And the award goes to...

And the award goes to...
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First Published: Tue, Dec 15 2009. 09 44 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Dec 15 2009. 09 44 PM IST
New products keep entering the market and we need to know which ones are the best of the best. Digit scoured the market for products it felt might be better than the products it had tested (and awarded) in its comparison tests. The products were subjected to the same rigorous testing procedures and parameters. If they were better, they replaced the existing winners and won the Zero1 Award. If not, the earlier winner got the grand prize. Here are the best performers of their categories for the year.
Click here to see a slideshow of the winners in each category
From camcorders, cameras to PMPs: the annual Digit Zero1 awards for the best performing gadgets in their categories will help you simplify your buying decisions
New products keep entering the market and we need to know which ones are the best of the best. Digit scoured the market for products they felt might be better than the products they had tested (and awarded) in their comparison tests. The products were subjected to the same rigorous testing procedures and parameters. If they were better, they replaced the existing winners and won the Zero1 Award. If not, the earlier winner got the grand prize. Here are the best performers of their categories for the year.
Photo Printers
With everyone so quick to go out and buy a camera these days, there’s still the need to print the photos they take. The demand for a cheap, easy-to-use photo printer still exists. This year, we focused mainly on photo printers that could offer users such functionality.
Best Buy
Canon PIXMA iP1980
The Zero 1 goes to the Canon PIXMA iP1980. We tested the new Canon PIXMA iP4760 this month and although it’s a good performer, it’s way more expensive. Sometimes, people just need something that lets them print photographs. They need not be the best quality but they should be cheap. The Canon PIXMA iP1980 does just that — decent quality but for a fraction of the cost some of the other photo printers.
Best Performer
HP Photosmart D5468
One of the most expensive printer this year was the Canon PIXMA iP100 which was close to Rs21,000 back then. The best performer however, was the HP Photosmart D5468. It’s great feature set was something to die for. A printer priced at Rs6,500 that gave decent results and had these features made great sense.
Camcorders
Camcorders are your best best to preserve memories, and the sheer experience of captured video cannot be compared to a relatively lifeless still image. HD camcorders are hot at the moment, watch out for them.
Best Performer
Sony’s XR100-E
Sony’s XR100-E is a camcorder we’ve used extensively and can testify for its greatness. 80 GB of storage space, a resolution of 1080i and very good image stabilisation means your shooting is as professional looking as is possible using a compact camcorder. The price tag of Rs39,999 sweetens the deal — great value for the discerning buyer.
Speakers
Speakers are fun. We love them and we think all of us should have a really good set at home. This being a popular product, the market has been flooded with makes using all kinds of gimmicks while not focusing on just producing great quality speakers. It then becomes our job make sure that you only get the best and that’s what we did in our comparison test.
Best Buy (2.1 speakers)
UMAX UPB3200
The best buy award winner in the category of 2.1 speakers went to an UMAX pair — the UPB 3200. The quality of sound was pretty impressive. It was very close and in many cases, better than speakers that were more than twice its price. By our calculations, it wins a Zero 1 Award.
Best Buy (5.1 speakers)
Altec Lansing VS3251
The 5.1 surround sound hype has attracted companies to make all kinds of audio solutions. All of us would like one but the cost has been a problem. The best buy award for the 5.1 speaker segment goes to the rather looking Altec Lansing VS3251. It wasn’t the most powerful speaker set that we heard but it was a nice sounding set. The price of Rs5,200 was equally attractive. With all motherboards these days coming with support for 5.1 audio at least, this comparatively small investment converts your everyday desktop computer into a multi-channel entertainment system.
Best Performer
Logitech Z-5500
The top performer this year was the mighty Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers. It is one of the most powerful speakers, has a slightly bassy sound. They are perfect even for home theater systems where HTPCs and enthusiast level CD players with digital output. We wish the price was a lot lower but then, we can’t have everything, can we?
Desktop PCs
Buying desktop PCs are far easier than assembling a PC. There’s no hassle or worry of anything going wrong. With ready made PCs, the manufacturer provides support and warranty on it. The industry giants recognize that and which is why we have so many of them in the market selling their PCs.
Best Buy
Zenith E7500
The Acer Aspire NX4440 was a decent system at its time. It had an entry-level processor that ran on a NVIDIA GeForce 8200 board. It has a comparatively low price tag of just Rs29,299.
This month, we tested the Zenith E7500. In performance, it beats the older Acer Aspire in many areas. It’s ridiculous Rs20,000 pricing makes it one of the best value systems around that money can buy. The Zenith E7500 becomes the Zero 1 winner of the Desktop PC category.
Best Performer
Dell Inspiron 545s
In performance desktops, the Dell OptiPlex 960 had a blazing fast Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550, a processor very few systems came with. This month, we tested the Dell Inspiron 545s. It’s a fancy looking desktop but one that has more than just beauty on its side. While the OptiPlex 960 has brute processing power hidden under its compact little shell, the Inspiron 545s gives the user style and performance — in games and graphics intensive applications. With a price, that’s lower than the OptiPlex, we give it our thumbs up and also the Best Performer award.
Laptops
Laptops — a product category that surely needs no introduction. Laptops are about as diverse a category as one can find — there’s truly something for everyone.
Best Buy (Up to Rs40,000)
Acer Aspire 5738Z
A very nice notebook, a decent configuration and a reasonable price. Suitable for those wanting something basic to replace their desktop. A unanimous Zero 1 Award winner.
Best Buy (Between Rs40,001 and Rs60,000)
Acer Aspire 5738G
A great all rounder and one that offers a good configuration for its price. It’s well built, looks neat and has a very decent screen. A well deserved Zero 1 Award winner from Acer.
Best Buy (High-end Desktop Replacements)
Dell Studio XPS 1640
This is one Dell that has it all — a great display, superb performance, rock-solid build quality and Studio-grade looks. It’s configurable as well and offers good value for those looking at powerful components.
Best Buy (Ultra Compacts)
Dell XPS Studio 1340
Like it’s larger sibling the Studio XPS 1340 offers great components under a well designed chassis. It adds compactness as a much desired feature and for the mobile warrior wanting something powerful, this is as good as it gets.
Best Buy (Corporate Notebooks)
HP ProBook 4410S
A suave looking, superbly well built and very well finished notebook, this one oozes style, but it’s a minimalistic styling that goes well with the corporate stereotype. Priced at Rs40,000 the ProBook 4410S is excellent value.
Best Buy (Basic Ultra Compacts)
Acer Timeline 3810T
A beautiful notebook — excellent finish and good build quality. It’s slim and sleek and offers great battery life. The price is pretty excellent too — Rs31,999.
Best Performer
Sony Vaio VGN-Z48GD
When a notebook is just 20 per cent larger than a netbook and has one of the fastest dual core processors made for notebooks, 6 GB of RAM and two SSDs in RAID 0 there is very little that can best it at the performance level. Just a wonderful product.
Cell Phones
A cellphone is a basic necessity these days, and about as essential to daily urban life as food and water. Choosing one however, is easier said than done, which is where we come in...
Best Buy (Business phones)
Nokia E63
Nokia’s E63 offers 90% of what the E71 does, minus GPS, a really well-laid out keypad and a metal body. But the price is too good to be true, yet it is — Rs11,500 is a superb buy and it wins a Zero 1 Award.
Best Buy (Ultra High-end multimedia phones)
Nokia N97 & Samsung Omnia HD
The N95 8 GB is an excellent phone, but it’s also a model that has been around for well over two years, making it Jurassic in the fast moving world of the smartphone. Its screen, battery life, call quality and feature-set were exemplary for its day, but it faces the heat from the duo of newcomers. The Samsung Omnia HD is a very good phone with the odd quirk. Shockingly the N97 also fell sharply in price, making it comparable to the Omnia HD. Both of these phones offer more features than the now-ageing N95 8 GB, and the Omnia HD actually has a superb capacitive touch screen, making it better for touch use than the N97. However, the N97 has better call and signal quality and a QWERTY keypad. In the end, we’re calling it a tie — both the Nokia N97 and the Samsung Omnia HD impressed us equally, they both win a Digit Zero1 Award.
Best Buy (Entry-level smartphones)
LG KM 335
A basic smartphone and one that is available for a lot less than when we tested it, thanks to it being referred to as an “older” model. However, available for around Rs5,000, it’s a lot of phone for the price and makes a sensible buy for those looking at something other than Nokias and Sony Ericssons.
Best Performers
Nokia N96 & Blackberry Curve 8900
The best of the multimedia and business worlds respectively, the Nokia N96 and Blackberry Curve 8900 are two very different beasts but in general, they both excel at what they do. Very good all-round phones, great signal and call quality, build quality and keypads. The N96 is a very capable multimedia device while the Curve 8900 really cuts it for the corporate audience. We haven’t tested anything better this year.
Graphics cards
Graphics cards are one hotly contested category and this year was no exception. We tested more cards this year, than we have ever done and one thing’s for sure — there’s no dearth of choice!
Best Buy (Entry-level graphics cards up to Rs5,000)
Galaxy GeForce 8400 GS
A half-height card, a price tag of Rs1,500 based on current market prices and a set of full height and half height brackets supplied all mean that the Galaxy 8400 GS is unbeatable for sheer value. It’ll play Blu-Ray 1080p content easily and you can play the occasional game as well.
Best Buy (Entry-level graphics cards between Rs5,000 to Rs7,000)
ZOTAC GeForce 9600GT Eco
ZOTAC’s GeForce 9600GT Eco is a very good option priced at just over Rs5,000. The fact that it makes do without any additional power, other than what is available from the PCI Express slot is enough to win many hearts, particularly those who demand performance but don’t have a very good power supply. A well deserved Zero 1 Award for ZOTAC.
Best Buy (Mid-range graphics cards up to Rs10,000)
Galaxy GTS 250 and Sapphire Radeon HD 4850
Both these cards are equally impressive and there’s a hairsbreadth between them, meaning you can choose either and not worry about making a mistake. There’s a lot of performance available for this price range and we reckon anyone who can shell out around Rs7,000, can have a sweet gaming solution in either one of these winners. The fact that some other cards, based on the same GPU, cost over Rs10,000, is testament enough to the value factor.
Best Buy (High-end graphics cards up to Rs17,500)
ZOTAC GTX 2602 and Palit GTX 260 216 SONIC
For their price, these cards simply deliver the goods. The fact that you can buy a high-end card for under Rs14,000 is simply amazing news for most cash-deprived gamers. Definite Zero 1 material.
Best Buy (High-end graphics cards above Rs24,500)
Sapphire Radeon HD 5870
The shiny newcomer from ATis stables in all its 40nm glory walks away with the trophy. 26,000 bucks is a lot of dough to cough up on a graphics card, but hardcore gamers who demand nothing but the best will not feel let down. DX 11 support, good thermal specifications and great performance all through are its forte. A shiny Zero 1 award to the bold newcomer.
Best Performer
ZOTAC GTX 295
ZOTACs GTX 295 remains the fastest, most powerful graphics card we tested this year. It’s a little unfair to compare it to the ATi Radeon HD 5870-based cards, simply because this is a dual GPU solution and if you’re looking for future proofing and something that doesn’t consume a lot of power and generate a lot of heat, the Radeon 5870 is right up your alley. However, the fact remains, that the ZOTAC GTX 295 is the fastest thing your money can buy…for the moment. It’s priced at Rs30,500, but expect that to drop into the high twenties.
Netbooks
Netbooks have taken over the market. With the promise of low price, excellent battery life and compact size being made, people have received it well. With low price also comes poor quality. We had to test the models in the market to see which was the best model around. They are so popular and there are so many of them, that we tested them two times this past year — once in February and then in September.
Best Buy
Zenith Z-book
The best performer of the year is undoubtedly has been the Zenith Z-book. The Z-book doesn’t trail behind the other netbooks by a lot. It uses the Atom N270 processor like the others and even has a similar sized screen as the rest. The difference in performance only shows up in the battery test, where it doesn’t come close to the best perormers. Still, for a ridiculously low price of Rs16,500, you get a very usable netbook which is why we’ve given it our Zero 1 award.
Best Performer
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA
Acer’s all new 11.6-inch Aspire One arrives to challenge the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. We called it in for review and were surprised to find a very good product that’s designed well and also built well. We didn’t like the older 9-inch Acer Aspire One. That had bad tiny trackpad with oddly positioned buttons along with a really bad keyboard. Looks were the only thing on its side though. This new one has the larger screen, better build and a good elegant design. The performance is a notch up from its older version and a bit up on the last winner — the ASUS EeePC 1005HA in some areas. In general, the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA beats the new Aspire One in the battery test by a big margin. Performance is never going to be a major factor when selecting a netbook, but for those who need the extra oomph, the ASUS EeePC 1005HA is what you need.
Digital Cameras
The category of digital cameras has always been exciting and has showed a lot of activity. We’ve seen them evolve and every year, there’s a refresh of models.
Best Buy (Point and Shoot)
Samsung ES55
Point and shoot cameras haven’t faded away either. We’ve seen camera sensor resolutions go out of the roof. There are newer features such as face detection which is now part of nearly every camera. We are looking for better quality images from the camera more than anything else. There are a few surprises.
The Samsung ES55 was one of the most impressive of the cheaper cameras. We were impressed mainly by its lens quality. The quality at maximum zoom was very good. We were shocked by the rather low price of just Rs8,990. This was one of the main reasons of being awarded the Best Buy award.
Best Performer (Point & Shoot)
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS
In the case of best performers, we like the idea of ultrazooms. With optical zoom lenses of 10 and 12x, they can shoot images of objects half a mile away. The Canon PowerShot SX200 IS is the perfect example of such a product. A 12 MP camera with 12x zoom that’s built so well and is considerably compact at the same time, is good enough reason to give it the best performer award in the point and shoot category.
Best Buy (Digital SLRs)
Nikon D60
The Nikon D60 is a solid entry to the world of dSLR cameras. It is built well and has a better feel than the Canon EOS 1000D. Although, the D3000 is intended as a replacement for the ageing D60, the latter still manages to impress, courtesy of some judicious price drops. So despite the D3000s entry, it has the same innards as its predecessor, making the D60 a sweeter option at the reduced price. It’s a camera that has served Nikon well, and has taken up the gauntlet for being their best volumes-pusher after the D40.
Best Performer (Digital SLRs)
Canon EOS 50D
The Canon EOS 50D was one of the most impressive DSLRs around. The EOS 50D utilises Canon’s new DIGIC 4 processor and features a 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor. Image quality is top notch, with the Nikon D90 trailing slightly. Aimed at the serious prosumer, the EOS 50D comes highly recommended to the serious hobbyist and budding professional alike.
Storage
There are different storage solutions for different kinds of users. A person sitting at home wanting to store tons of data will need an internal hard drive while someone who needs to carry data from one place to another might opt for an external portable drive or maybe even a flash drive.
Best Buy (Internal Hard drives)
WD Caviar Blue 3200AAKS
This 320 GB hard drive is a good performer. Today, prices have dropped a lot and this drive can be bought for less than Rs2,500. Back then, it was one of the cheapest drives around but with great performance although higher capacity drives were around for a bit more. The WD3200AAKS model like the larger WD 6400AAKS are legends of sorts.
Best Buy (External hard drives)
WD MyPassport Studio WD2000M
Those looking for portable data storage drives have the option of going for a portable external drive or a desktop external drive. The desktop versions are huge and bulky but they are large capacity drives. The portable versions are based on laptop hard drives. Among portable hard drives, we have the Western Digital MyPassport Studio WD2000M that was a good performer but was slightly low on features. A worthy mention — on the 3.5-inch side of things, the Seagate FreeAgent Desk is a basic 1 TB external desktop storage drive. It’s a little light on features. It doesn’t have eSATA or Firewire. In performance figures, it matches most of the other USB-based drives. Back then, it was one of the cheapest external desktop drives around — almost the same price as an internal drive. Its fancy design and build were an additional bonus. Despite this, the WD MyPassport Studio WD2000M ends up winning.
Best Buy (Flash Drives)
Kingston HyperX 8 GB
It’s known to many that there are performance flash drives and there are some for high capacity. The Sandisk Ultra Cruzer Titanium 8 GB sells for Rs1,449 and makes good sense as compared to our best performer in the flash drive category. It’s not as fast as the best performer, but still half the way there. The best performer in the test was the Kingston HyperX 8 GB. The price for the drive was some Rs3,633. It’s a lot more than the other 8 GB drives. If you just want something that you can quickly dump data to and move on, this is the ultimate drive.
Best Performer
WD Velociraptor
The internal hard drives segment has been totally dominated by the fastest hard drive there is — the WD Velociraptor. It’s something we’ve tested a long time back and it’s one drive that even challenges the highly anticipated solid state drives.
We received the Caviar Black from WD but it doesn’t match the performance of the Velociraptor. The WD Velociraptor goes on to win the Best Performer award of this segment. Both the 150 GB and 300 GB versions are equally fast.
HDTVs
The latest craze and a new test category for us this year. HDTVs are a very interesting product group and one that has captured the market. Falling prices, loads of misleading gyan...see the best, for there is no place for the rest.
Best Buy (Entry-level HDTV)
Philips 32PFL5609/98
There was no winner in this category in our test conduced in March, simply because we felt no entry-level HDTV was worth it’s price. Manufacturers drop prices and the quality also falls disproportionately. In fact it’s only now that we’re seeing some better quality entrants in the sub-Rs40,000 category. The newcomer from Philips proves a worthy buy indeed. At Rs38,000, this 32-inch display is of full-HD resolution, meaning it supports up to 1080p resolutions — very good performance for the price and a deserved Digit Zero 1 Award.
Best Performer
LG 42-LG80FR and Sony KDL-70X3500
We even tested the new LG Jazz Theatre and while we really liked the colours there was noticeable banding in some of the video clips. The older 42-LG80FR didn’t have this problem and also seemed to have a slightly better contrast ratio. Kudos to LG for a very good quality display at a very good price, this display is available for as little as Rs60,000 in lieu of newer, but not necessarily better models available. Even against the newer LED-based LCD TVs, we feel this display holds its own — the LED displays have some backlight response issues that just ruins the fun. The Sony KDL-70X3500 is another matter altogether. 70-inches of on-screen real estate is unheard of for an LCD TV, and there are few plasmas bigger than this, the most common sizes being 55 and 65-inches. That being said the KDL-70X3500 has excellent colour, contrast and brightness levels, very suitable for a home theatre system, but it’s also uber expensive, (Rs20,00,000), so watch out.
Processors
The powerhouse of any computer has remained one of the most popular product categories for the discerning. The latest crop of CPUs are also very exciting, promising a huge jump in performance over previous-generation architectures.
Best Buy (Processors up to Rs5,000)
AMD Athlon II X2 250
Finally a win for AMD, as their X2 250 proves to be excellent value for money and a much better buy than all the Intel CPUs in that price range. It wins our Zero 1 Award for its blend of affordability and performance.
Best Buy (Processors between Rs5,001 to Rs12,500)
Intel Core i5 750
A newcomer and one we were awaiting with bated breath. The Core i5 was touted to bring the goodness of performance at an affordable price and it has done that. Not only is it faster than the Q8400 by a good bit in terms of performance, it is also faster than Core 2 Quads — a worthy Zero 1 Award winner.
Best Buy (Processors at Rs12,501 and above)
Intel Core i7 920
Intel’s Core i7 920 is a renowned chip. Renowned for bringing the price of the Core i7 close to what lesser mortals can afford. Sure, Rs14,500 is a lot of dough, but you get a lot of processor for that amount and one that is pretty future proof as well.
Best Performer
Intel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition
Extreme indeed. Four, hyperthreaded cores running at 3.33 GHz is enough to send this monster skyrocketing ahead of the competition. No chip has amazed us as much since the Athlon 64 chips of old. It’s price is in excess of Rs50,000 and it will not be the fastest CPU for much longer, with the new 32nm Intel products due next year. However, the fact that this chip runs cool, at a mere 50 degrees on load is testament to its pedigree and Intel’s fabrication quality.
Motherboards
Motherboards are the base of any system. Compromising on a motherboard almost always results in problems of varied sorts. No matter what platform you go for, you should always go in for the best that you can afford. There’s something for everyone here.
Best Buy (Intel platform)
Biostar Tpower X58
In case of Intel, the fastest platform we have is LGA1366 that plays home for the top of the line Core i7 processors. The benchmarks that we’ve run also prove that it’s the fastest platform for Intel’s platform. The only chipset so far is Intel’s X58. Even in this short time span, there have been many boards spawned by every motherboard manufacturer there is. Biostar is a brand that has only recently become popular. Sales are improving by the looks of things. Their latest product the Tpower X58 was one of the cheapest X58 motherboards that came to the test. The cheapest one was the MSI X58M which was a micro ATX board. The Biostar Tpower X58 was a little more expensive at Rs. 12,500 but had some more features and it was designed very well.
Best Performer (Intel platform)
ASUS Rampage 2 Extreme
The top performer of the category for Intel processors was from ASUS. The Rampage II Extreme was one of the best boards around. It belongs to the enthusiast class of boards from ASUS called Republic of Gamers. The board Was priced at Rs28,500 a couple of months back.
Best Buy (AMD platform)
Jetway HA07 Ultra
There is no shortage of boards for the AMD platform either. The Best Buy award goes to the Jetway HA07 Ultra which runs on the AMD 790FX chipset. It’s a full fledged board that doesn’t look too fancy by the looks of things. We had a few complaints about the quality of the heatsink as well but that’s about it. It’s got all the features you need and features that match boards close to three times its cost. This enthusiast class board sells for Rs5,500. Performance isn’t a major problem with motherboards. You find a different of just a couple of per cent between boards using a common chipset.
Best Performer (AMD platform)
ASUS M4A79T
If you aren’t willing to settle with average quality and want the best of all worlds, you have to be willing to go in for the ASUS M4A79T board. It too is based on the AMD 790FX chipset. It’s got a excellent layout and most importantly, a very flexible BIOS that’s very overclocker friendly.
LCD Monitors
Your entertainment PC just isn’t complete without one of these. Widescreens have captured the market and prices have fallen to ridiculously affordable levels. The bandwagon beckons...jump aboard.
Best Buy (19-inch displays)
AOC F19
The F19 is a very good buy for two reasons — it’s very well priced at Rs6,500 and it’s a very good performer for the price. We couldn’t find anything better at this price point.
Best Buy (22-inch displays)
AOC 2230Fm
Try as the LED-backlit V2200 Eco might, it cannot surpass the quality of the AOC 2230Fm. Admitted this is a TN panel, so when we say “quality” it isn’t astronomical, but is about as good as one can expect for the price — Rs14,000.
Best Buy (24-inch displays)
AOC 2434Pw
The AOC 2434Pw is a very good buy for the price of Rs14,500. At this price, it’s common to see 22-inch monitors, not this full-HD monitor and that too with good performance results.
Best Performer
NEC MultiSync 2690WUXi
An amazing display and one that we were hard pressed to find flaw with. If any, it would be the slightly deficient contrast for movies, but this is something that is so trivial few will notice it. HPs L2475W came close, but the 2690WUXi was too good for it. The 2690WUXi isn’t cheap however, and at Rs93,000, you pay pretty penny to obtain one.
Portable Media Players
Discrete PMPs still get preference over cellphones when it comes to discerning users, to whom quality matters.
Best Buy (Entry Level PMPs)
Cowon iAudio 7
The Cowon iAudio 7 is a lot of player per cubic inch. Not only is it novel looking, but the novel touch-based controls also work well and the screen, while not good enough for video playback is pretty legible. Sound quality is absolutely amazing for a player of this price range. Obviously, it’s not as refined as the Apple iPod Classic and iPod Touch, but neither does it command as hefty a price tag. At Rs4,999 for the 4 GB version, and with the 2 GB version costing a good thousand rupees less, this is our unanimous choice for a Zero1 Award.
Best Buy (Mid-range PMP)
Apple iPod Nano Video 8 GB
It’s a golden day for Apple indeed, when a newer player from their stables is the only one can dethrone the reigning champion. In terms of sound quality, in terms of portability, the look and feel of the product, the iPod Nano Video comes up with all aces. There’s hardly anything not to like about this product and now available with the added bit of FM Radio and a video recorder, which by the way isn’t that great at all. Yet the feature is available at no extra cost. For Rs9,400, you get a lot of PMP for the money.
Best Buy (Premium PMP)
Apple iPod Touch 3rd Generation
The iPod Touch is a venerable addition to Apple’s lineup and can be considered as a serious all-in-one device. The interface, the additional goodies in terms of applications and games, the large screen that rocks for movies and the superb audio quality all add up to one thing – a class device that will suit anyone who is willing to shell out and who doesn’t want something compact, which it’s not. It’s an ultra capable device and one that literally has something for everyone. The latest generation also features up to 64 GB of storage, though the cheaper 16 and 32 GB variants are also available — truly Zero 1 Award material.
Best Performer
Apple iPod Classic
The Classic is truly classic. A product line that Apple has stubbornly continued despite rivals shifting over to flash-based players, the Classic represents the best of both worlds — storage and performance. With up to a 160 GB of space, it’s enough to cart around some 3000-odd lossless audio files or your entire collection of MP3s. The 2.5-inch display is also good enough for movies with great colour, crispness and clarity. However the Classic is a little bulky, but then that’s understandable and not really a trade-off for the audiophile. If you’re looking for something with absolute sonic authority, the Classic is one of the best, most neutral sounding PMPs we’ve ever come across. It’s wins our Zero 1 Award for its sterling performance.
DVD/Blu-ray Players
A large screen HDTV just isn’t complete without a proper HD source. While an HTPC remains our top choice, Blu-ray players are available for convenience seekers. DVD players also lurk in the background. Choose wisely...
Best Buy (Blu-ray Players)
Philips BDP 7500
Another wonderful Blu-ray player, even more feature rich than the Sony BDP-S360 with its ability to play videos off a USB-connected device and you can also use this to play music and view photos. It features up to 7.1 channel outputs — rarely seen. Blu-ray video quality was very good, but a bit behind the Sony. However, it handles upsampling very well and DVDs look fantastic. Priced at Rs24,990, this beauty features a thick brushed-aluminium chassis and appears solid enough to be used as a weapon should the need arise. A worthy Zero 1 Award winner.
Best Buy (DVD players)
MoserBaer MBI 6988B
A detachable power cable, swanky curved looks; it also features a USB port and card reader slot. It offers very acceptable quality in terms of performance, although it’s not the best, it’s definitely worth mentioning that this is one of the most feature rich DVD players around. It’s also really affordable, at Rs2,350 — awesome bang for your buck. Another worthy Zero 1 Award winner.
Best Performer
Sony BDP-S360
A head turner with its black body, minimalist buttons and LED display on the front panel. In terms of raw quality for playing Blu-ray videos this one is unbeatable. Colours are not just vibrant but real. Every line, every detail stark and clear — pure visual bliss. We’re unbridled in our praise, even with factoring in the basic quality increment offered by the blu-ray format itself; which means this was better than any other Blu-ray player we’ve seen. Priced at Rs24,990, it’s surely not cheap, but offers a lot to the hardcore HD aficionado.
Wi-Fi Routers
Free your home from the clutter of cables, go 802.11
Best Buy (Routers up to Rs5,000)
Linksys WRT120N
A highly affordable wireless n router at Rs2,850, the WRT120N offers pretty decent bandwidth for smaller homes with a maximum of 2-3 clients. A sweet deal...
Best Buy (Routers above Rs5,000)
Linksys WRT160N
This is a superb buy for someone looking at something more powerful and suitable for a larger home higher speed with a greater number of clients. It’s also suitable for wireless streaming. Priced at Rs5,999, this is a must have for the performance junkie.
Best Buy (ADSL Routers)
DLink 2640T
Although not as fast as we’d like, there’s little dispute to the fact that an ADSL router priced at Rs3,700 is pretty amazing. Add the fact that it supports the latest WPA 2 security protocol and is built well. There’s no wonder it won our Zero 1 Award.
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First Published: Tue, Dec 15 2009. 09 44 PM IST