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 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.
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