Sharp In-car Air Ioniser Review

S&R Pricemart is known to occasionally carry novelty products in limited quantities. This is one such product I found in their Alabang branch a few weeks ago:

Sharp Plasmacluster Ion Generator for Car Use

Sure there are generic 600-peso car ionisers in no-name blister packaging, but I’ve always wondered if these are any good. Sharp, being the well known electronics and appliance giant that it is, would most probably make better car ionisers. Besides, they do have ionisers built in their other products such as air conditioners, air purifiers and refrigerators. Without much thought, I snagged this one.

Tumbler shaped; great build quality

As you can see, the Sharp IG-BC2E air ioniser is tumbler shaped so it fits conveniently in your car’s cup holder. It’s a lot bulkier than the generic thumb-sized ionisers because it has a fan to circulate the air while ionising it. This gizmo is said to remove bad odors (a basic air ioniser claim) as well as remove viruses, mold and allergens. Product life is stated at 19,000 hours or roughly 6 years at 8 hours a day, after which you would have to replace the ion generator.

A fan sucks in cabin air through the mesh filter at the lower part of the unit.

I’ve been using the air ioniser for a few weeks now, but I honestly cannot tell if the thing works (i.e does what it claims to do). Subjectively, I did notice that in-car air did become odor free and somehow cleaner and “easier” to breathe in.

Outlet of ionized air at the top of the unit, plus a single button to operate it.

Serial at bottom of unit. Does the low number imply little quantities produced? Is the "2010" printed the production year?

Though this is a pricey car accessory at 10 times the cost of a generic ioniser, it is one that isn’t fixed into one car. You can have the benefit of improved in-cabin air quality even if you have two or more automobiles. That, and the fact that its a solid, durable, long life product may be enough reasons to justify its purchase.

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Gran Turismo 5 Review and Unboxing

Let me state the obvious: I have a passion for cars. And like the zillion other car buffs (and gamers), I’ve been impatiently waiting for the GT5 to be released. I do not consider myself a gamer; probably never will be. But I enjoy (casually) playing Gran Turismo because it’s the only racing game with a realistic simulator feel. I get to virtually drive hundreds of cars, be it new, classic, rare, exotic or expensive; cars that I will never get a chance to own in my lifetime.

I’ve been following the news on GT5, and the folks from Polyphony had been crying “wolf!” for several times, announcing launch dates only to postpone them. Whether it’s a deliberate marketing ploy to whet gamer appetite or an honest failure to beat deadlines, I do not know. The real and final launch date was Nov. 24, and without any real effort I tried calling up Data Blitz at Powerplant Mall at 5:30pm to check if they already had the game in stock. I was not too optimistic, as I heard a lot had already pre-ordered. But much to my surprise and delight, they had extra copies. Long story short: by 7pm, a copy of the Collector’s Edition was in the palm of my hands.

Gran Turismo 5 Collector's Edition

I could’ve waited for the next day to pick it up, but I braved the rush hour + holiday season traffic jam, just to get it by Nov. 24th. “I wanted to have this at its historical launch date. I wanted to be first,” I thought. It was then it occured to me: damn I’ve unconsciously become a GT5 fanboy.

Why did I get the Collector’s Ed? Data Blitz did not have the standard edition yet. Or maybe they do, but were hoarding it to push the more expensive versions to, er, drooling fan boys. At Php3995 ($91) it’s a bit more expensive than the standard (game only) pack, but the Collector’s Ed is definitely well worth it because of its extra goodies (see unboxing pics below).

GT5 Jewel Case

Initial Impressions

1. New for GT5. The extra game contents (not found in previous GT releases) delighted me. Options like giving your car an oil change or car wash are cute little additions, sort of like giving “your cars” a Tamagotchi treatment. The special races will take away the inevitable boredom of racing in the same old track. There are a thousand cars to choose from and dozens of tracks¬† which I’ve yet to unlock–these guarantee that it would take forever before I get tired of the game. I also like the fact that I could plug in my own race music. The photo feature is probably the highlight and the most impressive of the GT5 extras. It allows you to take pictures of your car amidst scenic backgrounds with a camera that had DSLR-like capabilities, all virtually of course. Polyphony folks have noticed that gamers and car lovers are also into photography. In short, they have geeks as their target market.

2. Game play. If you’ve tried GT5 Prologue, then this full version is more of the same. In fact, in terms of game play, GT5 has just carried over the Gran Turismo tradition. If you’re a GT fan, expect no surprises. Gran Turismo 5 is for the love of driving and racing, nothing more and nothing less. If that bores you, then you’re not a hard core car buff.

3. Graphics. This is one aspect of the game that (mildly) disappoints, and you can find similar comments elsewhere in the web. Shadows and other elements appear pixelized and some race tracks lack detail. Furthermore, round objects such as wheels, headlights and steering wheels look like polygons.¬† It’s disturbing to note that in this aspect the Prologue seems to be better than the full version! What’s more, some cars do not even have a dashboard view. Somehow all of this gives me a feeling that the game is incomplete, or hurriedly finished. If I can theorize, graphics is probably the main cause why GT5 has been delayed. Eventually the game was launched even if it isn’t fully “baked to perfection,” simply because it just couldn’t be delayed any further. I’m hoping that software updates will refine and polish. On a positive note, cars now show damage albeit very minimal (I remember Yamauchi saying that the game shouldn’t take away the perfect beauty and form of the cars featured).

Overall, I’m one happy camper for Gran Turismo 5. For me it is still the best car and driving game out there, par none. It isn’t perfect–mainly due to graphics–but I deem it forgivable and easily overshadowed by all the other great aspects of the game. I consider GT5 as an epic endeavor and an epic success as it is. My verdict: If you’re a car nut like me, go and get a copy of this piece of automotive history. Until the graphics improvement updates arrive (unfounded and pure wishful thinking) try not to pixel peep and just enjoy the ride.

Unboxing

So what does the Collector’s Edition include? Some eye candy for ya…

Open box messages are common for fancy packaging. This one says "The Drive of your life."

Card for exclusive downloadable content: 5 exotic cars!

Apex is an anime paperback-sized book with glossy magazine print. It tries to be a comprehensive car encyclopedia with a bit of car history, driving techniques and even a tuning and performance guide. In my opinion this alone is worth the extra cost of the collector's ed.

Mine included a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Model Car (other Internet sites show a Nissan GTR)

McDonald’s Chicken Bacon Deluxe

Whenever I travel, my rule of thumb is that if I have to eat fast food, I have to order something that’s not available in the Philippines. Besides, that is the whole point in traveling!

In a recent trip to Hong Kong, I went to Mong Kok to shop at the car accessories stores. Come lunchtime, I took a break and got grub at the nearest restaurant I could find, which happened to be a McDonald’s. Sticking to my rule, I ordered this:

McDonald's Chicken Bacon Deluxe

A quick look would have you thinking that it’s Mickey-D’s attempt at matching Burger King’s famous chicken sandwich. Well, it’s that and more. McDonald’s actually took a few steps further by adding bacon, some sort of barbecue sauce, and making cheese default (optional for BK), all these on a wheat bun. Sounds like a premium product right? At HK$30.80 for the value meal, it definitely is.

My quick review recommendation is “yes, go for it!” if you happen to visit HK. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s delicious (definitely beats Burger King’s version), filling, and a once in a lifetime experience (who knows if it’s a limited-time offer?).

Sighting #3: Demo Fail

Sighted at the Philippine Airlines International Airport (Terminal 2) about three weeks ago:

BSOD at a Samsung Free Internet Demo Booth = Epic Fail

As you can see, the guys at Samsung Marketing have provided free Internet service for travelers, with one major flaw: One of the computer terminals is practically useless, as the Windows OS crashed, thereby displaying the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death. In the wise words of Alanis Morissette, “it’s a black fly in your Chardonnay.”

Thank heavens the other PC is working.

Yeah, I know that the BSOD is mainly a software bug and probably has nothing to do with Samsung’s hardware, but this still is an epic fail in my book. Hope they’ve got it fixed already.

Ambi Pur Dual

If there’s such a thing as the official car air freshener for geeks, this would be it:

Ambi Pur Dual

It’s a dispenser that you load with two fragrances. Of course you can’t use both scents at the same time (you fool!). The 2 smells are supposed to be complimenting, and the dispenser has a switch(!) that allows you to swing from one aroma to the other, depending on your mood. There are various fragrance combinations to choose from for both the refills and the dispenser kits. One combination even implies that you use smell A for mornings and smell B for evenings.

This is definitely something to delight geeks and would be fellow geek passengers, not to mention an instant conversation piece to anyone that hitches a ride.

I bought 2 kits of these for our 2 cars. My car has the black dispenser. The white one in the photo matches the color of the wife’s car. Unfortunately, Ambi Pur Dual isn’t available in the Philippines. I was only able to see these in Hong Kong and Bangkok.