Archive for July, 2011


The “Samsung Galaxy Ace” review


Before buying a phone, I spend a lot of time searching other reviews and user opinions. But you can never be sure of any device until you try it for a week at least on your own.  This phone retails at around 14000 rs, so I was a little doubtful when I saw the other reviews, considering that most medium – high end android phones were more expensive.

This phone is actually Samsungs answer to the mid-range category of android phones. This is more of a medium end version of the galaxy s-2, with a lot of features dropped, but retaining a lot of features too , so that  it helps maintain the android experience.  I did not root (hack) the phone yet, because an important official update is coming soon, so I don’t want the phone to be incompatible with the update, plus the phone is just a week old, so i’m not taking a lot of risks, not yet anyway.

the iphone pose

I will begin with the look and feel. This thing looks like the love child of the galaxy S and the iphone. It’s beautiful at one end, and practical on the other end. At this price point, you won’t find a better looking device.

I love the back cover, it’s not glossy, but has an almost carbon fiber texture, that just feels great to rub your fingers on and it provides excellent grip.  The phone comes with an extra white glossy back cover too.
At the front, besides the middle button, there are also 2 touch sensitive buttons for “options” and “return” that show only during usage, they work fine and I haven’t found any problems with them so far. The phone weighs pretty light too .

Calling and messaging, both are good and I haven’t encountered any problems.
There are 2 keyboards for messaging, the standard iphone-like keyboard, and Samsungs swype keyboard.
The swype keyboard is Amazing. You just swipe your fingers across the letters to form a word, and the phone predicts the word , Its almost like playing snake . In case you want to enter a unique word, you can just type the word, instead of swyping. I don’t think I can go back to normal phone keyboards ever again.


On the performance side, the phone runs on the android 2.2 froyo operating system and runs fine. The phone has an 800 MHz processor (underpowered these days), but runs most apps run fine without any problems. I’ve tried a lot of quite demanding games (asphalt 5, PES 2011, speed forge and plants vs. zombies), and all of them work at full speeds.
The menus and home screens are fluid , work relatively smooth and is pretty much iphone-like . The only slowdown I’ve encountered is with angry birds at certain later levels of the game , the game is not optimized fully for froyo, but should be running fine when the gingerbread (the next version of android, 2.3.4) update arrives for the galaxy ace. The ram is slightly lesser than needed, so a lot of heavy multitasking isn’t recommended.

The stock android music player is decent , and sounds great ,  But it lacks support for a lot of high definition  audio formats  and the equalizer that comes along with it doesn’t make a lot of difference .  But, the android market is filled with music playing apps that can solve these problems. I use Poweramp, a 3d party music player that plays everything just great.

The screen is a normal LCD (the higher end phones have amoled ) and the resolution is HVGA and not high definition (HD), so the screen clarity isn’t up to mark with the galaxy s or the galaxy s2 but should be on par with the iphone 3GS. I also noticed a slight lack of color. But the lack of a high def screen does help retain the battery life.
(I did try out the elder galaxy S  recently and its screens are much richer in color and supports high definition videos )
The video player doesn’t come with built in support for divx/xvid video formats. I found this to be quite disappointing. I tried getting other video players that support the formats, but to no avail. The standard iphone (mp4,m4v) and 3gp formats work fine and without any problems whatsoever.  I tested 2 movies (the adjustment bureau and Rio) on this, and both ran fine.

There are a lot of free android apps that are just a treat to use. I personally love the adilko eBook reader, which is just great for me, because real books take a lot of space while travelling  but now I have the entire game of thrones (“a song of fire and ice” series) eBook collection in my phone, and is a breeze to read.

On the gaming side, because of its comparatively smaller screen size, it is quite hard to find games that support the HVGA resolution. But I found a lot of games ported to hvga resolutions on android forums.
The galaxy ace has a 5 megapixel camera that is good enough for casual photography. It is accompanied by a not so powerful led flash, so night shots are slightly bearable. The video capturing is not that great. The camera shoots only at 15 fps, but I heard rumors that the gingerbread update enhances it to 30fps and at higher resolutions.

this quick access widget helps shut off battery draining features of the phones without having to search the settings

The battery life , this was the part that worried me the most cause the last Smartphone I owned was the nokia n95  which was an awesome phone but probably had the worst battery life of all time .
The galaxy ace in comparison to all my previous phones is just phenomenal. I’m easily getting a day and a half of moderate (eBook reading and hearing music) to heavy usage (browsing and movie watching) with one charge.
I tested the movie watching battery backup while travelling from manipal to kerala , I was able to see both movies , one after the other , after which   it still had battery charge left for me to read a couple of chapters from a eBook , and the rest of the way I just put it on sleep , and used it only to make calls and check Facebook , I charged it only when i got back to kottayam .
I am following the charging schedule strictly , I make sure the battery is almost empty before, I put the phone to charge fully.  Keep in mind that, during long travels I put the phone on airplane mode, because searching for networks by the phone takes a lot of useful charge.
The phone comes with a whole list of nifty features to enable maximum battery life. There is a widget to help easily disable heavy battery draining features such as GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There are even options to switch of data transfers (internet) while on roaming.

The galaxy ace’s direct competition is the apple iphone 3gs 8gb (apple has reduced its price to 19000 rs) and its elder brother  last years galaxy S (now old , but still quite powerful).
So , if you pay around 3000 rs more , you can get the iphone 3gs 8gb , but specs wise the iphone 3gs is far behind ( but then again the entire android vs. iphone , is like comparing a Mac to a PC )
There are 2 other options in the mid range segment ,  the HTC wildfire and LG optimus one , both of them look ugly, have lesser features and cost cheaper .

If your tight on budget, but want a phone that can pretty much hold its own, look no further. This seems like a perfect time to get the ace, cause in august the gingerbread update to ace is arriving, bringing with it a whole list of improvements and features.

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The finale of the movie series delivers with more punch and epicness than even its own source material. (I don’t want to spoil this for the first time watches, please go see the preceding movies, or read the books to better understand the plot)
The movie shows harry and friends out hunting the remaining horcuxes, and fighting the final fight against voldemort at the place we grew up loving so much, Hogwarts.

Being a person who read all the books, it was weird seeing everything tie up in ways I’ve never imagined it. I’ve always imagined Hogwarts to be a more brighter , more yellow  less grey place  (mainly because I only started reading the books , once I’ve saw  the first 2 movies made by Chris Columbus )  . I still remember the first time I saw the sorcerer’s stone (the first movie in the series), I had gone to a friends birthday party, as a kid, I went in anticipation knowing I would be able to see the movie, but instead they played dr. Doolittle (that dumb Eddie Murphy flick), but by the end of the party I was able to sneak their copy of the movie out of the house, and watch it at home.
Ever since movie 3, everything’s been darker, with little hints of humor. My favorite in the series is still movie 6 , because I loved all the little details of studying in Hogwarts , I loved the interactions between slughorn and harry , the potion making classes and that awesome half blood prince chemistry book .

This movie was dark and gloomy, just as how it should be, to show how much is at stake for the heroes and to show how overpowered they are in front of the villains. Most of the scenes were shot brilliantly and with so much power in the acting department.

Daniel Radcliffe is still brilliant as harry, and in some scenes really brings out all the reasons why we love harry potter so much. Scenes like the one where harry prepares to face death, is just excellent, maybe even more powerful than I could’ve ever imagined it to be. Some of the more dramatically intense scenes in the book (especially, Dumbledore’s back-story) have been omitted entirely; I don’t mind it though, because it may have really slowed down the pace of the movie.

Special effects, felt lesser, but all of them looked great.
The battles are well done, and are on par with the hold-the-fort battles from the lord of the rings series. Considering the last movie didn’t show even a bit of Hogwarts, it was great to see Hogwarts come alive to defend itself. To see all the students and harry wearing their old school cloaks really brings out that nostalgia feeling.  Also the climax scene just reeks of nostalgia and made me want to see the first movie one more time.

It’s a great thing, that even if I read the last book more than once, the movie still felt fresh and had my attention entirely.

Overall rating: 9.5 /10   or    A,
Better than expected.
There were rumors of the dark knight teaser trailer premiering with this movie . I wonder if it shows in India

It is highly recommended that you see the preceding movies or read the books, at least figure out the preceding story from your friends before going in to watch this movie.


lakers fans ?

Salt n’ Pepper is a great love story but could’ve been much better.

The story revolves around a bachelor (kalidasan played by lal) and bachelorette (Maya played by shwetha menon), both quite aged, and trying to work up a relationship. Both of them live life as it comes, enjoying it, you could say event-driven in a manner. Things aren’t as simple as it seems. Both have good reason to be not married. They both have certain complexities that govern what they think of themselves and what others should think of them, thereby not preventing them from taking the initiative to start working on a relationship. But fate in the form of “great food” creates the necessary spark to ignite the flame of a relationship.
Food is something you will see a lot in this movie. The idea is to live life to enjoy its flavors and experiences. The two leads end up meeting by phone when Maya ends up calling kalidasan’s number thinking it was a restaurant’s delivery number. And then begins the flame. The relationship grows, as they both start cooking recipes.
But things get a little harder as when it gets time to meet in person, they send their younger relatives as substitutes to do some recon work. The subs fall in love (not knowing their real identities) and block the older couple’s relationship from continuing.  The rest of the story revolves around how the flame is reignited and overcoming self-doubt.

The good:
The dialogues and writing is well done.
Story, though slightly predictable, had a few surprises along the way.
The character development is excellent, and acting by lal and swetha menon is perfect. They were perfectly cast .Pretty much every actor, even the supporting cast brings a whole lot to the table.
Asif Ali plays the nephew of kalidasan who plays the substitute, he has really developed in his acting skills, his character is supposed to represent the pre-adult post-college days and along with Maya’s younger substitute creates an example for young age relationships that probably won’t go very well.
The editing and direction are also great and feels completely fresh .
This movie has one of the best opening credits of all time 😀

The bad:
The young couple (the subs for kalidasan and Maya) get way too much screen time, nobody want to see their relationship work, and we even have to see a lame romantic song involving the 2, when we know that both of them just wont work in any sense (she’s smart, he’s an idiot, it’s that smart girl falling for the really dumb guy relationship). It’s not bad per say, but it feels like it just wastes time , all the audience wants to see is lal and swetha.
The movie felt really short, and was ended way too fast. The ending is a music video, which should be in the credits. (Old people got frustrated)

overall:  7.5 / 10 or   B

It’s a good movie, for having a great time with friends. Older people might find this quite boring.  Do not be surprised if you feel hungry 5 minutes into the movie .

 


Bombay march 12 is an almost documentary-like drama that needs to be noticed for the message it’s trying to tell.  Its screenplay is setup from different time periods in the story, so it may be a little hard for common folk to keep a track off. So if you want to have a fun time at the movies on the weekends, this movie is not for you.

The movie is directed by the script writer for the movie “city of god”, so you can expect the same form of story telling, with bits and pieces of the story being showing to you, and forming a complete picture only by the end of the movie.
The movie tries desperately to show the injustice provided to Muslims   from society because of certain terrorists. The various treacherous tactics used to recruit new young terrorists are also discussed here.
The script writing and acting by the leads is excellent.
Mammoty is excellent in his portrayal of 2 different characters played by the same person. Even the supporting cast helps set the atmosphere as a serious movie that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Though the movie is interesting, its flaws are in the screenplay department.  There is way too much re-usage of footage that you will get a little tired of seeing the scenes more than once.
Stories of 3 characters are told, and how their lives are interconnected, so expect to see scenes repeated more than thrice.
The movie has some great suspenseful atmosphere, at some parts, but most of the time, the story is just trying to push itself to the finale.
The climax is where the movie gets really interesting, and leaves you wishing to see the sequel.
(Yes! a sequel is in store for this one)
the background score too is quite sad though I think that was the intention.

Overall rating:  7/10 or B-

This is strictly an award category film, but has hints of a future sequel that keeps me interested.


I actually saw this movie on the night before the official release. I was able to acquire tickets to an early screening at Oberon mall in Cochin. I wanted to post a review earlier, but I realized you guys would probably go see it anyway, cause lets face it, transformers isn’t for intellects, it’s for people just out to have a great time.

About the movie, it’s the 3rd movie in the trilogy of transformers movies created by Michael bay (the rock, bad boys). This movie reveals some fictional secrets that the US government had been hiding from the auto bots (good robots). These secrets, in the hands of the decepticons (bad robots) could allow them to open a space gateway that allows their armies to reach earth.

The good,
The story this time around, has better screenplay, slight surprises and also manages to create a much faster and dangerous atmosphere.
The movie is actually quite better than the first one in the series.  And most of the major annoyances from the second movie are gone (no more robot scrotums).
It’s visually an excellent movie, they’ve managed to blend 3D in great places, and none of the CGI effects felt cheap or incomprehensible. Though personally I felt the 3d was gimmicky, and I was constantly removing the glasses and seeing the clarity of the original film (3D makes the image quite dull and reduces brightness and contrast by a huge margin). This would be better to be seen in high definition.
On the acting front, Shia leboef plays Sam witwicky once again, he plays a commendable job and alongside him, is a new actress who manages to remove all traces of the previous actress (Megan fox).  The stunts in this one felt cooler, especially all the work the “humans” do to beat the decepticons.

The bad (oh boy),
the story, even though it is intriguing, has a lot of plot holes (tons of them). Because of these plot holes, the second half feels like a circus, with the robots doing stupid things for no reason.
Michael bays direction is fine, but some times it feels like he is just trying to rush to a scene to blow stuff up. In between the blowing stuff up, you may see hot women, hot cars, or just old stupid men that could’ve altogether been removed from the movie.
A big problem with this movie is that the character development for most of the supporting cast is quite absent. I just hear them run around, scream and shoot some stuff.

Aside from these factors, the movie is great way to end a trilogy that was ruined thanks to the second movie “the revenge of the fallen”. This is the last transformers movies from Michael bay, a reboot or new direction is in order.

Overall: 6.5 / 10 … or C-
It’s a visual feast, but everything else is a bore