First Impression: Totally Fish

Post by Mark

Totally Fish

Although Totally Fish has been open in Marina Crescent for two years now I never passed by to try it. It was one of those places I kept hearing negative stuff about mostly that it was too expensive and that the food wasn’t really good. But last night I felt like having seafood and decided to pass by Totally Fish since it was nearby.

I was with Nat and we ended up ordering Salmon Croquette and Prawns Cake for appetizer while for the main course she had a Salmon dish while I had Balloul. The appetizers were pretty ordinary and we wouldn’t order them again. We also didn’t like our main courses that much, Nats salmon had too many flavors, none of which was Salmon while my Balloul was just really forgettable. The biggest surprise was the fact that the prices weren’t expensive at all. The Salmon Croquette was around KD1.500, while the Prawns Cake around KD2.500. The Salmon was for KD6.750 while the Balloul was KD6.500. The portions were also surprisingly big.

Even though we didn’t enjoy any of the dishes I am still going to go back. Its common to order the wrong dishes the first time at a place and since their location is good, the staff friendly and the prices very reasonable, they are worth a second visit.


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First Impression: Macaroni Grill

Post by Mark

Macaroni Grill logo

I’ve been wanting to try out Macaroni Grill ever since I found out that their Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce dish was voted the worst pasta dish in the US for having over 2400 calories. They opened up at The Avenues awhile back and tonight I finally got the chance to try the place out and its pretty cool. Since I got food poisoned from Johnny Carino’s I’ve been looking for a replacement and I think Macaroni Grill is it.

The service was very good, the atmosphere inside the place was very cozy and most importantly the Spaghetti and Meatballs dish was amazing. It really doesn’t taste like 2,430 calories! I’m definitely going back there again.


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First Impression: Platform

Post by Mark

Powertools

Right after work I went to Platform in Shuwaikh to check it out. When I first walked in I was really impressed, everything seemed very tidy and clean and I got the impression the place was huge.

First thing I did was head over to the BOSCH power tools stand to check out the cordless drills. They had a good collection but they didn’t have what I was looking for. I wanted a 14v cordless drill which they did have but I was looking for the version that was made in Switzerland but they had the one made in Malaysia. A very friendly employee came up to me (I think he was Indian) and told me they didn’t have the version I wanted and then proceeded to explain to me that if I wanted to drill into concrete then I would have to get the version of the drill with the hammer. He was very friendly and informative. Price wise they were exactly the same as the dealer, the Malaysian version of the drill is selling for KD45 at the dealer and for the same price at Platform.

I then decided to walk around and explore the place and thats when I realized how disappointing Platform was. I used Ace Hardware as my comparison and Ace easily has it beat, at least when it comes to the stuff that matters to me.

Firstly the screws section wasn’t as expansive as Ace. They also didn’t have small packs that come with a variety of screw sizes and I also don’t sell screws by the piece.

Secondly I couldn’t find any threadlockers!! Not only does Ace Hardware have threadlockers but they have them in different strengths and even in very tiny one time use packages. Although its such a minuscule thing its still an important item which they didn’t have.

The hardware tools like hammers and screw drivers were mostly made up of cheap Chinese brands which was a major put off. Finally they didn’t have any electric tidbits like soldering irons, wires, speaker cables, ring terminals or anything of the sort. Ace on the other hand has a huge collection of those.

Feeling disappointed I walked back to the Maikta power tools section hoping the sound of a few drills would cheer me up. When I got there I was met with an Arab employee who asked me if I was looking for something. I told him about the drill I was looking for and he told me they had sold out (strange you’ve just opened) and that they discontinued the model. I was like ummm no, they haven’t discontinued the model and that the dealer has them in stock and selling for KD50. He was like ah then I guess we got the cheaper version. I was thinking to myself wtf? Why lie and try to bullshit me into buying the Malaysian drill?

Abyat

I left the place disappointed but as soon as I exited their parking lot I got a huge grin on my face. Right across the street from Platform another hardware store is launching soon called Abyat. Judging by the size of the building it looks like its going to make Platform look like a bakala. Till then I will continue to get my hardware needs fulfilled at Ace.


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First impression: Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 Pro

Post by Mark

Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 pro

Last month while coming back from London my favorite pair of traveling earphones, my Shure E2’s stopped working properly. They lasted me for three years and I guess it was time I got a new pair. Following that trip I tried flying with another pair of headphones but they just weren’t the same. My AKG 81’s were too big and bulky while my PX100’s barely isolate any sound. I needed to get another pair of in-earphones and after a lot of research I decided to go with the Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 Pro (really long name).

Why and what are in-earphones?
Unlike the regular earphones that come with the iPod, in-earphones actually go into your ear canal, they don’t just sit on the outside. Some people find it strange and uncomfortable having something placed inside the ear but I never had that problem. If you want to know how they feel just take two fingers and place one in each ear. First thing you will notice is how they isolate sound and thats one of my favorite things about in-earphones. It makes them perfect for traveling since they block out the plane engine noise and anything else inside the plane. With music playing loudly you could have someone standing in front of you and screaming at the top of their lungs and you wouldn’t hear them.

The reason I went with the Super.fi’s and not another model is mostly because of the price to performance ratio. I didn’t want to pay over $200 for my earphones and I didn’t want something under $100. In my price range the Super.fi’s had the best performance according to numerous reviews online. In fact it sometimes even outperformed more expensive models.

Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 pro

USWS delivered my Super.fi’s two days ago and the first thing I noticed when I took them out of the box were how much lighter and smaller they were compared to my older Shures. When I put them on I also noticed they fit a lot better into my ear compared to the Shures and since they were lighter after a few minutes it felt like they weren’t there. I was really impressed at the build quality and the snug fit and I still hadn’t experimented with the other rubber sleeve sizes included in the pack or my usual favorite foam ones. Sound wise I also noticed a big difference. The Super.fi’s ran louder than my Shures at the same volume and they also sounded a lot more clearer. My old Shures had a single driver for every ear which handled the lows, mids and highs all alone. The Super.fi’s on the other hand have dual drivers for every ear, one to handle the lows and one to handle the mids and highs. The much more expensive Triple.fi 10 have three drivers for every ear, one for every range.

So far I am really impressed with the Super.fi’s. I only listened to them for a few minutes but it was instantly obvious how much better they performed compared to my Shures. Currently I am burning in my Super.fi’s, they’ve been playing music non stop for around 48 hours and they still have another 48 to go before they are ready to start using.

What is burning in?
You know how when you buy new jeans or shoes they are not very comfortable the first few times you wear them? Then the more you wear them the more comfortable they get? Well the same with earphones/headphones. When you first buy them they are stiff and over time the diaphragms loosens up. Since I don’t want to wait a weeks for them to loosen up I just plug them to my stereo and leave them running for nearly 100 hours. You can find more info [Here]

Anyway, once I get back from London later this month I will post a full review on the Super.fi’s. I got my black ones from Amazon for $169, they also come in red, white and clear. [Amazon]


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First Impression: The Nokia E61i

Post by Mark

Nokia E61i

I hate Nokia. I really really REALLY hate Nokia. I think I have hated Nokia ever since my first Nokia, the 2110. Back then I couldn’t understand how Nokia could have released something as large and bulky as the 2110 when Ericsson had the tiny 337. But, I just got a Nokia and guess what? I love it.

I needed a phone with Wifi and I needed a phone with a QWERTY keyboard. With my previous phone, the Sony Ericsson K800i, I could check my Gmail account using the Google Mobile app for example which was cool, but replying back to emails was a long painful experience. There also wasn’t much more I could do when it came to Internet connectivity.

With the E61i, I have a full keyboard, Wifi, a large wide screen and it works with Blackberry. Since its also based on the Symbian OS there are a ton of cool software available my favorite being Fring, a software that allows me to connect to Skype and call people internationally from my Nokia at cheap Skype rates. It basically renders my IPEVO Skype phone useless. Browsing the web is a lot more convenient with the large screen and QWERTY key pad.

On the downside the phone is pretty wide which I am still trying to get used to. The keypad is also pretty packed with both Arabic and English letters so I placed an order for an only English keypad. I think these two are the only problems I have with the phone so far. Battery life is incredible, typing on the keyboard is enjoyable, the included web browser displays pages accurately (no flash though), and the price, the price is a steal. I got the phone for only KD120 but a member in the forum mentioned I could have gotten it for as cheap as KD115. For the amount of features packed into this device (it also has a camera), the phone is extremely well priced. I love it.

Picture of the phone above is by tekgik, he also has a lot more good shots so check them out. [Link]


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First Impression: AKG K81 DJ

Post by Mark

AKG

After nearly 40 hours of burn in, the AKG’s are starting to sound really cool. The headphones are light and comfortable, my previous closed back headphones were the Technics DJ1200 and those were very uncomfortable and would hurt my ears after long use. The AKG’s so far are comfortable BUT the only problem I have is that they are barely fitting me. AKG is an Austrian company and I don’t know any Austrians but I am guessing they all have small heads because I have the headphones now expanded to the largest size and they are just barely fitting me perfectly. Other then that no complaints.. so far.


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First Impression: Sennheiser PX100

Post by Mark

PX100

Choosing the right headphone is very difficult. I have never used the iPod ear buds because they suck really bad, instead I have used my iPods with the following: Technics DJ1200, Bang & Olufsen A8’s and the Shure E2’s. The Technics made my ears sweat and they hurt after long use. The B&O A8’s sounded terrible with a complete lack of low frequency response (ie no bass). The Shure E2’s are the best earphones I have owned so far. They are canal phones which basically means you stick them deep inside your ear. They provided excellent sound quality and provide amazing isolation from the outside world. If you have them on with music playing at a decent volume you won’t be able to hear anything around you. I once made Nat scream at the top of her lungs right in my face with my E2’s on and I didn’t hear her at all. The downside though is they take like a minute to put on and in a working environment with lots of interruptions, they weren’t practical at all.

So since I ordered my new iPod Video, I wanted to order new headphones. I did allot of research and I finally brought down my options to two headphones, The Grado SR60’s and the Sennheiser PX100. Both are open air speakers which means my neighbors would hear what I was listening to but that wasn’t a concern. What I was looking for was good sound, portability, comfort and practicality. The Grado SR60’s are one of the best quality headphones you could buy and for their price ($69) they are a steal. Many audiophiles compare their quality to much more expensive headphones costing hundreds of dollars more. The Grado’s are handmade in Brooklyn and they have a retro look which you will either love or hate. I was about to get them when I realized they didn’t fit the specs I wanted. They were not comfortable, they were not portable and because they came with a really long cable they weren’t very practical. So my only option was the PX100.

I just got my PX100 over an hour ago and here is my first impression. The headphone case is amazing, the PX100 fold down to a very compact size and which you can then shove into this cool plastic case it came with. Sound wise they sound really good at the moment with very decent bass and very clear highs and mids. According to forums the sound will also get better once I break the headphones in over the weekend with a continuous 48 hours of non stop music playing through them (to help speed up the break-in period). The cable length is perfect and so far the headphones are very comfortable, so comfortable that I can’t actually feel them on my head! The downside of the PX100 so far is that it looks pretty cheap, but that’s expected since it cost me only $49. So far I really like them, once I get my iPod on Saturday and I finish breaking in the headphones I will post another better review so check back.

Update:
I have had my PX100 on for 3 hours now and I had totally forgot they were on until I just tried to scratch my head. My neighbor can hear the music I am listening to but I made a deal with her, she now can play music through her computer speakers if she wants to while I am listening to my headphones, that way I don’t bother her.


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