Tried And Tested – November 2012 (Part 1)

12/12/2012 9:07:39 AM

Welcome upgrade to slimmer design and improved performance

The Intel headed Ultrabook revolution to counter Apple’s monopoly in the ultraportable systems made its debut last year with products from several manufactures with sleeker bodies and a better battery life.

Samsung’s first contribution was Series 5 and Series 9. While the Series 5 focused on the price war with other ultrabooks, Series 9 was for sophisticated windows loves.

Samsung Series 9 NP900X3C-A01

The first generation series 9 was an elegant product and the first to challenge the Macbook Air. But like many other first generation products, it had some flaws. Happily, this time Samsung has eliminated all those problems!

The product now comes in an impressive box with a sleek charger unit, Ethernet adapter, printed manuals and a Windows 7 system restore DVD.

Unlike the first series which used Duralim (used for making aircraft chassis) housing, this one uses aluminium for a rugged, thin and light effect. The matte mineral ash black housing is less prone to smudges. The product feels solid, with a neat overall finish.

The device is so thin that it doesn’t have any room for ports on the front. All the necessary port including card reader, HDMI and USB3 are housed on the sides. Samsung has also taken a big leap with its trackpad and keyboard with this product. It has multitouch options like scrolling pinch zoom, rotation, three finger horizontal swipe, four finger swipe and even two as good as macbook’s the trackpad still rocks! The keyboard is neatly crafted with LEDs for better visibility.

The system is quite responsive while launching programmes, though waking up from sleep takes longer than the macbook air. Another feather in it’s cap is the display, with a 1600x900 resolution the anti-reflective screen is bright, neat, crisp with great viewing angles.

Samsung has also introduced many new features, like the fast boot mode with this device, this enables a speedy start-up. Apart from the regular test, we used few synthetic benchmarks as well including PCMARK and CineBench and got a decent score. The battery life is better from the first generation and we achieved about 5 hours, which is not bad at all.

The Samsung Series 9 is one of the best ultrabooks still date and a definite competitor to the Apple Macbook Air, with a much better configuration. The build quality, design, performance, weight and looks deserve an award and a pat from us. Well done, Samsung!

We say: A great buy

Overall: 8/10

QHMPL game pad

Low cost controller for your gaming needs

Even though most of us spend at least an hour a day if not more laying games, we hardly ever think of using a gamepad, despite the fact that the frequent clicks and key presses can actually harm our keyboard and mouse. A gamepad not only increases the lifespan of the regular input devices like but also improves the gaming session!

Priced at Rs 450, the QHMPL is a surprisingly affordable input device. The gold and black gamepad looks funky and has a long USB cable enabling operation from a comfortable distance.

QHMPL game pad

The control section is in gold with black buttons and the lower half is black with a textured feel. As it provides a good grip, the product is suitable for long –duration use. We connected the pad with a Windows 7 Alienware notebook and it was automatically detected as an input device. The website supplies an additional driver which some more instructions, a game support as well as troubleshooting manual, at least on their website.

We played DOTA 2, Counter Strike, NFS Shift, Max Payne and GTA and didn’t experience any compatibility issue with any game. The control, speed and joystick flexibility are quite smooth. Though the control pad buttons felt a bit plasticky, they remained accurate in operation.

The QHMPL 2v-C is a good and affordable gamepad for amateur gamers.

We say: Good performance, tech manuals missing

Overall: 6/10

Antec Soundscience LED kit

A boon for long computing hours

Staring at a monitor for long hours is harmful for your eyes due to less-than-adequate illumination around a display. So adding more light at the back of the display makes your computing more comfortable. And this what Soundscience’s Halo 6 LED kit addresses.

Available in any computer store, the product comes with an overview and installation guide which makes it easy to use.

Antec Soundscience LED kit

Basically a black strip with LEDs, it can be affixed to the back of any unit and has a long cable with a USB connector. Once the kit is stuck at the back of the display/monitor and connected through a USB, the result is an ambient light, which is good enough that you won’t need any other source of illumination while working!

In our week-long test, we found the product to be quite effective, even after long gaming sessions as it caused minimal eye strain.

The Halo Bias 6 LED kit is fabulous for daily use. It would help though if Antec features an on/off toggle switch so that one doesn’t have to unplug the USB all the time.

We say: Smart concept

Overall: 6/10

UMAX USP 18UM Portable Speaker

Budget portable speaker with average sound quality

The latest buzzword in technology is the Portable Bluetooth speaker. The first few models of this new category were quite large, but gradually more compact versions were released. The price, however, was on the higher side, regardless of the size.

UMAX USP 18UM Portable Speaker

A few months ago, several manufactures launched port table speakers for less than Rs 2,000. Amongst them, is Umax and its USP 18UM, an eye-catching piece with some great features. The speaker comes in a hard board box, with accessories including a 3.5mm cable, a USB-based charging cable and a lithium-based battery. The entire unit – except the speaker grille – is encased in a black plastic shell, and looks like a wider version of a rugby ball! An orange ring adds to the visual appeal. The control panel, which sits on top, has buttons that operate the volume, track change, mode and play/pause functions.

The USB port, charging port, a 3.5mm audio out, memory card slot and an on/off switch are at the back. We plugged a USB flash drive with several songs and the speaker automatically detected the tracks and started playing. Detecting s memory card was also fast though we wonder why the manufacturer chose an SD card slot whence MicroSD is a more acceptable. The FM radio worked pretty smoothly in our test as well.

Sounds in low and mids were good though bass was slightly low in certain tracks. The highs missed the overall punch and sounded patchy. Overall, the audio is decent, considering the price. We noticed a slight lag while changing tracks from plash drive or the card. But the radio unit as such has no issues.

The USP 18UM uses BL5C battery, which was used by Nokia handsets earlier. The battery lasted for 7 hours, without heating up. Through the USP 18UM has a retail price tag of Rs 1,499, it is available in web stores for Rs 999… Quite a steal for a portable speaker!

We say: Decent looks, good features, average sound

Overall: 6/10


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