Friday, May 29, 2009

"Philips Carnival 2009" WHS Hoots Part II: Electronics

After Day 1 of WHS hoots at "Philips Carnival 2009", I checked out the prices of their Micro HiFi, Home Theater Systems and DVD Players at major electronics retail outlets. I felt the urgency to go back for some more hoots! I had earlier wanted to pick up a DVD Player for my home, I thought I should just grab HTIB for my folks' place as well.

PHILIPS HTS3021 DVD Home Theater System
S$179 (R.P.: >S$200)
The cheapest 5.1 HTIB (Home Theater in a Box) available at the carnival came down from S$199 on the second day. It is a no frills HTIB with 5 identical speakers (2 front, 2 surround and 1 center) and a subwoofer. The system is all plug-&-play and sets up easily. The main console is a DVD player that plays back the usual formats and projects the sound out to the attached 5.1CH speakers. The neat feature of this DVD player is that it supports USB2.0 with playback of JPEG, MP3, WMA, DivX and XviD formats. This means that I can plug a USB thumbdrive or a portable HDD* containing all my picture files, music files and .avi video files, and enjoy them on my HDTV with 5.1CH sound. I tried playing back Prison Break and Criminal Minds (HD format) via the thumbdrive, the quality is double thumbs up (with a little M1 Ad's head-knocking going "du-du"). The sound output is available in Stereo (L & R speakers projection only), 5.1CH Stereo (equal distribution of sound across all speakers and subwoofer), Dolby Digital Surround (all 5 speakers playing their respective channels with subwoofer playing the low frequency and crossovers). Though the sound quality from these mini speakers were not comparable to those from LG's HTIB (tuned by Mark Levinson), but they suffice for non-audiophiles like my folks. Another feature of this console is the FM radio capability.
The downside of this console is the lack of a HDMI output, making it messy with all the speaker cables and analog videocables sticking out from the rear. There is also no need for a HDMI port, since this player does not support HD (720p/1080i) upscaling. Hence, I will probably get a less beautiful image on a Full HD LCD TV.
The drawback of a HTIB is that if the disc player conks off, the speakers are rendered useless. Nevertheless, the prices of HTIB has come down over the years, making them easily replaceable.
*portable HDD requires its own external power source i.e. 3.5" external HDD.

PHILIPS DVP3350K/98 DVD Player
S$59 (R.P.: >S$60)
Not the cheapest DVD Player available at the carnival but is the cheapest model with a USB2.0 port. This DVD Player is similar to that of the HTS3021 HTIB which I have bought. It plays DVD, VCD, Audio CD as well as JPEG, DivX, MP3 and WMA formats from any USB2.0 mass storage device. It does not have a HDMI cable as it does not support HD upscaling, hence it comes with only component or analog video output. It gives an option to output sound via optical. I could have scored another model DVP6620/98 DVD Player (going for S$69) which support HD upscaling and with HDMI output, but lacks a USB port. I thought a USB2.0 port would be a more attractive feature. Nevertheless, the DVP6620/98 was sold out before the second day of the carnival.
I would recommend going for higher end models such as DVP3388K/98 which is basically this model with added HD (1080p) upscaling to deliver the clearest Standard Definition videos on your HDTV, HDMI output and WMV file support. But mind you, DVD players with these specifications can easily come close to S$100 or more.

Nowadays, having a USB2.0 support on your HDTV or DVD Player is essential to make sharing of JPEG files such as travel pictures with friends and family, be it from a thumbdrive or camera/videocam direct. Having DivX support is a bonus for those who do plenty of downloading, ripping or encoding video files. If you have extra moolah, check out the latest Samsung Series 8 and above models which have DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support which streams files wirelessly from your PC via a wireless router! Otherwise, if you are those who just wish to watch a DVD, any cheap DVD player from the supermarkets will do. These cheap electronics breakdown easily after their expired warranty, but they are also priced to be easily replaceable.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Philips Carnival 2009" WHS Hoots: Household Appliances

If you happened to see many people carrying transparent plastic carriers filled with white boxes with blue "PHILIPS" print during the last weekend, unless you didn't know, it was Philips Carnival 2009 at their factory at Toa Payoh Lorong 1. As usual, this annual WHS event by the European electronics and home appliances manufacturer, Philips, was a raving success attracting shoppers from the entire island. Lately, I have been crazy over WHS of household items, hence I decided to visit the carnival on its first day for some shopping spree! Check out my hoots!

Philips HD4746 Rice Cooker 1.8L
S$90 (R.P. : ~S$150)
With a range of rice cookers, from basic to high-end models to choose from, I decided to get one with the smallest capacity. I don't need the better one which can bake a cake, but this model with Fuzzy Logic Control shall suffice. The rice cooker comes with a steamer tray, measuring cup and spatula. So why the Fuzzy Logic Control instead of the conventional thermostat control? I guess it does reheating control as well.

Philips Azur Excel Plus Steam Iron with Anodilium Soleplate
S$60 (R.P.: ~S$100)
There were at least around 10 models of steam irons to choose from. Instead of splurging on an expensive one with a fancy docking station, I decided that a basic one should suffice. A basic steam iron starts at $40, but the cute salesgirl recommended a better one with Anodilium soleplate. The sole of a cheap steam iron tends to get scratched easily; when the scratched iron runs over a garment such as satin, it will be a housewife's nightmare!The highly-durable and scratch-resistant Anodilium soleplate eliminates this problem. The heavier soleplate also makes ironing a breeze as the iron glides across the garments without exerting too much pressure. Ironing is after all a chore and not a work-out! I like the swivel joint where the electrical wire meets the iron; the wire of conventional irons just seems to get in the way of every ironing action. The steam iron comes with a plastic cup for filling up the water tank. Any excessive water in the iron can be used clear any blockages in the steam noozles at the soleplate.

Philips Living Colors Mini LED Lamp
S$80 (2 for S$160) (R.P.: >S$99)
We must definitely praise Philips for their dedication in developing lighting solutions for our homes. Previously, Philips developed the Ambilight for their LCD TVs. The Ambilight is a feature where LEDs implanted on the rear of the TV panels illuminate the background in various soft colours, making TV viewing in a dimmed environment more comfortable for the eyes. Later, this technology was developed into a standalone lamp and thus giving birth to the "Living Colors", another award-winning innovation. There are two models for the Living Colors: Large and Mini. The large size comes in a cool clear orb only, while the Mini comes in four colors (with glossy black and glossy white being the more prominent models in the market). The price of the Mini is about half of its bigger brother, hence, it made sense to me to get the Minis to perform the same job. On the contrary, the Large is specified to produce a wider gamut of colors. Nevertheless, my non-bionic eyes cannot visualize a difference. I decided to score 2 of the piano black orbs instead of the white ones, with fears of yellowing. I must stress that when I mention "orb", they aren't really all round. The Living Colors lamp is actually cut off at one end where the LEDs illuminate through a frosted white panel; the bottom is slightly shaved and has a small circular foot. The Large model comes with a wireless remote control, while the Mini has its simple control on the rear. The orb comes in a drawstring dust bag with "Living Colors" branded on it. Along with the AC adaptor, the contents are sandwiched amongst a blister pack. Operation is idiot-proof, plug and play!

Philips SpotOn
I could not recall how much I paid for these, but no more than $20 for a pair. These mini triple-LED panels have a motion sensor that picks up any motion in the dark and illuminate its three LEDs. These neat devices can be used as night lights in walkways or wardrobes. Though it does not illuminate anymore than a candlelight, but it beats rummaging or groping in the darkness. Powered by 3 AAA alkaline cells, these low-energy consuming LEDs can last years. Assembly is no frills! No screws are required with the innovative use of a magnetic rear plate.

Philips Extra Bass Earphones
S$8 (R.P.: S$12)
For those who like to abuse their earphones, Philips actually has quite decent and cheap earphones. At S$8, just grab a couple and treat them as disposeables, if you must!

There were definitely more electronices to grab at the carnival. They had LCD displays (retired models), Micro HiFi systems, Home Theatre systems, MP3 players, digital alarm clocks, digital photo frames, vacuum cleaners, juicers, food processors, deep fryers, computer monitors, DECT phones, mobile phones, lights and AVENT baby products. Household light bulbs were the hottest grabs for everyone; they even had lights for automobiles. Mums were the happiests shoppers as they grabbed Philips AVENT baby products such as nipple creams, breast pumps, sterilisers, milk bottles, baby lotions and more, at ridiculously low prices! The annual Philips Carnival is definitely the event for everyone, from the school boy to the housewife.