Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - LIVING TECH - BY NANDAGOPAL RAJAN

Till a cou­ple of years ago, any­one buy­ing a note­book had to spend ex­tra on ex­ter­nal speak­ers. The sound in lap­tops were so bad that many deal­ers had started bundling these small speak­ers with all lap­top and net­book pur­chases. The only ex­cep­tion was the Macbook se­ries which some­how seemed to have au­dio which you could hear over the noise of the air con­di­tioner or the tele­vi­sion.

But then things changed, and changed dras­ti­cally. One of the pioneers of good sound in reg­u­lar lap­tops was the HP Pav­il­ion se­ries which had sound good enough to sell as an en­ter­tain­ment de­vice. “We mon­i­tor con­sumer trends and changes in us­age pat­terns to con­stantly im­prove our prod­ucts,” says Ke­tan Pa­tel, HP In­dia’s Di­rec­tor- Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing. “We un­der­stood that young cus­tomers needed top qual­ity au­dio and a bet­ter over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. So we in­te­grated the tech­nol­ogy into our de­vice.” To en­sure top notch sound, HP now has Beats Au­dio, Dolby and Al­tec Lans­ing de­pend­ing on the prod­uct range.

Adds Pa­tel: “Once we have this kind of au­dio qual­ity the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence goes up; be it lis­ten­ing to mu­sic or play­ing games or do­ing pre­sen­ta­tions.” The new HP Pav­il­ion dv6, for in­stance, has quad speak­ers—two in front, two be­hind and a sub-woofer. HP has been able to in­te­grate more speak­ers in the same space due to tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments. “But the Beats Au­dio brand­ing means we have in­te­grated the hard­ware that is com­pat­i­ble with the tech­nol­ogy mak­ing

the ex­pe­ri­ence much more su­pe­rior to other hard­ware. So in ma­chines like the dm4 we have the same au­dio ex­pe­ri­ence with and with­out the head­set.”

Acer, mean­while, has tied up with Dolby to en­hance the au­dio qual­ity in most of its de­vices. In fact, the Ico­nia range of tablets from the com­pany has ar­guably the best sound in the seg­ment. Says Saji Kumar, Di­rec­tor-prod­uct Man­age­ment, Acer In­dia: “To en­sure that con­sumers re­ceive a whole­some ex­pe­ri­ence while watch­ing videos on their note­books/ tablets, we have equipped our con­sumer prod­uct range with the lat­est Dolby fea­tures. There is no com­pro­mise be­ing made on au­dio qual­ity.”

Across com­pa­nies and de­vices, Dolby has been work­ing to im­prove sound qual­ity. “We want to en­sure that the sound re­pro­duc­tion is such that the artiste’s in­tent is not lost what ever screen you might be lis­ten­ing the work on,” says Ashim Ma­lik, Mar­ket­ing Head at Dolby Lab­o­ra­to­ries In­dia. He says that Dolby has a five-screen strat­egy, en­sur­ing that the sound qual­ity re­mains con­sis­tent across screens—from a cinema theatre to a mo­bile phone. How­ever, Dolby en­hances sound at the soft­ware level, tun­ing each de­vice to en­sure it has “cin­e­matic sound qual­ity”. The prover­bial ‘Dolby Ef­fect’ can be ex­pe­ri­ence on a range of Nokia phones start­ing with the N8 launched last year.

Mo­bile phones have had great sound for a few years, ever since Sony-eric­s­son launched its Walk­man se­ries fol­lowed by Nokia Xpress­mu­sic. But now these de­vices have sound qual­ity good enough to rock a party with­out any ex­ter­nal help. Plugged into a home theatre or speaker sys­tem, phones like the N8 and new Nokia 808 Pure­view will leave you won­der­ing if the sound is ac­tu­ally com­ing from some­thing that can be held in your palm. “But,” says Ashim Ma­lik of Dolby, “this sound qual­ity does not come easy. A lot of time and en­ergy has to be spent to get the sound qual­ity right.”

Mean­while, HTC has also an­nounced that Beats Au­dio will be a fea­ture in some of its topend phones.

In mo­bile phones, good sound is also about the mi­cro­phones used. While Mo­torola phones have made their mark with great au­dio, es­pe­cially the Rokr se­ries, the com­pany has also im­proved the voice clar­ity of its de­vices. “Our range of smart­phones have a rep­u­ta­tion for ex­cel­lent voice clar­ity,” says Wil­liam Moss, Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Asia-pa­cific, Mo­torola Mo­bil­ity. “We’ve also made it con­ve­nient for peo­ple to con­verse on our Blue­tooth head­sets by us­ing com­bi­na­tions of up to three mi­cro­phones in the head­sets, along with our Crys­taltalk tech­nol­ogy.” This, he says, dra­mat­i­cally re­duces back­ground noise and pro­vides amaz­ing au­dio on both sides of the call.

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