Saturday, March 02, 2013

HTC J Butterfly: Creating quiet a flutter

From Smartphone’s two tablets and then phablets, there has been no dearth of innovation in the mobile device sphere. Every brand rolls out a new model that is different from others and its own preceding version. HTC ups the ante by rolling out the first Smartphone in the world with a full HD display- HTC J Butterfly. Launched in Japan last year in the month of December, HTC tweaks the hardware to introduce this international version.

As its name suggests, the Butterfly is slim and beautiful. The Smartphone turns the tide by featuring a 5-inch display with a spectacular resolution of 1920x1080. Drawing parallels with Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy note that sports a pixel density of 326 ppi and 267 ppi, this device offers an extraordinary resolution of 440ppi. The screen quality is definitely among the finest, at present.

Build quality and design:
Sporting a unibody design and bearing resemblance to HTC One X, the phone is thinner at the edges and has flat sides making it easy to hold. Irrespective of the body being made of plastic veering away from its typical aluminum body, the handset has a decent built quality. Adding to the sophistication is the metal like gloss white finish on the back, thin edges and it’s lightweight.

With an 8MP rear camera and the 2MP camera in the back, the Butterfly does not disappoint the photo lovers. Apart from the quality of the camera, a multitude of features makes your clicking convenient and easy. This includes the inclusion of imagechip that makes your picture taking process quicker (less than seconds) and HDR mode that churns out the finest vibrant solution especially, when you click contrasting objects. In addition, it is possible to click 99 continuous images by turning on the explosive shot mode allowing you to capture anything and everything. With a host of editing options, there is no bad shot.

Interface and Functionality:
Running on 4.1 Jellybean out of the box, the device offers a number of customizable options. The user – interface is amazing, considering the1080p screen. With the device soon to receive an update to 4.2 Jelly Bean, you are ensured about not being left behind. Sense UI 4+, Jellybean and the full HD screen in tandem, paves the way for a smooth experience.

Internet and Connectivity:
The connectivity options include GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 850/210, LTE , Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n ,Wi-Fi direct and DLNA,  microUSB 2.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. Browsing is easy on the Sense browser where you can easily scroll in, scroll out, and zoom in and out.

Memory and Processor:
Powered by 1.5GHz double core Snapdragon S4 with Adreno 225 graphics, the performance is impressive.  The phone offers 16 GB of memory where 11 GB is available for use along with the option to expand it up to 32 GB.

Music and Sound Quality:
Apart from supporting basic formats like MP3, eAAC+, WMA and WAVs, there are four basic options that you will be greeted with including music transferred to your phone, Soundhound, 7 Digital and Tuneln Radio. The fact that the device enables Beats Audio speaks for itself.

The 2020 mAh Lithium power battery gives the Smartphone enough juice to run for more than 14.5 hours, despite the applications running on the backdrop. However, many may be disappointed to know that the battery is a non- removable one.

Final Verdict:
The HTC Butterfly J scores on all aspects be it its looks, performance, features, camera, application, software, or user- interface. However, the huge price tag of the phone may make many feel wary. In a nutshell, the device is definitely one of the finest and best- performing phones, we have ever seen.

This review is penned by experts @ Reliance Digital.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Google Play Books now available in India

Google Play Books service is now available for India, you can download this app from Play Store to start using this service, Play Books app has interface similar to that of Play Store with option to view downloaded books in carousel mode or list mode.

You can download books from Play Store through various categories and scroll through popular titles, top free books etc. They have also included a link to section of books priced below Rs 100 visible on the Play Books main screen. This app does not have any option to import any books that you may already have on your android device, so you can use it only for reading books downloaded from play store.

You can keep the sync option on in case you want to read same book across multiple android devices, also use this app for offline reading allowing option to save book locally on your phone/tablet. This app has got 3D page turn effect, voice reading to choose from app settings. Pricing of books seems to be in line with Flipkart and Amazon kindle store.

With evolving market for online purchases in India, I hope Google Music also launches soon as iTunes from Apple also started allowing downloads in INR few months back, which is a good move from two major companies currently driving smartphone market across the globe gradually recognizing the potential of popularity of such services in India and giving consumers out here unified experience on their OS ecosystem which is enjoyed by consumers in most other countries.

ake a look at other screenshots of the app here, link to play store app here

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sony BDV-E490 HTS Review

My previous HTS Philips 3366/98 lasted me close to 5 years before it was hit by a power surge fault that took over 2 months for Philips to repair, later both rear speaker connecting wires snapped even after getting one of them repaired via Philips after sales service.

I was informed that if wire connectivity broke from the same point it would be difficult to get it repaired again, so I had to begin my HTS hunt during which I shortlisted following models:

LG HB806TM – Rs 25000, Onkyo HTS 3500 – Rs 29000 and Sony BDV-E490 – Rs 24500

I was seeking an HTIB with good mid and low sound reproduction capability, for following purpose:
  • Gaming on my Xbox 360
  • Listening to popular Hindi/ English OST, Pop, Rock and trance music genre.
  • Watching movies (Action/Sci-Fi)

I got suggestions to go for Onkyo or Denon speakers with additional DVD/Blu-Ray player purchase.  First on demo list was Onkyo HTS 3400 at a Reliance Digital outlet in Pune, I was ready to stretch my budget over Rs 25,000 in case Onkyo had exceptional sound quality as compared to other HTIB models I had shortlisted.  Personally Onkyo did not suit my preference and I did not want a bulky main unit for the HTS set up.

I also checked out the LG HB806TM at the same store, sound quality did not excite me much on this unit, heard a music CD and audio playback from USB I was carrying on Sony BDV-E490 which caught my attention in terms of sound quality, however I wanted to be double sure on this so I did a audio/video demo again at a Sony Authorized dealer shop when I finally decided to purchase this HTS.

I also ordered a Sony UWA-BR100 Wireless LAN Adapter separately to take advantage of the Wi-Fi support on the Blu-Ray player. A representative from Sony store accompanied me to complete the Initial set up at home which was done in an hour.  Service center guys came 2 days later to wall mount rear speakers.

Connectivity and look wise BDV-E490 Blu-Ray player is very minimalistic, just 1 analog audio and video output and a HDMI out port (please note this one does not have an HDMI IN port, additional adapter connectivity required), RJ45 Ethernet cable slot in case you want to hook it up to your broadband modem or wireless router. There is a USB slot behind which does not find a mention in the manual but listed in the specs on Sony website, tried using it with regular USB did not work (wondering what purpose it serves?)

Subwoofer is not very heavy and easy to move around, I found centre speaker to be tad small in size, possibly it could have being a little wider. Tall boy speaker stands have got a glossy finish which could have being avoided since it gets smudgy with regular use.

Philips 3366/98 had a deep bass with woofer producing a thumping sound which made it difficult to listen to dialogues during an action sequence while watching a movie, same problem in output on MP3 playback, however slightly better on playing CD Audio.

After configuring BDV-E490 based on speaker distance and setting sound levels, I am quite happy with the overall audio reproduction on this HTS, Listening to music is much better on some high bit rate MP3 files I have with multi channel encoding compared to a regular low bit rate MP3 file. You can actually hear the music beats distinctively playing from separate speakers, with just the “sound mode on” it allows you to choose from Auto, Music, Movie, Enhancer, Demo Sound, 2 Ch. Stereo, Sports and Night presets. In these presets only Auto mode and Sports mode spread sound output to all speakers otherwise output is limited to front/center and sub-woofer speakers on other modes.

If you select presets like Auto, Music, Movie or Enhancer mode and switch to Neo Cinema 6 (Movie/Music) from audio setting menu it completely transforms your audio listening experience and the audio quality does not suffer the kind of cracking you hear while increasing a music system volume. I found volume output to be low on Xbox 360 while accessing game menus, no complaints during actual game play observed  while playing Medal of Honor: Warfighter, you can feel the sound of bullets whizzing from left or right speakers , explosion effects etc. very clearly.

On-screen navigation is easy to use via XMB GUI present on most of the Sony entertainment devices, on connectivity front pairing Wi-Fi with Sony wireless adapter was easy, it has Sony Entertainment Network with limited app collection to use; however popular video streaming services like YouTube, Daily motion and Vimeo are accessible from this player which is sufficient. There are lot of audio streaming channels available by music genre which is a big plus, make sure you have 1 MBPS and above internet speed to enjoy lag free streaming experience of audio/video content, have not tried web browser on the Blu-ray player yet.

Streaming audio/video content via DLNA support is also available, worked without any issues when paired on my Samsung Galaxy Note, cannot comment on HD content quality as I have not connected this HTS to any HD source yet. Some pro’s and con’s to note -

Pros: Sturdy tall boy speakers, sleek DVD Player, Good reproduction of mid and low sounds; while the bass output is just right may not please extreme bass freaks, Remote has also got limited option to control TV as well, resumes audio and video content from last played position while moving in and out of on screen options, Sound Modes like Dolby Pro Logic/Neo Cinema work very well while playing movies.

Cons: Frequent changes required to switch between presets for music and movie playback, DVD player switches off and reboots while playing some radio channels (could be a firmware glitch), limited ports for analog connectivity an additional RCA slot would have being useful, no 3.5 mm audio out jack, Rear speakers are not very loud as compared to Philips HTS 3366/98.
To sum up BDV E-490 is a good entry level Blu-Ray HTIB which surprised me with its sound performance and eventually changed my mind to go for this brand; else I am not a big fan of Sony’s electronic products.  I rate this product 3.5/5 overall.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Galaxy Note 8.0 launched at MWC 2013

Samsung has launched it's 8 inch tablet at MWC 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. It mark's entry of it's Galaxy Note range in tablet category moving up from the phablet series. Samsung already has Galaxy Tab in the 7 inch segment which has not garnered the level of popularity Galaxy Note was able to manage as a hybrid tablet/phone device.

In my opinion it could help Samsung gain a significant market share in the tablet category with the introduction of S-Pen with this tablet, as it comes loaded with 4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS on TouchWiz interface, has 5 MP rear camera and a 1.3 MP front camera.

Body design follows Galaxy Note / S3 phone build, weighing at 338 grams and 7.95 mm thin. Would have being worth to launch this device with Exynos 5 processor, however it comes with 1,6GHz Exynos 4 Quad Core Processor, has 2 GHz RAM, 16/32 GB Sotrage along with Micro-SD card slot for expandable memory, 1280 x 800 display at 189 ppi which is higher than that of Apple at 163 ppi, along with 4,600 mAH battery which should provide decent usage for this device.

No Official word on the pricing yet by Samsung, expect it to be available in the range of INR 25,000 - INR 27,000 considering additional calling ability available with the tablet

I was surprised to know that at this screen size level, Samsung has not shyed away from offering calling feature on this tablet which is also present in Galaxy Tab, pretty bold move. Do you think Galaxy Note 8.0 would act as a game changer in the tablet space for Samsung to fight it out with iPad mini and maybe surpass the popularity enjoyed by Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 in the Android arena?

Watch the hands on video below by engadget and leave your views in the comments below this article.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sony Cybershot DSC –WX50: A Pocket Delight

The Sony Cybershot DSC –WX50 seems to be a right bet for those, eyeing for a slim, stylish, and a budget friendly camera. What makes it different from its kin WX70 is its LCD display that is slightly smaller and lower in resolution. However, to make up for the same, the camera comes with an array of underwater shooting modes, picture effect modes and more significantly, carries a slightly lesser price tag.

Boasting of its high sensitive technology, Exmor R CMOS Image Censor and RGB color filter array, the WX50 has a 16.2 effective megapixel and is backside illuminated. The camera also promises to click noise free as its high sensitivity function aims to lessen image noise by obtaining a perfect balance of the sets of four blue, green, and red pixels together and average results across multiple exposures. However, this will have no bearing on your resolution as Sony’s pattern recognizing super- resolution interpolation technology comes to your rescue. Hence, this camera claims to produce noise that is one sixth to that of the standard photo shot in iAuto mode. Clicking on the handheld Twilight mode will enable you to reduce noise and blur that is common during handshake.

The WX50 Point and Shoot camera also sports a 2.8-inch ClearPhoto LCD panel offering a resolution of 460,800 dots and a multi- focus system. The smile detection feature comes with a smile shutter function that prompts the shutter automatically as soon as it spots a smile. Speaking about exposure, there are three main categories including multi- pattern, center- weighted and spot metering that it sports. As a delight to the photo enthusiasts, the camera allows them to click objects in motion wherein it captures 10 frames per second at 16.2 MP resolution.

Rising above the cookie-cutters, the phone allows you to capture images in 3D, be it still or panorama. Apart from that, it also allows you to record right eye and left eye images, separately that makes your images appear vivid and full of life as you gaze at your compatible 3D TV or VAIO computers -3D attuned.

Salient Features:
  • Bright and vivid color reproduction.
  • Decent performance on video recording with 60i frame rate.
  • Image stabilization available for both Digital and Optical modes.
  • 3 Modes for Auto Shooting.
  • f2.6 25 mm wide-angle lens.

With a slew of features that WX50 Point and Shoot camera presents, it seems to be worth a buy, taking into consideration its price and size. Bundling 16.2 megapixels, this compact camera slows you to click high quality still images and capture the action 5x optical zoom and 10x Clear Image zoom wherein  attention to detail seems to be at its best.

This review is written by experts@ Reliance Digital.