Published December 10, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

Logitech M570 - the real Mighty Mouse (One year usage review)

Its been one year. The M570 from Logitech still exists. It still works with the same battery put in a year ago. And it has a story to tell. Of Endurance, of a good product design, and perhaps the way in which all products need to be created. Some things just work. And they slog it out with you, being with you through your toughest times in life, hand in hand, shoulder by shoulder with a never say die attitude.

The M570 is one such mouse in case you are wondering, which I consider as the most important investment I made in my 15 years of industry life. The irony is that I made this investment only now and no earlier. The good news is that I at least made it now and no later. I must thank two of my colleagues who exposed me to this beauty of a product without which I would have never known how useful and game changing it could be in my life.

Coming to the specifics, this is a mouse that does not budge. Contrary to the mice we always knew and used, this one just wont move. The rubber pads below the mouse hold it tight against any surface, and this in my opinion is the first good part of this design. No matter how slippery your hand is, the mouse wont budge.

The next and most important highlight of this mouse is its blue shining tracking wheel or trackball as its called. The guiding light. It moves perfectly (save for a few times when the pointer jumped) and you can use it to move nimbly to point exactly where you want it to be before clicking that left or right mouse button which we have been clicking all our lives. The perfection in moving the pointer - the accuracy of the movement gives it such preciseness that it saves a lot of time in aimless moving the pointer around. Absolute bliss.

The buttons themselves are the same as any other mouse, just the same - except with the trackball they work in tandem to produce precise clicks and usage situations which don’t let your hand feel the pressure at any point in time. The battery is lasting over a year and this is really good for a wireless mouse which otherwise would die in a month or two. This is where I feel the bloody Apple mighty mouse and other shit don’t stand a chance in front of the Logitech M570 any day. And even as I write I don’t even know how much more longer the battery may last. Maybe another year or two, who knows!?

Every good thing will come at a price. So also the M570. It costs about 3200 INR, which by no means is cheap for a mouse. But then we are not talking about any mouse here. We are talking about the best mouse for productivity here. No, not for gaming. That is and will always be a different domain where there maybe much better and bigger mice to deal with those things. For productivity and office work, there can be nothing to beat the M570 as of today. And its a full value for money for the money paid for this device.

Before I conclude, it is simply not that everyone can buy one of these beasts and get comfy with them. Its like taking care of something you like, getting used to it until you start craving for it everyday. Its like beer, not everyone has a fancy to it, but once you like it there is no going back on it. And it is not also that many people cannot use it. You need to unlearn to learn. And you should not get intimidated by its looks or functionality. As long as you have a will to learn how to use it, it takes exactly 2 days to get used to it after which you will scoff at any normal mouse given to you.

There was one day I left this device in my office, and I almost drove back to office for 15km to pick it up before my impending trip abroad. You cannot live without it. Such is the need it creates. Working seamlessly across multi-monitor tabs, it does not show even a hint of slowing down with whatever you want it to do.

So would I recommend you to buy one of these? If you have the money why hell yes. Absolutely. If you do not have the money, even then I would want you to buy one on monthly EMI. Remember the Hero Honda Ad? Its the same here. Buy it, fill it, shut it, remember it. Hail Logitech, hail M570. You are me, and I am you. So when are you starting your mouse hunt? :-)
The cheapest I was able to get this mouse at was at IT Depot online at 3490 INR, with an offer of 5% off on a debit card which made it a bit lesser. It comes with a 3 year logitech warranty which you may never need considering its mightiness.

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Published November 11, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

Bose Sound link Color short review

I had the opportunity to get my hands on the Bose Sound Link Color bluetooth speaker. This happened when I was actually wanting to invest on the Harman Aura which in my opinion blew everything else away. But then these two speakers are like comparing apples and oranges and should not be done. Nevertheless in this post I will speak briefly about the Bose.

As the name suggests this speaker comes in different colors and the one I had was a red one for my test. The speaker itself is very portable and easy to handle. It might be slippery at times so its better to take care of it properly. The buttons on the top are neatly placed and are self explanatory. One of the things I liked was that there is a voice guide which says when the bluetooth is ready to pair, when its paired, to which phone its paired, etc. I always feel good when a voice prompt double confirms to me that I am doing things right.
Pairing is as easy as 1-2-3 on the iphone. Just power on speaker, power on bluetooth, find the stuff on your iphone and you are good to connect. Thats all there is to it. The Bose would pair to multiple devices but that is a fixed number.
The rear has a USB power supply port, and an AUX in port which I believe no one may use it these days much as compared to bluetooth. This is as much as the hardware really offers.
The next obvious thing to look at is the sound quality itself. There is really no problem with the sounds. Every sound is separated properly and there is never a distortion even at higher volumes. The base drums kind of sound flat after a point clearly proving that without a woofer, the speakers alone cannot do wonders. The bass is loud at most and not room shattering or deep even. But then the speaker is very portable, runs on charged battery for few hours and these are not there in the Harman Aura. The Aura is an AC powered speaker and thats its drawback. But then its also a more powerful one compared to the soundlink color.
It retails for somewhere close to 10000 on Amazon india. The soundlink II is about 18000, and the Aura is 25000 as of last pricing for Diwali sale.
I further listened to different types of songs including old indian classics, classical music, drums, pop, film songs, and theme songs from Spiderman, MI Rogue nation, etc. At any moment the Bose was composed but it really lacked that room shattering depth which was sorely missed by me. The 5.1 Bose systems, or even the soundbar systems with the woofer delivers this depth but then they are all mighty expensive as well.
So Will I buy the bose soundlink color? - NO. I may buy the Soundlink II or III after testing them, but something tells me that the Harman Aura is way ahead of bose in the sound rendering and it hits a bulls eye on that aspect. Of course by no means the two can be even considered for a comparision, but it is always good to know what the Aura adds for the price and how it really makes a difference. But then when a person is spending 25000 there are also other speakers available at that price, even 5.1s or soundbar options.
Whats your take on this product? Let me know whether you have one, and your opinions on that in the comments section below.
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Published November 11, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

Happy Diwali 2015

Happy Diwali to all readers of the Bangalore Blog
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Published September 18, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

First impressions of the Mahindra TUV 300

Ever since I have been car pooling with my boss with his new Scorpio we’ve had some interesting discussions on how Mahindra and Mahindra have tackled the automotive industry with their slew of new vehicles and makeovers. Firstly the XUV was launched to a rather awestruck audience, next the Scorpio was give a makeover it sorely deserved, then the XUV was rehashed a bit again into a bolder looking vehicle, and then the Scorpio automatic was also launched. When we just thought that the dust had settled, now this - the TUV 300 (three double oo)
From a long time I have always been wondering how M&M vehicles have increased the costing of their vehicles without launch of any substantially new in the models out there. But then deep inside, they have been working hard to upgrade the current models with either higher quality of steering and dashboard materials, or gimmicks like the hybrid mode, rain sensing wipers, quality of seats, tiretronics, cubby spaces designs, toughened materials on the body, phone on steering wheels, sat nav, some cool looking alloys, etc. I find that on Scorpio the hybrid mode alone increases the mileage by 1km per litre of diesel. This said, its not hard to see how the company has reinvented themselves beyond the vehicle itself all the way from the assembly line to design to employee welfare and what not.
The Tata’s on the other hand seem to be lost in a government office style working culture even through their products are finally showing a design betterment of late.
Anyway, as I entered the showroom the other day, my expectations from the TUV 300 were not sky high as I knew its probably an upgraded version of the bolero or a slightly modified version of the Quanto. Everyone knows that, but what Mahindra have done here is seriously something different. Every manufacturer will reuse the parts from older vehicles while designing something new. But however, the stance of the TUV itself is quite imposing. After all its the same platform that the scorpio was built on. And it shows. Its majestic, rectangular, imposing and manly to look at. I did not quite like the font chrome stripes, and would have preferred it to be like the XUV, but then thats more of a design thing and I dont care much about details on the looks such as this one.
So having said that, the next natural urge was to plonk myself in the drivers seat. And just as I had expected, M&M have replicated the Scorpio seating here inch to inch. The seats are very very comfortable and the ride height is just awesome. Its almost as much as the Scorpio but a bit less in my opinion. But it does not make a difference.
The steering wheel is very nicely made with all due respect. The interiors are well made. I did not see a climate control, but nevertheless the dashboard itself was of superior quality almost hyundai in nature. This is not the usual run of the mill Mahindra. Careful selection of materials has been adhered to. The seats are really plush, and very supportive. The dashboard panels, steering, instrument clusters are all very well done.
The car gets all window buttons near the handbrake which is a bit of concern for me in 2015, but maybe its a matter of getting used to. The thing I like about Indian manufacturers is that they tend to understand Indian conditions well. So you get a rear washer and wiper without a question which I don't have even in my Nissan Sunny.
That said, the USB chargers, stereo everything make up for more than what we expect for. A top view showing the seating configurations shows the amount of space within the vehicle
You can notice how much space is there in the middle row, the flat floor, and all the cubby storage holes on all doors and near the handbrake. Awesomely done. Indeed. My only grouse is the storage panel on top of the dashboard could have had a lid like in the Mahindra XUV 500 which is a miss.
You can notice that even in the rear door you can place huge bottles in the storage. The rear also gets jump seats which can at best accommodate children. But it apparently does not have seat belts which is not a good thing at all. Anyway what we are looking for is two adults or kids sitting in that seat for about 5-10 kilometres within the city if not more than that. Anything more than that and the discomfort shall be perceived.
The car also gets reverse assist, voice controls, driver information system and static bending headlamps in the higher versions.
I am yet to take the car on a test drive, and hope it will live upto its purpose as a true blue tough SUV. Its not clearly the best in creature comforts but then you also get what you pay for. Pay another 5 lakhs more and you will end up with the bigger brother the scorpio with all what you wanted within it. I have seen the auto car review of the TUV and for city drives it seems the right vehicle to go for. One of the grouses said in the review is the inability to remain powerful after 3500 RPM which is because of the 3 cylinder 84 bhp engine. For a non hassled driving style this car should still be able to give other sedans a run for their money.
And the next time it rains horribly on potholed roads in Bangalore, you will thank your stars for being in the TUV 300.
As a final note here is the price list of the vehicle in Bangalore City.

The autocar review can be found here, for your viewing pleasure. And the manual can be found here. If you want to make your TUV look even more tougher, you can choose from a huge list of accessories described here.
Hope you liked the information provided. If you did hit the comment section below to tell me what you liked most about the TUV 300. Enjoy your drive and wear your seatbelts.
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Published September 17, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

My mobile ownership journey

On a holiday me and my wife started discussing about whether I need to dump my iPhone 6+ and go for that new shiny Samsung Note 5 which was just launched, or perhaps the 6s, or the upcoming nexus phones. This is when my wife asked me whether I have kept a tab on how many phones I had purchased all my life. Well, I remembered and here is the list :-)

Early 2000 : Motorola CD928
This Motorola was an awesome beauty way back in year 2000. It was a fashion to flip out the keypad, the large LCD text screen and the gorgeous antenna. Costing almost Rs.10000/- way back this was a status symbol to possess. Added to that the only mobile network at that time was JT Mobiles (which is now our famour Airtel) Not to mention outgoing calls were Rs.7 a minute and incoming was Rs.3 a minute. People still wondered whether as a college passout into industry I was mad to buy this expensive a phone, but the stares it got satisfied the ownership.
2002 : Nokia 3300
Nokia’s evolution from 3100 turned out to be the flashy 3300 and the gimmicky ringtones kept everyone tapping their feet. Solid battery life, some great call clarity, this was the phone doing the rounds in Malaysia when I used to stay there at that time
2003 : Samsung V200
Samsung’s V200 was their early foray into the camera flip phone segment and after much of analysis this phone was mine for a while until I returned to India.
2003: HP iPAQ
The HP iPAQ was already doing good with PDA’s and with GSM they took it a step further to have a portable computer running windows CE in your pocket. A phone, a PDA, life was great!
For the decade ending 2010, and beyond until now
Motorola A1200
With a stylus and a brilliant resistive touchscreen, even though the options of font were too small, this phone was capable of being a PDA and a phone at the same time. Very pocketable, loud speaker, and amazing call clarity were hallmarks of a motorola A1200. What followed was the razor which went on to create history, but somehow I did not own that!
Nokia 6600
It was Symbian’s best phone at the time of its rule, with users swearing by its quality. Such was the power of Nokia 6600 that merely owning it was a status symbol. The joystick, its easy to use options, buttons, and some great battery life with needless to mention great call quality, this was the phone to have.
Panasonic A100
I was always a huge fan of little phones, and the A100 from panasonic proved itself to be the mighty Jerry of the Tom and Jerry league. Its cool blue lighting, and its somewhat difficult to use buttons, its miniaturization - it was a product unique to its category and surprisingly good quality of calls.
Olive Compacta
The olive Compact from olive telecom is not a mere play toy though it looks so. Started off at Rs.999 and now at Rs.575 or so, this phone is a testimony that the category it belongs to still has takers even now. I still have the phone, and it works even now. No nonsense phone, nothing smart, just the calls. Absolutely unique and cool
The Nokia Asha Saga - The 3 series asha
Nokia was struggling to infuse fresh life into its Series 40 based phones with the Asha series. They suffered from lags, useless apps, though had a good call quality. However the hardware was still cool to hold and use. Since there was a need for a dual sim phone, with the advent of dual sim needs, this one went out of my house
The Nokia asha 5 series
For me I felt the 501 was an evolution of phones like the panasonic, olive, and moto a1200. Nokia had their brilliant design language stand out, though the software was extremely slow and did not match upto what the industry expected. I still have this phone, though do not use it anymore. Some things are there to be seen and to make you happy everytime you see them.
The Windows Saga
Lumia 710

Nokia’s effort at moving to Windows was some sort of disaster with the 710 and earlier models with the operating system itself being no more than a dud. Frequent hangs, crashes, and glitches was MS’ way of introducing their new mobile OS
Lumia 1520
After a span of 2-3 years I decided to give Nokia another chance and purchased their outrageously priced 1520 flagship. This was the best Nokia ever produced, barring another model which had the 41mp camera. In every way the screen was the best, the phone was a beauty to use. However the lack of apps even after so many years, put me down and in order to salvage some cost out of the loss, I had to sell it out, thereby also signifying my exit with Windows once and forever.
The Alcatel Ice Cube 803
Alcatel does not call it the ice cube for no reason. The 803 series is a brilliant resistive screen phone (even in 2015) as its sold for a purpose. The SAR rating for this phone is one of the best in the market which means your brains wont fry even if you talk on this phone for hours together. I still have this, and use it sometimes for overseas calls that last more than couple of hours. Absolutely cool on the ear, and does not provide anything else fantastic
The Android Saga
Dell XCD35
About sometime after Apple starting rolling out their smartphones, Android which started off somewhat in a lacklustre way started catching up. The Dell XCD 35 was a brilliantly designed product off the shelf and it was running Android 2.0+ After some while of using it, I had to give it to my wife who used it to the hilt before dumping it to a mobile shop guy who wanted it for the spare parts to repair a customer’s similar phone. Till today, there are two brands that impress me - dell and Blackberry - they have always had some solid designs on their mobiles and this has led to some good models in the past including the dell Venue and venue pro.
Lenovo K900
Lenovo was a master of industrial design and this clearly showed in their K900 which had Android married to Intel processors. The phone itself was just super awesome, but gaming made it hot (not warm) and their speaker and mic quality let them down on this model. I had to return it to flipkart for a refund simply becuase the most important functionality of the mic and speaker were horrible. They learnt their problem and had since launched K910 and more lately their k3 series lower than Rs.15000 where they are playing in their field well. More on that later
Hello Moto G
After Motorola’s sad butchering in the late 2000s, they came back with Android and the new Moto G. This phone with stock android still remains popular in many avatars even today. It had the most oustanding vibrate mode, some exceptional call quality which was typical of moto phones since a decade, but with less RAM though not necessarily slow. The battery tended to go weak after a year or so, but my wife still uses this, and she can swear by the quality even today. No wonder then that Motorola is again on the upswing launching the play and style editions of Moto X shortly expected.
Hello Moto E
If you like something, and your people at home also like something, then you need to buy two of the same immediately. In order to make my father in law happy, I purchased the Moto E which was a lesser child of the moto family with reduced hardware but somewhat still usable
The LG G2 was by far one of the best android phones I used in my entire life. The user interface was silly in my opinion, but very usable, it had IR, it had wireless flash access, and everything else one could imagine. They pioneered the backside buttons concept which quickly caught on among other manufacturers. It was great to hold, with a premium feel and had a brilliant screen. However, the user interface grew on me so much that I felt that I really needed a change beyond a year. No amount of rooting, or otherwise could refresh this on the LG so I had to let it go. One of the good things about LG is the amount of software support they provide where you can brick your phone entirely and bring it back to showroom condition all by yourself. However the android updates were a pain to get as well.
Nexus 4
The Nexus 4 was an example of how NOT to design a phone experiment that LG undertook. Glass on both sides, phone getting extremely hot which was identified as a design flaw all over the world with no solution in sight, my phone just cracked on the rear glass on its own. Just was kept on the table and boooom. It was getting so hot to even keep on the ear and make a call that the only thing I wanted to do with it was to dump it in the recycle bin. No wonder then that the Nexus 5 was rolled out and this one went into oblivion. LG’s two different faces between the Nexus 4 and the G2.
The HTC 1
After LG, right there was the HTC 1 which was yet another phone which made some waves in the android world. They had one of the best speakers almost rivaling apple itself, and the premium feel was one of the best in the market. Somehow HTC UI never really improved and evolved over time and their keyboard though one of the best started feeling boring after a while. With a difficult decision to make I had to let it go for good.
HTC 616
After sometime I was using HTC 616 as my secondary phone, but with its internal 4GB memory, and an absolutely laggy OS, it was not a difficult decision for me to get rid of it. Sometimes I dont understand why a company like HTC goes into this low end business and gets screwed without knowing how to produce what can sell in large numbers. Anyway, now that I have seen two HTC phones, I am done with HTC for good.
Xiaomi Redmi Note
This one single company from China has caused so much ripples in the indian mobile industry that perhaps even Micromax did not cause. Their product the Redmi Note is one of the best in the price range, and my dad still uses the phone even though it may have a cracked screen. A bit laggy with 2GB ram, still Xiaomi has one of the best user interfaces and the hardware itself is solid bang for the buck. At less than Rs.10000 there is still no phone to beat this hands down. This company beat the Oppos, Gionees and many others so badly that even Lenovo had to bow down to the pricing versus quality pressure with their A and k3 series.
The Lenovo A6000+
More recently I purchased my Lenovo A6000+ for Rs.6000. An android phone this cheap and of reasonable quality was all was needed to set this market on fire for low end phones. The K3 note followed through as well pretty soon. The ViBe UI from lenovo, is slick, fast and cuts the crap out of user interface design. With two 4G sim slots, memory card slot and a brilliant screen for the price who the hell cared for anything else? This now replaced my Alcatel and HTC as my secondary phone and is doing the duty for me at the moment at home.
The Blackberry Saga
You know there is this company which was one of the best in the market and from Canada, that the entire world once stood up for them with respect. They had the best quality hardware, an advanced and straightforward user interface and some really great handsets. Blackberry was the businessman’s best friend forever.
Blackberry Curve 8520
The blackberry had many models including the flip, pearl, etc which were hits in their own right, and there was a time in India where they were heavily marketing the Curve series. For some god damned reason, they always bundled their own Blackberry talk plans with the operators, which they did away with after sometime. They had and still have a huge fan following in Indonesia primarily now and some people in India. The Curve series had a navigation trackpad, physical keyboards and some exceptional call qualities and it was an absolute joy to use. However my patience with it ran out after sometime having seen other better models with Apple and Android in the market.
Blackberry Storm touch
True to their tradition BB brought about the storm touch with the clickable glass panel which was funky, unique and silly at the same time. I loved clicking the screen wherever I wanted and it grabbed eyeballs all around my office at the time of using it. However pretty soon, I felt it was bulky and not so intuitive and started bringing me into boredom state once more. So it had to go for good. The thing with Blackberry is there are buyers who are fans of BB and only true fans will understand the brand and the phones. others will not.
Blackberry Z3
After many failures trying to compete with Apple and Android, BB still did not give up, they brought in their z3 with android sideloading and other such features to still remain relevant in the app store market. I decided to give them another chance after seeing the way they goofed up on earlier chances. Their CEO was replaced, and now a chinese CEO took over and I hoped that after so much of layoffs and cost cutting they would have learnt the lesson. But it was not to be. It does not mean I was against their hardware. I loved it. Really. Honestly. From the bottom of my heart, i loved blackberry. I will always love them. For what they were, not what they are or what they become. But that is one thing as opposed to living with their products day in and out.
The z3 is a brilliant piece of hardware. Truly well made. But the software sucks. big time. Its nice to use. Start thinking apps and you are done. I mean really finished. I had to sell the instrument within one week of buying it. I have never decided against blackberry this soon in my life ever. News has it that BB is busy working on their next pure android device the “VENICE” and its expected to some out sometime soon. Real soon. But for now I will remain far away from them. Once bitten Thrice shy.
The Apple journey
iPhone 3GS
Colourful icons, milky white body, lots of apps - who did not like Steve Jobs and his product the iPhone. This was truly a game changer of sorts. The iPhone, 2G, 3G later, it was time for the 3GS - which was faster and thinner than the 3rd generation iPhone. When I first held the iPhone in my hand, I truly felt the influence a smartphone can have in one’s life. I mean really it was not hard to appreciate the quality, the build the software everything put together so nicely. Steve had changed the world one product at a time and this was the beginning of domination.
iPhone 4S
It became a policy for me to skip one version and go for the improved versions. After two years of using iPhone 3GS which by the way was the longest ever product usage time for me, I decided to switch to the 4S. Similar screen size, less curves, more squarish, and thinner by a margin. Nothing changed except having more and more apps and a better camera.
iPhone 6plus
The one thing I was fed up of with Apple was the screen size. With their mentally retarted thinking they thought they could continue changing the world with just a 4 inch screen. While all others were moving steadily towards larger screens. It took them two years or more to move out of the 5 and 5S to bring in the 6 and 6plus and now the 6s all sporting bigger displays. This was precisely the reason I was on android with bigger screens getting pampered. I was lying in wait for the big screen Apple and here it was. Beginning of this year 2015, I upgraded to the 6 plus. And I have only one word for it. Gorgeous. I mean it. The screen, the battery everything is great. And when you buy and apple year after year, you know what to expect. Or what not to expect. And it makes me at home with that understanding. I am appreciating a lot of things with apple. Its stability, usability the components used etc. But even the flatter look is wearing thin. The bezels around the phone are irritating. Not being able to transfer something using bluetooth is irritating. And every other such thing is irritating. So it will be only time before I give away this one also. For good. And the iphone 6S is no good either with just force touch, better camera, and 4k recording - something all other brands already have for a long time. I will definitely always sell an apple with a heavy heart no doubt mostly due to the feeling that Apple is not giving what the market is expecting. The claps are getting fewer and fewer during the keynotes and one day deathly silence shall fill the room. I really hope Apple turns around much faster than disaster strikes. And there is no history of any one company enjoying number 1 status for a long time. Headweight must not get in the way of understanding market sentiment. And I wish Apple hears.
This then my friends is the entire Saga of owning phones in my life. Clearly every product has excited me for some reason or the other and they have also left me for some really good reason or the other. The phones shall keep coming thick and fast and they shall also be owned thick and fast. But in these times of choices in plenty if any phone can be with me for a minimum of 2 years as my iphone 3gs did then, you will understand that history has again be created with a product worthy of ownership for so long. Till then, I hope you enjoyed this read.
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Published September 10, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

Mahindra TUV 300 Launched today


Mahindra has launched the TUV 300 today finally in the indian market. As expected its a low cost mini SUV, expecting to cost between 8 lac to 11 lac in Bangalore market. It has a 1.5k CC 3 cylinder engine pumping about close to 85 bhp with 230Nm of torque. The torque figures are close to swift diesel engines, and the bhp figures are close to most 88 bhp cars with 1.5kcc engine such as nissan, renault, maruti, etc.

What is however to be noted is the engine is a 3 cylinder as opposed to many other cars which give a 4 cylinder engine at same price. The car itself comes with whats needed including safety such as ABS, EBD and airbags, but the music system seems compromised. It would have been good if mahindra included their tiretronics and some other features from the scorpio which would have set their sales charts on fire. 

The boxy looks are not to everyones tastes, but for those who like it, it seems like it will be a sturdy vehicle without a doubt. Its rugged looking, has meaty tyres, and a chassis which seems strong. Though the claims are that its a seven seater, the last two seats are side seats and not front facing from what information is available. There is also talk about a 7 seater TUV 500 expected to launch in a while. With an AMT automated manual version, and fuel efficiency in excess of 16-17kmpl, this vehicle will surely be purchased by many who need good value for money.

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Published August 30, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

Why the Park Chennai does not cut it when it comes to 5 Star hotels in Chennai

I had an opportunity to stay in the Park hotel, Chennai for business reasons. Most people needing to travel to Chennai to the US embassy prefer this hotel due to location. Also its a 5 star hotel. I did the booking on on a fairly well known travel website. It was painless to book and the hotel clarified whatever information was needed when they were called.

First the traffic around the place is horrendous. Gemini Flyover sure has seen generations in chennai and the traffic around this place makes it impossible to cross the road unless one uses the subway. If you think people will behave the same way as other cities when it comes to driving skills, be warned - this city wont wait for you to cross. If you value your life, be safe.

Now to the hotel itself. Given my very brief stay, I did not get to experience the restaurants, pool and other areas towards the terrace. The building is rather old and it is beginning to show at many places. The rooms were comfortable, and had mostly everything you would need. Two bottles of mineral water, a well stocked mini bar, tea/coffee making machines with creamer, sugar and coffee/tea supplies. The mini bar was as expected chargeable if you were to take anything from there.

For a change the bed was NOT spongy and springy like other hotels. I had a stiff but comfortable bed something that I usually long for in hotels, and soft pillows to provide even more comfort. Each room gets an individually controllable central airconditioning with the temperature setting panel on the wall. Now this is where I would like 5 star hotels to think a bit. When smaller hotels offer a remote control how come such a hotel decided not to provide this?

There was a sofa, stool and a high stool to place luggage which is wishful thinking. There was no fan in the room. Now you might argue that in a 5-star hotel a fan worsens the ambience. But thats not the point. A fan provides some instant air circulation while the aircon takes it own time. With all the windows closed, and curtains around, any hotel room begins to become stuffy. And this is exactly where you need a fan. If you cannot provide a ceiling fan, give a table fan or a tower fan. In a country like india, there are thousands of options available, you need to just think.

The lights were dim and not sufficient to work, I personally prefer some white light in the room, but this one had only yellows. To each his own opinion so I will leave this there!

One of the most important parts of the room which is lesser spoken about is the toilet. While the toilet itself was good and it was well appointed with whatever you would expect I found one glaring issue. A missing health faucet. Even the train I came by to chennai had one and I simply cannot understand why a 5-star hotel like the Park decided to do away with it. For me cleanliness is very important and people like me who are very personal hygiene conscious will surely be pissed off with this omission.

The bathtub was great, and so was the showers (plural). I did find another thing quite annoying. the flush in the toilet would go off only after 30 seconds each time. Now do we really need to waste water like this because we are a 5-star? In India everyone is expected to be conservative even if we flaunt money. Someone somewhere in the hotel chain needs to make this distinction and take the baton. A few hotels have begun not washing the bedding if we say so, and water conservation is just another similar matter.

Also the hot water was not really hot, at best warm. Which turned cold every few minutes once. What is the point? In spite of keeping my AC completely turned off in the room and without a fan, the whole room was so cold simply because the aircon in the corridors was too cold. After all this, if you find that you do not have hot water, hot enough to your wish it becomes very difficult to stay put in the room. I complained, someone did something, and nothing changed much.

The room service menu was a horror to see. You know its not the money part really that pinches me. Before you begin to assume things about me, I have the money that it takes to order whatever is there on that list. But when the rates of items are in dollars you seriously begin to wonder what is the value they bring compared to any really decent hotel nearby. We have heard of indians being charged less and foreigners more in tourist places. Why can the hotels not adopt similar policy? For indians charge in rupees and for others charge in their currency at a certain reasonable amount.

A cup of authentic Madras filter coffee is priced at Rs.250/- Even cafe coffee day will have to hang their head in shame at this rate. The best one can give for a cup of filter coffee in chennai no matter where it is served is 50 bucks. Not five times that. Well you may now begin to say I don't deserve to stay there if I cannot consume something at that price. Not exactly. Any item you see in the list is either 550, 750 or 1000 bucks. So for example a dosa maybe 1000 bucks. Can I see you frown now? I'm glad you get the point.

This is perhaps the only hotel where alcoholic drinks are cheaper than tiffin.

Thankfully there was free WiFi - the basic needs of engineers according to the revised Maslow's laws of hierarchal needs. And it was quite fast. I hate any hotel not offering complementary wifi these days. And the Park did not disappoint. I never even bothered to ask anyone for travel arrangements within the hotel. I had Ola, Uber and the million autos just outside the gate. So that's one brownie point less to the Park.

The next morning was the complimentary breakfast. Now I must say the restaurant 601 in the hotel, did an exemplary job with the kind of breakfast spread they offered. Simply amazing. Tasty. And full of variety. English breakfast, South indian everything you needed was there. Good job Park.

Check in was quite late but check out was not. They can have more than three reception staff as the flow of visitors is high. Further, I was offered during checkout that I could come and refresh and go even later in the day, which is a nice touch. I did read the book kept in the room on the hotel rules and I must say I did not feel so welcoming with the way the language was presented. Perhaps someone needs to be more youthful in whats shown to visitors. You can't do this, you can't do that, we dont appreciate this, we dont appreciate that. You know the whole book sounds negative. Dont be rude to our staff, we dont like pets - blah blah blah.

I dont mind you saying we must not be rude to your staff, but it also applies the other way round. Please understand that visitors to the hotel are generally tired, and not always in the best moods due to whatever other problems they are in. I do get the point that some visitors act like they are the Kings and Queens of some faraway kingdom, but not all are like that. That is why hospitality is a difficult business. Its all about how to put up a nice face even when the customer has issues with the hotel. Anyway this is something for you to handle, and not me. But putting up the rulebook like what you have - I would have changed certain things in it the way it was said.

In Summary, I did have a nice time at your hotel with some awesome breakfast, and a comfortable room, but with some important things being omitted in the room and toilet, and the horrendous pricing of your food items, I guess this is only a place to stay not to eat. For eating there is always a Saravana Bhavan at a stones throw away (<1km, Gopalapuram) which you can walk to. With room rates around 6000 to 7000 a night, I think a lot more can be done to better the experience for visitors.

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Published August 01, 2015 by Srikanth Eswaran

The Hyundai Creta first look

Today I got a chance to visit the Hyundai Showroom to take a look at the Creta, their newly launched mini SUV. As you would already be knowing by now this big fella is making headlines all over India as the latest on the block to demolish all other SUVs on the market (which includes Ford Ecosport, Duster, Scorpio, XUV and also the not yet launched S-Cross from Maruti).

Will the Creta have enough under its belt to take away the throne from the others? Looks? Performance? Comfort? Space? Read on.

There was no big fanfare about the Creta and as I entered the showroom, there it was in full glory in Cherry Red colour. I have been reading all about Creta in the last one month and I must tell you that I share the same opinion as the others when it comes to looks. No amount of photographs will be enough to explain the real perspective of a human mind unless you look at the car in person.

The design is brilliant. Initially I thought that the grill in the front would jut out just too much to make it bulky as seen in many of the reviewers photos. But you know what? Not at all. I mean really. As is the case with hyundai they have created an SUV with a massive appearance. It will really have some presence on the road. You need to see it to beleive it.

The macho front grill, the beautiful fog lamps, the triangle shaped bright orange indicators, and the imposing headlamps all of these add value to the overall body. The side profile is similar so XUV but a bit more sober and lends very well to the overall character of the car. Though Korean in nature the unmistakable thud while closing the doors is a bit reassuring. No wonder then that this car apparently has very high C-NCAP ratings.

The whole design begins to rise towards the rear ending a Santa Fe like tail lamp cluster which bodes very well to complete the muscular look. In terms of looks and styling Hyundai have a winner compared to the Duster. It even beats the Ford Ecosport by a small margin in my opinion. Somehow the XUV rear end looks very heavy and not connected to the frontal portions and side profiles. The cheetah inspiration has gone a bit too far. Hyundai have kept it simple and copying the Santa Fe has worked wonders for Creta.

Enough said about the front. I got into all the seats one by one. First and foremost, I did find that there was ample thigh support in all seats. Maybe some reports might be biased on this count, but I found the seats to be pretty well made and very cozy and comfortable. Hyundai has the bad habit of placing seats so deep that even the driver cannot see any part of the car and has to drive by assumptions. But somehow in Creta the seat height is better than in a say i-20 which means you can now see the road better if not the bonnet. Having said that, the rear bench has very generous leg room even for a person my height (5’10”). And that when my own comfortable position is adjusted on the drivers seat. To give you a perspective I can make a young kid of 1-2 years stand in front of me on rear seat. Thats the amount of space available. Rest assured each and every journey will be more than satisfying on this car.

The front row seats have good cushioning, good grip and engulf you well enough to keep you cocooned. I am somehow not a big fan of vertical aircon vents, and this disappoints me with Creta. But as such the looks dont appear spoilt with this dashboard design. There are enough cubby holes for all your knick knacks. And its obviously a hyundai. So this is expected. The steering is well architected, with nicely placed controls. The driver door has rest of all the controls which make it easy to use. I specifically like the mirror adjust angled towards the driver on the door, which is really a thought out placement.

The stereo system with all functions perhaps will be available only in the top end model as defined in the brochure here. The prices on road in Bangalore vary between 11.5 lakhs and 17+ lakhs which is very steep for whats on offer. Take a look at it below

Overall the car also has ample boot space, and passenger space which is its defining point. I have not yet got a chance to drive this far enough to make a conclusion, but I do not see why it can give other SUVs some nightmares.

Until I drive the SUV more and find out its bits and pieces which are of interest, I will leave you with some stunning pictures of what Hyundai has created for the Indian market. I am more than sure this will set their sales charts on fire.

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