Thursday, 5 May 2011

Smartphones with headphones.

Just had a bit of a revelation. Using doublesync the other week, I inadvertently dumped 10% of my record collection onto my HTC desire. It's late. I'm not tired, kids and wife are in bed, so I decided to listen to some tunes on my Dr Dre Beats headphones. The HTC was the closest phone to hand, and seeing as it had alot of music on it, I thought, why not?

Them something odd happened. It didn't sound right. Was it me? it just sounded, 'central' and well, lacking in depth. It wasn't making the involving sounds happen that I've come to expect from these headphones, so I flicked through a few more songs, it was the same, Beatles, Foo fighters, Gerry Rafferty, all sounded, muted.

Tom Petty American girl came on, the live version,  a truly legendary track. No.... I wasn't feeling it.

I pulled up the same track on the iPhone 4 and tried again...... This is more like it! I wouldn't have believed there would have been such a difference. The stereo separation is the most noticeable difference. The Htc sounds almost, mono by comparison. The depth is the next thing you notice, the clear highs and the deep bass is so much better on the iPhone. Then finally the detail; which I guess ties in with the separation. Every instrument, every detail is less, well.... mushy on the iPhone.

I know I could be called a fanboy, but..... it's not without reason. The sound produced for music fans from the ipod inspired iphone is by far superior to the musicality of the HTC offering. Sorry HTC, but it's true and I guess any audiophile would agree. It's as clear as anything, even to an old fogey like me.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Samsung Galaxy S ii

Is this becoming a bit of a bore now.... Yup, it's yet ANOTHER android handset. It's like spot the difference. This one is magnificently thin. To accomplish this look, the back cover is made of sugar paper. Yet another back cover that should be removed only once. Seriously, there are about ten clips around the outer edge and they all need some force to clip in one by one. But once the back cover is comfortably in place, it feels, er, thin. Really thin. Next to the iphone 4, the camera and thicker base push its height so its fractionally larger, (or higher off the ground) than the iphone. But in reality the middle section, is actually narrower that the iphone. But.... to be frank, I couldn't care less. The iphone is thin enough, so its a hollow victory. Especially when you consider the fact that you can't take the back off the iphone4 and snap it by breathing too hard on it. Front on and the Galaxy S mk 2 is something of a monster. It is noticeably larger than an iphone and has a much larger screen. Odd, as only the other day, I said to a work colleague, smartphones will become larger and tablets will become smaller and soon you won't be able to tell them apart. This is a small step towards a mobile tablet, but still nothing like a galaxy tab. The initial background image on the Galaxy S 2 has obviously been chosen because of its vibrant colours. It shows off the screens incredible colour reproduction fantastically well. You'll be impressed the first time you see it. I compared side by side with the iPhone and to be frank, they're both great. Obviously on a larger screen, bigger pictures streamed via iplayer and youtube seem a little more blocky. But, its a great screen nevertheless. I couldn't however get the iplayer controls to vanish! Which was slightly annoying. I watched a little of episode 5 of 'Don't get done, get Dom' which was on Currys, which was interesting. But eventually, it became unwatchable, flickering screen and jumpy playback. Perhaps due to internet connectivity, but annoying all the same. Apps are organised like on the Galaxy S into pages, which is old hat. But what isn't old hat, is the zoom feature on the web browser. Instead of the normal pinch to zoom affair (of yesteryear) here, we place two fingers on the screen and move the handset closer to our head.......
Yup, you read that right and it has to be seen to be believed. hold two fingers on a webpage, move the unit upright, and the page smoothly zooms in. Nice! Albeit pointless. If I want to look at something closer. I move it closer to my head anyway. The chances are, if I want to zoom in, I probably don't want to move my head closer to the device, so although it is cool. It's rubbish in the real world. Fortunately, pinch to zoom works too. Another 'motion' feature is the ability to move icons from page to page, simply by selecting them and moving the device left or right. It works, but again, whether this is more, or less useful that just sliding the icon to the edge of the page is debatable.
It has an fm radio, but, it is a genuine FM radio and thus, needs an aerial to work, so you have to plug the earphones in. Many radio apps now are connected via an internet link, and thus don't need an aerial. They're also better quality, although of course, they do use your data allowance. The camera is crisp and clear 8mp. The video is clear enough on its default setting, but I can see from within the menu, it goes up to 1920x1080! Wow. I take a quick clip and transfer it via bluetooth to my Mac. 7 seconds = 18 Mb! The results are impressive, even if motion is somewhat juddery. Freeze frames show the video to be of immense quality. I kidded a team mate into thinking it was the camera, Its that good. I note Kies Air is here, I guess this is sync over wifi (I have no time to test) but another one in the eye for Apple if it is. Voice commands is a new function I've not seen, powered by vlingo, so it needs an active internet connection to decipher what you've spoken. Unlike the iPhone, although in all honesty, that doesn't work. ("Play elbow" I told it, only for it to blast out Girls aloud, thus ruining any credibility I had left.) There's a photo editor, Game hub, and lots to discover. It's another nice Android handset, that continues to take Googles fight one step further (or closer) to Apple. Nice. Currently, being new, its only on top of the range contracts which means, in this time of sensible budgetting, the Desire S, or Incredible S would remain at the top of my shopping list.