Review: Bose Soundlink vs Jawbone Big Jambox

Post by Mark

This review turned out to be tougher than I expected since I was expecting the Big Jambox to easily come out on top but the Soundlink put up a pretty good fight. Both speakers are similar in that they are compact and very portable, run on rechargeable battery and connect to your music player wirelessly using bluetooth.

From the two speakers right off the bat I’ll say the Big Jambox is the better sounding of the two. There is no question about that. I played a variety of music ranging from Mumford & Sons and Zulu Winter to 16 Bit Lolita’s and Guy J when testing the speakers out. Switching between the two speaker was very easy using the iPhone and so I was easily able to compare the same songs on both speakers. In each and every case the Big Jambox topped the Soundlink when it came to the sound quality. The Jambox always sounded richer, had deeper lows as well as clearer highs. To top it off the Jambox could also go a lot louder than the Soundlink.

So you’d think there was a clear winner here but there isn’t. The thing is although the Big Jambox did sound better than the Soundlink the difference isn’t that dramatic in most cases. Because I was switching from one speaker to another instantly I was clearly able to distinguish the differences but if I had heard the two speakers on different days for example it would be a lot more difficult to distinguish the differences.

What I think clearly separates the two really depends on what you’re planning to use the speaker for. A friend of mine was looking for a speaker to take when traveling and use in hotel rooms, the Bose Soundlink would be the one to recommend in this case because although slightly taller its lighter and more compact so will fit easier into a suitcase. On the other hand if you have a gathering and want a portable speaker you could move out onto the balcony or onto the beach than the Big Jambox is the one I’d go for.

Design wise I personally prefer the colorful and chunky Big Jambox over the Soundlink. It comes in a variety of colors and it just looks funkier than the classier and more conservative looking Soundlink. The Soundlink has a 6 hour battery life while the Jambox has an astounding 15 which is why I’m guessing the Jambox is much heavier. Both speakers are selling for the same price of KD99 here in Kuwait.

So which one is better? Sound and design wise the Big Jambox is the clear winner for me. But the Soundlink does sounds pretty good as well and comes in a more compact and lighter package. For my needs though, I’d go with the Big Jambox.

Jawbone Big Jambox is available at Blink [Here]
Bose Soundlink is available at Xcite [Here]

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Review: Trent IMP120D iCarrier

Post by Mark

Last month I purchased and posted about the Mophie Powerstation, a small device that will charge your USB powered devices like an iPhone or iPad while away from a power supply. This month I purchased and tried the Trent IMP120D iCarrier, a slightly bulkier device that holds three times the amount of power reserve at 12000mAh compared to the 4000mAh of the Mophie Powerstation.

Although the Trent holds three times as much power its selling on Amazon for the same price as the Mophie which makes it a great deal. I tried it out last weekend while camping and found it very practical. The Trent comes with two USB ports which allows you to charge two devices at the same time. I ended up charging three phones that night, an iPhone 4s, a Galaxy III and a Blackberry. I also had the iPhone plugged into the device all night playing music. By next day the Trent iCarrier was showing me that it still had around half the power left! That’s just crazy.

The only disadvantages over the Mophie is the fact the Trent iCarrier is bulkier and the build quality isn’t as good. If you squeeze the device a bit you can hear the plastic squeak so not sure how it’s going to handle being thrown around in my backpack in the long run. But, at around KD22 on Amazon this is a great buy specially if the size of the device doesn’t matter much to you. [Amazon Link]

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TAG Heuer Racer Phone

Post by Mark

I’m usually not interested in reviewing Android phones but when I got the opportunity to try out the new TAG Heuer Racer I jumped all over it. the TAG Heuer Racer is a luxury phone and although it runs Android I was more interested in the luxury aspect of the phone. Personally I don’t think anyone who considers buying a luxury phone like the Vertu or this TAG Heuer is really looking for the most technologically advanced phone in the market. If they were they’d pick up an iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III. People looking for luxury phones look for other things like materials used, quality of finish and exclusivity. With that idea in mind I decided to treat this review as an experiment. Would anyone notice the TAG Heuer phone?

First thing you’ll notice when you get the phone is how large the box is. Like buying an expensive timepiece the phone comes in a leather box that flips open to reveal the phone sitting inside. This leather box comes inside another larger box that has a bunch of drawers which contain the charger, headphones, manuals etc. The phone design is inspired by GT and F1 racing so the form and materials used reflect that. The phone I had for review used a high-grade nano-coated rubber and anodized aluminum but there are other versions of the phone which use either titanium, carbon fiber or rose gold. The Racer clearly looks like no other phone on the market.

I had the phone with me for a full week and whenever I took out the phone it always grabbed attention. It was a conversation starter, people generally were either curious to know what it was or surprised that TAG Heuer made phones. Everyone wanted to touch it and check it out and this was just the entry level Racer which uses aluminum and isn’t really that flashy. People did notice the phone and most will never see another one like it again. They’re rare and whoever is looking to spend this much on a phone will prefer it this way.

The price is whats going to keep the Racer out of the hands of the mass since they start at KD850 and can go up all the way up to KD1,500. If you compare it to a regular Android phone I guess it would be like comparing a high end Swiss watch to a digital one. Personally I wouldn’t pay this much for a phone but then again I’m not their target. It’s a different approach to phones and my guess is more and more luxury brands will be serving up their own takes on a luxury phone. If you’re interested, the Racer is available at the TAG Heuer stores in Avenues and 360 Mall.

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Google Maps with Navigation Arrives to Kuwait and MENA

Post by Mark

I was under the impression that this was already available but I guess it wasn’t. It still doesn’t work with iPhones but if you have Android 4.0 and above then you’re in luck. [Link]

Thanks Rami

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Mophie Powerstation

Post by Mark

The Powerstation is a nifty little device that can charge your phone or tablet while you’re on the go. I previously posted about my battery-powered case for the iPhone (which I still continue to use) but since then with the advent of Instagram that case is no longer enough. On my last trip to Geneva even with the battery-powered case my phone was lasting until late in the afternoon which is how me and my friend found out about the Powerstation. He picked one up from the Apple Store and we were using it to charge our phones once both our battery-powered cases ran out of juice. After that trip I knew I had to have one and ended up ordering getting it from Amazon.

The Mophie Powerstation is pretty compact and can easily slip into a back pocket and is light enough to put in your wife’s purse without pissing her off. While my battery-powered case had a rechargeable capacity of 1,700 Mah, the Powerstation has 4,000 which is enough to charge my iPhone three times. Another advantage of the Powerstation is the fact it works with any phone or tablet and not just Apple specific ones. The Powerstation has a standard USB port so you just plug in whatever USB powered device you want. It can also charge the demanding iPad 3 although it won’t be able to fully charge it.

There is one downside I faced with the Powerstation which is the fact it has only one USB port which means you need to take turns charging or you need to buy a dual iphone charging cable. Another solution is to get the larger Powerstation Duo which has two USB ports as well as a larger rechargeable capacity of 6,000 Mah but it’s also more expensive and bulkier.

If you’re looking for a compact battery powered charger to take with you when you travel or for a day away from any power sources then the Mophie Powerstation is a good option. There are other similar products on Amazon that have even more power but you would have to compromise on weight and size. The price of the Mophie Powerstation is KD18 and you can get it from [Amazon]

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AR Drone 2.0

Post by Mark

I was never a fan of the original AR Drone so I wasn’t even aware there was a 2.0 version. Blushberry just posted about it since he got one and it turns out the 2.0 version records HD video which you can save and share. He shot the video above around his house and I think the AR Drone has finally got my attention. Check out his post [Here]

It’s available on Amazon for KD85 [Amazon Link]

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Review: Sony Personal 3D Viewer

Post by Mark

When I was picking up the Sony NEX-7 last month I spotted the Sony Personal 3D Viewer on display. I had just finished reviewing the Vuzix Wrap 920 which I wasn’t impressed with and was interested in trying the Sony version to see how it would compare. Right off the bat I need to make one thing clear, while the Vuzix Wrap 920 were portable, the Sony personal viewer is not.

The Sony Personal 3D Viewer is big and and also comes with an external processor unit around the size of a small satellite receiver. You need to hook up the processor unit to a power supply, you then run an HDMI cable from the unit to say your AV Receiver, Satellite Receiver, Videogame console or any other device and finally you connect the personal head display to the processor unit with a very long cable. So again this is not a portable head display.

Once you put on the display and turn it on you’re going to be in for a surprise. I really wasn’t expecting it to be this freakin’ good! I was behind on Mad Men and had three episodes to watch and I watched them all one after the other on these Sonys. My regular tv is a 50″ plasma that’s around 3 meters in front of me so it’s a pretty large picture. The Sony personal display made it look small in comparison. Watching Mad Men through the Sony unit felt like I was sitting in a large movie theater. The picture quality was ridiculously good and because the Sony uses OLED screens, the blacks were blacker than my regular tv which was unreal. I then made my brother try them out and this is what he had to say:

Hey, so this is what I thought of the device.

I didn’t expect it to be as good as it turned out to be. This device added an extra level of immersion that made playing video games even more entertaining.

The screen inside feels big, the image is sharp and the sounds coming out of the headphones was better then I expected it to be. The first game I tried out with it was Sleeping Dogs and it looked great, but I felt the strongest point came when I tried games that use a first person perspective. When I put in Skyrim I was blown away by how crisp and beautiful everything looked, I felt like I was there in the world, it was pretty breath-taking. I also tried Battlefield 3 with it and that was another strong point, it’s difficult to explain how good these games look through the headset and it’s difficult to explain how this headset helps with helping the gamer feel more immersed in the game they’re playing.

It’s not perfect though, the headset started feeling uncomfortable after a while and it felt like there was too much pressure on my nose. I could only really play comfortable for about 40 or so minutes and then it felt like the device was weighing down on my face too much. I wouldn’t be surprised if these kind of devices became a lot more popular, I hope more companies release tech like this and at more affordable prices.

Now I did find issues with the Sony Personal 3D Viewer. The first is something I experienced but my brother didn’t which is I had a hard time getting the whole display in focus. Not sure why but in my case I could either get the center in focus and the far corners out of focus or the outer corners in focus and the center slightly not. The second issue I had was the price. They cost KD259 at the Sony dealer and it’s not because the dealer is expensive, even Amazon sells them for around KD225 before tax and shipping to Kuwait. This is why I had a hard time figuring out who would use or need these. If they were say KD99 I would get one right away but at KD259 its not an impulse buy. There is also the issue with comfort, I found them very comfortable sitting on my comfy chair with my head leaning slightly back and supported by my chairs headrest. My brother on the other hand used them while sitting on his couch most likely leaning forward like he always does and he ended up feeling stress on his nose after a period of time.

I was having difficulty figuring out who to recommend these to but after my brothers feedback I realized this might be great for gamers. With the display on you disappear into this dark space with a large display in front of you and with videogames thats a great way to really immerse yourself. Since these are 3D displays I imagine 3D games would really take you some place else.

So yeah you can tell I really love these but I just wish they were a lot more cheaper. If you want to try them out, they had them on display at the new Sony branch in Tilal Complex. Not sure if they have them on display at their other branches as well. Personally I’m going to be keeping these for a few more days before I give them back since I want to try a view games with these myself.

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Review: Aquapac vs LifeProof Waterproof iPhone Cases

Post by Mark

I’ve always wanted a waterproof camera which I could take with me to the beach but since I don’t go to the beach that often it wasn’t worth the investment. But with all the waterproof cases available for the iPhone right now I realized that might be my best option. I ended up buying and trying two very different cases, the Aquapac and the LifeProof.

The Aquapac isn’t really a case but more like a bag in which you slip your phone into and then seal with two knobs. Even with the phone inside you can still control it from the outside and since the case is transparent on both sides you can use the camera as well. You can throw in your iPhone, BlackBerry, Android phone or whatever else you want since because it’s more of a bag you can just throw different sized devices into it. The case comes with a bright yellow lanyard which you can use to hang the phone around your neck or tie it to your jet ski or whatever. Also depending on how much air you leave in the bag before sealing it you can have it float on water which is handy in case it falls off the boat. But I did have one major issue with the bag and that’s underwater shooting. Because the case is made of soft plastic, once in the water it flexes and if it flexes in front of the lens which with me it kept doing then all the photos come out distorted. I also had a hard time using the volume buttons on the phone because I had to bend the bag to get to them and although you can make and receive calls with the bag on you’re not going to hear your caller well nor will they. But the case costs just KD9 so it’s a very affordable way to waterproof your phone.

The second case I got and tried was the LifeProof. This is a proper hard case that comes in two halves, you place your phone into one of the halves and then seal it by clicking into place the second half. The case is slightly larger than the phone so it doesn’t add much bulk and it allows you to fully control the screen and all the buttons while inside it. In fact I know someone who uses this case as his day to day phone cover. There’s a Goretex material covering the mic and earphone so it stops water from seeping in but allows you to talk and listen with just a slight decrease in volume. There’s also a solid glass piece over where the camera lens is so you can take pictures underwater without having to worry about any distortion. If you want to use waterproof headphones with your phone you can also do that since it comes with a special waterproof headphone adapter you just screw into place. The disadvantage with this case is the fact it only works with the iPhone 4/4s which means if you sell your phone you can’t use it with another one. It’s also more expensive than the Aquapac costing around KD15 on Amazon and it doesn’t float on the water and neither does it come with a lanyard.

Between the two covers I personally prefer the LifeProof. Although it’s more expensive it’s only by a few Dinars and the fact I can shoot underwater or use the case as my day to day case is a huge advantage. But, the Aquapac does have it’s own advantages as well namely the fact you can use it with a variety of phones and that it’s really easy to slip in or take out a phone from the case. Below are links to both products on Amazon where I purchased the cases from. When I ordered my LifeProof case the cheapest price in Kuwait was KD27. After I placed my order Blink dropped the price down to KD22 which is basically the same price it cost me to get my case from Amazon.

Aquapac on Amazon
LifeProof on Amazon
LifeProof on Blink

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The hunt for new computer speakers

Post by Mark

I passed by Bang & Olufsen recently to check out their computer speakers and although I didn’t end up getting anything I always love checking out their stuff.

They had the Beolit 12 (pictured above) which is their Airplay compatible portable music system. Design wise it looks very sharp and if I didn’t already have the BeoPlay A8 I would have considered getting this. Price wise it’s selling for KD250 which is very reasonable for a B&O product.

When it came to computer speakers they had two models available. The first I saw were the BeoLab 4 (pictured above). These speakers look very cool but at KD325 they were a lot more than what I wanted to pay.

They also had the BeoLab 3 on display which looked even cooler than the BeoLab 4 but these also cost nearly four times more coming in at over a thousand Dinars so I didn’t even consider them.

If you’re interested in passing by their store they located in Symphony Mall next to Missoni Hotel in Salmiya. They haven’t launched the new store officially but the shop is open if you want to pass by.

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In Limra I Trust

Post by Mark

Whenever I need anything computer related the first place I always visit is Limra Computer Center in Hawalli. It’s a small store (nothing close to being a “center”) located on the ground floor of Walla Complex. I used to be a Professional Computer fan (located one floor above) but somehow I started buying all my stuff from Limra a few years ago and since then I’ve been a regular. The place has character and the main guy (Shankar) is very knowledgable. Depending on when you pass by the place could be packed with people and you’ll have to wait outside the shop until there’s enough room for you to squeeze in. Check them out next time you’re in Hawalli looking for stuff, they’re very trustworthy. Their phone number is 22631043.

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