6 gadgets you can buy this festive season
India may have emerged as one of the largest consumer technology markets in the world, but that does not mean everything released overseas makes its way to Indian shores. A number of high-profile devices either come to India quite late or, sometimes, never (remember the first Nexus device and the first iPhone?). In such cases, the only way to get your hands on them would be if you, or a friend or relative, are travelling abroad (preferably to Europe or the US) or if you order them from one of the international shopping platforms. Here are just some of the gadgets you can look at stuffing in your tech stocking this time around.
$497.29 (around Rs31,975); Amazon.com
It was one of the most anticipated phones of 2017, and we are still waiting for it in India. The Essential phone comes from one of the founders of Android, Andy Rubin. And while it has faced criticism for the less than excellent performance of the dual 13-megapixel cameras, there is no doubting that its sleek titanium frame (which is supposed to survive drops better than others) and edge-to-edge 5.71-inch display are the envy of many. As is the uncluttered, near stock Android experience that the phone delivers on the software side. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, ensures flagship-level performance. Yes, some of the initial euphoria around the phone has faded a bit but it is still great value, thanks to its price.
Amazon Fire 7 with Alexa
Want a tablet that works well, but don’t want to splurge on an Apple iPad or a high-end Samsung Galaxy Tab? Your alternative can be the Kindle Fire 7, which costs about as much as a low-end smartphone but is quite powerful. Sleek and lightweight, it has a 7-inch display, 8 GB of storage (expandable using a microSD card) and battery life that goes up to a very comfortable 8 hours. Yes, Android purists will complain that it locks you into Amazon’s customized Android ecosystem. But then, you can also install Android apps on it as you wish, and get access to Amazon’s marvellous AI assistant, Alexa, right out of the box
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 might be considered more high profile by hard-core gamers, but, in terms of sheer flexibility and innovation, Nintendo has pulled off a coup of sorts with its Switch console. This portable console does not need to be connected to a television, though you do have the option of doing so. The console comes with an LCD touch-screen and two controllers that can be used together by a single player or by two different players playing against each other. Cynics might snigger at the 6.2-inch 720p HD display (something that you find in low-end phones), but that is offset by smooth operation, an incredible game library (including Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild) and the sheer convenience of being able to start playing a game, whether at home or on the way home from work.
Bose soundsport free
If ever there were wireless earphones that could give the Apple AirPods a run for their money, it would perhaps be these. The earpieces are slightly bigger in comparison, but they come with no wires and their own charging case, which provides up to 10 hours of battery life in addition to the 10 hours of battery life in the ear buds. They are sweat- and water-resistant, thanks to a “water repellent mesh”. The trademark warm Bose sound signature, which has given the company near iconic status in the audio ecosystem, remains. At about 28g, they are super-light too.
Microsoft Surface Book 2
$1,416.90 onwards; Amazon.com
If you are looking for a sleek, good-looking notebook with great hardware, the second edition of Microsoft’s Surface Book is definitely worth considering. The notebook is available in two avatars (one with a 13.5-inch display and the other with a 15-inch one), and comes with a design that will turn heads, thanks to rounded hinges that allow the display to rotate all the way back and be used as a tablet. At around 1.5kg, it is light enough to be carried around, but in terms of hardware, it is anything but lightweight—the options include an Intel Core i7 processor, 1 TB storage and 16 GB RAM, depending on the version you opt for. There are two USB ports, a USB Type C port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a card reader, and the keyboard is backlit. And all this with battery life of close to 17 hours
Samsung Chromebook Pro
The Chromebooks are laptops running the Google Chrome OS, with a focus on performance and excellent battery life, mainly for routine tasks rather than heavy-duty computing. Chrome OS can now run Android apps and supports offline work (so you do not always need to be connected to the internet while using it). One of the best Chromebooks around is the Samsung Chromebook Pro, with a 12.3-inch quad HD display, powered by an Intel Core M3 processor paired with 4 GB of RAM. There is 32 GB storage, which can be expanded courtesy a microSD card and two USB ports. The ace up its sleeve is a stylus, which lets users scribble and select on the touch-screen. Round that off with a sleek design, and it still costs a whole lot less than its Windows counterparts while offering comparable performance.
*Prices may vary
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