Category Archives: Reviews

Quick Take: Bose QC15 vs Sony MDR-ZX750BN Noise Cancelling Headphones

This is a super duper quick, non-technical comparison based on my personal experience of both headphones.

Bose is more comfortable, lighter & has better noise cancellation. (both passive & active due to its around the ear design) But it does not work if you run out of batteries(AAA), uses a proprietary cable, isn’t wireless and feels more flimsy.

Sony is better in everything else. Better loudness, more louder / punchier bass if needed, better overall sound quality (better mids/highs), Bluetooth wireless (BIG difference), music/call controls, works without batteries (BIG diff), rechargeable via Micro USB cable, works without noise cancellation active, NFC pairing, works with standard 3.5mm audio cable and feels better made (more solid). It’s just not as comfortable (Bose foam is softer & is around the ear) and by design, it isn’t as good in noise cancellation. (it’s quite noticeable)s

Considering comfort is very much subjective, it’s hard to compare. Regardless, Bose is definitely more comfortable still. But due to its lower price, better sound quality, performance and features, Sony MDR-ZX750BN is a clear winner of the two.

Nokia Lumia 920 Camera Review Part #1 – Quick Impression

Nokia Lumia 920 with PureView 2 Camera featuring Optical Image Stabilization

Introduction

This first part of my review on the Nokia Lumia 920 camera will not have a lot of information other than some full size sample photos taken with it while I got to use my cousin’s nice looking grey unit for a few hours as well as some first impressions. Nothing fancy, just simple shots while I was out and about. =)

Camera Specification

Nokia Lumia 920 has a PureView Phase 2 camera with the following key specs:
– 8.7MP 1/3″ BSI sensor (Pixel size 1.4 µm)
– 26mm equiv. FoV (at 16:9) Carl Zeiss lens with fast f/2.0 fixed aperture
– Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
– Mechanical 2 stage dedicated shutter button
– Powerful fast-pulse dual LED flash
– Min. 1/3 second shutter speed in Auto mode and 1 second shutter speed in Night mode.

On paper, the specs are very good. In fact, other than Nokia’s very own camera-centric 808 PureView and N8, there is no other smartphone currently in the market that has better camera specs than the 920.

First Impressions

I’ll keep it short and simple for now as I haven’t had any extensive use of the Lumia 920 yet.

1.  Camera feels speedy enough when taking photos with the physical shutter button. I did not notice any significant lag from when the shutter is pressed to when it actually take the photo. Once I get more hands-on time with it, I will post some more info about its speed.

2. Without any case for the Lumia 920, I didn’t feel confident in holding it with my right hand single handedly to take photos like a normal small compact camera. I guess it’s due to the round shape of the sides and the relatively small protruding shutter button. I’m sure it would improve if you get a case for it that allows for a more secure grip.

3. Daylight image quality is nothing to really boast about due to its heavily post-processed look to them which I am not that fond of. However, once the photo is resized to the more commonly used web-use sizes smaller than 2MP (1600×1200 or less), it is not any different to any other high-end competitor smartphones out there right now. Also, Nokia did state that they will work to improve the quality with future software updates.

4. In terms of low-light images, due to its hand-shake reducing OIS, the fast f/2.0 aperture lens combined with a very slow 1/3 second shutter speed support in Auto mode, Lumia 920 can take some seriously well exposed photos at night hand held that most other smartphones just cannot do. (Most smart phones don’t go slower than around 1/15 seconds in Auto mode using the default camera app) The level of noise is also very well controlled with low chroma noise while keeping enough detail even at ISO 800. More samples with various ISO will come in my upcoming part #2 review.

The central dark grey metal surrounding the lens is actually made out of Ceramic zirconium which is virtually scratch proof. Same material is also used for the volume, power and camera shutter button!

My gripes with the default camera app
– No exposure lock during focus lock (while shutter button is half-pressed)
– Exposure compensation is very fiddly to get to and use.
– No sharpness or contrast settings.
– No metering mode options. (this was a problem for some photos seen below)
– No JPEG compression settings.
– No customizable UI elements.
– No setting to turn off OIS (would be handy for reviewers at least. =p)

I will stop here for now as I am planning to post Part #2 later on with full sized ISO image comparison shots and night shot comparisons.

Sample Photos

– Click on the photos for untouched original image files straight off the Lumia 920.
– I did try to ensure I got good focus lock before taking each shot.
– I made sure that the lens was kept clean at all times also.

Nokia N9 case review – Nokia CC-3015

I didn’t like the standard case the N9 comes with in the retail packaging as it blocked my earpiece speaker hole and just didn’t make my N9 feel “nice”. So I got the CC-3015 as it was the only genuine Nokia N9 snap-on case you could buy. (I don’t like pouches or full leather cases which cover the screen.)

Official Info – http://europe.nokia.com/find-products/accessories/carrying-cases-and-style/covers/nokia-hard-cover-cc-3015-for-nokia-n9

Anyways, Here are my thoughts and impressions with pictures below:

1. It snaps on tight and there is no way it will come off by accident or dropping etc. There is zero rattle or looseness to it. Although, it does allow about 1mm of slide up or down so that the top of bottom of the N9 can protrude out of the case. However, unless you slide it purposely yourself, it does not slide by itself easily so this is a non-issue in my books.

2. When laid flat on the screen side on to a table, the entire glass front does not touch the desk surface. This means that you can place it face down without a fear of scratching your glass. (yes, Gorilla glass does scratch quite easily still. I have quite a few scratches and chips already on mine)

3. As it has an indented cutout on the sides, it does not intefere with the swipe motion whatsoever. This is my favourite part. It doesn’t interfere with the volume or power button presses also.

4. Is it real leather? Anyways, it feels fairly classy and even has real thread stitching which adds some extra touch. It does not feel like it will rip easily or get loose/stretched. It’s very tightly and near seamlessly glued on to the hard case itself. It’s not as soft as I expected. Seems like a very thin leather. Not a minus. Just saying. I actually don’t mind the squircle design either. Although, I would have preferred white instead of pink squircles on my black version. =P

5. I would have preferred the hole for the camera and the LED flash to be bigger. Although it doesn’t interfere with the camera too much, there is always a potential of extra light reflections from the outer edge of the camera hole. Also, the LED light output would be somewhat affected as well due to it slightly blocking the outer spill light from reaching wider angles. I haven’t tested this yet and maybe it’s not an issue in real life but I thought I would mention this anyways.

6. It improves the grip-ability of the N9 also significantly. It no longer feels like it’s going to slip out of my hand while holding it. No way. I love how this case gives you that extra tactile feedback while holding the phone. The four protruding corners make it feel much more secure in my hand. This is a huge plus for me.

Conclusion

Overall, I really like it. It’s definitely better than the standard silicon/rubber case it comes with in terms of looks and it also protects the glass front on flat surfaces. I would have hoped Nokia made the case more like the Nokia N8 case (CC-3000) which to me feels better and is also lighter and thinner. But this CC-3015 case is still worth the money for those who wants a genuine case, don’t mind the colorful design and want a nice snap-on hard case that feels great in hand.

Anyways, I recommend this case. It’s staying on my N9 that’s for sure. =)

 

PHOTOS

** Click on the photo for a larger image.

It’s quite easy to attach / detach the case from the N9

You can see the gap between the desk surface and the screen
The protruding corners are creating the gap

 

 

 

Affordable smartphone, LG Optimus GT540

Not a proper review really. Information is scattered everywhere as I wrote it as it came into mind.
But hopefully it’s still better than nothing for those who are looking to purchase this. =)

I just got two of these for my mum and dad who wanted a cheap phone but also wanted multi-lingual IME for SMS etc and possibility of turn-by-turn GPS and Golf GPS. This phone is one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) brand-name Android phone out there as it costs less than AU$200 outright here in Australia.

It came with Android 1.6. Soon as I took it out of the box, I upgraded it to official Eclair 2.1 OS update. Process went butter smooth.

Resistive screen is actually not bad at all and quite responsive as long as you get used to it or use your nails. It’s no where near as bad as the LG KU990 Viewty phone’s resistive screen and quite close the excellent Nokia N900’s resistive. Resolution is decent for anyone who aren’t heavy web browsers that need the extra space. There is no pinch-to-zoom support due to the nature of resistive touch screen.

I got around 460 for the Quadrant benchmark score. (apparently you can get over 1000 if you use apps2sd and use extra swap partition) Tried Angry Birds and it plays it smoothly enough. So it can handle some gaming just fine.

Camera has a dedicated 2-step shutter button and although small, it’s still better than not having one that’s for sure. I tried out the new Google Navigation while driving and it works extremely well. My dad tried out the golf GPS apps (SkyDroid, GolfShot) and he LOVES it. So that works well also. Amazing to have such features and capability in such a budget phone really.

Overall, phone is as snappy as any other more expensive Android phone in general menu navigation etc. It comes with Korean read/write support out of the box that my parents need. (as well as tons of other international languages) Due to the resistive screen, it also has hand writing options and works very well once you get used to how it recognises your writing.

It just charges off a MicroUSB cable and also uses it for data transfer. No need for special chargers anymore.

I was actually quite surprised at its build quality or its “feel” of it. It looks and feels quite good. Definitely not cheap imo. Especially the pink colour one! It is actually a really nice pink and looks like a much more expensive phone. Very nice.

Anyways, other than having a resistive screen, it’s an excellent quite-capable little Android smartphone that is very affordable. I definitely recommend it for those who are looking for a cheap phone that can do many things more expensive ones can. =)

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