The Telegraph
| Sunday, June 7, 2015 |


A sound star

Sennheiser’s Urbanite XL is a smart, solidly built pair of headphones that offers high-quality sound, says Tushar Kanwar

It was a category where it was more important to be ‘heard and not seen’, but Beats Audio changed all of that, making your headphones something that needed to be ‘seen and heard’. In the wake of the Beats behemoth, Sennheiser launched the fashionable Urbanite series, and I took the Urbanite XL out for a spin to see if it was worth all that fuss.

So, they’re called the XLs — no correlation to your T-shirt size — since they’re the larger over-ear version of the two models in the series, but despite the size, they don’t feel bulky. Build is solid, and the hinges and sliders are good quality stuff, which should survive a few bumps in the included soft pouch — although at this price level, I was expecting a decent hard case instead. Looks-wise, the ‘Denim’ finish may not appeal to all ages, but I quite liked the dual-colour ‘Nation’ option — classy yet attention grabbing, and certainly better looking than the Beats range.

On the ears, the velvet-finish padding and the larger ear pads ensure a good balance between comfort and noise isolation. The Urbanite XLs serves up deep low-frequency parts of the music well, but it isn’t bass heavy — the sound signature stays neutral with its attention to the mid- and high-frequency sounds, and the result is crisp and detailed yet with a subtle bass response that will play well across music genres. As long as you’re not looking for a booming low-end, the Urbanite XLs will serve you well and are worth the pretty pennies they cost.

♦ Rating: 8/10
♦ Price: Rs 19,990
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Desi winner

Despite the large number of Chromecast-friendly apps, I quite liked the desi alternative called Teewe when the streaming media player came out late last year. In its new second-gen avatar, the Teewe 2 promises a bunch of improvements over the original — but with the Chromecast available officially in India, does it still warrant a buy? Let’s find out.

For something that will stay tucked away behind your TV for the most part, little needed to be changed on the design front, but the new dongle shaves 30 per cent off the original in terms of size. It’s still powered via micro-USB, so you can power it off the TV USB port — or use the included wall socket. Set-up is pretty simple — connect the Teewe 2 to the TV via the HDMI port, download the Teewe app on the phone, and follow the on-screen set-up.

From there on, you can fire up the Android/iOS, or the PC/Mac app that shows you a curated list of online video content along with locally stored media (photos, movies, songs) that you can send directly over your Wi-Fi network via Teewe to your TV. There’s even a two-month subscription for Eros Now coming up, but the ease with which you can stream your local media over to your TV continues to make the case for Teewe. It’s also pretty handy to watch media stored on your PC directly on your phone as well.

Now, I’m a regular user of the original, so the big improvements for me have to be the smoother playback of large 1,080p video and the improved local media streaming performance over Wi-Fi, but even so, there were occasional issues with the app — not detecting the dongle occasionally, for instance — that are minor and are a software fix away.
♦ Rating: 8/10
♦ Price: Rs 2,399
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All charged up

Use your smartphone to the fullest? Chances are you’re a victim of the dreaded “low-battery-itis” syndrome, and the easiest panacea for this ailment is a power bank/portable charger. OnePlus for instance, has a slim (16mm), 10,000mAh capacity, 2-USB-port power bank that uses the same sandstone finish that was made popular by its One smartphone. It gives the OnePlus Power Bank a distinctive look, and the form factor ensures that this baby can slip into most pockets with ease. I liked the fact that there are no buttons on this power bank — to see the remaining battery, you simply have to shake the device and the battery indicator LEDs light up. The Asus ZenPower (10,050mAh), on the other hand, is smaller yet a fair bit thicker (22mm) and has an anodised aluminium casing available in blue, silver, black, gold and pink. However, the single USB port means you can only charge one device at a time. The Asus is marginally more powerful though, with its 5.1V/2.4A output rating, compared to the 5V/2A on the OnePlus, which helps charge bigger devices like tablets faster.

♦ Price: Rs 1,399 (OnePlus), Rs 1,499 (Asus)
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