Competitive advantage

Competitive advantage
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First Published: Sat, Jun 09 2007. 12 43 AM IST

Sennheiser PXC 450 Headphones
Sennheiser PXC 450 Headphones
Updated: Sat, Jun 09 2007. 12 43 AM IST
Sennheiser PXC 450 Headphones
Take a gander at Sennheiser’s website and you find the PXC 450 noise-cancelling headphones filed away in the Travel category. And if you are the kind of guy who only flies First or Business Class, with pretty attendants fawning over you from take-off to touchdown, then this is the perfect accessory for you because the Rs29,900 (approx.) sticker price probably wouldn’t put a dent in your platinum card.
Attempting to dislodge the Bose Quiet Comfort3 headphones in the noise-cancelling arena, the Sennhensier PXC 450s are impressively large and encapsulating. Running off a single AAA battery rather than a rechargeable, as with the Bose, Sennheiser is promising 20 hours of playback on one charge. But the music doesn’t just stop there—you can still enjoy listening to music or movies through this headphone even after your battery dies, as then the headphone turns into a normal headphone without the noise-cancelling feature. Not content with stopping there, however, the PXC 450s also include something Sennheiser calls TalkThrough, which lets you hear conversations and announcements, without having to rip the phones off your head by simply pressing a button. Pressing the button turns your music down to a preset level you choose and opens a voice channel, while still retaining full n
Sennheiser PXC 450 Headphones
oise-reduction operation, so you can hear clearly.
Sennheiser claims that its NoiseGard 2.0 technology will offer a “Cloak of Silence” by electronically removing 90% of the drone and roar of any ambient noise, or an extremely irate Mrs GG. Does it work? You bet it does. My cabin at work has a drone of the air-con unit in the background all day long. When I put the PXC 450s over my ears and switched them on, even without plugging any audio in, the noise was vastly diminished. I can imagine how useful this can be on a long-haul flight, cutting off grotesquely faced babies in mid-howl.
Of course, all this would be useless without a decent sound and the PXC 450s have a nice rounded performance, delivering a highly natural, lifelike sound quality. Sennheiser attributes this to adaptive baffle damping for good bass, Duofol diaphragms preventing unwanted resonance for crisp sound, and NoiseGard, which uses the principle of interference to cancel out unwanted sounds. And thanks to minimum noise leakage, your fellow passengers won’t have to endure your bad taste in music either.
The PXC 450 is foldable and is supplied with a transport case, 2 AAA batteries and audio adaptors (double mono and 6.3mm) and a two-year warranty. The headphones will be available in India by 15 June. www.sennheiserindia.com.
Kodak EasyShare V1003
In the good old days of film cameras, Kodak was king, with millions of photographers pushing its film through their cameras. However, in today’s digital realm, the jury is still out on Kodak, despite some excellent products such as the innovative and cutting-edge dual lens V570 launched last year. But, with the newly introduced EasyShare V1003, Kodak is not going to win many fans. V1003 leaves much to be desired, despite its intrinsic appeal to the fashion forward crowd, with its sleek form factor in a multitude of colours such as “Java Brown”, “Golden Dream”, and “Pink Bliss”, accessories such as beaded straps and colour-coded cases; and to the number-conscious set, with
Kodak EasyShare V1003
its 10-megapixel sensor, 1600 ISO range, etc.
Just look at the spec sheet. Despite its diminutive size, the Kodak EasyShare V1003 has a 10-megapixel sensor, which is quite large for such a small camera, certainly more than necessary, if not outright overkill, and needs a much better lens than the 3X optical zoom—a 35mm equivalent of a 36mm-108mm lens and corresponding maximum f-stops of f/2.8 to f/4.9. And the 2.5-inch LCD display is nothing special. Shooting at the much-hyped highest 1600 ISO setting produces pictures that are noisy, with busy little speckles and inaccurate colours. I found that the sensitive 10-megapixel sensor performed best at the 100 ISO setting.
There is an astonishing amount of shutter lag, especially with flash shots. Shutter lag is basically the delay between the moment you press down on the shutter button and the moment the photo is captured. It’s okay, I guess, for static shots, but while shooting a dynamic scene, the shutter lag will have you tapping your fingernails on the nearest surface. The control buttons on the top and left side of the camera are tiny and unresponsive, and using the joystick to navigate menus can be quite counter-intuitive. The Kodak V1003 provides advanced video mode to record VGA video (640x480) with sound at 30 fps, but you can forget about it unless you post grainy, jerky video regularly on YouTube.
The good points are that Kodak retains its Perfect Touch Technology, which examines each picture to bring out shadow detail and deliver more vibrant colours in the shot. A good feature is the Maintain Settings mode, which saves your preferences for settings such as ISO, white balance, flash and pixel resolution, so you don’t have to reset them each time you turn on your camera. The V1003 also offers 22 scene modes, including simple on-camera stitching for dynamic panorama shots and digital image stabilization.
Kodak’s otherwise excellent V-series line of digital cameras is marred by the inclusion of the EasyShare V1003. Price, Rs17,999.
Polaroid i1032
Polaroid has silently introduced its first 10-megapixel digital camera in the market. Perhaps Polaroid sees opportunities to enter a digital camera segment where it can be one of the few
Polaroid i1032
who have a 10-megapixel digital camera available for the entry-level photographer. Sadly, the i1032 is a clunker, given its price of Rs20,990.
The camera is fairly straightforward to use, with a simple menu system on a 2.4-inch LCD monitor and the layout of buttons and controls is good. There is a reasonable choice of features and options. However, the camera switch on, focusing, shutter speed and continuous shooting mode are slow. The i1032 is powered by a pair of AA cells and munches through them in no time flat—an instant deal breaker. Exposures can be hit and miss with this camera when outside on bright sunny days, but it can produce some excellent colours, and very good macro photos on duller days. Purple fringing was horrendous in high contrast areas, and will become more noticeable on prints larger than A4 and becomes more exaggerated the higher the resolution of the picture due to the poor quality of the lens.
The shutter release, being capsule shaped, will not function well if not pressed centrally. Personally, I would have preferred a conventional round one. Actually, personally, I would have liked Polaroid to stay out of the megapixel contest and perhaps look at its past, for instance, the dazzling Polaroid SX-70, circa 1972, which was Polaroid’s first fully automatic, motorized camera and an instant design classic, which provided many fun-filled moments of instant gratification, much like the digital cameras of today.
Tell Harsh what other gadgets you want him to review at gizmoguru@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Jun 09 2007. 12 43 AM IST
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