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Wednesday, July 7, 2010
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Philips GoGear Muse Soaps on phone
WHAT’S HOT this week
Team Smartbuy Editorial Anushya Mamtora email@example.com
Ketaki Bhojnagarwala firstname.lastname@example.org
Mahananda Bohidar email@example.com
Design Bryan Gaughan firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Contact R.Diwakar email@example.com
Web Advertising Contact N. Amarnath firstname.lastname@example.org
All eyes on this! Acer D241H Monitor
Circulation Contact R. Mohanram email@example.com
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Cover Photo courtesy: T3 India
The D241H is more than just a Plain Jane PC monitor. Adding a spark to your digital lifestyle, the special Display+ technology in this monitor lets you connect to the internet without a PC. The monitor offers a superior touchexperience to select and display content with capacitive touch-sensitivity. And even while doing this, it consumes lesser power than other touch-based display interfaces. The Acer eColor Management software provides you with magniﬁcent display while allowing you to control various parameters like Fine contrast, Adaptive gamma, Optimised sharpness, Independent hue, Ultra-saturation and Adaptive colour. Another technology embedded, Acer CrystalBrite displays Full HD imagery for internet browsing, software applications and watching movies. Rs 18,000
The green angle Fujitsu P3110
The Mini look
This is a netbook from Fujitsu with a green quotient. At just 11.6-inches, it packs in an ultra low-voltage processor and a 5 star energy rating. Weighing just 1.6 kgs and giving you a battery life of six and a half hours, it is the ideal portable companion. It features a 1.6-meg webcam and built in microphone, perfect for those long Skype conversations. The netbook is 3G enabled, for high speed browsing, and has a high-res LED screen. It is also security enabled, and has Integrated TPM Model, Fingerprint Sensor and Optional Fujitsu Advanced Theft Protection Features. Rs 63,500
My Dior A marvel of miniaturisation, My Dior is a quintessentially feminine cellphone claiming to be the smallest and lightest from the company. It features two speakers and an AMOLED screen that displays pictures brilliantly – even under bright sunlight along with a mirrored display screen. The phone weighs only 25 grams and the diamonds are brilliantly cut and set in Switzerland. The handset comes with two USB cables and a stereo headset with remote control and is available in two colours – black and gold. Rs 3,62,000
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Gamer’s fantasy MSI GT660 To give you the best gaming experience possible, the GT660 from MSI is powered by the Intel Core i7 processor, which comes with the nVIDIA GeForce 285M graphics card, and bundles in sound from Dynaudio. MSI’s TDE technology lets you boost the laptop’s performance with a single press of the Turbo key, an add on that helps when you’re in the middle of battle. There is also a luminescent hotkey which when pressed, instantly cools the laptop when it is heated up. The laptop comes with three DDR memory slots, which means you can increase memory up to 12GB. It’s not only gaming this laptop is good at, it also comes with a scratch resistant glossy colour ﬁlm print, and LED lights that you can activate to pulsate according to the sound emitted. Add on a couple of USB 3.0 slots, and you’re ready to play! Rs 1,25,000
Making waves Samsung Wave The Wave is the ﬁrst of Samsung’s smartphones to be launched on its proprietary OS, Bada. The Bada platform gives users the option to download a variety of apps from Samsung apps. The handset claims to have the world’s ﬁrst Super AMOLED display, at 3.3-inches wide, with less reﬂection and high-res WVGA screen. The high-speed CPU makes multitasking a breeze, and the Wave comes with an Integrated Social Hub that directly integrates email and SNS into the phone. Other features include a tactile touchscreen, multiwidgets, pinch and zoom and a quick notiﬁcation panel. Add on up to 15 hours talktime, 2GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB and a 5-meg camera with LED ﬂash, and you’ve got a handset that’s a multimedia magnet. Rs 19,100
The Gateway LT21 is one personalised tech accessory you can ﬂaunt anywhere you go. The sleek, light-weight companion is convenient to carry along on your business trips or family vacation. The 10.1” netbook runs on the efﬁcient Intel Atom N450 processor. The unit comes with 2 GB RAM and hard disk memory of 320 G. The netbook comes preinstalled with Genuine Windows 7 Starter and runs for about six hours on a full-charge. You can choose from two colours that the ultra-portable device comes in – Nightsky black and Cherry red. Rs 22,154
July 7, 2010
MUSIC PLAYER review
Photos: S.S. Kumar
Will you be a‘muse’d? Mahananda Bohidar rowing up in the 90s, Philips was almost synonymous to a ‘music system’ in most Indian households. The Dutch company, for a moment there, seemed to have lagged behind in the personal audio genre as the likes of Sony Walkman and later Apple iPod, captured the limelight as well the hearts of many audiophiles. Today, people walking around with their music player plugged in their ears has become a common sight and Philips is one of the veterans that’s trying to get its musical act together to tap in to this mushrooming market. The Philips GoGear line comes up with new-age, digital music players. The Philips GoGear Muse is one of their most recent products. An Mp4 player with video functionality, doubling up as a text reader as well as a Radio player with voice recording functions, the Muse is all of this rolled into one. So will the Muse be music to your ears?
First impressions The GoGear Muse has a sleek, brushed stainless steel body with a 3.2-inch LCD touch-screen. The body has only three buttons – Power, Home and Volume – making for a
very simplistic design. A three-second press of the Power button switches on the unit while displaying the all too familiar Philips logo. On the WVGA 480x320 screen, the nine colourful icons are displayed in two rows. The player however, lacks an accelerometer, which means the screen is always displayed in a single orientation ‘landscape’ mode.
Music Tap on the music icon and all the music loaded on to the player is displayed along with the artist and album name. The menu on top gives you the option of making the view a little less cluttered by choosing to display only the artist or album or song title or a playlist you have created. Touching a song title begins the playback. While playing a song, you have the option to turn on the proprietary FullSound option that enhances the quality of the Mp3 ﬁles you play. You can also change the Equalizer setting (six customisable options ) or tweak it to your liking as well as set a maximum volume limit for playback. To change tracks all you have to do is swipe to the next or previous track on the screen. The player has a FM radio player that scanned stations
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quickly. The playback was clear even in relatively lowsignal zones. You can save up to 20 radio stations on the device and drag them around to re-allot the slots.
Videos and pictures The videos on the device played without any stutters. We tried out a video with lots of fast action and it played the panning shots well without being a strain to the eye. Catching up on sitcom episodes or watching a movie on this screen could be an option while you travel or commute to work. But after we transferred a couple of Mp4 and .wmv ﬁles on to the player, it took a really long time to start playing a video, usually more than ﬁve minutes, leading us to think the player has frozen. It also seemed to behave like it was frozen since none of the controls worked during the time that the videos were loading. The Muse offers a separate Surround audio option while paying movies and a small icon on the bottom of the screen gives you the choice of switching between two different aspect ratios while watching a video. Still images were reproduced quite well on the camera with the colours onscreen being quite impressive. You can customise your slideshow setting to view the photographs
or set one of those as your main wallpaper.
Multimedia The Mp4 player also allows for audio recording that means you can record your dad’s guest lecture or your friends’ rants or take it along for sound bytes. We tried two audio books on the player – one ﬁction and one non-ﬁction. The playback was clear and we could choose from three reading speeds. You can also ‘Bookmark’ your audio books at different intervals for further reference. The system allows up to 10 bookmarks in a single track of a certain audio book. The Muse has a Text reader - it only reads .txt ﬁles and not other formats . The bookmark option here creates a virtual dog-ear on the display – a nice touch. You ﬂip pages like you do in a real book and you can see the digital pages being turned in the process. However, the software only provides you with three font sizes and here again, there is no option of switching to the portrait mode which would make for slightly longer pages. But, landscape too is not a bad option with the decent screen size and display.
Connect Syncing the device was an easy plug-and-transfer affair. The player offers two PC connection preferences – ‘MSC’ that lets you connect to your PC like an USB ﬂash drive or ‘MTP’ that connects it to the PC as a device. The unit we reviewed had 8GB of internal memory expandable up to 32GB. It also has an HDMI output so you can connect this to your hi-def TV and watch videos or browse through your pictures. Sometimes while switching the player on, it took time to ‘boot’, quite like a PC and to its disadvantage unlike other media players in the market. Also, the player heats up quite a bit while being charged. On a full battery you can listen to audio for up to one full day and watch videos for
almost ﬁve hours. The touch sensitivity on the player was quite disappointing. It would have also helped if there was some response like a lit-up icon or a slight haptic feedback when you selected a certain option on the touchscreen. With all song details being displayed on the screen, scrolling down the list was a not-so-pleasant experience. If you selected an artist name and swiped up, the corresponding song or album name would only follow after a two-three second lag – the list wouldn’t scroll in-sync. The Muse comes bundled with a pair of Philips noiseisolating, in-ear headphones. However, it wasn’t the best we’ve come across.
Our verdict The GoGear Muse looks appealing and appears promising
with its bouquet of multimedia options, but when it comes to user interface and performance, the player leaves a lot to be desired. A slight tweak to the touch interface and sound and playback quality might enable the Muse to face its rather efﬁcient rivals in the market. Price : Rs 9,400 Love : Sleek look, multimedia options Hate : Lacklustre touch interface, loading time Ratings Aesthetics: 3/5 User Interface: 3/5 Features:4/5 Value For Money: 4/5 Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Philips GoGear Spark (4GB) With 1.44 inches full colour display, this music player from GoGear comes with a pair of soft-earbud earphones. You can make the most of FullSound technology with this player too. With the Radio and Voice Recorder like in the Muse, it’ll keep you grooving to the beats for up to 22 hours. It also has a built-in clip so you never lose this attractive musical companion. Rs 3,499
July 7, 2010
MOBILE TV review
Photos: S.S. Kumar
Telly-phone 24x7 Ketaki Bhojnagarwala ou’re sitting on the beautiful Baga beach in Goa, soaking in the last rays of the evening sun on a deckchair. But there’s this nagging feeling gnawing at your insides, after all, it is the England Vs Germany game tonight! You did promise your wife that this would be a football free vacation. And the worst part is, even if you do muster up the courage to cheat on that promise, your beach side cottage doesn’t have a TV, you’ve checked into an ecotel. So what’s the solution? How can you catch up on all the live action while travelling…how about on your mobile phone! That’s exactly what TATA Photon Plus gives you the option to do, live TV anytime, anywhere, on your mobile handset. The Tata Photon Plus mobile TV service has been launched on ﬁve handsets so far, the Samsung Corby TV, Samsung Metro, BlackBerry Tour 9630, BlackBerry Curve 8530 and LG 510 Cookie Zip - all CDMA handsets since the service is available only on this network currently. We reviewed the service using the Samsung Corby TV, a CDMA version of Samsung’s popular social networking phone.
To access Mobile TV, all you have to do is press the ‘Mobile TV’ icon on the menu screen, and thumbnails of all the available channels show up. Although the adverts claim that you can watch up to 50 channels, we had access to nearly 66 channels, since more have been added recently. The channels are all free-to-air and are provided by the service ‘MimobiTV’, powered by Apalya Technologies. The service amalgamates content from different content providers, and then makes them suitable for small screen viewing. It is a vendor that provides content not only for Tata Photon plus, but also to Reliance NetConnect.
User experience We liked the variety of channels on offer. There were kids channels such as Cartoon Network and Pogo; news channels like NDTV 24x7, CNN IBN and BBC World and general entertainment channels such as Star One and Zoom, among others. What we found to be lacking was the choice of English entertainment channels. Apart from Hollywood movies there was nothing else to choose from. This could be due to the fact that the English channels are all priced and at a premium. While some content is available as live streaming, such as news on NDTV and CNN, other channels give you only pre-recorded programs. For example, in Cartoon Net-
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work, you can choose between selected episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, etc. For the sports fans amongst us, we could watch ESPN mobile, which lets us catch some of the matches at Wimbledon live, TNA and the FIFA World Cup. According to Apalya’s website, there is also an IPL channel, but we weren’t able to see that in the list of options. This channel is probably broadcast only when there is live IPL action. A point to note is that for live streaming there is approximately a 5-10 second lag between what is broadcast on TV and what you see on the handset. We checked the pre-recorded programs on different days, and often the episodes changed everyday. However there were some exceptions, for example Hollywood movies had displayed the same two movies since we got the handset. Movie channels are usually updated once a month as of now.
Video quality The videos took a while to stream, sometimes even a couple of minutes. The ﬂuctuation in time taken to load videos depended on signal strength. The service was quite fast outdoors, and continued streaming even in a moving vehicle. Sometimes there was a lag in streaming, causing a delay in pre-recorded programs. With live TV, any delay
caused due to streaming resulted in pixellation. Picture quality was surprisingly clear, and looked quite crisp on the Corby’s TFT screen. Scrolling between the icons and selecting channels or shows was a breeze with the Corby’s capacitive touch screen. The phone offered a slight haptic feedback which we liked, and preferred to a resistive touch which is quite outdated. Volume on the Corby was average, and sound was only audible in a quiet room. We would recommend using headphones. However, the phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack so you’ll have to use the company supplied ones. We would have preferred a volume toggle switch though, because adjusting the volume with the help of the touch screen controls uses up a lot of the display space.
addition, you have to subscribe to Tata Photon Plus’ data plans, which start at Rs 500 for postpaid users and Rs 110 for prepaid users. Depending on the plan you choose, you get a certain amount of data free, which you can then use for either watching TV or internet browsing. The plans will not be good value for money if you are a couch potato. For example, as a postpaid customer, if you pay Rs 500, you get 512MB of data, which gives you just a few hours of TV and browsing time. However, if you want more data, the plans get progressively cheaper, Rs 600 gives you 1GB, Rs 750 gives you 2GB and so on. The plus side is that you don’t need these data packages if you’re only looking for net browsing, there are cheaper options that the service provider offers you.
If you want to watch TV on your phone, you will have to subscribe to a data plan, which is the same as what you use when browsing mobile internet. An hour of watching TV takes up about 60MB of data. To use the service, both postpaid and prepaid customers will ﬁrst need a base tariff plan, plus Rs 100 per month as a TV subscription. In
Watching TV on your mobile phone seems like a unique experience, for the present. As the technology improves, there will be more channels and programs available for the viewer. We were impressed with the streaming speed as well as video quality, but it comes at a price. Send feedback to email@example.com
Cross-country companion Team Smartbuy avigating is a ﬁne skill that one needs to hone over many years to qualify as an assistant in a cross-country rally. But, in today’s world of automating everything, digital navigators can take over that job…almost! The options available for everyday motoring, the casual explorer and the road-traveller today are really good, even though there is a long way to go before digital navigators can really become interactive and accurate. One of ‘em that has been on our test bench for the last couple of months is the MapmyIndia Loaded (Vx140) navigator.
This is one rugged navigating device. Built with smoothedged matt plastic panels and a clear 4.3-inch LCD touch
screen, this navigator has more features than all of its predecessors. Weighing 165 gms, it is only a bit heavier than the average smartphone of today. With a wide touch screen, you won’t need a stylus to access the menu and options that are available on the Vx140, but the manufacturer has given one anyway. Tucked neatly behind the car windscreen mount head, the stylus will come in handy if you need to re-route or make any other inputs on the Navigator’s screen when you are seated behind the wheel.
Performance The MapmyIndia Loaded Vx140 navigator comes with detailed maps offering street level turn-by-turn navigation for over 620 cities in India, including about 125 tourist cities. A total of about 5.8 lakh connecting towns and villages and about two million unique destinations have
been loaded in the navigator. In terms of functionality in the Vx140, the user can effectively drag the map in any direction, zoom in and out to change scale, make the map 2D or 3D at any angle, and rotate the map to get a different perspective. One can also change the mode from day to night to see the destination or city or region in a totally different light! We found the screen resolution and map quality to be very good. But the touch screen’s performance was only lacklustre. It lacked sensitivity and though there would be a clicking sound and a haptic feedback on the screen, the command didn’t register often. Such false registers were more frequent and irritating when the keyboard was being used for keying in destinations/ addresses. The interesting feature in the Vx140 is of course its Bluetooth connectivity that allows the user to receive phone calls from a paired handset, quite like a handsfree. The navigator also offers other multimedia features, which enables it to playback music and videos and even slideshow a bunch of pictures. The 64MB of ﬂash memory and a 2GB SD memory card (capable of going up to 8GB) will come in handy for people who want to use these features. Further, with the new MapmyIndia Navigator, you can also import geo-tagged photographs and see them on the map, navigate to them, or search for the nearest GeoPix.
Photo: S.S. Kumar
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Just turn on the Vx140 navigator and the ﬁrst menu screen that appears makes it clear that the unit is ready to perform any of its multimedia, Bluetooth or navigation functions. The battery charge range is about one and half hours of continuous navigation or about 32 hours of standby time. Priced at about Rs 15,000, the Vx140 can be a handy companion for every one of your road trips. You won’t need to stop to ask for directions anywhere in India. Love : Map quality and detail, multimedia functions Hate : Poor touch sensitivity of the screen, slow GPS link up
Honda’s CR-Z hits a hybrid spot, but… Jason H.Harper here are a few cars from Honda Motor Co. whose passing I really regret. Models like the low-slung Acura NSX sports car and lithe Legend were mega-cool. Not to mention the CRX, a terriersized 1980s hatchback with the heart of a lion. Rest in peace, fellas. Honda recently reanimated the ghost of the CRX, dubbed it the CR-Z, and sent it my way for a quasi reunion. I slide the manual six-speed into third gear, mash on the accelerator and shoot over a crest. Not bad. A two-seater that weighs less than 2,700 pounds, the CR-Z looks like a futuristic CRX, sharing the same basic lines as the legendary Honda. The rear even has the same signature translucent hatch. Sweet. Almost like seeing an old buddy again. Except that people change, especially when they reach back from beyond the grave. The CR-Z is no CRX. First of all, it’s a hybrid. While it comes with a beloved i-VTEC engine -- in this case the 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder found on the Fit eco-box -- it also has an electric motor. The result is a series of trade-offs that dilute the purity of its forebear. I ﬁgure the CR-Z will hit 60 miles per hour in about 8 or 9 seconds -- not particularly quick. Gas mileage is 37 to 39 miles per gallon on the highway, compared with Honda’s Insight hybrid, which gets 43 mpg. Compromises on both sides. Yet the CR-Z shows the direction that many car companies will travel in an effort to make fun and fast compatible with green and economical.
Sport hybrid Honda calls the coupe a sport hybrid, laying claim to a new niche. This is the ﬁrst small car I’ve driven whose hybrid powertrain isn’t exclusively used for better gas mileage, as in the Insight and Toyota Prius. Still, the concept of using batteries for added oomph is not unique. BMW and Porsche are using hybrid technology to augment torque and horsepower in the ActiveHybrid 7 and Cayenne Hybrid SUV respectively. Even Ferrari is working on a hybrid. With a small engine and weight of less than 2,000 pounds, the CRX was fairly eco for its day, getting 33 mpg on the highway. Born in 1984 and living until the early ‘90s, it appealed to teens and 20-somethings. I’d still happily
jump in one today. I wonder if the CR-Z will generate the same excitement. Will 19-year-olds covet one? The price, which starts under $20,000 and tops out with all the amenities, including navigation, for around $24,000, certainly helps. It is a stylish little thing. Whether you like the forwardtilted shape and snub nose, the CR-Z certainly offers a distinct point of view. Even with cloth seats, the interior is a success, with a funky, tiered front dash and dynamic instrument cluster.
Cubby hole No back seats though. Instead there is a plastic cubby hole for storage. New technologies are tricky. When you’re done admiring the design and actually begin driving, the CR-Z suffers from a rubbery, artiﬁcial feel. As soon as you step on the gas something seems amiss. While acceleration pedals were historically connected by mechanical cables, the CR-Z’s is basically an electronic sensor. The lack of tactile feedback is akin to the auditory difference between a vinyl record and an MP3 ﬁle. This disconnect is further complicated by three driving modes: econ, normal and sport. Depending on your selection, a computer decides how much power it will dole out from the 113- horse gas engine and 13-horse electric motor.
Sleepy start Step hard on the gas in econ mode and it seems more a suggestion than an imperative. The powertrain indolently awakens like a sleepy St. Bernard who’s been sampling the cask around his neck. It should be noted that the EPA ﬁgures of 35 city and 39 mpg highway were calculated in normal mode. You’ll
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likely get better in econ. On back roads I switched into sport and began shifting gears at the highest revs allowed. Under this type of driving the electric motor’s job is to deliver extra power rather than gas savings. After 50 miles of hard driving, the computer told me that I’d managed a scant 22.5 mpg. “I bet that’s a record,” muttered a colleague. I was testing a model with a six-speed manual, the ﬁrst time I’ve ever seen one on a hybrid. It’s a happy surprise that Honda spent the time and money to develop it. The stick goes a long way to overcoming the computerlike essence of the car. Think of it as an olive branch to purists. Or you can opt for a CVT transmission similar to the one you’ll ﬁnd on the Insight. You can still approximate gear changes via paddle shifting, though it’s less fun.
Light weight Two other bright spots: braking feel is quite good, without the sponginess of many regenerative systems that use braking energy to replenish batteries. And given its steady steering and relatively light weight, the CR-Z handles decently in the curves. You can throw it around -- almost like an old CRX. Which makes me wonder: What if Honda had done without the hybrid stuff and simply put in a high-revving (and still pretty green) gas motor from the Honda Civic Si? That’s a ghost I’m dying to meet. (The author writes about autos for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
The 2011 Honda CR-Z at a Glance Engine: 1.5-liter 4-cylinder and electric motor, with combined 122 horsepower (total hp varies from sum of parts) and 128 pound-feet of torque Transmission: 6-speed manual or continuous variable transmission Speed: 0 to 60 mph in about 9 seconds Gas mileage per gallon: 31 city, 37 highway with manual; 35, 39 with CVT Price as tested: $24,000 Best features: Cunning exterior and interior design Worst feature: Artiﬁcial driving feel Target buyer: The sporting tree-lover
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Photos: S. Muralidhar
Transforming the Verna
t is time for change for the Verna. After nearly four years in the market, the Verna gets a much needed makeover. The new Verna Transform is a timely launch coinciding with the introduction of new emission norms and it has also been introduced in time for a fresh round of competition. Much of the transformation on the exterior of the Verna seems to be concentrated at the front and has also gone into giving it a more aggressive look. Much of the front has been redesigned and the most dominating features, of course, are the new eagle-eye design headlamps and the twin-slatted new design for the bonnet grille. Encouraging and joining the new lamps and grille in changing the front looks of the Verna Transform is the new front bumper, which is more muscular, featuring a
larger airdam and new fog lamp slots. The new bumper seems to visually increase the width of the car. The door-mounted rear view mirrors have also been redesigned and now feature integrated LED turn indicators. The rear of the new Verna Transform also gets a bit of a makeover, with the tail-lamps getting a new combination within the overall design package of the previous version. There is also the new dual tone chrome rear garnish and the new design, chrome-ﬁnish for the exhaust tip. For the interiors, the overall design and layout of the dashboard and seats have been retained, though, some changes to increase the Verna’s premium feel have been incorporated. Blue LED illumination and a new instrument cluster with silver surround dials are the additions inside the new version of the Verna.
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The Verna Transform continues with the same two powertrains that the previous version was offered with. The 1.6-litre petrol variant develops an impressive peak power of 103.2PS@5,500 rpm and torque of 14.9kgm@3,000 rpm. The 1.5-litre CRDi diesel variant develops a large-hearted peak power of 110 PS@4,000 rpm and an impressive torque of 24kgm@1,900 – 2,750 rpm. The top end diesel variant will be available with both – a 5-speed manual and the unique to segment 4-speed automatic transmission, which was ﬁrst introduced in 2009. The petrol variants include – 1.6 VTVT and 1.6 SX VTVT, while the diesel variants include – the 1.5 CRDi VGT, 1.5 SX CRDi VGT and 1.5 SX VGT (AT). Prices for the petrol variants start at Rs 6.55 lakh (ex-showroom) and the diesel variants start at Rs 7.87 lakh (ex-showroom).
MELANGE luxury redeﬁned
Eye spice Hair-raising Tresses ﬁnally get their due as Alexandre De Paris steps into India with its SS ‘10 collection of luxury hair accessories. From clips to slides in nature-inspired motifs and Swarovski crystals, hair jewellery is soon going to be the order of the day. Take your pick at exclusive boutiques and designer stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune. Rs 4,000 onwards
Super lightweight glasses in powder blue hues teamed with softened and outsized square shape frames and wave-shaped temple ends and the whole 70’s look… this Miu Miu sunglasses is just the right accessory to spruce up your look. Head to eyewear outlets for your cool blue style upper. Rs 10,850
Pond’s latest to target worn out skin is their Age Miracle Concentrated Serum that boasts of highly concentrated wrinkleﬁghting and age spot reducing technology that leaves your skin younger looking and oil-free. Available at leading beauty stores. Rs 695 (30ml)
Bag hunting This week, your search for an easy-going, classic, pocket-friendly bag can end here. Hidesign’s new Fiori range of bags made in soft cowdeer leather with bold handle detail and in some yummy colours is a fun thing to tag along this season. Check out their stores for more. Rs 3,995 (one in pic)
It’s raining hearts Making monsoons a splishy splashy delight, Burberry is out with its hearts collection umbrella that features the trademark checks in black and white, highlighted by pastel red hearts. Ideal for that romantic walk along the beach with the pitter patters on. Available at Burberry stores. Rs 7,500
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Yes, a luxe bag, but vegan please! Leather bag? No. Gorgeous fur stole? No. Bohemian dress, animal dyed? Never. Going ethical and vegan is the latest fad in ‘Desi’ and international fashion, capturing the wardrobes of many an eco-conscious shopper, says ANUSHYA MAMTORA
risp cotton stoles and colourful pin-tuck tops are carefully hung up for visitors to feel and admire. Just two racks away, in lovely pastel hues, silk sarees with exquisite embroidery are grabbing eyeballs. A regular ‘apparel exhibition’? Nah, much more! The cotton is 100 per cent organic with zero use of fertilisers. The silk that took the form of gorgeous sarees lent a new lease of life to the silk worms, and were rightly called Ahimsa silk. And most importantly, each piece of fabric ensures that the toiling cotton farmer and seri-culturists are given their due. Ethics and the ‘glitzy, size-zero, leather boots, trails of fur’ world of fashion may seem like oxymorons, but with compassion settling both onto the ramp and the rack, ethical and vegan clothing is soon going to tug the heartstrings of an eco-conscious fashionista.
Going natural The ﬁrst step towards going ethical seems to be going organic and keeping the dyes natural, with little or no impact on the environment. With the cotton crop topping the list in the use of fertilisers (up to 60 per cent of total fertilisers used), organic cotton from non-genetically modiﬁed plants that refrain from using synthetic agricultural chemicals, is sought after by a range of brands. Apart from NGOs and small boutiques that closely network with cotton farmers and come up with handloom products, lifestyle brands are launching special organic lines too. This March, Van Heusen came up with their ECO line shirts made with organic cotton from untreated cotton seeds and natural dyes. Luxury fashion brand Kazo too had its special organic collection where it ensured that even the processes like patchworks, prints, trim, buttons, washes etc., were organic and eco-friendly.
Fair deal If being kind to the environment is a top priority, upliftment of artisans and farmers comes a close second. Many prominent and upcoming designers are taking efforts to do the cultivators good, while getting cheers on the runway as their models sashay down the ramp. Anita Dongre is one such designer who has not only won loyalists for her Grassroot range of fashionable organic clothing but has also recently partnered with the NGO Shop for Change Fair Trade. Credited with being the ﬁrst nationallevel fashion designer to pioneer the fair
trade movement in her sphere, Anita has come out with an entire range of garments made from the Shop for Change Fair Trade certiﬁed cotton, which guarantees a fair deal to the farmer and his family for their hard work. Another example would be Ananta – The Flamboyant Stitch, Hansiba’s new brand under SEWA, which creates exclusive pieces for the fashion forward while keeping in mind ‘strengthening the rural economy, preserving the cultural heritage’ and going completely organic. Mani Chinnaswamy and Vijayalakshmi Nachiar’s Ethicus is an in-house brand of Appachi Eco-Logic Cotton which has brought together small and medium scale farmers of the Kabini region in South India to adopt organic cultivation of ﬁne cotton to conserve the fragile forest reservoirs and the production of ‘ethical’ textiles using traditional handloom weavers.
The world goes vegan With people the world over adopting vegetarianism, there are many others who go a step further and become vegans when it comes to styling their wardrobe too. Leather, animal-based dyes, fur, silk, down, wool are a complete no no. And if shoppers can be demanding, can labels be far behind? Renowned designer Stella McCartney the eponym for the luxury fashion label, is a keen follower of vegan fashion and comes out with products for her anti-leather customers. Her latest is the ‘Vegan it’ Falabella bag made from black coated cotton, which has already been arm candy to the Lopezs and Rihannas in the international scene. Bourgeois Boheme is another brand that calls itself a ‘compassionate fashion boutique’ and uses materials like recyclable plastic construction to microﬁber to come out with shoes, bags, belts and more. The success of this ethical model of fashion however, does not ride on the guilt of shoppers. Supporters of such trends are insistent about design and ﬁt, and being well within the fashion radar. So the ‘clad in an organic sack’ days is gradually turning into the ‘chic, trendy yet ethical’ clothing, and we bet nobody’s complaining!
AND Shop for Change Fair Trade
No Way! Here are a few fabrics and materials that get a thumbs-down from vegan fashionistas: Leather Why: Save the animals! Leather has moved on from being a byproduct of the cattle industry to being the driving force. Animals are said to undergo tremendous suffering in the form of deprivation, conﬁnement, dehorning, castration etc for slaughter and subsequent tanning. Animals like zebras, elephants, dolphins and ‘exotic’ ones too are slaughtered for their skins. Alternatives: PVC and PU synthetic leather, pleather, ramie, microﬁber Wool Why: According to PETA, lambs are punched and castrated without anaesthetics and undergo other barbarous treatments by ranchers to get the best mohair or pashmina. Alternatives: Tencel, cotton ﬂannel, polyester ﬂeece, faux shearling Silk Why: 15 silk worms are killed to get one gram of silk and a whole 1,500 for a lustrous meter. Conventional silk is made by putting the cocoons with the silkworm pupae in boiling water and then unwinding the silk strands. Alternatives: Ahimsa/ peace silk, poly silk, organic and banana ﬁbre, mercerised cotton, nylon, rayon Down Why: Commonly found in jackets, down is the soft feather from the breasts of ducks and geese that many times are plucked out when they are alive. Feathers are important for the birds to keep themselves and their eggs warm. Alternatives: Synthetic ﬁll, high-tech fabrics like Primaloft, Lyocell Fur Why: About 200 chinchillas for that glamorous coat! Inhumane treatment to minks, musk-rats, beavers, silver and blue foxes, which are bred for the most exotic fur. Some bigger animals are even killed for the same. Alternatives: Faux fur made of acrylic ﬁbres, synthetic fabrics
Barsacs add a new spirit to food pairing John Mariani line Baly winces when people order the classic pairing of foie gras and a glass of Barsac, one of the great sweet Bordeaux wines along with Sauternes. “There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a glorious match, but it just limits the possibilities for enjoying Barsac with so much else,” says the 29-year-old at Chateau Coutet, where she is co-proprietor with her father, Dominique, and her uncle Philippe. The estate, which dates back to 1643, made Thomas Jefferson’s favourite Barsac and has enjoyed First Growth status since 1885. Baly was in New York promoting her wines at Chef Daniel Boulud’s ﬂagship restaurant Daniel on East 65th Street. Though she is allergic to seafood, she recommended I try a range of Chateau Coutet Barsacs with everything from scallops to softshell crabs, and, ﬁnally, pressed duck. “It’s difﬁcult to convince people that a sweet wine can go with savoury dishes,” she said. “But they are a revelation once people try them.” After several courses paired to her wines, I had to agree, for the same reason that foie gras and Barsac or Sauternes has for so long been a decidedly decadent marriage of fatted duck or goose liver with a sumptuously sweet wine. We sampled three vintages - 2004 ($54), 2005 ($65) and 1997 ($65) - with the delicate ﬂavours of Maine peekytoe crab salad with a tangy, acidic Granny Smith apple sauce, crisp softshell crab tempura with ﬁngerling potatoes and sauce grenobloise with tart capers and hazelnut-crusted sea scallops, with a woodsy morels fricassee and a green peppercorn sauce.
Tender crabs Usually, gourmets might choose a big white Burgundy or California Chardonnay to enhance such dishes, but the
Coutet handily complemented the sweetness of the hazelnuts, the zest of the apples and capers, the hot oil of the tender crabs, and the assertiveness of the peppercorns. The showpiece pressed duck (which needs to be ordered a day or two in advance at Daniel) is an elaborate dish that dates to the early 19th century, prepared by a captain and a waiter tableside. The legs and meat are carved from the carcass and its bones are squeezed through a silver press along with the liver and cognac to form an extremely rich elixir that serves as the sauce. Traditionally, a red Burgundy or Bordeaux is enjoyed with this sumptuous dish. But by pairing it with the magniﬁcent Coutet 1997, whose age intensiﬁed the fruit and acids within the sweetness, the dish resembles a French version of Peking duck, which is itself brushed with a sweet soy sauce, and then carved and served with the sweet condiment called hoisin sauce.
Blue cheese With desserts like warm chocolate coulant with liquid caramel and sea salt, of course, the Barsac went impeccably well. But we might just as easily have had a blueveined cheese like Roquefort, another classic match-up, or just sipped the Coutet as a dessert all on its own. Like most Barsacs, Coutet’s is made from a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of Muscadelle. The Lur-Saluces family, which also owned the famous Chateau d’Yquem, produced Coutet until 1923. The Balys took over in 1977 and renovated the estate and cellars, bringing in the newest technology and replanting many of the 38.5 hectares (95 acres) of vines. The average vine is 35 years old. In 1994, Philippe and Dominique Baly signed an agreement with the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, giving exclusive worldwide distribution rights to her company,
July 7, 2010
Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA. Barsac, like Sauternes and the ‘beerenauslese’ and ‘trockenbeerenauslese’ sweet wines of Germany, is made from ugly yellow grapes shrivelled and blackened by the Botrytis cinerea fungus, the so-called Noble Rot that allows the evaporation of water and concentrates the sugars.
Handpicked The grapes are handpicked as they ripen. At Coutet, about 80 pickers need at least ﬁve days to complete just one pass through the vineyards, repeated several times as more grapes ripen over a six-week period. Coutet’s ideal balance is considered to be approximately 14 per cent alcohol and about 130-150 grams per litre of residual sugar. Aging is 18 months, at which time the ﬁnal blend is made. No matter how many times I sample Barsacs and Sauternes, I am always amazed at how they can be so densely sweet and complex but not cloying. In Coutet’s wines I taste aromatic, ﬂoral ﬂavours, along with very ripe tropical fruits, and that distinctive, requisite hint of oak that provides the wine’s backbone and provides notes of vanilla. The fact that Barsacs, even more than Sauternes, are so reasonably priced for such illustrious wines makes them all the more attractive to try with a wide range of dishes. It was a splendid, enlightening evening at Daniel, even if I was dying for a glass of red wine halfway through the duck. Drinking Barsac throughout a meal is not something most people will ever do, but eschew the foie gras or save the Roquefort and try a Chateau Coutet with other savoury dishes. It’s a revelation. (The author writes on wine for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
True blue It’s showering turquoise at C Krishniah Chetty & Sons. This ‘Heaven on Earth’ neck piece from Aarzoo collection is lovely in its carved roses twined on a diamond studded trellis. Avaialble: C Krishniah Chetty & Sons, Bengaluru and Hyderabad
Back to yore Gaja Heritage opens in Kolkata with some exclusive handcrafted gold jewellery. Must see are the pieces in Raj Bari style, that goes back to the Zamindari days of Bengal. Available: Gaja Heritage, Kolkata
For dainty wrists Get your hands cuffed this wedding season with Rose’s ‘Balas’, that uses, diamonds, rubies, pearls and other precious stones set in their creative best on some interesting bracelets. Available: Rose Salon, New Delhi and Mumbai
Beautiful barrette Your hair ﬁnally gets its ‘precious’ due! Accessorise it with this traditional piece in lovely-hued stones from Amrapali’s Phoolwari range and you are all set to make heads turn. Available: Amrapali outlets at New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur and Jodhpur
Striking! This gorgeous butterﬂy ﬂutters around is a harbinger of Mirari’s soon to be released Essentia collection. The rubies and diamonds earring is exquisite in its simplicity. Available: Mirari boutique, New Delhi Smartbuy
July 7, 2010