Samsung series 9
You’ve got to admire Samsung for having the gumption to take on Apple at its own game. Its Galaxy series smartphones now outsell iPhones, and with the new Series 9 13-inch laptop, the Korean manufacturer has a contender in the hotly contested ultrabook vertical market, currently ruled by Apple’s MacBook Air.
Our test unit was a lightweight (1.16kg) brushed aluminium clad notebook with possibly the slimmest profile (12.9mm) in the market today. Samsung hasn’t gone overboard with the design – the Series 9 is sleek and looks expensive.
The beating heart of Samsung’s new notebook is a third generation Intel Core i5 processor, with 4GB of RAM and 128GB hard disk. Thanks to Samsung’s dominance of the TV market, the laptop also boasts a superb 13” LED HD screen. The Series 9, which runs Windows 7, is quick to boot up.
The keyboard is flat and its keys are somewhat reminiscent of the MacBook’s. However, the touchpad is not the greatest – it still doesn’t quite have the finesse of the ones on the MacBook. In conclusion, the Series 9 is a good-looking ultrabook that scores on most counts. What’s the downside? It still runs Windows. Dh5,299, at leading stores
The BlackBerry Music Gateway seems like a desperate attempt at injecting some coolness back into the somewhat beleaguered smartphone brand. The Gateway allows you to wirelessly stream music from your BlackBerry device (or any Bluetooth-enabled device or mp3 player) to a sound dock or audio system via a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Gateway is a compact, matchbox-sized device, which weighs only 20g and has just two connections – a headphone jack and micro-USB charging port, as the device doesn’t use a battery. While most modern speakers come with inbuilt Bluetooth, the Gateway is ideal for those who want to play their music wirelessly on older audio systems.
There are no buttons on the device, and setting it up takes hardly any time. I can’t complain about the sound quality either, and for the cost, this is certainly a good way to get your home set up with wireless audio. Dh184, at leading stores
Zik by Parrot
The Zik wireless headphones by Parrot are simply the most advanced piece of portable audio kit we’ve used in a while. It’s amazing how much tech Parrot has managed to cram in – the Zik comes with capacitive surfaces, NFC chips, has multiple microphones and is Bluetooth-enabled. Its most striking feature is the use of touch gestures to control volume, skip between tracks and even answer and reject calls.
Every time you pull your headphones down around your neck, the music pauses, and then plays again when you put them back on. Though the Philip Starck-designed metal body is not exactly lightweight, the ear cups are among the most comfortable I’ve used. The sound quality is good, it’s not the best I’ve heard by far, but considering the amount of tech dazzle on this headset, I can’t really whinge about this.
There’s even a phone app to help you tweak sound. These are easily the most distinctive set of earphones, both in terms of style and functionality, out in the market today. Dh1,499, at Dubai Audio Centre