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HTC is becoming quite a must-have b rand among those who can afford. Most of the manufacturer's smartphones are pri cey (between PhP25,000 to PhP50,000) and are least seen in most stores, since t heir units don't have that mass market appeal unlike other brands. The price ta g must be justified simply because their devices have been tweaked with a varie ty of components that are normally not found in other mobile phones in the same category. Likewise, they're heavily built with hard metal or plastic parts, wh ich add to their appeal as high-end models. HTC's current flagship lineup are the Touch series, which is becoming popular a mong consumers who have extra income to burn. Incidentally, the Taiwanese compa ny has also a rare model that seems awkward for its type. The HTC S740 is the l atest model in the company's S series phones. As with all models in this series , the S740 has both an alphanumeric and a QWERTY keypad that slides out from un derneath the unit. Incidentally, this design has been used by the Nokia Communi cator series for years. Tech specs The HTC S740 does not function any different from other smartphones in the same category. It uses the latest Windo ws Mobile 6.0 operating system running on a Qualcomm MSM7225 528 megahertz proc essor, which are already available in some phones. However, the S740 can boast of higher memory at 256 megabytes, quad-band cellular connectivity including HS DPA 3G, Wifi connectivity, and Bluetooth with wireless stereo headset capabilit ies. It is also GPS and A-GPS ready so international users can be assured of finding the right direction -- assuming the area where they are has an updated map. It 's also still dependent on the cellular network. The HTC S740 uses a 1000 mAh high-capacity battery pack, which gives it an oper ating period of at least 35 hours on regular use. Of course, battery life decre ases if used heavily. Because it uses Windows Mobile 6.0, the S740 also includes an Office Mobile app lications like mobile Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Form and function The S740's dual keypad design seems to be somewhat less functional for most people. For one, why would anyone make a selection on how to input text or numbers on the phone? The simple answer is that only basic phone functions become available when using the alphanumeric k eypad, such as SMS or calling. Meanwhile, users who need to write longer entries and messages can slide out th e QWERTY keyboard. All functions of the phone can be accessed either through QW ERTY or alphanumeric. The four-way navigation button in the middle of the unit works just like any di rection button in most smartphones. What makes it different is the halo-like LE D that lights up when the phone receives messages or when the alarm function is active. One thing that makes the S740 stand out is its look especially when the QWERTY keyboard is hidden. The phone's face is encased in hard clear glass while the b uttons of the alphanumeric pad and four-way navigation button are encased in cl ear plastic. Despite the difference, the face looks sleek and shiny. The functi on buttons are also well placed. The QWERTY keyboard's design is modest but nevertheless functional. The keys ar e made of plastic molds, with LEDs underneath that light up when the buttons ar e pressed. The only drawback is the size of the "space" button, which is the si ze of two letter buttons put side-by-side. Camera and multimedia The phone's multimedia fun ctions are just right. It can play multimedia files such as .WMV and .MP4 for v ideo. For audio, it can play a variety of formats, namely .MP3, WAV, .WMA, AAC, .AMR, and .WAV. The screen is also large enough to view photos and video clips saved on the phone's memory (the microSD card slot can accommodate up to 4 gig abytes of memory while the unit itself has an internal memory of 256 Mb). However, there are some issues with the S740, particularly its built-in camera. While it can shoot up to 3.2 megapixels, it has a refresh problem. This means that it is hard to take photos of moving subjects. This same refresh problem is also evident when taking videos. As a result, videos look like they were shot in 15 frames per second speed. Good thing that the smartphone's LCD screen can view high-resolution photos, si nce the colors are sharper and brighter than most units in the same class. Conclusion The HTC S740 has all of the essential functions of a smartphone. The u nit's well-built body and bold looking design is a good fit for classy users wh o want a rugged smartphone. Despite issues with the built-in camera, this model 's appeal is perhaps the wireless connectivity it offers for travelers.

Obama keeps his BlackBerry

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by Stephen Collinson Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON--Barack Obama has pulled off the first political triumph of his pres idency -- he will get to keep his beloved BlackBerry. At a time of deep economic crisis and turmoil abroad, one of the most burning q uestions facing the new White House has been the fate of the president's trusty window to the outside world. Being the world's most powerful man apparently has its advantages because Obama has faced down the objections of Secret Service protectors and government lawy ers trying to take away his trusty device. "The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends," White House sp okesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday. "It's a pretty small group of people." "The security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate, but to do so effectively and to do so in a way that is protected," Gibbs said. The spokesman would not say exactly how the president's device had been protect ed or whether some kind of encryption was being used to prevent the cellular de vice from being hacked or from giving away his whereabouts. According to The Atlantic magazine, the president will be using a standard Blac kBerry but one equipped with a "super-encryption package" developed by an intel ligence agency, probably the National Security Agency. Gibbs confirmed that any emails sent or received by the president would be subj ect to the post-Watergate Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires that a record be kept of every White House communication. Obama's BlackBerry was a fixture on his belt or in his hand on the campaign tra il and he has said the phone was a valuable part of a wider strategy to escape the White House fishbowl. "It's just one tool among a number of tools that I'm trying to use, to break ou t of the bubble, to make sure that people can still reach me," he told CNN. "If I'm doing something stupid, somebody in Chicago can send me an email and sa y, 'What are you doing?' "I want to be able to have voices, other than the people who are immediately wo rking for me, be able to reach out and send me a message about what's happening in America." In an op-ed column this week in the Los Angeles Times, John Podesta, who headed Obama's transition team, said allowing him to keep his BlackBerry was importan t to allow the president to stay in touch with the outside world. "Without his virtual connection to old friends and trusted confidants beyond th e bubble that seals off every president from the people who elected him, he'd b e like a caged lion padding restlessly around the West Wing, wondering what's h appening on the other side of the iron bars that surround the People's House. "The president's ability to reach outside his inner circle gives him access to fresh ideas and constructive critics," Podesta said. "As president, it is more important than ever that he remain connected."
AFTERÂ keeping it under wraps for months, the group of young Filipino engineer s and designers have unveiled a prototype of what it claims to be the next-gene ration interactive device. It is called the "Ilumina" interactive television and it already has one patent pending for its curved design. Inovent r ecently showed an "ultra-alpha prototype" of the Ilumina with the goal of highl ighting the concept of research, development and design (RDD) in the Philippine s. Inovent is composed of no more than eight people, some graduates from the Unive rsity of the Philippines, Ateneo De Manila and De La Salle University. The Ilumina is a television panel integrated with computer component s installed in a handmade fiberglass bezel. It is the bezel's inward curved des ign that Inovent has patented with the Intellectual Property Office Philippines . The Ilumina's basic component is its 32-inch LCD TV panel. Inside it are comput er parts that run a scaled-down version of Ubuntu Linux operating system. With a flick of a button, the TV interface changes to the Iluma's user interfac e that provides access to features, such as video and music playback and Intern et. While the TV source still requires a physical cable, the Internet connectivity only requires a wireless fidelity (Wifi) access point, as the Ilumina has a bui lt-in Wifi receiver. It also has a web camera that will allow users to do video chat while accessing the web or watching TV. Apart from the regular TV remote, the Ilumina also uses wireless keyboards and mouse for computer applications. It also has a USB (universal serial bus) port for connection to other external peripherals. The Ilumina concept has not been used in other commercial products. Inovent Chi ef "Inoventor" Brian Quebengco said the idea is not new. Some of the parts used in the Ilumina are off-the-shelf electronic components that were pieced togeth er to fit in a slim casing. "You will be surprise at how our developers made these components fit together. The parts had to be modified to make them work well," Quebengco said. Quebengco said the main highlight of the Ilumina is its design, which the local company has filed for patents early this year, as well as its software. The bezel design, which is curved inwards, allows the unit to stand on its own, removing the need for a removable stand normally used in many LCD TVs. While still in its "ultra-alpha" prototype stage, the developers will be adding new features in the Ilumina, which Quebengco declined to describe. "It's not something new as well but when you see it in a well--packaged product , it becomes an innovation. There's still a lot we're working on but this is to just highlight what we can achieve," he added. Quebengco said they are looking at a six- to eight-month period for the launch of a commercially ready Ilumina model. He is hoping that the price of the devic e will not go above five digits. "What's to be proud here is that we have people who are innovating and designin g things for a global market. We also hope to encourage and inspire others to d o the same," Quebengco said.
Taiwanese mobile phone company HTC is expanding its market portfolio in the Phi lippines with the launch of three new mobile phones. The new phones are the HTC Touch Viva, the Touch 3G and the Touch HD -- all of which are powered by the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. Instead of targeting business users, HTC is focusing on mid-market mobile phone users and so-called âpower users.â In light of the launch, Mark Dewey Sergio, HTC Philippines Country Manager, sai d the company is planning to expand operations in the Philippines. He said there would be more offerings from the company as they build their bran d in the Philippines. Sergio said they are anticipating the surge in demand for 3G service s. Thus HTC will continue introducing third-generation (3G) and 3.5G handsets. Smart Communications, Sun Cellular and Globe Telecom are currently offering 3G mobile services. The recent launch was the first time HTC introduced three phones simultaneously . It previously launched the Touch Diamond and Pro series and the S700 series. The HTC Touch Viva is currently its cheapest at P21,990. The Touch Viva is the second smallest unit that has a 2.0-megapixel camera at the back that runs on a n EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) cellular network. Nevertheless, it uses has wireless fidelity (WiFi) capabilities allowing it to connect to the Internet. The Touch 3G looks similar to the Touch Viva but is slightly smaller and is 3G- capable has WiFi connectivity. It also has a built-in 3.2-megapixel camera and costs P32,900. The Touch HD is the top-of-the-line unit. As the name implies, it can play vide os at higher resolutions than most phones in its class. It also has one of the biggest screens among all of HTC's phones, past and present. The Touch HD is also 3G-ready and also has an integrated global positioning sys tem antenna. It is priced at P55,900. The three new HTC phones are using the latest TouchFlo interface allowing easie r access for applications, which would normally require an analog keypad or a s tylus. All the phones will become available in December.
CONSUMER product manager for Sennheiser Electronics Asia Edwin Leong shows INQU IRER.net multimedia reporter Lawrence Casiraya how the MX-W1 wireless earphones work. The earphones operate via Bluetooth and features Kleer technology that p roduces uncompressed audio. < param name="src" value="http://download.cdnetworks.us/cdnetworks/mediaplayer.sw f" />
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines â Globe Telecom announced it will sell the iPhone 3G via pr epaid at P37, 599 or around P4, 000 less than its initial introductory price, t he company said Friday. Globe said in a statement iPhone 3G prepaid kits will be available at P37, 599 and P43, 799 for the 8GB and 16GB, respectively. Globe said the new pricing will apply to all subscribers -- even to those who h ave made reservations. Globe earlier said Apple's latest iPhone device will be avail able starting August 22. The prepaid plans come with P1,000 load spread over 5 months, or P200 per month . Also, the first 1,000 phonekit purchases will get another P1,000 discounts of f the purchase price. Earlier this month, Globe said it will see the iPhone 3G via prepaid at P41,899 (8Gb) and P48, 899 (16Gb). The iPhone 3G is likewise available through postpai d plans ranging from P1,599 to P4,999 a month, inclusive of free WiFi via Globe Wiz. Globe added zero-interest purchase plans in partnership with local banks still apply. The Apple iPhone 3G, which operates on the third-generation (3G) mobile network , will also come with a built-in global positioning system (GPS) for location-b ased mobile services. The iPhone 2.0 software includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, apa rt from hundreds of third-party applications built with the recently released i Phone software development kit. Globe Telecom has more than 21 million mobile subscribers to date.
By Erika Tapalla INQUIRER.net MAKATI City, Philippines â It is light, supports 3G and comes with a touch-scre en. Sony Ericssonâs G700 belongs to the newest line of smartphones aimed at the mas s consumer. And although it costs less than the high-end mobile phones and pers onal digital assistants (PDAs), the G700 is built with most features found in m ost PDAs. Watch this quick tour of the phone's functions. So if you're looking for something more economical and savvy, the G700 would pr obably fit your standards. The smartphone is 4.2 inches long, 1.9 inches wide and about half an inch thick wide. It weighs 99 grams, making it easy to misplace or even drop since the ac tual casing of the phone is smooth. It sports a 2.4-inch touch-screen that works with you fingertips, stylus or eve n your fingernail. But because of the small screen, people with large fingers m ay find it difficult to use, probably the same reason why Sony Ericsson didn't remove the traditional keypad controls. The camera function of this phone would gain two plus points from me. It's equipped with a 3.2 mega-pixel camera with an image stabilizer, red-eye re duction, panorama stitching and four effects allowing you to take or edit photo s in black and white, sepia, solarized, and negative. After which, you can tag, create new albums, and select one of those built-in thematic slideshows comple te with sound and transitions for fun viewing. Another reason why I truly enjoyed the camera function was because of the photo light enabling anyone to take pictures and film at night. So, when using the ca mera on this phone, you're not dependent on the daylight or any available light for that matter. The processor is fairly fast and the overall operating system experience is smo oth, jumping right in to video and plays video with no major lagging. After whi ch, you can send photos and videos via Bluetooth, MMS or directly onto your blo g. The Sony Ericsson G700 has functions that allow you to configure your blog and use the phone to live blog when you're not in front of your PC or laptop. This is very smart considering people are becoming more and more mobile-oriented and gravitating towards social networking and personal blogging. Apart from the blogging feature, the G700 allows you to create word documents a nd presentations using QuickOffice, which you can send as an attachment via ema il you can set up or via Bluetooth. However, it does not have infrared or wireless fidelity support, but it allows you to browse the web and subscribe to RSS feeds from selected websites and blo gs. From what I gathered and experienced, the G700 phone is big on âorganizing your life.â The drop-down 'Today' menu on the homescreen is detailed from the calendar even ts you've placed, to the tasks you've written, and to the notes and alarm you'v e scheduled. The calendar doesn't merely indicate what you need to do and what time you need to do it. You can actually synchronize it with the alarm, your contacts, and t he notes function so that the phone can notify you about your meeting or appoin tment, give you a breakdown on the people attending, and remind you on little t hings you've jotted down on the notes. The notes function is also not the typical lined screen or blank screen like on most phones. The G700 boasts of a very elaborate notes function that allows yo u to scribble, type, or draw notes which is then displayed like little colored post-it. One thing I didn't enjoy with the G700 was the handwriting recognition software . Ideally, it's supposed to make writing faster by transforming the configured scribble into its corresponding letter on the keyboard. But I found that I almo st had to relearn how I write letters in order for the phone to interpret what letter it is I was referring to. Going over to the media side of things, the G700 has a music player with superi or sound quality for such a small phone. It supports mp3, wma, wav, and aac fil es that can be organized and viewed in various categories, and created into pla ylists. It has an FM Radio player but your handset needs to be connected before you hea r anything since it serves as the antennae. You can set it to sleep mode and as an alarm so you get to wake up to your favorite radio station. But since it only works with the headset plugged in, you have to be careful whe n you use it while sleeping. You don't want to twist yourself all over the wire s or move too much that the earphones would come off and end up oversleeping. B ut thatâs just me. Nonetheless, the phone does have quite a handful of features for something so s mall and relatively inexpensive. But it does have hang-ups, literally. When you have too many programs running at the same time, the phone tends to fr eeze and you have to restart it by removing the battery. The battery is easily drained running on about a day and a half without chargin g when heavily used (including approximately a cumulative of two hours talk-tim e). It has low storage capacity of only 160MB and considering its multimedia capabi lities, 160 MB is too little. But since it has a slot for Sony's Memory Stick M icro memory card, which supports up to 8GB of storage space, you can opt to pur chase that memory card separately to truly enjoy the multimedia functions of th e G700. I also found that because of the small screen, composing documents, Internet br owsing, and note-creating difficult as it strained my eyes as I fumbled around the features. But, you can't have everything and for something light, economical. The G700 do es the trick.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- The entry-level market currently make s up for a large portion of the mobile phone business in the Philippines. Phone brands must have a mass appeal to stay in the market that demands cheap phones that cost below P5,000 to P6,000. Motorola, however, has found a small but growing niche in the mass market segme nt that looks for more sophistication in their somewhat dull basic phones. Thes e types of users are starting to demand multimedia functionalities in their han dsets. (Photo shows from left to right the Moto A810, the black and white ZN200, the M OTOROKR EM60, and the Motorola W388). "People, even in a tight budget, still want their phones to be as functional as the more expensive phones that they wish they had. This is the market that we' re trying to address," Mari Litonjua, Motorola Philippines marketing director f or sub-regions, said. Speaking to local journalists during the launch of new handsets, Litonjua said consumers are bound to want phones that have multimedia functions, especially t hose that have radio and digital music playback capabilities, and if possible, basic photo functions. "Not only do they want their phones to perform well but they also want these to look good as well," Litonjua said. The company presented five new phones, all of which are entry-level models for different segments. These will be launched in the third quarter of the year at a starting price of P3,000. The latest entry-level music phone is the W388, which is an updated version of Motorola's successful W300 series. The phone can accommodate microSD cards of u p to 2 gigabytes in storage capacity. It also features an easy drag-and-drop fe ature allowing basic users to just copy music files into the phone from a compu ter. The W388 has an FM radio, speakerphone, and digital camera. The Motozine ZN5 and the ZN200 are Motorola's camera phones. The ZN200 is the b asic unit in the lineup. It has a 2-megapixel digital camera with 8x digital zo om. It can capture video in MPEG-4 format. It comes with 30 megabytes of intern al memory, but it can accommodate 2Gb microSD card. The Motorolla ZN5 is the top model in the Motozine series. It has a 5-megapixel digital camera with additional lighting adjustment functions, as well as captu re modes and photo editing effects. Kodak provided the Kodak Gallery software a nd image enhancement software engine for this phone. The ZN5 also supports a microSD card up to 4 Gb. It also has wireless fidelity (WiFi) connectivity, allowing the phone to connect to the Internet and to the K odak Gallery online service for quick uploading of photos. One of the two entry-level phones for the higher market segment is the Moto A81 0, which is a small touch-sensitive PDA phone. This model has a 2-megapixel cam era that can record photos and videos (in 3GPP and MPEG-4 formats). The phone s upports EDGE cellular wireless technology for browsing the Internet. The touch- screen of this unit is also one of the smallest in the market at 2.2-inches. Motorola finally introduced the Motorokr EM30, a basic ROKR phone. It is the se cond after the ROKR E8 to integrate the mode shift technology that turns the to uch-sensitive alphanumeric keypad into controls for a handheld music player. It also supports microSD cards of up to 8 Gb. The phones will be made available in the Philippines in the third quarter this year, Motorola Philippines said. Watch my video interview with Alvin Soh, Motorola product marketing manager for mobile devices, as he introduces the latest lineup of Motorola phones.

MotoROKR rocks softly

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By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MOTOR OLA is keen on making impressions last when designing their phones. This starte d a couple years ago when they introduced the ROKR, RAZR series and SLVER serie s. Then they started having partnerships with several audio hardware manufacturers to complement their strategy in the mobile phone business. Motorola focused so much on design that the accessories had to look as good as the phones. That's not a surprise considering that in a cutthroat business like the mobile phone-m usic player hybrid manufacturing, the one with the most fashionable design wins . The MotoROKR series maybe the brand's most prolific model as it caters to music enthusiasts. It competes directly with Sony Ericsson's Walkman series and the Nokia N series. The latest in the ROKR series is the E8 and is a huge departure from the previous designs, particularly the E6 and Z6 models. This time, Motor ola went back to the drawing board to create an entirely new ROKR, in the hopes of reigniting the enthusiasm for their music phones. At first glance, one might think the MotoROKR E8 is a new brand ; none of the basic designs of even Motorola's previous generation of "brick" m obile phones were integrated into the E8, save for the familiar âMâ logo of the company. In fact, the phone doesn't look like a phone when it's turned off or when it is in idle mode. It is totally black and the front part is covered in t empered glass. The sides are in navy blue chrome finish while the back is rubbe rized dark blue aluminum. It is quite visible even with such a dark color schem e because it is wider than most phones at 115 millimeters though it is thinner at 10.6 mm. Perhaps because of the use of tempered glass and the chrome finish, the unit is noticeably heavier at approximately 100 grams. It feels solid to t he touch and doesn't seem to have any moving parts inside. FastScroll and ModeShift An obvious design feature of the MotoROKR E8 is the semi-spheri cal navigator ring in the middle of the unit, as well as little nubs, like the ones used in Braille documents, lined up across its lower half. These nubs and the middle navigator (what Motorola calls FastScroll Navigator) actually hide a ll of the touch-sensitive controls of the phone, which appear as backlit letter s and numbers. Another feature is the ModeShift, which is just shifting the function of the ph one. In active mode, the user can do just about anything that can be done on a mobile phone, such as write text or multimedia messages, view files, play mobil e phone games, among other things. But with a press of a button (the lit music note on the left side), the phone becomes a handheld music player, which shows only the basic music functions (play, pause, next/previous song, shuffle and lo op). The other button functions become invisible and will become visible again when the Back button is pressed. But even with a supposed touch-sensitive keypad, a firm press is required on ea ch of the buttons and only a miniscule vibration indicates that a successful pr ess was made. This is a far cry from the tactile feel of pressing real buttons and it does require quite a learning curve. But once users get past the vibrati on indicator instead of the tactile feel, it becomes as easy as using an ordina ry phone. Music function And because it is a music phone, it should work as well or e ven better than its competitors in the same market. When the ModeShift transfor ms the E8's controls from phone to music player the screen's interface is also transformed and actually looks similar to the Apple iPod's iTunes user interfac e. It would be most certain that anyone who owns an E8 will have already owned an iPod so using the E8's music controls will be easy. As expected, the sound is superb when using its headset and what makes it bette r is that it uses a 3.5 mm standard stereo jack allowing for a variety of stere o headsets, including those with noise-canceling functions, to be plugged in. E ven when using the loudspeaker the MotoROKR E8's sound quality is not diminishe d. But because the speaker is a small slit it cannot go as loud as a Sony Erics son Walkman phone, like the W910i, which uses larger speaker drivers. Neverthel ess, the E8 speakers are powerful enough to be heard inside small spaces, such as cars. It is also good enough when using for phone calls (even the microphone can pick up the user's voice, provided it is situated directly in front). At 2 Gigabytes internal memory, the MotoROKR E8 can save an average of 1,000 so ngs in MP3 format. But it can triple its capacity by installing a 4 Gb microSD memory card. The bad part here is that the card has to be installed inside the unit and even with the card slot being placed just above the battery, the batte ry itself has to be removed from its compartment just to insert the small micro SD card. Nevertheless, the advantage of having a memory card inside the cover o f the phone is that it has less chance of being accidentally removed. Camera and other functions Of course, even as a music phone, the MotoROKR E8 features a 2-megabyte digital camera at the back, which takes basic but respectable photos. Incidentally, it doesn't have a flash but this may be because of the emphasis on this model's m usic player functions. Still, it wouldn't hurt to put in an extra flash. It also has an FM radio tuner but it has to be activated using a headset, which serves as its antenna. On the other hand, few actually ever use their phones' FM tuner if they already have loads of MP3s in their phones. The E8 also sports an A2DP Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to connect to other Bluetooth devices, including headsets with stereo control functions. It c an also transmit sound to Bluetooth loudspeakers and transfer various files als o via Bluetooth wireless technology. Cellular connectivity is through its quad-band GPRS/EDGE capability. Although i t doesn't have WiFi, it can still access the Internet via cellular networks. Th e company claims that it supports full HTML websites but the browser forcibly t ries to fit all of the content in a small screen, which causes some sites to lo ok tight. The sites are still functional but scrolling down large webpages can be daunting. Overall, the MotoROKR E8 is a sudden but welcome change in the ROKR phone famil y. Its revolutionary touch-screen keypad function is a potential hot seller esp ecially with users who are bored with the tactile feel of separate keys. It doe s require some getting used to but a little practice will do just the trick. So und is good but not as great as the competing models from Sony Ericsson. Anothe r good thing with the MotoROKR is its somewhat longer battery life, which can l ast up to two days without charging and while using its music functions.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net QUEZO N City, Philippines -- There are few devices that make life easier to bear. Som e are heavily marketed but are totally useless. Others have become technology i cons with a cult following. Then there's the Flip. At first glance the Flip, a video recording device, does not call too much atte ntion to itself. It is the size of the most basic digital camera and weighs jus t as much. Its lens is at the front and the LCD is no bigger than 1.4 inches, d iagonally. The control buttons are bland. Only the large red âRecordâ button is most prominent. The power button is on one side and a sliding switch flips out a spring-loaded USB dongle. This is as basic as any device could get. But then, it is that basic design that makes the Flip a worthwhile device. This is one gadget that is purpose-built for the video-shooting buff and one that d eserves a lot of praise from video bloggers and digital home video enthusiasts. The USB dongle to its side can be plugged in to a PC and the device can be reco gnized as a USB storage device. There is no need for device drivers. Without fa ncy on-the-fly video setup, the Flip is just what its name truly makes it: with the flip of a finger, the device is on and the user can start taking videos. Created by startup electronics firm Pure Digital in 2006, the Flip has already earned a fan base, which other manufacturers of cheap digital cameras â and eve n the more established brands â would wish they had. It is so popular that it became a best selling electronic device in Amazon.com It is so easy to use that literally, a third grade student can take it out and start shooting videos. The Flip's appeal is largely on its ease-of-use: the only buttons available in this unit are the PLAY button on the left side, a DELETE button on the right, a nd the four-way D-pad that controls the audio, change of saved videos, and the red RECORD button. Only the single lens and the small speakers can be seen on t he front of the unit. The lens does not have optical zoom but it has a 4x optic al zoom. The device's basic model comes with a 1 gigabyte flash memory that can save up to a n hour of videos at 640x480 pixel resolution and at 30 frames per second, which is good enough for taking home videos. The videos are recorded as MPEG-4 files, which do not take too much space. It c an be easily edited or converted into other video format like DIVX, WMV and AVI . The Flip-recorded videos are not too grainy, even if they are recorded in low resolutions. Blowing the recorded videos to full screen will not show too much pixilation. This is largely because the 30-frame per second recording speed co mpensates for the pixilation (take note that some LCD TVs can only go as high a s 24-frames per second to run videos). Incidentally, the sound recording is quite decent, provided the subject is no f arther than four feet away. It does record periphery sound. But the user must h old the device near the subject to provide good audio pick up. Video clips can be transferred straight to a PC through a USB dongle that flips out of the device. The PC will recognize the device as a large capacity flash memory disc upon installation. No need for a software driver to make it run. Vi deos can be played right off the Flip or copied to a hard disk or even burned t o a blank CD or DVD. Because the Flip uses a small LCD screen and has no moving parts, battery consumption w ill not become an issue, even with just two AA batteries. However, it is recomm ended that no less than 2500 mAh batteries be used to ensure that the Flip woul d not run out of juice even after 40 minutes of recording. Despite its basic design the Flip also has its own accessories, such as underwa ter casings, tripod, and an attachment for a bicycle helmet. These are good acc essories that will definitely widen the usability and the camera shots you can do using the Flip. The Flip is a nice device. Unfortunately, the device I tested was never bought from the Philippines but was brought by my Canadian professor Kim Kierans who h as been using it to capture so-called âKodak moments.â According to her, the device cost around 100 US dollars (4,500 pesos), making i t a cheap alternative to the more expensive and overly high-tech video recordin g devices out there.

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