Travel Products Podera Launch USB 2.0 4-port hub
Standard, Yet Pricey

                                                      
Splashed in red, this USB hub offers four USB 2.0 ports. You connect it to a free USB port on your computer, and you get four ports-useful, in fact essential, if you have more USB devices than ports.

The Podera Launch weighs just 115 gm and is compact. The four ports are placed vertically in columns of two on opposite sides. The hub has a base, and the part above it can be turned for 30 degrees for easy accessibility to the ports.

Installing the hub is just a matter of plugging it in, and confirming the status light at the bottom is on; you can then get started using it. The status light could have been placed better for easier visibility, though.

At Rs 1,625, this one is a little expensive, considering most 4-port hubs can be had for less than Rs 1,000.

Specifications
75 x 75 x 63 mm; 80 cm cable length; four USB 2.0 ports compatible with USB 1.1

RATINGS :
Performance : 3
Features : 3
Ease of  Use : 3.5
Value for Money : 2.5
Over All : 3

Contact: : J. S. Equipments
Phone: 022-23810713
E-mail:
jse@vsnl.com
Price: Rs. 1,625

3ds Max 9
An unexpected performer
                                                   

The biggest thing to happen to 3ds Max in this version-which is what makes it 9 and not 8.5-is that it's gone 64-bit. When you install it on Windows XP x64 Edition, it is capable of using up to 8 GB of RAM for its purposes, which means that you can work on more complex and resource-intensive scenes than ever before. Apart from this, plus a couple of new features, this release is all about improvements and enhancements.

What's New
In keeping with the find-good-plugin-and-buy-it trend, Autodesk has integrated the ProBoolean tool in Max, to overcome the shortcomings of its own Boolean tool. Messing with Booleans isn't a good idea otherwise-the resultant mesh can too often end up with bad triangles and can be a nightmare to work with. Pro Booleans, however, are cleaner, and offer a lot more options, including the ease with which more objects can be added to the Boolean.

Taking a lesson from Maya's Trax editor, 3ds Max can now break animations into independent layers, bringing some sanity to complex animation. Using it is fairly easy-it's similar to the functionality that's already existed for Character Studio-if you're comfortable with that, there's practically no learning curve.

Another noteworthy addition is the new shaders for Mental Ray-the CarPaint shader, which creates realistic paint for your car models (in case you didn't guess), and the Arch shader, which simulates rounded edges on objects (notice that none of the edges around you in reality are perfectly sharp), so you don't have to fiddle with chamfering any more.  

What's Better
The first noticeable improvement in Max is its ability to handle more polygon-heavy scenes without choking. Apart from that, some older features have been polished as well.

Working with Cloth is much easier now-tailoring clothes is much easier and more streamlined, and doesn't require you to keep editing the original surfaces to get right. The Cloth simulator calculates collisions much better, and the new Cling parameter lets you make them "sticky", much like wet clothes.

The Hair and Fur plugin, which demonstrated some instability in version 8, has been tweaked, and didn't crash the whole time we used it. It has also done away with the separate interface-which was, honestly, rather clunky-and now you can comb and style hair right in the viewport you're working in.

Other tweaks-including the optimisations to the FBX file format which enables Max and Maya to work together better-are relatively minor, and were expected anyway.

Final Notes
Using 3ds Max 9, it's hard to tell that it's a new version-there's nothing that comes off as special, at least on the surface. The improvements are there, no doubt, but the biggest thing that justifies this release is that it's available in a 64-bit version. If you're using Windows XP x64, and have more than 2 GB of RAM, you'll see the difference-if not, you're better off waiting for the next big release.

RATINGS :
Performance : 4.5
Features : 3
Ease of  Use : 4
Value for Money : 3
Over All : 3.5             

Contact: Autodesk India Pvt. Ltd.
Phone: 080-51199900
E-mail: selina.pinheiro @autodesk.com
Website:
http://india.autodesk.com/
Price: Rs 1,60,400

                              



 

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