iPod Shuffle Review

Posted: November 8, 2005 in Macintosh

K.I.S.S. Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you that maybe this is Apple’s policy when it comes to iPods. It is “Keep It Simple Stupid?. And more often than not this policy works. How about a little drift? Remember the BMW 7 Series that had the iDrive. It was absolutely horrid and required you to have the brain of someone out of the MIT. Joking of course, but you get the picture. Customers were very angry with all the complexity involved. This kills the brand value to quite an extent.
That’s where Apple steps in, not to simplify the iDrive in BMW’s but to revolutionize the way we listen to music. I held the iPod Shuffle in my hands and was just like an oversized piece of candy. Yet so majestic and clean and I just don’t believe how I can keep ranting about a thing that has just 3 buttons and a switch! That’s called Apple magic!

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Design
Absolutely clean, simple and intuitive. (Duh, Apples always are!). Easily turns heads. Even Dad, who isn’t such a technophile (a technophobe if you will, hates inflation), could easily operate it. And this was the first time he operated a flash based music player. Speaks volumes about the guys at Apple who just wanna keep it simple. Very easy to make something complex and screw it all up. Not so easy to make it simple. That’s a job for the elites.

Build Quality
Feels nice to hold. Its feather light at just 22gms (!). And it snugly fits in your palm. Plus they have a neck string which also doubles up as a cover to the USB port. You can sling it on to your neck and you can hardly feel the weight. Ironic when you are playing “Heavy Metal? on the Pod.

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“The? Click wheel
It’s just like the ones on the bigger iPods and it has just been made smaller. Although it feels mildly tacky (that’s because you just don’t feel you have clicked on the larger ones) in this application, it’s very good and offers good tactile feedback. I’m loving it.

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Sound Quality
Do you need me to tell you that the music qualities of iPods are just awesome? The earphones provided are better than anything I have ever heard before. Crisp and smooth. Close your eyes and you’d be mistaken that you are in the Sea of Tranquility. I tried listening to almost all sorts of genres and it is just unbelievable how you keep listening to new beats because other players just won’t play some minute sounds.
I was testing a 512MB iPod Shuffle so at around 4MB per song you should be able to add 100+ songs. So 200 of your favorites could go in the bigger 1GB model.

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Features and performance
Er… it can play music. That’s all. Plus it’ll double up as your data companion. Oh, yes there are 2 play modes. “Serial? and “shuffle?. Plus a LED that tells you about how much juice it’s left with until the next recharge, which is 6-8 hrs of non stop music btw.
On the downside, there is no screen! At this price I do expect it to also have goodies like an FM receiver and a voice recorder thrown in for good measure. A chewed apple logo and a cool design don’t keep everybody happy. Though my friend who loaned his Shuffle to me for some time, said the screen is not really necessary. Maybe he’s memorized the play list and worked out the algorithm to the shuffling thingy. Yeah, right.
Oi Apple, the next time you guys are on an update spree, remember to add a screen on this new fixation of mine.
Also iTunes sucks. Why didn’t they just allow us to drag and drop files from the computer?? But hell no, we choose, it converts, it sends and then and only then will I hear the song from the Shuffle.

Affirmative!
+Its an iPod!
+Light & Tiny!
+Very good sound quality
+Good battery life

Negative
-Expensive
-No screen
-1GB max capacity
-No FM radio, voice recorder
-iTunes (Friend calls it “suck age?)

Price
7000 for the 512MB version (just missed a heartbeat)

Conclusion
Not exactly VFM and there are other players that have more than twice the features but having an iPod is great flaunt value. Awesome sound quality too. So it’s a wrap.
Tell me what you thought about the review. Anything I missed out on?

My Cellphone!!

Posted: November 6, 2005 in Cellphones

Whoever designed the LG M4410 probably did so after watching the US Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was a big farce, but I am not trying to suggest this phone is. It doesn’t have an OS, but is nothing short of brilliant when it comes to the installed software. But it’s pretty much like a robber who left a load of evidence after a robbery. Want to know more? Read on then.

Looks and Build Quality.
These Koreans, I tell you, are pretty much copy cats. Look at Hyundai cars, the older Sonata for instance, looked as though a Mercedes and Jaguar were badly mixed by a bar-tender. The new one too looks like an Accord and Audi A8. This phone too , looks like a D500 from the sides(yes, they even copy from kith and kin. Sibling rivalry?!?!). But is pretty pleasing to look at from the front. With it’s so called “F1 inspired design? it does manage to look a bit like a spruced up go kart. Otherwise it looks and feels solid and chunky from the other sides. It tips the scales at a 110gms. Light enough for a clamshell phone of this size. Manages to turn heads quite easily with its aluminum front (no, no it’s just cheap Chinese plastic). Should be comfortable to use in large hands.
The left of the phone holds a coupled volume button, at the same time the right side is equipped with a camera button and an earphone connector. It is closed with a plastic shutter fixed to the body. The slot itself is miniUSB identical to those used in Samsung’s phones. So, the devices are headset compatible. This very side has a miniSD expansion slot. The latch has a hollow; however it’s hard to lock the shutter with a hand, since it’s sunk into the body. As a rule, that is easier to do with a paper-clip or something like that. Hot swapping of the memory card is supported, which is an undoubted advantage and characterizes the device as up-to-date. Thankfully so.

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The keypad next
It’s nice and wide. SMS junkies should be happy. Ah… the many pleasures of having a clamshell phone! Good tactile feel but it’s a bit flat and you can’t exactly type in without seeing. But nonetheless, it’s good. Many controls are accessible from the outside itself, like the camera, the music player etc. There is no navigational stick but the four directional keys are good enough. And then there is this large OK button for you to finalize your decision after much head scratching.

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The Display
“Awesome? is usually the first word when someone props open the display. Seriously, its 176*220 256k display is sharp and manages to reproduce the smoothest of shades with immaculate ease. It is pretty readable in bright sunlight too. There is also an external 65k OLED display. Exposes some functionality like the MP3 player, camera and the usual stuff external displays umm… well display. The menu is animated and bright too. Produces loads of sounds for different menu options. Good for poseurs. Thankfully, you can turn it off too. LG have also tried their best to ape Nokia as far as menu controls go. And that is a big plus. It’s easier than some Nokia phones to use. First timers won’t find it that difficult to get along.

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The Phonebook too, stores all of 250 names with all the teeny-weeny details like e-mail address, second phone number, a picture of them, which group they are to be placed in. Then there is also the SIM memory to store just the name and number.

Performance
Holy mother of all God! I get network reception in my dungeon of a Chemistry lab. Let me explain. Our college Chemistry lab is underground and my older Nokia never managed to get some network over there. Orange doesn’t have proper service over there, you see. But this phone is unbelievable. It shows 75% network strength! Amazing!
Voice Clarity too is exceptionally good.Every syllable can usually be heard quite clearly. And you dont have to scream into the phone to get yourself heard at the other end. Didnt expect this from LG.
Battery and Connectivity
The battery too is rock solid. On paper as well as real world tests. A 1000mAh Li-Ion battery is used as a standard for the phone. Works fine for me. It does so for an average of 2 and half days. That includes 30 minutes of EDGe(Class 10 GPRS, just for the record) usage. 30 minutes of camera usage and 2 hours of banging on with the Mp3 player. Bluetooth too doesn’t drain battery life. And there are no connectivity issues. It connects with any phone on the fly and data transfer is nice and fast.
Music Playback
Now comes the part with which the phone is being marketed. The MP3 player. Its crap. There, I said it straight of. Maybe it’s the quality of the headsets, but low and high bit rate media sound pretty similar on the phone. Plus you cannot do anything else except change the playlists, fiddle with the equalizer, change some visualizations (there are 2 of them). Yeah, that’s about it. You have to turn of the music player before you do anything else. Well, you can answer a call, but this is not what I expect from LG after the Nokia 6670 allows you to play music in the background while you carry on with your work.
camera
The camera is also no great shakes when it comes to image quality. But it’s got a load of presets to choose from. The phone camera is 1.3 MP and the following resolutions are supported – 1280×960, 640×480, 320×240, main screen, external screen, contact(for displaying in the phone book). Three compression types – Super Fine, Fine, Normal. Photo brightness is adjusted (from -2 to +2, a step of 0.5), white balance (auto, sunny, cloudy, indoors), a timer and a night mode are present. The effects to mention are Sepia and BW. You can choose the type of memory where the photos will be saved. The flash may work both automatically or you can control it manually.
Some pictures taken with the camera(yes i have changed the White balance and brightness settings from the phone itself)

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Memory
You have 8MB of onboard memory and a 64MB miniSD card with a SD card expansion slot. So, the memory can be bumped right up to 1GB.But its rather pointless. Now why do I have to say that? That, my friends is the main drawback of this phone. It treats them both very separately. For example an image has more settings to it when in the phone memory than in the external. Also a MP3 can be set as ringtone only if it’s on the handset memory. Also you cannot move multiple files at once. It’s one by one. So when I feel a particular teacher is getting boring, I know I have “card? maintenance to carry out. Yes Mr. LG M4410, you will stand out in the crowd, but like a sore thumb. (As far as this aspect goes)

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Games and Software
The phone supports Java (J2ME only, J2SE apps won’t run). And that should in a significant way fill up for the lack of an Operating System (miss u).The phone comes pre-installed with only one game. Mr.Crane. A cross breed of Tetris and a logic game. Good way to kill time. Lots of apps and games can be downloaded from the WowLG site.Must say, the content available exceeds expectations. At least in India, they have a tie-up with MTV for ringtones and wallpapers. Googling yields a fair amount of results too.
The phone has a HTML supporting browser which is a bit heavy on the processor. But it’s nice and fast once it has started. The History option is available too.

Pluses
+Sturdy Build Quality
+Brilliant color display
+Large Keypad
+Useful Exernal Controls
+miniSD support
+MP3 playback
+Seamless connectivity with Bluetooth
+Good bundled software

Minuses
-Average Camera
-Average Sound Quality
-20 second “Silent Movie” recording
-Integration issues with External Memory

Contents of standard package
>Handset
>Battery( 1000mAh Li-Ion)
>Users Guide
>LG Mobile Agent v1
>64MB miniSD card(with SD card slot)
>USB cable
>Stereo Handsfree Kit

Freebie available In India
>LG AVHB04 Bluetooth Headset

Price
Rs 13.5k to 15k(varies from state to state)

Conclusion
Good value for money. More than enough features for the average user. Some small niggles, but not very significant. Maybe LG has an update to this phone. I do not know. Could have been categorized as a smartphone, if it had an OS. Its a wrap. Satish signing out.

P.S. I am only 17 years old. This is my first ever review of anything. Please do not flame me if you dont like the review. Instead give suggestions. that will help me write my next review even better.