Archive for category First Look

Flickr and Orkut launch iPhone versions

Two of my favourite social sites – Flickr and orkut launched their new versions of mobile sites for the iPhone.

Although the iPhone version of safari renders both these websites properly in their normal desktopy version, an iPhone optimized site adds that extra wow to the overall experience. You don’t have to zoom in or pinch to look at a section.

Instead of developing a stand alone app for the App Store, these sites focussed on developing web based app. This has its own advantages. For example, if they want to update the site, they just need to do it in their servers. All the users will start seeing the updated version instantaneously. Whereas if it was an app, people have to upgrade it manually.

However, a web based app has it’s disadvantages a well. First, it cannot be as rich as a stand alone app. Secondly, if any of these services want to use the apple’s push notification service (likely for orkut), they can’t.

Anyways, it’s great news for users.

Access Flickr’s iPhone version at http://m.flickr.com

Access orkut’s iPhone version at http://m.orkut.com/Home

Some screenshots:

 

 

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Review: Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere portable speaker system for iPod

Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere is the official successor of the largest selling iPod speakers, Logitech mm50. And this system truly deserve to be the rightful successor. Read on for more details.

Features:

  • 2-inch Max-X active, high-excursion drivers & 3-inch pressure drivers
  • StereoXL Technology
  • 10-hour rechargeable battery
  • Travel Case
  • AC (100V to 240V) or battery powered
  • Sockets for aux input (3.5 mm) & DC in at the back
  • 10 plastic dock adapters supplied for all kind of iPods
  • Fully functional wireless remote to control the iPod menu

Performance (Sound Quality):

Logitech pure-fi anywhere front

The system was tested using a set of songs encoded at 320 kbps. The sound quality is pretty good considering the size of speakers. The max volume is slightly lower than pure-FI express . However, the sound quality is definitely better in terms of bass and treble responses. This is another plug n play system. The sound is pre-adjusted for the best output setting.

This is a 4 channel speaker system. The highs and lows are perfectly divided between the two drivers. The 3” pressure drives reproduce low frequency (above 40 Hz only) pretty well even at high volumes. The 2” ones handle the middle and the highs in the right balance.  The system seems to look light but has an excellent build and some weight to keep it from vibrating and cause distortion. The legs do a good job at keeping the system steady.

If you want to experience the power of this system, hold it in your hands and then play the music. You will feel the vibrations.

Turn on the StereoXL and the sound fills the entire room. It is equivalent to the SRS WOW effect found in some high end speaker systems.

Logitech pure-fi anywhere side view

Rating: 4.5/5

Remote:

The remote provides access to all the ipod’s click wheel functions. However, you will have to come pretty close to the system to see whats happening in the iPod. So close that you will rather do it on the iPod. But this isn’t the remote’s flaw in any way.

The remote works pretty well from as far as 20 feet. It also has buttons for StereoXL on/off and iPod’s shuffle and repeat functions. The remote looks trendy with the silver round buttons.

Rating: 5/5

Looks:

Logitech pure-fi anywhere back view

This is one area in which this speaker system lacks a bit. Despite the shiny material used for the body, somehow, this system does not apeal to

the eye. This is probably due to the silver circles distinguishing the 4 speakers. Had there been a single grill, it would have spruced up this section a lot.

The system has a nice back ;) and looks classy sideways. The green light on the buttons faces up and does not bug you at night.

Rating: 3/5

Portability:

The speakers are built for people on move. They are the perfect companion for those hotel stays during business conferences or family trips. The supplied bag stores the speaker system, remote and the AC adapter. You can also slip in an iPod nano. The legs rotate 90 degrees to hide beneath the system.

The built in rechargeable battery lasts for as long as 10 hrs which is enough for long outings in the woods or a beach day. The system charges your iPod only when its connected to AC power. So remember to charge your iPod if you are planning to take this to a picnic. There is a battery indicator to indicate the remaining juice in the battery to avoid any surprises.

Rating: 5/5

Conclusion:

The price tag of this system was recently reduced to 99.99$ plus taxes. This makes it the best iPod speaker system in the sub 100$ range. Overall a very nice package and a worthy successor to the top selling mm50.

Pros:

  • Best sound output in its class
  • Full functional remote
  • International AC adapter (100 – 240V)
  • 10 hours rechargeable battery
  • Extremely portable

Cons:

  • Average looks
  • No aux cable (3.5 mm male to male) supplied
  • No video out port

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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Review: Logitech Pure-Fi Express iPod speaker system

I purchased the Logitech Pure-Fi Express today and checked them out. Here is my review of the speaker system.

Logitech Pure-Fi Express iPod speaker system

Features:

  • 2.5" Max-X™ high-excursion drivers
  • AC (100V to 240V) or battery powered
  • Sockets for aux input (3.5 mm), Video out & DC in at the back
  • Battery life: up to 10 hours using 6 AA batteries. No batteries supplied
  • 10 plastic dock adapters supplied for all kind of iPods

Performance (Sound Quality):

I tested the speakers by playing various songs encoded at 320 kbps. Sound is nice and crisp. The system produces balanced sound which is neither too heavy nor too soft. This is really a plug n play system. The sound is pre-adjusted for the best output setting.

Logitech Pure-Fi express iPod speaker system

The sound output is best when this system is kept in a corner. The air channels produce good bass in a corner. The bass might not be at its best outdoors. The system is loud enough though. I noticed that this model produces substantially loud sound compared to its competitors and siblings . Despite being loud it does not give up at high volumes. It maintains good bass and treble at high volumes.

Another noticeable thing is that the sound is best when you are at the same or at a higher height than the speakers. Hence, it is advisable not to keep the speakers at a higher level than your ears.

Rating: 4/5

Remote:

I believe that the remote should be able to provide all the functions of the click wheel sans the scroll. The remote which comes with Pure-Fi express fails in this regard. Sadly, the remote has only 6 buttons for power on/off, play/pause, forward, rewind and volume up & down.

Pardon me for the laziness but how the F am I supposed to browse the music on my 80 gig iPod without a menu button ? Seriously, getting up and reaching out to the speaker system every time I intend to listed to another album is not something I appreciate. I understand that playlists is a workaround. But hey, that is clumsy.

The sibling’s and competitor’s remotes provide these options. Why the F didn’t they give that remote with this?

Apart from the basic flaw above, the remote has a decent range and operates without any hassle. Who cares? There is nothing much you can do with it anyways :(.

Rating: 2.5/5

Looks:

This is one area in which this speaker system stands above the rest in its class. This system looks trendy as well as elegant. The volume knob surrounded by the amber light makes it look fancy.

This thing looks sexy with a black iPod. The actual product looks much better and more shiny than the product images above. Logitech should seriously consider hiring a new photographer.

Rating: 4.5/5

Conclusion:

If you can live with a basic remote, at a price tag of 80$ plus taxes, this is the best speaker system for iPod (and other MP3 players) in sub 100$ range.

However, if you are looking for a more functional remote and slightly better sound quality, and ready to spend 70$ more, go for JBL On stage 200ID *. Another alternative at a premium of 50$ is Logitech Pure-FI Anywhere . However, I will not expect considerable difference in sound quality from these.

Pros:

  • Very good indoor sound
  • Best sound output in its class
  • Killer looks
  • International AC adapter (100 – 240V)

Cons:

  • Remote suck. Doesn’t provide all the functions of the click wheel
  • Bass not noticeable outdoors
  • No aux cable (3.5 mm male to male), video cable supplied

Overall Rating: 3.6/5

*UPDATE:

The JBL Onstage 200ID does not run on batteries. I will consider that a major downer for a portable speaker system and certainly would have expected this feature at that price.

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First Look: Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire

Maruti is all set to launch the sedan version of its critically acclaimed Swift. Maruti Suzuki Swift, ubiquitously touted as “The Best Maruti Ever” & “Most Proffered Car for Enthusiasts” is all set to get a much awaited upgrade.

Swift has ruled the premium hatchback segment on the Indian roads for quite some time now. This month Maruti will be launching the Swift DZire. A sedan version of the Swift to capture the low to mid range sedan segment. It is believed that DZire will challenge Mahindra Renault Logan in this segment. This model will also succeed the award winning Maruti Esteem which will not be produced by Maruti anymore.

Have a look at the website for Swift DZire: http://www.marutidzire.com/

Maruti will be announcing the prices later this month but according to experts,  the base petrol model will be priced around rupees 4.5 lakhs & the base diesel model around 5.2 lakhs ex-showroom.

Here are some images:

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First look: Compaq Presario C752TU

Compaq has recently launched an upgrade to its hot selling Compaq Presario V740TU notebook. The new Compaq Presario C752TU is better in terms of configuration and a bit cheaper than its predecessor.

Here is the configuration of 752:
- Intel T5450 1.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
- 1 GB Ram
- 160 GB HDD
- 15.4” screen
- 8x DVD Superdrive
- 1.3 megapixel webcam
- Windows Vista Basic

The upgrade of Ram to 1 GB in 752 from 512 MB in 740 increases the performance significantly.

The notebook is suited for casual home and basic usage. It is a good buy as a home desktop replacement and for students. The config is just enough for basic internet usage (surfing, downloading, youtube etc.) and basic multimedia stuff like watching movies, photos and listening to songs. However, it is not enough to run most latest 3D games or to run heavy multimedia applications like Adobe Photoshop, Premier or Flash.

This notebook is available at a MRP of about 36k at most compaq outlets. However, you can get it for as low as about 34k at some some shops in Nehru Place.

Here is how I rate it:

Performance: 3.5
Features: 4
Value for money: 4
Build quality: 3.5
Looks: 3

Overall: 3.5

NEW: Check out details about the latest Compaq Presario V3780TU laptop on woikr .

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First look: Sony VAIO CR35

This week I got a chance to look at the latest Sony VAIO series laptops recently launched in India.

One of my friends was looking for a laptop in the sub 50k range and we were very lucky to be probably one of first owners of CR35 in India.

I usually do not like Sony’s laptops. 2 reasons. First they do not have any offerings in the budget category. And second that their laptops are usually expensive. However, my notion changed after I looked at the new CR series.

Here is the configuration of CR35:

- Intel T8100 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo
- 2 GB DDR2 RAM
- 200 GB HDD
- ATI Radeon 128 MB dedicated graphics
- 14.1” LCD screen
- DVD Superdrive
- Windows Vista Home Premium
- Apple type keyboard (not backlit though)

Some other features include:
- AV mode (no need to boot windows to watch DVDs or watch photos or listen to songs)
- Color choice
- The black one probably comes with a fingerprint reader

This model is available at a MRP of around 54k at all the Sony showrooms. You can also purchase this from some shops in Nehru Place for about 52.5k.

As is evident from the config above, this seems like a nice deal. You cannot get a similar config in any other brand for this price.

I used the laptop for a few hours and here is how I rate it (on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 being poor and 5 being excellent):

Performance: 3.5 (due to vista. Install XP and you are at atleast 4)
Value for money: 4.5
Features: 4
Build quality: 4.5

Overall: 4

UPDATE: Thanks to Siddhartha for pointing this out. The above configuration is better than the existing CR23 and CR26 models in the Sony VAIO range. People considering to buy those should go for CR35 as it is considerably cheaper.

NEW: Check out details about the latest Sony Vaio SR 13 series laptop on woikr .

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