Categories
Business Media News Technology

Marketing High Quality Digital Music, PONO

I have never managed to get into digital music for several reasons. I don’t like wearing headphones, I get paranoid as I hear people calling my name in the background, and I think that they distract people’s attention. This is really noticeable while I am riding my bike on the pavement with the kids. People who are walking while listening to headphones are less aware of their surroundings, they tend to zig zag while they are walking and they cannot hear you coming.

This report in Businessweek addressed the problem a few years ago, although it has many methodological issues, and this article on the Treehugger website offers similar data while raising some good questions about the intentions and interpretations.

In Kenya they seem to be taking the problem seriously and in fact it will soon be a traffic offense to cross roads in Mombasa while wearing headphones or on the phone if legislation proposed by the Mombasa County Assembly is approved.
So no headphones means I don’t have one of those miniature storage devices to listen to. But I have never really got into digital downloads either. The problem there is quality. I like vinyl, take a look at the photo below of my record player.

My Sharp Record Player
My Sharp Record Player

This is a beautiful machine, 1983, plays both sides of the record, sumptuous quality, style personified and even comes in a portable version (mine also runs on batteries but the speakers don’t attach as the portable versions do).

So I have never had a system to play digital music that is half as good as this, although recently I have got closer with the Studio Pro 4 speakers that I found by the side of the street here in Cambridge (see this post for details). But even taking that into account, the sound is just not the same.

I have a vinyl and CD copy of the Beach Boys 20 Golden Greats, and playing the two together the difference in enormous. The digital version is sharper and the sounds are purer, but that was not what the boys had in mind when they were recording it. On MP3 the differences are even more noticeable. But convenience rules nowadays, and streaming of low quality music reigns.

Now Niel Young is with me on this, as are Sting and various other musicians. Niel wants to offer high quality music reproduction to people like me, and is preparing to launch his new baby Pono.

The player looks a bit like a regular MP3 player, but the files are much bigger so not as easily stored or downloaded, but the quality is much higher (say those who are marketing it). You can find some statistics in the article above. The data would suggest a vast improvement in quality, but as ever the proof of the pudding as they say.

And there is a cost issue. The player will cost about $400, and an album maybe $25. This is obviously marketed at people who have some disposable income and are looking for quality, probably musicians in their 40’s just like me.

We might wonder how big the market is, but if we note that the project raised about $2.5 million on Kickstart in a few days, maybe there is enough money and enough people around to make it a success.

So the question is for the technology community, will you (or more importantly I)  buy it?

Categories
Reviews Smartphones

BlackBerry Curve 8900 Case Review

Today I am going to review a product I have been sent by Mobile Fun. I have reviewed products for Mobile Fun before, (remember my Pocket Boom Review?) and as in the past, this review is going to be completely impartial.

The product Mobile Fun sent me to review was a BlackBerry case – kind of handy really, since I own a BlackBerry! The case is for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, which amazingly is the BlackBerry I own – anyone would think we discussed this 😉

Packaging

BlackBerry Curve case in packaging
The unopened case

The first impressions you get of a product are usually formulated by how you view the packaging, so I thought I would spend a moment to talk about how the case arrived. The case was posted to me First Class in a standard padded envelope. It arrived in perfect condition, so no complaints from me there.

The package in which the case was held was more substantial than I had expected. I have had mobile phone cases come in the post which were simply inside a polythene bag, but this case came in a box! Pros of this are that it probably added an extra layer of protection – not that it really needed it though – and that it looks bright colourful and gives you a little information about the product. From an environmentalists perspective however, one could argue that it is an unnecessary use of packaging, which is probably going to end up in landfill. I shall be recycling what I can.

When I opened the box, the case had a BlackBerry sized piece of foam inside it, probably just to ensure it kept its structure during transit.

Look And Feel

Other than to protect your phone, the main function of a mobile phone case is (arguable) to look good. I really like the design of this particular case, I think it has a slightly more stylish design than the standard BlackBerry case, with neat stitching down the sides, and the middle of the case.

BlackBerry Curve 8900 CaseThe case displays the BlackBerry logo, like the standard BlackBerry case does, but unlike the standard BlackBerry case, it is mounted on a metal adornment. The adornment is a stylish touch, but could potentially scratch a surface (say a glass table) if you put it down, adornment side down. The case also had the word ‘BlackBerry’ written at the bottom on the reverse side.

The back of a BlackBerry Curve caseFunctionality

The case is made of real leather, so is very sturdy and flexible. One of the problems I found with the standard case was that it was made of vinyl, not real leather, so after continued use it started to look worn and split. I have been using this case for a few weeks now and it still looks pretty much the same as when it arrived. I would definitely recommend a leather case like this one over a vinyl one as it is more hard wearing.

The case feels very sturdy, and (although I haven’t tested it) I am sure it would protect my phone were I to drop it from a reasonable height. The structure feels rigid enough to keep the phone safe, but I am not going to try, just in case!

A BlackBerry Curve 8900 in its case
My BlackBerry in its new case

The BlackBerry Curve 8900 has a feature that it will turn the screen off and go into power save when inserted into the case. This feature works with the standard case, and with this particular case, thanks to the inbuilt ‘proximity-sensing technology’. From what I understand there is a magnetic chip in the case which when the phone senses it, it turns on power save – proximity-sensing technology does sound a little cooler though!

Overall I really like the case, I think it is a stylish, more hard wearing alternative to BlackBerry’s standard case for the Curve 8900. To find out more about this case, please check it out on Mobile Fun’s website.

As I said at the beginning of the article, this post is a review done for Mobile Fun, who have asked us to let you know that they sell phone cases – like the one in this review 🙂