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Solo call

The divorce papers have been signed, the decade-old marriage has ended with the partners Sony and Ericsson going their separate ways, albeit pretty amicably. The newly invigorated Sony is back on the market, and going by the launch of its first solo model — the Xperia S — it’s hungry for its place in the sun. Are the dashing good looks and the competitive spec sheet enough for the Xperia S to win hearts? Read on to find out.

There are no two ways about the looks of this baby — it looks downright gorgeous! Beautifully crafted in a monolithic design, the phone looks like a fancy remote for some posh Sony toy rather than a phone. It feels sturdy and not the least creaky — this is how phones made of plastic should be, in my opinion. And then there’s that unique accent, the illuminated transparent strip that meshes really well with the design. Overall minimalist but very classy. That said, ergonomics fall a wee bit short thanks to the squared-off sides and corners, and make the phone slightly difficult to grasp in the hand.

The front of this phone is dominated by the 4.3-in 1280 x 720 pixel display, and it gets some bragging rights with its iPhone-beating pixel count of 342 pixels per inch. Couple this with the Sony Mobile Bravia Engine (an image/video enhancement software that enhances sharpness, increases contrast and saturation and tries to tackle digital noise), and the result is an extremely sharp and crisp display, thanks to the fact that the human eye cannot discern individual pixels apart at such a high pixel count. Colour reproduction and brightness is very good but the viewing angles off-centre are sub-par but that’s to be expected with a TFT LCD. The other big draw is the 12-megapixel camera with the famed Exmor R sensor. The results are mixed — while outdoor shooting is pretty good (and super quick to boot), indoor shooting in low light with the flash turned off suffers from a fair amount of noise.

But beyond the perfectly usable experience that is the Xperia S, you’ve got to wonder why certain hardware and software decisions were taken. No microSD card slot or removable battery, for instance. We’ve already seen the first quad-core CPU device packing Android 4.0 launch recently, so you get the feeling Sony squandered the chance to make a bigger splash by choosing to go with a dual-core CPU and Android OS v2.3.7 Gingerbread. Maybe a quarter late, eh Sony?

Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 32,549
URL: http://bit.ly/JcmVxR

Cool console

A console or a gaming PC — which one would you pick? Granted, with most games launching across console and PC platforms, it’s not about the choice of game anymore. Yet, consoles still don’t play nice with mouse and keyboard, and gaming PCs end up being huge and bulky, not to mention insanely expensive. Which is why the Alienware X51 is such an intriguing proposition. The black tower from the famed gaming PC maker is not particularly bigger than the average console, yet it packs in full-size gaming PC components into that slim form factor. The idea is that you could as well put the X51 next to your home theatre components and play your latest PC games in the living room on your large-screen TV. And boy, does it scream performance — the base configuration packs in a capable Core i5 processor, 4 gigs of ultra-fast memory and a mid-range NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 graphics card but the options go all the way up to a top-of-the-line Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and a 24-inch HD Widescreen Monitor for the highest configuration.

For the times you’re going to be using this as a PC, the X51 does enough and more on the connectivity front with as many ports as desktop PCs twice its size — plenty of USB 2 and 3 ports and HDMI for video, to name a few. What it lacks is the ability to accept any video inputs or a TV tuner option, which rules out making this a media center PC, which is a real pity given the pride of place it will occupy in your set-up. Oh, and remember you’ll have to add your own monitor if you pick the base configuration. Overall, serious bang for a rather reasonable buck.

Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 49,990
URL: http://dell.to/HURkQ9" http://dell.to/HURkQ9

Eye for an i

Sure, the iPhone 4/4S camera is nice but there is only so much you can do with the fixed lens. That’s where the OlloClip comes in, and how!

This little device packs three lenses into one — a 180 fisheye, a wide-angle that doubles the iPhone’s field of view and a macro that offers a 10x magnification and can shoot from a mere 12mm away from the subject. It clips on to the iPhone, so it doesn’t play well with any case you’ve got on the iPhone but it more than makes up for it when you see the images!

Price: $69.99
URL: http://bit.ly/HTPfc6