This month, we’re shining the spotlight on our top five tech obsessions: from a music app that gives you access to over 30 million songs, an app that lets you watch Game of Thrones and other awesome HBO shows on-the-go, earth-friendly headphones, and two powerful smartphones that are light on the budget.
A lot of electronics companies are more conscious of their carbon footprint. Some reduce it by making sure that their product packaging is efficient and not wasteful, while others ensure that their products are recyclable or were made using recycled materials.
House of Marley is an eco-conscious audio accessories brand designed by the family of reggae legend and peace advocate Bob Marley. The brand uses materials that are organic and recyclable without sacrificing audio quality. Apart from having a patented eco-fabric called “Rewind,” which is used as trimming for certain models of speakers and headphones, the product also uses a lot of reclaimed hemp, organic cotton, and recycled water bottles and aluminum. Even the wood used is FSC-certified, meaning the wood is sourced from a forest that replenishes wood used by replanting trees.
Apart from audio accessories, House of Marley also makes tech bags with dedicated compartments for laptops and tablets. We’re fans of the Soul Rebel Rasta On-Ear headphones (P4,699); the headphones rest snugly but comfortably on your ears, immersing you in rich and distortion-free sound.
Visit http://www.thehouseofmarley.com.ph to find a store that carries the brand.
Spotify: 30 million songs in your pocket
When the iPod first came out, its biggest come-on was that it allowed music lovers to have a thousand songs in their pocket. Cut to today and a thousand seems like a small number, especially with music streaming app Spotify which gives you access to a music library containing 30 million songs, with new songs added regularly.
Fans of the streaming service don’t need to ask for friends based in the US/UK to send them gift subscriptions since Spotify is officially available in the Philippines. Jim Butcher, Spotify’s Communications Director (APAC) says the decision to bring the service to the Philippines was a natural choice. “Filipinos are huge music fanatics. Not only is music inherently part of Filipino culture, but we have a crazy good OPM catalogue—we just had to launch in the Philippines.”
Apart from listening to new album releases and old favorites, you can also dig through Spotify’s thousands of playlists, some created by the brand, and others created by music tastemakers. Their “Discover” algorithm is great, too, as the service suggests new artists and songs based on what you’ve listened to. They also make a good throwback mix, reminding you of artists who were popular when you were younger.
You know Spotify is big when even US President Barack Obama has created public playlists, like his 2012 campaign playlist featuring tracks from U2, Al Green, James Taylor and Wilco. Even karaoke-loving pugilist/politician Manny Pacquiao has a playlist, one a pre-fight playlist which contains tracks from Pharrell Williams (“Happy”), Lorde (“Royals”) and oddly enough, “Let It Go,” by Idina Menzel (as nice as the song is, hearing it played over and over does make you feel like punching someone). Naturally, Pacman also has an OPM Karaoke Favorites playlist.
The app is free to download for your computer or mobile devices. Spotify offers a premium subscription (P129/month vs US monthly rates of $9.99) that allows users to enjoy the service ad-free and at double the audio quality.
Butcher adds, “Another key feature for Spotify Premium users is our Offline Mode, which lets you save albums or playlists for when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.”
To enjoy the service better, Butcher recommends downloading the free app, following friends, artists and celebrities on Spotify, “So when they discover music, you do too.”
He adds, “Spotify is the best free music experience on the smartphone. Whatever music you want to hear, Spotify will find it for you. It’s super easy to use and with our latest design, we’re also the best-looking one out there.”
We agree wholeheartedly.
Visit http://www.spotify.com for more info.
Light on the budget, heavy on the features: Sony Xperia E1 & Nokia Lumia 630
Even though we are inundated with smartphone ads, Microsoft Mobile Devices Sales General Manager Karel Holub says only 16 percent of Filipinos use smartphones. One barrier to smartphone proliferation could be its prohibitive costs—a “souped-up,” contract-free smartphone can cost over P30,000.
But more and more brands are releasing them at affordable price points. Two of our recent favorites are the Sony Xperia E1 and the Nokia Lumia 630.
The Sony Xperia E1 is great for music lovers. The Android smartphone is sleek and lightweight. Despite its size, the 4.0-inch screen is expansive enough to be immersive so you’ll enjoy watching videos on-the-go. Its best feature is its Clear Audio technologies—rich and solid sound—trademark Sony through and through. The Xperia E1 was designed to automatically select the best audio quality settings based on the track you’re playing. The xLOUD loudness enhancement lets you churn out tunes from the loudspeaker to as high as 100 dB—perfect for times when you’re dancing or singing along in the shower. The Xperia E1 also has a microSD slot to expand memory for those who want to have their entire music library available while on-the-go.
The Sony Xperia E1 comes in two versions: a single SIM model (P6,990), and a dual SIM model (P7,990), available at Sony Xperia dealers nationwide.
Dual SIM phones are nothing new. For most people, having two prepaid SIM cards from different networks allow them to switch between networks depending on signal quality or when they want to avail themselves of network-to-network perks like free messaging or lower call rates. Microsoft Mobile (formerly Nokia)’s newest affordable smart phone, the Lumia 630 brilliantly makes use of Windows Mobile’s trademark tiles to distinguish between the two SIM cards installed in the phone—you can color-code the tiles for the two numbers, so you’ll know which is which. The phone even gives you info like data usage per SIM, allowing you to budget your credits for each. The tough polycarbonate body comes in fun and bright neon colors with interchangeable back shells for personalization.
The specs of the phone are comparable to that of pricier models, according to Raghunath Koduvayur, Microsoft’s Global Product Marketing Manager for Lumia Devices. The Lumia 630 also comes with its famed ClearBlack screen (4.5 inches), a new SensorCore which helps track movement for fitness apps without causing battery drain. Typing is also made easier with the Word Flow keyboard and shape writing where the phone detects your swipes and matches it against its expansive vocabulary that gets smarter as you use it. The phone comes equipped with a 5MP camera and HD video recording capability, plus an expandable memory slot that can accommodate up to 128 GB microSD cards for storing a multitude of apps, photos, and other multimedia content.
Lumia 630 retails for P7,990 and is available at Microsoft Mobile dealers nationwide. •