2010-03-25

Alternatives for Those People Who Hates Apple Gadgets

I love them, you love them - most of us love them; I'm talking of electronic devices from Apple Inc. But they're not perfect - every product out there has a flaw or two, which makes us wonder if we can find an alternative. Also, there are some dedicated Apple haters in this world, who simply refuse to accept whatever Apple tries to sell. For such people, we give you our laundry list of alternatives for the most popular product segments in Apple's camp.
1)    iMac - Lenovo Ideacenter A600
The iMac has truly been a pioneer in the All-in-one PC segment.  But is there a Windows-based PC equivalent that is as innovative? We think the Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 can be a decent replacement. It's not too far behind in terms of power when compared to the iMac. It's also got a 21.5-inch full HD screen. The best accessory that comes with this PC is its multi-function remote. It acts as a media center remote, an air mouse (which lets you control the pointer by simply pointing and tilting the remote -- no surface required) and a VOIP phone. You also get a wireless keyboard with a built-in touchpad at the side, which is great to entirely control the A600 from a couch. An ATI Radeon 4650 GPU will ensure that games run at a fair pace. It sells for roughly Rs. 58,000. 


2)    Macbook - Dell Studio XPS 13

The new Macbook has most of the features the Macbook Pro now, and has become quite a value for money option. But white's not your favorite color, eh? More than just the color, the Dell Studio XPS 13 gives you even more VFM. It's got a slightly faster processor, double the amount of RAM and more hard drive space. It has a similar grade NVIDIA GPU as the Macbook's GeForce 9400. It also comes with a backlit keyboard, like the Macbook Pro. No Mac till date comes with an HDMI port though. The XPS has one, so you can hook it up to your LCD TV. There's also an Expresscard slot, should you find its use.

3)    Mac Mini - Dell Zino HD

The Mac Mini was a cute little Macintosh; the cheapest Mac one could buy. While Apple has added more muscle to its internals over the years, there are still a few things amiss. Like the fact that it could possibly never be a good HTPC (Home Theater PC). Enter the Dell Zino HD. Apart from totally ripping off the Mini's square design; Dell did manage to bring in a couple of unique selling points to this PC. First, it's available in a lot more color options with some really radical top covers. You can configure it with an AMD Athlon dual-core processor that's not as fast as the Core 2 Duo on the Mac mini.
But when paired with an entry-level ATI Radeon graphics chip, it's decently powerful to do tasks like HD playback. In every other aspect though, you can tune the Dell Zino HD with double the specs of the Mac Mini. But now for the most effective feature - a Blu-ray reader drive can be swapped in place of a regular DVD drive. And, with that HDMI port at the back, you've got yourself a perfect little HTPC. Even if you top the configuration on Dell's site, it'll cost you as much as the higher-end version of the Mac Mini. If that wasn't enough, you also get an 18.5-inch LCD monitor with the Zino. 

4)    iPhone 3GS - Google Nexus One

There's been a big debate over which one is the best since the Nexus One was released. Ok, let's sort it out once and for all. We think Apple still has the best operating UI and app store ecosystem till date, but the rest of the phone makers have started putting better features into the mix. The Nexus One has a slightly larger, higher-res AMOLED display. It runs Google Android's latest version on a fast processor and has a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash.
The interface is pretty easy to use in its own respect. Its app store still isn't as populated but it will get better once Android picks up steam (which we're sure it will). Click here to read the entire review of the Nexus One and then be the judge.

5)    iPod Touch - iAudio Cowon S9
The iPod Touch has become more or less a cheaper substitute for people who want to experience the awesome interface of the iPhone, but can't afford one. True, it's more than just a media player - the plethora of applications and internet browsing capabilities are unmatched by any other competitor. But for people looking for an audio-video playback solution should definitely check out the Cowon S9. It offers a gorgeous OLED display, has long battery life and trumps the iPod Touch with its Bluetooth stereo audio capabilities. There's a voice recorder and FM radio too.

The Cowon S9 is a true PMP by the definition. It supports a variety of video formats like XVID and WMV, which will save you the hassle of converting your videos before transferring onto the player. Audio quality is at par with iAudio's high standards.  The initial User Interface had its share of problems, but it's reported that the newer firmware versions have ironed out the bugs. 
6)    iPod Shuffle - Samsung Pebble/Sony Walkman NWZ-B143F/Samsung YP-U5

Apple had a clever marketing strategy when they started selling the iPod Shuffle. "Be surprised by your music" was the slogan that Apple came up with to cover the player's lack of a screen. The newer version looks cute, but irritatingly has no controls on the body; rather they're placed on the earphone wire. So, you can't possibly use it with any other pair of earphones, let alone connect it to a set of speakers.

We say leave the Shuffle aside. There are many better players out there in this segment. If you insist on a screen-less player, we'd rather ask you to check out the Samsung YP-S2 (a.k.a the Pebble). It looks equally cool and has wear-around-the-neck style earphones. It belts out decent audio quality too.
trust us when we say that screen-less MP3 players do tend to get on your nerves after the initial amazement period is over. It hurts when you can't just skip to your favorite tune when you want to, without jumping through the entire playlist. We'd rather reckon you go for a Samsung YP-U5 or a Sony Walkman NWZ-B143F. Both are pen drive shaped players with a screen. Both offer good sound quality and come with extra features like FM radio or a voice recorder. 

7)    iPod Nano - Sony Walkman NWZ-E440

The iPod Nano has become a favored choice of anybody who didn't want to chug around an MP3 player in the shape of a thin brick (we're talking about the iPod Classic). It's gotten better every year, with the recent version bearing much demanded features like FM radio. They even managed to shove in a camera in there!

But an audiophile won't really find true bliss in it. If you have your eyebrows raised, we ask you to look at the Sony Walkman NWZ-E440. Although it doesn't have a cool name like the 'Nano', this Walkman is fairly small and lightweight, has excellent audio quality and good battery life. There's no iPod click-wheel, but large buttons and a simple interface ensure ease of use. It's priced competitively too, which is surprising for a Sony product. 

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