APPLE MACBOOK 1.83GHZ LAPTOP
As an owner of a 12-inch Apple PowerBook G4, circa 2004, I was curious about the new MacBook featuring Intel’s Duo Core chip. Happily, a 13-inch widescreen MacBook 1.83GHz landed up on my desk last week. I expected that Intel-based laptops would be able to perform at better speeds than my PowerBook G4. Compared to the PowerBook G4’s relatively lacklustre specs (133MHz system bus, a single 1GHz G4 processor), the MacBook Pro’s architecture (667MHz bus, dual-core 1.83GHz processor) should make it generally faster. If you’re upgrading from a two- or three-year-old PowerBook G4, you’ll notice a massive speed boost in Universal applications, while Rosetta applications will run at the speed you’re used to (Rosetta is an inbuilt software that makes applications intended to run on PowerPC processors compatible with Intel processors, and Universal applications are designed for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs). But if you use a resource-intensive programme such as Photoshop CS2, or you need to wring every last bit of performance out of your system when you’re on the road, you’ll be better off waiting until your software has been updated before buying a MacBook Pro. And, of course, more RAM is always welcome. Users will find an appreciably faster MacBook performance on all apps if they upgrade to 1GB, or even to the maximum of 2GB.
The MacBook also sports a few new tricks: The most impressive of these is the sudden-motion sensor, which locks the hard drive to prevent damage in case you drop your laptop, and the two-finger track pad for scrolling. Using two fingers to scroll a window up and down is easier than moving the cursor to the right, hitting scroll arrows and moving back to my page—do that several hundred times in a day and you’ll appreciate the innovation. I also like that if you place two fingers on the track pad, and then click on the track pad button, it brings up a contextual menu—a big improvement over having to use two hands to invoke the menu. The integrated iSight camera is another nice touch, and it’s nice to have a stern face suddenly appear on an intern’s monitor while connected over the iChat app. Apple’s MagSafe power adapter magnetically connects the power cord to the MacBook and immediately disconnects with the slightest tug, preventing the notebook from falling off its work surface. Very cool.
For the first time on any Mac laptop, Apple uses a glossy coating—common on Windows laptops—instead of an anti-glare coating. The result is very crisp blacks, bright whites and vibrant, pleasing colours. The 13.3-inch MacBook display offers a widescreen format of 1280-by-800 pixel native resolution, 30% more pixels than the 1024-by-768 pixel resolution of my 12-inch PowerBook. This is better for watching widescreen DVDs or having multiple windows open at once. The MacBook is very impressive, compared to the iBooks and PowerBook it replaces, and offers almost everything you would need in a laptop. Price: Rs61,300
VU BLUETOOTH 2.1 SPEAKERS
Of late, I’ve had the luxury of listening to music in the loo in the morning, sitting on my throne and pondering over how much my motorcycle was contributing to global warming while reading Vanity Fair’s special ‘Green Issue’ with great feature pieces from Michael Shnayerson and a super photo spread with environmental notables of various sorts.
Actually, I am quite pleased with the way my Nokia N95 is streaming music wirelessly to the VU Bluetooth speakers mounted on the wall. The speaker system has an inbuilt A2DP Bluetooth module that lets it receive audio signals in high-quality, stereo mode. Pairing is very simple, quick and effortless and in no time I am listening to music from my phone.
This is a 2.1 speaker system with the two satellites and a woofer housed in the same unit. The average output power is 20 watts RMS—the subwoofer rated at 12 watts RMS and the satellites outputting 4 watts RMS each. However, the lack of a remote is a bit of a pain, especially from where I’m sitting. The sound quality is crisp, with good mid- and high-frequency reproductions, nice enough for a small bathroom.
Also bundled is a Bluetooth dongle supporting an A2DP profile that enables you to listen to the songs on your computer wirelessly, or you can simply plug it to any audio device with the supplied signal input cable to use as a conventional wired multimedia speaker. Sadly, the N95 review unit has gone back (Ed: Do I have to return these things?) and now the speakers are hooked up to the daughter’s iPod Shuffle playing pap such as Beyoncé. Price: Rs9,279 www.technologies.vu.
BOSE IN-EAR HEADPHONES
On a mission to replace your ratty iPod ear buds? Then the Bose in-ear headphones may be the one for you. These let a bit of outside noise in—this is actually good if you’re someone who wears your headphones out in public, as you’ll hear that bus gunning straight for you. And just because they let some noise in doesn’t mean they’re bad. The sound quality is rich and warm with the characteristic Bose low-end performance, with the earphone’s silicone tips funnelling the sound directly into your ear canals.
Bass fiends should be happy with this one. For a non-audiophile like me, a simple equalizer setting to ‘treble booster’ on the iPod was adequate to render crisper vocals and tight snares and cymbals on the incomparable Sarah Vaughan’s Inner City Blues. Sound levels are excellent, and riding a bike with Jamiroquai’s High Times Singles playing on my iPod is a perfect way to get to work on my 20km morning commute.
I am not a big fan of canal earphones intruding into my delicate ears, but the Bose in-ear phones are well-designed, with the semi-transparent, gel-like soft silicone tips resting securely in the ear, reducing irritating pressure points. With the headphones, you get three different-sized silicone earbuds (S, M and L) that should fit most humans on this planet. The smallest size works best for me. In the box comes a smart, black, leather carrying case with a cable winder and a magnetic clip that is small enough to fit into my pocket. It’s a good idea to keep the earphones in the box when not in use as the silicone tips are a magnet for dirt and lint. Price: Rs5,000, www.boseindia.com
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