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An Improved Image

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Pick a wall, any wall. Office or home, doesn’t matter. Now, how would you like to convert this wall into a massive display, ready to watch movies, presentations or pictures? That's the promise that portable projectors make, more so with the mature second generation of these devices hitting the market. No longer do you have to deal with gimmicky gadgets that compromise on performance, and projectors like the 3M MP 410 offer a slew of features that are sure to impress any multimedia enthusiast.
 
Portability and ease of carrying the device around has been given a lot of thought with the MP 410, with a soft case provided in the retail package to securely hold the projector (and all of its associated adapters and cables) in place. But just look at the sheer number of connectivity options this baby packs in into its diminutive 1.7 by 4.2 by 4.2 inches frame. The 410 checks off the standard options, such as VGA and USB connectivity for laptops, along with HDMI input for iPads and phones as well as your PS3 or DVD players. Also, in what is fast becoming a standard, the 410 allows you to directly reads image, video and audio files from the internal 1GB memory, from flash drives that can connect directly to the built-in USB port and from microSD cards. Strangely enough, no presentation format support. Also, keep in mind you will need to add external speakers – the inbuilt speakers work well for small environments but start to sound weak for any medium sized crowd.
 
What was most interesting for me was that if you picked up the optional wireless dongle, the MP 410 sets up a wireless network so you can transmit your laptop video without the need of any cables whatsoever. There is a downside to this though. Since the projector essentially creates its own wireless network, you cannot be simultaneously connected to another wireless network and access the Internet, for instance. Really should be something 3M should fix with a software update fast!
 
Now, with a 300-lumen rating, the MP 410 isn’t as bright as bigger lamp-based projectors (typically in the range of 2,000-2500 lumens) but the brightness is more than enough to be useful, even with moderate ambient light. In fact, I had no trouble projecting a 75-inch image at 1280 x 800 pixels, and 3M says the images can go up to as much as 100-inches. Color reproduction was above average, but there is a degree of compromise when compared to bigger siblings. That said, colors were fully saturated and vibrant, and there is no doubt it will work very well for presentations and showing video clips during presentations.
 
Looking at the price, I’d recommend this only for those who need portability over performance. The redeeming factor is the bulb life of 20,000 hours, which means you will be saving money on frequent bulb replacements.
 
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 50,000
URL: http://bit.ly/OgN92E
 
Acing Performance
It seems all you can hear about these days are ultrabooks, and while how well they’re doing is debatable, there’s still space for slightly thicker laptops that pack in a DVD drive and revved-up internals to boot. The Acer Aspire V3-571G may look like just about any 15.6-inch laptop, but it packs in serious power by way of a capable Core i5 Intel processor (not the latest Ivy Bridge line of processors, mind you) and dedicated nVidia graphics.
 
There’s a lot to like once you start using this laptop – a wide, expansive keyboard with chiclet-style keys and a full number pad, a healthy selection of ports and the dedicated graphics really helps in graphics-intensive games. Add to that the Dolby Home Theater effects, and the V3 looks to be a good option for entertainment enthusiasts. Sadly, a less-than-responsive trackpad and a mediocre 1,366 x 768 pixel display mar the overall experience of this laptop.
 
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 43,671
URL: http://bit.ly/OBUivK
 
The Key Attraction
To anyone who’s still holding his or her breath for an iPhone sporting a hardware keyboard, one quick piece of advice: don’t bother. Just pick up the Envent Bluetooth Slider Keyboard case for the iPhone 4/4S. The case conceals a flip-out physical keyboard that connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth, and features a built-in rechargeable battery that recharges using a USB cable and lasts for a good 30-40 days at a stretch. Its sleek design means it doesn’t add too much bulk to the iPhone, but I wish the keys had slightly more travel in them to make the typing experience just a wee bit more pleasurable.
 
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 3,999
URL: http://bit.ly/NtCEJm

 

Control Freak
Imagine being able to control household devices from anywhere, right from your smartphone. You could invest in a home automation system that can cost a pretty packet, or you could consider the Belkin’s new WeMo Switch. The Switch module plugs into your mains and can further control (turn on and off) anything from a lamp to TV to a heater from – wait for it – a connected iPhone, iPad or iPod touch! All you need to do is connect it to a Wi-Fi network and follow a simple setup procedure. Or you could choose to set up detailed schedules for each device, all from the comfort of your WiFi-equipped iOS device. There’s an optional Motion device that can detect motion within 10 feet of the sensor and fire off a set of commands – like for example, switch on your lights and your coffee maker when you walk in your main door in the evening!
 
URL: http://bit.ly/PUCke6
Price: $49.99 onwards

 

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