Saturday, August 24, 2013

Product Review – mint-o ultramintz

Well … this is one review which took a lot of time to get from my laptop to my blog. This month, work kept me busy and an important person from whom I needed inputs was my Dad. He also took his own time to give me his 'review' …
Finally, I put everything together and now the review is up. Reviewing books has become a regular affair but this is different. Reviewing a product and that too, an 'edible and consumable' product
Mints – we all have grown consuming mints in various forms and varieties. Weather it was the minty taste or the cooling effect on the tip of the tongue – whether it were small round or rectangular pellets or the very famous mint-with-a-hole – mints have been a part of our growing up. So when BlogAdda offered the product review for a new 'mint' … I decided to give it a shot. It was a dual opportunity – product review and try out a new mint …
So that's how I came about to review Ultramintz – a product by ITC under their existing brand mint-o … something we all are already familiar with – something which is tried and tested.

Packaging – Before I talk about the product packaging, let me talk a bit about the packaging of the review pack. When the courier came in, the parcel was 'huge' as compared to expected product or a book – both of which could be expected from BlogAdda.
Opening the outer cover, there was neatly plastic wrapped ribbon clad dual box combo in my hand (I wish I had taken the photographs of the original pack and its gradual unwrapping). The individual boxes were almost like jewellery boxes and on opening them, besides the advert card introducing the product and all – the product container was neatly nestled in sily-velvety cloth spread inside the box. It was a truly royal and 'rich' packaging of a product sent for review. It was sure the impress the receiver and it did not fail. It gave the reviewer a sense of importance and royal treatment.
The product packaging itself is a neat little stylish black tin case (see pic) which is small enough to fit in the pocket but the design has a slight bulge which may not exactly be 'pocket-friendly'.
The bulge adds extra thickness to the container which is not really required. The container could easily have been made a bit sleek and flat and thinner. A thinner / sleek container would easily rest in the pocket or a purse or a bag without really occupying space. The container has about 60 pellets of the mint …
The container has a cover of sorts inside to keep the pellets inside and only let out one at a time throuh a small hole in this cover. So ironically ... the hole and the mint are still together - the hole having moved from the mint to the container.
The product – There are 60 'extra strong' pellets; made from peppermint oils from France, finest quality menthol and is powered by speciality cooling compounds. The soft while pearl like pellets of the mint are amazingly minty and super cool. Really. Place it on your mouth and it sends a chill down the tongue and it does have a 'lasting' taste and freshness in the mouth (the 'lasting' extends to almost 20-30 minutes I guess). The pellets melt very smoothly in the mouth and it gradually disappears in less than 5 minutes.  
Sugar Free – The packaging clearly claims that the peppermint is 'Sugar Free' which made it an ideal thing for my Dad. I gave it to him and asked him to try out and now one of the two containers is with him while the rest of the family manages with one container J He liked it. He loved it. The reason this is significant is that there are very few products that he truly appreciates and if ultramintz have managed to be appreciated by him … THAT itself is definitely an achievement for them.
Surprisingly and SHOCKINGLY … this product is Not recommended for children !?!?!?!
Do if you did not know that … make note of it and keep it away from them. This is indeed a dampener since the kids would have fallen in love with the icy-minty-cool pellets and would have finished off a container in less than 24 hours. And a product so exciting and attractive for them is NOT recommended for them. AND I am always vary of products that are not good for children … If they are not good for children; how come they are OK for grown-ups???
The Price – With 60 pellets in the container the price of 50 bucks seems on a higher side considering that there are other options in the forms of various mint products. Price is definitely another dampener. It's just too high for a product like this.
Will I buy it again … Yes but Not frequently. The product is good – I loved the icy-minty-cool freshness I got from the pellets BUT the price is something which is important to me and 50 for 60 tiny pellets seems high to me. I would happily pay 20 bucks and become a 'frequent' user … consuming as much as the whole tin in a week … but with the price tag of 50 … I might buy may be 2 in a 2-3 months. ITC should consider this math and see where they would like to keep the product positioned.
One can always position a product as a premium product – sell less in quantity but earn a greater margin … or it can sell a mass product with low cost, low margin but earn by selling lakhs and crores of units across all the sections of the society. But I digress …
So here's the verdict – Nice product. Nice packaging. High Price.   
I am reviewing mint-o Ultramintz as a part of the Product Reviews Program at BlogAdda
And while I am at it, I think the product review will not be complete without writing something about the FaceBook page of ultrmintz. You MUST visit this page and scroll down and go on doing it till you reach the end of it. They have an amazing visual campaign going on at the FB page. The page is indeed doing a great job at creating a unique brand identity for the product and might be able to circumvent the price aspect to some extent. Here are a few samples …

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review of Reading Plans of 2013-2014

So I had blogged about my reading plans for 2013-2014 way back in February so thought of just looking back to see if I had veered way off the track !! I have pulled in original content from that post in February and added my comments / status in red text.

I had talked about …

Short Stories … Have read them in 2011/2012 and will continue to read them in 2013/2014

Arthur Conan Doyle – Quite a lot of short stories and none of them has Sherlock Holmes

Philip K Dick – Quite a lot of short stories still to be read even after reading 35 in 2012

Three Investigators Series – Crime Busters series and Series by Mark Zahn - 23 of them

Satyajit Ray – Professor Shonku short stories; recently discovered 2 collections translated in English


I have been doing all of the above - Reading short stories by several authors as well as those by ACD and PKD besides consistently reading 3I series novellas and short stories. I have just completed one collection of Prof Shonku – the other collection is not available to buy. Tried several online stores but it still escapes me.


Coming to Authors and Novels …

Robert Ludlum Read one in January and not since then - will pick one up soon.

Clive Cussler – Read one in February and not since then - will pick one up soon.

Chris Kuzneski – Have not picked up any so will put this on priority.

Frederick Forsyth Have not picked up any so will put this on priority.

Norman Limpert – The James Potter (Son of Harry Potter) series – this might go to 2014


Ashwin Sanghi – 2 Novels; Chanakya's Chant and the Rozabel Line (and any new one)Read all 3 of them

Sidin Vadukut – The third installment of the DORK trilogy – Done

Amish Tripathi – The third installment of the Shiva trilogy – Done

Vikram Chandra – Sacred Games – a 1000+ page novelNot picked up yet. It's a LARGE one and I might push it to 2014


Trilogy (Novels) to be read …

Stieg Larsson – The Millennium Trilogy

Mario Reading – The Antichrist Trilogy

E L James – Shades of Grey Trilogy

Rick Riordan – The Kane Chronicles to begin with

Cornelia Funke – Inkspell and Inkdeath (I read Inkheart a long time ago, probably 2010)


--- have just started reading the Mario Reading trilogy so that will be finished in next 2-3 months.
Have not touched the others so they might actually be pushed to 2014-2015


Short Novel Trilogy - I also have 3 trilogies of short novels by different authors. Have started reading them – finished 4 – will complete all 9 by year end. Also, once I started reading them, I realized that they were not novellas but novels spanning 250+ pages.


Alfred Hitchcock Series - Also to be read is a collection of 90 short stories put together in 4 volumes under the aegis of Alfred Hitchcock with titles such as 'Shrouds and Pockets' (29 stories), 'Most Wanted' (21 stories), 'Shadow of Silence' (28 stories) and 'Home Sweet Homicide' (12 Stories) --- Reading them every month … part of the short stories that I read regularly ... have read approx. half of them (40-45) and will possibly complete all 90 by year end.  


Many More Short Stories: I pulled out from my unread archives; two thick (actually 'very thick') volumes of short story collections – one with 80 short stories by various famous authors while the other has some 200+ short stories by O. Henry. I had bought these years ago (could be even a decade ago) and finally they are out for reading in this (and next) year.  --- Reading them every month … part of the short stories that I read - have read approx. 45 out of the 280 ... this one will flow from 2013 to 2014 to 2015 ... ...   


Hindi Literature - Munshi Premchand Stories: I have decided to include HINDI literature also in my reading from this year. So I will be picking up some Munshi Premchand short stories and might even consider reading his novels. – Sadly. I haven't yet started on Premchand stories


I might also read some short stories from the editions of the following Magazines … in 2013 (hardly) / in 2014 (probably) / in 2015 (most likely) … as predicted – these go to next year or the year after … I have enough short stories collections on my hand already ...

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine - several editions

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine - several editions

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine - several editions


I will surely be reading a lot of new authors as I keep receiving books for review from, Authors and Publishers. – This continues of course. Books continue to arrive from BlogAdda as well as directly from Authors and Publishers. Have recieved 10 books to review in the first 7 months of this year.  


So … except for the trilogy series, I seem to be doing well and will be able to fill in the gaps for items that I have not picked up yet

Friday, August 02, 2013

July Reading Summary

The novels (marked bold) and short stories that I have read in the past one month …


1        Novel: The Chimera Vector by Nathan M. Farrugia

2        Henry Shorts: The Dissipated Jeweler by O Henry

3        Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: Where is Harry Beal by John Lutz

4        Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: Deep Waters by John C Boland

5        JA Shorts - Quiver Full of Arrows: Henry's Hiccup by Jeffrey Archer

6        Novel: Inferno by Dan Brown

7        JA Shorts - Quiver Full of Arrows: The Hungarian Professor by Jeffrey Archer

8        PKD Shorts: A Present for Pat by Philip K Dick

9        PKD Shorts: The Hood Maker by Philip K Dick

10    Prof. Shonku Short: The Cochabamban Cave by Satyajit Ray

11    3I Series by MZ - Novella: The Adventure of the Bronze Claw by Mark Zahn

12    Henry Shorts: The Barber Talks by O Henry

13    Henry Shorts: Barber Shop Adventure by O Henry

14    Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: Twang! By Robert Twohy

15    Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: Driscoll's Box Score by Dick Stodghill

16    Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: The Jack in the Sac by Arthur Moore

17    Novel: Band Room Bash by Candice Speare

18    WGS Shorts: Adrian by Hector Hugh Munro (Saki)

19    WGS Shorts: The Beggar by Anton Chekhov

20    ACD Shorts: The Home Coming by Arthur Conan Doyle

21    ACD Shorts: The Red Star by Arthur Conan Doyle

22    3I Series by MZ - Novella: The Curse of the Mysterious Traveler by Mark Zahn

23    Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide: Domestic Intrigue by Donald Westlake

24    Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide: The Stone Man by John F Suter

25    Short Story: Murder Mystery of Film Star Simran by Nisha Thakur