Friday, December 20, 2013

Smartphone Blackberry 9720 review

Blackberry's cheapest touchscreen phone, but price isn't everything

A ray of hope for BlackBerry OS7 users. Yes, a new Blackberry phone based on the old Blackberry platform 9720!

Many may question why the manufacturer doesn't merge the platforms to a single one instead of concentrating on two versions of the same operating system simultaneously at the same point of time! As big a puzzle as that well may be for the manufacturer, lets welcome the all-new sub 15000 Blackberry, which merges touchscreen and QWERTY on to the same device.

Built like the older Curve models, the 9720 looks good. Available in black and white, the device sports a decent-looking touch screen coupled with a backlit physical keyboard. The back has a rubberised panel with a shiny Blackberry logo in the middle. Sturdy, yes, but it does look a bit childish and doesn't carry the premium corporate looks of the Blackberry legacy.

The 2.8in IPS touchscreen display has a resolution of 480x360 with 214 PPI, not bad for a sub 15K device. Apart from the call, menu, trackpad, return and call disconnect buttons which sit between the touchscreen and the physical QWERTY keyboard, there are other buttons for easy access.
Smartphone Blackberry 9720 review

The 3.5mm audio out and power on/off switch sits on the top while the micro USB charger input and direct to BBM button sit on the left. The volume, mute and camera convenience keys occupy the right.

The device features a 5 megapixel rear camera with an LED flash on the top. Surprisingly, the 9720 doesn't have a front camera.
Inside, the 9720 has a 806MHz Tavor MG1 processor along with 512 MB of RAM. The combination works fine for day to day usage, but is slow for heavy tasks. The screen offers a wide viewing angle, coupled with decent touch response. We didn't find any issues using the trackpad. The keys are a bit rais ed but comfortable.

The 5 megapixel camera doesn't have autofocus. In normal light, the images are decent and usable. The latest app also lets you upload to social networking sites. The 1450 mAh battery remains alive till you reach home from office. With heavy usage, it dries up a couple of hours earlier. The phone has WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS but lacks NFC.

wedThe 9720 is not a bad phone and is in fact good for old BB users. But Blackberry does need to sort out a couple of things. Like providing a slightly bigger battery so that the phone lasts at least for a day!

VERDICT: An inexpensive blackberry device with few useful features

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SMARTPHONE Sony Xperia Z1 review

A good looking android phone

The Sony Xperia Z1 is a power-packed smartphone in a waterproof housing. The full HD smartphone has several impressive features. Even though it does resemble its predecessor, the Xperia Z, it's elegant looks maintain Sony's reputation of stylish designs.

The glass-coated casing is stunningly impressive, it is highly prone to fingerprints and smudges. Sony has used a single piece of aluminium for the casing, giving a premium yet sturdy finish.

The microSD slot and micro USB port sit on the top left side. The micro SIM slot, power button and volume rocker occupy the left side of the body. All the ports — except 3.5mm sound out — are hidden under similar coloured rubber caps to ensure that the phone actually stay water proof.

Measuring 144x74x8.5mm, the device is quite compact but the angular design makes it a bit difficult to hold and use single handed. On the plus side, the device is IP58 certified ensuring that the Z1 is dust and water resistant . Though the glass back looks a bit flimsy, it survived quite a few drops during our test.

Undoubtedly, the biggest USP is its full HD screen. Boasting a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, the Z1's screen is great to watch movies or play games. In our display test we found the colours, viewing angle, banding and saturation to be impressively perfect.
SMARTPHONE Sony Xperia Z1 review

Inside, the phone boasts of a powerhouse Quad Core Snapdragon MSM8974 2.2GHz processor along with 2GB of RAM. It also has an Adreno 330 GPU doinf graphic duties.
While testing the phone we opened multiple tabs in chrome, multitasked through several data intensive social networking sites and played a few heavy duty games like Asphalt. And in every test we found the device very responsive, without any noticeable lag.

In the benchmarking session, the Xperia Z1 performed like a monster. It scored 33799 in Antutu and 1148 in Vellamo Metal. The only other phone that bettered its score — that too with just a few points — is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The 20.7 megapixel camera performed well, irrespective of lighting conditions. The handset also has a 2 megapixel front camera for video calling. Plus, Sony has released a clip on lens for more impressive results. We will review that soon.

The Z1's battery is impressive — 3000mAh, this lasts almost two days on a full charge.

The Sony Xperia Z1 is the best phone till date from the manufacturer. Available for a little less than Rs 43,000, the Z1 is a bit expensive, but the overall performance is super.

VERDICT: Great screen paired with a decent camera and great hardware

SMARTPHONE HTC Desire 600 Dual SIM review

Decent looking dual sim phone.

HTC has recently unveiled the Desire 600, a mid-end Android dual SIM smartphone.
The appearance is premium and our test unit came clad in black. Measuring just 67x134.8x9.26 mm, and weighing just 130gm, the Desire 600 is a good fit in the hand, matte finish on the back adds to the anti-slip feel.

The 4.5in qHD screen shares the front with two touch sensitive buttons and two grilled speaker bars, this is similar to the manufacturer's previous flagship devices. Touted as a "boom box", these speaker units are placed on top and bottom of the screen.

The device packs in a Snadragon 200 based SOC, Qualcomm MSM8625Q Cortex A5, a Quad Core processor with a clock speed of 1.2GHz. In addition, the Desire 600 has 1GB Ram and 8GB inbuilt memory with an Adreno 203 based GPU. The device also has an external micro SD card slot, the memory can be expanded up to 64GB.
SMARTPHONE HTC Desire 600 Dual SIM review

The phone has 8 megapixel and 1.3 megapixel rear and front cameras. Both cameras boast of a back illuminated sensor and 2.0 f-stop, ensuring quality performance in low lighting conditions. The rear camera is also capable of recording full HD videos at a 720x1280 resolution.

Android Jellybean 4.1.2 is overlaid with the Sense 5.0 user interface. Most features of this interface remaoin the same as in the earlier HTC one devices except a few tweaks — like the dual SIM management. The
superLCD 4.5in screen has a 960x540 pixel resolution. The quality is decent with neutral colours and ample brightness, the viewing angle is pretty decent too. With a 240 PPI density, the screen falls short of the latest high end smartphones, but it is functional for standard use.Rounding up the configuration is the 1860mAh battery, which lasts for a day on a full charge.

The Desire 600 is a decent looking Android handset with good performance. The only flaw is its price — Rs 26,999 on web at the time of this review — which is just Rs 2,000 less than what the super impressive Nexus 5 costs! If HTC considers this and cuts down the price by a few thousands, this device will surely be a decent buy.

VERDICT: Rugged build quality, feature rich but over priced

Portronics Drums Bluetooth Speaker review

Budget bluetooth speaker

The Portronics Drums speaker is a cylindrically shaped device measuring 78x76.6mm (HxW). It has two 2.5w drivers situated on the top and the base. Both drivers are encased by a perforated metal grill and a rubbery ring on the bottom. Wrapping both the drivers together is a casing of Silvery Gold Zinc alloy giving a rugged feel.

The speaker also has a micro SD card reader, 3.5mm audio out and a mini USB port for charging. Instead of touch controls, Portronics has opted for physical controls — a sensible idea, given that touch controls don't respond most of the time. Housed on the top of the device, the control panel has rubberised switches for play/ pause, forward, backward, volume up and down.

There are three modes: Aux, Card reader and Bluetooth. Operating and pairing the device is easy, long press the play/ pause button, the device is switched on and an audible female voice announces the active state. To pair it with any bluetooth device, keep the button pressed for two seconds, till a blue LED starts blinking with audio instructions.
Portronics Drums Bluetooth Speaker review

Once connected, you'll be surprised by the volume and quality that this miniscule speaker is capable of, good enough for a medium sized room. At maximum volume there is a pinch of audible distortion with less bass. But it improves a lot after 50 hours of usage.

Overall, the sound quality is acceptable. We also tested the call receive feature and found it decent. We watched a full two and half hour length film by connecting this to a laptop. The battery lasted for three and half hour of music in Bluetooth mode.

In a nutshell, the Portronics Drums is good value for its price — a little less than Rs 3,300.

VERDICT: Intriguing shape, good performance at a decent price

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NOTEBOOK ASUS Vivobook F202E review

Budget Windows 8 touchscreen notebook

One look at the Vivobook F202E and we were smitten! The compact size, light weight, fit and finish and decent price make it a product, hard to beat.

Instead of using plastic, ASUS has used brushed aluminium for the lid and the palm rest, which gives a premium look and feel. Weighing just under 1.4Kg, the Vivobook F202E feels almost a kilo lighter than other conventional laptops. Measuring 303x200x21.7mm, it can also easily fit inside any regular backpack or sling bag.

NOTEBOOK ASUS Vivobook F202E review
Importantly, ASUS hasn't sacrificed any ports to keep it compact. The left side has an Ethernet Port, HDMI, Kensington lock along with a couple of USB ports, of which one is a USB3. More ports like D-Sub, card reader and another USB port sit on the right.

This vivobook has laptop level specifications in a netbook sized body. Instead of a 14in or 15.6in display commonly seen in regular laptops, ASUS pairs a 11.6in touchscreen with Windows 8. Inside is an Intel Core i3 3217U processor with 4GB of RAM along with 500GB of storage.

The 11.6in screen has a resolution of 1366x768, more commonly seen in 14in or 15.6in laptops. But the shrunken screen boasts more PPI (Pixels Per Inch) — 135 compared in comparison

VERDICT: Light, great looking, good in any thing except hard core gaming

Kaspersky Internet Secutity 2014 review

A premium internet security suite with some welcome updates

Kaspersky Internet Security 14 or 2014 is a combined suite of security software, including anti virus, firewall, phishing protection, anti spam, parental control and more.

The software can be purchased online and is even available at stores. We downloaded the package from the Developer's corporate website. The 244MB installer file takes around half an hour or less through a stable internet connection.

The installation process was simple. To avoid conflict, the installer first checks if there is any other security suite pre-installed. After that, the installation was a matter of a few clicks. The interface is almost similar to the stand alone Anti Virus version. The teal white combination interface states the current physical state of the computer in a large black font. Below that, an array of buttons represents different features of the suite. The entire suite operates through a single window, so consumes less space.

Our test comprised several activities including, some real world notorious threats to the computer!

The first of them was anti malware test where we popped in a DVD full of latest malwares into the system.
We also installed a few of them in our system even before installing the suite. We found the suite very effective as 87 percent were detected at one go.

The next test was phishing where we tried to visit some highly fraudulent sites including some new ones and yet again the suite stood tall.

In our anti spamming test, we found that KIS analyzes both IMAP and POP3 incoming messages and marks spam by scanning their subject line. On the first run, it detected several promotion-based incoming mails as spams — appreciable!

We tried breaching the firewall, and after every attempt we got an access denied message from the suite! We also tried to use penetration tools and most of the time were blocked.

The parental control are much simpler than earlier. By listing all users, it allows you to block particular sites and monitor your child's activities . The suite also offers utilities like Privacy Cleaner, Windows Troubleshooting, Vulnerability Scan, to name a few.

In a nutshell, Kaspersky Internet Security 14 is a simple to use Internet Security Suite with decent protection and most importantly, consumes less system memory. Available at an MRP of Rs 899 and Rs 1,799 for one and three users respectively, it is expected to be available for much less, online.

VERDICT: Light on system resource, good detection

Canon ImageFormula P-215 Review

Scan anything, anywhere

Though the Canon ImageFormula P-215 isn't the lightest or smallest portable scanners out there, it does have a lot to offer. A duplex scanner, dedicated card scanner, 20 sheet Document Feeder tray and more importantly, the ability to be stashed in a bag, make it an attractive choice.

Measuring 285x95x40mm (WxDxH), it weighs a kilo. The scanner does not require a PSU unit, hence there is no need to cart anything else around. Encased in all-black plastic with a silver border on the bezel, P-215 is a good looking device. It has a USB port for connectivity along with a regular port for charging and a Kensington lock.
Canon ImageFormula P-215 Review

Installing the scanner is an easy process, though the main installer only installs CaptureOnTouch including necessary drivers. To make use of all available functions, you need to install other utilities manually.
The P-215 can scan different sized documents from to 8.4x14in, at a speed of 15 pages per minute. The 20-sheet document feeder is handy while scanning multiple jobs. The P-215 took just 39 seconds to scan a sheaf of 15 pages at 150DPI resolution in mono. The same set took around 59 seconds when we scanned the same pages in colour. At 300DPI, the scanning took almost a minute and a half and 600DPI took even.

Happily, it supports duplex scanning, which means you'll be able to scan both sides of a paper in a single scan. Duplexing comes very handy while scanning volumes of data simultaneously.

As per our test results, we are quite happy with the speed across modes, with decent output quality. We recommend this product to users who value quality and need to scan documents very frequently.

STORAGE Seagate Central review

 Finally a full blown NAS for home users
To cater to the fast-growing demand for storage space and realising that most users prefer local storage than cloud, Seagate has launched NAS — Network Attached Storage. This simple looking drive provides easy sharing of data across devices and platforms.

Resembling a DTH box, Seagate Central consumes such little space that it can actually be installed in a media centre device. There is an Ethernet and a lone USB 2.0 port along with the power connector on the rear, and the device doesn't feature any switch except a notification LED. Though it has ample vents to cool it while running, we would still suggest placing it in a well-ventilated space.

Available in 2, 3 and 4TB capacity, we received the 4TB model for review.
STORAGE Seagate Central review

We found the installation guide very helpful. The device requires configuration through a browser so the installation needs a computer to be connected to the drive for the first time. Once connected, we were instructed step by step.

The main interface has five tabs — Home, Users, Social, Service and Settings. Using these, you can create new users, their rights, download images from facebook or map the drive. Users can upload or download data from anywhere in the world using the Internet.

Our experience with Seagate Central was fair. However, available at Rs 17,700 for the 4TB version, it does seem to be a bit costly. Reducing the price by few thousands can really make it an great buy.

VERDICT: Easy to use a tad overpriced

E-BOOK READER Kobo Aura review

The best e-reader we've ever reviewed.

The Kobo Aura HD was one of our favourite ebook readers thanks to its gloriously high-resolution screen. The new Kobo Aura is a smaller and cheaper version.

The Aura's screen is 6in with a resolution of 1024x758 pixels. Although this is less than the HD's 7in 1440x1080- pixel screen, it's still excellent. Text is crisp, with 11 additional fonts to choose from and plenty of font sizes. There's a subtle backlight that diffuses light evenly across the screen so you don't strain your eyes when reading in the dark.

You can adjust the brightness using a slider.

The Aura doesn't have a raised border, with the screen blending seemlessly into the black frame. This gives the Aura a sleek, minimalist look that's both pleasing on the eye and comfortable in the hand. It's easy to use because the touchscreen is very responsive, and the menus and settings well organised and simple to understand.
E-BOOK READER Kobo Aura review

The Aura has an interesting feature called Beyond the Book, which is available on some ebooks. It gives you extra insight and information to whatever you're reading. When we read a book about the American electoral system, for example, the feature provided extra information about forecasting and predictions. This was all very interesting, but lacked sufficient depth to be truly useful.

Kobo Aura costs slightly more than the similar Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The two are evenly matched in screen and build quality, but with the Aura you can buy your ebooks from a variety of stores while the Kindle is limited to Amazon. For us that freedom is worth extra.

With 100PPI commonly seen in a similar resolution laptop — which results in much better colour. A webcam sits just above the screen and is capable of recording 720p videos.

Talking about the performance, we would like to begin with the keyboard. It has an island type keyboard with a rubberised texture, this provides a comfortable day-long typing experience with decent response. The touchscreen is also quite responsive and supports multitouch gestures. There is a bundled user-friendly utility that makes it very simple to set up these gestures.

While measuring performance, we performed a variety of tasks like MPEG transcoding along streaming a 1080p movie, regular data processing, web surfing and music. There was no noticeable lag during these jobs. Playing games like Angry Birds is a decent experience though high end games could be a bit of a struggle at this configuration.

Overall, the ASUS Vivobook F202E is an impressive touchscreen laptop with good looks. Available at a tad over Rs 35,000, this is a one-of-a-kind product for those who who want an ultraportable decent looking laptop at a modest price.

ASROCK launches most Powerful Z87 Motherboard ASRock Z87 Extreme11/ac

ASRock launches Z87 Extreme11/ac which they claims the most powerful board available on Z87 platform.
This motherboard boasts a whopping 22 SATA3 ports, including 6 SATA3 ports by Intel Z87 chipset, and another 16 SAS-3 12.0 Gb/s ports from the added LSI SAS 3008 Controller plus 3X24R Expander, which can reach up to an unearthly 6.1 GB/s transfer speed. Enhanced with a PLX PEX 8747 chip, it is capable of supporting 4-Way CrossFireX and 4-Way SLI with its solid PCIe 3.0 slots at x8/ x8/x8/x8 mode to deliver mind blowing visuals.

ASRock Z87 Extreme 11/ac is also armed with Thunderbolt 2 for up to 20 Gbps high speed data transferring.
ASROCK launches most Powerful Z87 Motherboard ASRock Z87 Extreme11

ASRock Z87 Extreme11/ac is also built with A-Style features, including Home Cloud for remote wake and remote desktop anywhere anytime. The most top notch onboard audio solution Purity Sound 115dB
SNR. And of course the world’s fastest 2T2R Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth v4.0 module, which provides 867 Mbps crazy fast internet connection, plus it comes with an exclusive Wi-SD Box for installing 4 USB 3.0 devices and an SD 3.0 card reader. Other features such as 12 Power Phase design, Dual-Stack MOSFET, Digi Power, Japan made gold capacitors can also be found on this motherboard, making Z87 Extreme 11/ac an epic choice for enthusiasts.

For more information about this product: asp?Model=Z87%20Extreme11/ac.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

PNY PowerBank C51 test

Portable charger with style

Powerful batteries and slim phones share an asymmetrical relationship. Superslim featherlight flagship smartphones usually feature weak batteries which usually last for a day or less. They need to be charged frequently, sometimes a couple of times or more a day. In such scenarios, power banks are a boon.

PNY has launched several devices in this category and we have reviewed a few earlier. The PNY PowerBank C51 is the brand's latest offering.

The PowerBank C51 comes in a white blister pack, including a printed manual and a couple of USB to Micro USB cables. Focused towards fashion conscious customers, the C51 is available in chic colours like pistachio green and baby pink.

About the size of a tiny smartphone, this battery measures just 86.0x53.0x19.0mm and weighs 122gm. Its a good fit in a pocket or small travel bag. To give a premium feel, PNY has used a rubbery texture on the exterior.

On the top front, the C51 has a squarish button for charging. Two USB and one micro USB ports sit on the top. The micro USB is used to charge the battery while the USB ports charge devices. You can charge two devices simultaneously. Using micro USB to charge is advantageous as you don't need to carry a dedicated charger — your mobile phone charger or data cable can double up.

To test the battery, we connected two devices simultaneously, BlackBerry Z30 and Sony Xperia Z1.

As the combination of two batteries (2880mAh of Z30 and 3000mAh of Xperia Z1) exceeds the C51's battery life (5200mAh), it couldn't charge either device completely. After full draining, we found both batteries charged over 70 percent — which gives an impressive usage of 16 plus hours. The battery can charge connected devices while simultaneously charging itself. A full charge takes around three and half hours.

PNY PowerBank C51 offers a 5200mAh battery at Rs 1,900 (approximate online price at the time of review). If you carry more gadgets, you may want to opt for a higher capacity battery like the 80A or P-104.

VERDICT: Good looking ultraportable battery