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Touch Of Class

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It's like you're stepping back in time to about 40 years ago. Only with the Fujifilm X100, you know that along with a seriously retro piece of kit, you're getting a 2011-spec compact camera in the bargain…okay, maybe the word bargain is a little bit of a stretch here!
Pick it up and you could easily mistake this camera for an old rangefinder camera with the optical viewfinder at the top right corner. The build is solid and the design is sure to elicit the "oohs" and "aahs" from anyone who sees it. That said, this isn't simply ripping off a classic design – Fujifilm has packed in some standout features from the past along with some of the most recent innovations of today. So what is the X100 then? The basics of the camera are this — it's a 12.3 megapixel compact camera packing in a large APS-C sized CMOS sensor (the kind you'd normally find in SLRs), a fixed 35mm equivalent lens with bright f/2.0 maximum aperture, and did I mention a gorgeously a gorgeously retro feel? On paper, this combo should result in excellent photos, with exceptional low light performance normally found in semi-professional digital SLRs. No pushover this.
Turn it around and you'll see a bank of controls and a large LCD, and while it does allow Fujifilm to use a number of dedicated buttons for frequently used functions (a dedicated RAW button, for example), it is mildly incongruous with the front and top layout of the X100.
Using the X100, one of the main highlights for me is its unique hybrid viewfinder. Bring the camera up to your eye, and the LCD automatically switches off, and depending on the viewing mode you choose, you will either see a regular optical viewfinder or an optical viewfinder overlaid with electronic information or a high-resolution fully electronic viewfinder — a ‘best of both worlds' approach.
And the proof of the pudding — the image quality — is exceptional, even in low light scenes. The way the X100 renders the light is superb, although you will have to deal with a slightly fidgety autofocus. I emphasise slightly, the delay isn't enough to be irritating in most conditions (except extreme low light scenarios) but it is perceptibly slower than a digital SLR. Add to this the slow shot-to-shot times, but then again, the spectacular results are well worth the wait. Images are highly detailed even at low ISO (sensitivity) settings, and the noise levels and color reproduction are impressive even if you take the sensitivity levels way up.
Verdict? Considering its styling and image quality, the X100 has few rivals in its class, possibly a Leica X1 which is twice its price or thereabouts. Given its price, this camera is not for everyone. In the end, the X100 is still very much a niche product, with its non-interchangeable lens, comparatively large body, and the emphasis on a manual way of shooting that requires some experience on the part of the user. The X100 will most appeal to the street photographer with a large budget, and to be honest, I would readily recommend one of many low- to mid-range DSLRs, such as the Nikon D5100 or Canon EOS 600D, as a more sensible bet for everyone else. But the charm and admittedly the quirkiness of this camera cannot be denied…
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 66,999


A Sound Solution 
Holding your phone while driving is a strict no-no in my books, but not everyone can get used to Bluetooth headsets. The Freeway from Jabra is an option for such folks — it is a visor-mount Bluetooth speakerphone that is slightly bulky in design, almost 5 inches at its widest. Part of the reason for its bulk is that it houses not one but three speakers, which it uses together to create what Jabra calls Virtual Surround sound. So when it's clipped onto the visor, you will get sound that seems to be coming from around your head, rather than from above it. It's not fancy ‘surround sound', but the overall effect is pleasing, and music played back (via Bluetooth) over the speakers enjoys the benefits of much better speakers than the average car Bluetooth speakerphone. No more tinny voices — male voices sound full and rich, and music (except for bass heavy stuff) sounds good – making this a good option for those without an in-car stereo already. In fact, with its battery life of 14 hours talktime, you can carry this back into the house and use it as a portable speaker for music from your phone as well!

Usage is straightforward — once you've paired with your phone, incoming calls can be answered or rejected either by pushing a single button on the Freeway, or via voice commands — simply say "answer" to accept or "ignore" to reject the call. There are a ton of voice commands, including those for redial, voice dialing, music commands and even a helpful "what can I say?" command to list out the various voice commands at your disposal.
The Freeway checks the other boxes — address book integration to announce the name of the caller and voice commands are the norm— but it also pulls one more trick from out of the bag. It is equipped with a motion sensor which senses that you've left the vehicle and puts itself into standby automatically. It'll also do this if it goes a period of time without a phone paired. When you next get into your vehicle or otherwise move the Freeway, it will sense the motion and power itself back up, ready to pair with your phone again.
If you're looking for a car speakerphone that can work well with high levels of wind and road noise, this is the one you should pick. The audio quality alone on this baby makes it worth the purchase, and the fact that you can remove it from your visor and use it as a portable desk speaker seals the deal for me.

Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 7499

One Track Chase
Ape Escape for the PlayStation Move has wierdly dressed monkeys (not apes, mind you) crash landing on Earth and attacking everything in sight. The backstory is irrelevant - all you have to do is use your fan, a slingshot, and a butterfly net to snag the pesky simians or avoid objects they aim at you. Since the game is entirely on rails, meaning that you go down a path much like a train (and you cannot deviate from it), you have no option but to keep at it, level after level. There's little variation in gameplay over the levels and it soon starts feeling like a one-trick pony. Might work for the kids but the overall feel is very much of a bargain title.

Rating: 6/10
Price: Rs 1299

Drawing A Breakthrough

Wacom is known for its top-notch professional drawing tablets, but with the Inkling, the company has done away with the tablet altogether. The Inkling is really a ballpoint that can transfer sketches made on good old paper to a PC/Mac via a portable receiver. The pen has pressure sensing technology with 1,024 levels of sensitivity, perfect for artists and illustrators looking to draw something while on the move and not having to redraw it when they're back at their PCs.

Price: $199

technocool at kanwar dot net