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G A D G E T S

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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L U X U R Y

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Reviews HTC Mozart Maruti Suzuki SX4 diesel


WHAT’S HOT this week

Team Smartbuy Editorial Anushya Mamtora anushya@thehindu.co.in

Ketaki Bhojnagarwala ketaki@thehindu.co.in

Mahananda Bohidar mahananda@thehindu.co.in

S. Muralidhar muraliswami@thehindu.co.in

Design Bryan Gaughan aqua@thehindu.co.in

Balakrishnan designkbala@thehindu.co.in

Advertising Contact

Mini bytes ASUS O!Play MINI

R. Diwakar ramdiwakar@thehindu.co.in

Web Advertising Contact N. Amarnath amarnath@thehindu.co.in

www.blsmartbuy.com Become a fan of our Facebook page: BL Smartbuy Follow us on Twitter

This media player from ASUS may look small, but it comes fully loaded. USB access, 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI connectivity and Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel audio decoding make it the perfect accessory to your home theatre system. It provides Right TxT subtitling which works automatically, so you don’t have to select subtitles manually. Plug and play allows you to hook up a USB or hard drive to watch media directly on your telly. Rs 3,500

Cover photo courtesy: Revlon

Wireless journey Speedy transfers SanDisk Ultra This stylish slider USB flash drive from SanDisk features blazing transfer speeds of up to 15 Mbps. SanDisk’s Secure Access software allows you to store private files in a password protected vault on the drive. You also get secure online backup of up to 2GB from the company’s online backup partner. Available in storage capacities ranging from 8GB to 32GB. Rs 1,199 to Rs 3,799

Plantronics Voyager PRO UC This new Bluetooth headset from Plantronics makes it even easier to talk on the go, with an Auto Answer feature that receives the call when you place the headset on your ear. It also comes equipped with A2DP technology, which allows you to stream media from compatible devices. Also included is a mini-USB Bluetooth adapter to allow interaction between your PC and mobile phone. Three layers of WindSmart technology ensure clear conversations even when you’re outdoors. Rs 8,500


Pocket pix FujiFilm FinePix AV200 This pocket digicam from FujiFilm is equipped with a 3x Fujinon lens and a 14-meg sensor for high resolution images. Digital Image Stabilisation compensates for image blur caused due to hand or subject shake, and 21 pre-programmed scene modes ensure that you get the best settings for every shot. Other features are Face Detection and Automatic Red Eye removal. Rs 5,499

Let’s get talking Samsung Chat 335 For all the social butterflies out there, Samsung has launched the Chat 335, a QWERTY phone with an optical trackpad. The screen is a 2.4-inch LQVGA TFT LCD, and is encased in a slim, metallic design. Native SNS allows for quick access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. It also supports IMs like MSN and Yahoo. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 and a 2-megger camera are other features that the phone offers. Storage can be expanded up to 8GB. Rs 5,800

Smartphone on a diet! Huawei IDEOS X3 This new smartphone from Huawei was launched at the recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Running Android’s 2.3 Gingerbread OS, the handset features a 3.2-inch HVGA capacitive touch screen, and claims to be the thinnest smartphone in the market. It has a 3-meg camera, and includes a front facing camera for video calls. It is available in a variety of colours including silver, black and red. Storage is expandable up to 16GB. Up to $200


SMARTPHONE review

Back to the classics Mahananda Bohidar t this year’s Mobile World Congress, it was clear that the winning OS was definitely Android. Clearly, Apple has more than met its match, at least in the numbers game. With Symbian and Palm threatening to make some heavy duty changes, it was the turn of the guys from Redmond to show just what they were made of. Long hailed the kingpin in the world of computing, when Microsoft launched its WinMo OS, people were clearly disappointed. Its interface, which mimicked a Windows desktop, wasn’t so user friendly when it came to the much smaller touch screen on smartphones. Plagued by criticism, Microsoft remained in the shadows for a while, but let on that they were going in for a major revamp. When they finally announced Windows Phone 7, most techies were doubtful. But boy, were we surprised…and how. Slick, colourful and intuitive, the WP7 OS is clearly aiming at toppling Android out of its top place. HTC was one of the first manufacturers to take on this OS, and we put the Mozart to the Smartbuy handset test to give you a first-hand insight into all that it has to offer.

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The 3.7-inch touch screen was quick to respond and the Live Tiles, Hubs and multimedia came together quite well on the brilliant screen. The virtual keyboard on the HTC Mozart is one of the most accurate ones we have come across. The chances of a typo error were almost zilch even when we were typing in the comparatively narrow layout - the Portrait mode. The back panel is one of the most beautiful you’ll find on any smartphone these days! The aluminum unibody extends from the bezel to constitute part of the back panel, and is shaped like a curved trapezoid. The top and bottom corners are covered by soft, triangular rubberised panels for better grip, with the top one housing the 8-megger cam and the Xenon flash and the bottom one giving way to reveal the SIM card slot and the battery.

Design The Mozart’s fascia offers only three touch-sensitive buttons to make the most of the handset – Return, Home and Search. The home screen greets you with ‘Live Tiles’ that arrange most of your apps in colourful square boxes on the screen. You can drag-and-rearrange or delete them from the home screen with a long press. We had the most frequently used apps slotted at the very top – Phone, People (included our SIM as well as Facebook contacts), Messages and Mail. All updates were instantly displayed on the respective icons and a tap was all it took to open and view the latest e-mail or text. A small arrow points to the second home screen, which you can swipe to. This lists all the apps and functions you have downloaded and stored on the handset.

Trying out melodies Named after the homonymous musical genius, the HTC Mozart flaunts its audio capabilities as its USP. The handset is designed with just a single grille of speakers on the rather fashionably designed back panel. To transfer multimedia to the handset we had to download Zune and then drag-and-drop files on to it. The audio playback was quite rich and clear. However, we didn’t have any options to tweak the sound quality or the equaliser setting in the native player. If one chooses to invest in a music-oriented handset this is the least that one would want in terms of customisability. To enrich the audio experience you will have to download the ‘Sound Enhancer’ app from HTC Hub. This gives you the option to

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activate Dolby Mobile or switch on SRS Enhancement. Both seemed to work well on the tracks that we played and were most evident when we had the earplugs on. You have equaliser settings too but these can be made use of only if you connect headphones or a set of external speakers.

Smile, please? HTC Mozart has been endowed with an 8-megger camera for shooting stills and recording high-def videos and has a front-facing cam for video conferencing. We shot pictures under varying light conditions, indoors and outdoors, to test the quality of reproduction. The photographs weren’t very grainy, although there was a little bit of noise visible when we zoomed into the pictures. The colours reproduced remained rich and quite true to the original. How-


SPECIFICATIONS

Photos: R. Ravindran

Screen: 3.7-inch, 480 x 800 WVGA Processor: 1 GHz Internal storage: 8 GB Camera: 8-meg, auto focus and Xenon flash, 720p recording Ports: 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro USB Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, A2DP Audio formats: .m4a, .m4b, .mp3, .wma Video formats: 3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m4v, .mbr, .wmv Battery: 1300 mAh Lithium-ion Talktime: Up to 405 mins Social networking: Facebook and Windows Live Internet: 3G, GPRS, EDGE Platform: Windows Phone 7 Network: HSPA/WCDma: 900/2100 MHz, GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

ever, the camera seemed to under-perform in brightly-lit surroundings – all pictures taken in daylight seemed slightly under-exposed. The fact that we couldn’t access any significant camera setting like ISO or exposure didn’t help either. The only control we had was over features like Flash, Scenes (Portrait, Macro Sports, Candlelight, etc), Effects (Greyscale, Sepia, etc), Metering and Flicker Adjustment (which would be automatic most times anyway) Also, even if you set these parameters once and exit the application, the phone doesn’t remember your previous settings and shows you the default ones.

Apps Using Internet Explorer on the handset was a pretty pleasant experience. It took a little more than 20 seconds for the

Smartbuy web page to load on the browser. The pinch-to-zoom feature was pretty smooth and effective, as was scrolling down the web pages. A long press on any image displayed in your browser gives you the option to either share it or save it on the handset. You even have the option to pin your favourite webpages to the home screen where a small screenshot of it is displayed along with other Live Tiles. You get to configure multiple e-mail clients on the handset and setting them all up is a breeze. But you don’t have a unified inbox – which may be a good thing or a bad one - depending on whether you like to demarcate your professional and personal mails or not. The HTC Mozart also comes with voice recognition software powered by ‘Tellme’. We stumbled upon this with a long press of the Home button (the one with the Windows logo on it) but there weren’t any instructions required to taste a slice of Tellme. It efficiently played the role of a virtual genie as we ordered it to ‘Call Papa’ or ‘Open Music’ or told us how many ‘Calories in Chicken Tikka’! The only time it fumbled was when it had to deal with typically Indian names, which can be quite a mouthful even for an automated voice response system. Apart from this, the system was quite accurate. You have the Microsoft office app that lets you create Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, however you can only view PDF files but can’t create any. Photo Enhancer, Stocks, Converter and Connection Setup were a couple of apps that we downloaded from HTC Hub and added to our list. We couldn’t try out the Xbox Live app –

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the message we got was that the service wasn’t yet available in our country.

Tech specs The HTC Mozart has an internal memory of 8GB, which is the minimum standard required according to WP7 guidelines. Incidentally, the same guidelines also dictate that none of the phones that’ll run on WP7 will come with external storage. This might be quite a bummer for those who are used to loading up their smartphones with a ton of multimedia. The smartphone runs on a 1GHz processor but the system froze a couple of times and surprisingly not even when it was being subjected to relatively ‘heavy-duty’ stuff like downloading apps. The call quality was clear but the battery barely lasts 12 hours with Wi-Fi and GPRS activated along with the regular number of voice calls.

Our verdict With a design that stands out and hardware that beautifully complements the new Windows Phone 7 OS, it’s not too hard to fall in love with the HTC Mozart. However, there are some aspects in which it fails to deliver. For example, the camera doesn’t give results befitting a powerful 8-megger. You can claim that most smartphones these days won’t last a marathon when it comes to battery life, but the HTC Mozart’s is one of the lowest. If you are willing to accept the lower rating on these two aspects and are keen on trying out the brand new WP7 experience on a classy handset, this might your chance. And might we add, with WP7 upgrades coming up soon, you might not regret the plunge! Love: Great design, intuitive apps/interface Hate: Poor battery life, not-so-great camera Rs 26,490 mahananda@thehindu.co.in


FITNESS apps

Simple stats SmartRunner Availability: free OS: Android, Apple iOS, bada, BlackBerry, Palm, WP7 SmartRunner isn’t just for runners. It covers 14 sports, from cycling to skiing. Its interface is the most user-friendly on test, with calorie, speed, distance and time data displayed on screen, although it takes a while to get a GPS signal on the Samsung Wave and it is prone to losing it. Once you complete a run you can upload stats to the SmartRunner website. From there you can sync it with Twitter and Facebook. The online options are sparse, with no in-depth analysis and no training programs, but this is an accurate app for casual users. Love: Intuitive interface, accurate measurement Hate: Limited analysis

Data bank Sports Tracker Availability: free OS: Symbian This Symbian app has a list of 12 activities it can track, including rowing and skiing, plus six custom slots for other sports of your choice. GPS is swift to lock on and as you train it tracks the distance you’ve travelled, as well as measuring your altitude, albeit not with total accuracy. You upload and share your times on the Sports Tracker website or post them on Facebook. Sports Tracker also offers excellent post-run analysis, with graphs detailing your progress. A useful app; shame it’s Symbian only. Love: Excellent website support, post-run analysis Hate: Limited to Nokia handsets, no pre-set training plans

Personal trainer Adidas MiCoach Availability: free OS: Apple iOS, BlackBerry Adidas’ app is slick, with extensive preset training plans for weight loss and general fitness. Fill in your details – weight, height, age, goals etc – to get personalised regimes. Voice prompts aim to keep your motivation up and your phone’s

‘appening fitness


For all the fitness freaks out there, 30 minutes on the treadmill may not seem enough. Most operating systems now support a line-up of apps that cover practically any sport, and measure valuable indicators like speed, calorie and distance. Here’s the list of the hottest fitness apps out there, so you can pick your very own digital personal trainer!

screen displays detailed maps of your running/ cycling route, although we had a tendency to lose GPS fix in built-up areas on iPhone. Once your training’s over you upload info to the web or sync it with Facebook. MiCoach lacks the social depth of Endomondo and if you take a call your workout won’t resume automatically, but this is still a helpful app. Love: Easy synching, training plans Hate: Calls end training

Online buddy Endomondo Availability: free OS: Android, Apple iOS, BlacKBerry, Symbian, WP7 The Endomondo app has a huge online community where you can sync stats for over 21 sports with Facebook friends and by Gmail and also take part in organised local events. Type in your postcode to find local routes – we found three running and four cycling routes close to our offices, but you can only download them on BlackBerry handsets. You can’t customise fitness plans as you can on MiCoach, but you can view your real-time stats – distance, speed, calories burnt – on the screen. It’s a generally strong app. Love: Community feel. Local routes. OS support Hate: Map downloads for BlackBerry only

Sport extravaganza Cardio Trainer Availability: free OS: Android The Cardio Trainer has a cluttered interface and offers a choice of time or distance goals for 42 sports. Calorie Goal, Interval Training and Race Against Yourself modes require an upgrade to the full version, which costs $9.99 `( 460*) – a little steep considering other apps offer this for free. Start running, cycling, swimming, etc, and the on-screen map tracks your route. Note: it tends to overestimate distance travelled. Upload your fitness stats to Facebook or use your unique access code to view graphs and maps on the rather limited website. Love: 42 different sports, easy to use Hate: Costly extra features, limited website

This material is translated or reproduced from T3 magazine and is the copyright of or licensed to Future Publishing Limited, a Future plc group company, UK 2010. Used under license. All rights reserved


AUTO focus

SX4 diesel : Join the waiting list

Photos: S. Muralidhar

S.Muralidhar emember the ‘Men are back’ campaign for the Maruti Suzuki SX4? The car filled an unmet need and possibly the campaign worked to Maruti’s advantage, though there were many who thought that the tagline was sexist, rather than being sexy. Maruti Suzuki is now taking the SX4’s masculine positioning one step further with the introduction of a dieselengine version. Again, here Maruti does run the risk of stereotyping the buyer profile of diesel cars. But, the fact remains that by sheer numbers diesel sedans are more popular amongst male buyers. The SX4, like a few other competitors in the same segment, did miss a diesel engine dearly. Though the petrol engine variant has been clocking decent sales during the last about two years, the car had a sluggish start because acceptance levels, back then, were low for a premium sedan from Maruti and also because it lacked a diesel option. The Suzuki Swift DZire DDiS is a good example of what a diesel engine can do to a model’s prospects. So, after about one and a half years of design and development work, four lakh kilometres of endurance testing, 50,000 kilometres of cross country validation and 4,500 hours of engine validation on the dynamometer, the new SX4 DDiS diesel makes its debut.

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The new Super Turbo 1.3-litre DDiS engine thus delivers a 20 per cent increase in power and a modest 5 per cent increase in peak torque compared to the same engine’s performance in the Swift. The first addition has been a variable geometry turbocharger that has replaced the fixed geometry turbocharger. This new turbocharger features vanes that change their angle based on requirement to ensure optimum air flow to the engine. Depending on the driver’s input, a remapped, new generation engine electronic control unit (ECU) ensures that the demands placed on the engine (through the throttle) is instantly communicated to components such as the variable geometry turbocharger. The other change is the new, second generation high pressure fuel injection system that delivers fuel at up to 1,600 bars, even higher than the Swift DDiS’ 1,400 bar. The high pressure pump has an in-built flow control mechanism to improve efficiency. Both these features optimise performance across the entire engine rpm range. In the engine chamber too, the high pressure pump breaks up the

Souped up What the joint team of engineers from Maruti and Suzuki have done is essentially to take the same 1.3-litre common rail diesel engine that is currently available in the Swift and the DZire, and shoe-horn it into the SX4’s engine bay. But, before they did that they souped up the engine so it could offer a more ‘manly’ performance.

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fuel to ensure more complete combustion, boosting both power delivered and emission reduction measures.

Performance The reworked 1,248cc engine now delivers a peak power of 90 PS at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 200Nm from a low 1,750 rpm. The diesel SX4’s engine is capable of powering this 50 kg heavier (compared to the petrol SX4) model from standstill to 100 kmph in 14.5 seconds. Maruti Suzuki engineers have also endowed the engine with a few other changes. For example, the Super Turbo DDiS’ pistons are gallery cooled for better performance and it also uses lower viscosity engine oil (SAE 5W40) to improve lubrication. On paper, and despite the additions, the 1.3-litre engine from Swift seems inadequate for the SX4. But, my test drive of the new SX4 diesel put to rest such doubts. Yes, we motoring journos will never really be satisfied enough, but it is a task for car makers to strike the right balance between performance and fuel efficiency. I test drove the SX4 diesel within the increasingly congested streets of Delhi and on the Greater Noida expressway. The engine felt like a fair choice. There is enough power available and the pep in the SX4’s stride is better than the Swift DDiS’. The new SX4 diesel is about 13 per cent heavier than the Swift DDiS. But ably assisting the more powerful diesel engine in the SX4 is the new five-speed manual gearbox.ith more optimised gear ratios and a new detent pin technology that provides assistance for smoother gear shifts, the transmission is a delight to use. A short throw gear shift stick included, the package is perfect for fatigue-free performance. This is a clear improvement over the Maruti gearboxes we have been used to in the


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Refinement

past. The overall drive quality of the new SX4 DDiS is very peppy and similar to the Swift diesel. Power delivery is very linear and available on demand all the way up to 4,000 rpm, after which it dips to about 78 PS when the engine hits the redline. The diesel SX4 is being offered only with the 5-speed manual transmission, though the petrol counterpart is also offered with a 4-speed automatic gearbox.

The DDiS diesel engine was a fairly refined unit and was already not very audible in the Swift and in the many other cars that Fiat India and Tata Motors too employ. In the SX4, one of the most surprising observations that you’d make when pushing the new Super Turbo DDiS on the highway is the remarkably low noise and vibration levels in the passenger cabin. The entire NVH packaging has been reworked for improving the quality of the ride and in-cabin noise levels. There is almost no discernable vibration at the steering wheel or pedals. There is almost a complete absence of the characteristic diesel clatter too inside the cabin during idling, which is usually the noisiest of the entire driving cycle. Engine noise does creep in at speeds of over 120 kmph and if you are still accelerating hard. I peep into the hood and find that the thicker padded insulation and noise isolation packing are evidently the reason for the quieter cabin. The new SX4 Super Turbo DDiS is only about 50 kg heavier than its petrol counterpart. Of course, much of that increase in weight is in the front and Maruti Suzuki engineers have tweaked the suspension to provide for the additional weight and to maintain the car’s driving dynamics. The ground clearance and the suspension set up is the same as in the petrol engine. To improve stopping performance, the new SX4 diesel’s brakes also get a boost.

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The ride quality of the SX4 hasn’t changed despite the change of powertrain. The suspension continues to soak up pot-holes and keep the passengers in the cabin fairly composed and comfortable. When pushed too hard at the turn or thrown into corners, there is very mild body roll, but nothing that can make it discomforting for the driver. High speed straight-line stability is good for a car in this class. For whatever reason Maruti thought fit, it has decided to make the petrol and diesel SX4s look like clones. Except for the DDiS badge there is nothing to distinguish the diesel from its petrol sibling. There is no change to the exterior design. There is not going be any additional body colour options too…at least for now. The same goes for the interiors. The choices of trim, upholstery, layout and colour theme too are the same as the petrol SX4. To refresh your memory about the SX4’s exterior design and interior layout just take a longer look at the photos here. Safety features are also similar to the petrol SX4.

Bottomline The one chink in the SX4’s armour will get plugged with the introduction of the diesel version. To make it even more attractive, Maruti Suzuki claims that the SX4 diesel can deliver a fuel efficiency of 21.5 kilometres per litre (certified as per CMVR rules). This is said to be 8 per cent more than comparable cars in the class. During times of fuel price hikes, such as these, this must be music to buyers’ ears. Further, Maruti has upped the ante by getting the SX4 diesel certified as ‘OBD-2’ compliant. The SX4 Super Turbo DDiS is said to be the first car to be certified. OBD is short for On Board Diagnostics, and OBD-2 certified car should inform the car user of any malfunction in the emission control system, which may lead to undue increase in exhaust emissions. This is meant to act as a measure of self-monitoring and in the SX4, the warning message is delivered in the form of an orange icon on the instrument cluster. The new SX4 diesel will be available in VDi and ZDi variants and I expect it to be priced between Rs 7.75 lakh to Rs 8.70 lakh (for ZDi with leather seats). muraliswami@thehindu.co.in


MELANGE luxury redefined

Essentially rose Forest Essentials’ latest addition is a ‘body polisher hydrating sea salt crystal rose’ and ‘cold-pressed body massage oil’, with the surreal fragrance of roses from Kanauj. Head to its stores for a nourishing skin treat.

Rs 675 (massage oil) and Rs 1,295 (body polisher)

Aqua magic Helping you erase dark circles, fine lines, signs of fatigue and pigmentary contrasts is Vichy’s latest ‘rejuvenating deoxidising moisture care’ Aqualia Antiox. Available at select pharmacies. Rs 1,090 (50ml)

Ballerina’s delight Luxury footwear brand Taramay by Nayantara Sood has a delish range of ballet flats to slip your feet into. From polka dots to delicate lace and butter-soft pink leather, the collection is available at Ensemble boutiques, New Delhi and Mumbai and in White, New Delhi.

Price on request

Eternal love Immortalising the love of the divine couple in its own way, Lladro’s Radha Krishna Gondola in pristine porcelain is a masterpiece. Head to Lladro boutiques for one of your own. Rs 3.35 lakh

Ultra-fem style Featuring ‘sinuous designs’, bi-colour looks, laminated acetates and a brand new front, is Montblanc’s latest iconic ultra-feminine eyewear collection. Available at select lifestyle stores in white, dove grey and violet shades. Rs 21,700

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Colour blocks work great when a chirpy or sultry red is paired with blacks, reds, greens and purples. Green and red are holiday season favourites whereas black and red is an evergreen hit.

Diane Von Furstenberg

Stella McCartney

Simply Redilicious

Seeing RED‌

Bright-o-bright

FASHION fever

Fendi

The red dress does wonders to your personality. Almost considered a wardrobe staple, it can be teamed with bright purple, green and black accessories.

It’s the comeback of the famous red pout. So red, that it drives all the attention to the curvy lips. Do the look if you have a lovely pair of lips, a neutral ensemble to offset all the brightness and the attitude to carry off the oomphness.

Gucci


Texture Play

If you find a plain bright red too loud for your personality, introducing textures can make the right difference by breaking the monotony of the colour. Mixing cloth with leather in a pair of heels or using rope-effect for tie-ups and experimenting with a different print to tone down the colour are some options you can check. Cartier

On the lighter side

Fendi

Other neutral hues like cream, beige and teal too bring out the best in red. You can either team a red dress with accessories of these colours or pick up dresses and accessories in these colour combinations.

Versace

Fendi

Red and white is a classic combo. Set against the pristine white, the red only looks more luscious. Bags, shoes, watches or a simple dress, the duo work great together. Diane Von Furstenberg

…in your wardrobe! Sultry when dabbed on the lips, sporty when donned as a jacket, eye-catching in the form of a bag, sexy in a strappy stiletto and super hot as a little red dress. Red traverses through different avatars to lend it a spirit of its own and is raging through current fashion look books in its own surprising ways. And no, it doesn’t limit itself to the month of love. A pop here, a dollop there, the colour is all set to hit you in pleasant ways across fashion seasons this year. Dangerous to experiment with unless one is bang on, here’s how to revel in a sizzling red and steer clear of a drab, loud or crass look.


TASTER’S choice

Tequila shots to fame John Mariani equila sales quadrupled in a decade, prompting more than 120 Mexican distilleries to offer some 900 brands. Four out of five bottles end up in the US, usually in a margarita. With sales growth slowing in the past couple of years, especially among the cheaper brands, it’s time to take stock of this distinctive spirit from the blue agave. During the boom years, some tequilas achieved questionable cult status, with a few, like Gran Patron Burdeos, selling for $600 a bottle. With sales levelling off, a big part of marketing the drink has become the quirky bottles, from the Aztec pyramid of Sol Dios and folkloric Day-of-the-Dead skull of KAH to the heart-shaped Corazon Maya and squatting bandito ceramic jug of Pancho Pistolas. Mexican regulations allow a spirit to be called tequila if it contains a minimum of 51 per cent agave-derived sugar. Premium tequilas, made with 100 per cent agave, are showing modest growth, with a 1.3 per cent increase in 2009 to 11.2 million cases, according to industry publication StateWays. I assembled a range of reposados, that is, tequilas aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two months but less than a year. They fall between the entry-level Blancos, which aren’t aged at all, and the richly flavourful Anejos that spend one-to-three years in the barrel.

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Sipping reposados, at room temperature or on the rocks, also reveals layers of flavour, a little oakiness and fruitiness. Some are, perhaps, a bit more expensive than I expected but certainly no more than a premium vodka or Bourbon. Here are some reposados, all made from 100 per cent blue

bottle, and I liked the subtle flavours and the fragrance of its bouquet. There’s also a nice blast of heat I got on the tip of my tongue, followed by a warm sensation throughout.

Chinaco ($60) Chinaco’s ‘Lega-

Pancho Pistolas ($60) This is cased in a bottle shaped like a squatting Mexican bandit, which I’ve actually seen offered, unopened, on e-auctions as objets d’art. I didn’t expect much from such gimmickry, but this is very good tequila, with plenty of fruity flavours and an honest bite on the back of the palate.

1800 Reposado ($23) I’ve always liked 1800’s Anejo, and its reposado delivers a good amount of flavour for a very decent price. If you’ve never had a reposado, get this one and compare it with the lighter-weight Blancos.

4 Copas ($60) The name supposedly is derived from an old Mexican song with the line “we shall drink four cups,” although it’s also the number of cups traditionally drunk at the Jewish Seder. Labeled as ‘organic’, it is aged in charred American oak, which gives it a smokiness to go with its honey-like smoothness. This is one of the most highly regarded reposados, and it deserves its medals.

Frozen Waste On their own, reposados make for a delightful aperitif and add considerably more flavour to a margarita than a Blanco; though if you insist on drinking diluted frozen margaritas, it doesn’t much matter what kind of tequila you use. Anejos certainly add their distinctive flavours to a margarita but are best sipped on their own like cognac or single malt Scotch. Almost all tequilas, including Anejos, are bottled at 80 proof (40 per cent alcohol).

General Manuel Gonzalez, who battled against the larger distillers and successfully lobbied the Mexican government for an amendment that would allow tequila production outside of Jalisco. Made in the region of Tamaulipas, Chinaco has garnered something of a cult status. It is pale yellow and very fruity, with a distinct black peppercorn flavour on the mid-palate and sweetness on the edge of the tongue.

Riazul ($55)

agave, I found particularly distinctive:

Corralejo ($43) This one comes in an elegant, slender blue

Smartbuy

cy of the Warrior Spirit’ is, according to the label, based on the heroic endeavours of Guillermo Gonzalez, great-grandson of

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This company’s Blanco and Anejo came into the market at the end of 2008 and the reposado, aged nine months, a year later. It is a very tasty tequila, fresh with citrus and pineapple notes and good fragrance, making it a fine choice for a margarita straight up. (The author writes on wine for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)


WATCH collection

Dior in black

Racing ahead

It’s asymmetrical architecture and ‘irreducible’ calibre for Dior in this 36mm Chiffre Rouge watch paired with a black sun-brushed dial and black fabric strap. Available: Dior Boutique, New Delhi and Mumbai

This Classic Racing Superfast Chrono from Chopard is imposing in a 47.80mm case and famous rubber strap featuring the 1960s Dunlop Racing tyretread motif. Available: The Chopard Boutique, New Delhi and Mumbai

Weil’s Moon-walk Classical lines, a royal blue emerging from the black of the dial and delicate white hands – Raymond’s Weil’s Maestro Moon Phase makes a graceful picture. Available: Raymond Weil boutiques , select watch outlets

A wonder complication Vacheron Constantin’s SIHH launch is this Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time, which houses the new Calibre 2460WT and indicates the world’s 37 time zones! Available: The Vacheron Constantin Boutique, New Delhi and Dia Store, Mumbai

Size zero from Piaget Piaget’s latest is this Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic Ultra-Thin that sets the record for the world’s thinnest self-winding tourbillon watch at 10.4mm. Available: Piaget boutique, New Delhi and Mumbai

*Price on request for all watches

Smartbuy

15

February 23, 2011


Smartbuy issue dated 23rd February, 2011  

Smartbuy issue dated 23rd February, 2011

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