Category Archives: Gadgets

I miss my PSP

And I hate the fact that there’s no true sequel. No, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t count, because the type of games that were available on a PSP and the types of games available on a switch have no comparison.

Sony Playstation Portable. PC: Wikipedia
Sony PSP. PC: Wikipedia

I bought the PSP in 2008 as a gift for my 23rd birthday from Palika Bazaar, during a trip to Delhi. It was the second gaming device that I owned, after the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. It was the PSP-3000 with homebrew OS, capable of running pirated games from ISO files stored on the Memory Stick Pro II Duo. It could output the display to a TV at 720p, too.

Unlike the Gameboy Advance (& currently the Switch), the PSP had serious games, directly ported from the PS2 and PS3 versions. It could play multiple versions of Need for Speed, there were a few flight simulator games and it also had most Grand Theft Auto games.

I remember playing PS exclusives like Patapon & Flow. I also remember returning home from my night shift job at Aricent and playing Resistance: Retribution for 30 minutes everyday, before going to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. My friend KK used it to play God of War on my PSP at work.

Eventually my wife lost it.

The games on the Switch (which is portrayed as the successor to the PSP) belong to a different category. Insanely fun to play, but not serious console games like PSP. Especially, without a single GTA title, I refuse to accept the Switch as a PSP successor and buy it.

I think the demise of PSP type of devices stems from the shift of portable gaming towards cellphones. Why invest in a portable gaming console when you have a powerful processor and chipset right in your phone? Somehow, I can’t bring myself to gaming on my phone.

I hope Sony one day releases a successor to the PSP, or at least a cloud gaming service which has Sony exclusive titles.

My Worst Purchases-Airtel Internet TV

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is Airtel Internet TV DTH set top box.

Airtel Internet TV Set Top Box
Airtel Internet TV Set Top Box

I used to have a regular Airtel DTH connection at my place; the non-smart ones where the Set Top Box connects to an external satellite dish antenna and you watch TV. One day the set top box straight up and died so I contacted Airtel for a replacement. They told me that they have an offer where if I pay a years’ worth of subscription fee at once, they will upgrade me to the new Airtel Internet TV set top box. The set top box was supposed to combine the best of DTH TV viewing and App based streaming along with:

  • 1G Ethernet and WiFi connectivity
  • 4K output with 4K Netflix capability (Along with Prime, Hotstar etc.)
  • Voice activated remote with touch sensitive surface
  • Internet enabled programme guide
  • DVR capabilities with storage on external USB devices

I bought it mostly for 4K Netflix capabilities. I was sceptical about getting it because it ran Android TV (Fagdroid), but decided to keep an open mind and give it a try.

It would be safe to say that this was the worst product (across all categories) I ever bought in my life & realised it the same day. Android TV (Fagdroid) is the worst OS ever to power any gadget in the world, period. Some of the complaints that I faced (On day 1) were:

  • Slow as fuck interface (Even with things like quad-core Qualcomm processor etc.). I blame this part entirely on the Android TV (Fagdroid) OS. Even changing channels took 2-3 seconds.
  • Apps crashing all the time. Even the TV app which showed content from satellite crashed regularly with no apparent triggers.
  • The smart Bluetooth remote control froze from time-to-time. The only way to recover it was to remove the batteries and insert them back again.
  • Doing a factory reset was not a straight forward job. After the reset, half of the channels would disappear and would require going into settings and entering some satellite related parameters manually.
  • Advertisements showing up randomly on the UI & also a perpetual, huge Airtel Logo on the corner of the screen
  • Software updates would fix some issues and introduce others.

After tolerating this for a few months, I had had enough & even with 8/9 months of subscription remaining, I threw it in the trash. When I asked Airtel to move me back to the old (non-smart) set top box, they told me that was no longer possible. Eventually, this brought to an end the era of DTH in my house forever & I moved to streaming services permanently; also cementing my resolve to never buy anything Android (Fagdroid) powered ever again.

My Worst Purchases-Microsoft Lumia 950XL

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, which was my 29th phone.

Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival
Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival

I was super-excited to buy this phone since the day it was announced by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the actual launch, I used to send my family members to the Microsoft Store at Ambience mall every Sunday (one-by-one) to ask about the phone’s launch date. I even had a Google search alert setup which sent me emails as soon as any news article were published about this phone. Although this phone was great on paper (Great hardware, huge display, excellent camera), this phone was my 7th Windows Phone overall and by the time this phone launched, Windows 10 Mobile was all but dead.

I remember the day this phone launched; I had just started a new job that week. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went to Ambience mall to buy it (For ₹55,000; of course, I had pre-booked the phone months ago). The store employees told I was the first person in North India to get my hands on this phone. At that time I thought I was special. In hindsight, it is clear now, I was one of the few fools in North India to buy a Windows Mobile (at the tail end of 2015).

Within months, Microsoft announced the death of Windows 10 for mobiles. Within weeks after that, app developers abandoned the platform. There was still a small community online of loyal fans but we were more and more reliant on 3rd party apps for basic services. Uber, specifically, was a huge pain point. There was no easy way to search for destinations, you had to zoom out on the map, zoom in to where you thought you wanted to go and mark the location manually.

I also remember claiming some of the phone’s cost from my company (There was a company BYOD policy) and my manager laughing at me that I spent such a huge amount for such a phone.

Slowly and painfully, over the next year, the number of useable 1st party apps dwindled to almost zero and I eventually made the jump to Apple’s (Walled) Garden putting an end to my Lumia misery. If I could do things over, I should have bought an iPhone for the same amount and prevented myself from a year of misery.

My Best Purchases-Bellroy Hide & Seek

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bellroy Hide & Seek billfold, which is definitely one of the best purchases I ever made.

For years, I carried a generic wallet, till I saw an advertisement for the Bellroy Hide & Seek on some website. Even though I never click on advertisements, I had been unhappy with my wallet (especially the thickness) for sometime, so I was intrigued. I chose the charcoal grey colour on their website and bought the “Hi” model.

Even though this is one of the most expensive wallets I ever bought (more so because of the import duty I paid), it is well worth the price. The design is clever, the materials are top notch and the craftsmanship is beyond compare. Although I don’t have photos to compare anymore, the new Bellroy with the same amount of cards and cash inside was less than one third the thickness of my old wallet; compared side-by-side.

The photos above show the state of the wallet after more than 3 years of heavy use. The leather has aged well, the fabric is intact & not a single stitch is out of place or frayed.

Bellroy Hide & Seek
So thin!

The photo above shows the thickness (<1.5cm) of the wallet with the following items in it-

  • 6x Average plastic credit sized cards (in different compartments)
  • 3x Laminated paper documents
  • 7x Paper currency bills

On top of all this, there’s also RFID protection to prevent unauthorised or accidental use of NFC enabled cards. The only thing missing in this wallet is a pouch to store coins, but I have modified my habits to not keep coins anymore.

Overall, I am very pleased with this purchase. When this wallet does become unusable (not for a decade at least, I am sure), my next wallet will definitely be a Bellroy, too.

My Worst Purchases-Bose QC 35 II

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bose QC 35 II headphones, which I regretted buying.

Bose QC 35 II
The Bose QC 35 II, stellar headphones

Don’t get me wrong, the Bose QC 35 II are great headphones, with stellar sound quality and impressive noise cancellation. I just realised after buying them that I am not a “wearing huge headphones in public” kind of guy.

A bit of history, my earphones of choice used to be the Bose Soundsport Wireless, which I happily used for a few years, but lost during my last trip to Xiamen, China. I was quite devastated and for some time, considered buying the same earphones again, but couldn’t find them anywhere in Xiamen. I almost bought Apple Airpods from the Xiamen Apple store, but somehow controlled myself because of the poor audio quality.

After returning to India, I saw the Bose QC 35 II on sale at half price and I had wanted to dip my toes into Noise cancellation, so bought it.

The sound quality & the noise cancellation blew me away (Sony MX3 performs even better they say, but I was a Bose purist then). However, after the first few days of use, the novelty began to wear off. I would feel awkward walking in public with them around my ears, sitting at my desk in office. Having phone calls on them looked even more awkward so I started regretting my decision very soon.

On top of that, Apple soon launched the Airpods Pro, which had everything I wanted in the original Airpods and I was done with the QC 35 IIs.

I eventually sold them to a couple of illiterate Gym Bros via OLX at almost the same price I bought them for, so the regret didn’t last for long.

Mobile OS feature Comparison

I wrote a post earlier comparing various mobile O.S.es on things like features, stability, battery backup etc. Here I’ll do a comparison of some features I find unthinkable to live without. This is not an exhaustive feature comparison, just some features which I regularly use. I have used Stock OSes to compare. CLick on the image for a bigger version






  • Multi-tasking:- Symbian/Android & Blackberry OSes support full multitasking, where any program minimized will keep running in the memory in the background and will be able to perform all functions it normally can, in the foreground. This means that a minimized browser will continue to load a web-page in the background, a messenger application will continue to stay connected to its server and keep you online.  iOS and Windows Phone 7 on the other hand have a slightly different concept of multitasking. Any minimized application is frozen in memory and can perform only basic functions in the background. This means that a browser will not continue to load web-pages in the background, but will resume where it left off. However, messenger applications will be allowed limited connectivity so that they stay connected with the server and can show notifications whenever there’re any updates. They below semantic explains how this works on Windows Phone 7.
The latter method is inherently more restrictive, but more efficient in battery, RAM and CPU usage, especially for users who forget to close apps after using them.
  • Notification LED:-  Symbian, Blackberry (and some) Android phones support a physical LED on the phone front, which would blink whenever there’s a notification (Missed call alert, unread message, email etc.) that needs attention. Blackberry goes a step further and employs 7 different colors in its notifications LED depending on the kind of alert. Now this feature was present on feature phones since the last 10-15 years but has conveniently been left out by Apple & Microsoft in iOS and Windows Phone respectively. This feature is even more important on modern smartphones where the display is  switched off when the phone is in standby. There’s no way to know if you have any notification without bringing your phone out of standby and looking at the display.
  • Profiles:– I have a been a Nokia user ever since I started using a mobile phone and this is one of those features I am completely used to and cannot live without. Basically, profiles allow you to configure different behavior exhibited by the phone when there’s a notification. I have at-least 4 different profiles I use everyday (General, Pocket, Car and Sleep). e.g. in General, there’s high volume ringing and no vibration, in car, there’s low volume ringing and no vibration, in pocket, there’s no ringing, only vibrations, in sleep, there’s no vibrations but ascending ringing tone. This is just one aspect that can be customized; I am used to customize everything e.g. message tone, e-mail tone etc. iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Android all allow just a toggle between “General” & “Silent”. For me, this is not enough.
  • Free turn-by-turn Navigation with offline maps:-As the names saw, this is the ability of the Mapping/positioning software to provide turn-by-turn voice based navigation. Nokia has an excellent Maps application which can do this with ease, Android’s Google Maps version supports this only in a few countries, iOS doesn’t support it a all natively, nor does Blackberry or Windows Phone 7. However, it is confirmed that Windows Phone 7 will get Nokia Maps for Nokia Windows Phones. Offline support means that the maps for a certain country/region can be stored on the device rather than the device downloading it from the server every time the maps application is invoked.
  • Access to device Filesystem:- This mean that you can simple connect your phone to the computer using a USB cable and without any software installed browse the device memory card/native filesystem, copy files to and from the device. Nokia, Android, Blackberry all have it, but iOS and Windows Phone 7 don’t. This means that you have to reply on a software like iTunes and Zune respectively to copy files to and from the device and also that there are only a few supported file types you can copy to the device. Far cry from how I often use my Nokia as a USB drive to transfer files
  • Custom ring-tones:- Frankly, this is not a must-have feature, but something I have got used to. Symbian, Android, Blackberry all alow you to set any mp3 file as a ring-tone. iPhone doesn’t allow this without a jailbreak, Windows Phone 7 allows this, but you have to trim the mp3 file and rename it etc.
Everyone may not want all these features, but are something I would look for whenever I would like to switch to a different O.S.

I want a new phone, but I don’t know which

It’s more than 6 months since I got my Nokia E7-00 and I am already bored with it. Earlier, I always knew which phone I wanted to buy if I had the money, but currently, there’s no phone in the market I would rather have.
This is why I want a new phone:-

  1. Software update roll-outs are too slow. Belle for newer Symbian phones is already out but update for existing phones like the E7-00 would still take at least a month more and maybe even 2 months.
  2. The beta applications by Nokia (Maps etc) which make the experience bearable are still un-refined
  3. Widgets are fixed at rectangular shapes and suck big time. There’s no good weather widget available at all
This is why I don’t know which to buy:-
  1. Apple iOS is still restrictive/too proprietary to hold my attention for long
  2. Android is too un-refined and power consuming
  3. There are currently no good Windows Phone 7.5 with a physical keypad available (Dell Venue Pro does not have good reviews and HTC HD7 is HTC)
My best bet should be to wait for a Nokia Windows Phone device with Nokia Maps and other Nokia add-ons.

Bose® In-Ear Headphones

I recently had the opportunity to use bose in-ear headphones and I was so moved by the experience that I had to write a post.
Firstly, I wanted to know what the hype is about bose products and why they cost so more. Maybe it was this because of which my expectations were high. These bose headphones are good, but not as good as I expected. If you’re looking for noise cancelling phones, these are not for you. They fight very lightly in the ears but are very very comfortable. I normally use the generic headphones that came with my phone, so I like to keep my equaliser to high bass. The bass on the bose is so strong I immediately had to turn my equaliser back to normal. I started off with sad but true by metallica and the depth of the sound blew me away. The song sounded amazing. Next I moved on to marooned from pink floyd’s division bell. Again, amazing, with the bass just a bit high, overwhelming the mid range. Coming back to life sounded amazing, the bass on high hopes
was physically irritating to my skull and I had to lower the volume. Bose also says on the package that the headphones produce “natural sound” which is not entirely true, as the music sounds enhanced in the low range.
To change the genre I turned to Dire Straits. I started off with So far away, continued to Money for nothing and finished off with brothers in arms. Again, normal songs sound good, the songs with already prominent bass tracks just overwhelm the mid-range. By this time i’ve listened to an hour worth of songs but the headphones are barely noticeable and so comfortable that if it wasn’t for the sound or the wires
hanging off, I would not even know they were there. I am normally not a fan of in-ear earphones, but these are really-really good.
Pros:

  1. Excellent sound quality
  2. Excellent comfort
  3. Good Bass
Cons:
  1. Bass sometimes too strong, overpowers mid-range
  2. Better earphones available within same range
If you listen to a song for the music, the clarity of the instruments, there may be better options available. If you want just loud music with thumping bass, this the the thing for you.

I myself have added the Klipsch Image S4 on my wishlist and will be getting these bad boys as soon as I get my pay at the end of the month.

Saved!!!

Just when I thought that I was doomed, my luck changed abruptly for the better. We went and pleaded with the service centre guy and convinced him to overlook the evidence of water/vodka in the motherboard and replace it under warranty. Anyways, he seemed like a nice guy because he agreed and will replace the motherboard for free.. As for me, I am so happy that I am gonna celebrate tonight… See ya..
Song of the day:-Run to you(Bryan Adams)

One month review of O2 XPhone II

It’s more than a month I have been using my new phone. So I thought it’s time I wrote a fair review about it. Following are the pros and cons of this smartphone.

Pros.:-

  1. Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition
  2. 64 Mb integrated storage
  3. 32 Mb Ram
  4. Mini-SD card support upto 4 gb
  5. Fast processor
  6. Large and very clear display with exceptional clarity
  7. Speakerphone
  8. Sleek and suave
  9. Keypad Light Sensor
  10. Long battery life
  11. Above average camera quality
  12. Runs .exe files and installs software directly out of .cab files
  13. Bluetooth/Infrared Connectivity
  14. Great Multimedia Album with zoom in videos
  15. Great mp3 quality in Windows Media Player 9 and other applications.
  16. Mirror on back for self-portrait
  17. Great t9 dictionary with intuitive suggestions while typing.
  18. Good volume
  19. Wma/wav ringtones

Cons.:-

  1. File explorer software has to be downloaded from official website.
  2. Maybe hard to use for newbies.
  3. Lack of mp3 ringtones(Can be rectified by 3rd party software)
  4. Sub megapixel camera
  5. Office apps not bundled
  6. Windows Media Player 10 not present
  7. Memory Card not hot swappable