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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

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Knock-out performers Who packs in the power punch? Page 4

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Cadillac CTS & CTS-V Coupe Siam Kempinsky Hotel experienced


WHAT’S HOT this week

Team Smartbuy Editorial

One above all Lenovo C200

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 R. Diwakar ramdiwakar@thehindu.co.in

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

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The all-in-one desktop from Lenovo features an 18.5-inch wide screen with an ‘ultra slim double shell’ design. An Intel Atom D510 processor that provides you with an efficient computing experience powers the desktop. The body has five USB 2.0 ports, a DVD writer and stereo speakers. The webcam offers better resolution, improved grayscale levels and brighter colours. The system comes equipped with the Lenovo OneKey rescue system that continually saves your data. The C200 comes with expandable memory of up to 4GB and a 250GB hard disk. Rs 20,190 onwards

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Wireless melody Sennheiser RS180

Cover photo: T3 India

The new wireless headphones from Sennheiser can be hooked up to your stereo system, television set or DVDPlayer. Crafted for true audiophiles, these headphones come with dynamic sound transducers with powerful neodymium magnets that ensure clear, high-resolution audio playback. The embedded Kleer transmission technology promises uncompressed transmission of music files. These headphones let you enjoy your music even while you are 100 feet away from your system. Rs 17,990

Go shutter-happy Fujifilm Finepix Z700 The new 12-meg cam from Fujifilm comes with a 3.5-inch touch screen display. Not only does this make capturing memories a one-click process, but also provides for smooth navigation and comfortable viewing of photographs. The camera has Dual Direction GUI, which detects the orientation of the camera and automatically orients the menu button. The Dual Image Display splits the screen for you to view multiple images at a time. You can also shoot HD videos of 720p resolution. The cam has Face Recognition abilities too and lets you upload pics to the web easily. Rs 12,999

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SNEAK preview

Home entertainment at its simplistic best Mahananda Bohidar ith the sound of birdsong coming from the right and the rustle of the leaves from the left in an enclosed room, we glanced around to figure out where the crystalclear sounds were coming from. It was only when Bose slid the covers off the first-of-its-kind VideoWave home entertainment system – a 46-inch, 1080p HD, LCD display with an in-built speaker system — that we realised the immersive surround sound experience was actually coming from within the display system. Speakers, sub-woofers and connectors will all be passé with the wire-free, powerful and most importantly ‘invisible’ speakers of the VideoWave system. This entertainment system includes a sleek media console to connect your Blu-ray player, gaming console, set-up box and the like to its three HDMI outputs and a Bose iPod Dock to playback all your favourite tracks. The 46-inch LCD display played videos brilliantly while it was slowly sinking in that speakers embedded in the display unit could actually produce a surround sound effect in the reasonably big room, so effectively. To control the entire entertainment system, Bose has also come up with an unusual interface.

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Click Pad control In an unbelievably simple interface, the Bose Click Pad

remote control has about six basic buttons and a clickenabled trackpad. A slight touch on the remote trackpad brings up an on-screen menu on the LCD display while either the video you were watching or the music you were tapping your feet to, still goes on for the most part in the background. Glide you finger on the trackpad of the remote control and the cursor will move up, down and across the screen, and a slight tap will activate any function on the menu. The remote control transmits signals in Radio Frequency, which means you do not have to keep it pointed at the device that you need to control. You can also choose to switch off the display as you continue listening to the music from the VideoWave system.

Tech inside Coming from a company whose tagline says ‘Better Sound Through Research’, here’s a little bit of the technology that has gone into making the ‘invisible’ speakers work so effectively. Stacked at the top, within the display unit, is an array of seven speakers that direct sound to the right, centre and left of the room. The proprietary Phase Guide Radiator technology channels the sound to specific spots inside the room thereby producing an impressively efficient surround sound experience.

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Bass is reproduced using six high-performance woofers within the TV unit. The woofers are lined up next to each other in such a way that the inevitable vibrations while producing sound cancel out and do not affect other parts of the unit. This is combined with a proprietary Acoustic Waveguide that amplifies low-frequency sounds and does away with the requirement of a sub-woofer in the system. The system comes with ADAPTiQ, Bose’s audio calibration software that optimises sound for any kind of room that you choose to set up the system in.

The final word A result of about 10 years of research, the VideoWave is a wonderfully packaged home entertainment system that lets you sit back and enjoy the quality performance of a Bose audio system, without having to fret about setting up your wires, connecting your speakers and placing the speakers right. Plus you can always pull off a great party trick as you keep people guessing where all that wonderful music is coming from with the display turned off. Rs 4,78,013 Ratings Aesthetics – 5/5 User Interface – 4/5 Features – 5/5 Value For Money – 4/5


LAPTOP face-off

Lapping up the top portables Top-end laptops are now faster than ever thanks to Intel’s Core i7 processors, handling gaming and image processing without throwing a fit or murdering the battery. If you need more punch in your portable, look no further

Power-packed book Acer Aspire 8942G A

cer makes some of the best value notebooks around, and the Aspire 8942G really highlights that. The Intel Core i7 processor lays waste to most tasks, with its hyper-threading and auto-clocking capabilities. Multiple applications run smoothly and quickly, helped by 6GB of memory. A powerful ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics card gives this machine the sort of power associated with rigs from the likes of Alienware. This laptop provides the widest choice of connections with five USBs bolstered by HDMI, eSATA, FireWire, DisplayPort and more. The trackpad is large, spacious and multi-gesture-enabled and has a fingerprint reader too. This scanner is a good first line of defence for keeping your data safe . A read-only Blu-ray drive is present and Blu-Ray films look very impressive on the Acer’s enormous, full-HD screen. The size of the screen ensures a massive chassis, and a large, comfortable keyboard. A dedicated numeric pad is included and there’s also a touch-activated media control centre for changing tracks and pumping up the volume. This is the only notebook on test with full-size keys for the media centre control to play, pause, fast forward tracks etc.

Despite this 4.6kg bulk, there’s only room for a 180-minute battery. That spells out one thing pretty clearly: this is a desktop replacement. If you’re not planning on taking this out of the house much, it’s a great mix of power, comfort and affordability, though. Love: Strong performance with a very good graphics card for the money. Massive full-HD screen. Comfortable to use Hate: Lap-crushing weight. Short battery life Killer Feature: The media control centre features a scroll wheel and touch-sensitive hot keys that provide instant access to your stored media Our Verdict This desktop replacement offers a great mix of performance, features and ease of use, at a reasonable price. However, there’s a trade-off in terms of weight, size and battery life. Rs 1 lakh

Feel-good factor ASUS NX90 A

monster of a machine in more ways than one, this device is ‘jaw-droppingly’ huge and loaded to the gills with top-end hardware. A high-powered desktop replacement, the NX90 boasts custom-designed Bang & Olufsen speakers, far superior to anything else on test. The 18.4-inch screen can’t match Sony’s for colour reproduction but HD movies from the Blu-ray drive or elsewhere look the business. The large keyboard is comfortable to use. The Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and a suitably high-end nVIDIA graphics chip is also employed, giving the NX90 performance to match the competition here. A 1TB hard drive provides ample space to store your games and . Due to the power-sapping components, battery life is likely to be around the two-hour mark, and the

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4.4kg machine certainly isn’t the personification of portability. We’re also not entirely sold on the dual-trackpad system, with multi-touch pads either side of the keyboard. It works, but it feels like reinventing the wheel. With the touchpad moved to the sides of the keyboard you’re left with this slither of polished aluminium. Connectivity options include a USB 3.0 port that transfers data up to ten times faster than USB 2.0. Ultimately, whether you see the NX90 as a waste of money or a true ‘trophy gadget’ depends on how much cash you have to spare, and your level of tolerance for Scandinavian design flourishes. Love: Impressive sound. Gorgeous looks. Plenty of power on offer Hate: Not entirely convincing dual trackpad system. Limited portability due to bulk and poor battery. Mad price Killer Feature: Credit to Asus for finally creating notebook speakers we want to listen to. The collaboration with B&O has paid off and as a result the NX90’s stellar spec is topped off by suitably opulent audio. Our Verdict Highly desirable and premium but unlikely to sell like hot cakes, let’s say. Rs 1,31,999


Better than the rest? Apple Macbook Pro T

he latest MacBook Pro is the first Apple notebook with a dual core Intel Core i7 processor. With 4GB of memory and a mid-range nVIDIA GeForce GT 330M the spec is not amazing on paper, but performance is formidable, making light work of the latest games and editing HD movies. As ever with Apple, the highlights are the look and feel of the device and the incredibly user-friendly Snow Leopard OS. Another massive plus, the iLife software suite contains a raft of industry-leading apps to listen to music, write tunes, organise photos, edit videos, etc. The 15.4-inch screen is very good, although it lacks full HD and has a 16:10 aspect ratio rather than the multimedia standard of 16:9. The MacBook Pro is yet to make the leap to Blu-ray, so you get DVD-RW. The aluminium unibody looks great and provides good durability but can run a little warm. Detail isn’t quite as impressive as on the Sony and there’s no HDMI but a mini DisplayPort does let you hook up to external HD screens. The large, isolated-style keyboard is excellent, with the firm typing action proving very comfortable to use for long periods of time. It’s also backlit which is a boon in low-light conditions. The touchpad with sophisticated multi-touch and gesture support is best on test. Weighing 2.5kg the Pro is perfectly portable and battery life is easily the best on test. In the MacBook Pro, power, portability and ease of use unite to make a highly compell-

ing laptop. The price is on the high side but, in our opinion, worth paying. Love: Excellent performance. Gorgeous unibody design. Smooth running OS. Hate: Pricey. No full HD. No Blu-ray Killer Feature: The Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard OS is very easy to use, booting up and running quickly and painlessly. The Pro also lets you use Windows 7 with the bundled BootCamp PC emulator application Our Verdict The MacBook Pro remains the notebook to be seen with. There’s real substance here as well as undeniable panache, making this is a generally excellent performance laptop Rs 1,36,900

Ready for a graphic war Sony Vaio VPCF127HG/BI B

oasting the best screen in the group, the Sony is the obvious choice for photographers, video editors and film buffs. The full-HD, 1920x1080-pixel resolution provides unparalleled clarity and colour reproduction. The matt screen finish keeps irritating reflections in bright light away. An HDMI slot means you can also hook this Vaio up to a HD TV. Not only does the Blu-ray drive make the most of this stellar panel, it also lets you burn rewritable BDs as well as the usual DVDs and CDs. As with most other Vaios, this notebook looks great. The smart gun-metal finish gives the machine a premium look and feel, as well as durability on the road. The Mac-like keyboard provides a great typing experience, with the keys spaced comfortably far apart and travelling just the right distance. The palm rest is raised above the chassis so your hands sit at a more comfortable angle to type. Quad core i7 power is available here along with an impressive

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8GB of memory, and the result is a seriously fast machine which can cater for most needs, shifting large amounts of data around quickly and efficiently. Connections include eSATA that allows data transfer at up to 3GBps – that’s three times faster than USB 2.0. Graphically, the notebook packs a punch, courtesy the nVIDIA GeForce GT 330M. It’s not as powerful as the Envy 15 in this category but it’s fine for most tasks. The 640GB hard drive also hits the spot. Although the 210-minute battery life can’t compare with the MacBook Pro, it’s enough juice for a commute, and although the 3.2kg chassis isn’t as light as the Apple or HP, it’s still not too hefty. Ultimately this is a well-connected, multimedia laptop that not only looks great but packs a lot of grunt. Love: Industry leading screen. Blu-ray optical drive. Plenty of RAM and a fast processor mean it blazes through tasks. Very cool, gun-metal finish Hate: A little on the heavy side. Graphics card and battery life could be better Killer Feature: The stunning screen is better than anything else on test with superb colour reproduction, contrast and detail, and a matt screen that keeps reflections at bay Our Verdict A fantastic machine, this Vaio’s mix of superb screen, smart looks, high performance and a Blu-ray burner makes it a more than solid choice Rs 1,29,900


Turn up the heat HP Envy 15

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achined from magnesium, the Envy 15 is well built and attractive, although the patterned lid is a gauche touch that Apple would never consider. Performance is exceptional for the size and weight. There’s a full, quad core i7 processor rather than Apple’s dual core variant. Combined with 4GB of memory, that makes this notebook a multitasking Goliath in a David-sized frame. Furthermore, the powerful ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4830 graphics card ensures that everything from HD movie editing to the latest games will run smoothly. The Envy 15 comes with a webcam that is night-vision capable. The keyboard is also extremely impressive and you get N Wi-Fi and gigabit Ethernet crammed in as well. Trumping the Asus NX90, HP Envy 15 has two USB 3.0 ports for quick file transfers. It’s remarkable that HP has crammed all this muscle into a chassis only 28mm thick but inevitably this does cause a few issues. The quad core processor really sucks the life out of the battery – we only got about two and a half hours out of it. Furthermore, the chassis gets hot after a short period of time, to a level that verges on physically uncomfortable. The fans obviously fail at keeping the notebook cool. The Envy’s compact size also means you only get a 320GB hard drive and there’s no internal optical drive, though you do get an external DVD-RW one bundled with

it. The 720p screen is also disappointingly dim, although thankfully, reflections are well repressed despite its shiny screen coating. Ultimately, though the Envy is flawed, it’s still an impressive exercise in packing a lot of power into a small amount of space. Love: Quad core power in slim casing. Attractive styling. Affordable. Great keyboard Hate: Short battery life. Heats up. Dim screen. Killer Feature: Despite the poor battery and hot chassis, making a quad core processor work in such a small space is still quite an achievement Our Verdict It’s impressively powerful for its size and cost, but poor battery life and screen let the Envy down. It does look damn good, though. To be announced

Big power, small bucks Toshiba Satellite A660-15T T

he A660-15T uses the Quad Core Core i7 720QM chip that runs resource-intensive software with little difficulty. The inclusion of an nVIDIA GeForce GT 330M means you’ll have little problem playing the latest games and editing photos. HD video too is also well within its capabilities. The 16-inch screen features the same 1366x768 resolution as the HP Envy and is bright, crisp and clear. It’s not full HD and can’t compete with the eye-candy that Sony produces, but Blu-rays still look mighty fine on it. Employing the isolated style, the keyboard is fantastic, providing one of the firmest typing experiences

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we’ve ever had. Toshiba has also found space for a dedicated number pad – always a welcome addition. The hot keys on the laptop let you quickly access your media controls, Wi-Fi and back-up features. The large touchpad is sharp and responsive. In the company of the MacBook Pro and Envy this is something of an ugly duckling, but the dull black plastic material with a weave pattern at least feels highly durable, and should provide plenty of protection from the rough and tumble of ‘commuterville’. The built-in Harman Kardon speakers provide superior sound, although they’re not a patch on the Bang & Olufsen ones in the Asus NX90. A 500GB hard drive is included, as well as all the usual connections, including 802.11n Wi-Fi, gigabit ethernet, four USB ports and an HDMI socket. Ugly it may be, but this Satellite is a more than capable performer, especially for the money. Love: Excellent keyboard. Decent build quality. Quad core power for not a lot Hate: Design is hardly eye-catching. Performance can’t match Apple or Sony Killer Feature: We’re seeing the price of the latest components fall, and kudos to Toshiba for being one of the first to pass these savings onto the customer. This is a very keenly priced laptop Our Verdict It ain’t pretty, and its power can’t compare to the pricier machines here. Still, there’s no denying the stunning value of this 60k quad core Satellite Rs 60,000


T3 India Smartbuy

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AUTO focus

Zipping around in Cadillac’s new Coupes Jason H. Harper yellow taxi makes an illegal turn in front of me, nearly bashing the front of my new Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. I slam on both the brakes and horn, but no sound emerges, a serious technical fault in New York City, where the horn is as necessary as air bags for safety. I’ll have to rely on the CTS-V’s natural, sharp-edged menace to warn off wayward cabs and street-weaving pedestrians. Luckily, the $64,300 predator attracts nearly as much attention on the street as Jaws in the water.

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If General Motors is on the mend, it’s fair to say that Cadillac led it out of the design doldrums in 2008, with the release of the second-generation CTS sedan. The interior and electronics finally delivered on the promise of the previous iteration’s au-courant exterior. And it was a pleasure to drive. The $39,000, two-door version has just been released, so now consumers can choose among a Baskin-Robbinsassortment of CTS flavours. The four-door starts at $36,000 for a 3.0-litre engine, rising to $42,400 for the 3.6. The luggage-hauling, fivedoor Sport Wagon begins at $39,100 and like the coupe

and sedan, is available with rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive. In any body style, you can choose between standard Clark Kent livery, with a 304-horsepower, 3.6-litre engine, or full-on Superman, with an enormous 6.2-litre V-8. These high-octane “V” versions deliver 556 hp and command a big premium. With options, my test CTS-V coupe was almost $70,000.

BMW blueprint If anything, Cadillac has mimicked the blueprint of the BMW 3 Series. Start with a really good car that a major segment of your customer base will want, then make tasty variations. In BMW’s case, those range from the vanilla 328i ($33,150), to the all-wheel-drive sports wagon ($37,700), all the way up to the chocoholic $67,050 M3 convertible. Cadillac had its eye on the 3 Series in other ways, too promising both lively performance and an entry-level luxury interior. A quasi-European, if you will. The new coupe takes the best elements of the visually arresting sedan and sharpens them. The proportions are squished, the corners more distinct. Two inches were taken off the top and overall length, while the rear grew two inches wider for a more sprawling stance. The cant of the windshield is more extreme and the centre pillars are missing altogether, like a hardtop convertible. The length of the doors is exaggerated, with flush handles so that the expanse suffers no protrusions. I love the back end, which has a series of sharp V angles and taillights that physically swoop off the trunk.


The exhaust pipes look like twin gun barrels.

Rear view Unfortunately the two rear pillars are the size of Ionic columns and erase a huge chunk of your side and rear view. Position side-mirrors carefully - a blind-spot warning system is not yet offered. I’ve always given the CTS sedan high marks because it makes a really fine commuting vehicle. Handsome but somewhat innocuous, it has a comfy interior and plenty of room up front and at the back. In that form, I’d stick with the regular engine. Most do: CTS-Vs account for less than 10 per cent of sales. The coupe upends this criterion. It wants to be looked at and driven hard. And it has no interest in space for rear passengers. So if you’re going to go for the coupe, consider the performance V version. After all, you’re probably young and single and without baby seats in your immediate future.

American muscle Cadillac expects the V version of the coupe to account for as much as 20 per cent of sales. The CTS-V strikes a sweet spot between American muscle and European-bred handling. It looks classier than a ‘Stang or ‘Vette, yet you can smoke the back tires in first gear. It gets larger 19-inch aluminium wheels and sticky performance tyres, meatier Brembo brakes and magnetic shocks. All coupes come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Throws are short and extremely precise, with a great feel as you work through the gears. The clutch is easy to operate, and I wasn’t bothered in stop-and-go traffic. A six- speed automatic is optional. The V-8 has an Eaton supercharger which begins to bellow as it’s goosed above 4,000 rpm, going from bellicose to mean, like Archie Bunker on a bender. It will actually rattle the entire car if you stab the gas while idling

Photos: Bloomberg

at stop lights. The suspension hangs on tight in fast sweeping turns, not unlike a BMW, and you never feel like the back end is going to swing around and bite you. Nuanced. Gas mileage is embarrassing, however. Around town, the V gets a shameful 12 mpg. In the real world, I fared even worse. That non-working horn notwithstanding, the interior is excellent, with fetching dark wood and leather. The back seat is a joke and only cruel drivers would force anybody back there. After all, that’s what the sedan is for. (The author writes about autos for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

The 2011 Cadillac CTS and CTS-V Coupes at a Glance Engine: 3.6-litre V-6 with 304 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque; 6.2-litre Supercharged V-8 with 556 hp and 551 pound- feet of torque Transmission: Six speed manual (standard) or sixspeed automatic Speed: 0 to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds; 3.9 seconds Gas mileage per gallon: 17 city, 26 highway; 12, 18 Price as tested: $46,470 and $69,390 Best features: Well designed, fun to drive Worst features: Caves are more comfortable than the back seat; dreadful gas mileage Target buyer: Stylish Yanks without baby seats


PREMIUM interiors

Colour overdose

Bath delights

With a name like Red Blue & Yellow, the décor store sure ups the festive fervour with their chic, colourful, ethnic yet contemporary collection of furniture and accessories. Head to its store in Mumbai for more. Price on request

Jaquar is out with its latest collection of bath fittings, Cellini, under the luxurious Artize range. Sleek, lustrous and sculpted in chrome, the new line is available at its stores across India. Rs 5,000 onwards

Class with glass Natuzzi adds a glassy touch to your home décor with their its Murano glass collection of vases in interesting shapes and soothing colours. Available through special order on their website. Price on request

Curtain sprucing Even your old curtains can get a snazzy look with these trendy curtain rods from ‘Tattva.utsav’. From lotus, lily and sun shapes to Swarovski crystals embellishments, these rods designed by Mukul Goyal come in different finishes. Available at select stores. Rs 1,160 to Rs 2,935

A piece of history Inspired by the family estate of late Princess Diana, Althorp: Living History brings in some unique and aristocratic furniture pieces crafted from a wide variety of veneers teamed with tasteful fabrics and fittings. Available at International Furniture Brands, New Delhi. Rs 30,000 onwards

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MELANGE luxury redefined

Pretty ballerinas Pavers England peps up ruffled party skirts and super skinny jeans this week with its Ballerina Pumps collection. Embellished with buckles, straps, bows, ribbons and gems, this range of colourful flats are available at exclusive Pavers England franchise outlets and leading lifestyle stores. Rs 2,399 to Rs 3,299

I love the Beatles! John Lennon fans can queue up. Montblanc has launched the John Lennon Edition Writing Instrument to honour the 70th anniversary of the music genius. From guitar-head shaped clips to special engravings, pick from the three interesting versions at Montblanc boutiques worldwide. Price on request

For Fendi fans The flashy gold Forever buckle from its baguette, lacquered clasp from the Peekaboo bag and its trademark sun yellow tone. Fendi brings all its famous elements together in its latest seductive and floral fragrance – Fan di Fendi. Available at select lifestyle stores. Price on request

A ‘Million’are buy If 1 Million floored the men two years ago, Paco Rabanne does an encore with Lady Million their latest fresh, floral and woody fragrance for women. With a faceted golden-hued bottle that is diamond-like, this one is a must-dab. Available at select lifestyle stores. Price on request

Art speak Ritu Kumar’s AW 2010 range of bags is a treat for traditional art lovers. While the Ghungroo bag and Laser Engraved one with scarf are neat picks, the Jamdani style and Madhubani print inspired totes are must-haves. Available at Ritu Kumar stores. . Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000

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LUXURY HOTEL review

Hospitality in the heart of Siam-land Interesting street food, shopping bazaars and ‘phad Thai’ apart, PREETI MEHRA soaks in the flavours of Thailand at Bangkok’s newest entrant in the hospitality sector: Siam Kempinski Hotel

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new property coming up in a traditional tourist hotspot is bound to evoke curiosity, not just among curious travellers, but industry peers too. The two month-old five-star Siam Kempinski Hotel, bang in the middle of the central district of Bangkok, is no exception. With its 98 boutique serviced apartments, 303 guestrooms and fabulous location (a stone’s throw away from landmarks like the Siam Square, CentralWorld Plaza and Jim Thompson House), it is the latest destination that tourists and business globe trotters can look forward to for a ‘luxury five-star’ stay. During a recent visit to this vibrant city, I had the opportunity to stay in this resplendent property.

Fantastic façade, cheery interiors The hotel and residences sport a rather imposing facade, with all the rooms getting a view of the garden and pleasant water bodies. From business-like deluxe rooms to plush Cabana rooms, luxurious suites to uber luxe Royal suites, Siam

Kempinski caters to business travellers with an ‘all-work, no-play’ schedule as well as those who want to stroll on private terraces, sink into hidden Jacuzis and use a private gym. Reaching the hotel sleepy-eyed on a bright Thai morning, the staff was chirpy and tried to get me to my room as fast as possible for me to hit the sack after a sleepless night in the flight. The colour scheme was pleasing to the eye in shades of cream and brown, with Egyptian cotton linen and fluffy pillows beckoning you. The room’s design too was chic, with the bath tub opening into the room, sans boundaries. Including a balcony in most rooms works well for the hotel as the view is outstanding. Mine had comfortable chairs from which you could watch the lit skyscrapers beyond and the trees, shrubs and open swimming pools below. But I headed straight to the desk and welcoming ergonomic chair to wrap up some work, thanks to the complimentary wireless internet.

Exploring Siam The next morning I was greeted by a wake up call, bird


song in the balcony and complimentary bed tea to warm up to Thailand. It was an ideal time to discover more about the hotel, kick-starting with the scrumptious buffet breakfast at its restaurant, the Brasserie Europa. In fact, the hotel’s cuisine and speciality restaurants and bar deserves a special mention: Sra Bua for authentic Thai flavour, scenic Rotunda, Bistro for all-day dining and its bar 1897, boasting an exclusive selection of fine spirits and cigars. Siam Kempinski like many other hotels in Bangkok, has a full-service spa and wellness centre with three outdoor swimming pools, a health club for fitness buffs and a steam room. Targeted at the luxury business traveller, the hotel has a 24-hour business centre, meeting rooms for small groups and a technology helpdesk. Being in the centre of the city, the hotel hopes to focus on promoting events, both business and personal in the

venue and it has a dedicated ballroom, an exhibition space, conference rooms, boardrooms and banquet facilities. Pets too are welcome, though charges are extra and some rules have to be followed. However, what didn’t match up to expectation was the front desk. Those who called in found that it took a long time for the desk to understand English, find my name as a guest and transfer the call.

Leisure stays Besides the hotel rooms and suites, the ‘residences’ in the same complex are being marketed for long stays. The Kempinski Residences Siam, as they are christened, offer 59 studios, 26 one-bedroom, 13 two-bedroom accommodations and one exclusive 260 sq metre penthouse for a comfortable, extended stay in the city. Designed essentially for a long trip, they are somewhat

similar to up market serviced apartments, but come with more luxuries and services. Guests here have unlimited access to all hotel facilities such as the gym, the free-form pool in the tropical gardens, the European-Thai spa, the kid’s club and the restaurants. What makes Siam Kempinski most attractive is its proximity to the hustle and bustle of the city: Siam Paragon lifestyle mall, the popular Pratunam Market and the Suan Pakkard Palace, BTS skytrain interchange station and numerous office towers. While the location is a great advantage, the fierce competition from the umpteen hotels that the city is choc-abloc with is a given. However, Siam Kempinski does have all the right ingredients that not only makes a hotel click but will also be loved by its guests. And under the umbrella of the globally recognised Kempinski group, the going is sure to be good.


BEYOND the hour

TIMELINE OF AN INDUSTRY

Omega

Pradipta K. Mohapatra atch making precedes the first industrial civilisation, some times, leading many historians to debate whether watch making was an old industry at all. In their view, watch making has been a profession like that of carpenters, blacksmiths etc. After all, it is the locksmiths of England who transformed to become clock makers in the 15th century. So what is the hierarchy of the vintage clock makers? Do any of them survive from, say, the 18th century? Here is a short history of this fascinating vintage industry. The oldest surviving watch company in continuous production seems to be Vacheron Constantin. Founded on an island in the middle of Lake Geneva, Switzerland in 1755, the company has never stopped producing clocks and watches in its 255 years of history. The company survived the French Revolution (1789 – 1799), First World War (1914 – 1919), the Great Depression of 1929, Second World War (1939 – 1945) and is still alive and kicking even sailing through the ‘great depression’ of 2009! There is of course a

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watch maker older than Vacheron Constantin - Blancpain. Founded in 1735, Blancpain is the oldest, but has not been in continuous production. Watch making, as distinct from clock making, started in Germany. Peter Henlein created the first pocket watch in the early 1500s. You can glance at the list of important dates in the history of watch making in the table to your right. Many of the watch makers in the list have shut shop, been taken over or changed in some form. Some like Bregeut and Blancpain went into deep slumber and revived. Some companies like Rolex are relatively young and spirited. Another example, Swatch, has produced 350 million watches in 25 years to become the world leader in the number of watches produced. The watch industry is a fabulous one with an amazing history of innovation and branding. Any serious watch collector can never lose sight of the fascinating history that has been bestowed on to them…time and again! The author is an amateur horologist and can be reached at pradip@cfi.co.in

Omega

Longines

HISTORY LESSONS 1659 - Christian Huygens intents “Remontoire” 1704 - Debaufre and Facio of England used rubies in watch movement 1750 - Enamel is used in watch dials 1759 - Englishmen Thomas Mudge invents Lever Escapement 1775 - Abraham Louis Breguet sets-up shop in Paris 1780 - Abraham Louis Perrelet invents self-winding movement 1791 - Girard – Perreguax founded as J.F Bautte 1809 - Luther Goddard – first watchmaker in America 1833 - Antoire LeCoultre formed later to become Jaeger LeCoultre 1837 - First Tiffany store opened 1843 - Adrein Philippe develops a watch with winding crown. Later to become Patek Philippe 1848 - Louis Brandt starts Omega company 1853 - Tissot makes the first dual time zone watch 1858-1881 - Heuer, Zenith, Movado founded 1884 - GMT established in Greenwich 1894 - Universal Geneva established 1905 - Hans Wilsdorf starts Rolex company 1923 - John Harwood is the first to mass produce self-winding watch 1924 - Seiko brand name launched 1957 - Hamilton introduced world’s first battery driven watch 1969 - Seiko introduced Quartz watch 1970 - Hamilton releases Pulsar, the first electronic digital watch 1983 - Swatch brand launched 1985 - Tag Heuer formed with a merger 1991 – Franckmuller founded 1999 - Casio invents first wrist watch with GPS


BLING corner

Show the little finger…

Polki for brides Neety Singh’s latest range for the brides is a treat for polki lovers. From bangles to jhoomar, cocktail rings to earrings and cuffs, pick one for the ensemble. Available: On request by appointment Rs 2.55 lakh (earrings in pic)

… to slip in this chic rose gold and blackened silver ring from de Grisogono. Created in collaboration with singer Cheryl Cole, this new capsule ‘Promise’ ring is a neat addition to the fingers. Available: de Grisogono boutiques

€920 (approx)

Precious bidding This stunning pair of ruby and diamond ear clips is just one of the many gorgeous pieces of jewels that is going under the hammer this month. Available: Saffronart’s Autumn Online auction of Fine Jewels 2010 Rs 24 lakh to Rs 28 lakh (price estimate)

Golden Glamour Fusing Gujarati ‘rava’ work and Rajasthani ‘meenakari’, Tanishq glams up traditional gold jewellery crafts in its Glam Gold 2010 range. Available: Select Tanishq outlets Rs 30,000 onwards

From deep within Jaipur Gems dives into the exotic world of pearls and comes out with this interesting range of Tahiti pearl jewellery. This one has diamonds and the pearls set in rose gold. Available: Jaipur Gems, Mumbai, Chennai and Coimbatore Price on request

Smartbuy

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October 6, 2010



Smartbuy October 6, 2010