Jan 15

Why I prefer a lightweight laptop over a tablet when travelling

(This entry is part of Indiblogger’s Go Sleek! presented by Asus)

As someone who travels a fair bit, one of the biggest pains (sometimes literally) when carrying luggage is the burden of a heavy laptop. Why do I carry a laptop and not just a tablet — despite possessing both? Because typing and and getting work done is a lot easier on a physical laptop. Asus has recently introduced the sleek and powerful ASUS EeeBook X205TA notebook, and the ASUS All In One PC ET2040, a tablet-styled PC that allows for easy plug-n-play connectivity for a mouse and keyboard. But why would I still prefer a laptop?

Asus Eeebook x205TA laptop

Asus Eeebook x205TA comes in a variety of colours too (Image credit: ASUS.com)

Asus Eeebook X205TA weighs less than 1kg, 979 gms to be exact (helps to use flash storage). This makes it a tremendously light, full-fledged Windows device. It’s also very compact in size, only 1.75cm thick, meaning it takes very little physical space in your bag — be it a traditional laptop bag, or in my case, a Kata camera backpack. This leaves me enough space for other things or makes my overall backpack lighter. I remember the days when I had to carry my older HP laptop during my travels. Not only did it weigh over 3kgs, add in the charger and you are talking about lugging around quite a heavy package. All this weight, just so I could check my e-mails, transfer the photos taken during the day, use some Photoshop, and do some of my freelance work while on-the-go.

The second very important reason why I prefer a notebook such as the Asus Eeebook X205TA for my travel needs is because of its amazing battery life. You don’t know how many times, and how annoying it is, for your laptop to die out in the middle of doing something important and you just can’t find a plug point anywhere to charge it! This is a common problem while travelling, especially when finding the right plug point isn’t always the easiest thing when you are on the go. This is why the 12 hour battery back up of the Asus Eeebook X205TA is a such a boon! Getting anywhere between 10-12 hours means you only have to charge your laptop once a day, or maybe once in two days. It’s so when at an airport or in a train, you can just take out your laptop and begin work right away, wherever you are seated.

And if you are travelling across India and run into any problems, not to worry. Asus has authorized service centers in every state. Aside from all these benefits, the Asus Eeebook X205TA comes with a powerful enough 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z3735 quad-core CPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, an Intel Gen7 graphics chip and built-in speakers. This means the laptop can easily play 1080p HD videos with ease, allowing for watching movies on-the-go possible. And remember that battery life? You can watch an entire movie and still have enough charge left for other work.

The 32 GB on-board storage may seem limited, ASUS gives you 500GB of online storage (for free). Not a big of a deal, since we all carry external hard drives with bigger capacities than that nowadays. As for productivity, Asus Eeebook X205TA comes pre-loaded with genuine Windows 8.1 and a 1-year license of Microsoft’s Office Suite. What more could one ask for? The online reviews for the Asus Eeebook X205TA are great as well!

asus-all-in-one-pcSo what’s wrong with the ASUS All In One PC ET2040 you ask? Not much really. It’s just that the All In One PC is better meant for household or office use. You could keep it anywhere in the house, as it takes up much less space than any laptop (if you use the touchscreen exclusively). If you think it’s a ‘tablet’ — then that is one big tablet. It’s more a ‘monitor with an embedded PC,’ and comes with all the usual connectivity ports you need, something you don’t often find in smaller tablets. The All In One PC does not make for easy travel. It’s a bit too big for that, and you can’t use the support stand to keep it up anywhere when outside. Plus, how silly would it be if you carried a USB keyboard and mouse along with it in your luggage :-)

The ASUS All In One PC ET2040 is best used as a media center PC, or one that adorns your living room or office desk, but takes very little space doing so. But I’m a traveller, so for me, the Asus Eeebook X205TA suits my lifestyle better.

Dec 14

I’d love to ‘avago’ at Melbourne

Warning: This blog post is going to feature a shameless dose of Aussie slang.

When I used to work at AOL, from 2007 to 2010, I was a producer for the Australia and New Zealand web portals AOL had in the respective markets. And while www.aol.com.au may no longer exist, during that time I learned quite a bit about Australia, its way of life, its natural beauty and what made it a popular country (for a variety of reasons). I even nearly had the chance to visit Sydney for work (AOL had an office there), even bought a new big suitcase and began getting my visa papers in order… only to be told the following week the recession meant all international travel plans have been put on hold.

_Insert sad face_

I was disappointed I never got the chance to visit Australia and had to say hooroo to that dream. Until this contest on Indiblogger came up!

How much do I know about Melbourne – the proclaimed “most livable city in the world”? Well, the first thing my AOL Sydney counterparts told me back then was there is this steadfast competition between Sydney and Melbourne as to which city is better. Then there are the sporting events like the Melbourne Cup, where we spent more time creating feature galleries on all the outrageous hats on display more than the actual horse race! Then there is the Melbourne F1, the first race on the calendar. Other than that, much of what I heard or know about Melbourne just comes from the fact it gets mentioned a lot in lists that rank “best places to live” in the world and is a city where quality of life ranks higher.

12 apostles Melbourne

The “12 apostles” rock formations. Bewdy-ful isn’t it?

For the uninitiated, Melbourne is the capital city of the coastal state of Victoria. Being close to the sea brings with it its fair share of pleasantries. The first being the amazing Great Ocean Road, considered to be the most scenic drives in the world. If I could go for a ride with an obvious stopover at the ’12 apostles’ limestone cliffs — this alone would make the Australia experience for me. Taking the Gibsons Steps down to the beach would definitely be an experience I would not want to miss out on.

I’d also love to witness the Penguin Parade on Philips island. Visitors to the nature reserve get to build wooden ‘homes’ for the penguins of Phillips island and later watch as the penguins make a return to the shore in the evening (although photography is prohibited disappointingly). Check out this video featuring Tamnay and… that other guy from the popular comedy troupe AIB.

(More videos featuring Tanmay & Rohan in Australia)

Back in Melbourne city, Royal Botanic Gardens seems like a place I’d go for a nice stroll post lunch. Close by is the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial, also a free attraction.

Being a foodie, I know I’ll enjoy Queen Victoria market. I mean, where else can I try out fresh kangaroo meat and an assortment of cheese and amazing seafood? For some nice laid back cafe experience, I would veg out at the narrow Degraves Street one morning before take a stroll down Collins Street, the premier street lined with high end shops where the cashed up spend their money. I, on the other, would much rather spend my money at Harbour Town and the many restaurants at Docklands. The area is also where visitors can find the Melbourne Star, a 120 metre high ferris wheel. Although I’d go even higher at the Eureka Skydeck 88, for a panoramic view of Melbourne’s skyline.

The Eureka Tower even offers an Edge experience, which is a platform that extends out 300 metres above ground

I know it’s a bit far out from the city, but if I had the time, I would definitely take a ride on the Puffing Billy train in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s the oldest steam train in Australia, and the journey takes passengers through the renowned mountainous landscape of Mt. Dandenong, which looking at the photos just comes up a cropper. (Not even sure I used that expression right)

The scenery looks classic, doesn’t it?

If I were to think about buying a special gift from Melbourne, it would have to be an opal pendant (for my mother). I came across Lightning Ridge Opal Mines when browsing Tripadvisor. Named after Lightening Ridge region in Black Opal county, north of Melbourne, the store offers a free educational tour on opal stones and at the end of it, there is no pressure to buy anything. Although I do wish I could experience the real outback, but Lightning Ridge seems really far from Melbourne city.

I’m not the biggest cricket fan out there but I guess I have to drop by the Melbourne Cricket Ground when in the city — because if I didn’t, friends back in India will act puzzled and ask why I didn’t. Ugh.

Sure I’ll ride the tram and drop by Block Arcade, but I’m a larrikin, so much of what I wish to experience on a personal visit to Melbourne is what I mentioned above. These are my top picks. Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why? Leave your answer in the comments below and you could win a shopping voucher worth Rs. 500!

Dec 14

An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House

I was invited for a blogger gathering at the invitation of Amrut Distilleries, makers of the renowned Amrut Single Malt whisky. I had heard of the brand, but never knew much about it nor had I ever tasted it. It’s not easy to find it in liquor stores and I think I have seen their whiskys more at airport duty frees. Amrut XXX rum on the other hand, that’s far more common. None the less, we were asked to come for a tasting session to be held at The Glass House on Lavelle Road.

The Glasshouse Lavelle road Bangalore

There was a bit of space across from The Glass House to park my bike

The Glasshouse lounge restaurant Bangalore

This was my first time at The Glass House, and first impressions: “Wow!”

We were instructed to first go upstairs for the Amrut event. Continue reading “An afternoon with Amrut whisky, hosted by The Glass House” »

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