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Smart thinker

ViewPad, Optimus Pad, Eee Pad, TouchPad. Clearly, adding a “Pad” in a tablet’s name isn’t enough to emulate the success of the iPad. But what if it’s a ThinkPad? Does Lenovo’s ThinkPad tablet live up to its hallowed name, or fall by the wayside?

With a name like that, you really shouldn’t be surprised that the ThinkPad tablet’s design is a serious throwback to the original IBM ThinkPad notebooks. A raven-black shell, soft matte finish, sturdy build but not the lightest (at 715g) or the slimmest (at 14mm) around the block oh so ThinkPad, isn’t it?

Plain Jane looks aside, this is one tablet that really feels like the serious productivity tablet it claims to be. Straight off, aside from the mini-HDMI-out, SD card and SIM slots, you get a full-sized USB port that you can attach a USB flash drive, an external hard drive, or a keyboard/mouse. Also, noticeably different from the other button-less Honeycomb tablets is the ThinkPad’s row of four physical buttons to lock the screen orientation, launch the browser, a back and a home key that would have been rather handy had they not been so stiff to operate.

Possibly the real star of the show is the Tablet Pen, which lets you scribble notes in the Notes Mobile app or mark up PDFs or doodle in one of many drawing apps available. I used it during a meeting, and it managed to almost completely decipher my cursive scrawl quite the accomplishment given how years of keyboards have taken their toll on my handwriting! And I personally love the really cute touch, topping off that pen with a red cap a la the signature pointing stick you’d find on any ThinkPad notebook. Oh, and it packs in some great enterprise software that IT managers will love as well.

Net net, there’s a lot to like about the ThinkPad. It offers good battery life, a good display and neat add-ons like the USB port and the Pen that really help with taking work on the road. Buy the optional folio case with keyboard built in, and you get possibly the best typing experience this side of a ThinkPad notebook, albeit on a tablet this time around!

• Rating: 8/10
• Price: Rs 29,500 (16GB,WiFi), Rs 41,900 (32GB, 3G), Rs 46,900 (64GB, 3G)
• URL: http://bit.ly/zLCgt5 http://bit.ly/zLCgt5

A dull roar

A good pair of headphones often make you look like an air traffic controller when you wear them. Not the case with the Jabra HALO2, which looks more like a slightly oversized hairband, in a seriously stylish sort of way. The cans fold away for decent portability this also switches them off (and on), which is neat but the durability of the folding flaps worries me just a wee bit. Not the kind you’d want to throw into a backpack crammed full of stuff.

Pair the HALO2 over Bluetooth with your laptop or smartphone, and with its support for the AVRCP Bluetooth connection type, you can control the music playback options (track change, play/pause) from the headphones itself.

Looking good does come with some compromise on the audio front. While the talk time for this headset isn’t half bad at around eight hours, the lack of an external microphone means that voice quality on the other end is just about average, as is the music listening experience. Strictly recommended only for the fashion-conscious.

• Rating: 7/10
• Price: Rs 6,499
• URL: http://bit.ly/w73X6H http://bit.ly/w73X6H

Super cool

If you work on a laptop for extended durations, a notebook stand is one of the best investments you can make for your health, not to mention your laptop’s. Try the Cooler Master Notepal Ergo-stand it combines a cooling pad, a notebook stand and a USB hub, all rolled into a package that’s built like a tank. Not only does it bring the laptop up to an ergonomically correct height on your table but the fan-cooled base also regulates your notebook’s temperature, and the cable management clips are a welcome touch.

• Price: Rs 3,000
• lURL: http://bit.ly/w8Nk9h