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Striking Back

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There used to be a time when an "It's a Sony" used to end all TV purchase arguments, but of late, their neighbours from across the Sea of Japan have pulled out all the stops to take the lead in the LCD/LED TV market. Does the 2012 HX850 series, specifically the 46HX850 unit I've looked at, do enough for Sony to regain its mojo?
 
It certainly ticks of the first impressions box pretty comprehensively. A single sheet of Edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass — the same durable glass that's found in the top smartphones today — topped off with a thin sliver of silver trim around the edge gives the TV a sleek and streamlined look, and the well-weighted plastic stand does well to support the TV yet allow a stable left-right swivel. The clean look means that there is no integrated camera or a microphone, which means none of that gimmicky gesture or voice control I've seen recently. It also means you'll need to pay more for mic/camera if you want to use Skype.
 
Around the rear of the cabinet are the HX850's numerous inputs and output connections - two HDMI ports, two USB ports, an RGB (PC) video input, and 3.5mm PC audio in and out jacks all face sideways for easy access, while the composite and component AV jacks and a connector for an optional external speaker stand are face the rear. A cable/antenna port, an Ethernet port, an optical audio output, and two additional HDMI ports round out an impressive list of connections, but some of these can be quite a challenge to get to if the TV is wall-mounted.
 
The remote is rather standard Sony stuff, but is light and comfortable to hold. No backlight on the buttons though, so it can be a fumble to operate in the dark, and there's no 3D button to navigate to the 3D settings directly, you'll need to wade through the menu system for that.
 
It's a good thing then that one is distracted by how good the picture quality gets on this TV, and Sony's X-Reality Pro image processing produces stunning natural colors and excellent contrast levels. Dark scenes look better than any edge-lit LED TV and are getting remarkable close to plasma levels. Picture quality is detailed and sharp and 3D, for those of you who care for it, shows satisfactory depth, but you'll have to cough up even more money for 3D glasses. Audio quality is respectable, given the poor quality I've seen on a number of TVs these days, and it will meet the needs of most. 
 
Like the competition, the TV features built-in Wi-Fi and wired Internet connectivity and gives you one-touch access to watch a host of video websites such as BigFlix, Sony, STAR, DailyMotion, not to forget on-screen widgets which let you stream your Facebook and Twitter feeds discretely on one side of your TV screen. But what excited me the most was the fact that the Opera TV App Store has made its way onto the TV, which lets you download a ton of TV-optimised apps and games — really shows the way forward for app adoption on TVs.
 
All in all, Sony's pushed out a competent TV that does justice to the content you throw at it, but having to pay more for accessories that really should have been part of the bundle is a downer for sure. It's a competent offering in the market, but it will take more than the odd brilliant TV to turn their ship around and tackle the Korean onslaught.
 
Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 1,23,900 for the 46-inch variant
URL: http://bit.ly/PFOgft
 
 
Desirable Choice
Till recently, you could either get a capable smartphone or you could pick a dual-SIM device, but not both, and I longed for a dual-SIM device that did not make any compromises. Well, following on the heels of the Desire V dual-GSM phone comes the HTC Desire VC, the 'C' referring to the CDMA network capability in addition to its GSM SIM. Much like HTC's current range, it runs Android 4.0 with HTC's mature Sense 4.0 user interface. Specs are mid-range - a single core 1 GHz Cortex-A5 processor and 512 MB of memory — and so you're paying a bit of a premium for the dual-SIM capabilities at this price. Internal storage is limited at 4GB, but you have the option of adding in SD card storage or taking HTC up on the free 25GB of Dropbox cloud storage offer, which is valid for 2 years.
 
Using the device is a breeze thanks to its 480x800 pixel 4.0 inch touch screen, and the while it packed to the gills on the connectivity front, it is worth mentioning that it does not support 3G on the GSM connection, which leaves you with only the CDMA connection if you're looking for high-speed data.
 

Rating:
7/10
Price: Rs 23,300
URL: bit.ly/OzD4lf
 
 
Guilt Free Goodness
Fried food without the guilt. Has Philips made the perfect kitchen gadget or is it just hype? If you look past the hype, the Philips AirFryer is basically a convection oven for your kitchen counter top. Sitting above the tray which houses your food is a heating element not unlike the kind you'll find in your electric oven. What Philips does different is that they use a big fan above this heating element to blows superheated air onto your feed - up to 200 degrees and for up to 30 minutes.
 
Now while the cookbooks suggest everything from quiches to fries are fair game for the AirFryer, results are mixed. Fries work great, as do roast potatoes, but breaded food items… not so much. You'll have to experiment a fair bit to get your estimates right with this. And of course, French fries afficanados will point out that the taste doesn't match up to deep-fried fries. It also takes up a lot of room on the kitchen counter, and it is pricey!
 
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs14,995
URL: bit.ly/OaAFLK


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