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To buy or not to buy

In the first of a new series, we review some of the latest products and services to help you sort the best buys from the worst.

Sushmita Choudhury | Print Edition: September 2009

In the first of a new series, we review some of the latest products and services to help you sort the best buys from the worst.

Category: MP3 player

Brand: Sony NWZ-W202

Price: Rs 4,990

Features

  • 2 GB of built-in flash memory to store music, or about 500 tracks recorded at a bit rate of 128 kbps.
  • It has 13.5-mm EX headphones and comes with a 1-m USB cable.
  • The 35-gm player has a battery life (continuous playback music) of 12 hours.

Why Buy

For one, it’s the world’s smallest portable MP3 player. Better still, it’s the first wireless one. So don’t go by the heart-shaped exterior that comes across as a cheesy bauble for teenagers, or the fact that it looks like a Bluetooth headset connected by a cable. Its functionality is the key— and reason enough for you to pick it up.

USP

It’s called Zappin. A new technology, it has enabled Sony to circumvent the lack of browsing display because of its headphone-only design. Activated by pressing the jog dial, it plays a snippet (4-15 seconds as per preference) of every stored song. When you come across your choice, press the dial again to restart it.

Quick charge

Another likeable feature is the handy ‘quick charge’, which gives you up to 90 minutes of playback with a three-minute charge. In the normal course, it takes 1.5 hours for a full charge. The battery and the electronics are housed in the two rectangular modules.

Easy controls

There aren’t too many controls, yet another plus. There’s the jog dial, shuffle button and volume control— but no power button. Take off the headset and the magnetic clips on each module hook together to shut it down. Separate them and it springs back to life.

Sony created history in 1979 by launching the Walkman. Three decades on, it looks set to make music history again—in a whole new format.

Category: Headphones | Brand: Sennheiser HD 800

Features: It measures 56 mm, weighs 330 gm, and the frequency response is an unprecedented 6-51,000 Hertz. Its sensitivity rating is 102dB/1V RMS. Price: Rs 79,990

Why Buy: While its fresh design hikes the comfort factor, its sound quality—you can hear a pin drop—takes your music or gaming experience to the next level. In fact, the HD 800 takes you closer to the natural acoustics of live music than any other headphone. Of course, this means that you have to give up the wireless dream.

Category: Airline (business class)

Brand: GoAir’s GoComfort

Price: Rs 1,000 more than the nonrefundable economy fare on the sector

Features

  • Three-four rows with increased legroom.
  • No rebooking charges and a nominal fee if the booking is cancelled within 24 hours of the flight’s scheduled departure.
  • Complimentary food and beverages.
  • Checked-in baggage allowance up to 35 kg.
  • Priority check-in at Mumbai and Delhi airports.
  • The middle seat is always free to ensure a comfortable journey.

Why Not to Buy

GoComfort, often referred to as GoBusiness on the airline site, promises to let you travel business class at economy class fares. This sounds like the business traveller’s Holy Grail, right? Wrong, and on several counts.

  • Unnecessary frills: To begin with, the increased checked-in baggage allowance does precious little for a corporate traveller. An impromptu survey of 50 professionals who live out of their suitcases revealed that 96% zealously followed the laptop+one strolley rule to save time, agony and, often, money. The latest edition of SITA’s annual Baggage Report shows that worldwide airlines damaged/delayed 32.8 million bags in 2008. So GoAir’s business class would have done better to enhance the cabin baggage limit, which, at 10 kg, is hardly India’s best. Both SpiceJet and Kingfisher Red offer the same limit, while other low-cost carriers rarely penalise you for crossing their 7-8 kg ceiling.
  • Low on delivery: What business travellers really need are facilities like SMS/Web check-in, a choice of picking up the boarding pass for return flights on the same day or the next day at the first point of check-in, a good frequent flier programme (FFP) to accrue free miles, and an unparalleled flight connectivity. GoAir offers none of the above. While all the other low-cost carriers offer Web check-in, the two biggest players in the budget category, Jetlite and Kingfisher Red, are linked to the country’s best FFPs.
  • Poor punctuality record: Despite operating less than 50 flights in a day across India, compared with IndiGo’s 131 flights and SpiceJet’s 125 flights, the airline ranks among the top four when it comes to flight delays as a percentage of departures. In terms of punctuality or the least cancelled flights, IndiGo is the clear winner. This makes GoComfort just a talking point. As things stand, the guaranteed empty middle seat is the only smart offering.

Category: Mobile phone | Brand: Nokia N97

Features: It boasts Nokia’s 5800 touch interface, a slide-out Qwerty keypad, 3.5-inch touchscreen and a 32 GB on-board memory.

Price: Rs 36,000

Why Not to Buy: Every feature comes with strings attached. The keypad is difficult to use, the 5-MP shooter delivers poor results, so much so that the image quality of the much older N95 is better. Then there is the slow interface and a battery that doesn’t even last a day. Bad call.

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