Cinetrek WDR800 DVD, Apple Aperture 2, NEC Powermate P5030

Cinetrek WDR800 DVD Player
Price: $319

Cinetrek’s futuristic-looking DVD player is as easy to use as any portable DVD machine should be. The controls on the body of the unit are a little confusing, but the remote control is modelled on that of any consumer player so you won’t have any trouble navigating menus or controlling functions.

A few downsides; it’s not clear enough how to switch to battery power, because as soon as you unplug the AC power the unit turns off, with no obvious way to tell it to use the battery. There’s also a slot to plug in your memory card full of photos or content, but when we plugged the card from a very garden-variety digital camera in, the Cinetrek didn’t recognise the image formats.

There’s also a USB slot for your memory stick which automatically displays the content in a simple menu system, but again, make sure you have your formats right. 3/5

NEC Powermate P5030

Call it the Apple effect, but PC manufacturers are getting much bolder with the design of Windows computers. The latest is the NEC Powermate series, a great-looking machine with a very approachable and attractive profile that invites use without looking too serious. It’s very easy to set up — just slip the batteries in the keyboard and mouse and the wireless kicks in effortlessly.

Unfortunately in not looking like a serious machine, it doesn’t behave enough like one either. You can’t expect too much for $2,000 today, but the performance of the Powermate will leave you wanting when it comes to processor-hungry tasks. But it’s a great beginner’s computer, and with such a great form factor, NEC need only put some serious power under the shiny white hood and they’ll have a contender. 2.5/5

Apple Aperture 2
Price: $268

Aperture 2 is a cataloguing and adjustment tool for large collections of digital photos that’s geared more towards pro photographers. However, if you aspire to the profession or just take a lot of pictures, it does a similar job to Picasa or iPhoto — even though it’s like comparing a VW beetle to an Aston Martin.

Import and apply massive amounts of metadata to your images, and then organise them into a similarly huge range of projects, folders, albums, adjustment sets, output sets and more. It makes sifting through hundreds or even thousands of images surprisingly easy.

There are basic adjustment options and settings, but it’s the output and sharing options that really impress. There are the usual abilities to produce photographic contact sheets and web galleries, but you can also select from a number of layout templates to create a book of your pictures — even ordering the finished version in hard copy from Apple. 4/5

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