Category Archives: Technology

TKK 4 Port USB HUB 3.0 Review

TKK 4 Ports USB HUB 3.0

07

USB hubs are one of those devices that aren’t flashy but are probably a necessity.
For me, for the longest time, they have been but I never bought one. Until now.
I recently purchased this TKK Black 4 Ports USB HUB 3.0 from Shopee for only Php239 and it is an absolute win of a purchase!

01
One use case for this USB Hub is with my Xiaomi Mi Box S. One of the Xiaomi Mi Box S’ biggest flaw is the single USB port at the back. Contrary to probably 90% of people, I hate streaming content. The only instance that I stream is when there is a DOTA 2 Tournament. The purpose of my Mi Box S is to play movies from my Hard Drive, so the single USB is a definite stinker.

08

This USB Hub enables me to connect multiple HDDs at once and then some. In addition to HDDs, I am also able to connect a Wireless Touchpad/Keyboard with the Mi Box. Google’s voice recognition has gotten very good especially with my Filipino Accented English but it just can’t beat the accuracy of just typing what you need.

10
Use case number 2 is with my laptop. I am using an MSI GL62 6QF, and even though it already has 3 USB ports (2x USB3.0 + 1x USB2.0), my inability to use the built-in keyboard and touchpad effectively subtracts 2 ports for an external mouse and keyboard. This USB Hub gave me extra ports for HDDs and another probable essential, a cooling pad.

09
Use case number 3, though this is more of a good to have for me, it works with my OnePlus phones (OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 7). I was able to connect my external mic and 2 HDDs with no issues!

Speed
The best part of this cheap 3.0 USB hub is that the advertised USB3.0 speed actually works! I’ve tested all the ports transferring a 2GB file and all ports were able to give me about 100Mbps of transfer speed!

05
There is an input power adapter here but no included cable is included in the package, though I didn’t seem to need it even if I connected 2 HDDs and 1 External mic.

02
For Php239, this TKK Black 4 Ports USB HUB 3.0 is a no-brainer purchase. It gives you extra ports that actually has 3.0 speeds.

 

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2S CommentaReview

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 2S CommentaReview

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Disclaimer: I have no way of verifying my room’s AQI on my room except for the display on 2s. This is purely what experienced I had over the past month. Buy at your own discretion. This is not really a review. More of a commentary.

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I recently purchased Hisense AS-09TR2S 1.0 HP Split Type Air Conditioner, and immediately I was not able to enjoy it. Why? Because there is an ongoing construction at our house and using aircon on an air polluted 5sqm room is a moronic idea. The first night I tried it, yes it was cold, but damn was it suffocating. Then and there, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. Do I stop using my aircon and revert to my loud electric fan on my very hot room? Or push through with the aircon and breathe dust particles? That night I decided on the former and looked for ways to remove dust in the air.

As I went to work, the Xiaomi flyer on my desk called to me (yes I keep a Xiaomi flyer on my desk at work LOL). My browsing led me to Xiaomi Air Purifier 2s. At Php6,999 that was kind of steep. But then I searched for alternatives online and found that this was actually one of the cheapest.

Luckily, as I asked for friends’ opinions one of them actually has one. He told me that this was sulit (worth it), and it has made his sleep substantially better. I read reviews online as well and sans this review from smartairfilters.com, it seems to work.

After work, I went to Trinoma to buy a 2s. Unfortunately, they were out of stock.  SM North had no stock as well. I decided to call Xiaomi Gateway before going there, finally, they responded with available! I went there, bought it and went home immediately.

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I was very eager to use it and, after assembly, without cleaning my room, I turned it on. AQI was 39. Initially, I thought this was not that bad. As airnow.gov points out 0-50 AQI is good. I think to myself, ‘Inatake nanaman ba ako ng kaartehan?’ (Was I attacked by artistic?). Then I rationalize and defend my impulse buy. The 39 Dust particles are probably more dangerous than outside AQI due to the fact that these come from wood, cement, marble chippings, and other house construction dusts.  And so I slept. And boy was that the best night sleep I have had in my room for eleven years. I started living in Quezon City way back in 2008 and that night April 30, 2019. That was the best sleep yet.

 

Labor Day, May 1, 2019, since I woke up fresh and energized I took out all my stuff in my room, sweeped the room, wiped my electronics and mopped my floor. I wanted to have a very relaxing Vacation day and after cleaning, that was what I had. Breathing deeply in and out on ‘purified air’ is something you have to experience for yourself. It was amazing. Before I go, let me give you a few more things to know about the Xiaomi Air Purifier 2s.

  1. You only have 3 modes to choose from: Auto, Manual, Night.

 

  1. You can connect it remotely via Mi Home App.
  2. It actually removes unwanted smell. Or at the very least lessens unwanted smell. My room sometimes smell like my dog but when I turn the purifier on, the smell goes away.
  3. There is no substitute for cleaning your room. Think of the Air Purifier as a maintainer. Though I can confidently say that the dust settlement on my soundbar when the purifier is on for two days vs off is very substantial.
  4. It gets very loud. As per Sound Meter, it gets to as loud as 60dB on my room which is typically only 20-30dBs

 

  1. It is suggested to have your filter replaced every 3 to 6 months. As of May 25, 2019, my Filter is at 85% already. I tend to leave my Purifier on for more or less 12 hours a day. This can get expensive quick as filters costs Php1300.

 

  1. It does not cool your air. This is an air purifier not an air conditioner. There is air that comes out the top on Manual mode but don’t expect it to replace your fan/aircon.
  2. Its power consumption is barely noticeable. This is one of the best feature of this device. It barely made dent on my electric bill. I expected my bill to shoot up by Php2,000+ due to my extensive aircon use and this but my bill this month was barely Php2,000!
  3. It works. Now as stated earlier, I have no other way to measure Air Quality Index. The reason I say it works is because I have had better sleep ever since I bought this and I don’t have clogged nose when I wake up even if my dog is sleeping beside me (Irish, my dog, is a Pomeranian)

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Hisense AS-09TR2S 1.0 HP Split Type Air Conditioner Review

Hisense AS-09TR2S 1.0 HP Split Type Air Conditioner Review

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High heat index, high temperature, uncomfortable sleeping nights.

2019 has been one of the hottest in recent years. And I don’t know about you, but personally it has gone so absurd that frequent nights, I have had a hard time falling asleep and I wake up too early feeling super sticky and sweaty. To combat this, I recently purchased a Hisense AS-09TR2S 1.0 HP Split Type Air Conditioner due to the extreme temperature Manila has been having.

After a week of use here are things that I want to share about my purchase. I don’t know if this qualifies as a review though.

  1. Hisense is offering Free Installation but it is only up until June 30, 2019.

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  1. Only 10ft of materials are free. After the 10th foot, it costs Php350/ft.

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  1. If you can afford it, go for Cash option. Instead of Php23,395, I paid only Php21,200.
  2. Be patient with Hisense’s customer service. They are not streamlined yet. I got multiple calls from Hisense with different numbers they seem to be unaware what the other department is doing.
  3. I initially got confused with the remote but this site helped me a lot. https://www.manualslib.com/manual/978282/Hisense-Essense.html?page=13
  4. Prior to an Aircon I used an industrial fan Hanabishi HVSF-18. I can safely say that, not only was it not enough, it could get very noisy. If I get to a point where I want to sleep but can’t its noise is very noticeable. Hisense is substantially quieter.
  5. Previously, I usually sleep past 12mn. Now, I haven’t slept past midnight. I usually fall asleep at around 11:30pm. When I wake up previously, I wake up sweaty, sticky and fat. Now I only wake up fat. LOL.
  6. My dog ENJOYS it! Irish (My Pomeranian) usually sleeps on my Aunt’s room because she has aircon. Now it is very easy to lure her away from my Aunt as my room is just as cool.
  1. Clean your room! The first night I used it was a nightmare. There is an ongoing construction at our house and the dust that came to my room was too much it felt like it is too suffocating.
  2. If you can shell out an extra for a Xiaomi Air Purifier 2s, I say go for it. I purchased one after installation and the two has been the greatest one-two punch for a Tito like me.

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  1. It works. At the end of the day, it comes down to this. It works. It cools my room and it has made my sleep substantially better and more comfortable. It may cost me more on the bill approximately Php1800 (estimated via Meralco move app), but personally I’d gladly pay the extra than wake up tired, cranky, sweaty and sticky.

 

Xiaomi QiCycle 2019 Review: Wheelie Good or Bad?

Xiaomi QiCycle 2019 Review: Wheelie Good or Bad?

Working in Metro Manila, Philippines, a common complaint and/or stressor is traffic. You can literally be stuck in traffic and move 1km in 1 hour sometimes maybe even more.

So, with traffic being seemingly an impossible problem to solve, what can we do? Obviously, since this is a review of Xiaomi QiCycle, biking maybe a possible Band-Aid type solution! But how feasible is it actually? Read on and find out!

Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional biker. This is the first bike I bought so I HAVE NO REFERENCE ON OTHER BIKES aside from cheap BMX bikes I had back in 2008.

Build:

QiCycle is my first folding bicycle. It is covered in carbon-fiber material which contributes to its relative lighter weight and overall cooler feel. It also has a free Bike Stand (earlier models does not seem to have this stand). It does not feel cheap rather, it feels very well made.

Personally, I wouldn’t call Metro Manila a bike haven so people asking me about it are impressed with its foldability, and the integrated bright lights in the bike. They would be further impressed if they would know that this baby is actually motorized. This bike is rated for 100kgs, weighting about 90kgs, I say this bike has held up pretty well amidst almost reaching the limit.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/North_Luzon_Expressway_Rumble_Strips.jpg

QiCycle Mortal Enemy

I have used this almost on a daily basis for almost three weeks now and I am impressed. The major flaw of this bike is its suspension or lack thereof. Humps and Rumble Strips are your worst enemy as going through them, especially the latter, will hurt your balls. I frequently dismount my bikes on rumble strips as they hurt. A LOT.

Software / Functionality:

Software is somewhat a mixed bag. Being released way back in 2016, the official application is all but gone from the PlayStore and I can’t seem to install anything I find on Google. Ergo, I have NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONNECT my QiCycle to my PocoF1. There also seem to be something different with the module that I bought. Menus are already in English, which is a good thing, but there doesn’t seem to be a QR which could have been used to connect it to an unofficial QiCycle app on PlayStore .

Advantage of the preinstalled software is that the max speed you can achieve is already at 25km/h (though some unofficial firmware seems to enable speed up to 29km/h). This isn’t a huge deal for me as I rarely ever hit 25km/h around manila.

Using it is very easy as well. Just turn on the module, and pedal. Voila! The motor automatically kicks in and you will almost instantaneously feel the push of the motor. You still have to pedal accordingly but the help of 250W is something you can take for granted. If you turn the Assist to ‘OFF’ the bike will still be useable but this is not ideal as the pedals become significantly heavier (again, I am not a professional biker, if you find the no electric assist easy, good for you then). This is not a nitpick. This is a fact.

The 250W motor is said to last you about 40kms on a single charge, and I found that true. I charge my QiCycle every other day as my back and forth is approximately 15km. After 2 work days, I would have about 10% of battery left on the tank. Perfect for a MilkTea trip to Macao Congressional. After that topping up is about 3 Hours to full.

Manila Usability:

So the biggest question is, can you actually use this in Manila? As research (translation: Google) has pointed out, it looks like QiCycle does NOT NEED to be registered as an E-bike. Our venerable LTO maybe vague most of the time but it is stated here that E-vehicles which “can be propelled manually” or “run solely by muscular effort” are exempted from registration.

I have never been halted by MMDA and I usually go through Mindanao Avenue which is almost always rife with these blue enforcers.

My route is Congressional Ave > Mindanao Ave > Visayas Ave and you can believe those roads are prone to traffic with uneven roads here and there.

Since I’m relatively new to biking, I could not comment on how far biking feasibility in Manila has come. Barring few red light beating nincompoops, agitated motorcyclist, and the ever greedy bike lane-hogging vehicles (ehem Jeepneys), and the aforementioned rumble strips, I can definitely say biking to work is not that bad.

 

My Life Behind Bars:

At Php28,995 on Xiaomi Stores (Yes their pamphlet said Php26, 995) this is not in the range of ‘affordable’ for average consumers as there are folding bikes a quarter the price of QiCycle. This does not include all other things you MUST buy when biking like elbow pads, knee pads, helmet, bike lock, mask, etc. Honestly, I bought the QiCycle because I want an alternative to commuting on coding days. I did not want to buy a motorcycle as it is much more expensive and I am not allowed to use it, updating Driver’s License is additional hassle.

Initially, cycling 15km  daily is something I thought I won’t be able to do. But the motor assist of the QiCycle has made it drastically easier, dare I say enjoyable? If this wasn’t motorized, I would have ningas-kugoned the crap out of this bike and just use this two times and fed it to dust, but I have used it every day for two weeks now.

If I defer to commute as opposed to driving, it takes me 3 rides each costing about Php8. So commuting costs me roughly Php48/day. QiCycle plus the surplus add-ons I bought roughly cost me about Php33k. I must use the bike 690 times to and from work to break even. But with the time I save from not being stuck in traffic, switching vehicles and falling in line, I would say this is definitely worth it.

There are dangers in riding bicycle that you definitely have to watch out for, but with keen sense in safety and some common sense, The Xiaomi QiCycle is a wheelie-good choice for an alternative to commuting, beating traffic and saving some few gas Phps.

 

 

 

Chasing Wonder Woman

Chasing Wonder Woman

A Quick Disclaimer. This is not a Review. Rather than my journey in Chasing Wonder Woman.

June 01, 2017

5AM

A day removed from a pretty forgettable yesterday. I had something to look forward to. I aim to bounce back from yesterday’s mishaps and had Wonder Woman to watch.

The morning started great. I beat my 5:15AM alarm and I have 15 minutes to spare. It always feels great to wake up with a full sleep. I quickly browsed the web for High Street’s Wonder Woman schedule, but alas. None were available yet.

I proceeded to ready myself to work and was done by 5:30am. I picked up an Uber, and my bill was P20 lower than the estimate. The day was starting great.

12NN

I casually walked to High Street to buy myself a ticket. There were two choices, a 4pm P300 showing or a 4:20pm P500 3D/4DX. I went with the latter to give myself leeway. On the way back, I met a lady heading to my building and as uncomfortable I am with elevator talk, it was nice talking to her.

4PM

Workhours ended. Though not without some errors, I felt much better ending the day.

As I rode the elevator down, and the door closes, I realized I forgot to do something. I forgot to Time-out!

The wait going down and up and down again was terrible and it was already 4:15 by the time I was back down.

4:16PM

I was in my jeans when I started to run to High Street. As my earlier walk took me 10mins, I knew I was screwed.

4:21PM

I wanted to have bought drinks before going in the cinema, but the queue at Happy Lemon was insane. Seven cups more. I decided to forego the drink and rush to my seat.

Fortunately, if there’s one thing I can count on Filipinos, it is tardiness. Nico Antonio’s piracy in jail thing had just started so I know I had minutes to spare.

WONDER WOMAN SUCCESSFULLY CHASED.

Was it worth it? Hell yeah it was! Wonder Woman is indubitably the best DC movie in this Universe, maybe even all of DC? I can only think of Dark Knight as an equal, yeah I went there! What made this movie seem perfect to me was the amazing story telling. It does not rely on OMG Look Look type of moments, rather, it relies on telling a good story all throughout.

Growing up , I had a tendency to root for the heels (bad guys), though this movie did not have a bad bad guy (Remus Lupin was fantastic BT Dubs), I rooted for Wonder Woman to beat him, and it was such a refreshing change (For me, at least).

It was such a feel good movie, I decided to jog/walk home rather than commute.

For all Superhero fans out there, this is a movie not to be missed. Hell, I’m even confident enough to say that this movie will be enjoyed by even non superhero fans.

Platinum Mini Boom Box PTBT-400 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Platinum Mini Boom Box PTBT-400

When it comes to unnecessary purchase, I am a great offender. The Lazada app has continuously caused my wallet more harm than the government and it sucks. As I was browsing through their on sale products, I came across this one. Platinum PT-BT 400. For those who think they’ve heard Platinum before but can’t remember where. Platinum is the karaoke brand.

What piqued my interest was the color scheme. I have always loved yellow and black evidenced my FJ Cruiser inspired Crosswind. So seeing this costs only about P999 (‘Discounted’ Price) over its ‘Original’ SRP of P1499, I decided to pick one up.

I already have a portable Bluetooth speaker (Philips BT 1300), but I figured it’s always good to have a backup. I had a chance to meet my package at the last weekend (April 22) and I was surprised to see how huge the box was. The BT1300 fits my hand but this is just too big.

 

I’ve had this for a week now so I guess this is now a good time to share my thoughts about it.

 

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS

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Opening up the box, you get a fairly well packaged device but it comes with bare basics. You get the device, manuals and cables to connect it wired mode and the charging port.

 

BUILD AND DESIGN

side

I love the color scheme of yellow and black. So this gets a huge plus for me. Everything is enclosed in plastic which I think is not bad considering how cheap this is. The plastic used seems durable enough and it is not prone to fingerprints.

 

At first glance, the device looks heavy, but holding it is a different story, it feels very hollow and the buttons take more force to activate. It has 2 ports at the back, one for connecting a 3.5mm cable and another for a charging port which gives me my first gripe. Why is this not powered by a standard micro USB cable?  Having a circular charging port not only feels extremely outdated but it is also impractical. I don’t want to have to carry a spare cable just to charge this thing. Terrible decision making Platinum.

 

PERFORMANCE

 

This is an ironic device. Being a ‘Boom Box’, anybody will assume that this will pack a huge bass. Partner it with the fact that this is ‘rugged’ means that this is meant to be used outdoors, and that bass assumption is more of a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, bass is negligible at best. This is definitely a deal-breaker as it is a clear case of false advertising.

BUT!!! Take note of this. If, like me, you only use a Bluetooth speaker indoors to watch series or movies, this will serve you well. Sans the horrendous bass performance, I’m pretty content with the volume (gets decently loud), and the clarity of the voice.

Finally, I must not forget about the icing on the cake which is the crazy battery life. I charged this one on Sunday evening (Apr 23). The next time I charged it was today (April 30). I watch series heavily, minimum of 2 hours per day, and yesterday (April 29), I was watching the whole day (Dota 2 Kiev Major). Additional cherry on the icing is the fact that it fully charges after about two hours. Oh, let’s add sprinkles to the icing and cherry with the fact that if you did not use this for a while, it turns off on its own (this is a plus for me as I always fall asleep when watching series at night)

So if you are looking to have uninterrupted playback, Platinum PT-BT is a fantastic choice for less than a grand.

 

CONCLUSION

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To sum up Platinum PTBT in 1 word, adequate. In more than one? I really liked it. It’s bigger than what I anticipated with disappointing bass and the outdated port, and for some, this is enough to stay away. But if you use it for binge watching, performing adequately for more than 12 hours is enough, if not more.

 

What I Liked:

Amazing Battery Life (12hrs + Playback)

Poppy – Eye pleasing design (Subjective)

Affordable

 

What I Didn’t Like:

Bigger than expected

Circular charging port

Terrible bass

Qicent 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port

Qicent 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port

One of the problems in this day and age on a relatively old car (I’m using an Isuzu Crosswind XT 2006), are the ports or lack thereof.

Today, Dashcams have become more imperative rather than luxury and this alone takes one spot.

A charger, preferably Quick Charge, have also become a necessity due to terrible battery life of most phones.

So, one of the best cheap solution is an adapter.

vs generic

Initially, I bought three generic adapters from Lazada. But one broke within the month, and this is just unacceptable.

As I continue to window shop in Lazada, I came across this one. As the name implies this is a 3-Socket Car Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter with 2 USB Charging Port

contents

Out of the box

You get a fuse. This is not only surprising, it’s also amazing. If ever the device won’t work, open it up and change the fuse.

This is an extremely nice addition adding to the device’s longevity

It also has a sticky thing I don’t know what it’s for

Some Manuals and the Device itself.

 

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Taking a tour this has 3 sockets with separated on-off switches. Fantastic touch.

It also has 2 5V USB ports. 1 with 1A, another has 2.4A. These are definitely is a nice additions, I have QC 3.0 enabled car chargers so meh

Testing it out. It managed power both my Transcend DP520 and Tronsmart QC3.0 charger.

So it works. I have just recently got this so I will have to test durability out.

Initially though, the better build , on/off switch, and the fuse looks to be a respectable,  if not good, package for a P600 socket.

Hoping this will last me longer than a month as I use 2 ports every time I drive.

Will update after a month.

Edit: Upon inspection of internals, we can see that the cheap Wawawei one is made of literally just metals and jumper cables.

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On the other hand, Qicent is made with much more internals including a pcb board, capacitors and a coil.

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What I Liked:

Fuse Included

Good build quality (Compared to Generic)

On-Off Switch

3 Sockets

2 Extra USB Ports

What I Didn’t Like:

None so Far

HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

 Hewlett-Packard, probably the best IT Company out there. With top of the line laptops and printers and tons of innovation over the past half century, HP is a brand and name which can be trusted and relied upon. It is also home to thousands of hardworking, industrious, cheerful and kind employees any company ever has. One of those being me. Hihihihi.

HP is without a doubt a name not to be ignored especially in technology, but as technology continues to grow the fastest on Smartphones/Tablets, HP may have left the contention to the point that people, especially here in the Philippines, are unaware HP releases some tablets and smartphone here and there once every blue moon.

Today, we gander at a relatively new release from HP. HP 7 Plus. 7-Inch Tablet at a crazy affordable price of only about P4,300.  What does this tablet have in store for you? Read on, and find out!

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  1. Design and Build

 design

HP 7 Plus is an 8.5 Inch Tablet with a 7-Inch Screen. It has no glass protection but it is enclosed in a metallic/aluminium back which makes it feel more premium albeit being heavier. The front houses the screen and the 0.3MP Camera, One side both has the volume rocker and the Power button, the top has the 3.5mm jack, USB Port and the microSD slot which is uncovered. L The back has the 2MP camera, speaker grill at the bottom and metallic aluminium enclosure which makes the device a little bit more premium.

7 Plus is quite heavy and it has LARGE BEZELS. With the trend of less is better with respect to Bezels, 7 Plus fails dramatically. Keeping in mind the ridiculously cheap price tag, it actually feels quite premium sans the bezel and heaviness, the HP Logo at the non-plastic, easy to grip back is more plus for the Plus.

  1. Display

displaay

The 7 Plus sports a measly 1024×600 display which may net conclusion of an eye-sore for a screen especially today where 720p have somewhat become a standard for tablets. Admittedly, display is average at best and could certainly have been much better. For pixel junkies out there, pixels are quite noticeable. Aside from noticeable pixelations, some images, icons, text even games, look stretched out. If you can get over the mediocre display, it actually has one of the better viewing angles for a tablet. It has right amount of brightness to make it visible even with sunlight. Not much can be said for other tablets of the same price range.

 

  1. Entertainment

ENTER

The main function of a tablet should be as a multimedia driver. Period. Functioning as such, 7 Plus, in terms of school grading, would have to be a C+.

Loudspeaker is actually quite loud. Headsets attached, it offers clean audio output. Even at maximum volumes there are no noticeable distortions. Play Music, Google’s stock music player, plays FLAC files out of the box just fine. It is not that loud but is sufficient especially if you are alone at home.

If you are a heavy series watcher, you will be glad to know that Plus 7 can play 480p files and below just fine. Trouble starts to brew when you watch HD videos both 720p and 1080p. Stuttering is Plus 7’s friend. Again MX Player Pro will solve your codec needs.

As for Gaming, stick to the lower tier mainstream games as even games like Minion Rush show significant loading times and lags. Its accelerometer is something 7 Plus left a lot be desired. I always die at the slide L . Moving into HD Games causes a lot more headaches as even Dead Trigger is playable at best.

Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is fine on the 7 Plus. Even if it only sports a 600 display, it was able to play up to 720p videos.

  1. Camera

 CAMERA

Plus 7’s worst aspect would have to be the camera. Sporting a 2MP rear cam and a 0.3MP Front cam just screams absolutely terrible and it is. Partner it with 4.2.2’s stock camera and the result is just awful. The interface itself is laggy and slow and the pictures come out noisy and washed out even at good lighting condition. The front cam looks out of focus. IMHO, this could have been a better tablet if the time spent on the camera was spent on something else, maybe porting it to 4.4.4?

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  1. Software

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7 Plus is powered by Quad-core 1 GHz Cortex-A7 Allwinner A31 Processor with 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal memory and 5GB useable. Which I think is quite generous with an additional expandable storage slot. Under the hood is Android 4.2.2 which is relatively outdated especially noting that this device was released on last May 2014 where Kitkat mayhem has reached so many devices.

PERFORM

As far as performance go, 7 Plus functions fine but you have to take note that it does slowdown especially if you are multitasking. It goes from responsive to laggy after a few apps. Personally, I think this problem can easily be solved by KitKat (Solved My Motorola Xoom Problem), but seeing as relatively no one knows this tablet and it has no dev support, an update is only a normal person’s dream.

 

  1. Battery

 BATT

7 Plus sports a 2800mah battery life. For a tablet, a sub 3000mah battery sounds bad and it is. It has great standby time, but its screen on-time is a measly 1.5-– 2.5 Hours only. As good as its standby time is, a tablet is supposed to function as your multimedia player and netting you below average usage is just unacceptable. I also have to point out that continuous use heats up your battery relatively quickly. The device itself heats up and the battery drop gets much worse. Very disappointing.

Some practical advice, as mentioned earlier, this device is not made to handle HD Videos and games. Sticking to music playing and series watching (20-40 minute episode shows) will net you decent battery life.

 

Executive Summary

scores

CONS:

  • ENORMOUS Bezels
  • Mediocre 1024×600 Display
  • Quite Heavy for a 7 Inch Tablet
  • Game stuttering, long loading times – Not meant for gaming
  • 720p and 1080p video playback stutter
  • Terrible Camera Performance
  • Disappointing battery life
  • No Glass Protection
  • Android 4.2.2 without Dev Support

PROS:

  • Good Build with Premium Feel
  • Expandable Storage
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • CHEAP

CONC

At P4, 300 HP 7 Plus is kind of a mixed bag. Personally, I would suggest this for those who is tight on a budget who need to get the basics done without much else. And by basic I mean listening to music, light streaming/browsing and watching series.

You can’t expect maximum performance from a minimal price standpoint. For the price and from a trusted well-known brand, HP 7 Plus offers decent performance at best. In hindsight, this phone would have been a lot better if the camera was scrapped and the effort for the camera was shifted to a better display or 4.4 KitKat out-of-the box.

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Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

 Cherry Mobile. Probably the most famous, well-received, hated brand out there in the Philippine Market. They have released TONS of smartphones including Cherry Mobile Titan, Omega line up, Cosmos line-up, and probably the one that started their domination the Flare line-up. What do they have that other rebranders don’t? Great Marketing, cheap price for a ‘great’ phone, at least on paper.

Every time Cherry Mobile will release a new device, most, if not all fans, gets excited that even haters line-up to purchase their product. I have been part of two major events, Fusion Bolt and Flare. As unorganized as it is, it catered to the hundreds who waited. A major ehem to ZTE.

With tons of releases of Cherry Mobile to the point of almost monthly basis, CM may have had saturated the Philippine market the same way Samsung has saturated itself to decline [1]. I’m not sure what is happening there at CM but they, again, took a giant leap where no other rebranders had ever taken. Release a Windows Phone. I don’t know if this is the first rebranded windows phone, but I can say it’s the most famous one. This is what propels Cherry to the top, their great publicity. Personally, I have never had a Windows Phone due to its relatively high price for a flagship. I may have stayed away from Rebranders but this one is not one to pass up.

Packing so-so specs, HD Display and a new OS, at least for me, at a very affordable price, does Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe solidify Cherry Mobile’s Rebrander King Status, or is it just a Jump the Shark move from Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

DISCLAIMER: This is the first Windows Phone I have had. I have always been an Android Enthusiast. I will try to be as neutral as possible even if I come from another OS.

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  1. Design and Build

 Looks

Alpha Luxe is 5 Inch phone protected by Dragontrail Glass enclosed in Plastic. The device painstakingly looks similar to most, if not all, Cherry Mobile phone out there on the market. It looks like Cosmos Z, last year’s flagship. The front houses the front cam, and Windows’ usual Back-Windows-Search button. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button, the back has the protruding camera which makes it wobbly when you put it on a flat surface. It is also covered in glossy plastic which attracts fingerprints like Daniel Matsunaga attracts girls.

looks2

Alpha Luxe is a phone you have seen hundreds of times, it is also quite bulky for a 5 Inch phone. The generic looks is something Alpha Luxe left a lot to be desired. Cherry Mobile has released quite a few phones that look much better than this at the same price. Definitely something to think about for those concerned about looks.

  1. Display

display

Alpha Luxe sports a 5 Inch HD 720p Display. The display feels just about right for the Luxe as its deep black technology makes the colors much more vibrant. Icons look sharp and texts look crisp. Another thing to give point to is the viewing angles. Viewing angles are quite good as tilting the device shows little to no annoying changes and it is still pretty visible even in sunlight. It may only have 3 modes of brightness but it’s highest is just right. Not too bright, not to dim.

 

  1. Entertainment

Functioning as your daily multimedia driver, Alpha Luxe is average at best.

music

Loudspeaker is fine. Plug in your headsets, Alpha Luxe is definitely one of the LOUDEST performers out there. I’m not kidding you. It’s DEAFENINGLY LOUD. It has ok sound quality, but distortions come up the louder you play your music. Avoid playing at max volumes as it has extremely high headset volume with noticeable distortion. Alpha Luxe’s loudness is something to check out for those who want their music extremely loud. I do have to point out that the stock music player has bad codec as it can’t play FLAC files. Also, when you plug in your earphone/bud you will hear some crackling and buzzing sound.

videogames

Sporting a 720p Display, Alpha Luxe might net you the conclusion that it can smoothly play all your videos. While it can play HD to Full HD videos, you have to know that the codec out of the box is extremely disappointing as it cannot detect AVI files. It can play mp4 files, though it had trouble playing Full HD 1080p of higher file sizes. I have not tried using a 3rd party app as I am yet to find a Reliable and Free video player.

As for Gaming, let’s just say at the price point, its ok. Angry Birds Epic plays fine but Metal Slug’s control is sluggish, pun intended and Asphalt 8: Airborne is playable at best albeit the long loading times and lags.

Everyone who is not a company hates Internet Explorer. Alpha Luxe, being a windows phone, carries IE, so that maybe an indication of what is in store for you out of the box. For those looking for Chrome or Mozilla, look elsewhere. There is also no YouTube app so IE, again, is your haven OUT-OF-THE-BOX. As far as YouTube and Streaming on IE, it can get your tasks done but it can be a lot better with installation of another browser.

  1. Camera

 camera

Camera and compromise are partners in crime to Cherry Mobile. Fortunately, for the Alpha Luxe, images are decent on good lighting conditions. It saturates images, but not too much. Low-light is not that good but still ok. Camera Settings are not gimmicky and is just basic. The front has a 2MP Camera and the back has an 8MP Shooter. Check out the pics below.

WP_20141102_003 WP_20141101_008 WP_20141102_001 WP_20141102_002 wp1 (3) WP_20141101_004

  1. Software

os1

Alpha Luxe is packed with 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 (MSM8212) processor and Adreno 302 GPU and 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal Storage expandable up to 32GB. For the Operating System, it runs Windows 8.1 OS. This is probably the biggest factor to consider when buying the Luxe. I will make a more detailed review for the OS, but for now here are my thoughts of the OS on Luxe.

This is my first Windows phone and I can say I am very impressed with its responsiveness and simplicity. It has a no-gimmick, no shit approach. After unlocking the screen you get your Tile Screen which is customizable to your heart’s content. You can remove, add, replace, and resize tiles however you please. Swiping down from the top gets you to the notification and quick settings. Holding back gives you recent app list. And swiping to the right from the home screen takes you to an alphabetical list of all your apps. It’s very simple and easy to use.

cortana

One of the best features of Windows Phone is Cortana. Cortana is an assistant which you can use offline swatting Siri and Google Now out of the competition. Cortana may not be as extensive as Siri but at least it’s far better than Google Now offline or online. The only advantage Google Now has would be the hot word detection. Voice assistants are horrendous for Filipino-accented people like me but Cortana does way better than Google Now does.

os2

One of worst things about Windows Phone would probably be the Store. With the problems I had earlier, I thought hey, this will be solved easily by third party apps, let me go to the Store. To my surprise, it terribly lags behind Android and iOS and its search function is beyond crap. I searched for YouTube and there were a lot of apps which are questionable. I searched the net for reliable audio players and video players but all of them COSTS MONEY. Contradictory to what Alpha Luxe, hopefully, aims to do. Provide quality Windows experience on a budget.

os3

Using it as a phone is fine as call quality is ok both as a receiver and transmitter, though as a receiver, I did notice that when the one on the other line is speaking louder, there are some noticeable buzzes. Not much of a big deal, it’s just something I noticed (Maybe caused by the other phone). The keyboard is ok as it learns your words provided you register it 1 by 1. I would also like to point out that Microsoft 8.1 has easier integration to Microsoft Office like Lync and Outlook.

As far as actual performance go, despite carrying a relatively old hardware, Alpha Luxe is buttery smooth, seamless, responsive and fluid.

 

  1. Battery

 battery

Android and Cherry is probably the worst possible combination for battery life. Period. As for Windows, Alpha Luxe sports a 2000mah battery and it can pretty much last you through the day. As for me, it was able to last me one and a half day before reaching 10%. This may be due to my relatively low usage. Quite, good honestly.

 

Executive Summary

scores

CONS:

  • Bad build Quality, looks cheap
  • Bad Audio and Video Codec
  • Limited Apps (OS Problem)
  • Good Apps costs MONEY $$$
  • No Free Solution to codec problems
  • Distortions at Max Volume
  • Lags and stutter on HD Games and Videos

PROS:

  • Great for those who want to check out Windows Phone
  • CORTANA IS LOVE
  • Simplistic and Minimalistic UI
  • Extremely Loud
  • Expandable Storage
  • Good Camera
  • Good Viewing Angles
  • 720p HD Display
  • Windows is Fast and Responsive
  • Dragontrail Glass
  • Good Battery Life
  • CHEAP

At an SRP of almost P5, 000. Alpha Luxe kinds of feel like a mixed bag. On one hand, this is probably the best Windows Phone out there in the market at this price, on the other, there may be better options for you out there. For those who have been with the same OS for too long, a leap into Windows Phone maybe one of the most frustrating thing to do, especially if what you do on the other OS on a daily basis is missing in the phone. In contrast, it breathes a new life and opens your door to a new ecosystem with tons of other choices.

When is Alpha Luxe a good choice? Hmmm. I would say Alpha Luxe is a good buy for those who:

  • Want to try Windows Phone at a cheap price
  • Wants fast no-gimmick approach OS at a cheap price
  • Deafeningly loud music
  • Is ok with getting the basics done without much else.
  • Need Microsoft Office Integration (Outlook, Lync)

When is it a bad choice? For those who:

  • Needs various FREE third-party apps to get shit done
  • Are Heavy iOS/Android users (As the change maybe drastic)
  • Are YouTube streamers
  • Web Browsers
  • Heavy Gamers

Straight up, Alpha Luxe is not something to buy impulsively unless you have tons of cash to spend. I actually did not enjoy it on my first two days but I began to do some reading and found out that I may not be one of those who Microsoft targets as their audience. Cherry Mobile has done a great job in leaping into the Windows Market, I’m not sure if this is the first rebranded one but it is the only one I know. Alpha Luxe breathes a new leash of life to Cherry as continuous release of android smartphone indubitably saturates the market. It may also nab Cherry the Innovators of the year award in the first ever Norman3000 2014 Awards.

If you are looking for a good start for Windows Phone, be sure to check out Luxe’s faults before jumping the wagon, if the bad passes, it is one of the fastest, loudest phone out there!

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[1] http://www.androidauthority.com/whats-happening-samsung-545108/

Xiaomi Redmi – Are you Ready for Redmi?

Xiaomi Redmi – Are you Ready for Redmi?

 Xiaomi has been making a big name for itself during the past months. After the flash sale of Mi 3, which was a huge success, they released power banks which were said to sell out in seconds. Now, they gander at the cheaper market and released, what is looking out to be another star for budget consumers, Xiaomi Redmi.

Going under the wing of its older, very successful brother Mi3, does Xiaomi Redmi have enough to make it on its own, or will it forever be seen as a failed Xiaomi attempt on more budget-strict consumers? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build

 build

Xiaomi Redmi is probably one of the biggest 4.7 Inch phone out there as it is as big as a Nexus 5. Compact is not a word to be associated with it. The front is protected by Dragontrail Glass. It houses the legacy Menu-Home-Back capacitive touch layout, the front camera and the 4.7 Inch screen that has noticeably large bezels. One side both has the power button and volume rocker. The back has plastic matte cover and it houses the 8MP Camera and flash.

Overall, the device does not look expensive and fancy, but within its price range, Redmi, in terms of looks, has done a nice job. It is simple but solidly built and maybe the icing on the cake here is even though it is not a head turner, this is definitely not a cheap- generic looking phone.

 

  1. Display

disp

HD Displays have somewhat become a standard. As it has been going cheaper and cheaper as displays go further and further. Redmi has a 4.7 Inch HD 1280x720p display a plus one for this feat. Images, texts, icons, notifications look great as the smaller 4.7 screen helps to make it better. One thing I did notice is it fits more into the screen than other phones. As with its Mi 3 sibling, Redmi also has a highly reflective screen, it can also be used as a faux mirror, which translates into bad viewing angles and sunlight contrast. Its brightness is also an issue as it is on the low side. I always have it at maximum brightness to ensure I can see just fine.  I want to straighten it out that the Display is NOT BAD, I just think it could have been a bit better.

 

  1. Entertainment

multi

Functioning as a multimedia driver, Redmi is the one to beat. Loudspeaker maybe a bit weak considering the single line speaker at the back. Headphones attached, Redmi performs very well, clean audio output, good loudness and no noticeable distortion even at maximum volume.

For video playback, Redmi is an amazing performer. The highest I tested was a 2.5GB 1080p file and it played fine, though you will notice some stuttering. Stick to smaller 720p videos and you will be fine. Immediately install a 3rd party video player to remove any doubts of Redmi’s power. (MX Player)

For Gaming, what you pay is what you get, non-HD games play fine and smoothly, but push the hardware to further, and noticeable stutter, long loading times and lags are noticeable. Dead Trigger plays fine but go a little further, like NBA 2k14 and above, the aforementioned becomes more and more apparent.

Fortunately, Web Browsing and Streaming is an ok experience the Redmi

  1. Camera

 camera

Being a smartphone Camera enthusiast, I am a bit sceptical of the Redmi. The camera has basic features like panorama and filters, the interface kind of feels laggy as moving the camera shows noticeable lags and delay. Focusing also takes time. As for the quality, Surprise surprise! Redmi is an amazing performer! Colours are a bit truer unlike other phones which tend to saturate. Normal lighting conditions are great. And the front cam is quite respectable, I say a bit better than Mi 3. As with any other smartphone in the market, do not expect anything from low-light to no-light. Flash photography is fine on some situation, but for low to no light, picture quality is average at best.

IMG_20141026_063955 IMG_20141026_064033 IMG_20141026_064110 IMG_20141026_064205

  1. Software

software

Redmi is powered by a Quad-Core 1.6 GHz Qualcomm MSM8228 Snapdragon Processor, an Adreno 305 GPU with 1GB Ram. It also comes with 8GB Internal Memory with 5GB useable and a memory card slot for expansion. For the price range, this is one hell of a deal. And with MIUI as its skin, you can be sure that it is very responsive. For those wondering what is MIUI, it is kind of a mock of Apple’s iOS. Personally, I’m not a fan of either but at least it’s not as laggy as former iterations of TouchWiz. The 1GB Ram is enough but if you are a heavy multi-tasker, this can fill up instantly, then you will notice some slowdowns.

Newcomers for MIUI will take about a minute or two to figure out what’s what. On startup, I did like that Redmi offers Swiftkey out of the box. Call quality is fine. Contacts and Stock SMS is also from Xiaomi so it maybe personal preference if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Data connection is good connecting up to H+, albeit this is location dependent.

software2

Redmi runs 4.3 Jellybean, no idea if it will receive KitKat but for those who like to tinker, Redmi has a page on xda forums which gives life to Redmi for the foreseeable future. Beat that Cherry and/or MyPhone!

 

  1. Battery

 batt

Battery life is a big deal breaker for anyone. Fortunately, Redmi delivers good to great battery life. With 2000mah Battery Life, Standby time is amazing and screen on-time will probably net you 2.5 Hours to 3 Hours. That is actually great considering its display and its price point Kudos to Xiaomi for going 2 for 2 with respect to battery life.

 

Executive Summary

scorsese

CONS:

  • Big Phone for a 4.7Inch Display
  • Big Bezels
  • No LTE Connectivity
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast and viewing Angles
  • 1080p video playback stutter
  • HD Game stutter
  • Limited availability
  • 1GB Ram does not feel enough

PROS:

  • Good Build
  • Expandable Storage
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Good Camera
  • HD 720p Display
  • MIUI Feels fast
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • Dragontrail Glass
  • Good Battery Life
  • CHEAP

conc

At an SRP of P5, 599. Xiaomi is poised to take home another chunk of Glory and take a good kick out of Philippine Rebranders. Functioning as a great daily driver with good battery life overrides looks and bezels every day of the week. The cons of unattractiveness may also be a pro due to this snatcher infested country.

Redmi, like its brother Mi 3, offers great performance especially looking at the price point. As budget-minded consumers look for the better value, Redmi is one to give it to them. There is only one other phone I can think of which can be compared to Xiaomi Redmi and it is none other than the Zenfone 5. A breakdown review is in the works so stay tuned for more!

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