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Isn't tech a male bastion anymore?

india Updated: Aug 21, 2010 19:06 IST
Rajiv Makhni Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

As I got all prepped up to start on a weekly column for

Brunch

, the first thoughts were for a feature on

Gadgets for Men

. It’s a mandatory category – as almost every single publication across the world churns these out on a regular basis.



It can take several routes –

Top 5 Gadgets for Men

,

Best Gadgets for Men in 2010

or even

Gadgets Men Can’t Do Without

. The problem with a column like this is that it’s a dinosaur – redundant and long gone. Think about it – what’s left in the male domain when it comes to technology? There was a time when all things Tech were solidly Male!



We installed the home theatres, we set up the phones, we got the laptop up and going, we rattled off buying advice, we chest thumped when we were asked what TV to buy, we felt all proud and manly when we told them that a certain device was too techie for them. Tech was a boy thing. Was!



Gadgets

The girls have far moved ahead now. They buy their own gadgets, they know the features inside out, they rattle of specs to the Nth, they have all the stuff we have and more, they update and have the next version of everything way before us – they even look at us with a wry smile when we try and tell them what they should have bought.

Tech isn’t a male bastion anymore. We’ve been outplayed, outmanoeuvred and outdeviced! But it’s time to gain some ground back today. It’s quest time – a mission to find some gadgets that can still make you feel like a man.

Crank it up: Macho speakers
Audio is the one vague little world where we can still get away with some testosterone gadgetry. Music is such a personal thing that you can get away with murder here. Giant speakers, huge, complex amplifiers, lots of fat thick wires and cables and a mix of nice complicated words can still make you King of the Hill.

Sample this as the all male acoustic set up. Horn speakers with a tube pre amp, cables with triple shielded gold conductors, isolated crossovers, dual coil ported box sub woofer, perfectly synchronised THD and SNR with an add-on of Teflon dielectric insulation and finished off with cryogenically treated materials! Yeahhhh! Beat that with your tinny dinky little iPod dock that you’ve been trying to pass off as an ‘audio system.’

Recommendations: Klipsch Palladium P-39F, Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5, B&W Nautilus and if you really want to get serious, the Edgarhorn ‘Titan’ System with a Seismic Sub.

Packing a punch: Macho laptops
No, you don’t need to go for klunky unwieldy 19 inch monsters here. Those are really bad pieces of technology. What’s needed here isn’t a shift of devices. All that’s required here is extreme resilience. Just stick to a nice notebook or netbook; one that you own or even a new one and resist the move to a Tablet device.

With the coming of the Apple iPad, the Asus Eee Pad or Dell’s new tablets – we are all doomed to be carrying thin dainty little devices covered with thin dainty little covers that we fish out from thin dainty little bags. It’s almost like the end of the world!

These aren’t real computers. These are simplistic little screens filled with dumb icons that run crippled little applications. This isn’t the manly beast that needs coaxing and tweaking and modifications. Come on, even the marketing of these tablets point out that your five-year-old daughter and your 85-year-old grandma can operate this without breaking open the manual. And you want to be seen around with one of these? Resist the dark forces; thou shalt not tablet!

Recommendations: Dell XPS, HP Mini 210 i, Asus Eee netbooks or the Apple Macbook Pro 13.

Roving eye: Macho cameras
There’s no argument here. You have to go all butch. No point and shoot, no auto focus, no face/smile/pet detection nonsense, no super sleek super thin super small, no pure shiny piano white optical gizmos allowed here. It’s got to be a big, black, beautiful, digital single lens reflex system (DSLR) camera.

Throw in a few mammoth interchangeable lenses, light metres, an unwieldy tripod or two, a nice neoprene and leather bag to carry it all – and you’re done. The world of SLRs still has some aura and mystery left. There are still things to do, features to learn and enough complicated settings on them to make a rocket scientist quiver with excitement.

And the best part – if you put in your time, read the manual, tinker around enough – the pictures you take can be a real work of art. No compact with everything in auto mode can ever come close.

Recommendations: Canon EOS 5D Mark II / 550D, Nikon D300S or the Olympus E-3.

Kicking A*S: Macho gaming
Major grey area. We’ve had our collective behinds whopped real bad here. Whether it’s PC, online or console gaming – the rival camp has taken this domain by storm. They know what’s in, which add-on accessories work best, what game to buy, which character gives them the most advantage, what cheats can be put to use, how to play better and most importantly how to throw down the controller after beating us again in Street Fighter 3 while simultaneously saying Yippee-Ki-Yay Loooooser!! But there is new hope.

What started with the Nintendo Wii motion controller is now becoming an epidemic. Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony PS3 Move have all made huge strides in making our bodies, gestures, movements and motion the game controller. And all studies still tell us that we may still have some advantage left in that field. Thus get rid of all normal controller gaming in your house and bring in full body motion gaming and control. It may well be one way to kick your way back to victory in Super Street Fighter 4.

Recommendations: Microsoft Xbox 360 with Kinect, Sony PS3 with Move or the Nintendo Wii with MotionPlus

Size does matter: Macho TV
Once again, technology to the rescue here! So much innovation has happened in this category that it makes most heads spin. What was earlier just a tiny little war between Plasma and LCD is now a full blown bloodcurdling battle . LCD, Plasma, LED or even OLED? HD compatible, HD, Full HD and Full HD Enhanced? 3D, No 3D, 3D with shutter glasses or wait for naked eye 3D? What’s the good part for us in all this complexity?

This battle has thrown up great technology at a fraction of the old price. The one area that has always been a ‘guy’ thing has been a big, giant, huge monster of a TV. It’s time to get one – irrespective of room size and irrespective of distance. Resolutions on all these new displays are so high, pixel density is so fine and contrast and clarity so astounding that all the old rules of distance to TV and eye fatigue are old hat.

Forget all about the GAFs and the WAFs (Girlfriend/Wife Acceptability Factor).It’s time for a super enormous TV. One that overpowers everyone with its super masculinity.

Recommendations: Anything from Samsung, LG or Sony that is big and new will do. But if you really want to rock your world, go for the Samsung 82-inch LED or the 150-inch Panasonic. It’s a whole wall of entertainment there.

While some of these may give us some of our lost prestige, I would urge you to move fast. Most of these little pockets of resistance in our male gadget fortress won’t remain with us for long.

The opponent is formidable, strong and hungry and will override these very soon. Get into ‘Hunky Tech’ while the going is good. A few years from now we may just wistfully look at this phrase and remember a time when men and tech were synonymous; not an oxymoron.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.0. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni

Revenge comes in the colour Pink
We may have lost the battle but we do have an ally in the marketing and research departments of consumer electronic companies. In a world where we were decimated – a small advantage was given back to us with the injecting of the colour pink.

Barbie pink, fluffy pink, powder pink, gumball pink – they painted gadgets in every category with that incredibly obnoxious colour. Then to add insult to injury, they even coined a terrible phrases to describe them: Girly Gadgets. In a normal world, this was a recipe for a pure marketing disaster! Which woman would take a buying decision based on colour and form factor and not feature and specs?

Well, it seems, most of them! Pink gadgets are a hot commodity and a premium item. They sell and sell well! And there’s nothing more satisfying than to see a woman struggling with a dumbed down device – bought solely due to the glistening shiny candy pink exterior.

Let’s take a quick journey into this shiny, happy candyfloss world.

Sony Vaio Netbook Pink Edition
A nice high-resolution display, good construction – marred by poor battery life; a smallish keyboard and a pink trackpad that you’re almost afraid to touch! It feels like you’re pressing and tapping on a piece of chewing gum. The battery may die on you in 2 hours but the pink colour will last you forever!

DXG Luxe Quilted Pink
DXG has an HD camcorder which emphasises its chic quilted design, glossy finish and the fact that it comes with a matching clutch bag case! Take it with you for all your page 3 parties; just do remember not to take it out of the clutch though, as its performance in dim lighting is nothing short of terrible.

Seagate External Hard Drive in Think Pink
There are many many things in life that can afford to go pink. So many – but the one area that really doesn’t need it is the external hard drive. It’s a butch little device that you need in an emergency and the blacks and greys seem mostly appropriate. But Seagate goes pink with a vengeance with its FreeAgent Go 250 or 320GB in Think Pink.

The Casio Exilim Hello Kitty edition
The Exilim EX- Z2 is the first 12.1-megapixel affair I’ve ever seen with the meow meow on it. Bedazzled with stick-on Swarovskis and all pinked up, the package comes with some other items of interest – a white and pink purse camera case, a jewelled lanyard and a giant poofy pink thing! No camera deserves this kind of humiliation.