28 Dec 2016 to 2 Jan 2017 @ Marina Square
[EVENT] Following their press release (read here), Newstead is following up the "Gift Your Tech" campaign with it's roadshow from 28 December 2016 to 2 January 2017 (12-2pm), at Marina Square, Main Atrium.

I visited day one of the roadshow and it is worth a visit for many reasons;

You could bring your old gadgets for trade-in (at the Newstead store right beside the roadshow), enjoy promotions deals there (see the brochures I got from the roadshow in clockwise) and as well Marina Square is one of the favourite malls for it's spacious walkways and excellent variety of shop mix including a growing corner for consumer electronics!

Lightroom 5 default Facebook app didn't work?: Get Jeffrey Friedi's instead!
Update 10 April 2016: Previously it appears that I have overlooked the instructions on Mr Friedi's website. Do note that he said the following; 

" This plugin is distributed as “donationware”. I have chosen to make it available for free — everyone can use it forever, without cost of any kind — but unless registered, its functionality is somewhat reduced after six weeks."

"Registration is done via PayPal, and if you choose to register, it costs the minimum 1-cent PayPal fee; any amount you'd like to add beyond PayPal's sliding fees as a gift to me is completely optional, and completely appreciated."

[USER EXPERIENCE] My day's job is to automate as much digital processes as humanly possible. That has become a passion somewhat when it comes to computing. This spurs me to find a solution to my problem with the default Facebook's plugin in Adobe Lightroom 5.

My problem is quite simply the following two errors when publishing the album.

Error 1 when publishing from default LR Facebook plugin
Error 2 following error 1
I tried everything that I could find on the net but none of the solutions worked. The key to the problem probably lies with the way the plugin handle App Settings in Facebook. Somehow, "Posts on my behalf" or similar item is not found in the App Settings for the default Lightroom 5 plugin.

Thus when I try to publish from this plugin, the errors above shows up one after the other. The manual way out of this, as suggested by many whom I ask, is to export Jpeg to a local folder then upload via Facebook interface. As I said earlier, this is just unacceptable in 2016.

Luckily I found, Jeffery Friedi's version of Lightroom Facebook plugin. It works on my first attempt after installation (via plugin-manager)!

It works (now I can see "post on behalf" in its Facebook "App Settings") and even offer more features than the default version like the following.

  1. Import comments from Facebook
  2. Triggers republish with changes in Metadata
  3. Prompt to delete Facebook copy when a local delete take places

Head on to Jeffery's blog if you are having this problem like me!

Link - Jeffrey Friedi's Blog
Back of Blackberry DTEK50 @ NEX M1 Shop
[NEW GADGET] What a surprise to see Blackberry latest Android phone in the M1 store at NEX! I mean just how many people is going to buy a Blackberry these days is probably quite imaginable. It is not without it's selling point. 

So here are 2 things about the Blackberry DTEK50.

Blackberry DTEK50 label

-----"World's Most Secure Android Smartphone"-----

Security is the focus of the phone, mainly in 2 categories, what you cannot see and what you can see.

In what you cannot see category, Blackberry made DTEK with out of factory and fully integrated security including full disk encryption, better bootloader and hardware root of trust. Put simply, you can be assured that you are buying a phone that isn't tampered with or it would not boot. Better yet, Blackberry claims "a record of being the quickest to deliver security patches"

It is all great except that our average consumers wouldn't understand or value as such.

Then in the "What you can see" category, Blackberry has an app conveniently call "DTEK by Blackberry" that monitors the phone and inform you, the user, when your privacy is at risk and how you should do to protect yourself.

There is probably a third category call "What you probably won't use"; Blackberry Enterprise Mobility Management solution which a suite of productivity and security plugins. Of course, these days corporates have mostly moved on from Blackberry.

"World's Most Secure Android Smartphone", Blackberry is technically not wrong though the competitors are not far behind. Android Marshmallow already supports disk encryption and Samsung came up with KNOX to better security as well.  

My personal take; new Android devices today are reasonable secured.

Side view: The power button right in the middle

-----5 minutes with Blackberry DTEK50-----

From the front, nothing stood out except the top speaker and bottom speaker. The back is what is more interesting with a rubber back which gives excellent grip. 

Coupled with the Blackberry logo, it looks like the older Blackberry devices, quietly boosting air of efficiency. Unfortunately, Blackberry DTEK is built with Snapdragon 617 chipset, which dampers expectation even with 3GB ram and an Adreno 405 graphics.   

The 5.2" display certainly is crispy sharp, an 1080p IPS screen it is. 13 megapixels rear camera and 8 megapixels front camera and 16GB storage expandable by SD card rounds up the basic specifications. Camera reviews around the net calls DTEK50 performance by the usual "OK in good lighting and bad in poor lighting".

DTEK50 does not comes with fingerprint sensor This is odd given it's focus on security.

At the end of the day, if you want the best in class hardware, you know you will not be getting it from Blackberry at this moment. It is still a decent device, but which so is most Android phones out there today.

Fun facts about DTEK50: There is also a DTEK60 with 5.5" screen and fingerprint sensor but not on sale with M1. DTEK50 is based on the same reference design Chinese firm TCL supplies for the Alcatel Idol 4, another recently-released Android phone.

Link - Blackberry DTEK page
Screenshot of "Mobile Networks" page on Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
[COMMENTARY] So the time has come to leave the 2G mobile network in Singapore. By April 2017, about 4 months away, 2G network will cease.

This week Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) says that "The sale of 2G-only mobile devices, such as mobile phones and point-of-sales terminals, will be banned in Singapore from Jan 1 next year."

The news of 2G network cessation has been around for more than 1 year now, not for a moment that I thought, as a consumer, I will be affected. And then it hit me when my mum bought the newly released Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime earlier this week.

My problem is like this. My mum uses a prepaid card as well as a second SIM card with 1GB mobile broadband (from our Fibre Broadband plan). The former is for calls and smses and the latter will provide 1GB worth of mobile data monthly.

For the past years, on her phone, the prepaid call runs on 2G and the mobile broadband, of course, runs on 4G. After 2G is gone, then this setup has to change. The prepaid now has to run at least on 3G.

Unfortunately, not all dual SIM card phones can support dual SIM with 3G and 4G cards running at the same time. In fact most dual SIM phones will not.

In the case of Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime, the limitation appears to be temporary.

Samsung in their media alert for launch of J7 Prime, stated in the footnote this; "Only one SIM supports 4G LTE Cat 4 (up to 150 mbps) connectivity at any one time. 3G connectivity on second SIM will be made available via software update subsequently."

I hope the update comes before the end of 2G network!

Link - TODAYOnline: Sale of 2G mobile devices for local use to be banned from Jan 1
Link - Samsung Media

[GOOD DEAL] This one is coming from Newstead Technologies' press release, yes, the Newstead Technologies that you find in many shopping malls.

They will be running the Gift Your Tech campaign from 5 December 2016 to 27 January 2017 to benefit its charity TOUCH Community Services (TOUCH).

During the eight-week campaign, Newstead Technologies will donate 20% of the trade-in value of old electronic items brought for recycling and raise a total of $20,000 for TOUCH. 12 participating Newstead Technologies stores will act as e-waste collection points.

Only devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones will be considered for trade-in for cash vouchers (valid for a year from date of issue) equivalent to their trade-in value.

Rules and regulations as to what devices qualifies for trade-in and other information on the programs can be found in this page (link) to PC Dreams, partner of Newstead in this campaign. Highly recommended that you read this before you bring your gadget down to the collection points.

For end-of-life electronic items that are not eligible for trade-in, Newstead Technologies will recycle them through an e-waste recycling company. In any case all electronic items should be disposed properly, not just during campaigns!

More information in this link - Gift Your Tech Microsite.

The box with USB in the front to power antenna.
 [EXPERIENCE] As of 23 November 2016, the last residential estate in Singapore, Tampines East, is ready for indoor reception under the DVB-T2 television standard, commonly known as the Digital TV in Singapore. Our existing Analogue TV signal will run until end 2017.

And here are 3 things about the Akira Digital Setup Box that I bought from Fairprice Hypermart.

Setting Up the Akira Digital Setup Box

The Akira Digital Setup Box HDVB-T2A1 comes with a Digital Antenna in the package. According to the salesperson at Fairprice Hypermart, for residential units on the lower floor, requires a more powerful amplifier. He recommended Draco, but I decided to stick with Akira for its Singapore branding and its S$88 price point.   

Back of the box.
My plan is to setup the Akira Digital Setup Box to my 5 year old Panasonic Plasma TV. The setup box will run on HDMI to the TV and a line out to the digital Antenna. It took a while to get going because the key to the whole setup is the Digital Antenna.

Antenna is the key to the performance. Position it well if you are lower floors.
First, it needs to be as close to the window as possible. That is challenging with Akira because the connecting Antenna wire is only 1.5m long. Second, it will not work without USB connection apparently to give the antenna more power or that my antenna is faulty! Not to mention that I used the front USB port of the box for powering antenna while it is supposed to be used for USB memory devices for recording and playback!

Either way, I am convinced that lower residential units suffer a poor connection because my unit on the second floor. This also means I had to buy RCA cable extension (for antenna) and USB cable extension (for USB connection).

Digital Antenna right facing the window like a kid who is punished. 
Once the box is ready to work, the performance is decent. An occasional lag during rainy days aside it is largely OK. My other complain would be the font of the subtitles which not possible to customise but looks a tad too big.

As far as the box goes, nearly all digital boxes does the same job. Eletronic Program Guide to check the TV schedule and USB recording are essential value add function of a digital signal conversion.

Who are affected?

The switchover to digital broadcasting may or may not affect you depending on your existing TV setup and if you at all watch the national TV.

In short, all you need to know if that the government is changing TV signal from analogue to digital. They are giving you up to the end of 2017 to make the switch. The digital signal is ready now for you to switch if you want to.

Front shot of the digital antenna. The box will work with any DVB-T2 compatible antenna.
Pay-TV subscribers don't have to be bothered because Pay-Tv setup boxes are already delivering digital TV quality programs. Non-pay TV subscribers have to check if they are using a digital TV. With a digital TV, all you need is a Digital Antenna. Otherwise, you need both a Digital Setup box and the Digital Antenna.

To find out if your TV is a digital one, google your TV model and see if it is DVB-T2 compatible.

Link - "Mediacorp is going fully Digital."
Singapore Sweep Ticket: Probably the only lottery you cannot buy online
[EXPERIENCE] On 30 September 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced Singapore Pools will be allowed to offer remote gambling for our existing 4D and TOTO lotteries, football and motor-racing sports betting products, as an Exempt Operator under the Remote Gambling Act 2014.

Using Account

The steps to create the account are; Register an account online on SingaporePools.com.sg with all your particulars. Then proceed to a Singapore Pools outlet with your Identification Card for verification of your identity. Finally 5 working days turnaround for the account to be activated.

Screenshot of the 4D bet placement page
The setup is as simple as you expect. Above self-explanatory screenshot of the 4D bet placement page. After clicking "add to bet slip" another 2 clicks. This is probably the quickest way to place a legalise bet.

TOTO is quite similar as well but I didn't not see the option of iTOTO.

The only inconvenience is topping-up of the account. In order to place the bet, first I need to top up the account and the top up options either involves additional cost or require a trip to the Singapore Pools outlets. For example, the eNets requires 80 cents per transactions and while Top-up cards can only be purchased at the outlets. There is also a fund transfer bank arrangement that requires GIRO setup.

Top up options page

Then there are the Limit management and self-exclusion features as part of the "safe gaming experience" that Singapore Pools promises.

The Predicament

I am not a supporter of remote gambling for the mass because I am convinced we will get more gamblers and even addicted gamblers this way. On the other hand, I signed up as soon as it is ready.

What a predicament. As well I wasn't very convinced with the way the Government conducted it's business. There is nearly no debate on the matter and the really short time interval from the news was out to the rollover of the online setup meant that everything is has been conducted with a decision from the top management of the country.

This is even scarier than the allowing online betting.

How many forms did I sign with M1!
[EXPERIENCE] From dial-up internet to cable broadband and finally nearly 17 years later, I am no longer a SingTel Internet customer. I really feel heavy-hearted that it had to come to this though I am pretty sure SingTel as an organization does not give a damn about losing a customer of nearly 2 decades.

The Reason
It was a combination of reasons that convinced me to take the trouble to migrate Fibre Broadband.
First, SingTel 1Gbps standalone subscription is more expensive than other ISP. For a recontracting customer like me, SingTel did not offer me anything more than they did to their new customers.

In September 2016, from SingTelshop online and calls from SingTel, the offer is restrictly S$59.90 monthly. Unless if I go for the MIO bundle with TV packs. When I eventually made my termination request, the retention department made an offer of 6 months free subscription. It's nice but by then it's too late. I have signed up with my new ISP.

Now there are many whom are taken aback when they heard I have signed with M1. My opinion of M1 is certainly different. M1 offers the one of the cheapest 1 Gbps deal and its stability is very underrated. And to completed the deal, the nearly S$200 discount on ASUS AC88U router meant that I have one of the best routers in the market for my home network. 

2 months into my M1 contract, I can safely say M1 with ASUS AC88U is as good if not better than my previous ISP.

The Migration Process
As advised by the M1 customer service officer, rule number one of migrating your fibre connection: don't cancel your original connection until your new network is up and running! Then I guess the installation process won't be as easy as it seems.

If you are migrating your ISP for the first time, note that there are 2 installation appointment timings. First for Terminal Point Installation by Netlink Trust and the second by your ISP, in my case, M1 to install the Optical Network Ternminal (ONT). 

For some reason, when I signed up during COMEX, I wasn't aware of this and thus I missed the first appointment and delay the ONT appointment as well. 

When the ONT is finally installed, the M1 technician left with a rather worrying conclusion. He said "Wait till 6pm, if the network is still not up then call M1 again." He was spot on. I waited a couple of hours till 6pm and the network is indeed not up. A call to M1 confirmed that my profile hasn't been setup and could only work the next day (and it did).

Residential phone line is the last of step in the whole chain of events that lasted more than 2 months. I wanted to retain my residential phone number. So first I had to call SingTel to terminate the Fibre broadband but not the residential line so M1 could port it over. This requires 7 working days. Then M1 will take another 7 working days to port the line over. To cut the waiting time, call your new ISP as soon as you have the termination date from the old ISP.

Last words, you will have to return MIO TV box if any but you can keep the SingTel router and ONT.


Samsung J7 Prime: At AMK Hub's Samsung 
[NEW GADGET] In 2016, when we think of Samsung, Note 7 will occupy our mind. But for Samsung, life goes on and they introduced a new mid-range, Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime. I have the honour of meeting the J7 for the first time in the Samsung store at AMK Hub.

And here are 3 things about my new acquaintance.

Making sense of Samsung J7 Prime

J7 Prime is the most expensive J series phone Samsung has ever released, perhaps the name "J7 Prime". Because Samsung J7 Prime is no where close the the likes of Samsung J3/J5 (link) in every aspect of a modern smartphone.

That also means it's closing in the price gap of the Samsung most famous mid-range, the A series 2016 (all "A series" reference in this article is referring to A Series 2016). Specifically, if you are considering a mid-range Samsung, now you have one more option.

Released nearly one year apart, the A series come in 3 models, A3/5/7 ranging from S$398 to S$598. J7 Prime is Recommended Retail Price is S$398. A3 has the same RRP but spots a 4.5" screen and no fingerprint sensor.

A7 with a 5.5" screen is the closest "apple-to-apple" comparison to the similar 5.5" Samsung J7 Prime. It's a cool S$200 difference in  price but is the gap that wide apart?

J7's front is typical Samsung look.
How's the phone

For one, the visible biggest difference is the display in J7 Prime, a IPS LCD instead of the Super AMOLED in which Samsung deploys in these flagship and A-series. As well without the 2.5D glass found on A series, the display is a big difference. AMOLED screen is just so much more vibrant, but I suspect this could be a case of preference.

Internally, J7 Prime spots Samsung made Exynos 7870 processor and this is even a better chip than those in A series. 3GB ram and 32GB are more than decent.

Despite a similar 13MP f1.9 shooter in the A series, J7 Prime lacks OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer). That said, some reviews concludes J7 Prime camera to be excellent.

J7 Prime being a new product thankfully comes with the new Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), whilst it is not Nougat (7.0). Samsung Pay is not supported, for the record as J7 Prime does not come with NFC.

Fast charging is not available with J7 Prime, with a 3,300 MAh battery it is just about the same as the A series.

J7 Prime feels great in hand, much lighter than the A series. Brushed metal finish with zero camera protrusion ensured an overall slim design. Samsung made a necessary exterior distinction here, J7 Prime doesn't use the cheap plastic used in low end phones as well as the expensive glass finish in the its S and A series.

Lastly and very importantly, J7 Prime incorporated a surprise; an always-ready home button. By that I mean the phone is unlocked the moment finger is placed on the home button without actually pressing the button! This is always one of my biggest gripes with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, that I have to click the home button once then the unlocking happens.

J7's back is metallic, a rarity for Samsung.
Against the Competition

So another week, another new phone selling at S$398. The lack of AMOLED screen, 2.5D glass, OIS and metallic material are the main differences from the A series. While the A series is due a refresh soon, A series 2017, if you only have S$400 budget but wanted a Samsung device with 5.5" screen, look no further. J7 Prime is an option that competes very well with Samsung other A series.

That said depending on your priorities and view of the Note 7 debacle, Samsung as a brand may given itself an advantage and disadvantage at the same time.

Elsewhere in the market, the past month seen the debuts of ASUS Zenfone 3 and SHARP Z2. And this is a sign of that the local smartphone market is reaching a saturation point. Which I believe Samsung J7 Prime offers tremendous value for the price.

Feels light in the hand, at least lighter than the A-series.

[NEW GADGET] Another one coming in from publicity team. This time it is our Singapore's very own Challenger's in-house brand, Valore's latest line-up of products. Valore of course needs no introduction even for least interested in consumer electronics. This is no thanks to Challenger flooding Singapore with Challenger stores.

According to the publicity team, Valore undertakes the entire production process from design, manufacturing, packaging to quality control with a dedicated R&D team. Of course in reality Valore's products seems decent but certainly also look like OEM products from China where products are order-to-build with logo.

Having said that I think Valore is still good value despite being more expensive than the run-of-mill no-name China products, because this Singapore company safeguarding the quality and after sales service.

My sentiments about Valore cleared, here are some of the new products on the Valore's shelves from Valore's publicity team.

The complete selfie package. Looks the "Premium" part. 
Would have preferred a non-mechanical keyboard but looks the "gaming" part.

One of those things that I really wanted for a while now but with camera.
One of those things that I really wanted for a while now but with better camera.
Decent choice for a wireless headset, would have been brilliant with water resistant

Valore products are available island wide at all Valore stores, Challenger/Challenger mini stores and online now at Hachi.tech, Challenger's online store.

Link - Valore Sg
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: http://router.asus.com/Main_Login.asp.

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.

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