Soul By Ludacris Review (Model SL150)

It’s been way to long since I did a blog. So I’ll start off by reviewing Ludacris’ Headphone range since it’s recent launch in the UK.

Soul is probably Beat’s biggest contester on the celebrity endorsed headphone market. Of course Audiophiles will will tell you the high prices of these products are not quality of sound but for the fashion statement. That is most certainly the case for Beats by Dr. Dre which are terrible in sound quality with an overbearing bass that washes out any song, but they do look cool, not cool enough for me to fork out £200 on them though. Here is a break down on Soul by Ludacris,

Design and Comfort

The design is very swish and looks fairly similar (but better) to Beats. It has a glossy lightweight plastic casing that fits perfectly snug on the head and is pleasant to wear. It features a soft pleather lining in the top which is again very comfortable. It comes with two detachable jack cables, one with a in-line remote to control your iDevice or Smartphone and one without. It also contains a handy 1/4″ jack converter and a hardcase, which the headphones fold nicely into.
If wearing big cans on your head is your style, then the Soul will fit those needs, detachable cable makes the headphones very easy to rest on your neck without the cable getting in your way. It is again also very comfortable on the neck.

Sound Quality

I was initially surprised and impressed by the sound quality. There is much clarity to Bass without the forfeit of highs and treble.  Hi-hats sound completely different to what I’m used to and they’re so clear! Other instruments and synth instruments also sound very clear. Some songs may appear new and you may notice sounds in songs you never noticed before.

Low-mid frequencies however are a little drowned, which makes listening to classical music a hugely unpleasant experience, especially those with prominent strings. Solo or Duet vocals however sound clear and precise, you can really the feel the reverb effects using the headphones, I wouldn’t suggest listening to a capella mind you. Most other genres especially those that fill the charts will be very pleasant to the ear. There is also a big immersive feel to them and the sounds are on the warm side, giving an extra edge to pop music, rock or R&B. In terms of films they give very good clarity, however watch the volume on the more action type films.
In terms of production, you want headphones that give a very basic sound signature (like a clean pallet). My Sony HD in-ear phones have proven well for this and I have to say I will have to still stick with them. It’s not that Soul’s doesn’t do the job for me. I just prefer to work of something that wont emphasise certain frequencies. Soul’s I would imagine may appear useful for R&B music production, and in fact have proven very well in basic dialogue sound editing. However judging by it’s build, marketing and it’s overall performance, it’s much more of a consumer product rather than an industry standard.

Overall

Sound Quality: 8/10 – It definitely beats it’s initial competitors.
Design & Comfort: 9/10 –  They’re comfortable and they look sleek. It’s extra accessories really help it out too.
Price: 2/10 – Let’s be honest. You pay for the name. If you’re all about design, the £200 price-tag may seem like a normal impulse buy. However in terms of sound quality, you can get the same, if not better for cheaper.

Nintendo 3DS review

Nintendo released a new addition to the DS family with a new selling point, as you may already know unless you’re living under a rock, it has 3D capabilities. That’s not the only addition which many other reviewers seem to forget.

The most obvious is the addition of a circle pad, it comes warmly welcomed making movement and gameplay on the 3DS more fluidly than the D-pad, although compatible to use with older DS games the movement is not so fluid. The feel on the thumb makes it a lot more natural to use and you instantly find yourself using it instead of the D-pad. The homescreen itself is much nicer looking with better graphics, you notice that the unit is much faster than previous models and the homescreen button comes with a much better experience (We all remember the annoying, turning on/turning off just to get back to the homescreen!). Newer 3DS games come with ‘suspended software’ feature allowing you to go back to the homescreen at any point during a game, however to open up another piece of software you will have to close the previous, this is not compatible  with older DS games. The touchscreen is also more sensitive lowing the chances of scratches from the stylus and allowing to use your fingers if you happen to lose your stylus. I can’t say much else about other features such as internet and 3DSware as it is not available yet.

One big annoyance is the headphone jack being in the front-middle of the unit, when playing lying down on your back it can make the headphone lead seem intrusive and distracting. Wireless comes with an on-off slider switch at the side where the power button used to be, very confusing at first but you get used to it quick enough. The volume slider is also somewhat of a problem area, it is placed on the circle/d-pad side which makes accidentally altering the volume a common occurence.

Now to talk about the 3D. At first play it is very impressive and a bit of a shocker to the eye. The 3DS has to be held in a certain position with limitation to be able to get the full 3D effect, after a while the feelings of nausea and headache start to kick in and the depth slider doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. However in a matter of days I found myself naturally holding the the system in that position without feelings of discomfort. Again for the 3D, I quickly got used to it and the feelings of nausea calmed down. However be aware, everyone is different and for the minority these side effects may take longer or may never disappear. From what I gather if your tolerant of 3D films, then you’re good to go, if not then the depth slider is your best friend. As far as enhancement to gaming, there isn’t much, novelty quickly runs low and you don’t really notice it anymore, neither a good or a bad thing, it is what it is.

It comes already built in with Augmented reality games which are really fun to get you started. Streetpass is also a nice addition if you use it, it allows you to gather information whilst walking around in public about other Mii’s and the possibility of becoming friends in StreetPlaza. 3DS games are starting to support streetpass such as Nintendogs. 3D pictures are quite fun at first but the quality is truly terrible and makes it less of a likable feature, it works best with the focus point being around 30cm away from the two lenses.

I think it is important to say that if you don’t like 3D, don’t shy away too much from the 3DS because it’s other features, such as a faster system,  better graphics and introduction of Mii’s, make it worth the while. The 3DS is the step in the right direction with it’s better wifi and other wireless capabilities. The 3D aspect of the system whilst good, doesn’t need to be the deciding spectacle of the new console and wouldn’t be missed if dropped in the future.

Overall 8/10.

iPad & HP Slate

After the huge success of the iPad is wasn’t long before we seen competitors and HP were the first to introduce, a very familiar looking device, called the HP Slate. However there are a few things you must understand, any Apple/PC hater, review, blog etc etc will only compare the two against each other into a VS contest.

The two devices almost too similar.

This however, wouldn’t be a very practical thing to do, because after reading so much into the new HP slate out of interest, it seems like a completely different device all together, also picked up an analogy from a forgotten website saying:

“HP Slate is a motocycle and iPad is a bicycle, you would never say that the motocycle will out-sell a bicycle, but you would put them in their own markets.”

I have to agree, iPad as we all know, and what most complain about, is a very simplistic form of tablet. It doesn’t claim to be a laptop computer, in fact it aims to bridge the gap between PDA and computer, giving a hands on computer like feel from a mobile device and it does just that. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to use it and I’m sure with a little tutorial your younger siblings and elders within your family can easily get grips without further questions.

HP Slate however, is definitely a motocycle. It has a hell of a lot more RAM  at 2GB, a front facing and back camera, up to 64GB memory, USB connector and the ability for external devices such as CD/DVD rom and hard drives. It also uses Windows 7 OS not a mobile version which what really makes them differ. iPad is designed as a mobile device, hence the mobile like OS and the 3G capabilities and so on. HP Slate however is only WiFi which lowers its more mobile capabilities, it is just a touchscreen netbook. There is really no other way to describe it, now this is not necessarily a bad thing because thats exactly what people expected from Apple’s iPad but I think there is a reason for that, practicality.

The Slate being introduced by HP CEO

Is there really any reason why we need it to have a full OS, is it actually worth it? Microsoft office on the go maybe a good thing for business people if they can stand to type on a piece of glass. I have to admit I was expecting HP to bring an android type OS to the HP Slate to bring real competition to iPad but it seems they have tried to go too far ahead of our time because what we will have is applications designed for laptops and desktop that might make Slates touchscreen capabilities it’s main downfall.

As something as powerful as this means it needs a lot of fuel, the battery lasts ‘5+’ hours, now HP doesn’t state the batteries full potential when browsing, watching movies, playing games etc. But it’s safe to assume 5 hours is the minimum which is not bad, but again for mobile devices, battery life is extremely important and can be the deciding factor and it’s not a huge step forward in battery life.

Something good can come out of this though, with the mobile devices having mainly a lack of pro-creation software. Graphic designers and illustrator masters might enjoy getting rid of annoying graphics tablets and use the Slate like drawing on paper. This is exactly what I would use it for too.

In the ever growing Apple VS PC debate, PC fanboys like to crap on Apple fanboys with the phrases ‘pretentious’ and ‘flashy.’ Well PC Fanboys you called the iPad too expensive (which in all fairness I kind of agree) but you might re consider it after seeing the HP Slates hefty price tag, starting at $799… wow, good luck with that. Your paying approx 3x the price of a netbook for the novelty of a touchscreen.

Overall, Slate is what everyone expected iPad to be, but iPad is also what Slate isn’t.

iPod Touch 4G Review

I received my iPod Touch 4G 32GB after a much needed upgrade from my extremely slow, and small memory iPod 1st gen. I use my iPod almost everyday, mainly for music of course, but now and again I play a game.

First impressions, the retina display. Absolutely gorgeous screen, now of course not everyone, if not no one, uses the iPod to watch a film, but the display is amazing that it does make you want to watch one even though it’s so small. Then again if your like me and travel 4 hours on a train regularly and shuffling songs just gets that little bit tedious, putting on a film or TV show can cure that boredom feeling and it is well worth it. Other bonuses with this is photos, showing people photos, or just viewing them yourself, you can really see the picture well.

Speed. It is so much faster. Not really much else to say, it has a faster browsing, connects to the wifi faster and loads apps much faster. In addition multi-tasking also gives the iPod that extra leap forward, we were asking for it for four years, but it’s now here!

The biggy, Camera and Facetime. We were expecting it in the 3G, but I can see why apple decided to wait. They obviously wanted to release it when the camera had a little more functionality, and so iPhone’s facetime gave that little bit extra. It is, what it is, a webcam but on a now mobile device, most of my friends have iPhone 4G so Facetime was something that really interested me, and after using it today. I loved it. The fact that I can use it freely to talk to my friends and see their faces back home in Coventry, it is a real plus to have, even used it to give my friend a guided tour round the house switching from it’s front-facing to rear camera. It’s not exactly the best quality, but it is by far bearable and isn’t that low quality for it to exactly bother me to the point of moaning about it – I’ll leave that to the Apple-Haters. It’ll be nice for Apple to develop the features to allow apps like skype or windows live to make use of it, but for me I don’t particularly use either of them so I don’t mind it being Apple exclusive.

Now the camera. It is just under a megapixel, at 0.7 which in all fairness doesn’t take the worst quality pictures, I mean in good lighting it is actually decent and is great for instant uploading to Facebook but let’s just say, it’s not replacing your digital camera anytime soon. Which is a shame as the screen quality is so good, the picture quality doesn’t make full use. Again for Video, it is 720p which is ‘HD’, which is actually very impressive, it doesn’t replace your trusty flip cam as it is slightly more grainy. but it is great for taking videos, maybe at a beach, or themepark. Partys and Nightlife… like any type of handheld video camera, it’s going to be crap and useless. Again this also great for instant uploading to Facebook to Youtube.

Oh one more thing, the lack of flash, people are bitching. Does anyone actually use their phone to take pictures on a night out? or at a party? Answer is either ‘Yes I don’t have a digital camera’ which basically means you really have no other option than to use it, or ‘No I take my digital camera out, duh!’ which means you know better than to trust a flash on a mobile to give you crisp clear images. Let’s face it, most flash on mobile phones are crap and don’t make that much of a difference. This camera is used for quick snaps and uploads, and it does it’s job.

That’s pretty much it, a little thing on the iBooks app, it’s cool and maybe useful for short stories on a train or plane but the screen is just too small to read a whole novel, thus, I seriously doubt I’ll bother to buy one from the store, I’ll leave iBooks to the iPad for now.

One last thing, it’s thinner…