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BW Businessworld

Touch Of Perfection?

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As you read this, many of you are starting to have your first brush with Windows 8, Microsoft’s big bet on a unified PC and tablet experience. I’ve had some quality time playing around with the final release of Windows 8, albeit on Windows 7 hardware. The tablet I used did double duty as a PC with the addition of a keyboard and mouse, giving me the chance to take Windows 8 out for a spin in both its avatars — touch-only and as a traditional PC. Here’s what I came away with…
It’s clear from the get go that Microsoft designed Windows 8 as a “touch-first environment”. Put simply, what that translates into is that to fully understand and appreciate the new user interface, you need to use it on a multi-touch device. Once you do, it starts to make sense. The picture password login options, the large touch-friendly live tiles on the bright bold Start screen, the various gestures that bring up the multitasking Switcher view, the Charms bar and the slide-up apps menus — all invite interaction via touch and there’s a lot to like once you get used to the nuances of this new touch platform.
Of course, this isn’t much use to you if you’re on upgrading to Windows 8 on a traditional desktop or non-touch notebook, even if it meets the modest (and quite similar to Windows 7’s) hardware requirements. I put the device in front of tech savvy family members and gave them the keyboard and mouse to go about doing their everyday tasks. I found them constantly bypassing the Start screen to get to the Desktop, and once there, frequently looking for the Start button, which no longer exists. Here’s the thing - muscle memory will probably be your worst enemy on a Windows 8 desktop. Sure, there are keyboard shortcuts and mouse movements to achieve what you need to, but without a touchscreen, the Modern UI just feels like a cumbersome extra layer. This “two-headed beast”, as some refer to it, may prove to be quite the challenge for upgraders and many Windows old-timers.
Of course, I fully expect that in the coming weeks, you will see a lot of hardware and a whole host of apps that can truly help make sense of and give context to the new user interface, and showcase Windows 8 as a productive, usable environment albeit the massively disruptive nature of its interface. Either that or Microsoft will see an outlash far worse than what happened with Vista. For the sake of innovation and the entire PC industry, I hope it’s the former.

All Ears For Music
While fitness gadgets are literally crawling out of the woodwork these days, there’s a surprising lack of quality sports earphones, the kind that you can use in the gym or on your jogs without worrying about killing them with sweat and moisture. Bose’s SIE2i (and the SIE2, which skips the iPhone controls and is a shade less expensive) make a bright, loud splash into this segment, with bright orange or neon green color choices that’ll be quite at home in the gym but a tad loud anywhere else. Unlike a lot of in-ear earphones, Bose’s SIE2 series project sound not only into the ear canal, but also outwards, which gives the music a nice feeling of extra spatial depth. And this makes these earphones comfortable to wear for extended durations, even when it’s hot outside. On the flip side, since they don’t quite block the ear canal, you don’t get the benefit of blocking out outside noise. A choice of three sizes of ear tips, an intentionally short cable (to avoid bouncing around) and a Reebok-designed arm band for an iPod touch or an iPhone 4/4S that leaves the device protected from moisture but completely functional — round out some smart design choices.

In use, the hydrophobic cloth covering the acoustic ports keeps the buds resistant to moisture, without impeding the sound quality. There’s a healthy amount of bass response, and the audio does not distort, even at high volumes. Vocals sound great as well, but the treatment of treble might leave western classical fans a tad disappointed. That’s if you listen to classical music in the gym in the first place. All in all, a pricey yet appealing set for the fitness oriented.

Rating: 8/10
Price: SIE2i: Rs 8,325, SIE2: Rs 6,638

technocool at kanwar dot net