Thursday, June 28, 2007

Everything changes....

This will be more of a personal post rather than a mobile phone related one. Someone commented to me not long ago my blog's becoming less personal and more mobile review-ish lately. I suppose its true. Gone are the days when I would post about how I feel about mobiles ringing in the cinemas or restaurants irritating the heck out of me. (They still do by the way!). I will argue though, that in all my past reviews, I have been trying to add a more personal hands-on touch to the mobiles, rather than just reading about them on any other site which can be easily found anyway.

Its a balance, and a challenge I suppose, with blogging. I'm constantly thinking of ways to make my reviews more interesting. BUT, in any case, I WILL try to bring back my blog to a more personal level beginning with this post.

In my silence of late, I've been busy exploring avenues for changing my alter-ego logo to a more personalised and "original" logo. Not that there have been any legal issues about sporting my identical likeness of Dexter's Laboratory on my blog don't worry. (Incidentally, when I first started this blog, it was pure luck I found one of him holding a mobile! Awesome right?).
Of course, having totally no skill (or interest) whatsoever in drawing my own designs, I then decided to enlist the services of a very creative cousin of mine, with an inborn talent for design artwork, to sort me out. So last week, I met up with him, told him what I had in mind ("Simple" was the keyword), asked him to check out my blog.... and then let him loose with his creative juices free to flow wherever he desired! After a week, he came out with 3 very simple designs for "d3xlabs". Here they are: -
My final choice has not been made as of yet, as we're still in discussion stages, but from the consensus of friends, it seems that the unanimous decision would be the last one, as it "really represents you", the common answer being given. And so, here we are, I'm now testing out my new "look" on my blog. It's a change for sure. Let me know if you have any comments ok?

Also, there is another change on my blog, for those who have noticed (certain critics have). My goals for 2007 have somewhat been altered! Yes yes, I admit, I've crumbled. The treo is no more, but only temporarily I must stress. (Obviously no one ever believes me) You see, I'm on a quest to obtain the highly elusive WHITE Treo 680. (If you follow Palm, you would know that their "coloured treos" are now only tied to their domestic carriers, with the "unlocked" editions (for the rest of the world) only being available in Graphite colour. Kinda sucks really. But, what choice do we have in Asia anyway right?) So I decided to let go of my Graphite version (to someone who would take care of it as I did) and use an alternative while my hunt for the Great White continues....

So what am I using now you might ask? None other than the recently (and not yet reviewed here).. Nokia e61i. I have to say, its been a joy using this upgraded-from-e61 version.
So, for my next review, I will add a slightly more personal touch for the e61i, rather than my usual in depth comparison as I've done on the other phones. (Mainly, the reason being, I spend much more time with this now than I would with a review unit). So, while I'm anxiously waiting to read about the arrival of the Apple iPhone and its reviews (in US on 29June), and also to get my hands on the long awaited launch of the Nokia E90 (in Brunei next week), I will keep myself busy working on this next review. Will keep you posted.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sony Ericsson K850 announced! 5 megapixel!

There are very few releases these days that really jump out and grab you with so much anticipation (and not to forget impatience too!) for its eventual launch.

The newly annouced Sony Ericsson K850 is such a phone. 5 mega pixel?! Nokia N95, there's someone hot on your tail for sure now!

  • Available in "Velvet Blue" or "Luminous Green".
  • Targeted got Q4 release this year.
  • Quad band GSM/EDGE/HSDPA support, 40MB internal memory.
  • New version 3 of Walkman player - with stylish light effects while playing music.
  • (A breath taking) 5 megapixel autofocus camera with xenon flash, automatic camera cover, 3 LED video light, an improved camera interface and a media picture rotate feature.
  • Identical to the K810 in dimensions but 3g heavier.
  • Sports Sony Ericsson's newly designed square buttons.
  • Navigation pad is "built-in" to the numeric keypad - a new innovative design.
  • M2 512MB memory card included - and a new feature with this model - dual compatibility with a microSD card!
From the look of these specs, it DEFINITELY promises to be a real stunner! Their trusty K750/K800/K810 series by far have already proven to be one of the top camera phones out there today, and now they've stepped it up even more. C'mon Sony Ericsson, why do you tease us so!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On Shores soon! The Ultimate Nokia E90

Fantastic news for all your Communicator Fanatics out there!

A little bird told me the launch of this long-awaited and super-powerful Nokia E90 will be out soon in Brunei!

More details soon! Will keep you posted, especially on pricing and availability.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My LG Shine Review

I'm back. My sincere apologies for the seemingly long silence. Its been such a fast and hectic past week for me. I'm in the process of house moving you see, so its packing, packing and more packing. AND, as if that's not happening enough for me, my department in the office is also in the moving; to another floor that is. There is just no escape is there from packing is there?

But, no matter, at least now I can take a breather and have some quiet time to complete my next review. I've been spending a couple of weeks with this next mobile. I have to say that my impressions have been very good. All the hype about this particular model, just like its older sister, the LG PRADA. Yup, that's right, I've got the LG Shine KU970.

Many years ago, people would usually associate LG with refrigerators, or air-conditioners, and later on, television sets.... but never in a million years would anyone have predicted that an LG mobile phone would enter the fray.

When I first heard of a LG phone, it was a good few years back. I really never gave them a second look. Nokia and Ericsson were the rulers of the mobile world back then. I remember thinking, "these LG phones look so boring and so samsung-esque". As the years went by, LG still stuck on in the market, churning out even more hideous flip phones than we would like to see.

Until recently that is....

Then came a phenomenon of a phone, the LG Chocolate. Featuring touchscreen technology, it overtook the world by storm. Suddenly, everyone was buying one; men, ladies and even teenagers. And who wouldn't be surprised? Here was a mobile, sexily dubbed the Chocolate. (Of course, I had my reservations about the actual use and feel of the Chocolate when I tried it out myself. It just wasn't for me I guess). And, as if that wasn't enough, they then released the Chocolate Platinum and Gold editions. Again, truly fashion statements with their (now) even more sexier looks.

LG has never stopped in their quest to better themselves against the likes of the Finnish and Swedish giants. Recently, it was the LG Prada, and now they have yet released another stunner edition; the LG Shine. Clearly seen on the box, it proudly proclaims its "Born to Shine". So does it? I believe it has. Read on..


1 x LG Shine KU970 unit
1 x battery
1 x travel charger
1 x stereo headset
1 x USB cable
1 x LG screen protector
1 x LG mini lanyard (for shining your... Shine?)
1 x User guide & other reading material
1 x cd for LG suite

(Note: This KU970 is the 3G version. It has an identical twin, the KE970 with the same dimensions and look, but with 2 variances; the KU970's heavier by 120 grams and the menu software is slightly different. I did not have a KE970 to compare with during this review but if I do manage to get my hands on one, I will update this post)

First impressions
When I first heard about the Shine, my initial thoughts was that its meant for the ladies. With a mirror finish, could you blame me? But now, after having a unit to review, I have seen the light. The Shine could easily cater to both sexes. Also, being new to LG (The Shine's software is definitely different from the LG Prada I reviewed previously), I had to familiarise myself with the Shine. It didn't take me long though, I have to say. It was quite effortless. So if you're moving from a Nokia or a Sony Ericsson, you may like to know, you won't have any problems adjusting. Overall, I liked it.

Physical aspects / Build quality

  • The LG Shine KU970 comes in only one colour; Silver. It has a slider form factor and immediate impressions of it is that it is slim. The screen itself, all 2.2 inches of it, has a mirror finish when the phone is not active. There are touches of chrome mostly around the edges, but the areas below the screen and the whole back have a silver brushed metal look. It looks VERY solid and classy. You also have to expect that a mobile with this build quality will no doubt attract fingerprints (which is probably why LG included a mini lanyard with a cleaning purpose). Its not a big issue.
  • Under the screen, you will notice that there are 3 buttons, when in fact, there are 5. You'd be forgiven for not spotting this because its not very obvious. I only discovered it by mistake after messing about with the mobile. Also, the main issue of controversy on the Shine is the introduction of the Roller wheel in replacement of a 5-way navi keypad which most brands utilise, and even LG's Chocolate range. On one hand, its a breeze to use, on the other, its not as sensitive as some would like. This is one of my issues (albeit a minor one)

  • On the front side as well, you will notice a front facing camera. Being a 3G-enabled unit, this is expected really.
  • On the right side, you will see a dedicated camera button, a dedicated menu button (useful for when the slider is closed), the increase / decrease volume buttons and a tiny plastic flap which houses the mini usb / battery charging slot. Very neatly organised in my opinion.
  • On the back, you will see a very clean setup, with the LG logo discreetly placed on the left, and the 2 mega pixel camera on the right. The camera is also clearly branded with Schneider KREUZNACH, same as the one on the LG Prada.
  • You won't see anything else on the top, bottom or left sides of the Shine.
  • Sliding up the Shine (there's a customizeable sound you'll hear and it also has a nice clunk sound. The sliding mechanism is good), you will immediately notice the keypad being very identical to the V3 look and feel. (Incidentally, the Nokia N76 I previously reviewed also sports this look. Perhaps brand manufacturers now are realising that slim phones must have this type of keypad?) The feedback is good when pressed and being LG, any press of ANY button you make on the Shine will emit a cute sound, just so you know you've pressed something. (you can switch this feature off).
  • Holding the Shine in hand, I mentioned earlier, the weight is evenly distributed. It feels solid. Someone told me it reminds him of the Nokia 8800 series. Solid build and nice to hold in hand. (Yeah, I would know, I used to own one too)
Display / User Interface
  • The Shine sports a TFT screen with 240 x 320 pixel resolution on its 2.2 inch screen. Overall, it looks sharp and colour contrast is good. The display is customizeable with choices to show variations of the clock and calendar on the standby screen. I have also taken some photo samples of the interface as examples.

Calls / Messaging
  • Call quality, I won't bring up any issues here as it is clear and loud, as all mobiles should be really.
  • Messaging wise, you get support for SMS, MMS and Email. Pretty standard so far. Ok, I have to touch on the feel of the messaging though. What really took me aback was how similar it felt to Nokia's T9! If you're a Nokia nut, try texting on the Shine. You'll know what I mean. Its so easy to text. Another plus for the Shine. (Note: The Chocolate series also have the same texting ease. I guess LG has copied Nokia on this?). Well, I sure ain't complaining.
Multimedia / Camera performance
  • Music wise, this 3G version Shine does not support external memory slots, hence you wouldn't be able to store that many songs in the built-in 512MB memory. But compared to the KE970 version, this one sports a very basic music player. You won't even be able to choose numerous playlists from your song selections, just one. And, the quality of music isn't up to Sony Ericsson or Nokia standard. The included stereo headset is quite basic and there aren't any equaliser features either. So, keep in mind if you do expect to be plugged into the Shine, it just does what it needs to. Nothing more.
  • Camera wise, overall I have to say I was impressed. Mainly because this 2 mega pixel Shine has autofocus! I truly believe this should be the bare minimum for any camera phone now. The lack of it just results in poor quality photos. So the Shine truly... shines (?) here. It may not be Sony Ericsson Cybershot beating, but LG stands its own here. You can choose a variety of photo sizes, effects, timers, sounds and even choose the front facing camera for shots. I've included a few samples. (Note: The Man Utd mouse pad isn't mine, just so you know)

What I liked about the Shine
  • It feels solid and very nice in hand. The brushed metal material does wonders for it.
  • Texting was a breeze (a big plus for us here in Brunei)
  • The camera has autofocus!
  • Has the basic features an average user would need, Organiser, bluetooth, couple of games.
  • Battery life was good. Lasted me a few days with my usual messing about.
What I didn't like about the Shine
  • This 3G version has no external memory slots.
  • There aren't any Flight modes which you find common in other brands. Meaning, this Shine version won't be your next mp3 player should you plan to do any travelling.
  • The roller wheel on the front could be improved. At certain times, you may need to "roll" it a bit faster to move to the next item in the menu. But, you may just need some adjusting to that's all.
  • No office documents support? (The KE970 has this feature though)
d3xlabs recommendations
A few years back, if you told me to go buy an LG mobile, I would have laughed at you and would probably strongly discourage you to make such a foolish choice. Nowadays, I would say otherwise. LG is becoming a force to reckon with and I personally know people who have started to consider it in their buying options. The Shine has really taken me by surprise and after spending time with it (no, I did not use the mirror feature if you must know), I have to say that I liked it. Alot. I'll even go as far as saying that you should consider it if your choices are between Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Motorola. But, if you're not into the 3G scene, then try the KE970 version. From what I've read, it promises to be slightly better. Overall, I agree, this series is definitely Born to Shine.

My LG Shine KU970 rating - 4.2 stars
Selling price - BND638-00
At all Incomm outlets, Brunei's authorised agents for LG.
(Use your DST privilege card for better discounts)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Nokia Latest Releases - 8600 Luna & 6500

The finnish giants have just released another 3 one-of-a-kind models, the Nokia 8600 Luna, Nokia 6500 Slide and Nokia 6500 Classic.

Nokia 8600 Luna
Key features
  • S40 OS system
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • A micro-USB port (Nokia's first ever)
  • Translucent smoke glass slider over keypad
  • Constructed from stainless steel and glass (in other words, if you drop it, get ready for tears)
  • Dimensions (**UPDATED**) - 107 x 45 x 15.9mm, Weight - 143g

Nokia 6500 Slide
Key features
  • 3G enabled
  • S40 OS system
  • Slide form factor
  • 3.2 megapixel camera (with Carl Zeiss lens), autofocus
  • MicroSD support up to 4Gb
  • Stereo FM radio
  • Dimensions (**UPDATED**) - 96.5 x 46.5 x 16.4mm, Weight - 125g

Nokia 6500 Classic
Key features
  • 3G enabled
  • S40 OS system
  • Candy bar form factor (with seamless casing crafted from anodized aluminium)(It looks GOOD, and SLIM)
  • Built in 1 Gb memory
  • 2 megapixel camera with dual LED flash
  • Dimensions (**UPDATED**) -109.8 x 45 x 9.5mm, Weight - 94g
I don't know about you, but they sure look good, especially the Luna and Classic. All 3 are rumoured to be released by 3Q so hold on to your mobile buying first!