A Confident Trio
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The big cat has arrived. While Mac OS X Lion may well mark the eighth release of Apple's computer operating system, there are a number of firsts that it chalks up against its name. For one, Lion is not sold or distributed on physical media like a DVD, and is only available via purchase from the Mac App Store (although at about 4GB for the download, many bandwidth starved folks may prefer to wait for the slightly pricier USB disk avatar due later this month). It's also a brave move by Apple to marry its desktop OS with its hugely popular iOS mobile-device operating system iOS.
Take for instance the new Launchpad feature, which mimics the app home screens that you see on the iPhone/iPad. If you like the iOS method of organising apps by dragging apps to different screens or folders, you're going to love this feature. Older Mac users, or those with a lot of apps, will find Launchpad too tedious for daily use. Much like the iOS experience, every menu has a rubber band feel to it (scroll down to the bottom of the page and it springs back up). Trackpad gestures are now front and center in the Lion experience, and while I am not a big fan of the new ‘reverse' scrolling, the other stuff is pretty handy. You can rotate, punch, swipe left/right to move between desktops, the list goes on and it makes sense for you to get acquainted with the new gestures. And then there are the auto-save and version control features – each time Lion saves your file, it creates a new version of the file so if you make a change you don't like, you can revert to one of the older saves. If you want, Lion can even restore all your windows, exactly as they were when you shut down or restarted your Mac. I quite liked the new Mission Control app as well, which shows you a view of everything that is running on your Lion system at the moment.
The iOS-ification of the Mac OS may be a radical revision for some, but Lion may end up welcoming a lot of iOS users looking to try out the Mac platform.
Price: $29.99 (available on the Mac App Store)
The writing is on the wall. Nokia's move towards Windows Phone 7 leaves a big question mark over its Symbian handsets, especially their smartphones range. With the E6, the latest in their hugely popular E-series range which has seen illustrious predecessors like the E51, the E71 and the E72, is Nokia flogging a dead horse? Let's find out!
Design wise, Nokia's pulled another winner out of the bag. It looks and feels premium with its tastefully chosen plastic, metal and chrome elements. In a move to keep up with the times, Nokia's slapped a touchscreen onto this baby, which is of a capacitive variety and packs in a modest 640 x 480 resolution on its less-than-modest 2.46-inches display. Switch it on, and there's a fair chance you'd be impressed with the clarity of this screen – it packs in a slightly higher pixel density (326 pixels per inch) than the pixel-packed Retina display on the iPhone 4. You will find yourself switching between the comfortable and responsive keyboard and the touchscreen, depending on whether you want to type something click links or buttons. Just watch out for one-off software screens with far too-small-to-be-readable text.
Now, while the design is very 2011 (read: modern), the software that runs the E6 is far from it. While the E6 does ship with Symbian Anna, which brings with it much needed improvements over the previous Symbian^3 version (including touch friendly icons and home screens), if you've used an iOS or an Android device, you will wonder why this phone still feels like it is stuck in some sort of a time-warp. Symbian Anna? More like Symbian ‘Anna'chronistic, if you ask me!
But then there are tons of folks out here who love the familiarity of the Nokia user interface, and if you're one of them, you will love the E6 for its stellar hardware features – such as the awesome 1500 mAh battery and no-sweat multimedia playback for files upto 720p resolution. The 8 MP camera is a fixed focus sort, so your results will be about average. It's priced right but only if you're a Nokia UI loyal and are looking for a 2011 version of your beloved E-series.
Price: Rs 18,679
HP Pavilion DV6
Picking a mid-range laptop is pretty hard these days, what with cookie cutter configurations from almost all vendors. Differentiation comes really in the form of features such as metal construction, a bevy of ports and better than usual multimedia. HP's new Pavilion dv6-6015tx checks almost all the boxes in the extras category while pushing sensible hardware without breaking the bank.
So while the specs sheet – good hardware choices such as a capable Intel 2.1 GHz Core i3-2310M processor, 4 GB of fast 1333 MHz DDR3 memory and respectable graphics by way of the AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics card with 1 GB DDR5 graphics memory – are pretty bog-standard in this category, it's the goodies I'm more interested in checking out. First up, the design – in the DV6's case, it is classy and distinctive without shamelessly mimicking the bare aluminum look of the Apple range. The touchpad is highlighted with a white illumination, and it would really have been even more awesome had it been paired with a backlit keyboard. I'm not too hot on the 15.6" High-Definition LED HP BrightView Display – at a resolution of
1366 x 768 pixels, it just doesn't pack in enough pixels to be memorable.
Where many budget laptops have cheap speakers that sound anemic, the dv6 includes Beats Audio, a combination of software and hardware that provides a pretty satisfying listening experience. No more of the tinny laptop sound - sound remains clear and undistorted even when turned up, with my only complaint being that the bass dropped off as the volume was increased. Throw in 2 of the faster USB 3.0 ports and a HD webcam, and you've got yourself quite the deal for your money!
Price: Rs 39,038- for the HP Pavilion dv6-6015tx
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