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Game, set & gadget

From the workstation to the Playstation and the portable music player on the commute in between, tech tools have invaded every sphere of our lives. And the proliferation of gadgets is matched only by the pace of their evolution. What was hot in summer, is oh-so-cold now.

Here’s an update of the coolest new gizmos on the city racks.

Gaming console

What: Xbox 360, Core (Rs 19,990) and Pro (Rs 27,750)

Why: To enjoy the latest games in their eye-popping, surround-sound glory, a gaming console is the gadget to get. And Xbox 360 is the most advanced available in this part of the world. It doubles as a media centre, playing DVDs, CDs and collections in MP3 players, and displaying pictures in digital cameras. When Microsoft launches Xbox Live membership in India, the console can even be used to voice chat over the Internet and challenge people at the other end of the globe for an online match.

As the names suggest, the Core model provides the basics, while the Pro ships with wireless controllers (30 ft range, can be plugged in with a headset) and a 20 GB Hard Drive (to save games and movies, and record or pause live TV). All this comes with a significant performance boost over the original Xbox. The processor’s faster, the display more vibrant and the system memory (which determines how smooth the games play) eight times more powerful than the original.

Demand: “We have already sold over 10 million Xbox 360s worldwide. The response in India has been nothing short of phenomenal. A wide range of Xbox games [costing Rs 1,499 and Rs 2,510] and accessories are available here,” says Mohit Anand, country manager (entertainment and devices) of Microsoft, the makers of the console.

“Xbox 360 is flying off the racks. We hope to sell at least 25 units this month. In the past couple of months retailers in the city have ordered over 500 units of the console from the distributor,” states Nitin Lal of Bonanza, the dedicated gaming store at City Centre.

“It is generally parents who are buying Xbox 360 for their children, but then getting addicted themselves. I know quite a few families where all the members use the console. Youngsters naturally love Xbox 360,” he adds.

Celebuser: I am always looking forward to playing on my Xbox 360. It’s a thrilling experience. I am sure it is the same for gamers everywhere.

— Akshay Kumar

Portable Media Player

What: The new iPod range (fifth generation iPod, second generation Nano and the all new Shuffle). Shuffle (1 GB): Rs 5,600, Nano (2 GB): Rs 9,800, Nano (4 GB): Rs 13,200, Nano (8 GB): Rs 16,400, iPod (30 GB): Rs 16,700, iPod (80 GB): Rs 23,600

Why: In its latest avatar, iPod packs a punch in a package that is still cutting-edge cool. The fifth-generation 30 GB model comes in a body that is 30 per cent thinner than its predecessor. The 80 GB iPod is the same size as the previous 60 GB version and costs no more. The real improvements though are not cosmetic — the display is 60 per cent brighter and the battery life a dream 20 hours for audio and six-and-a-half-hours for movies and TV shows. Not to mention the brand new interface that lets you search your collection using the Click Wheel. Too bad, the iTunes store that now sells movies online remains out of bounds in India.

Apple did not forget the Nano during the upgrade. It, too, sports a slim silhouette and the problem of scratches has finally been addressed with an anodised aluminium body, which comes in five colours and a special-edition red. The bright screen has just got brighter and the battery life has been given a boost.

The size-crunching continues with the cute Shuffle, which has ended up as an anodised clip. That’s it. But it stores 240 songs and plays them for 12 continuous hours. No wonder Apple is calling Shuffle the “biggest thing in small”.

Demand: “We sell three-four iPods a day. At least 1,000 iPods are sold in Calcutta every month, not taking into account the grey market, which is also huge. Everyone uses iPod; a typical user profile is almost impossible to give,” says authorised Apple dealer Sanjay Chordia.

Celebuser: My day begins and ends with music. I have an electric blue iPod Nano. It’s convenient, especially because my profession calls for so much travel. Plus, I can store my numbers in it.

— June

Smart Phone

What: Nokia E61 (Rs 21,249), Nokia N73 (Rs 28,000)

Why: A smart phone is really a computer that fits the palm. And Nokia E61 is as smart as it gets. A business phone, it comes loaded with an e-mail client and support for Office applications like MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel and PDF readers. An expandable memory, large high-resolution screen and a full keyboard, a la Blackberry, are the other attractions.

For frames to treasure and the magic of multimedia, Nokia N73 is hard to beat. Every aspect of the phone is designed to make photography easy. A simple slide of the cover and the set is ready to shoot. The features include a 3.2 megapixel camera with mechanical shutter and advanced auto-focus that lessens movement distortion. With up to 42 MB internal dynamic memory, shoot 175 minutes of video, store 1,092 tracks and build an album of 1,219 high-quality photos. Or, press a key to post the content on your blog or print them. The TFT colour display and stereo speakers are the other pluses.

Demand: “We sell around four to five business smart phones a week, which is good, keeping in mind that they are targeted at executives, who require compatibility with office applications. A student will not be willing to carry smartphones because of their bulk,” says Pulkit Baid, director, Great Eastern Technocity.

Celebuser: I use a Nokia E61, which has very good storage capacity and Internet facility. I can upload and listen to music of my choice.

— Bickram Ghosh

Laptop

What: 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro (Rs 1.63 lakh)

Why: The 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro is a mean machine. Powered by the latest generation of Intel mobile processor and a high-speed graphics unit, it does not falter on performance, whether it comes to number-crunching or playing the latest Hollywood blockbuster. The 160 GB Hard Drive, 2 GB RAM and a double-layer DVD writer, help. The Apple touches include a camera for video conferencing above the high-resolution screen, a remote control, an illuminated keypad with ambient light sensor and a scrolling trackpad. The Mac software need no longer be a deterrent with the familiar Windows just a click away. The feature overload, however, comes at the cost of bulk.

Demand: “It is a niche product. Generally people who value performance over everything else or have a fascination for Apple products go for it. Apple systems are renowned for their graphics. The MacBooks carry forward that legacy. In terms of performance, the laptops rival the high-end desktops. I sell two-four MacBook Pros every week,” states Apple dealer Chordia.

Celebuser: My father (film-maker Goutam Ghose) uses an Apple laptop for editing. I am still learning to use it. We use a G4 Mac PowerBook; it’s a high-end set-up that you can carry to the studios.

— Anandi Ghose

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