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Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

 

Samsung Galaxy Ace
MRP: Rs 15,945
Street Price: Rs 15,200

Samsung, a noodle-producing company in the year 1938, became a successful wool producer post the Korean War. Later, it left a mark in businesses such as insurance, securities, and retail, before entering the black-and-white TV market. Today, this TV giant also produces memory chips, hard drives, and laptops, along with numerous other consumer electronics products. It is also the world s second largest mobile producer after Nokia. Seriously, its tagline should have been Jack of all trades .
Getting to the point, here is the review of the Samsung Galaxy Ace. Why so late, you ask. Well, the phone didn’t create an impact at the time of its release, but seeing the large number of review requests, we finally decided get it done.
Design And Specs
The retail package contains a phone, charger, headset, and a micro-USB data cable. The headset looks and feels cheap, and it s not what you d expect at this price tag. The phone has a “typical” Samsung design scheme. If you ve been keeping track of Samsung s touch catalogue, you must have noticed that its phones all look identical, with a few minor changes here and there. Makes you wonder if Samsung’s design team is plain dumb or just underpaid (like us). Have a look at the image to get an idea what I m talking about. Out of these phones, you can also try to guess the Galaxy Ace, to win… well, nothing.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

The Ace measures 112.4 mm (h) x 59.9 mm (w) x 11.5 mm (d). The body is too plastic, including the silver-coloured rim. It features a 3.5″ screen, which is slightly bigger when compared to its fellow mid-range Androids. Below the screen are three keys, namely Menu, Home, and Back. The first and last are actually capacitive keys that are only visible when backlit. However, the light turns off in around 5 seconds, which can be frustrating for new users. I guess Samsung wants to hide these keys most of the time to make its device look like an iPhone.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Here are some shots of the phone from several angles.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

The back has a nice textured pattern that provides a superior grip over this 113 gramme device.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Samsung phones always look good on paper, and this one is no exception. The Ace is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7227, which is also to be found in the LG Optimus One. However, Samsung has clocked it at 800 MHz, giving it more power. This ARM 11 CPU has an Adreno 200 GPU for company. For connectivity, it features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.1, and GPS. You can’t expect an HDMI-out in Android phones at this price range, but at least TV-out would have been a good addition.
Display
The 3.5″ TFT LCD screen can display up to 320×480 pixels. The display size gives it an edge over the LG Optimus One and HTC Wildfire S. However, the screen looks odd because of an unusual height-to-width ratio. The screen is reasonably bright, but colours look lifeless. It offers decent viewing angles, but its reflective glass spoils the experience. Needless to say, the screen quality degrades further in broad daylight.

Interface And Applications
The Ace runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) with Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 on top of it. The interface consists of seven home screens, but you can cut down the number. You can swipe through the screens, or you can pinch to zoom out, then select the desired home screen. Like any Android, the phone offers a good amount of customisation. The device handles Live Wallpapers nicely. However, noticeable jerks while swiping the home screen are present.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Multitasking has always been a strong point for Androids, and this device is no exception. A long press of the Home button lets you switch between recent apps.

Apart from showing obvious notifications, it also sports toggle icons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound, and the screen auto rotate lock. The phone also comes with a nice Task Manager, which shows the CPU usage of live applications as well as the memory status of the device.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Android Market makes sure that you don’t get bored of this device. The Market is full of incredible apps, and many of them are free. We asked Angry Birds to test the device, and it gave a green signal, with no lags during gameplay.

The device’s GPS took 10 – 20 minutes to lock satellites in different areas. The delay could be very well because of cloudy skies. As usual, the GPS works well with Google Maps. It also offers directions to your desired location. However, it still cannot beat Nokia Ovi Maps, which can also be used offline.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

A desktop-like browsing experience has been a strong selling point for Androids. Froyo has Flash support, but sadly isn’t present in the Ace’s browser – probably disabled to keep browsing snappy. This crippling might turn out to be a deal breaker for some. On the positive side, I tried different hotspots, and the phone had no problems in picking up their signals.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Finally, the icons for Samsung’s apps such as Music, Messages, Calculator, Contacts, and Camera look extremely cheap and lack any colour scheme. This shows Samsung’s shoddiness in the UI design department.

Telephony And Messaging
The in-call sound quality of the phone is decent, and signal reception is good too. However, if the person on the other side happens to be in a noisy place, his voice starts cracking badly, probably due to the lack of a noise filter.
The phonebook is easy to use, yet fully functional. You can relate your contacts to their email ids, Facebook profiles, as well as Twitter accounts.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Apart from the Gmail app, the device also has an independent email client. It supports multiple email accounts, but features a common inbox. Additional features, such as colour coding emails from different accounts, would have been a nice addition.
Multimedia

The interface of the default music player is strictly ok; again, Samsung’s bad design is to blame. It’s better to switch to third-party apps such as TuneWiki and Winamp. The player is loud, but the quality is below average with the provided headset. Using your favourite earphones can improve the experience, but still it’s not good enough. Moreover, the moment you connect the earphone, it makes a cracking sound. I’m not sure whether it’s the same case with all Ace phones, but an inferior quality audio jack could be behind it.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

The video player is capable of MP4 playback, but DivX and XviD is a no go. Fortunately, third-party apps make up for the missing features. However, the device cannot play 720p videos. This makes DLNA support kind of pointless.
The Ace sports a 5 megapixel camera with a single LED flash. The camera interface is pretty decent, and features a virtual shutter key. The image quality is good, considering the small size of the lens. The camera manages to capture colours nicely. Thankfully, noise levels are kept low, without losing much detail. On the flip side, the device is only capable of QVGA video recording at 15 fps. This makes the camcorder function almost useless.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

Battery Life

The 1350 mAh battery may not sound sufficient for an Android device. However, the relatively low-power processor works in the favour of the Ace, and provides 7 hours of uptime despite heavy usage. Moderate use can keep using the device all day.
Conclusion
Available for Rs 15,200, Samsung Galaxy Ace is a good performer in the mid-range segment. However, it suffers due to its uninspiring design. Seriously, it’s high time that Samsung shows some creativity in design, rather than just relying on faster chips to sell its phones. Specs-wise, the Ace scores over both the LG Optimus One and HTC Wildfire S. Still, LG’s offering has the advantage of an Rs 10,000 price tag, which makes it an excellent value phone. On the other hand, the Wildfire S offers great build quality and the latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) for Rs 13,500. HTC’s Sense UI is also far superior. Moreover, the recent price drop of the Motorola Defy has made matters even worse for the Ace. The Defy offers a higher pixel count in its 3.7″ screen, a better UI, and all the other bells and whistles at a price of Rs 15,600, making it an irresistible deal. A price cut to under Rs 14,000 is the only way the Ace can get back in the game.
Features: 3/5
Design & Build Quality: 2/5
Performance: 4/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Mojo: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

 

Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

An Android with a lost identity.

Multitasking; 5 megapixel camera; 3.5″ screen, 800 MHz CPU

Uninspiring design; No Flash support; Lacklustre mediaperformance

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Micromax Launches Van Gogh X450

Micromax: Van Gogh X450

 

India’s largest domestic handset maker, Micromax today showcased its latest offering in the mobile phone segment. The newly launched device is called the Van Gogh X450. Looking at the uninspiring design, I wonder what possible connection it could have to the the legendary Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.

According to the company, the stylish phone integrates a Bluetooth hands-free headset in its design. Which means that you can place the hands-free in the docking port on the back of the phone. The device features a 2.6 TFT screen, 2 megapixel camera, 8 GB card support, and a 3.5 mm audio jack. You also get a swappable back panel to change the look of your device. Additionally, it comes pre-installed with the Opera Mini web browser and instant messaging support for Facebook, Yahoo!, and MSN through eBuddy. The battery is said to be 1000 mAh.

Micromax Launches Van Gogh X450

Priced at an affordable Rs 3499, the Van Gogh X450 is likely to heat up the low-end mobile segment.

 

Micromax-Van Gogh

 

Micromax has announced the world’s first mobile with a dockable bluetooth headset dubbed as Van Gogh aka Micromax X450, the device supports a yellow back panel – drawing on from dutch painter Van Gogh’s painting sunflowers.

According to the KnowYourMobile, the Micromax X450 comes in a bar style form and supports a dual GSM band. Sporting a screen size of 6.1 cms, Micromax X450 comes in the dimensions of 116.7x52x20.3mm.It also comes equipped with dual speakers and FM radio.

In addition Micromax Van Gogh also comes packed with video player and recorder. It’s sharing options, like GPRS and bluetooth enable you to share pictures with family and friends anytime and anywhere.

The handset equipped with a 2 Mega-Pixel Camera, supports video player and recorder, FM radio, Messaging and games. Its preloaded with opera mini web browser and e-buddy Mobile Messenger for fast mobile Internet and best social networking experience. VanGough also comes with a document reader, Micro-USB (5 Pin) and a phonebook memory of 250 per SIM and SMS memory of 150. Supported with 8GB expandable memory to store in all your favorite songs, family pictures and vacation videos.

The Van Gogh X450 comes equipped with a standard battery life of 1000 mAh and offers talk time of upto 4 hours and standby time upto 13 days.

Micromax Van Gogh joins Micromax X235 world’s first mobile with remote control for AC/TV and DVD and G4 Gamolution, world’s first mobile with motion sensor gaming console.

In short:

Features

The Micromax Van Gogh comes with a unique dockable bluetooth handset. Practically invisible, this self charging bluetooth headset seamlessly blends in with the make of the phone. With Micromax Van Gogh mobile users can now enjoy the bluetooth headset hassle free:

  • No more losing or misplacing the bluetooth headset
  • No extra charger/charging for the Bluetooth headset
  • Instant connectivity with 1st time pairing

How to pair your phone with Van Gogh

Pairing the phone with Van Gogh is quite easy. Once you get the device press down the call button on the device’s earpiece and until the LED blinks red and blue.

Now select menu and then Bluetooth followed by BT search and connect.

Once connected you will be able to see a Bluetooth icon appear on the top of the phone screen.

 

Review: WD My Book Essential 3 TB

WD My Book Essential 3 TB

 

 

 

WD My Book Essential 3 TB

MRP: Rs 10,999
Street Price: Rs 10,500 (approx.)

While portable hard drives have become larger in capacity, it cannot be denied that backup drives belong to a completely different breed. The only limiting factor with backup drives has been the bottlenecked data transfer speed of the USB 2.0 interface. Things have changed for the better with the introduction of USB 3.0 SuperSpeed interface, guaranteeing speeds rivalling those of SATA hard drives. WD has provided us with a review sample of the 3 TB version of their new My Book Essential backup drive. We have tested this with USB 3.0, as well as USB 2.0 interface.

The first thing that we noticed on opening the box is that drive comes securely packaged in a box with plastic damping material to protect it from mechanical shock damage while in transit. The accessories are neatly packed, thus reducing the chances of them getting lost.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB

 

WD My Book Essential 3 TB

Bundle
* WD My Book Essential 3 TB
* USB 3.0 Micro-B cable
* Power adapter with cable
* Quick Install Guide

As is usual, WD has provided all the necessary cables required to be used with this drive. No disk was provided with this product, because the software is on the drive. Unlike the My Book 3.0, this drive didn t come with a USB 3.0 card, because it is a value product. A USB 3.0 adapter card is useful for using the drive with older computers with PCI Express slot, which can be instantly upgraded to the newer and faster interface without having to buy a new expensive motherboard.

Design And Features

The My Book Essential is shaped like a small reference book – the reason for its moniker. It has a sturdy black polymer casing with a smooth glossy finish on the larger sides, while there is a shiny WD logo at the front bottom. The spine of the drive has ventilation grills on three sides to facilitate cooling of the WD30EZRS 3 TB 3.5-inch SATA hard drive inside.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB (Front)

 

WD My Book Essential 3 TB  (Front)

There are two rubber feet on the underside of the drive to prevent it from moving around while in use. A power LED present on the front, glows white and blinks during drive activity.

The USB 3.0 port is present at the back of the drive. The new interface is a combination of two interfaces, of which, one is the micro-USB. This can be used to plug in an older USB 2.0 cable if you happen to lose your USB 3.0 cable. Needless to say, the data transfer speeds using the USB 2.0 cable will be similar to what is expected of the older interface. The USB 3.0 cable is thicker than a normal USB cable and seems to be more durable. There is also a socket to connect the power adapter plug, a power button and a Kensington lock at the lower back.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB (Back)

 

WD My Book Essential 3 TB (Back)

Drive Properties  For WD My Book Essential 3 TB shows 3 TB Capacity

 

The drive boasts of 3 TB capacity, which is enough for most purposes.

If you connect the My Book to a USB 2.0 port, or if you connect it using a USB 2.0 cable, then you get a pop-up message that suggests you to connect it to a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port.

Popup message warns you that the drive can support faster speeds with SuperSpeed USB 3.0.

 

Popup message warns you that the drive can support faster speeds with SuperSpeed USB 3.0
Software

The drive comes with SmartWare backup and restore software, which is an improvement over the one provided with previous drives. Unlike previous My Book drives, this software is not actually present on the drive itself, but is integrated in the controller circuitry, thus making it impossible to accidentally delete it. When the drive is plugged in, it shows up as a virtual optical drive with the WD SmartWare and a 3 TB removable hard drive.

WD SmartWare Backup And Restore Software

WD SmartWare

WD SmartWare is very easy to use – all you need to do is simply plug in the drive, and SmartWare runs automatically. The Backup software automatically makes backup of your photos, videos, movies and other important files.

This software provides Visual Backup, which allows you to actually see the files present on your computer (on the left) and the files you have backed up to the My Book Essential (on the right) with proper categorization in a graphical format. Continuous incremental backup means the files are continuously backed up as soon as you make any change to the file in your computer. You can choose to save up to 25 versions of a file.

Security is taken care of by 256-bit hardware-based encryption by password protection, thus preventing unauthorized access to your data. Restoring a file is also easy as you can selectively retrieve a particular file or restore the complete backup set.

WD SmartWare available for Mac as well, though we could not test them.

Performance

We used the SiSoftware Sandra Professional synthetic benchmark to gauge the drive’s performance and also performed real world file transfer tests. We tested the hard drive by connecting it to USB 3.0 as well as USB 2.0 ports, to get an idea of the performance benefits of USB 3.0 port, and to find out how well it works with the older interface.

SiSoftware Sandra Professional: We created a fresh NTFS partition on the test hard drive and ran the File System benchmark module on the freshly-formatted partition.

SS File System benchmark with USB 3.0 For WD My Book Essential 3 TB

SS File System benchmark with USB 3.0

SS File System benchmark with USB 2.0 For WD My Book Essential 3 TB

SS File System benchmark with USB 2.0

The drive index was found to be 101.42 MB/s for USB 3.0, and 28.48 MB/s for USB 2.0, which are good scores.

The File Copy Test: We copied 4 GB of assorted and sequential data to and from the drive, and obtained the following results.

Real-world File Copy Test For WD My Book Essential 3 TB

The end results of all these tests indicate that the USB 3.0 interface does speed up things to a great advantage. The drive exhibits satisfactory performance with USB 2.0 as well. To give you some idea, you can transfer 4 GB in just under two and a half minutes.

Power Consumption

We have started taking into account the power consumption of USB hard drives too. The WD My Book Essential consumes 4 W in idle state, while the power consumption increases to 8 W in the ready state. 9 W is the maximum power that it consumes while data transfer is being done internally.

Verdict

The WD My Book Essential 3 TB proves that USB 3.0 is the best thing that has happened to external backup drives in a very long time. Along with the transfer speeds as good as an internal SATA hard drive or an eSATA hard drive, there is the convenience and hot-plug feature of USB. This means that you will no longer have to wait for too long to transfer huge files, such as HD movies, to the hard drive and back. The same applies for backing up entire computers.

Unlike the general impression that a backup drive is supposed to be boring, this one exudes elegance due to its casing with a premium finish and it is built ruggedly as well. It even works with a USB 2.0 cable, just in case you happen to lose the USB 3.0 cable that comes along with it.

If we were to mention some cons, then it would be that this drive does not have a backup button, which would have made life a lot simpler. The WD My Book Essential 3 TB is available at an MRP Rs. 10,990, with a two-year warranty, which makes it a lot more expensive than the 1 TB version available for Rs 4,999 or even the 2 TB for Rs 7,499.

Performance: 4.5
Design and Build Quality: 4
Features: 4
Value: 3.5
Mojo: 4
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Final Review: WD My Book Essential 3 TB

 

Fast backup with SuperSpeed USB 3.0.

Very fast speeds; Nice design; backward compatible

Expensive; No backup button; No USB 3.0 card included

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