EXEC TECH : Three by three

SONY VAIO VGN-TT26GN
The best thing about the TT26GN, other than its size, is its battery power. Even without the optional VGPBPL 14B long-life battery, this laptop lasted for most of the duration of long-haul flight (6.5 hours). It is lightweight enough (1.31kgs) to easily carry to meetings and for women particularly, the white TT26 and its optional white leather folio accessorise well.
The 11.1-inch wide (WXGA: 1366 x 768) LCD display is crisp and clear although the font size on documents can be quite small (easily rectified in settings or by increasing the magnification in Word/OpenOffice).
Criticisms of notebooks usually include speed, battery power and keyboard size. The Intel Core2 Duo processor SU9600 (1.60GHz) means that this ultraportable is fast and therefore had no problem handling Word, Adobe Lightroom and Chrome simultaneously, without freezing. The keyboard is also comfortable to use.
The included Windows Vista was annoying – with constant desire to update itself impeding valuable work time – however, this setting is relatively easy to switch off. Since this review the latest Vaio TT now includes the user-friendly Windows 7.

Sony Vaio TT46GGW specs:
Intel Core2 Duo processor SU9600 (1.60GHz)
Memory: 4 GB DDR3 RAM
Hard disk drive: 250GB
4 GB DDR3 RAM
DVDRW/R DL/RAM drive

BLACKBOX M14

Top of the range from Phitek, the Blackbox M14s make huge difference when flying. With an active noise rejection range of up to 22 decibels (dB), flicking the switch on the left earpiece makes noticeable difference. You can still use the M14s without activating this, although then the rush of engine noise and air gives passable impression of skydiving.
Design-wise Phitek has thought of everything – the sturdy case looks durable and easy to clean, the zip slides easily and doesn’t stick and the headphones themselves fold flat into the padded interior. velcro-secured accessories pouch contains the removable cable, AAA battery, airplane adaptor and 6.5mm stereo adaptor. The battery itself slots into the left ear cup during use.
Functionality is important but comfort is just as vital, especially with long-haul flights. The M14s passed muster, with soft, comfortable leather ear cups and padded bridge.

Blackbox M14 specs:
Frequency response: 20Hz to 22kHz
Impedance: 64 Ohm
Active noise rejection: up to 22dB
Dimensions: 174mm x 163mm x 80mm
Weight: less than 180g
Power: 1 x AAA battery

CANON POWERSHOT SX20

The jury is always out for me with AA batteries in cameras. I can understand the logic of being able to purchase replaceable batteries quickly in far-flung destinations but am never quite sure. However, the SX20 was provided with the Uniross rechargeable battery system and the battery life was exceptional. I only had to charge it twice in two weeks and was shooting extensively.
For compact, the 12.1 megapixel SX20 does border on the large size (as opposed to Canon’s smaller but excellent G10) however on the flip side it’s much easier to carry around than full SLR. For most corporate shots Intelligent Auto will deliver good quality, high resolution results using host of features like face, motion and blink detection and red-eye correction. Shaky hands are counteracted with an optical image stabiliser. More creative shooting is facilitated by the manual aperture priority and shutter priority settings.
Overall good camera but you need to use more than the auto setting if shooting in dim light. The 2.5-inch vari-angle LCD screen allows you to compose your shots clearly before pressing the shutter.

Canon SX20 specs:
12.1 megapixels
28mm wide angle lens
20x optical zoom lens
DiGiC 4 processor
ISO 1600

LOUNGES

In an international airport, one of the first things lounges need to ensure they have sorted is internet connectivity. In today’s connected and fast-paced world, it simply isn’t an option to drop off for the amount of hours you’re sitting in transit. Good food, comfortable seating and place to rest and shower are also recommended.

BANGKOK SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT
Royal Orchard Plus, Thai Airways
The largest of the airline’s five lounges available “for the convenience of passengers” is situated on level three of the airport and has an abundance of plug points and delicious food on offer. complimentary massage is available, but only for Thai Airways business class passengers, not partner airlines. The smaller lounges apparently have showers. This lounge was attractively designed, relaxing and the wi-fi is free and easy to connect to. There is range of reading material available, from the International Herald Tribune (global edition of the NY Times) to local publications.

HEATHROW
Star Alliance Partner Lounge
This lounge is spacious with pleasing décor but was the poorest of all the lounges trialled. The internet is only accessible if you are sitting in or near the business centre. On this occasion, no one could access the free wi-fi through Netgear.
The showers are spacious, clean and secure, offering all amenities. The food wasn’t that inspired, with few sandwiches on offer, however the organic, fair-trade tea from the London Tea Company was nice touch.

HONG KONG AIRPORT
United Airlines Lounge
In Hong Kong airport, Air New Zealand makes use of two partner lounges: Thai Airways and United Airlines Red Lounge with NZ Management trialling the latter. Internet access is excellent with no drop-offs or any other problems. The speed was fine for catching up on emails and filing stories: 36Mbps.
This lounge is spacious, filled with artwork and sculpture and different to others in that it is open plan, overlooking the airport below. The food was good, with mixture of Western and Asian dishes on offer such as barbecued pork buns and the seemingly obligatory airport samosas and spring rolls. The showers were clean and large.

Pauline Herbst is Mediaweb’s technology writer.

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