Those close to me know that I am a gadjet freak. While I have bought a lot of tech items what many don’t know is that I beat the sh*t out of them before I retire them. So my Wii which has seen 5 years is still used everyday and is being worked upon (emulation, dos, etc) almost every week. Same goes for my TV, Laptop, Tab and other devices. So essentially I eek out every last paise that I paid for them before they can die on me and in most cases I gift them to someone known for a second life. I ended up buying a Samsung Galaxy S2 (upgraded from a Nokia basic model) two years back. I intend to keep it for another 3 to 4 years unlike other phone aficionados who change their phone every year or whenever they sneeze. So as a true tech explorer I optimized my phone, installed launchers, good apps, cleaned it up regularly and maintained it well. When Samsung was hesitant to release the Jelly Bean upgrade to my phone in India (because they wanted to cash in on S2+), I ended up installing a Spain version from Sammobile using ODIN. However one thing that I could not do was to increase the battery life. In fact after Jelly bean and Google Now my battery life went down hill. I was adamant and wanted to fix it. After several attempts I decided that the best way to manage your phone is to first have full control over it.
For android phone it meant gaining root access (remember unix classes) or simply ‘rooting’. I googled, got the necessary information, build up the required bravery (the phone might die if done wrong) and finally went ahead. It was very simple. After that the next major step was to install a customized firmware (software for the chip inside phone) called Custom ROM. Though the most popular mod was from Cynogenmod, I went ahead and installed Super Nexus 2.0 Build 4. This particular ROM was the pure Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 with some optimizations. I loved the fact that my phone looked like a true android phone and not as some imposter skinned by the manufacturer. I am testing the unbelievable battery life. The last time I charged was 2.5 days back and I have used a few hours of blutooth, an hour of hangout (video chat), phone calls (even on loudspeaker), Wifi connected browsing. I am left with 50% more which means another 2.5 days of these activities. I am simply blown by this. This actually means my battery life has increased from 1 day to 5 days. Amazing isn’t it. The more I think about that the more it awes me. Btw the person who developed this ROM is less than half my age and goes to school and writes exams. That is a lot of encouragement and inspiration to do more… and enjoy more….
Update: After 4 days and 12 hours, my phone went to below 20% battery and I had to charge it. Will post the screen shots next time.
I was very happy with my old phone. Don’t even remember the name but it was Nokia’s first color mobile in India. My wife and colleagues would insist me to change it, stating that even office boys had better models. They were right. The lift operator had a much better one. But I was never impressed by mobile phones. They were meant for calling and that was it. Also the battery life was pathetic in most modern phones. I was used to charging once a week. Finally I told her that if I start looking for a phone I would end up with the best. That is what exactly happened. I got the best, Samsung Galaxy S2. It is actually a micro computer with a dual core processor, an amazing screen and support for real multi tasking. You just can’t slow it down.
Who would in his right mind buy another digicam even before the first he bought had not celebrated a birthday. I did.
When I was sent to US on my first trip aboard, I made up my mind to get the Canon Powershot S2 IS. It is an awesome camera. It has 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom. Wow and I couldn’t resist. This time my wife was a bit sceptical but she knows me well. So it was a unanimous decision and I got the beauty
* It has 12x Optical Zoom and what makes it special is that the lens is Image Stabilized and so you can get crisp pictures in 12x
* It is a combo and acts like a Camcorder too taking wonderful movies (not the crappy ones like the other digicams). It has stereo sound recorded for movies. Captures them in 30 frames per second (fluid) and you can use the 12x Zoom in movies with Stabilization. It even has wind noise reducer. Cool !!
* It has Super Macro Mode which allows you to take photos of items as close as possible
* It has a great LCD which you can twist and turn to suit overhead and difficult angled shots. It also closes protecting the LCD (see image below)
* Great Build Quality. Takes AA batteries and normal SD cards (unlike the Sony and Fuji)
450$ (with Camera Bag and 1 GB Ultra II SD card) from Bestbuy Store
My hunt for a good digital camera started way long back when Canon were having A75 models. I think that should be in 2004. I fell for Canon Powershot S1 IS, a model with 10x Optical Zoom and some great features, but since it was way too costly (was retailing for 40k in India) it was out of my reach and I settled for the entry level A series. Even then I could not make myself believe that it is worth buying a Camera for over 10k. I was waiting for my friend to travel to US to get the same. But unfortunately it did not work out and I was not going to wait any longer. My wife also encouraged me to go ahead and get it.
So finally on a rainy day I went to GK Vale in Jaynagar to get the camera that I was longing for years. It is still with me and is truly a wonderful camera and Canon have not let their A series down. They keep improving it.
The A series have some wonderful attributes
* They are powered by 2 AA rechargeable batteries which last long, are easily replaceable and cost far less than propertary batteries.
* They have good zoom for a small camera. Mine is 4X. By zoom I mean and will only mean ‘Optical Zoom’
* The latest models have Image Stabilization so that you do have lesser shaked-up images. I recommended A570 IS to my colleague and he is happy with it
* They are not too small or bulky but the right size that is comfortable to use
* They have a ton of manual features including manual focus, white balance, shutter priority, aperture priority etc
* They give nicely exposed photos.
* They are very cheap, but of great quality. You can even get them for 100$ [as on this review date]
I would highly recommend a Canon A series camera as your first digicam.
15k (with Camera Bag, AA rechargeable batties + Charger + 256MB SD Card) from GK Vale Jaynagar Store
As usual I put in a lot of research for MP3 Players and since I was going to gift it to my wife, I paid a bit more attention to aesthetics as well. iPod was the obvious choice, but somehow I have started hating people promoting too much of Proprietary software/hardware like Sony and Apple and moreover the iPod was becoming a Cult for MP3 players and its dependency on iTunes will drive my wife mad.
So my search became tedious until I found the Cube from Mobiblu. My first impression was ‘How did they manage?’. It was so small and with so much of functionality.
* The first is ease of use. It comes up as a device (UMS) in My Computer. So you can just drag and drop your MP3 files
* It supports a lot of formats including WMA
* It has a great audio quality, comparable to iPod.
* It is too cool to be not noticed by your friends
* It has minimalistic approach. One port for Audio, Charging and Data transfer
* Charges in computer while you transfer data and the battery lasts for a decent time
* The bright blue OLED display (Yes it has a display) is awesome unlike the pale LCDs seen otherwise
* It has so may sound effects like SRS, WoW, custom equalizer etc
* Even at high volume there is no degradation and it is good on your ears
* It supports FM but not quite clear in reception
* It supports Voice Recording and Recording from FM
100$ (Oct 2006) from TigerDirect.com