A bag full of tricks

A bag full of tricks
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First Published: Fri, Feb 08 2008. 11 19 AM IST

Quick conversion: Make your phone a stereo system with the Altec Lansing speakers; or the JBL system.
Quick conversion: Make your phone a stereo system with the Altec Lansing speakers; or the JBL system.
Updated: Sat, Feb 09 2008. 04 41 PM IST
A few weeks ago, I was loafing along the NH9 on my Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle en route to Hyderabad from Mumbai to attend the Rider Mania 2008 event that sees more than 400 Bulleteers converge from all over the country for a 48-hour party. Part of the charm of riding long distance is stopping at roadside dhabas for a cup of hot sweet masala tea and a plate of whatever sounds good.
Quick conversion: Make your phone a stereo system with the Altec Lansing speakers; or the JBL system.
It seems that the cellphone has supplanted the transistor radio as the music player of choice among the local populace at these dhabas and roadside restaurants. So, at these rest stops, I was subjected to various tunes from Deewangi to Azeem O shan shahenshah to whatever was on FM screeching at top volume from tinny little speakerphones of every make and colour. The music phone revolution is well and alive in India.
Now Nokia makes some rock solid phones and I’ve owned plenty of them in the past as, I’m sure, have most of you. They’ve evolved with the times and hopped on to the music phone gravy train, where they are doing quite well with their MusicXpress range. I was quite intrigued when the folks at Nokia sent over a sleek briefcase that looked as if it contained a million bucks. Perhaps they loved my reviews so much they decided to reward me with some lovely lucre? Unfortunately, that was not the case, but what came in the case were two Nokia MusicXpress phones and a selection of accessories for maximum music listening pleasure.
Recognizing the increasing role of mobile phones in music consumption, Nokia and globally recognized audio manufacturers such as Altec Lansing, JBL, and Philips are now offering a range of music accessories to accompany the XpressMusic handsets, such as headphones, docking stations and speakers. The Nokia briefcase was like a teaser trailer as the accessories are yet to be launched in India.
The phones:
I reviewed the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic a few weeks back (see www.livemint.com/Articles/2008/01/19003123/Press-Play.html), but as a refresher course, it is pocket friendly at 9.9mm thick and weighs less than 71g. A mini music powerhouse, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic offers up to 18 hours of music playback, memory for up to 3,000 songs on an optional 4GB microSD card and dedicated music keys. With a 2-megapixel (MP) camera and a bright 2-inch QVGA screen, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is a very attractive option at Rs10,600.
The Nokia 5610 XpressMusic is a slider phone with a dedicated dial to access the radio and music player, making it easy to access your tunes with a flick of the thumb. The Nokia 5610 has crystal clear sound (though volume levels could have been higher), up to 22 hours of music playback and memory with capacity for 3,000 songs on an optional 4GB microSD card. Mysteriously, the 5610 comes with a 2.5mm audio jack, while the cheaper 5310 has the more desirable 3.5mm jack. The Nokia 5610 also features a 3.2 MP camera with auto focus and dual LED flash. The phone is equipped with 3G technology and comes preloaded with Internet applications. The price? Rs13,200. Nothing really to complain about either of these phones except for the battery life, which is quite poor considering they are billed as music phones.
JBL On Call Dock
Designed specifically for the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone, this is one amazing kit. The phone snaps into the dock neatly and you can control volume and playback from the dock itself. Plug it into a power supply and the dock will charge the phone too. The JBL can really rock a small room pumping out well-rounded audio without distortion, even at its loudest. Best of all, you can jack in any MP3 player or music device to blast music, as I have been doing using it as a speaker for my Apple iMac. Small enough to carry in your bag with a handful of AA batteries, this makes a great set of portable speakers.
Altec Lansing Nobi speaker
The Altec Lansing is a fairly decent speaker but it pales in comparison with the JBL. The speaker sounds harsh at high volume levels and the audio is quite muddy. It comes with a 3.5mm jack that you can connect to any other music player. Perched on my bedside table and playing at gentle sound levels while hooked up to my Nano is a nice way to drift off to sleep. The company claims that the AAA batteries offer 24 hours of audio play time.
Quick conversion: Opt for a private listen with the Philips headphones.
Philips SHH9500 headphones
A fairly adequate set of cans. Music reproduction is quite good and the soft cushioning on the earpieces is really comfortable and helps minimize ambient sounds. The earphones can be folded and stowed away when not in use. A colleague who commutes a long distance to work simply loves these headphones for their comfort and compact form.
The Nokia briefcase came well kitted with chargers, adaptors, jacks of various sizes to connect the phones to the docks. The accessory kit won’t be available in India but the accessories should be launched here within the next few months, and when they are, I will be sorely tempted to plump for the JBL On Call Dock speaker at a rumoured price of Rs6,000.
Got a gadget you want reviewed? Write to Harsh at gizmoguru@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Feb 08 2008. 11 19 AM IST