New phone!

The new Xperia Z1 Compact, ordered from Storekini.
The new Xperia Z1 Compact, ordered from Storekini.

Initial review of Xperia Z1 Compact: She’s fast and light. Larger than Joel but very light, which kinda worries me. Plus point: BABY HAS A SLOT FOR DECO! I now need to find casing.

Temporary name is Kitsune. I might call her something else. In fact I want to, but no name suggests. She’s protesting against me calling her Tsun, because she argues the micro-sim idiocy was my doing, not hers (I was trying to insert it upside down).

The name Freiderike aka Idike will fit her JUST fine. :D

Note to self: Exporting Timeline for MS Project 2010

Figured out how to export a timeline based on this by Nenad Trajkovski. This is a reminder to myself that the Timeline bar he’s mentioning is NOT the sidebar on the right.

It’s the calendar view bar on the top. /goes back to Timelining

[Sponsored] Last Phone Thoughts

This is a sponsored post, commissioned by The Tech Kaiju. I acknowledge that I have received some form of compensation for this post. However, I further admit that this compensation has NOT affected my opinion nor judgement of the units that were lent to me.

A party phone and a business phone. Which would you choose?

And

This pretty much sums up the last of my phone reviews. I’m returning them tomorrow as per agreement, but I will miss them after one week of use. So here’s a summary of what I think everyone should know before purchasing one or the other:

U9X1:
Get this if your criteria is one of the following:

  • You don’t need a large phone
  • You need something quick and responsive
  • You have a budget, but want something fast. Brand name does not matter
  • Did I mention reliable?
  • Inbuilt security is important to you. The U9X1 comes with the M-Warranty and NQ Mobile Security apps. The former lets you register your warranty without having to send in the physical card from your phone. The latter is an anti-virus suite.
  • You want a vanilla Google experience but can’t spring the cash for the Nexus series.

I highly recommend the U9X1 mainly to middle-end users like me who will tinker and root their phone. By default, the almost-vanilla experience is great for those already familiar with the Android user experience and are seeking for something a little bit more. The U9X1 is a great jumping point. Just… watch out for the back cover. It’s kinda slippery and can be a bit hard to open.

Optimus G Pro:
Get this if your criteria is one of the following:

  • You want a really big phone for readability issues.
  • Your phone stays in your bag more often than your pocket.
  • You want a camera that’s good at deciphering lighting and has a beauty mode.
  • You’re new to the Android/smartphone scene, and you want something more user-friendly.
  • Themes are important to you. The LG Optimus had a really cute pink theme that was very childish yet cheerful. They also had a few other “corporate” kind of themes.

As you can tell, the LG Optimus is pretty much a premium phone, and it’s very user-friendly. The LG Optimus skin is pretty much geared towards allowing you to customise your phone the way you want to, and if you’re never going to go beyond installing/removing apps, I’d say the Optimus would be for you. Oh, and unlike the U9X1, the back cover comes out easily.

TL;DR: Get U9X1 if you’re a mid-range user. LG Optimus if you’re not.

[Sponsored] Food Porn, Runs and Ingress

This is a sponsored post, commissioned by The Tech Kaiju. I acknowledge that I have received some form of compensation for this post. However, I further admit that this compensation has NOT affected my opinion nor judgement of the units that were lent to me.

The Ninetology U9X1 is almost double the size of the LG Optimus' box, despite the LG being much bigger in real life.

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The Ninetology U9X1 is almost double the size of the LG Optimus’ box, despite the LG being much bigger in real life. The U9X1 comes with a lot of stuff in the box, and it’s got a nice, reassuring feel in the hand. This is the kind of box you could maim people with. :D LG’s may look classier, but it’s not as easy to hold in hand.

Photography:

Low lighting test from the Optimus.

Low lighting test from the Optimus.

Low lighting test from the U9X1.

Low lighting test from the U9X1.

Details are clearer on the LG Optimus though the U9X1 does admirably well too. I suspect there may be a setting I’m missing, but if so, then the fault lies on the LG Optimus itself; such things should be apparent to the user or even set so the average user can pick up the phone and go. Here are some more shots:

Here's a hand, that is not mine.

Here’s a hand, that is not mine.

Here is the same hand, from a different angle.

Here is the same hand, from a different angle.

Can you tell which is the LG and which is the U9X1?

Then… there is salmon:

Mmmmm salmon. The filter you see here? Was created by the LG Optimus.

Mmmmm salmon. The filter you see here? Was created by the LG Optimus.

The U9X1 performs much more admirably here.

The U9X1 performs much more admirably here.

So in terms of camera, the LG Optimus definitely loses out to the U9X1, if only because it tends to oversaturate the image. That said, the LG Optimus does EXCEPTIONALLY well with macro shots. I generally have to take a single macro shot and the details come out great on the Optimus. The U9X1? Insists on either flash or refocuses elsewhere first before I can take the shot.

My CM QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard is an EXCELLENT subject.

My CM QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard is an EXCELLENT subject.

By default, if I didn’t fire the flash off, this is what I would have gotten:

Blur? You bet!

Blur? You bet!

However, a bit of fiddling will give you this, which is infinitely better but requires an additional 3-5 seconds for me to get the settings right:

All cleared up. After I focused it elsewhere.

All cleared up. After I focused it elsewhere.

In summary, the camera on the U9X1 is actually very decent and fair for the price you’re paying. For the Optimus? I’m really disappointed in the actual results.

Here’s another text-heavy portion:

Ingress
The LG Optimus has a pretty strong GPS signal. It’s actually better for Ingress than the U9X1, which often takes time to lock my position. So if you’re on the go a lot and play Ingress like me, then yes, grab the Optimus. Even after switching on A-GPS and “Google’s Location Services”, I find the U9X1 takes quite a bit of time compared to the Optimus to figure out where I am. Which leads me to the next point:

Running
The sound system on the U9X1 is sorely underappreciated, in my opinion. It’s a really nice piece of work, especially if you’re wearing headsets like me. The music comes out crisp and clear. Playing Zombies Run was a pleasure and the phone’s lightness meant I didn’t really feel its weight when running. The GPS though, was a little all over the place.

[Sponsored] 24 Hours with the U9X1

This is a sponsored post, commissioned by The Tech Kaiju. I acknowledge that I have received some form of compensation for this post. However, I further admit that this compensation has NOT affected my opinion nor judgement of the units that were lent to me.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me start by saying that I managed to get my hands on review units of the Ninetology U9X1 and the LG Optimus G Pro for one week. I picked them up last week and will be reviewing them as I go along. Right now they’ve been in my hand for slightly over 24 hours, and active for perhaps a little under that. So what can you expect?

For the spec sheet, here’s the Ninetology U9X1 and the LG Optimus G Pro, provided by CNet Asia. As you can tell, I’m not big on specs. What I’m big on is how well the phone performs and how well it fits into my lifestyle.

So how’s the initial impressions so far?

For both phones:

  • OMG THEY ARE SO LIGHT!
    In comparison to my Sony Xperia Pro, both the U9X1 AND the LG Optimus feel much lighter. In fact, they feel almost weightless. Which leads me to my second point:
  • Terrified of dropping them
    Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty much butterfingers, which is why durability is a very big thing for me. So far I’ve not dropped the phones, and I hope that never changes.
  • They are both black
    I’m sorry, but I’m the kind of person who wants my phone to be COLOURFUL. I don’t really like black or white phones, at least not for myself.
  • FAST
    Joel is showing his age, so these two phones which are still quite new, are very fast in comparison.

For the LG Optimus:

  • It is HUGE!
    The LG Optimus dwarfs the U9X1, which means it cannot go into my pocket. It also means that the power button makes more sense on the side than it does on the top. Thanks to its size, I’ve resorted to carrying it around in a tiny bag instead of throwing it into my pocket.
  • It’s fairly heavily-skinned and missing quite a few “must have apps”
    I’m surprised that it didn’t come with Facebook and Twitter preinstalled, but on another note, I’m glad it didn’t.
  • The swiping keyboard is pretty functional
    It isn’t going to blow Swype or Swiftkey out of the water, but it does its job well.
  • Camera is decent
    The photos I took looked a little blurry till I realised I forgot to switch on the “Intelligent Auto” setting

For the U9X1

  • Easy in the hand
    Though it’s just as light. It fits better in my pocket though, and it took to my Pebble and bluetooth headset quite easily.
  • WHY ARE THE BUTTONS ON THE SIDE?
    Let’s just saw that I switched on the phone by accident when trying to open the back cover. This happened almost every single time.
  • Camera does horribly at macro shots
    While the camera’s quite decent, it fails completely at taking close up shots when the flash is turned off. I don’t know why. The camera does pretty well if I focus it, switch off the flash and then take the shot, but if I switch off the flash, touch to focus and then attempt to take the photo, it becomes blurry.

Need to sleep, so will write more tomorrow. :)

[Geekiness] Hello, Tabitha!

On 13 April, 2013, Joel and Kuro welcomed a sister into their lives. I finally got myself a tablet; the Asus Transformer TF300T in a lovely shade of blue. Here, have an image:

When I brought her home on Saturday, I had a bit of a panic when she wouldn’t charge. Took her back to the Fair on Sunday (that’s why I love going to PC fair on Saturdays; you have an extra day to return if you have to), and as it turns out, it was definitely a PEBKAC issue. The charger comes in two parts which can be disassembled for easy storage. I didn’t assemble them properly, and the salesguy helped me both assemble the charger AND charged my tablet.

I brought Tabitha home, a happy camper. :D

So how was life been since she came into my life?

Well, as it turns out, Tabitha was much better for Ingress than my poor Kuro is (the boy is starting to show his age, the poor thing). She’s also great for me posting stuff on the go, particularly for Facebook (I’ve removed Facebook on the phone as it was taking up space and was far too distracting).

Because Tabitha came with a keyboard dock that doubled up as a battery, I’ve not had any real worries and issues about battery life. I use her mainly when I am out and about, either to take notes during meetings or to write when the ideas strike me. Springpad and Google Keep on her ensure that I can write notes quickly and efficiently. I use Springpad mainly to write longer ideas in a specific notebook that I don’t want to keep on Google Docs, and I use Keep when time is of the essence.

I also made the mistake of downloading this addictive card game from the Play Store called Valkyrie Crusade. There’s something about this game that has me playing it before and after work. I suspect it could be the “harvest your gold and randomly grind” aspect.

Right now she travels with me mainly to work and back. I don’t usually bring her out unless I’m testing something, or if I’m going to be in a meeting where I know I may need Internet access. Joel (my phone) is great at sharing his Internet connection with Tabitha even though he’s slow in booting up the same application, so I have switched most of the tasks I usually do to Tabitha instead.

The only exception is Waze, Foursquare and Keep. I use Keep when I want to write in the gym very quickly (usually these are my machine workout counts for Fitocracy) while Waze and Foursquare are rather obvious.

I do have a few complaints about Tabitha. However, I’m not sure whether this is an Android issue or if it’s a hardware issue (I’ve noticed similar behaviour on Joel, hence why I’m unsure).

Tabitha’s keyboard tends to take a few seconds to load. If I’m on the dock, I can’t quite type as fast as I do on the PC because there’s a very slight delay. On the tablet itself, I can use the swiping option to type, though it’s not as good as the Swype Beta I had on my phone a few months ago.

The keyboard dock also lags. A long time ago, someone once tried to teach me to use the Shift key to caps things; I instead always defaulted to the Capslock instead. Well, with the lagginess that Tabitha’s keyboard exhibits, I’ve finally decided to learn how to type with the Shift key instead. It got to a point that my fingers were actually confused when I went back to typing on the PC. I actually hesitated with my fingers over both the Capslock and the Shift key. Suddenly I was typing like THis because I’d hit both Capslock and the Shift key right after that.

That said, I really like having a tablet. It’s been quite an interesting experience. However, I’ve taken out my tablet in only very specific cases; I don’t dare walk around with my tablet in hand because I’m too afraid of getting robbed. ><

For those who are considering getting the Asus Transformer TF300T, here are some things to note.

– If you plan to connect to a lot of cloud services, make sure you get the version with 3G. This is usually called the TFT300TG (the G kinda stands for 3G, I think). Basically this means you just insert a SIM card and switch on the data.
– If you have either an unlimited mobile plan that allows tethering, or you’re going to be using the Internet only sparingly, then the Wifi model may be for you.
– If you’re not planning to use the Internet at all… why are you considering an Android tablet again?

With that, sleep!

Suzuki Swift Test Drive

So I finally walked into a Suzuki showroom today to check out the 2011 Suzuki Swift (GLX). Right after the drive, there were a few things evident:

The Swift is a really nice car. In person, it’s got a number of security features I like. Instead of having to dig out your keys, all you need is the key to be in your pocket, and you can open the car by pressing on the buttons on the door handles. Even better, you can open only the door you need, so if I’m driving alone, I can press once to open just the driver’s door instead of the entire car. Considering the scariness of Malaysian crime these days, it’s an advantage. Oh, and that single door thing applies to the boot as well. When I’m near the car, I can open just the boot instead of the whole car. It’s a pretty neat feature.

The boot space was surprisingly roomy and deep. I’m thinking that maybe it’d be big enough for a few bags. Note though, that it’s definitely smaller than my current Proton Iswara hatchback. It’s deeper yes, but it’s not longer. That means if I’m carrying longer stuff, the seats will definitely have to come down.

The seats were firm. Driving the car reminded me of getting my first Android smart phone; SO MANY NEW FEATURES TO PLAY WITH! I should have really taken my time to play with the car. The nervousness of going for the test drive meant that I didn’t spend as much time as I should to familiarise myself. The first thing that I did notice though were that I had a much wider range of view compared to my own car.

The side view mirrors were controlled by what looks like a joystick; twist left and right for their respective mirrors, then move it up, down, left and right for the angles. Nice. To start the car, press the brake and the Engine Start/Stop button simultaneously. The car jumped to life with a pleasant roar. Then it was time to actually drive.

The Swift has a 4-wheel brake disc instead of the usual rear brake disc, and it shows. The few times I pressed on the brake, it was actually rather hard and sudden. Definitely an improvement from my current car. Turning and pickup was quite good. The sound system was quite ok, by my standards. I’m not an audiophile, so as long as it plays music I think it’s good. The sound system supposedly has USB connectivity, and while I did notice it I didn’t get to use it. The USB connector was located under the audio buttons in a fairly sizeable recess behind the gear.

Which brings me to another point; unlike other cars I’ve driven before, there’s no indicator on the gear box to show you which gear you’re in. The displays are on the dashboard, where the odometer was. It was very disconcerting. However, this was offset by the fact that the gear hid the recess to dump your keys and wallet and mp3 player, so I might take it as an acceptable trade-off.

Mileage seems to be far better than my current car (well, the present ride is about 20 years old) at 500km per full tank, which works out to about RM60-RM70 (note: RON 95). The salesperson did warn me that the Swift doesn’t do as well as bigger cars when driving outstation, which was something I already expected. For in-town driving though, it handles well.

However, I did not really take the opportunity to really lean back and enjoy the seats. At first sit they’re hard and nice, while the steering fits well in my hand, but I’m still on the fence on that.

Price was about RM77,888 for the base model, which is what I would have gotten anyway (spending RM5,000 on the body kit which was basically all decoration is not my cup of tea) with a downpayment of RM8,000. I’m still thinking of this though, and I want to give the Ford Fiesta a try. We shall see.