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One Of A Kind: HTC One

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It's far too easy to typecast Android users as those who don't care much about build quality and design of their phones, and that's perpetuated in large part by the fact that most Android manufacturers continue to sell phones clad in cheap, flimsy plastic…by the truckloads! Well, HTC's making its boldest bet with the superbly crafted all metal One, one that it hopes will revive the flagging fortunes of the smartphone major and place it back into contention in a world dominated by Samsung and Apple.
 
It has to be said - full marks to HTC for going all out with the One. This is an impeccably gorgeous effort, and it's probably the first time a phone is at least as -if not more beautiful than- something Apple would have made. A beautifully machined aluminum back, precision engineered metal detail on the front - this is a phone that you will want to pick up the moment you see it. It's deceptively light and 4mm-thin to boot, yet there seem to be no obvious compromises on durability.
 
True to its 2013-flagship status, the One sports a pixel-packed 1920 x 1080 full-HD display that is top notch in terms of color reproduction and brightness. Add to that the twin speaker grilles for stereo sound when you turn the phone sideways, which is great for watching movies or listening to music. It's worth mentioning that audio quality is unexpectedly good for what we've come to expect from smartphones.
 
Now, while the competition is busy jamming in 13 megapixels and more into their devices, HTC's taken a massive bet and kitted the One with a 4 megapixel camera, however each of these pixels can take it a claimed 300 per cent more light, which should help significantly improve low-light and indoor photos. The results are mixed, though - while the One's camera undeniably captures a lot of light and pulls out decent results where even the iPhone captured only darkness, daytime results were somewhat lacking in the level of detail. An acceptable compromise if the bulk of your shooting is towards the evening and at parties/restaurants where the light is nowhere near perfect.
 
I'm not sure I quite agree with the other big bet HTC's taken - Blinkfeed. It's a new default home screen that pulls in photos and stories from your social networks and lays them out as separate tiles. After the novelty wears off, I didn't like the fact that you couldn't choose not to see Blinkfeed the moment you unlocked on your phone.  Sometimes, you just want to get to your apps without the distraction that is Facebook, right?
 
Overall, the HTC One is an impressive effort that justifies its asking price, and is exactly the kind of focused and differentiated device HTC can stake its future on.
 
Rating:
9/10
Price: Rs 42,900
URL: http://bit.ly/16OxSCx

Click to read Mala Bhargava's review of HTC One
 
Compact Deal
Its footprint is smaller than a credit card's and weighs under a hundred grams, which makes a great case for Nikon Coolpix S01 to stay in your pocket 24/7 - you could even attach it to a key ring should that tickle your fancy. It looks like a toy, but the S01 is a capable camera that captures natural colors and is easy to use, if you can get accustomed to a somewhat finicky touchscreen interface. The optical zoom on this tiny gadget is a measly 3x, but then again, one couldn't expect more with the size. The built-in battery and lack of memory expandability beyond the 8GB internal storage is more of a compromise. The big question is - does this work better than a smartphone for taking images? Yes it does take better pictures than the average 8-megapixel shooter you find on phones these days, but smartphones till edge ahead for the degree of editing and sharing they allow. Recommended for folks for whom the small size is paramount - I'm thinking spies, women with small clutches, maybe an aspiring six-year old photographer?
 
URL:
http://bit.ly/ZiNYin
Price: Rs 8,950

 
The Middle Rung
While the top-end of the tablet market is still where the action is at, budget variants such as the Simmtronics Xpad X720 offer sufficient bank for the buck. The 7-inch display, a 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor and 512 MB of memory power the Android 4.0 experience pretty smoothly, and 3G support can be added via a USB dongle. It is great for browsing the web, reading eBooks and casual games - the low resolution mars the movies watching experience, though.
 
URL: http://bit.ly/YN0Dxt
Price: Rs 4,600

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