It’s a good day when the maximum criticism your column gets is that it was too short! Last week’s column on the blunders we commit when we pick up Diwali gadgets seemed to have struck a chord, with a collective demand for more categories and devices to be covered. Thus to borrow a phrase from the bard – ‘without further ado...’
Blurry memories on film
Camcorders or ‘video cameras’ as they are more famously known here are a great festive favourite to buy. We all have aspirations of capturing our family and friends in action and creating a mega blockbuster from it. Unfortunately, a ‘cam’ gets used only two to three times a year after the initial euphoria. So think, do you really need one? Sure? Okay, now that you’re adamant, let’s take this forward. What you buy makes a huge difference to how much use you’ll get out of your movie-maker, and this is where we invade some seriously controversial territory.
Essentially, there is just a single category you should look to buy. A Hi-Definition 1080P 3CCD cam. I know, I’m going to get flamed for throwing out almost all the other exciting categories that exist, but allow me to explain. There are standard definition cams, other HD ones, as also those Portable ‘YouTubish’ kinds and I have one word for all of them: SuperDuperCrap. The essence of a camcorder is the quality of the picture captured, the brightness, the colours, the vivid detail. Why would you compromise and get a cam that gives you a dark, blurry, pixelated mess. You can still upload a low-res version online while keeping the original in stunning HD. Look for a small and light body (bulky cams tend to get left behind at home), a fantastic optical zoom (your child performing on stage deserves a brilliant close-up), LCD size (critical, as most don’t come with a optical viewfinder any more) and capability to record to flash memory cards or hard drive (MiniDV tapes and DVD-R are so yesterday).
Look hard, You own this already
The greatest invention of all times – a gadget that allows you to carry your music with you. Music was always made to travel and not just to listen to at home. Thus, the Walkman that played your tape, the portable CD player that made you dance to school or the MP3 player that allowed you to carry your entire music collection to work were brilliant innovations. Were! To most people wanting to buy a portable music player this festive season, I have only one question. Why? A pure music playing portable player is a dinosaur, a niche device, a has-been. You already have enough electronics that can play your music on the move. Your mobile phone can, your netbook can, your laptop can, your tablet can – you just haven’t explored the true capabilities yet. Almost any good mobile phone will have more features than a standalone digital audio player. What you should be investing in is in a pair of fantastic in-ear headphones. That will take you on a one-way journey to portable audio heaven. And while you’re at it, throw the el-cheapo headphones that came with the mobile as far as your sturdy arms allow you to.
Upgrading the God of all Devices
It’s estimated that most people in urban India aspire to change their phone at least once every year. And especially around the festive season when the discounts make your next dream phone look very close to being a reality in your pocket. And if you haven’t upgraded for more than a year, then this may well be a good time as the last year has seen a meteoric shift in mobile technology.
Prices have crashed, features sets are up, touch screen technology has completely changed and the rise of the economical smart-phone has begun. Dispense with the idea of buying one of those blingy unbranded Chinese knock-offs. Yes, they seem to have it all, including the kitchen sink, and promise it all for just a fraction of the price. They also promise hours of frustration with faulty parts, horrendous quality and no service. If you’re going to buy a phone this season, upgrade to one with a smartphone OS that supports an App store. Your world will change! Look for a capacitive touch-screen (resistive screens are a drag, literally), good music capabilities with a 3.5mm headphone jack (for the reason given above) and a high capacity battery (to do ‘all’ things your phone must last ‘all’ day).
It’s the time for festivities, joy and also a bit of reflection. Think of the time gone by and all the gadgets you’ve bought in yesteryears. Many that made you frustrated and regretful and few that still make you happy and delirious. You can turn the tide! You can make sure that each gizmo that you bring home is a little bundle of joy that brings in excitement and performance for years to come.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.
Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni