The Lounge editor’s little piece on her BlackBerry addiction (First Cut, 7 April, 2007) got me going on this edition of GG. On reading it, I somehow could not get Tom Cruise’s redemption scene from Jerry Maguire out of my head, where he bursts into a room full of cynical, single women and declares to Rene Zellweger, “You… you complete me”. So in that mushy light, here are a few things that had me at “Hello”.
MOBILE + PHOBILE
Remember the phones from the good old days? Hunks of bakelite with whirring rotary dials, tut-tut-tut pulse dialling, curly-wurly cables and, best of all, hefty dumbbell-like handsets that actually reached both ear and mouth at the same time. Plus, you could evocatively slam the thing down in disgust. Thanks to the technologically advanced, but hilariously retro Phobile handset, you can now have the satisfaction of incongruous juxtaposition of the old and the new. The Phobile is a glorious hunk of retro-ironic plastic that will plug into your mobile phone. It’s obvious that the Phobile is just for fits and giggles, but then this is gadgetry at its finest—pointless, but funny. Imagine the look on people’s faces when your mobile rings and you pull this whacking great relic out of your pocket. Log onto www.firebox.com, $40 (about Rs1,700)
GG’s fondness for the BlackBerry has been well documented on these pages. My BlackBerry Pearl makes me feel smarter, cooler and functions as my portable, secondary memory. All I have to do is Google to answer any question that my daughter has on Avril Lavigne or Christopher Paolini. Fahrenheit to Centigrade conversion while developing black-and-white film in the darkroom? BlackBerry to the rescue. If I need to access blogs, email, instant messaging, or the phone, it’s all at my fingertips. Though sad to say, this is one reason I feel and appear less smart when I forget my BlackBerry. Available at Airtel stores, Rs24,000.
Apple’s new iPhone is three devices in one: a mobile phone, Internet browser and touch-screen iPod. As an avowed fan of the fruity empire, this end-of-the-year tasty tech treat is a no-brainer for GG, even before saying hello. Say farewell to traditional buttons, this baby is touch screen 24/7. The 3.5-inch screen features a number pad for dialling and a keyboard for texting. You can scroll through contacts, music, photos, websites, etc., by simply running your finger down the screen. You can enlarge photo gallery images by spreading them out using two fingers. You can synchronize all your contacts with a Mac, PC or Web-based back-up service with a simple tap. Connectivity options include stereo Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, POP3 and IMAP4 email, and a Safari Web browser. Connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or 2.75G connection and the Web pages will be compressed to fit the screen but you can also zoom in on the relevant parts. Either of the 4GB or 8GB versions makes it a substantial portable media player. The cons that GG can see are the wimpy 2-megapixel camera compared to the Nokia N95 with its 5-megapixel camera. Also, Apple claims that the iPhone’s battery will last for five hours of talk time, video watching and Internet browsing, and for a whole 16 hours if you only listen to music. Not near enough time for the GG. There is no FM radio, but that’s nothing new for Apple. It’s also strange that Apple decided to go with 2.75G data support seeing the inevitable emergence of UMTS and HSDPA mobile systems with their higher data rates. GG expects to set aside the Diwali bonus for the iPhone this year. Prices are likely to range from $500 to $600 (about Rs21,500 to about Rs26,000) for the 4GB and 8GB versions, respectively.
While the console wars between the next-gen Sony PlayStation3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 rage, Nintendo’s Wii (say wee) console has emerged David-like to grab the top spot. A quick Google search shows US and Japanese sales of Wii players in January and February totalled 1.47 million, PlayStation3 tallied 604,331, while stores sold 584,329 of Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Wii is also leading in Europe. It’s surprising because the funnily named console features a CPU that’s woefully slow in comparison to the big bullies, and the Wii caps out at 480p resolution—far short of the competition’s 1080p. But the console features a controller that makes gameplay fun and innovative. The Bluetooth-based ‘Wii-mote’ uses motion sensing technology, force feedback and built-in speaker to immerse you in gameplay. In a demo session at Souvenirs, my favourite toy shop in Mumbai, while playing Legend of Zelda, I rode into battle against troops of foul creatures, wielding a sword and shield with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers for an amazing physical experience. Sorry, son, the PS3 will have to wait… your old man is getting the Wii. Nintendo Wii, Rs22,000, available at Souvenirs, 117 Malabar Mansion, Garden Road, Opp Cusrow Baug, Colaba, Mumbai.
Apple iMac G5
One day, all PCs will look like this. The iMac G5 has the CPU, motherboard and drives mounted in the same 2-inch-thick chassis as the monitor, like a supersized iPod music player placed on an elegant anodized aluminium stand. The 20-inch model that I have is a shade over 25 pounds (almost 11.5kg), so moving one from room to room is easy. The only cable you’ll ever need to plug in is the power cord. I’m spoilt by the vast screen real estate of the 20-inch monitor. My iMac G5 is powered by the latest Intel dual core processors, so, in addition to running the super-easy Mac OS X, I have the option to run other operating systems, including Windows XP and the new Vista. What’s an Intel chip doing inside a Mac? A lot more than it ever did inside a PC. The Mac also comes with the latest industry-standard technologies for connecting to peripherals and networks, including USB 2.0, FireWire, Ethernet, and Bluetooth—it’s a no-brainer to connect digital cameras, external drives, wireless devices, you name it. My 20-inch iMac: CPU 2.33 GHz Intel Core Duo, 1.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon X1600/256MB VRAM, 250GB hard drive, DVD R/W Super drive will cost you about Rs1 lakh. Log on to www.apple.com to find a retailer.
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