Saturday, July 30, 2005

12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country

How to help our country
First posted 11:31pm (Mla time) July 30, 2005 By Ramon J. Farolan, Inquirer News Service
This story was taken from www.inq7.net

THERE'S a booklet making the rounds in Metro Manila that every Filipino who loves his country should get hold of and read, and hopefully put the points it raises into practice, in order to help our nation. It doesn't dwell on a shift to a parliamentary form of government or a federal system, which our politicians are so fond of talking about as the answer to our problems, or as a way of providing a graceful exit for someone. It doesn't dwell on the need for an expanded value-added tax, which our financial geniuses have been proposing as the answer to our fiscal deficits.

"Twelve (12) Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country," by Alexander Ledesma Lacson, may be a "voice in the wilderness"; but as Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. puts it, what Alex proposes are "very concrete, practical and doable" actions for us ordinary Filipinos. And the best part is that these 12 things don't need to be debated upon by our congressmen and senators, reviewed by a bicameral conference committee and finally signed by the President before they can be part of the laws of the land, which may or may not be complied with because our Supreme Court can "TRO" [issue a temporary restraining order on] the whole thing; and it may take time to resolve the issue, which then would still be the subject of a possible motion for reconsideration.

What is needed to get these 12 things moving are leaders in our homes, "barangay" [villages or neighborhood districts], educational institutions and civic organizations who will be the point men and women in the dissemination and implementation of these "twelve little things." Forget about our political leaders. They're too busy with Charter change or electoral reforms-the sort of activities that will ensure their continued stay in office or that of their children and relatives.

A simple enumeration of these "twelve little things" will not do justice to the work of Alex. You've got to read the whole text, but I shall try to compress a few lines for some of the items mentioned.

1. Follow traffic rules -- Why is that the most important? The answer is simple. Traffic rules are the simplest of our laws. If we learn to follow them, it will be the lowest form of national discipline that we can develop. Since it is totally without monetary cost, it should be easy for us to comply with, and therefore should provide a good start.

2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt. -- If a seller does not issue an official receipt when you buy a product, the seller may or may not remit the tax to the government. Without an O.R., there is no record of the sale transaction, and the tax that you paid may not be remitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

3. Do not buy smuggled goods. Buy local, buy Filipino. -- It may not be good economics to buy 100 percent local products. What I suggest is for us to take a "50-50" buying attitude. This means that we must develop the attitude of using 50 percent of our budget for local products and the other 50 percent for imported choices.

4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively of our race and our country -- this is best addressed to the rich and the middle class in our country, who have contact with the outside world. It is they who talk to, dine or deal with foreigners either here or abroad. It is what they say and do which creates impressions about us among foreigners.

5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman, soldier and other public servants -- There is nothing like the power of respect. It makes a person proud. It makes one feel honorable. At the same time, courtesy to others is good manners. It is class and elegance and kindness. It is seeing the value and dignity in the other man. It is, in fact, a mark of a most profound education.

6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve. -- As Louis Armstrong says in his song: "I see trees of green, red roses, too, I see them bloom for me and you and I think to myself, what a wonderful world."

7. Support your church.

8. During elections, do your solemn duty. -- Honesty, more than a masteral or doctorate degree, is what gives credibility. And credibility is essential because it is a leader's link to the people. It is what makes the people look to one direction, follow a common vision, and perform a uniform act. In short, credibility is what makes people follow the leader.

9. Pay your employees well. -- No exercise is better for the human heart than to reach down and lift someone else up. This truly defines a successful life. For success is the sum, not of our earthly possessions, but of how many times we have shown love and kindness to others.

10. Pay your taxes. -- In 2003, P83 billion was collected from individual income taxes. But 91 percent of this amount came from salaried workers from the government and private sector, people who had no choice since their income taxes were withheld mandatorily. Only P7 billion of the P83 billion came from businessmen and professionals like doctors, lawyers, accountants and architects, among others.

11. Adopt a scholar or adopt a poor child. -- You can make a difference in the future of our country by making a difference in the world of children.

12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and to love our country. -- Today's children will someday rule and lead this world. But whether they will be bad rulers or good leaders will depend largely on how we raise them today. Our future is in the hearts and minds of our children.

We need to be reminded every now and then of certain values in our society. Lacson's book serves this purpose and should be mandatory reading in our classrooms.

©2005 all rights reserved

Andrew Grove: From Intel man to Health Advocate

Grove: From Intel to health care and beyond
By Joseph Nocera Story last modified Sat Jul 30 07:25:00 PDT 2005

In case you missed it, Andrew S. Grove has an article in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In his 68 years, Grove has written six books, including a management classic, "Only the Paranoid Survive"; a beautifully rendered memoir, "Swimming Across"; and a new book, published last month, composed of case studies that he uses in the class he teaches with Robert A. Burgelman, a Stanford University professor, entitled "Strategic Dynamics: Concepts and Cases." But it's not every day that he makes an appearance in an eminent medical journal like JAMA.

The article, "Efficiency in the Health Care Industries," was labeled commentary, but it was more akin to a jeremiad. Grove took dead aim at the lack of efficiency in health care--the amount of time it takes a research lab to turn an idea into a working drug, for instance; and the extent to which medicine lags behind other industries in using technology to store and retrieve data, to the detriment of doctors and patients. He compared it unfavorably to an industry he knows rather intimately, microchips, which has turned efficiency into an art, thanks in no small part to Grove.

The article signaled that Grove's obsession with the problems in the health care industry, problems he first explored in a 1996 Fortune magazine article about his battle with prostate cancer, has not waned. It signaled something else as well: Grove has been keeping plenty busy in retirement.

Did you know that Grove, one of Silicon Valley's most iconic and influential figures, has retired from Intel? Well, OK, retirement may be a bit strong: He still has a desk at Intel, where he describes his current role as "internal agitator." (His official title is senior adviser to executive management.) But on May 18, at Intel's annual meeting, Grove resigned as chairman of the board. For the first time since 1979, when he was named its president, Intel's fortunes are not Grove's responsibility. Although the meeting was, in part, a public retirement party for Grove, the news garnered surprisingly little attention in the East Coast business media.

One of the great joys of being a business journalist over the last quarter century has been the chance to listen to Andy Grove. As president, chief executive and finally chairman of Intel, he would periodically make the rounds of the business magazines and the business sections of the big newspapers, where he would sit in a conference room and take questions from the reporters and editors. Yes, of course, he gave us the Intel spin.
But unlike most CEOs, programmed like robots to stay on message, Grove was willing to share his thoughts on all manner of things.

With his wide-ranging intellect and his engagement with the world, he broadened our understanding of technology, strategy, the fall of communism (he escaped from communist Hungary at the age of 20), and dozens of other topics.

One on one with Grove
I last sat in on one of his jam sessions maybe three years ago, and I've missed them. So a few weeks ago, I decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed. I went to visit him in Silicon Valley, to see what he was up to.

It turns out that he's up to quite a bit. "My mind is spinning as fast as it did then," he said, comparing his new life to his old in his mellifluous Hungarian accent. "But I'm not in meetings all day. I have the ability to pick and choose what I do, which I never had in my life. The penalty is that I deal with issues that are mammoth."

We met at the office of his foundation, which, among other things, is financing stem cell research ("We are helping to keep U.S. stem cell programs limping along," he said), and trying to develop programs that will help people who are not college-bound acquire vocational skills to allow them to earn a decent living.

He talked about his quest to find what he called "the Rosetta code" for the health care industry. By that he means the development of software "that takes incompatible systems and translates them into each other, so that one system can automatically read the other." He thinks there are few things more important for patients than to have any doctor, anywhere, be able to access their medical records, but because the industry is so fragmented, with so many records still in paper form, that is currently impossible.

At Intel, most of his time is spent with a new health care group, where he pushes and prods and argues with its members as they try to figure out how to bring this laggard industry into the technological age--and with any luck, make some money for Intel in the process.

We talked a bit about the central ideas in his new book, which examines what happens when a particular business environment suddenly changes and industries collide, as when, for instance, digital technology turned the music industry upside down. Grove, not surprisingly, had mainly contempt for the music industry's early efforts to keep the digital wave from coming to shore.

"If the new technology is compelling enough," he said, "it will win out. When the railroads came, Wells Fargo was in trouble. When the printing press came along, the monks didn't stay around very long." Music, telephony, media: They've all faced the same disruptions, and in Grove's view they are all going to have to adapt - or else.

At the annual meeting last May, he laughingly described the line "Technology will always win" as "Grove's Law."

Then he moved to the subject of his latest obsession: globalization. Will it surprise you to know that this refugee from Hungary, whose company derives 70 percent of its revenue from places other than the United States, is a bear on the potential consequences of globalization on this country? He is.

"I don't think there is a good outcome," he said. "I looked up a quote for you. 'If you don't believe that (globalization) changes the average wages in America, you believe in the tooth fairy.' Do you know who said that? Paul Samuelson, age 90."

Although mainstream economic thought holds that America's history of creativity and entrepreneurialism will allow it to adapt to the rise of such emerging economies as India and China, Grove thinks that is so much wishful thinking. In his view, globalization will not only finish off what's left of American manufacturing, but will turn so-called knowledge workers, which was supposed to be America's competitive advantage, into just another global commodity.

"There is an increasing trend towards lathroscopic surgery being done with robots," he said by way of example. "Once you are doing it with robotics, why do you have to be there?" The procedure might just as well be done from India. Or China.

What particularly bugs Grove is that he can't see a way that this country can find the equivalent of a disruptive technology that will allow it to retain is current place atop the economic heap. He's always been someone who liked to generate big, gnarly solutions that may take years to work through, and though it may seem a tad grandiose on his part to think that he should be able to devise a way to solve America's globalization problem, it is also part of what makes him such an appealing character.

"I think Intel and me and the JAMA article can move health care a few pebbles forward," he said. "This last one, I will be happy just to have some people talking about it, and legitimize it. There are no clear answers."

Toward the end of the interview I asked him whether he liked his new life. "I love it," he said. "I was very ready for it. I have liked all phases of my career. I liked the technological side. I liked management. I liked discovering strategy." He likes being able to read history now, something he rarely had time for in his previous life. He likes not having to worry about every minute twist and turn in the technology industry, and how it might effect Intel.

Did that last annual meeting have any special meaning? I wondered. "Nothing emotional happened that day," he replied. But, he added, he has been having dreams lately about Intel. "It is as if I'm reliving an event that happened when I was operations manager 25 years ago. It is not speeches, not limelight, just factory visits and arguments, which didn't really happen. I didn't used to have these dreams. So I have a lot of feelings.
"I see a lot of Intel retirees," he added. "They keep company with each other. There is some nostalgia. I don't know if it is for the Intel of those days, or my younger self.

"But not on May 18," he said. "That was just a nice event."

Entire contents, Copyright © 2005 The New York Times. All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Honda Jazz VTEC Review

Honda Jazz VTEC Review
by Wong KN

The Honda Fit / Jazz is one of Honda's most successful models of recent time. Launched initially as a 1.3l with the L13A i-DSI engine and featuring the MMT (CVT) gearbox, it was an instant success. The combination of a well rounded design, good looks and driveablity garnered many fans. With the optional Honda Access bodykit as the base, aftermarket parts quickly sprout up and wild and wonderful bodykits helps to make the Fit/Jazz look really sporty. However, with a basically economy-biased set-up, outright performance is understandably limited. This gave rise to situations where Fits/Jazzes looked faster than what they were capable of. Consequently enthusiasts started calling out to Honda for a higher performance Fit / Jazz. In Japan, this was led by influential and 'powerful' reviewers like Keiichi 'Drift King' Tsuchiya and Formula Nippon racer Naoki Hattori calling Honda for a Fit Type-R. Honda's response was to introduce a 1.5l Fit with the new L15A VTEC engine and the MMT-S / CVT-7 gearbox and is the subject of this review.

This 1.5litre Fit is a sporty model, introduced in Japan as the Fit 1.5 / 1.5T around 2002. At the moment, it is also being sold as the 1.5l Jazz in several countries outside of Japan, most notably Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. The Jazz unit I am reviewing, an early Malaysian domestic market unit is actually built in Japan and imported by Honda Malaysia in fully built (Completely Built Up or CBU) form. It was from the same production batch and thus the same spec as those built in Japan for Australia's domestic market consumption (before Australia themselves adopted the MMC). These units are nearly identical to the JDM variants except for very minor differences in details. There is another spec-level, packaged by Honda Research Thailand (HRT) sometime last year and built there as well. This too uses the pre-MMC design and differs from the equivalent japanese made units only in some minor details: a different air filter design, rear brake disc instead of drums, different interior trim levels, etc. After an unfavourable tax adjustment last year, Honda Malaysia adopted the HRT units in order to keep the selling price constant.
However, although both my own unit and the one I am reviewing here are japanese made, I have been assured that the Thai made one drives virtually the same so this review should cover the Thai-made versions as well.

The Fit/Jazz 1.5 VTEC differs from the 1.5i-DSI and 1.4i-DSI versions most obviously in the more powerful engine.
Interior-wise it is also better fitted, with higher grade materials and so forth. The Malaysian/Australian version I am reviewing here has a leather bound steering wheel and the speedo is also equipped with a fuel consumption computer (measuring in units of litre/100km) which is selected via the trip meter selector button. Thus the trip meter button will toggle between 3 modes, overall accumulated mileage, trip mileage and trip fuel consumption. The car also offers many small, thoughtful features which have hereto been offered mainly in mid-sized and full-size executive/luxury cars; like courtesy cabin light-on when the car is unlocked, adjustable instrument illumination and so forth. Certainly quite unusual for a car in the subcompact segment.

The L15A engine is 1.5l SOHC with a 12V/16V VTEC system. Compared to the 1.5l i-DSI, this L15A VTEC is rated at 110ps, i.e. 22ps or 25% more powerful. We have of course covered the various L-series engines in good detail in our L-series Technical Feature. The relationship in power, between the two engines is worth spending some time on. The power chart for both engines are shown on the left. The i-DSI and VTEC shares the same head but have a different valve train and intake ports. So no part of their power charts are identical. As would be expected the i-DSI is the one that actually offers a better low-rpm power - its torque being on the average 0.3kgm higher than that from the VTEC at all rpms below 3000rpm. But after 3000rpm, it's a different story especially after VTEC opens both intake valves after 3,500rpm. The powerchart clearly shows a big surge in torque and power from the VTEC after 3,500rpm. The VTEC's torque curve is higher than the i-DSI at all rpms points after 3,000rpm, the biggest difference at around 5,000rpm where the VTEC delivers over 2.5kgm more torque and from visual estimation from the charts, ~30ps more than the i-DSI. The VTEC of course also revs 300rpm more than the i-DSI.

To complement this more powerful engine, there are many changes under the skin. The suspension itself is tuned for more performance oriented handling and other things like the EPS are also retuned for better steering response as well. Overall, the Jazz 1.5VTEC is tuned to be a very sporty vehicle though still not to Type-R or even SiR standards.

For this review, eventhough I own a Jazz VTEC, its mileage at the time I wanted to do the timed acceleration tests was barely over 4,000km. So in order to make sure that I test the Jazz VTEC to the best of its ability, I arranged to borrow Honda Malaysia's media unit for the testing instead. This was after I got confirmation that its accumulated mileage has achieved the desirable 10,000km mark for optimal running-in. In fact, having gotten familiar to my review style, Honda Malaysia actually sent the car for its 10,000km service before handing it over to me, to ensure that I test their Jazz VTEC at its best condition. The driving impressions however are from a combination of experience from driving both the HM unit and my own unit as I have since really put mileage on my unit since driving it was such a nice experience.

Driving the Jazz VTEC
As usual for my test-drive reviews, I start with a look at how the Jazz VTEC behaves during driving, both casual driving as well as heavy or WOT throttle. For the Jazz VTEC, the unusually high flexibility of the CVT-7 gearbox allows it to deliver some unique driving experience.

A CVT gearbox has the unique ability to dynamically vary the gear-ratio during driving and this is exploited to good use in the Jazz VTEC. When we put the gearbox in neutral and we maintain a certain throttle position, the engine will run at a steady rpm which is proportional to the throttle position. I.e. if we depress and hold the throttle, say at 10%, engine revs will quickly climb up to a certain rpm and remains steady there. If we are in gear however, the engine will have to accelerate the car at the same time, the speed increasing proportionately with the rpm increase until the 'final' rpm is reached and thus the final speed. The Jazz's CVT gearbox however can dynamically increase the gear ratio at the same time which allows the rpm to climb faster without having to accelerate the car, a process I like to call 'slipping the gear ratio' because it gives the impression of 'clutch slip' for those who are used to manual gearboxes. So what happens now is that engine revs quickly reaches the steady rpm first and speed 'catches up' later. Similarly, when the throttle pressure is eased off, CVT will dynamically reduce the gear ratio to allow engine rpm to drop quickly without having to worry about the car's speed.

So in light to moderate throttle driving, this is how the Jazz VTEC responds to throttle pressure increases. Depending on the new throttle position, the engine will run at steady rpms anywhere from just slightly over 1,000rpm to over 3,000rpm. Upon increasing throttle pressure, engine revs climbs quickly to the new rpm, with little change in the car's current speed. This is the CVT gearbox dynamically increasing the gear ratio. When engine rpm stabilizes at the new higher rpm, the CVT gearbox would be engaging a new, numerically higher gear ratio, the highest for the current speed & rpm. With the engine rpm held steady, the car will now accelerate at the optimum rate, the CVT gearbox dynamically adjusting (reduce) the gear ratio to match. So at any point in time, the gear ratio maintained by the CVT gearbox will be the highest possible and thus giving the fastest acceleration for the pertinent rpm-speed point. The initial rpm increase with little change in speed gives rise to the famous 'rubber-band' or 'clutch-slip' feeling of the CVT. It's something the driver will quickly get used to though - and appreciate for its clearly more efficient operation. In some ways, it actually feels quite similar to the 'kick-down' operation of a normal automatic gearbox, only that we get this even for light and moderate throttle positions and also the acceleration is faster. The difference between D-mode and S-mode is basically just a difference in engine rpm, the engine running several hundred rpms higher for the same throttle position. So for the same throttle pressure, engine rpm in S-mode will be higher and thus pickup better and the final cruising speed higher.

The reaction to letting off the throttle depends on how much pressure we have been putting on the throttle and for how long. If we had been cruising along at steady speed for some time, the CVT would have already been running at the lowest possible gear ratio. In this case, the Jazz VTEC will respond just like a normal car, losing speed gradually as engine rpm drops. If we had been on moderate to heavy throttle for only a short while however, easing off the throttle will produce a rather pronounced engine braking effect initially, just after lifting off the throttle, before the car gradually settles to normal operation. This is due to the fact that the CVT gearbox was running at a high gear ratio commensurate to the heavier throttle position and have not yet reached its final cruising speed yet. So upon throttle 'lift-off', the high gear ratio gives rise to heavy engine braking. The gearbox however is continously reducing the gear ratio so this extra engine braking will quickly subside. A bit cumbersome to explain but once one has a chance to actually drive the Jazz VTEC (or any of the Jazz and City types for that matter), this unique behaviour will be clear. Again the main difference between D-mode and S-mode will be how much engine braking effect we experience, due to the difference in engine rpm.

This behavior however changes when the Jazz is going downhill with closed throttle. When the ECU senses this situation, the CVT will engage a high-ish gear ratio causing the engine rpm to run relatively high - between 2,000-3,000rpm or more depending on how steep the downhill incline is. This seems to be used to help engage some form of engine braking, to keep the car under better control on the downhill 'drop' at zero throttle. If very light throttle is applied however, the engine rev will drop back down to match the speed the Jazz is going at. So on downhill roads, I found I had to apply light throttle in order to go fast or else the speed will be curtailed due to the engine braking engaged. It is a little bit unusual but once I got used to it, it actually makes plenty of sense.

Reaction to WOT is similar to the Honda City. At WOT, engine revs jumps to ~4,500rpm almost immediately. So if we go WOT, there will be a short delay between flooring the throttle to when the car responds and this is the time the engine requires to rev up from its initial rpm to 4,500rpm. Once engine rpm hits 4,500rpm, all drive is delivered to the wheels and the Jazz surges forward. But keep the right foot planted at WOT and after a few seconds engine rpm will climb again. This is a stage where the CVT gearbox is partially slipping the gear ratio and delivering partial drive to the wheels. In D-mode the rpm climbs quite slowly so pickup slows down only slightly. Consequently, it takes a bit of time to for rpm to reach the red-line (of 6300rpm). In S-mode however, the rate of rpm climb here is quite a bit faster, the ECU seemingly to be programmed to get the revs to red-line sooner. Therefore this stage is a rather unusual situation in that acceleration here is actually slightly better in D-mode than in S-mode. This stage continues until revs hits 6,300rpm. Once we are at red-line, the CVT gearbox will be maintaining the highest possible gear ratio for the car's current speed. Full drive is now delivered to the front wheels and the Jazz will surge forward again.
In practice, it actually feels a bit like running a marathon. After an initial hestitation, we start out strongly, but then strains to catch our breath before finally surging forward again after having gotten our 2nd wind. That middle stage, where after 'stopping over' at 4,500rpm, we have engine rpm climbing and partial drive to the wheels can be quite a hinderance if we are 'having a go' with another car. In one case, I was driving with 4 adults in the car in quite heavy traffic when this Perodua Kelisa was zigging and zagging behind me. This small K-car is fitted with a 1.0l DOHC engine rated at 55ps. Deciding that it might be wise to put some distance between us just in case, I thought that having double the horsepower would make it an easy job, eventhough I could see that the Kelisa had the advantage of having only 2 persons on board and is most probably a manual. So I over-confidently pop the gearbox into S-mode and floored the throttle as I swerve out into a gap in the traffic, noting in the rear-view mirror that the Kelisa driver followed right behind. With rpm screaming at 4,500rpm, I initially managed to pulled a small lead on the Kelisa but then acceleration tapers off as the engine rpm starts climbing for the red-line. This lasted for a few seconds and during that time, the Kelisa stuck right behind me, matching me for acceleration. Its only after engine rpm finally hits 6300rpm that I surged forward, shaking the Kelisa loose to put several car lengths between us. It was actually quite harrowing for a while during that period when I just couldn't shake off the Kelisa even with the right foot hard against the throttle. So nowadays for outright maximum acceleration, I also depend on the 7-speed to S-mode technique.

Now, tap the 7-speed button on the steering wheel and the Jazz goes into 7-speed mode, where the CVT gearbox is programmed to run using 7 virtual gears, i.e. 7 discrete gear ratios logically maintained by the ECU. Actually, there are really two 7-speed modes. First is a sort of 'automatic' 7-speed mode where the gearbox shifts automatically like a normal 7-speed automatic - a 7AT gearbox. The other is a 'manual' 7-speed mode where we shift gears manually using two rocker buttons located on either side of the steering wheel. Upshifts are done by pressing the top of the button (marked '+') and downshifts by tapping the bottom (marked '-'). This manual 7-speed mode is intelligent is that the gearbox does not downshift if it will over-rev the engine. If we are at WOT and engine revs hits red-line, it will also automatically shift-up. I.e. it won't bounce the revs against a rev-limiter like some normal automatic
gearboxes with manual shifting mode do, e.g. the 5AT on the JDM DC5 Integra iS.

To get into auto 7-speed mode, we simply need to tap the 7-speed button. To get out and back to normal CVT operation, we tap the 7-speed button again. So the 7-speed button on the steering wheel is like a 'toggle' button, to switch between regular CVT operation and auto 7-speed mode. Another way to get out of 7-speed mode is to change the gear lever to another mode, e.g. from D to S or vice versa. Getting into manual 7-speed is a more roundabout way. First we need to tap the 7-speed button to get into auto 7-speed mode. To switch to manual 7-speed mode, we need to tap one of the shifter buttons located on either side of the steering wheel (I assume it's similar with the new paddle shifters system as well). However once in manual 7-speed mode, it's not possible to get back to auto 7-speed mode. We can only get back to normal CVT operation and that is by tapping the 7-speed button. A bit tedious to write about but it is quite simple to operate, with only the lack of the option to get from manual to auto 7-speed modes being any of a hassle.

Personally I find driving the manual 7-speed mode to be the most fun but also the most work. Manual 7-speed mode is also the best way to enjoy the little L15A VTEC engine. Starting off in 1st gear, the Jazz picks up a bit slowly but steadily. But once engine revs hits 3,500rpm, revs literally charges towards the redline, the engine behaving very similar to a true-blue DOHC VTEC engine. The VTEC roar is there too and quite aggressive even with the elaborate sound dampening structures in the air-box. Upshifts are done nicely, the engine revs dropping quickly and then climbing again even with the right foot hard against the throttle. However, because of the work involved (deciding and shifting between 7 gears is really quite a lot of work), the more relaxed way to go fast is to use S-mode or, for a straight-line dash, that manual 7speed to S-mode technique. Nevertheless, manual 7-speed mode gives immediate throttle response plus the ability to hold the gear and get full drive from the engine. So for very tight situations, it can be extremely handy. In 1 situation, I was in a side road and I need to merge into a main road and quickly get across to the other side to make my exit. I spotted a gap in the approaching traffic so I got into manual 7-speed mode 1st gear and eased my way into the main road ahead of the gap, going easy on the throttle to allow the traffic to flow past me. I waited for that gap in the traffic and then WOT. Response was immediately and acceleration quite sufficient for me to quickly match the general speed of the traffic and smoothly merge into the gap and over to the other side of the road to get to my exit. To be honest, when the opportunity arises to use it, this can be quite fun !

Subjective Opinions on Performance
Now it's time to talk about my impressions of the Jazz 1.5VTEC's performance on the road. My opinions of the Jazz 1.5VTEC in this review are formed in relation to performance expectations from a 'typical' family car, a sedan or hatch. I feel this is the best way to judge the Jazz VTEC's performance since irregardless of its 'sporty' orientation, the Jazz range itself has never been intended to be a sports car. Yes, the Jazz 1.5VTEC is the top of the range, sporty type, but many family cars are also sporty as well. So besides the base i-DSI City or Jazz, a good reference to which the Jazz VTEC can be compared against would be the Honda Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and where appropriate, this is what I have done in this review.

In terms of general driving, the Jazz VTEC drives pretty much like the City i-DSI and thus the Jazz i-DSI as well. Having tested the City i-DSI extensively, I do think by comparison the Jazz VTEC has slightly less 'oomph' in typical city driving - slow to moderate speeds, stop and sprint type conditions. I had to push the throttle just that bit harder when overtaking or when I want to pick up speed. According to Honda's specs, the Jazz VTEC and the City i-DSI are basically the same weight (1065 vs 1070kg) so the difference must be mostly from the difference in engine torque/power in the low rpms and perhaps also partially due to the influence of the larger 15" wheels on the Jazz VTEC (the City i-DSI uses 14"). Nevertheless, the difference is really very small and I doubt if the casual driver will actually notice it.

Highway travel on the Jazz VTEC is surprisingly smooth and easy. I had expected the Jazz to exhibit 'floatiness' due to its smallish size and lightish weight but I was pleasantly surprised that the Jazz VTEC felt nicely planted on the road up to the higher speeds (up to ~160kph) that I was willing to indulge in. It also exhibited less effect from overtaking heavy vehicles (huge trailers or double-decker tour buses) than my old EK3 Civic Ferio Vi. In the EK3, whenever I overtake or was overtaken by such heavy vehicles, the car would sort of rock about mildly due to the disturbance in the air created by these vehicles. Surprisingly the Jazz VTEC reacted less to such circumstances and was quite solid when overtaking or being overtaken by heavy vehicles. Actually in some ways the Jazz VTEC really shone in highway travel as again I had to keep a conscious effort to keep my right foot 'light' in order to keep a light enough throttle position to keep to the speed limit of 110-120kph (for cars) on the expressway. Otherwise, if I simply let my right foot rest on the throttle, the Jazz VTEC will creep up to 140kph or so. Maintaining 120kph requires very light pressure on the throttle and engine rpms hovering between 2500 to 2900rpm. Overtaking shows off the good acceleration of the Jazz VTEC, from 80-100kph right up to 160kph. But as would be expected from the relatively modest 110ps max power rating, pick-up slows significantly after 160kph.

I have never really tested the max speed of the Jazz VTEC, the highest speed I have ever taken both the Honda Malaysia unit and my own unit was just below 190kph. But my friends from other publications told me they have pushed the Honda Malaysia test car right up to over 195kph during their tests. Personally, I feel 200kph to perhaps a max of 205 kph is possible on the Jazz VTEC but a lot of empty roads will be needed to achieve this.

Pickup from stationary, the Jazz VTEC really excels in relation to its modest max power. Personally I feel this to be due to the characteristic of the excellent CVT-7 gearbox. In this case, the most interesting encounter I had was when I was carrying a 'full load' (4 adults in the car) on a highway and stopped at a toll gate just next to a Proton Wira which has a rather large and loud muffler installed. Of course I am not sure what other mods the Proton has but at the least, it had only the driver so it had a weight advantage. Both of us exited our gates at roughly the same time. I swear I was only interested in testing the Jazz and not paying attention to the Proton though my wife accused me of 'racing' with it but using the 1st-gear to Smode technique, I actually pulled a few car lengths on the very loudly accelerating Proton. A nice correlation to the many times I was able to easily keep ahead of general traffic at toll gates and traffic light. D and S-mode will be a bit slower and subjected to the constraint as highlighted in the previous section. For those who are wondering, no the Jazz 1.5VTEC will not out-accelerate the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC. The Jazz VTEC might well 'nip at the back' of the Civic initially but once we reach higher speeds, 150kph and above, the superior power of the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC will quickly come into play. Nevertheless, my personal experience is that the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC still won't be able to leave the Jazz VTEC 'for dead', just pull a few car lengths away once we reach speeds approaching 160kph.

Now on to the Jazz's driving feel. Getting in the driver's seat, the first and most obvious impression is the more aggressive 'sporty' tuning of the suspension. The best way to describe my first reaction to the Jazz VTEC's feel as compared to the City i-DSI (and the Jazz i-DSI as well) is that it reminds me of how my Integra felt when I replaced its stock springs with Eibach Pro-Kits. The car tracks the contour of the road very faithfully, transmitting the unevenness to the driver though with quite good dampening of the harsher bumps. This can make the Jazz suspension feel 'hard' over less than pristine roads and indeed the Jazz often rocks and rolls over uneven roads like a sporty car. Analytically, the suspension on the Jazz VTEC seems to offer a very firm compression but well controlled rebound. So going through a dip on the road, when the Jazz settles down into the dip, we will feel the strong resistance by the suspension to compression. But after that, the rebound is damped so well that we don't really feel it. There is certainly very little or no residual movement after the rebound, the suspension settling quickly. So unlike the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC for e.g. which logically sets a reference level to which the Jazz VTEC should be judged against, while the Jazz VTEC do exhibit a degree of 'movement' over uneven roads or across ripples on the road surface, there is no feeling of 'bounciness' and no excessive reaction to the imperfections on the road. In correlation with the hard-ish ride, the VTEC Jazz also handles well, actually very well relative to its rather tall-ish body. Handling-wise it felt much more like a performance-tuned car than the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC for example. Personally for me, the compromise between balance of ride quality and handling ability is just nice.

On a trip to Camerons Highlands (a popular hill-top resort in Malaysia around 1,500m or 5,000 ft above sea level) through the new 'Simpang Pulai' access road, the Jazz VTEC showed off its handling capability very nicely. The roads are relatively wide with good visibility and since they are cut out of the side of a mountain, are very windy often with corners over 90degree. This trip was together with members of my local Honda club, actually a club event. On the way up, I was the 2nd car of the first group of 10 cars. The lead car was a modified EG hatch. As would be expected, the driver could not resist pushing his car uphill eventhough the club's convoy rules forbid it. As he took each uphill corner, I tried my best to follow behind in the Jazz VTEC. Being heavily modified, how hard the EG was pushing on the throttle can of course be easily heard from the loudness of the exhaust and I could hear the driver was pushing quite hard indeed. Meanwhile, in order to keep-up, I had to keep the Jazz VTEC in 'S-mode'. The tight windy roads do not allow the superior top end of the EG Civic to show so I was happy that the Jazz VTEC is able to keep respectably close to the Civic. At no time did I have to push the car to the limit nor did I have to correct the steering since the Jazz kept to the intended cornering line very faithfully. We were taking, entering most corners at speeds of 70kph to sometimes 90kph and exciting them at higher speeds since I at least was WOT-ing after the apexes and the Jazz was able to handle them all without any fuss. I am very sure the EG Civic was running well below its limit but still I was doing well enough staying closely behind that the owner remarked several times afterwards how he was surprised to see me still behind him over some of the tighter corners.

I was alone on the way back down and since I had an urgent matter to attend to, was prone to pushing the Jazz a bit harder than on the way up. Again, the Jazz VTEC handled the same roads but downhill in an able manner. It was early morning and the roads are quite empty. In 'S-mode', I was tempted several times to WOT down the milder corners. And I did on some of them, often exceeding 110kph on some of the easier corners and exceeding 130-140kph on the many short straights between the corners. On that trip down, I was the one doing all the overtaking as other cars either could not or was not pushing the corners. Overtaking going downhill is of course a much easier task and the only interest on that trip downhill was provided by a pickup which seemed to think that having a 'turbo-intercooled' engine qualifies it as a 'sports-car' as he tried to tailgate me out of the way. It was an easy job leaving him several car lengths behind and indeed I lost sight of him most of the time except when I had to slow for slow moving traffic on 'double-line' (meaning no overtaking) roads. The 'highlight' of that encounter was when the desperado needed to overtake so desperately that when I joined the tail of a 5 car convoy stuck behind a slow moving lorry (truck) on a long section of double-line roads, the guy actually broke the rules and cut out to overtake, going into a blind corner side by side with the slow moving lorry and against the incoming traffic. I'll be honest that I was actually slowing down as I had half expected a vehicle to coming charging out of the blind corner and a bad head-on accident to occur but fortunately it did not happen.

The steering on the Jazz VTEC feels lighter than most typical hydraulic based power steering. But here personal preference plays an important part. I myself got used to the steering feel and actually developed good opinions on it. I actually think it is nicely weighted for the kind of performance and comfort the Jazz VTEC is designed for. The lock-to-lock turn for the steering is listed by Honda at 3.53. But this does not really give the full picture and we need to look also at the actual steering ratio, i.e. how much the front wheels turn to a given steering wheel input. In this case, the Jazz VTEC's steering ratio is relatively very high - 17.7. By comparison, the corresponding figures for the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and Accord 2.4 i-VTEC are 14.85 and 15.21 respectively. So the 'steering reaction', the amount the Jazz VTEC turns in response to steering input is comparatively more than the typical car. Coupled with a turning radius of only 4.9m, this makes the Jazz VTEC very maneuverable. It's just that new owners should bear in mind that the steering is quite 'quick'. Again I actually developed a preference for this because as I pointed out, it makes the Jazz VTEC very manueverable and I could chuck it around without too much work on the steering wheel, very nice for driving fast in twisty roads.

Another aspect of the steering is the apparent large change in the caster (of the front wheels). After more than 1 turn either way, the caster change seemed to be large enough that the wheels (and steering) no longer straighten by themselves. Again this behaviour is not typical and some people have actually been caught out by it.
An area where work is needed would be visibility. The photo on the left is of the driver's side A-pillar. Note how substantial the pillar is and is a key component to the strong safety rating of the Jazz. On my own Jazz VTEC for e.g. I have installed Mugen door visors and in combination with the thick A-pillar, frontal visibility was actually adversely impacted. This was especially a problem when turning right (I need to remind readers that Malaysian cars are RHD), sometimes incoming small vehicles like motorbikes or small K-cars can become nearly 'invisible'. The other area which has visibility problem is the rear of the car, especially the hatch section behind the rear seats. While the doors are relatively thin, all the pillars are actually very thick. And this in conjunction with a rather small rear hatch glass in practise makes the driver's side rear hatch side almost un-sighted. Again the 2nd photo on the left below shows this very clearly. Now, before anyone decides to go and make a big deal out of these, I wish to again firmly state that no car can be perfect and certainly not a car from the subcompact class. The pillars and bodystructure needs to be thick in order to be strong. The Jazz body is strong in order to do its job of protecting its occupants. With proper care and after a period of adjustment, these areas which impacts visibility can be compensated for in daily driving.

Timed Performance Checks
Having talked about my subjective impressions from driving the Jazz VTEC, I will now talk about the results from my timed performance tests using a GTECH Pro. As I start to write this section, I am expectant that this will probably be one of the most controversial reports that I have yet to write. To jump the gun, the Jazz 1.5VTEC did extremely well in the timed tests. Indeed when I inadvertently leaked the results of my 0-60mph tests to a few members of my club, who then proceed to talk about it on various public forums, I was indirectly subjected to a lot of ridicule. Doubters were 'sure' that either I had a very special Jazz or that I do not know what I am talking about. The basis of this is simply that the 0-60mph times from my Jazz 1.5VTEC tests were out of the norm in relation to what we might expect just from looking at the specs of the car. Indeed, its times when compared to sporty models like the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and Accord 2.4 i-VTEC was so close that when I was completing the tests, I myself actually started to wonder if I should stop using the GTECH PRO for my testing !

After much thought, I decided that since I started timed performance tests for TOVA using the simple GTECH PRO, I have to stick to my principles and continue to publish my results irregardless of how good a particular car may do. This is because if I make an exception this time, it would mean that I have set a precedence and in the future, what is to stop me not publishing results if they are not as good as we would want them to be ? In the end, the most basic question that changed my mind is the simple fact that the people who has the right to decide that my results are 'too good' or 'not good enough' should not be some doubters who might not even own a Honda but instead should be TOVA readers themselves. So I decided that I must publish all results as they are and let readers make the judgement whether you want to accept them or not. Remember, when I started the GTECH PRO based timing tests, I made an extra effort to highlight that I do not intend for the results to be 'authoritative' but rather to be useful as comparisons to similar tests that I do on other cars in TOVA or against similar tests done by enthusiasts on their own cars.
0-60mph Acceleration Run

This is the test which incurred the controversy and ridicule. Actually it's the only result which I leaked. A word about the presentation format first. By coincidence, I have also adopted a new presentation method for my test results. Instead of randomly ordering them, I am plotting all the results in chronological order. For my tests, after I arrive at the 'test strip', I first do some experimental runs to get the best technique for launching and shifting for fastest times. Then I do a set of 5 runs in order to practice and in a way to let the car 'stablize'. The actual timed tests are done after that, 2 sets of 12-15 runs each. And from each set, I discard the best and worst runs until I am left with 10 runs in total. Finally, I might optionally do 1 last set of 5 more runs just to re-check the results if they are really out of the norm of what I had initially expected before doing the tests, based on 'guesses' from the paper specs - usually a simple estimation made from the car's power to weight ratio. In this case, this was more or less what I did with the Jazz 1.5 VTEC. I did do the extra set after the main runs just to see if the unexpectedly good results I was getting are 'for real' or not. I actually ended up getting slightly better results because the petrol /fuel level was going down and the car was actually getting lighter.

As can be seen, the Jazz 1.5 VTEC returned quite unexpectedly good results, to me at least. It consistently did the 0-60mph run at a time of between 8.7 to 9.0 seconds for an average of just above 8.8 seconds !! This was really astonishing especially at the time I was doing the runs. By comparison, the 'reference' cars in the mid-sized and full-sized 'sports-sedan' segment, the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and the local Accord 2.4 i-VTEC returned averaged times of 8.5 and 8.6 seconds respectively, not a lot faster than what the Jazz did !

The technique I used to obtain these times was the familiar one I have been using for the City and other CVT-7 cars I have since tested. With the car stationary, get the gearbox into 7speed mode and hit the downshift button once. This is 'manual 7speed mode' in 1st gear, i.e. the gearbox will not upshift due to changes in throttle pressure. Then left foot on the brake pedal, lightly squeeze the throttle and feel the gearbox tension up and let go of the brake for the launch. For the case of the Jazz VTEC, I found best results to come by launching with engine rpms between 2,500rpm and 3,000rpm. The car actually feels like it's 'squating' slightly back onto its rear wheels. The Jazz VTEC comes with made in Japan Bridgestone Potenza RE040 tyres which are considered good. I have often highlighted that these are the same tyres that Honda fitted on all its Type-R models and at one time, they are even standard issues on the Honda NSX. Perhaps it is because of the very good tyres that I was able to get good launches. The tyres did not squeal which indicated that the CVT gearbox could not get it to break traction, sometime which I feel is not achievable given the characteristic of the CVT-7 gearbox. Certainly not with Bridgestone RE040 tyres.

The biggest contributor to the very good 0-60mph timing of the Jazz VTEC must be the CVT-7 gearbox. Having also tested a 1.4l Jazz, the 7-speed mode is crucial here because it allows me to lock a gear ratio, in this case, a comparatively high ratio (courtesy of having 7 gears) and quickly accelerate to redline with full drive to the front wheels. So acceleration in 1st gear is nice and prompt after the first couple thousand rpms. In fact, engine rpm climbs so fast after 3000rpm that I ended up pressing the 7speed mode button a little bit early to get into S-mode. This is because the gearbox will automatically upshift once it hits redline and it is just too easy to mis-react. Any slight delay and engine rpm will hit redline and the gearbox will upshift. So to ensure it doesn't, I tap the 7speed mode button once I visually see the tacho hit 5,800rpm just to be sure. Thereafter the engine rpm will hit 6,300rpm quickly and the Jazz surges forward, picking up speed very quickly. This optimum acceleration rate and lack of gearshift are the 2 key factors to the great time of 8.8 seconds for the 0-60mph run.

0-1/4mile Acceleration Test
As for the standing quarter mile acceleration test, the Jazz VTEC completes the quarter mile run between 16.9 to 17.1 seconds. Again this compares well to the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and Accord 2.4 i-VTEC which delivered 16.5 - 16.7 sec and 16.5 - 16.9 sec respectively. The 'Trap speed' for the runs are between 86 to 88mph (137-141 kph) which also compares well to the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and especially Accord 2.4 i-VTEC. The graph clearly shows the benefit of 'experience' as after completing the earlier runs, I was able to consistently complete the run in less than 17.0 seconds. Again, at the time I was doing the runs the results were quite astonishing as honestly I did not expect the Jazz VTEC, with such a modest level of power, to be able to do the quarter mile runs in under 17 seconds.
Like the 0-60mph runs, the lack of gearshifts was a prime advantage to the relatively good times. A typical sports-sedan like the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC for e.g. would have to undergo 3 gear-shifts on its quarter mile run, each gear-change introducing a sort of an 'interruption' to the acceleration. Nevertheless, I have often highlighted that the technological advantage of the CVT can only go so far. Having only a relatively modest 110ps, the acceleration was clearly beginning to wane at the end of the run.

60-0mph Braking Test
The area of braking also returned good results from the Jazz VTEC. I have always forwarded the opinion that the biggest determinant of braking distance is the tyres and in this case, I feel the results clearly showed this. Again the tyres supplied with the Jazz VTEC are Bridgestone Potenza RE040, very good performance tyres and indeed in many ways can be considered to be an 'overmatch' for the level of performance the Jazz VTEC is capable of. Thus based on just the tyres alone I was expecting very good results to be returned from the 60-0mph braking tests and I wasn't disappointed. The Jazz VTEC took between 133-138 feet to stop from 60mph. This is in comparison to the 138ft required by the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC and the Accord 2.4 i-VTEC. So as can be seen, the Jazz VTEC stops relatively very well.

The Jazz VTEC did not perform flawlessly in this test however. A big problem I had in getting good results is the initial 'bite' from the brakes. The brake pedal is reasonably firm but the brakes does not seem to bite to moderate pressure. So I couldn't use progressive braking which I normally do to avoid the ABS cutting in. The Jazz VTEC does not shed off speed well from light to moderate brake pedal pressure and returned so-so results when squeezing the pedal. Eventually I had to resort to jamming hard on the brakes right from the start in order to get the Jazz to stop in the shortest possible distance. It wasn't totally possible to avoid letting the ABS cut in and so a lot of the results in this test were with the ABS working for quite a part of the braking. Nevertheless, even so the braking distances are certainly relatively good, in fact the best results of all the cars I have tested from Honda Malaysia thus far. But if only the brake response had been better, I am confident I would've obtained even better results.

Another area in terms of braking that I wasn't totally happy with is the tendency of the Honda Malaysia review unit to exhibit a mild 'tail shake' during the braking tests. The rear seems just a tad unstable but there's no feeling that it will come lose, just a slight barely perceptible 'wagging' of the rear.

Fuel Economy
The Jazz 1.5VTEC seems to have a habit of giving me surprises after surprises. Most certainly not as controversial as the timed performance tests of course, the Jazz VTEC also impressed me with its fuel economy under general driving conditions and indeed often shocked me by the excellent fuel economy I could get out of it under ideal conditions. The Jazz VTEC owners manual stipulated RON95 fuel as the minimum required fuel. Here in Malaysia, we generally have RON91 and RON97 fuel available at the stations, with Shell's 'V-Power' unofficially rated at RON98 (this fuel is not rated at the pump). So for the Jazz VTEC, I used RON97 fuel of course. For fuel economy measurement, I rely exclusively on the computer readout as this would be what owners will be using anyway.

At one time or another, most of us have probably been approached by friends asking about heavy fuel consumption on their cars, be it Honda or other makes. More likely than not, we would have told them that it all really depends on how heavy their right foot is on the throttle. For the Jazz 1.5VTEC, this adage holds more true than ever before. Under general driving conditions, with generally smooth moving traffic, occasional heavy traffic or slight congestion and under what might be caledl a "typical enthusiast's driving habits" : periods of light throttle cruising punctuated by frequent heavy or WOT spurts to overtake or simply to distance away from other cars on the road, perhaps an annoying tail-gater, or that heavy vehicle which seems to be slowing squeezing itself onto our lane. Under this kind of conditions and driving style, the Jazz 1.5VTEC can return between 12 to 14 km/litre, yes even with occasional, say 10 to 20% of time spent in slow moving heavy traffic conditions or even light traffic jams.

But exercise restraint and practise driving with a very light right foot and the Jazz VTEC will return amazing fuel economy levels. In one case, after topping up to a full tank, I first enter into slow moving traffic. The fuel consumption read-out started with 14l/km, eventually leveling out to 9.0l/km as the traffic slowly and painful stutters through a traffic light. Clearing this bottleneck, I entered onto a free flowing 4 lane highway, then uphill onto a 3lane highway, all the while with light traffic. I ended the journey, approximately 18km long with the fuel meter reading 5.5l/km or 18.2km/l ! My typical speed was around 80 - 90kph and I was even overtaking slower moving vehicles and the journey includes that period of getting stuck with the congestion at the traffic lights and also the cautious journey through a multi-storied basement car-park.

On the return journey, leaving the computer readout at 5.5l/km, I made my way back with the meter only going up to 5.9l/km (17km/l). This return journey involved going through a lot of uphill roads and getting stuck in a slow moving traffic jam. It also included a short period of WOT to out-drag a Perodua Kenari (another popular Malaysian made K-car) trying to cut me off, getting stuck for a while behind a tow-truck towing an E36 BMW 3-series and finally two rounds around the block looking for a parking space. In both journies, throttle position was very light, probably 5% or so and with engine revs hardly ever much above 2,000rpm except for that short period of madness outdragging the Kenari K-car. And even with such light throttle positions, speeds of 70 - 90 kph are easily reached. Good patience is of course needed since pickup is definitely going to be lack-lustre with so light a throttle position.
Honda officially rates the Fit/Jazz 1.5VTEC for a fuel economy of 20.0km/l (or 5.0l/km) for the 10.15 mode. As might be expected, this figure become an obsession for me during the fuel economy phase of the test-drive. I was obsessed with acheiving this same level of fuel economy, eventhough I know it to be a tough task since the official figure have probably been achieved under ideal test conditions on an empty test-track without traffic, conditions which are definitely not available on public roads ! Nevertheless, I was shocked that not only was I able to acheive 5.0l/km on the fuel computer, I was actually able to better this level during my test !

The 'all out' fuel economy test phase I conducted was during a week-day morning. After topping up to full tank at a Shell station, I made my way through a short stretch of city road to the North-South highway toll-gate, a journey of 11km with relatively heavy traffic (many are still driving to work) and with speeds of around 70-80kph. I stayed in the middle lane as most cars there were going this speed, with only occasional 'excursions' to the rightmost lane to overtake. The average consumption for this portion of the journey ? An amazing 4.8l/km appeared on the computer readout. That's 20.8km/l !

For the next stage of the journey, from the entry toll to the exit toll, a journey of around 7 km, i.e. all highway travel where traffic is now only moderate and of course speed and throttle positions are constant, the overall accumulate fuel consumption dropped even further, to only 4.5l/km or 22.2km/l. Average speeds were around 60 - 70kph and I stayed mostly in the leftmost, slow lane as the cars in the middle lane were going around 90 - 100kph since speed limit was 90kph. This journey ended at the exit toll gate queue where I waited for maybe 3-4 minutes and watch the overall consumption go back up to 5.0l/km or 20.0 km/l. So, it is actually quite possible to acheive the rated fuel economy for the Jazz 1.5VTEC even on public roads and under quite less than ideal conditions too !
Jazz i-DSI or Jazz VTEC ?

One thing I have experienced often is readers and friends approaching me asking me for 'advice' which type of Jazz they should buy - i-DSI or VTEC ? This is a most interesting question. Other than price alone, quite a number of people do not really see any difference between the two types. They do see the more powerful 'VTEC' engine and they do wonder how the i-DSI compares in technology (hopefully TOVA readers do not wonder anymore now) but they find it hard to decide which type, i-DSI or VTEC, is suitable for their requirements.

In this section, I offer my opinions on this matter. The most obvious difference between the Jazz i-DSI and Jazz VTEC is their engines. In this case, let's compare the Jazz 1.5 i-DSI and Jazz 1.5 VTEC for a fair comparison. This means comparing the L15A i-DSI and the L15A VTEC. As pointed out above, the power difference is almost 25%, the i-DSI offering 88ps whereas the VTEC offering 110ps, a difference of 22ps. In terms of actual useable power however, enthusiasts knows that we cannot judge simply based on the single max power figure only. The engine's power chart is more important. For the case of the Jazz with CVT, this is indeed more important, actually extremely important. This is because the characteristics of the CVT transmission can mean that entire journeys can be made with the tachometer never exceeding 2,500rpm for e.g. and yet still be able to achieve speeds of 90-100kph. In relation to this comparison, the most important difference between the i-DSI and VTEC engines is that the i-DSI actually has marginally better torque (and power) below 3,000rpm, around 0.3kgm or around 2 lb-ft. While this figure seems tiny by itself, we must realize that the gearbox multiplies this by quite a large number. So for scenarios where engine rpm does not exceed 3,000rpm, the i-DSI is the one which actually delivers slightly better performance !

The other thing is the fuel economy. I have highlighted above and I will highlight again here. While I have achieved astonishingly low fuel consumption levels on my own Jazz VTEC, don't be fooled by the figures. They were done with really light throttle, and under very good conditions. If one drives normally, such stupendous fuel economy are not normally achievable, certainly not by an enthusiast driving the Jazz VTEC to his or her normal driving style and habits. Under such circumstances - normal typical day to day driving, and with the same driving style, the i-DSI will return better fuel economy than the VTEC. In many ways, it is simply the laws of physics that controls it. i-DSI with 8V will give better fuel economy, in theory and also in practice.

The difference between the i-DSI and VTEC is of course not just in the engine alone. Like the case of the City, the suspension components on the VTEC are different specs. Some likes to say 'up-rated' but I do not like the use of this word because it implies that the i-DSI components are lower-grade items which they are most definitely not. It's simply that the components; springs, shocks, anti-roll bar, EPS setting, etc are all spec'ed and set for more spirited sporty driving. So the correlation will be the car will have a 'harder' ride as highlighted above. The steering meanwhile will feel more responsive on the VTEC (to those that are fussy about such things). The differences are not in feel alone, the interior fittings and furnishings are also different between the i-DSI and VTEC, with the VTEC version generally getting materials which are designed to project a more sporty theme and to be frank are also of higher quality - simply because the VTEC costs quite a bit more than the i-DSI. Exterior wise, for Malaysia at least, the VTEC comes with larger 15" wheels and performance biased tyres and a nice bodykit that many enthusiasts will not have any reason to change. Except for the rims of course which have too much offset.

One experience I have had is that a number of people have 'complained' about the Jazz VTEC's 'hard ride'. They are far and few in between but generally they question why the Jazz VTEC cannot have a comfortable ride. My response to them are always that the hard ride on the Jazz VTEC is intentional. It is to complement the extra 25% power, i.e. to exploit the more powerful engine. People who will pay for the extra 25% hp - the engine only gives more power above 3000rpm - will be the one who buys VTEC. Let's be honest here, most casual owners of a Jazz i-DSI will never go above 3,000rpm on the tacho, such is the peppiness of the engine/CVT combo. So given its better low-rpm power, the i-DSI is slightly faster - and more economical - in normal day to day driving. The kind of people who appreciates the VTEC engine's special characteristic, where better performance really comes in only after 3,500rpm or 4,000rpm will be the enthusiasts who puts a premium on performance, the sort who appreciates the kind of occasions where he/she can gleefully hit the 7-speed mode button and put pedal to metal, savoring the little L15A VTEC scream to the red-line. This kind of owners too would be the one who is most likely to indulge in throwing the Jazz up a windy mountain road for e.g. instead of taking a nice relaxed drive. And so it is most logical to complement the more powerful engine with a much more sporty - and hard - suspension because for performance enthusiasts, they really comes hand-in-hand. For those who wants a comfortable uneventful ride ? The Jazz i-DSI is really an excellent all round vehicle which possesses this characteristic - and offers an engine to match it too, with better low-rpm power and better fuel economy. The suspension will be too soft when throwing the car around windy roads or for any maneuver at high speeds. But the car itself will seldom reach the sort of speed for this to happen, because the driver will seldom get into such mood.

Actually this sort of tuning for sportiness has always been Honda's forte. The great SiR models of the past for e.g. follows this formula with great success. And for those who still wonder, Honda do offer a car which has a powerful engine and with a soft suspension designed to offer comfortable ride. They called it 'performance with luxury' and owners of the car will quickly recognize it now - yes, the ET1 Honda Civic 2.0 i-VTEC. And based on TOVA readers anyway, whom represents mostly enthusiasts, this combination is anything but a success. Almost every owner whom I have talked to have complaints about his/her Civic 2.0 i-VTEC's suspension as being too soft and bouncy. Few if any appreciated the 'soft, luxurious, comfortable' ride it offers. In my own opinions, the ET1 Civic 2.0 i-VTEC really should have been tuned the way this Jazz VTEC is tuned in the first place. Indeed when I asked owners why they don't appreciate the luxurious suspension tuning of the Civic 2.0 i-VTEC, the response is blunt and right to the point - 'if I wanted a luxury vehicle, I would have bought the Accord 2.0 i-VTEC. It is a lot more 'luxurious' and it does not cost a lot more.'. An insight indeed ! Thankfully I have been assured that the next generation Civic 2.0 i-VTEC, which will be here either end of this year or early next year (depending on country), will return back to its roots.

So in summary, my opinions are that for those contemplating between a Jazz i-DSI and a Jazz VTEC, the important thing is to look back inside oneself and to understand one's driving style and habits and also strive to crystalize one's expectations as clearly as possible. As I have said, both i-DSI and VTEC are fine vehicles in their own rights. For the Jazz, thankfully Honda have stuck to their well known and trusted formula - the i-DSI offers a great all round vehicle, peppy for town driving, more than acceptable for highway driving, with great fuel economy and versatility. The VTEC on the other hand, offers a combination of high-rpm power and a great sporty driving. Perhaps readers will now agree with me when I said how Honda Malaysia at least, is blatantly targeting the Jazz VTEC at enthusiasts, especially those who puts performance at a premium. The car also comes with a bodykit and 15" rims with great performance based tyres - all items highly appreciated by enthusiasts. Thus the Jazz VTEC is near perfect a blend for the Honda enthusiast who likes the versatility of the Jazz's overall design and desires a respectable level of performance as well.

So understand your own preferences carefully and then match them to which type, i-DSI or VTEC. Both are fine vehicles and you will not go wrong with either choice but match wrongly and it will be likely that often you will yourself wishing for the characteristic of the other.

Running-In a new Honda - First Hand Experience
For this review, I was using Honda Malaysia's media car which had 10,125 km on the odo and they confirmed with me that they just sent the car for service before passing it to me for review. My own car had less than 5,000km at that time and have only went through the 1st 1,000km service (visual check-up) though I paid for a Honda full synthetic oil change and made in Japan HAMP oil filter replacement. Nevertheless, having two identical cars at the same time with the only difference being in accumulated mileage gave me a unique opportunity to experience the effect of running-in on a modern Honda car. In one word, the differences are HUGE. The main difference is in terms of power as well as fuel economy. The HM Jazz had much better 'urge' in response to throttle input. Both in D and S-mode. By contrast, there is a feeling of 'laziness', a sort of restraint in my own unit at that time. The biggest difference is WOT runs using 7speed mode, through 1st, 2nd, 3rd gears and onwards, something all owners will surely do just for the fun of it. HM's Jazz was really urgent after 3000rpm whereas my own unit still had considerable 'restraint' all the way to the redline. Overall the HM Jazz was quite a bit faster than my own unit. 'Power' wasn't the only difference. I could easily get good fuel economy on HM's Jazz, easily dipping below 8.0l/100km and even 7.0l/100km on many occasions while I struggle to stay on the low side of 8l/100km on my own unit, no matter how much I baby the throttle. Finally the suspension feeling was surprising. The HM unit felt a bit 'softer' than my own unit which felt 'harder'. My unit 'hopped' around a bit more while the HM unit is a little bit more bouncy over uneven roads.

Now with the mileage on my own unit at more than 19,000km, the tables are turned. Based on memory, my unit now feels even more peppy than the HM unit I tested just a few months ago. The engine felt smoother and more responsive to throttle input, especially more so after my trip up to Camerons Highlands where I really gave the Jazz VTEC a good run. It is the same with fuel economy, I have since been regularly getting mileage in the 6.0l/km range and even 5.0l range on some occasions. Even when traffic have been particularly bad for a particular week, overall mileage can still be kept in the mid-8s and that is after getting stuck in traffic jams for the whole week. I had been very careful with my driving style during the initial 1,000km run-in period for my own car and even then, was still careful not to stress it until after the 5,000km accumulated mileage. The HM on the other hand I am very sure have been really pushed to the limit even before it has hit the 1000km run-in period. So personally I think the difference between my unit now and the HM unit when I had it then would also be due to a more careful and rigid run-in procedure.

With the benefit of some real-life experience, especially the unique experience of being able to compare two units side by side which are virtually identical except for their accumulated mileage, I am now even more confident in telling Honda owners that they need to run-in their new Honda car properly before they can really see the true potential of their car, especially in terms of performance and fuel economy. I am sure what I have seen with the Jazz VTEC will apply to other models as well so I am even more confident than ever before in recommending that new Honda owners should be careful to exercise a rigid run-in procedure. The procedure I myself use is for the first 1,000km mileage, I do not exceed 60% of the engine's rated redline and do not go WOT. I myself was careful to not even exceed the half-throttle mark. After the 1,000km mileage has passed, for the next 4,000km mileage until the 5,000km accumulated mileage mark, regularly go WOT and push the engine to red-line but do not stress the car by going on the race track or engaging in extended 'spirited driving', i.e. do not sustain WOT and very high rpms for long periods of time. For myself, the keywords are to 'exercise' the car regularly but do not stress it. There are other equally good procedures of course so what is most important is to adopt one which you feel comfortable with and to follow it as much as possible. I am sure, the car will feel very good after the 5,000km service. Best results, in terms of performance and fuel economy will be after 10,000km mileage.

Performance Results & Technical Specifications : Jazz 1.5VTEC
Performance Test Results
0-60 mph
0-1/4 mile/Trap Speed
16.89s / 87.6mph
16.96s / 86.7mph
17.0s / 86.3mph
60-0 mph
Technical SpecificationsEngineInline 4 cylinder 16Valves SOHC VTEC and PGM-Fi
Bore X Stroke
73.0mm X 89.4mm
10.1 : 1
Max power
81kW (110ps) at 5800rpm
Max torque
143Nm (14.6kgm) at 4800rpm
GearboxContinously Variable Transmission (CVT) with 7-speed Mode
SteeringElectrical Power Steering (EPS)
17. 7: 1
turn (lock to lock)
turning circle (body)
4.9 m
Brake System
Ventilated Disc
Drum (Japan version); Solid Disc (Thai version)
McPherson Strut
Torsion Beam
Alloy Size
15 X 6.0 JJ
3830 mm
1695 mm
1525 mm
2450 mm
Threads FR/RR
1440 / 1430 mm
Ground clearance
150 mm
Kerb Weight
1080 kg
fuel tank
42 l
My review of the amazing Honda Jazz 1.5VTEC can now be concluded. I cannot say enough how I feel it to be a fine all-round vehicle. It has fantastic versatility, very good safety rating, great fuel economy and a more than respectable performance. No, it is of course not 'Type-R level' in performance but for day-to-day driving and I feel even for the occasional track use, the car will perform very nicely, surprising not a few people in the process. As usual, it is not perfect of course since few if any vehicles can be said to be perfect. It's always the case of how well it matches its intended target market and in this case, I don't know if it's significant but I can say that I am impressed enough with it that I have since changed my old EK3 Honda Civic Ferio Vi to a GD3 Honda Jazz 1.5VTEC. And not only have I never even wondered about the validity of my decision, I have been very happy and satisfied with the car since. I would hope so, that surely this can the best testimonial that I can give to this simply amazing little vehicle !
In the next article of this series, I will talk about how I met two groups of Honda enthusiasts who shares the same opinion as me - members of the Malaysian based Fit-Jazz-Friends-Club and the Singapore based Fit-Jazz-Club. And I will take a look at some really wonderfully wild Honda Fit/Jazzes in the process. Stay tuned !
WongKNMay 2005© Temple of VTEC Asia

Ano ba talaga ang problema ng Pilipinas?

Blogger's Note: Remember the story about the shipwreck crew of a tanker composed of Singaporeans and Filipinos?
Wash ashore a deserted island, the crew was divided into two groups based on nationality. Then they divided the island: at one side are the Filipinos and on the other side are the Singaporeans. To survive their ordeal, the Singaporeans organized themselves into a committee where one is in-charge of food, gathering wood for fire, building a temporary home and one surveying the horizon for any ship crossing the see. By the seventh day, the Singaporeans were saved by a passing fishing boat. The Filipinos? They were still debating among themselves who would become their leader. Read the story below to know the our problem(s).

No Free Lunch: State of the nation: An authoritative view
Posted: 2:54 AM Jul. 25, 2005, Cielito Habito, Inquirer News Service
Published on Page B5 of the July 25, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
this story was taken from

THE WORLD Bank recently released one of the more authoritative analyses of our country's continuing development challenges in the document titled "Philippines: From Short Term Growth to Sustained Development." While I am not in complete agreement with all of the paper's analyses, the document captures most of the development issues confronting the nation quite well. More importantly, it supports its observations and analyses with ample data and references to the development literature.

Productivity lag
The paper's analysis of the Philippines' long-term development perspective highlights what many of us already know, i.e. that our country's performance has fallen well short of our neighbors over the past decades. Our productivity, in particular, compares rather poorly with others. Output per Filipino worker grew by only about 1 percent a year over the last 43 years (1960-2003). In contrast, our neighbors averaged 4.4 percent, and all developing countries of the world combined averaged 1.4 percent. Thus, while output per Filipino worker rose by 50 percent through those four decades, it grew 450 percent, or nine times faster, elsewhere in East Asia. While our neighbors' growth mostly came from rising investment and productivity, ours came mostly from consumption, making up 85 percent of our average growth since 1990. The contribution of growth in physical capital to our overall economic growth was only a third of that in other East Asian economies. And while East Asia experienced an average 1.4-percent annual growth in total factor productivity (TFP) in the last 40 years, our own average annual TFP growth was actually negative in the same period!

Poor investment climate
The above trends trace to a large extent to the way the foreign investment surge that swept the region in the 70s and 80s largely passed us by. We gained some lost ground in the 1990s with our positive economic climate then, but after the Asian financial crisis and our own unsettled internal politics thereafter, we are again largely missing the boat.
Statistics show that investments in 2005 have not only slowed down; they actually dropped. The World Bank paper observes that by most measures, the Philippine investment climate has deteriorated relative to other countries. While all three international rating agencies have been downgrading both our sovereign ratings and outlook since last year, our neighbors have been receiving ratings upgrades. This has significantly raised the borrowing cost for both our private firms and the government relative to our neighbors. Interest rates on Philippine borrowings abroad were more than 400 basis points (4 percentage points) over the benchmark US treasury bonds as of end-2004. In contrast, the spreads for China, Thailand and Malaysia were well under 100 basis points (1 percentage point). Our country risk rating has dramatically deteriorated in the last three years from 47 to 61 in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Risk Scoring System, while our neighbors either maintained or improved on theirs. The story is the same with our competitiveness ranking in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index. An Investment Climate Survey conducted jointly by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in 2004 revealed that 62 percent of firms think the Philippine business climate had either "sharply" or "moderately" declined.

Slow progress on poverty
Lack of productivity growth and investments have translated directly to lack of progress in overcoming poverty. Compared to our neighbors, we have been much slower in bringing down poverty. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of people earning less than $1 a day fell by 9 and 11 percentage points in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively, but fell only 5 percentage points in the Philippines. And even though average income (measured as GDP per person a year) of Filipinos exceeds that of Indonesians by over a third, poverty incidence is still higher in the Philippines.

Measures of income inequality also show us to be closer to Latin American countries than our own neighbors. Income of the richest one-fifth of the Filipino population is 12.4 times that of the poorest one-fifth, while the corresponding ratio is 11 times for Thailand, 7 for Malaysia, and only 4.4 for Sri Lanka. We were actually better off in 1988, when this rich-poor ratio was just 10 to 1, showing that inequality actually worsened in the Philippines through the 1990s. While recent government reports indicated some improvement in 2003, their veracity has been put to question by data inconsistencies pointed out by knowledgeable experts.

Leadership failure
The World Bank paper affirms yet another thing we already know: that weak governance and institutions lie at the heart of our perennial underperformance. Many of us had hoped that Edsa 2 would pave the way for an improvement on this score, only to find that we instead moved from bad to worse. Lack of principle-centered leadership and a government devoid of clear direction (vision), basic morale (inspiration) and teamwork (cohesion) can only lead us even farther away from the rest of the pack. Can we really expect to get better if top-level decisions are clearly driven by politics rather than by sound, unwavering principles? If the general mood in government offices is one wherein the top leadership is widely spoken of with disdain in hushed tones, by officials down to rank-and-file employees (Malacañang, it seems, has yet to wake up to this reality)? If basic unity, solidarity and teamwork within and among various units of government is missing (witness the ongoing blame-throwing, instead of cooperation, between BIR and DOJ on the tax evasion cases--I can almost hear the tax evaders laughing!)?

And yet we are now told that the Cabinet will be left to work by themselves, when what they have sorely needed all along is an active and effective team captain (again, Malacañang misses the point!).

Can the state of the nation really get better under its current governance and leadership?

Comments welcome at copyright ©2005 all rights reserved

Nothing permanent is change

MAPping the Future: It's time to change
Posted: 2:59 AM Jul. 25, 2005, Cora PB Claudio, Inquirer News Service
Published on Page B3-2 of the July 25, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
this story was taken from www.inq7money.netURL:

RESPECTED citizens of the country, including church leaders, admit the Philippines has become a very corrupt society. Cheating, many say, has become so common, starting at home between husband and wife, that concern now is more how grave the offense is rather than whether it happens or not.

It is, indeed, the time to change for the better. But, in doing so, let us focus first on ourselves, then on our home, our companies and our local communities. Our campaign slogan in promoting environmental caring--SIMBY or Start In My Back Yard--applies here also. One cannot stand on good moral ground to demand a national leader to resign, supposedly for cheating, weak decision making, etc., if one is also guilty of such offenses. The change must start from within.

Proposals on needed changes abound. To such proposals, may I add the need to change our lifestyle--perhaps, the root of many evils we see now. It is time to change our unsustainable, materialistic, wasteful lifestyle to a sustainable one.
Sustainable lifestyle covers sustainable production and consumption; social, ecological and economic resilience and vulnerability; governance and institutions needed to foster sustainability; and societal values and norms for promoting sustainability.

Sustainable production
With limited resources for meeting increasing needs, making our food and industrial production sustainable becomes an urgent challenge.

One way of doing so is to "convert agricultural wastes into rich fertilizers to increase productivity that, at the same time, reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

Recently, a small group from the environment committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and our new partner, the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation (GKCDF) visited the integrated farm of MAP member Joe Simeon in Tarlac which applies bio-organic technology developed by a group of development-oriented scientists-businessmen led by Bong Garrucho, formerly of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Joe converts the waste from his piggery into high-grade fertilizer and rich nutrient feed for his prawn pond. It is an integrated farm system, which we hope to replicate as a livelihood source in GK communities.

Sustainable consumption
Sustainable consumption demands being aware of the impact of purchases and lifestyles on the environment and other people; taking actions that are not wasteful. It requires us to ask before buying: Do I really need to buy this? What raw materials were used in this product? How long will it last? How will I dispose of it after my use?

Sustainable consumption starts from equitable sharing of resources. The United Nations Environment Program reports that industrialized countries, with only about 15 percent of the global population, account for more than 70 percent of consumption expenditures.

Resilience and vulnerability
The economic health of the Philippines is important to the national stability and development. But sustainable development is like a stool with three legs and economic development is but one of them. The social and ecological pillars are as important as the economic one. Unfortunately, they are in worse shape than the economic pillar.

The social pillar includes social equity and other political and social concerns, as well as values, attitudes and behaviors of the individuals and organizations that make up our society. It is the weakness of the social pillar, more than that of the economic pillar, which makes the country unstable. Past economic progress has not made much difference in the life of many of our people due to social inequity.

The ecological pillar is also weak. Poor treatment has led to risks to the environment and public health. Note the increasing incidence of cancer.

Environmental pollution does not differentiate the poor from the rich. It affects all, hence, defense of the environment should be a national health and security concern.

Governance and institutions
Decision-making is an important function in governance and in the operation of our institutions. My doctoral thesis adviser, Prof. M. Elisabeth Pate-Cornell, said that in collective decision-making, searching for a universally acceptable result is addressing the wrong question. Setting a norm on the process, she argued, is more conducive to agreements. She identified the characteristics of the decision-making process, for which certain norms and procedures need to be agreed on. These include: sound legal basis, an information and communication system, a public review process, a clear but flexible set of decision criteria reflecting public preferences, an appropriate conflict resolution mechanism, and a feedback mechanism. The "sound legal basis" starts with our Constitution and the manner by which we apply it. We now need to subject it, as well as the entire legal system, to reforms that are acceptable to the public.

Societal values and norms
We just launched a partnership program to help establish one or more ecologically sound villages with priority for those populated fully or partially by indigenous people who belong to the poorest of the poor in our country and in the areas affected by natural disasters. This is a joint project of the MAP, through the MAP environment committee and the MAP national issues committee, and the TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service) Foundation and our companies, relatives and friends, with the GKCDF.

An eco-village applies environmentally sound and sustainable technologies (e.g., energy-efficient housing design) and practices (e.g., recycling, sustainable lifestyle). It integrates human activities harmlessly into the natural environment, supports healthy human development, and can be continued into an indefinite future. It uses energy, water, food, soil, and materials in balance with the "carrying" capacity of the natural processes of the area. It supports a vision for a sustainable future which involves clean air, water, and land and living practices that respect nature. The community's members meet their economic and social needs through interdependence and with an economy that provides good quality of life to all community members, not only to a few. The community achieves sustainability through values formation and community empowerment, improved health and sanitation, ecologically sound livelihood projects, and education.

It is the type of community that we hope to start building soon with the help of our members and of other caring souls out there who would like to join us. By focusing first on the indigenous people, we also hope to promote improved understanding of their culture, skills, needs, etc., as well recognize their current and potential contributions to the sustainable development of our country.

The indigenous people seem to intuitively know what sustainable development means as they live within the resources available to them. Perhaps, by helping them, we can also get inspiration, if not ideas, on how to get out of the political situation that we are in and move forward to a sustainable path.

(The author co-chairs MAP's environment committee and co-directs the MAP-TOWNS-GK partnership project. Feedback copyright ©2005 all rights reserved

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Walkman Phone: Sony Ericsson W800

Review GSM phone: Sony Ericsson W800
Package: Handset, Battery, Charger, Manual, USB-cable, Stereo headset, 512 MB memory card, and CD with software

Not every manufacturing company has such two advantages as Sony Ericsson, these are a technical experience and hardware solutions by Ericsson and design and marketing by Sony. This influence of the parent companies was not so obvious and clear till lately. And the launch of the W800 has changed it all at once. That is the first phone released under the brand of Walkman that became a common name for portable players in some countries. Positioning the phone as a musical solution is quite interesting, several companies has taken this way, but none of them has such a brand and history behind. That means one more advantage for Sony Ericsson, and the company will surely use it.

The W index in the phone's name comes from the abbreviation of Walkman, and only two products (Sony Ericsson W800 and W600) are announced for now. The last model will be shipped only to the American market for now and later will appear in Europe. The models are of some certain charm and suit youth audience best. That is a logical attempt to create phones different both from other company solutions and rivals. Having seen this model once you will certainly remember it. A curious fact, the Sony Ericsson label is inscribed on the W800 but not distinguished with paint, that is why it is unnoticeable. Only a small company logo is seen not in every perspective. At the same time Walkman inscription is bright and flashy. That stresses the company appeals to experienced users of musical equipment but not mobile phone users. The reasoning is people who know company's phones and needs such a device are more likely to buy Sony Ericsson K750, and new users that constantly listen to the music will respond to the W800's positioning and will choose this model. That means the company issues this device for new users, loyal customers will not buy the W800 actively.

The W800 completely copies Sony Ericsson K750, and we can't write a full review about the device, since there are only three differences.

The first difference or design. A vivid orange body with an ivory front panel. The keypad has changed. The buttons are distanced and deeply sunk into the body. The amplitude of the pressures is very low, which makes a feeling of hard pressure. This keypad will suit some people, however it is generally comfortable. The backlighting is also orange and well seen in various conditions.

The camera on the back is closed with a shutter having another construction, you only need to slide the toddlers away, and the objective opens. As for the K750 the shutter is big and slides aside. Sometimes during a conversation it may be accidentally opened.

A player button is placed under the screen instead of Activity Menu. This seems functionally useless at the presence of a side Music Button. But due to the marketing means it's necessary to stress the main component of the device. The rest of the design coincides.

The second difference or standard kit. MS Duo or Duo Pro is the main data carrier in the phone (cards up to 2 GB now, the next year promises 4 GB ones). And if the K750 has a 64MB card included, then the W800 provides a 512MB one. Such a capacity is necessary due to the player use, a 256MB card seems a compromise, and less capacious ones are out of interst.

Unlike the K750 the W800's box is a vertical blister showing the phone with earphones. That is typical solution for musical players, the company had no such blister since Ericsson R310s. The kit includes НРМ-70 earphones (a copy of Sony MDR-EX71) which sound better than the ones in the K750's package.

The third difference or software. Sony Ericsson W800 is the first company phone (I stress it is a phone but not a smartphone) that can work with a radio component off and even more without a SIM-card. At the start the device will ask you if you want to activate the phone or only the musical player. Having selected only player you will be able to listen to the music not only from the internal phone's memory but from the card also. But access to other phone's functions is denied, for instance, games, organizer, and a phone book. That is a pity, but good the majority of the manufactures produce modern phones with an "aboard a plane" profile, that is when a radio component turns off and all other functions are available. This model is a Sony Ericsson's pilot balloon. Another point is you cant' switch to a player mode smoothly, it's necessary to restart the phone. For instance, Sony Ericsson S600 offers another step forward, pre pressing an on/off button you can switch the profile. These two functions are likely to be combined in the next product (that is not just changing a profile but also adding an "aboard" one).

The manufacturer claims the increase of the battery life from 15 to 30 hours with a radio component off (only listening to the player, and for the K750 that is 15 hours only. The experiments showed the device really plays twice longer if you do not touch it at all, do not work with playlists (the screen backlighting is off). We had an example that played music with the radio component on for 12 hours and 21 hours with only player function. Working with the player realy shortens battery life due to the backlighting.

As for me, the current musical profile organization is not very important and will be useful only aboard planes when all the other functions are useless. In the rest situations turning the radio component off with al the other functions (including radio) seems wrong. So, this function is not a serious improvement as compared with the K750.

Other changes concern the appearance of the W sign in the main menu, that signifies a player. The player interface is quite reworked, but still no principal changes, the general comfort of work remained the same. An important difference is the appearance of a status bar on the top of the screen, it shows the title and the performer of the current track. This appears only in the standby mode when you start playing with Music Button, it holds for 3-4 seconds and then disappears. In the standby mode neither a track number nor a song's title are shown. The reason is the developers failed realizing the function fully in time. Let's remember, the K750 shows a bar with volume adjustment on the top of the screen (works even with a player and a radio applications minimized). The W800 shows here a title of the current track at the start of playing. Further this ticker place can be used for various operator's news and so on. That is some kind of a creeping line. A fully-functional realization will be available not earlier than in the next year, and now only slight improvements will appear in every next model, the function will develop gradually.

This is the end of all the differences, read a corresponding review to get a clue of a full functionality. And now a couple of words about the W800's price and perspectives.

The model will be launched in September with the primary price of 400-480 Euros depending on the country. Now in Europe a functionally similar K750 costs 300-350 Euros. The K750's high price of 500 USD on the Russian market is caused by high stock-jobbing and few shipments. For the launch moment the W800 will cost about 100 Euros more than the current K750's price. The price difference is caused exclusively by the model's newness and the 512MB card in the kit.

Considering the fact buying the K750 and a 512MB card will be cheaper than the W800, and then buying the last model seems senseless. Excluding the case when you like the W800's design more than the K750's one. So, the described model is mainly targeted at people little acquainted with Sony Ericsson's products but listening to the music often and having a notion of the Walkman brand. The phones' similarity, earlier launch of the K750 allow suppositions the sales will be low. We think the K750 and the W800 will be sold in the ratio of 80 to 20.

The W800 is the first attempt of using the Walkman brand, and the W600 will be even more interesting, since it has evident difference from its prototype the S600, provides with more internal memory (256Mb against 64 in the S600). Then the company will differentiate the offer much, and no functionally similar models (like the K750 and the W800) will be present.

Links on the topic:
Review GSM phone Sony Ericsson K750i
Eldar Murtazin ( Published — 18 July 2005
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