Restaurants: Himalayan Cuisine

Not a whole lot to say [1] about Himalayan Cuisine, mostly because I don’t know how accurate, overall, our experience there is considering we were there for lunch, didn’t feel like spending an hour narrowing down choices from the menu, and therefore opted (opted out?) for the lunch buffet. Which had been set out over an hour before we had arrived and which I can only presume doesn’t ever get… um… "refreshed."

The nice thing about lunch buffets is, it’s a great way to sample a slew of different dishes and get a better idea of which ones you like and don’t like, and super on the cheap. It’s not listed on their menu or their website or anywhere in the actual restaurant so far as I saw, but the lunch buffet at HC is about $10 ($9.99 on a technicality, if I remember correctly) per person.

The not-nice thing about lunch buffets is, as noted above, they are not necessarily maintained, especially if there isn’t enough traffic to warrant it. There were four other people in there when we walked through the door and no one came in after us the whole time we were there, so… yeah.

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Films: “The Illusionist”

I like Sarah B.’s site. I like it so much that it would probably be
safe to say that, should I ever meet Sarah B., I think we would get
along.

What I’m trying to say is, I respect Sarah B.’s opinions. So when Sarah
B. says 12 times in one paragraph, "Do not go see ‘The Illusionist,’" I
make a mental note of it. And I say firmly to myself, "Self? Do not go
see ‘The Illusionist.’"

But he wanted to see it last night (or rather, whenever we discussed seeing a
movie, that was the one he kept suggesting) and the only movie that’s
out right now that *I* really want to see is "The Last Kiss" (but it’s
kind of a relationship-y movie and that would have just been kind of
weird, and also he *didn’t* want to see that one, and also also I’ve
already demanded that the Hazmat see it with me), and I decided to
spend the three hours between lunch and dinner unpacking and doing my
hair instead of coming up with Things To Do…

So we saw "The Illusionist."

And you know? It wasn’t that bad. I mean, the dialogue was trite and
pretty forced, but the lighting effects were nice and the plot wasn’t
terrible. Nor the acting. (Though, I mean, I did kind of go into the movie with depressingly low expectations.)

Of course, the sound track was about a second ahead of the film, which
was particularly obvious in the intense, close-up shots, but we were
more amused than annoyed. Or at least, I was. I’m not sure if he had
any feelings about it either way.

Actually, for the record, I *did* push for "Everyone’s Hero," because
hey! A talking baseball! And a talking baseball bat! And a little boy’s
journey of self-discovery and personal growth! Who wouldn’t love it?
But despite claiming to be a huge baseball fan, he staunchly refused.

But he probably just didn’t want me to see him cry. Those animated movies, they know how to get to a man’s softer side.

Restaurants: Salad Style

Salad Style has more of a cafe setting, in that there is room inside for about four people with three small tables outside. So, you know. In real estate terms, it’s "cozy."

And, go figure, they serve salads! Gourmet salads. Organic-y gourmet salads. I usually shy away from food that so flagrantly strives to be healthy, and organic food has a reputation of being very tasteless, but Salad Style is really, surprisingly, delightfully yummy.

I say all this, of course, having only eaten their one non-leafy salad, the Morning Glory. But anyone who can make organic plain yogurt work wins buckets of accolades from me, period, because *really.* ORGANIC. PLAIN. YOGURT. Ew.

Still. I’m longing for a Pluto’s. Or at least something close to it.

Restaurants: Thai Room

Beyond the Strip, Las Vegas doesn’t have much that every other major city doesn’t also have. Nearly everything is a chain, which is nice in terms of reliability but crappy in terms of unique worth. On the one hand, I do appreciate the fact that when I’m craving Sedona Tortilla Soup or a buttermilk spice muffin, regardless of whether I’m in San Diego or Vegas or Some Other Major City, there’s a CPK or a Mimi’s nearby and I can satisfy my palate.

On the other hand, my insatiable curiosity and demand for attributing unique identites to geographical locations get singularly bored by chains remarkably quickly.

To make my point, and make it quickly: I love finding (or, more appropriately passively, being introduced to) places like the Thai Room.

Having eaten at some super fabulous (and accordingly pricey) Thai restaurants back in SD, I’m now something of a Thai food snob and won’t tolerate anything sub-par for this cuisine. I didn’t realize this until I wound up at King & I with my parents some months back, sulkily poking around "food" on my plate, "food" which I refused to acknowledge as edible.

I’ll be honest: Thai Room is deceptively fantastic, with heavy emphasis on "deceptively." The menu is less than impressive, in both its appearance (old and "updated" by way of marker scribblings) and its offerings. My overall love for Thai food stems from the ever-prolific presence of tofu and vegetarian options; the Thai Room menu doesn’t mention tofu once, and everything is, by default, chicken or beef or seafood.

My girlfriend had heartily recommended the place, though, and as she’s one of the pickiest eaters I know, that counted for a lot. So I waited until our server (who is probably also the owner, or one of them) came to take our order, then inquired about substituting tofu in any of the dishes. He brightly assured me that they could make anything with tofu, so I got a mild yellow curry with potatoes and bamboo shoots and tofu, and Heather got pad see-ew with chicken.

The (free!) appetizers there are carrot slivers served with a peanut paste that is to die for, and I shamelessly asked if I could *order* another helping, but our server just kind of laughed and said it was no problem, then promptly brought us a second (free!) plate. So, you know. Yum. Lots of yum.

And the curry was fabulous and the tofu was perfect and the bamboo shoots were addictive, and I sampled the pad see-ew and never let it be said that they don’t know how to cook them some good noodle dishes.

It’s not the fanciest of restaurants (actually, it’s not fancy at all and sort of borders on kitschy, or at least as kitschy as a Thai place can get) but the service and food are excellent. According to Heather, they’ll make just about anything and when she and her boyfriend took her boyfriend’s family there, the family ordered *everything* off-menu. Which is pretty damn awesome.

Bottom line: Local Vegas Thai-food fans need to keep these people in business while I’m not in town. Else I shall throw you all dirty looks upon hearing of their closure.

Extra bottom line: See if you can get them to start serving sticky rice with mango. They supposedly have the sticky rice, but no mango, but let’s face it: it’s not the same without the mango. So, done. You have your orders. Go!

Oh, damn

So apparently Motorola only hates the U.S. market. We get the leftover crap phones. Thanks!

You have got to check this shit out: Motorola A1200 ("Ming")

Ming_01

That’s right. It’s a phone, it’s a PDA, it’s a camera, it’s a media player/FM radio, it’s a rock star. And it is never going to be released in the U.S.

Why is the flip part translucent, you ask? Good question! Because that screen underneath? That screen is a TOUCHSCREEN. Which also answers the question of, where the hell is the keypad?

There are live photos and video at Wireless Imports. The OS is Linux (NOT Windows Mobile, thank god) and while it doesn’t have Opera, it does at least have WAP 2.0/xHTML. And e-mail and IM and sync and all that other PDA-esque stuff.

The camera is a 2 mpx and while the phone only has 8 MB of internal storage, there is an expansion slot. It’s a quad-band. And yes, it’s a Motorola, but either this phone, like the E1070, is running under the new-and-hopefully-soon-to-be-standard Moto UI, or it just escaped the current ugly-as-hell Moto UI because it’s a foreign/PDA phone.

Motorola_a1200img_7494

I was initially concerned about basic phone operations as there doesn’t appear to be a speaker present, but apparently it has been cleverly integrated into the translucent design, and anyway, I trust that the uber-tech-y Hong Kong market wouldn’t let Motorola get away with sub-standard shit.

And if it looks bulky, rest assured that it isn’t. It’s only 21mm thick (a SLVR is 11.5mm and a RAZR, 14mm), and if the numbers aren’t convincing enough:

Motorola_a1200img_7482

Except, right? What do I need with a business-y phone?

So I guess the game plan needs to be switched up a little: time to start my own business. Yeah. And then years from now, when I’m all successful and dominating my market (um, whatever that market ends up being), people will ask me, "Lora, what made you decide to go the entrepreneur route?" And I’ll respond, "So I could justify purchasing the A1200."

I am such a freaking gadget geek. But seriously! How could you NOT be all hot and bothered by this thing? This phone, it could, like, save the world or something. Somehow. I just know it.

It’s more work than you think, being the go-to cell phone whore

So Q2 is nearly over, a whopping two quarters after the original release date, and I still have yet to see the V3i hit the public market. And yet, from what I unearthed on eBay, Motorola is already making colored editions of the goddamn thing (there’s the gold Dolce & Gabbana one from December, and now blue, maroon and red ones). What the fuck? Come on, Motorola. And do you really think releasing a pink version will boost your lackluster sales of the L7? Which, incidentally, never had much marketing to begin with?

Oh, right, sorry. You guys have been too busy preparing to take the world by storm with the Q [1]. Hmm, wait, this build-up of anticipation seems vaguely familiar… oh! Right! Hey, does anyone remember all the hype about the PEBL? Interestingly enough, I still have yet to meet anyone who’s actually bought the thing, and it’s been on the market for a couple of months now.

Of course, should a Moto rep happen to be reading this and subsequently feel the need to convince me of the Q’s Ultimate Wowness (or the need to re-convert me to a V3i champeen), I wouldn’t say no to a live product review. If y’know what I’m sayin’. [2]

Anyway. Below: the Samsung T719, Sony Ericsson M600, Sony Ericsson W950 and Nokia 6282.

(All images, um, "borrowed" from Mobiledia)

*****

Samsung T719 (on Mobiledia and MobileBurn)

Sght719

I was lucky enough to play with this phone back in January. It’s a little wide, though probably no wider than the RAZR, but unlike the RAZR (and in true Samsung fashion), the T719 fits so comfortably in the hand. The tapering form makes it more ergonomic– and while you could argue, hey, with Bluetooth headsets being all the rage, who gives a crap about ergonomics?, I could (and would, and totally will) argue right back, hey, Bluetooth headsets are horrible beyond horrible [3] and the last time I checked, you still need to hold your phone in your hand for pictures and text-messaging and scrolling through your phonebook and– well. Need I go on?

So, yeah. Form factor is gorgeous– it may not be as sexy or exactly as slim as the RAZR, but at 18mm thick, it’s a far cry from bulky. AND it has a 1.3 mpx camera (rotating!), AND 25 MB storage (but no expandable, booo), AND– AND!!!– a QWERTY keypad. Which goes hand-in-hand with its Blackberry Connect feature.

The lacking memory capabilities aside, this is such a fabulously nutty phone and I’m so happy it’s finally coming to the public market, T-Mobile be damned. Thank god for unlocking services.

*****

Sony Ericsson M600 (Mobiledia)

M600

I love Sony Ericsson UIs. They’re always aesthetically pleasing, solidly intuitive and easily navigable. That being said, every single SE clamshell I have ever handled has been a bulky, ugly beast and a pain in the ass to flip open. And I Just Say No to slider phones, and I think you should, too.

But aside from being a non-clamshell, non-slider, the primary reason *this* phone caught my eye is because of the QWERTY keypad. Then I read the specs and discovered that, hey! IT HAS A TOUCHSCREEN, and Opera! And Symbian! And 80 MB of internal memory! And an expansion slot! And only 15mm thick! Holy wow!

But then I read through the specs again and discovered, boo, no camera. It was so damn close to being an ultimate all-in-one-er. Though if you go to the Mobiledia page and look at Photo 3, you’ll notice a little circle on the back that looks like once upon a time, it had been planned to integrate a camera. Likely budgets got changed somewhere along the process and it had to be cut (which is how the Nokia 6282 ended up as only a 1 mpx camera, sans flash).

Maybe if it came bundled with the 9.8mm-thick Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T7, this absent feature wouldn’t be so much of an issue. Though, rest assured, it would still BE an issue. Just not so much of one. Yeah.

*****

Sony Ericsson W950 (Mobiledia)

W950

So you’re reading about the M600 and you’re thinking, hey, 80 MB of internal storage. That’s not bad, and there’s an expansion slot to boot! But I’m really lazy and I don’t want to have to go out and buy a damn memory card for my phone.

Well. WELL. How’s about 4 GB of internal memory? Yeah? How d’ya like THEM apples?

What with Motorola’s (cruddy) ROKR release last year and with iPods getting progressively more multi-functional while still staying tiny, I’ve been wondering when a phone like this was going to come out. It’s more or less a huge improvement on the bulky W600i and has the same awesome features as the M600 above– namely, Symbian, a TOUCHSCREEN and Opera. And still only 15mm thick.

But, again, no camera. Dammit.

*****

Nokia 6282 (Mobiledia)

6282

This phone was my first-ever slider phone, which means it unfortunately has to be THE phone that has made me detest slider phones. Not because it’s a particularly bad slider phone, but rather, because it’s the only slider phone I’ve ever used. If that makes sense.

In the almost-five months that I’ve had this, there are two features that really stand out: the screen display and physical durability. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve dropped this sucker, and none of the internal components are worse for the wear. And I’m talking DROPPED dropped, like, the back casing flew off and sometimes the battery would even pop out, and when it slides closed now, it drops so much the two halves aren’t flush anymore, etc. With exception of when the battery would expel itself several feet away, as though it were trying to get as far away as possible from the crazy chick who doesn’t know how to hold onto her stupid cellphone, the phone never even shut itself off when I dropped it. Talk about sturdy.

The casing itself, of course, is dinged up to massive extents, as can only be expected from a delicate plastic shell that has been to hell and back.

Every Nokia cameraphone I’ve used, whether through ownership or demo-ing or handling in a store, has a delay on the camera function, and this drives me absolutely nuts. When I press the "capture" button, I expect the shutter to go off immediately, especially as the little shutter sound plays when I press that button. A one-second delay may not seem like that long to you if you haven’t been the victim of it, but let me tell you, when you’re trying to take a picture of that really cute guy as he’s passing, you get kind of pissed when you think you’ve taken a picture with his whole face in the frame and end up discovering that one-second delay has left you with only his ear and the back of his neck.

So, pros: screen display (the colors! the clarity! so swoon-inducing!), internal durability, sound (lovely, lovely), expandable memory slot.

Cons: goddamn camera delay, slider form.

*****

Bonus! Samsung P300 (MobileBurn)

Samsung_sghp300img_0126

Isn’t it cute? Talk about snackable.

It measures 3.5" x 2.1" x 0.35" (the iPod Nano is 3.5” x 1.6” x 0.27” and the 30 GB iPod is 4.1” x 2.4” x 0.43”) and has been inevitably compared to a pocket calculator.

There’s a video preview over at Wireless Imports. Screen clarity looks good, on par with Samsung standards, and it’s got a 1.3 mpx camera with 80 MB of internal storage (but no expansion slot).

Not a bad bundle for those who are all about the super-slim cell phones, but, as with the RAZR, the P300 looks to be awkward and rigid in the hand.

*****

[1] So I’m not trying to come off as a total snot, but really, you’re not going to take *any* world by storm on CDMA. You’re hardly going to be able to take the U.S. by storm on CDMA. Hell, you’ll be lucky to take a STATE. Those who have followed my cell-phone diatribes may have noticed that I only (p)review GSM/UMTS phones.

[2] I’m much better on turnaround times with products I’m super into reviewing. I was invited to preview "the world’s first universal cameraphone flash," like, way the heck back in March and the thing has been sitting in my purse ever since. The only time it’s been "used" is by accident, which usually results in someone (me, initially) being temporarily blinded. My goal for this weekend is to finally run it through procedural tests and write the review. Admittedly, other factors contributing to this procrastination have been: I stopped using the camera function on my phone altogether and right after I received the product in the mail, I moved down to San Diego and started working non-stop.

[3] I’m only going to say this for now: just don’t be that person who walks around wearing the headset, even when a phone call isn’t in progress. DON’T BE THAT PERSON. For serious.

Like my freedom from A&F, except waaaay better

Hey, *fuck* Motorola! Them and their V3i-couldn’t-care-less. Say hello to the Samsung z510:

32_2

I’ve been steaming ever since CES, having learned there about the A900. Sprint? Who uses Sprint or their shitty Digital PCS network? They may have teamed up with Nextel, but Sprint is more or less the businessman’s no-frills network, and the last time I checked, music players and cameras were frilly-phone features. What was Samsung *thinking,* putting out a phone like the A900 with Sprint?

I still don’t know what they were thinking, but at least now I *do* know that they haven’t completely lost their minds over there. The Moto RAZR is finally getting its due: form-factor copying, done by a company that has *such* a better UI. And a better grasp on the concept of "Calls List." And status lights. Well. Most of the time.

The z510 claims to be a better phone– boasting, among other things, a 1.3 megapixel camera, a whopping 1/10 mpx advantage over the V3i. No iTunes, but it does have its own music player (word has it Moto’s working on their own independent music player, too [1]), and while it doesn’t have an option for expandable memory, it does come standard with 138 megs of storage space on-board. Seeing as how the V3i’s memory card slot is placed in perhaps the most inaccessible place ever– underneath the battery– I don’t see its existence as being sustainable enough to claim any victories here (the V3i comes standard with 128 MB [2], internal) [3].

Bluetooth? Yep– I wouldn’t have given this phone a second thought if it didn’t. External LCD has been disparagingly commented on as "too small," but it’s no smaller than the V3i’s– Moto just made the shiny black surface surrounding the external LCD much larger. And the fact that the keypad is a normal one, with normal individual buttons, may be a boon; one of the few reasons my sister won’t even consider buying the RAZR (any version) is the laser-cut keypad:

  • I don’t like the keypad.  It’s one sheet of metal-like thing… I like buttons.  I think I also didn’t like the funny noise it makes when you push the buttons (like bending a thin metal sheet sound).

I’ve heard, and read, similar opinions from many others. I personally thought the V3’s keypad was, if anything, aesthetically pleasing, though in retrospect, I did have some issues here and there getting the sensors to recognize just which key I was trying to press.

If I had to gripe about something, maybe it would be in the key of tri-band-versus-quad-band. On the one hand, how hard is it to make a phone operate on the 850 Mhz band? On the other hand, does anyone really still *need* that band? My last three phones were tri-bands and I never had any related issues. It’s just, "quad-band" SOUNDS so much more impressive [4]. Like saying your phone has the OPTION of carrying 512 additional MB of storage, but not mentioning the fact that it’ll piss you off so much to get that memory card in and out of your phone that you may never use it for anything. The most impressive and marketable features of a phone often tend to be the least-used, anyhow.

Actually, I might bitch a little about the casing. The original V3 really had that advantage: a sturdy, for-the-most-part scratch-resistant casing. The V3i looks even hotter– *brushed* aluminum (anodized, whatever)! Why people threw themselves into such a tizzed-out dance over the plastic black RAZR, I’ll never understand.

In my experience as a consumer-level cell phone whore, Samsung phones hold the dearest spot in my heart. Their camera features are reliable, their battery life is decent, call clarity has always held up to expectations, and I know their menu systems inside and out. Plus, they come standard with the cutest little ringtones, even though now I don’t give a darn about stock ringtones, having sufficiently freed myself from that worry.

So this is a good thing. I was making some serious sacrifices in contemplating the purchase of the V3i (I wouldn’t expect it to be on the market until early in Q2, though you never know– Cingular’s selling the L7, finally, but never made a peep about it), and now it looks like I may not have to (z510 also slated for Q2). Yay Samsung! I heart you. Now bring back my goddamn status light.

[1] According to Motorola’s official PR on the V3i— note the expected release date, what a bunch of hokey BS– North America is *not* one of the markets receiving phones with iTunes. Why even both with the ROKR2, then?

[2] ::snicker:: Um, never mind. The V3i comes standard with 10 MB internal memory.

[3] The Panasonic x800 has it right (so, strangely, does the Moto SLVR L7): external memory card slot on the side of the phone. Too bad it’s not my type of phone; ever since a bad experience with Moto’s MPx200, I’ve avoided "Smartphones" like the plague. Still, not a bad form-factor (FOR A SMARTPHONE) and it doesn’t insult itself by running on Windows Mobile (yaaaay, Symbian), and also it’s a couple hundred bucks cheaper than the other two slimphones mentioned here. But, really. Panasonic? Panasonic cell phones? I thought Panasonic made, like, *headphones.* Meh.

[4] Speaking of "impressive" phones: the Nokia 8801 will run you $800, and that’s before taxes and shipping. The stupid thing is, it looks like any old phone. I told Sidney, who admitted that the phone is primarily a status symbol– it’s not like the damn thing has $800 worth of features– that a phone that expensive should at least come encrusted with diamonds or maybe flecked with platinum. Or maybe just a T-shirt that says, "I paid Nokia $800 and all I got was this lousy cell phone."

Motorola SLVR L7

I’ve been using this phone (the Moto SLVR) for about two weeks now, and as I’m probably going to give it back to Mr. Grouch Magoo tonight (hello, Nokia 6282!), I may as well write up my darn review of it now.

So, here goes.

Cons:

  • Like its RAZR cousin, it’s not really an ergonomic phone, but as so many people seem to be using Bluetooth headsets (trying really hard here not to get started on the goddamn Bluetooth headsets), this may not be an issue for most
  • It’s not a flip phone
  • Because it’s not a flip phone, the microphone tends to rub up against my cheek or chin or collar or whatever’s in that general vicinity
  • Because it’s not a flip phone, I also have to keep remembering to activate the keypad lock
  • There’s no automatic keypad lock
  • Like its RAZR cousin, it comes with virtually *no* ringtones, which is lame
  • After you take a picture (camera = VGA), even though the automatic preview shows the picture is clear (enough), when you view it later, you sometimes find that what was supposed to be a clear (enough) shot is actually a blurred streak of color. WTF?
  • The vibrate mode isn’t very noticeable, so what good is that?
  • Menu shortcuts take a while to be executed by the OS
  • Call lists SUCK, mainly because there’s no comprehensive call list that displays the last 30-or-so calls received/dialed/missed
  • Also because there’s actually no Missed Calls list, period; those go under "Recieved" (huh?)

All that aside, it’s a pretty decent phone, *decent* being the key word here (as in, hardly worth the price Motorola’s going to be asking for in the beginning, and definitely not worth the price people are trying to hock them for as to date). Talk time is average (clarity on both the speaking and receiving ends is average), battery life is average, screen brightness is good and the color is good enough. It’s nice and thin, which means you can easily slip it into a pocket or a wristlette and just as easily lose it in a big roomy purse. The micro SD (TransFlash) slot is conveniently on the side of the phone, unlike the V3i which has it *inconveniently* underneath the battery in the back, but I can’t really see why anyone would ever need the card. The sound is only so-so and there’s no actual music player on this phone (V3i has one!), and on top of the camera having enough storage capacity for approximately 100 photos (at the highest res), it’s so mediocre to begin with that I don’t see anyone going all crazy with the picture-taking with this sucker.

And, of course, the phone has Bluetooth. I find I can’t live without Bluetooth anymore. There’s a *reason* it’s come standard on all the Mac notebooks for some years, now, people– just like there’s a *reason* wireless cards have also been coming pre-installed on Mac notebooks. Because it’s a USEFUL FEATURE. (Speaking of Wi-Fi, the Nikon P2 has that capability? Rock on!)

Also, the alarms have a snooze option, which if anything is nice because my little Samsung didn’t, and I can’t function without a snooze button, so I ended up having to set multiple alarms in 15-minute intervals, and that kind of sucked.

In conclusion: I’m giving it back, so that alone should say plenty. Because have you SEEN the screen display for the Nokia 6282? (Of course not, it hasn’t been released yet, but *oh,* it’s beautiful, and also the sound is amaaaaaaaa-zing.) And also, I’m still waiting for the V3i.