Unwired for sound
Light and comfortable, the Bose AE2w wireless headphones connect to your Bluetooth without compromising on sound quality, says Tushar Kanwar
You could argue Bose is a little late in the wireless headphone game with the AE2w, its first Bluetooth wireless headset. But as with most things Bose, one expects something special to be pulled out of the hat, be in terms of simplicity or ease of use. The question is — does the AE2w justifiably command the premium even over its wired AE2i brethren just for cutting the cord?
In a nutshell, the Bose AE2w is essentially a pair of their famous AE2 line of around-the-ear cans kitted out with a removable Bluetooth module plugged in near the bottom of the left ear cup, and it's this attachment that handles all the Bluetooth and control functions, including music playback, call answering and volume control.
Once you pair the headset with your Bluetooth device (up to two devices are supported simultaneously) and slip it on, you'll notice immediately just how light and comfortable the headphones are, and I've seen them through a full movie and a couple of phone calls without the usual fidgeting and adjusting one associates with extended use of a pair of 'phones'.
The headphone controls themselves are intuitive to use, and you very quickly get used to the comfort of not having to take the cans off to take a phone call say while watching a movie. Not to mention that the lack of a wire is rather liberating — no more worrying that getting up to open the door will lead to a missed dialogue or worse still, an iPad heading straight for the floor!
Does this freedom mean a dip in sound quality? Not noticeably enough, despite using Bluetooth to connect to the audio source, which often compresses the audio and leads to audio compromises. I found the mid- and high-frequency to be balanced and the low-end bass was clean and deep, if a little muddy at the lowest end. Nothing you'd really notice in everyday use. If you want to go old-school, or simply run out of battery, you also get a wire to plug the AE2w directly into your audio device.
That said, you've really got to want the wireless option enough to warrant the extra cash over the wired AE2i set. All in all, a well-designed, easy-to-use headset.
Price: Rs 19,013
Making a splash
Call me jaded, but it's rather rare to pick up a tablet these days and go "Wow", what with a steady-stream of me-too tablets launching every other month. But you have to hand it to Sony's latest Xperia Tablet Z — it is one sweet piece of kit. Packing a 10-in full-HD 1090p screen, Qualcomm's quad-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, the Tablet Z does so without the portly profile that you're used to seeing — this baby is only 6.9mm thin and weighs just a shade under 500g...an absolute stunner! Oh, and did I mention it's waterproof and can handle immersion in water 3-ft deep for half an hour? Movie time and bath tubs, finally the twain shall meet.
In daily use, the hardware works as snappily as other leading Android tablets, and runs Sony's custom skin on top of Android 4.1, which has some nice UI elements that make using the tablet that much easier. Yet, there is the matter of price. With an MRP of Rs 46,990, it is one of the most expensive tablets launched in India and warrants a buy only if you're at the beach or pool a lot and need a tablet at hand without worrying your head off about the occasional splash and dip!
Rating: 8/10lPrice: Rs 46,990
Panasonic makes a smart call
Panasonic has a formidable presence in the white goods space but its smartphones have stayed out of the Indian market — until now. The P51, Panasonic's entry into the crowded mid-range segment, puts on offer a device with clean lines and edge-to-edge glass on its 5-in touch screen. Under the hood, there's a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and 1 GB of RAM, which is almost de rigueur for this ultra-competitive segment. The onboard storage is on the lower side (4GB) but there is an easily accessible MicroSD card slot for expansion, and the camera turns out just about average results.
The upside? A capacious 2500 mAh battery, a nifty stylus and a magnetic flip cover included in the retail package, not to forget an Android 4.2.1, which means you get all of the Jellybean goodness without a heavy manufacturer skin. The challenge is that while it ticks off a number of check boxes, your money can go much further at the same asking price and the P51 needs a price cut to remain competitive.
Price: Rs 26,900