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Ring out the old, ring in the new

"Only 25 per cent of the users are aware of the various features available in their instruments"


TODAY CELLULAR phone has become one of the daily necessities of almost everyone.

But, only 25 per cent of users are aware of its features and utilities, say most of the cell-phone dealers in the city.

"Most of the mediocre users prefer only sturdy models. Reason, it is the best for frequent use", says Ayyalu Samy of Madurai Mobiles.

Classifying the customers into three groups, he says, "the first group consists of people who prefer trendy models with more number of features as they use it more as a mobile computer than a gizmo for communication. Next clique of users prefer sturdy ones and with easy operating systems. Lastly it is the general customers, who have little knowledge about the instruments and their features. They are lured mostly by the ring tones that come along with the instruments".

Regarding the number of ring tones, Gracy, service technician, Nithilam, says, "mostly there will be 27 ring tones and seven more new tones can be downloaded and the popular ring tones among the public are the downloaded ones".

Endorsing this view, Mr. Ayyalu Samy adds, " Now there are some models, which have more number of in-built tones".

"But, if the number of ring tones downloaded exceeds the allotted space then some in-built tones will get deleted", he cautions.

On battery consumption, charging and storage level, the dealers say, "it is almost same in all instruments. They can be used for a minimum of 2 days or little more and 12 to 14 days on standby mode. Similarly the charging time consumed is one to two hours".

Some precautions that the dealers administer for longer usage of batteries are: "Avoid playing games for longer hours, as it may consume more power and can also damage the software. Do not charge batteries in your cars. Do not place the instrument close to magnetic fields to avoid damage to the instrument and the SIM card".

About power consumption for charging batteries, Mr. Ayyalu Samy says, "it is just 3.5 volts and will not consume even one unit".

As for as servicing is concerned, Parthasarathy, a servicing technician says, "there is no time frame. Unless there is any major problem with your gizmo you need not think about servicing at all".

Some of the regular problems that crop up are damage to the antenna, the SIM card owing to use of wrong PIN or PUK and when water enters the panel, the servicing technicians point out.

One common feature is that most of the leading shops in the city have a separate unit for servicing the instruments. "In our shop we collect Rs.75 as labour charges, apart from the cost of the spares to be replaced. To service the software we charge Rs.250 plus cost of the spares", says Mr. Ayyalu Samy.

On security features, the dealers say, "apart from locking the SIM card, now one of the companies has come out with a new facility of locking the instrument itself".

"Similarly, by typing a particular number you can know the factory details of the instrument", says Ayyalu Samy.

"Only 25 per cent of the users are aware of the various features available in their instruments. Otherwise, the generally used features are the lock, games and the SMS. Even the alarm facility is less utilised by the users", he points out adding, "some of the latest models have come out with net access, camera, facility to download visuals, etc."

Speaking about the receiving capacity, Mr. Parthasarathy says, "it depends on the strength of the tower and the location also plays a crucial role in this aspect".

Though duplication of these products is ruled out, still `grey market' exists in every city and so does in Madurai.

"Hardly, there will be a gain of Rs.200 to Rs.500 for both the buyer and the seller. As most of the sales carried out here are done without billing, the buyer is deprived of the benefit of warranty and free servicing offered by the company. For the seller, it may be a good deal as he does not pay tax for the sale", point out the dealers, adding, "of course they sell original pieces only".

Despite all these, undoubtedly the communication technology has made rapid strides and the journey still goes on. With Internet, the world has become a global village and now with cell phones, it is just inside your fist or palm.

Know your SIM card

SIM is the one oft-used word by cell phone users. What is a SIM card?

It is known as the Subscriber Identification Module, which is a card with a small chip attached to it. This card gives your number and the connection facility to your mobile phone.

On each SIM card there will be a PIN (Personal Identification Number). This is a four-digit numerical password selected by the customers themselves and protects the SIM against misuse. If the PIN is entered wrongly thrice in a row, your SIM card will get blocked and your mobile phone will ask for the PUK (Personal Unlock Key) which is also a digital password provided by the mobile phone service provider to every subscriber. Similarly, if you type wrong PUK 10 times in a row your SIM card may be damaged and has to be replaced with a duplicate one given by the company.

Mobile melodies

FREE INCOMING calls are now literally music to the ears. As you step into a busy shopping mall, the ambience takes on a tuneful note with hand sets around ringing in the feel-good Saathiya theme, (it tops the ring tones chart), a racy Dum maro dum, the cheerful Malgudi Days theme or the mellow Suprabhatam.

Ring tones today have gone way beyond the basic beeps to inform you about incoming calls. If you happen to own the hottest polyphonic 3G mobile sets, then you have manna for the ears. In the earlier second-generation mobile phones, the music was monophonic, that is keypad generated tunes with each handset having about 20 or more options by default.

The third generation or 3G handsets, however, have the facility to play music. You can lend a ear to a Beethoven or Mozart symphony on the Nokia 7650 for instance. And if you are wondering how to get these mellifluous and distinct tunes, welcome to the world of connectivity.

There are innumerable websites that offer you ring tone downloads including company URLs such as www.airtelworld.com (offers tunes created by A. R. Rahman ), and www.hutch.co.in, popular websites like www.rediff.com and www.yahoo.com or specific ones like www.ringtones.com. You could choose from Telugu and Hindi film songs, themes from Hollywood blockbusters and more. "You like to hear songs that cheers you up. Having your favourite song as your ring tone is a sure-fire pick me up," says Ravi a student. On procuring ring tones he says, "We exchange ring tones via SMS." Ravi updates his ring tones everyday and uses different ring tones for each caller group - is that organised or what?

Assigning ring tones to particular groups is the norm in the ring tone world. Some tones encourage you to take the call while others make you go, "I do not want to take this call."

"I have one for my family— the Saathiya tone, the Las Ketchup number for unknown callers and Shakira for my friends," says Kumar. He, however, keeps his mobile on silent mode at work because it is rather distracting at office. Likewise, Rajesh, a businessman, alternates periodically between the Malgudi Days theme and the Type 21 on his Nokia 3110, "because the music is mild and soothing. When you are in a meeting, you would not like it disrupted with loud music. Whether you choose Shakira or a Saathiya for a ring tone, I guess depends on age, personality, occupation, workplace and more," he says.

No matter what your choice , the new fad has made the handset alive and personalised and shifted the mobile phone from being a communication tool to a lifestyle statement.

M.R.ARAVINDAN

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