SHARP Z2: From SHARP Singapore web

[NEW GADGET] This one comes from a Media Press Release; SHARP smartphones finally makes its debut in Singapore! Commtiva Technology, a leading distributor that specializes in wireless communications products, today announces its strategic partnership with SHARP to launch SHARP Mobile in Southeast Asia.

It's great to see SHARP back in the game, especially after the Foxconn buy over. SHARP has long been a recognised Japanese brand among the Japanese Consumer Electronic dominance. It's heartening to see Foxconn keeping it around. Long may it continue.

This time the company is introducing two new mid-tier smartphones – SHARP Z2 and SHARP MS1.

Essentially, Z2 is a more expensive option at S$399. A more mainstream design with full metal chassis. As well better technical specifications, see table below. We are talking about faster processor, fingerprint sensor, slightly bigger battery, fast charging, type-C USB port with Z2 compared with MS1.
SHARP Z2 and MS1: Specifications
The MS1's biggest selling point is probably its 3D curved Gorilla Glass rear. Available with Hanayome White and Pure Pink, MS1 is marketed as a Selfie specialist, likely to be target the student market.

Of the two devices, I think SHARP Z2 certainly looks like a good deal against competition at S$399, up against ASUS Zenfone 3 and Samsung J7 Prime for exactly the same selling price.

SHARP Z2 and MS1 will be launching this Saturday 29th October for S$399 and S$299 respectively from M1, M1 exclusive distributors, Challenger, and authorized retailers including Lazada.

Link - SHARP Singapore
SHARP MS1: From SHARP Singapore Web
KKday Campaign at The Working Capitol
[NEW SERVICE] The e-commerce boom in recent years brought tremendous time and cost savings to travellers and holiday-goers especially with aggregators and travel portals. And now there is a new service, to connect you to local tours from all over the world!

See, the usual holidays plans are either "free and easy" aka. you plan yourself with perhaps land tour from tour packages or just plainly tour packages from tour agencies.

KKday aims to change that by offering customised itineraries and travel activities and creating unique travelling experiences. Headquartered in Taiwan, KKday is a local tour ecommerce platform offering 6,000 travel experiences from 53 countries, 170 cities.

In conjunction with the media launch on 6th October 2016, hosted by Paul Twohill and KKday’s CEO, Ming Chen, who flew in from Taiwan, KKday’s successful debut event in Singapore was complimented by the announcement of their exciting campaign - #taiwantrippin. Find more details below!

A nice start for KKday!

Here are details on participation - #taiwantrippin :
1. Upload a 30 second video on Instagram - “Reasons why you should go on this epic trip”
2. Hashtag #taiwantrippin and #kkdaysg
3. Head to website to fill up submission form with contact details, so winner can be contactable.
4. Top 5 video entries will be shortlisted. Shortlisted participants will share the campaign with their friends to garner votes.
5. Selected winner and 3 friends will get to enjoy the most epic trip in Taiwan in January 2017!

The winner will be awarded with the following prizes:
1. An all expenses paid 7-day trip around Taiwan, worth more than S$8,000.
2. You'll get to bring along 3 of your best friends on this epic adventure.
3. You and three friends will get to enjoy more than 10 KKday travel experiences all around Taiwan.
4. You will be recognised as KKday's Travel Ambassador 2017.

Link - Kkday
ASUS Zenfone 3 5.2" on sale: At Toa Payoh Popular Bookstore
[NEW GADGET] The first time I saw ASUS Zenfone 3 off it's launch on YouTube, I was really impressed and it looks like a phone that could gather decent popularity in the mid-range phone category. Seeing the ASUS Zenfone 3 in real life, it is safe to say that my initial impression is not too far off. I was however surprised to see it for the first time in a Popular Bookstore!

And here are 3 things in my brief encounter with ASUS Zenfone 3.

Making sense of Zenfone 3
In another case of confusion caused by product naming, there are 4 variants of Zenfone 3. There are;

  • Zenfone 3 (5.2 inch display / ZE520KL)
  • Zenfone 3 (same name but 5.5 inch display / ZE552KL)
  • Zenfone 3 Max (5.2 inch display / ZC520TL)
  • Zenfone 3 Ultra (6.8 inch display / ZU680KL)
  • Zenfone 3 Deluxe (5.7 inch display / ZS570KL)

The one you are looking at in these pictures is first in the list, Zenfone 3 with 5.2 inch display. As of 10th October 2016, the ones that available in some of the mobile shops are first 3 in the list.

A quick run through of the differences between the devices; The Deluxe is the flagship of the lot with the fastest SoC in the market, Snapdragon 821, a whopping 6GB ram and an option of 256GB internal storage.

One step down would be Zenfone 3 5.2 inch/5.5 inch variants, first two on the lists and Zenfone Ultra. The major differences between these 3 are display size and the latter has slightly better graphic in Adreno 510 and an option of internal 128GB storage.

Bottom of the hierarchy is Zenfone 3 Max. A budget option which as well comes in 2 variants internationally, but Singapore looks like getting the 5.2" variant only. A big 4,100 mAH battery is its major selling point. Slower SoC coupled with a 720p display are what the compromises are made.

How's THE phone?
This part is about my impression of the phone. For S$398, i think Zenfone 3 is more than decent. The 2.5 glass always makes a phone looks premium and feels even more premium. What I didn't like is the front three touch buttons that are very common across all Android from the beginning of time. A more distinct design would have been icing of on the cake.

Turning to the back of the phone, you find as well a 2.5D glass. On it, a camera, fingerprint sensor and the nice ASUS logo. All-in-all the Zenfone 3 does not have an exciting appearance. In fact despite having a thickness of 6.16mm, it doesn't look or feel so.

A 1080p IPS display is decent though as a long time OLED user on Samsung S7 Edge, it is certainly dull in comparison.

Zenfone 3 runs on ZenUI and first impressions are very promising. Lightweight, simple, quick are some words to associate with my brief encounter. With a Snapdragon 625 chip, 3GB ram running on Android Marshmallow, it is as snappy as a mobile device should be. You can check out reviews of its camera online but my impression has been a dull one.

Zenfone 3 comes in Moonlight White, Shimmer Gold, Aqua Blue and Sapphire Black which is the one the pictures here. You can check out more specifications in the link below.

Against the Competition
Pitching Zenfone 3 with the 5.2 inch and 5.5 inch variant against competition, the first principle is probably to look to the price tag. Can you get a better option at S$398 plus minus S$30? I say unlikely.

Surveying the market, the price will only get you an Apple iPod Touch. With Samsung the closest is likely to be the A3, but A3 only has a 4.5 inch 720p display, lower internals and no fingerprint sensor. LG and HTC already ran out of decent mid-range. Nexus 5x is one that I would rate it above ASUS Zenfone 3 though

Then you talk about Xiaomi and the other less known Chinese manufacturers. Redmi Note Pro series is worth a mention here, the rest are decent but you will be hard press to find one below S$398 and comes with a original International ROM (most Chinese export sets comes without Google Services).

And so this is the ASUS Zenfone 3 5.2 inch variant. Till next time.

Link - ASUS Singapore Zenfone 3
Mi Notebook Air from Xiaomi China Official web
[PRICE WATCH] A few years on since Xiaomi introduced their most popular product series, Redmi, Xiaomi is now synonym with quality yet affordable products. Even in the eyes of the kiasu Singaporeans! And their latest product line is none other than computers, specifically notebooks.

The resemblance of Macbook Air both in naming and physical outlook aside, it's a beauty and possess decent processing powers. Especially in the 13.3" version where it comes with discrete graphics card, a certain GeForce 940MX.

I will leave you to read all the detailed specifications from the link right at the end of the post, but all-in-all, yet another fantastic value for money product from Xiaomi.

I like that there aren't any logo on the back of the screen. Instead, the logo is beneath the screen, only visible to the user. I also like that Xiaomi included a second disk bay for additional SSD/HDD disk. There is really aren't much to dislike about these gorgeous computers.

Mi Notebooks on Lazada on 7th October 2016
While not officially available in Singapore just yet (no indication from Xiaomi Singapore), Lazada already carries them via their sellers.

There are two models 12.5" and 13.3". The lowest you can find on Lazada as of 4 October 2016 is S$799. And the latter is S$1,269. Warranty may differs from seller to seller but a 3 months local warranty is decent but still a major stumbling if I am a potential buyer.

The premium on these exports sets are about right, with the 12.5" and 13.3" model going for S$715 and S$1,020 respectively. Premiums therefore is S$64 and S$49.

13.3" will be first choice for me. Not much bigger yet way more powerful.

So this is the Mi notebook, latest product to have caught my eyes on Lazada! Till next time.

PCCW-HKT Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card
[EXPERIENCE] This one is about my research work to choosing a mobile data service for my 5 days trip to Hong Kong last month. These days it seems to be cheaper to purchase the card locally before jetting over. My choice was the csl HKD 88 5 days pass aka "PCCW-HKT Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card". PCCW-HKT is the parent company of csl Mobile Limited. csl stands for Communication Services Limited.

It's probably the cheapest mobile data service available for 5 days and shorter trips. For HKD 88 or SGD 15, you get in Hong Kong;
  • 1.5GB of local mobile data
  • Unlimited csl Wi-Fi
  • Unlimited local voice calls. 
You can purchase the SIM on Changi Recommends web and collect SIM at Changi Recommends outlets in the airport before departure. There are outlets at all 3 terminals. Or you can buy the SIM at Hong Kong airport.

For a traveller with usage for Maps and occasionally googling, it's an excellent choice. In my experience, the SIM is easy to setup, pop it in and it's instantly up and running. The SIM is a 3-in-1 type for all mobile phones, meaning the card is 3 sizes in 1; original SIM size, micro SIM and nano SIM (see the image above).

A 4G LTE card also ensure that I am happy enough with the speed I am getting during my stay.

There is one thing to note, that this SIM will not work in Macau. An additional HKD 40 for 40MB is optional.

PCCW-HKT Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card
Of course, the csl 5 days pass is cheapest only in absolute value, that you pay the lowest at just SGD 15. The catch is of course the meagre 1.5GB data plan.  You can also consider a 5GB 8 days pass at HKD 118. Here is also noteworthy that you have to dial a number to check the data usage rather than over a app or web.

Interestingly, csl offers a HKD 218 card that covers China-HK-Macau, not available on Changi Recommends. Details here: Link. In essence it's a 5GB 8 days pass plus 100MB for roaming in China and Macau.

Depending if you are travelling in pairs, groups or if you are a social media enthusiast, a csl SIM won't be the best option.

In the latter case then a overseas mobile wifi router is perhaps more suitable. For example, Changi Recommends' mobile router offers unlimited data usage, fits pockets, last more than half a day easily and supports up to 8 devices simultaneous connection.

For Hong Kong travallers, as of 1st October 2016, it's going at SGD 10 rental a day excluding the first day of rental. Just remember to make your reservation online to take advantage of the discount codes on their web or if you are a DBS Credit Card holder, there are codes that offers more discounts, search on the web!

Only catch here is the Fair Usage Policy where a data usage limit cap is imposed, Hong Kong's case is 500MB. When exceeding the limit, the connection will be reduced, for example from 4G to 3G. As well Macau is not included.

Finally, local telecoms are also providing interesting data roaming services these days.For example, SingTel offers 1GB in 1 month data roaming across 11 countries including Hong Kong and Macau at SGD 20. Details: Link. Data usage is trackable in the My SingTel app, certainly convenient.

[USER EXPERIENCE] One of my biggest gripe with Singtel Fibre Broadband is its default router. It is not as bad as some of the opinions I heard, yet its average Wifi coverage, lack of features such as guest network and dull look gives it an unfavourable impression.

My current one is "Singtel WiFi Gigabit Router AC1900" which is quite new as my previous one, Aztech FG7003GRV(AC) broke after nearly 2 years of service. The fact that it's a new model and still doesn't impress means it is time for a new powerhouse.

Enter ASUS RT-AC88U. Let's leave the review of the router to the next post and focus on the steps required to replace any Singtel router with this beast.

Before you begin, note that these steps works for;

  1. ASUS RTAC88U purchased in Singapore as the routers are pre-configured with Singtel profile. In any cases, if you get to step 6 and cannot find "Singtel-MIO" profile, look for "Singtel-Others". If you cannot find either and you bought the set locally, contact ASUS Singapore.
  2. MIO Voice is not setup on router. (Actually it may just work if you follow the guide but I don't have MIO Voice to confirm.)
Disclaimer: I am of course not liable for any problems with the router should you follow the guide. :)

Step 1: Unplug and power down
Before unplugging, take a picture of the existing setup so if you need to revert to this setup you can reference to the picture. As well take a note of which is the WAN cable running from your ONT (Optical Network Terminal), the only other device that's not a router. and also note the MIO TV cable running from the MIO TV Box. Then power down both the MIO TV box, Singtel router and ONT in that order.

Step 3: Power up and connect
Power up, ONT then ASUS router. Go have a glass of water and give them 2 minutes to have everything running. You know when more than one LED blinks. Now, take any device that can connect to the ASUS router, it could be iPhone, Android phone/tablet or computer desktop/laptop with Wifi capability. Search for new network and connect to either "ASUS" or "ASUS_5G". It wouldn't require any password at this point.

You can also connect your computer via a LAN cable to the router, which will save you most of the work in step number 4.

Step 4: Setup router
Upon successful connection, a login page will load automatically. Follow the instructions to create router account. Next the router asked if would setup the Wifi password for the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz network. You can choose to setup now or later.

Reconnect to the Wifi network as you have applied the passwords. If you haven't, then you will be greeted with some more setup pages, just click through them and always select "Automatic IP" and "No ISP Username and password" when prompted. Your objective is to reach the page that looks like the following.

ASUS router setup page
Step 5: Getting to the setup page (if you didn't get it in step 4)
If you have chosen to setup with Wifi password, after reconnection, you may be brought back to ASUS login page, you will see the setup (see above) after login. If you are not automatically brought back to the login page, you can try this url in web browser:

If it still doesn't work, then you it is time to deploy ASUS Discovery app. For computers with CD-ROM, you can pop in the CD that comes with the router and look for "Discovery.exe". For any other devices, you may look for "ASUS Discovery" in app store or ASUS website for your device. Whichever devices you use, the app will guide you to the router setup page.

Step 6: THE step
Here is the most important step. Once you are in the setup page, look for "LAN" under "Advance Settings" in the second half of the page, move into this menu and look for "IPTV". Select "Singtel-MIO" and click "Apply". See screenshot below. If you cannot find the profile, contact ASUS Singapore.

The exact configuration for Singtel Fibre and MIO users.
Step 7: Plug into ASUS router
Plug WAN cable running from ONT to the WAN port on the ASUS router, it is the only blue port on the back of the ASUS router. Then plug in the MIO TV box cable to port number 4 of the ASUS router, note that only port number 4 will work with MIO TV box.

Go back to the home page of the router and you will see "Internet Status" = "Connected". Viola!
Entrance to the Xbox One Showcase on 2 September 2016
 [EVENT] Gaming! Long time no see! I was extremely excited and privileged to be at Xbox Showcase 2016 a week ago after a long prolong absence from console gaming after my Playstation 3 broke. And boy, I indeed have lots to report!
First custom-designed Xbox One S bundle ever: Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle
First off, an original white Xbox One S was placed right in the middle of the Microsoft Auditorium. I saw images of it online sometime back but seeing it in person stirs the gaming soul in me. Moments later at the event, the first custom-designed Xbox One S bundle ever: Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle made it's appearance!

Priced at S$699, the Xbox One S Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle includes a battle-weathered custom Xbox One S console with a 2TB hard drive, an all-new Gears of War 4 Crimson Omen Limited Edition Xbox Wireless Controller, full game download of Gears of War 4: Ultimate Edition for both Xbox One and Windows 10, a Gears of War 4 Season Pass and eight additional Gear Packs.

In between the showcase of the newly unveiled consoles was 2 hours of hell fun gaming that reminded me just how much I missed gaming. Microsoft put some of their best and most popular games up for the participants. For our fun, there are Dead Rising 4, Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, NBA2k17... Damn, I am so going to get a gaming console this year... or not, popular Xbox games are also available on Windows 10!

At the event, Microsoft also revealed details of the grand prize – an unforgettable trip of a lifetime to Sydney, Australia to participate in an epic week of Xbox activities! 

The week includes the adrenalin-pumping Forza Horizon 3 launch event, a Gears of War experience at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, first-to-play games with developers from Playground Games, The Coalition and more, as well as opportunities to take in the amazing sights and sounds of Sydney, Australia. 

Fans and gamers simply have to watch and take note of the contest question posed during the live stream at the event on 2 September and submit their response via the Xbox Singapore Facebook page by 12 September, in order to stand a chance to win the grand prize.

Orico H7013 Series: China set.
[REVIEW] "I need 7 USB ports!" This is the requirement from my demanding friend whom asked me for advice for a quality 7 port USB hub. As much as I doubt the need for a 7 port USB hub, it is a my duty to help out a friend in need especially when it comes to purchasing computer accessories!

There aren't really much 7 port USB hub in market perhaps because in today tech world, average consumers would be fine with at most a keyboard, mouse and hard disk. In the end, it has to be in the Nubox Raffles outlet that I found my inspiration.

Introducing Orico H7013. And here are 3 thoughts on the excellent S$27.90 device I bought on Qoo10, a China export set.

Package content: Including a 2-pin charger.
Orico H7013 in action

Orico H7013 comes with a USB cable and power adaptor which provides adequate power supply, for 7 USB devices to work stably, especially the large capacity hard disks.

Orico says the 7 USB 3.0 ports offers transfer speed is up to 5 Gbps. My test on the transfer speed is limited to USB 2.0 because that's all my 5 year old MacBook Pro and Western Digital WD2500ML can do.

With the variables above, I get a consistent 30 MB per second read speed and 26 MB per second write speed with Orico H7013 between the computer and hard disk. When the hard disk is directly plugged in the computer I get a slight drop of 2 MB per second.

No additional driver installation is required for Orico H7013 to work. H7013 is also compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android 4.2 and other major systems, plug and play.

USB In-port to connect to the computer.

Plastic matte finish may not be as classy as metallic finish but it's still looking very handsome. With the classic black, that's the formula for a timeless design and low profile at the same time.

There is a blue LED which lights when the hub is in used. Everything is looking rather well build for a USB hub.

And lastly, have a look at the image below, you would see that having the usb ports lined up in a straight line is a very bright concept because even the very wide USB sticks will fit!

The situation when all 7 ports are plugged in.
Some noteworthy stuff

My Western Digital WD2500ML, a several years old external hard disk, did not work with Orico H7013 with the power adaptor plugged in. Rest of the less power hungry devices worked, such as thumbdrives and my fitness tracking watch (charging) even when all 7 ports are in action.

Of course, with a 7 ports USB the power adaptor is essentially part of the device so this is just FYI information.

Another note is Orico H7013 does not charge the likes of tablets despite the power adaptor.
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