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Head banger: The Sony USB-drive-based MP3 player.

Head banger: The Sony USB-drive-based MP3 player.

Lounge reviews

Lounge reviews

Sony’s NWZ B143F Walkman

Head banger: The Sony USB-drive-based MP3 player.

Try as I might, I just can’t see fashionable music fans flaunting their Sony B143Fs in front of their iPod-toting friends. But just imagine if a little branding had happened:

Boy 1: “Your player sucks compared to my iPod Shuffle…"

Boy 2: “Oh, this. This is my Sony Fatal Tsunami Attack MP3 player…"

Boy 1: “Drool, swoon, drool..."

What a pity. Especially because there is much to like about this feisty, capable little music player that is impressive, despite the yawn-with-mouth-wide-open USB-drive design it is cursed with.

The good

The B143F test piece we received came with a glossy red finish on the display and controls side, and a more sober and sturdy rubberized finish on the other: a nice mix of macho and metrosexual. The little Chiclet-sized screen is very bright and you should have no trouble figuring it out in any light condition.

As with most Sony MP3 devices, the sound quality was quite good. (Disclaimer: We tested it with a pair of tried and tested Panasonic in-ear phones that tend to give all devices a little fillip.) And if listening to the powerful device at full volume isn’t enough, Sony has built in a little bass-boost button on one side that significantly ups the low frequencies in a flash.

This is actually quite a smart feature to have. With most such crammed devices, managing the audio equalizer, if there is one at all, can be quite painful. You need both acute eyesight and reedy fingers to manoeuvre through the menus. So a bass boost in one step is a good thing.

And if the 4GB on-board memory fails to deliver sufficient music variety, there is always the FM radio function. The player also has a good audio recording functionality that can be activated with a single button press. Perfect for sting operations (recordings are in the form of WAV files and eat up around 1.5MB per minute).

The highlight of the player, however, was the 70-minute charging facility. Plug it into a computer USB port and it’ll be ready to go in just over an hour. And the company website promises 90 minutes of operation at just 3 minutes of charging.

The not-so-good

While strolling around Connaught Place in New Delhi one evening, I noticed that every time the earphone wires moved, the quality of the FM radio signal wavered. And that too in a disconcerting fade in, fade out way. As if you were running towards and then away from a speaker entirely randomly. I felt giddy after a while and had go inside a KFC and order a burger. To recuperate.

Talk plastic

The B143F is a good MP3 player, decent value for money at Rs3,990, and except for a spot of bother with the FM radio, was very well-mannered indeed. But with a name like that…

Sidin Vadukut


Ping, Bangalore

Big bites: Fire Cracker Prawns at Ping, Bangalore.

The good

“All momos are dim sums, but all dim sums are not momos," the maître d’ reiterated as we scrutinized the menu. The comprehensive list of steamed and pan-fried dim sums confused us initially (who would have thought of combining tofu and spinach in a steamed dim sum or chicken and basil in the steamed Spicy Chicken and Basil Cheong Fan?). We decided to opt for the set platters—vegetarian (Rs325) and non-vegetarian (Rs425). Each platter offers two pieces each of six varieties of dim sums.

Vegetarians must try the Spicy Soya and Basil Dim Sums. Don’t pass it over because of the rather unappetizing-looking green wrap (the colour comes from the basil). While my taste buds were on fire because of an overdose of chillies, there was also the lingering taste of refreshing basil.

My non-vegetarian co-diner recommends the Fire Cracker Prawns with Orange Chilli Dip for the crisp outer layer and soft prawn meat filling. And the Lamb and Ginger Wotip for the unusual combination.

For the main course, we ordered the Eight Treasure Tofu, an interesting fusion of tofu, bamboo shoots, bell pepper, shitake, pak choi and water chestnuts stir-fried in a mild sesame soya sauce. The sauce is not very spicy and does not overpower the other ingredients. The Crispy Fried Fish, tossed with home-made tamarind sauce, though a tad too tangy, tasted good with burnt garlic noodles.

The restaurant also has a special menu for children which is not too experimental. It has dishes such as French fries and chicken lollipops which they are always happy to eat.

The not-so-good

Most of the dim sums are a bit bland for the Indian palate. If you like your food a little on the tangy side, don’t forget to ask for the wasabi mayonnaise dip. As for the platters, a diner doesn’t get to choose the dim sums, which would make them a limiting and boring option on a repeat visit.

Ping is yet to obtain a bar licence, so we ordered a green apple bubble tea, which came with tapioca balls at the bottom of the glass. It was way too syrupy, and did not complement the subtle flavours of the dim sums. While Ping has gone the extra mile to ensure the place doesn’t look like an “Oriental" restaurant, Abba and Westlife don’t quite gel with dim sums and jasmine green tea either.

Talk plastic

A meal for two can cost up to Rs1,000 (taxes included) for the main course and dim sums. The executive meal, which has an assortment of three dim sums, a stir-fry to accompany rice or noodles and one dessert, is priced at Rs250 (taxes extra) for the vegetarian lunch and Rs275 for the non-vegetarian one.

For reservations, call 080-41521773.

Pavitra Jayaraman


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