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3rd Dec
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Garmin Vivoactive HR activity computer watch review

Posted by Shaun at 2:13 pm under Gadgets, Sports Gear | 618 Reads | Post Comment

Running computers came a long way since their introduction as “integrated” sports telemetry equipment comprising of strap-on chest heart rate (HR) monitors and accelerometer footpods which you have to strap onto your running shoes. Polar Electro, the finish company who ruled the market with their running computers then, are notorious for such multi-device setups. However, such devices then are often expensive and reserved only for serious competitive runners looking to improve their training performance. My biggest gripe then was the hassle of managing separate devices for speed/distance and HR monitors- each with their own set of batteries, connectivity and issues. Today, the introduction and mass produced all-in-one fitness trackers simplifies this greatly, and brought costs down considerably (I purchased mine at $268 SGD), bringing fitness tracking to the mainstream and fueling new demand and era of fitness junkies.

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In-box Vivo Active HR Watch unit
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Integrated Heart rate sensor
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Watch exterior and band

Design, Apps and User Interface
The Garmin Vivoactive HR is one such device conceived through the miniaturization of handheld wrist GPS units for speed, distance and pace measurement and costs on average a third of the price of an equivalent running computers easily 10 years ago. The Vivoactive HR is the successor to the first “square screened” Garmin Vivoactive (the newer one distinguished by the “HR” name), it spots a refreshed inconspicuous design with a clean larger rectangular front face with no visible front branding, which can be often mistaken as a Fitbit fitness tracker. The Vivoactive HR does fair very well as a dedicated sports activity tracker and as a daily activity tracker too, tracking daily step count, stairs ascended, active time, calories burned for the day and last exercise for the day too, with an impressive battery life to boot.

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Standby screen
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Daily activity tracker
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Move recommendations & Awards

The watch combines both a touchscreen and 2 front-facing physical buttons input, which compliments each other and gives the device a contemporary feel. The screen is a 4 colour OLED (ultra-low power), but at times appear rather washed out in sunlight. Swiping the screen up and down from the time standby screen scrolls you across the watch various apps, with the app menu order customisable in the app setting menu. The right hard buttons allow you to quickly start a physical activity while holding the left button acts as a menu function for locking, silent mode and power cycle. There is no ambient light sensor on the watch, meaning brightness has to be manually invoked. The watch backlight will come on automatically each time when the watch menus are being navigated, with the backlight going off after 10 seconds of inactivity.

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2nd Sep
Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Xbox One S Gaming event and Gears of War 4 Limited Edition announcement

Posted by Shaun at 10:41 pm under Events, Gadgets | 1015 Reads | Post Comment

Microsoft hosted a gaming reception and showcase of their limited edition Xbox One S this evening at their Singapore headquarters in downtown Singapore. The presentation saw the introduction of the new white Xbox One S we last saw first released last June at E3. This revised version of Xbox One console, which was released last month, features new faster hardware with a streamlined form factor. The new casing is white-colored, 40% smaller than the original design, allowing it to be easily transported in a back bag for console game parties. Like the PS4, it can be placed in either a horizontal or vertical orientation with a stand.

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Xbox One S
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Event Announcement
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Gears of War 4

Gaming try-outs
Going in spirit of console gaming, Microsoft opened up gaming try-outs with a buffet spread in their office for gamers to have a go at full versions of various unreleased games due to be out in stores during the coming months. Such as Gears of War 4, Killer instinct, Dead Rising 4, Forza Horizon 3, Encore, and pre-production versions of Final Fantasy 15 and NBA live 2k17. The new console handles the games well, even on pre-production versions of Final Fantasy 15 and NBA 2k17, with visuals and frame rates being consistently high even in large 3D environment with far draw distances.

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Forza Horizon 3
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Killer Instinct
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Gears of War 4 Limited Edition

Xbox One S Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle
In addition to the white Xbox One S, Microsoft announced the availability of the exclusive Xbox One S Gears of War 4 (2TB) Limited Edition in Singapore for pre-orders, which was available at the event to be viewed in the flesh. The $699 SGD painted Xbox One S console features a battle-weathered custom crimson paint job, complete with Swarm damage slashes detailing eating into the console plastic body itself. This is the first custom-designed Xbox One S bundle made in collaboration by Xbox design team and The Coalition (The studio developing Gears of War 4).

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24th Nov
Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Microsoft Surface 4 Pro Singapore retail launch party (Device Review)

Posted by Shaun at 11:32 pm under Events, Gadgets | 1912 Reads | Post Comment

Microsoft introduced their newest addition to the Surface Pro line of 2-in-1 PCs with a bang at the MAD art gallery in Tanglin today. Riding on the success of previous Surface generations, Microsoft has stuck to the still-winning formula of a 2-in-1 platform in this 4th generation and improved on it incrementally with small nuances. Arthur Huang, Director of Microsoft Singapore consumer channels group was there to give an introduction to the release. Most of the keynote were based-off Panos Panay own unveiling at Microsoft’s Windows 10 devices event earlier this year. There is nothing mentioned here about the Surface Book for Singpaore though.

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Event space
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Arthur Huang keynote
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Surfaces!

Noticeably with the new Surface, you get as a larger screen, an improved drawing N-Trig based pen and a more ergonomic keyboard on top of the Skylake processor refresh. The “PC-tablet” so as I will like to call it, comes decked with a choice of the said 6th Gen Intel Core processors. With the considerations that users are more app-centric (than device centric) these days, technical specifications hardly really matter now. The device line-up comes in 3 main flavors packaged in 6 different hardware configurations starting with the lowest-spec-ed Intel Core m3 with 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM to an Core i7 with 256GB SSD and 16GB RAM.

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Up close & personal
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Mugshot
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Full range rear kickstand

You also get a full range rear kickstand, which unlike the cheaper Surface 3 with only 3 discreet positions hinges into another angle you want. Having a fused screen with the magnesium body allows for a very compact and optimised design, but similar to the majority of Apple products, upgradability of the Microsoft device is still horrendous (with an ifixit score of 2/10). It is still non user-upgradable and you will have to stick to your purchased configuration for your product’s entire lifespan- not quite the future-proof trait synonymous with Windows-based PCs. The best performance-to-price configuration will be the Core i5 with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM ($1,999). I find the i7 version over priced ($2,499 to $3,399) for a Surface and the m3 base model ($1,399) is too underpowered, with insignificant additional battery-life benefits.

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31st Aug
Monday, August 31st, 2015

Blackberry Venice & Specs- an upcoming Blackberry phone you might actually want.

Posted by Shaun at 1:02 am under Blogs, Gadgets | 4782 Reads | Post Comment
Blackberry-Venice

Phones with built-in hardware keyboards will always have a place in my heart and really are nostalgic. It reminds me greatly of the old O2 XDA series of Windows phones I used to own. If such hardware keyboard phones are to your liking, Blackberry’s new QWERTY slider, the Blackberry Venice is one phone worth getting excited about. Initially leaked back in June of a phone with the codename Venice, it is Blackberry’s first mobile handset running Android and is slated to arrive in November 2015.

It had been sometime since we’ve seen an Android phone with a slide out keyboard, I had been a long user of the HTC Desire Z, the Moto Droids were head to beat on the slide out keyboard front. It’s nice to see and no other better way for Blackberry to make a comeback with a device people would actually buy this time. Sources are pointing to a near-finished prototype with nearly confirmed specs which are decent for a flagship phone in this era. Blackberrys had always been notorious for being too dated in hardware on their release, which did not stand a chance on their past few launches. We shouldn’t see the phone specs straying far off the following:

Specifications:

  • 5.4-inch Quad-HD curved glass screen (2560 x 1440 solution)
  • 1.8GHz 64-bit hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 18-megapixel rear camera with fast focus
  • Twin LED rear camera flash
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (Nothing on 6.0 Marshmallow for the moment)
  • Slide-out physical hardware keyboard

Ports, layout and accessibility:

  • SIM and micro SD card tray slots are pin-accessible from top of phone
  • BlackBerry’s signature QWERTY keyboard (No trackpad or arrow buttons)
  • Side power button and volume rockers (right)
  • Side camera aux/button (left)
  • Single center MicroUSB port at the bottom
  • 3.5mm headphone audio jack at the bottom right
  • Non-user removable battery (Capacity not known yet)

My only gripe is there seem to be alot of wasted space on the keyboard though, which could be better off with larger keys or even a D-pad/track-pad as similarly found on the 9000 series Blackberrys. The keyboard does look well depressed into main body of the phone, where the lower microphone lip of the phone may get into the way of your thumbs while typing. Otherwise, the phone does look very promising despite it’s increased thickness given it’s two-body slide-out design. Looks like we will be able to welcome Blackberrys back into our local telco shops in time for Christmas, it had been sometime since I’ve seen a blackberry on sale here in Singapore.

25th Jan
Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Tomtom Multi-sport Cardio Running Computer Watch review

Posted by Shaun at 2:44 pm under Gadgets, Sports Gear | 97 Reads | Post Comment

The TomTom multi sport cardio watch is one of the few advanced all-in-one running computers available in the market today. The brand we come to know synonymous in in-car GPS navigation systems had expanded their product line into the now-hugely popular fitness tracker market. The device comprises of an integrated heart rate (HR) monitor together with GPS tracking all in a handy watch package on your wrist. With the miniaturization of handheld wrist GPS units for speed, distance and pace measurement, gone are the days of accelerometer based foot-pods typical seen on running computers of the yesteryear.

Being an avid Polar user for a good 10 years, my biggest gripe of the past having separate devices for speed/distance and HR is the hassle of managing these individual devices- batteries and the all-often disconnection during your activities. Having all the devices in one small compact handy package was a great welcome and jumping ship with my purchase of the TomTom (Retails at $449- $499 SGD) was quite a no-brainer.

The closet competition to the Multi-sport cardio will be the Polar M400, Soleus GPS Pulse and the more expensive Garmin 920XT. All similarly offer GPS tracking, but requires an external heart rate monitor strap. The Garmin 920XT does cost more of a premium and Soleus is a brand largely unheard to many if you compare to the likes of Polar, Timex or even Sunomo, but had been in the running for a number of years.

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Watch out of packaging
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Main display
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Activity selection

A Multi-sport jack of all trades
Calling these running computers does not seem to bring justice to the myriad of features offered by the device. These integrated devices are triathlon-capable devices, allowing for the measurement of sports telemetry for both swim and cycling activities. The TomTom multi-sport is no different. The watch is clad in sporty-looking shock-resistant gel wrist strap which is user-replaceable in a variety of colours.

The multi-sport does not have a touchscreen and all controls are accessible via a front-facing D-pad which is rather intuitive with well-labelled menus. In standby mode, the watch displays current day of the month, month and time either in 12hr or 24hr mode, the layout is simplistic, and lacks display of a second counter or even the day of the week. There are no options in the settings menu to customize the layout interface, though I wish it could be possible for TomTom to rectify this and allow layout customisations and additional clock layouts (digital or analog layouts will be nice) on subsequent firmware updates.

Outdoor running and Treadmill activities
Running is what the TomTom multi-sport excels as a sports watch, it can track concurrently not only your GPS coordinates but your HR too. The wrist HR sensor is self-illuminated by a green LED and stays on when you start your activity. The watch gives you prompters based on your workout intensity (current HR), for example, recommending you to warm up if it detects a low HR or measuring how fast your HR drops on cool down after a run to gauge the quality of your exercise recovery. GPS lock-on however, when with quick-GPS enabled takes a rather long time- up to 15 minutes. At times I start my watch running activity way before my pre-run warm up, and I will still be waiting after thereafter for the watch to get a lock-on before I can start running.

Duration your run activity, it can show you total GPS elapsed distance, as well as instantaneous speed and pace, which is good if you are planning to keep a minimum workout intensity of race pace and still works fairly well even when you go indoors after eventually getting a GPS lock. When indoors, the watch will revert to its internal accelerometers to gauge your pace and traveled distances. GPS tracking is good in covered and forested areas. You can also set the watch to vibrate/warn if your HR or speed drops below a certain set level. One of the cool but rather gimmicky features is the “Race” (Race shadow) function where you can race a shadow of yourself using any of your saved historical running data. The GPS distance tracking is fairly accurate and falls within 5% of my calibrated known distance on my usual running routes and using Satellite imagery, it tracks the altitude of your runs too, which I tested by bringing the watch up on my mountain climb in Taiwan.

Mountain climb

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Mobile App
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Plotted Route
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Telemetry & BPM

The watch has a treadmill mode which uses accelerometers to determine your current speed distance and pace; it is not really accurate given greater tendency for drift, falling within 80% of the distance measured on the treadmill itself.

Swimming Functionality
In swim mode, the Multi-sport cardio provides lap count and speed telemetry data in-activity. You need to specify your pool length (25/50m), goals intervals and target laps based on time, distance, average speed before starting out. Many features available in running mode are disabled in swim mode. For instance, the Multi-sport does not utilise its GPS or HR monitor in swim mode, but instead uses a set of integrated accelerometers to detect swim strokes count, and your turns in the pool. As said, the watch does a lap increment each time its accelerometers detect a sudden change in swim direction. The lap counts in my test are has varying accuracy based on the type of swimming strokes. It is 90% accurate for free style, but tends to double count breast stroke laps. Sometimes you also get a double lap count if you touch the pool wall at the end of the lap, just be sure not to use your watch-bearing hand for it.

However, the Multi-sport does not offer an open water swim mode, a feature you will have to give the Garmin forerunner 920XT for, but if you are doing most of your swims in a pool, the watch is more than adequate for your needs. There is no option to have HR monitoring in swim mode, a workaround for this now is to swim in the “Treadmill activity”, it’s accurate, but you forgo SWOLF, laps, etc. The watch is also waterproof to 50m, something I verified scuba diving with it up to 30m surviving without any problems. The TomTom is no scuba diving watch and when tracking my dive activity, was unable to get any GPS lock on the moment you go beyond 1m underwater.

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Activity telemetry screen
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Post activity review
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Okay for open water diving!

Cycling Functionality
Another area where the watch shines is its cycling mode. The watch comes with removable strap which can be bike-handlebar mountable, though I tend to prefer having the watch worn on my wrist so I can get vibration distance alerts as well as HR monitoring. The multi-sport in cycle-mode provides the usual full suite of information at your disposal which you can display over the watch 3 field areas, such as instantaneous speed, cadence and calories. The watch also tracks your entire cycle route which you can download and review later. There are options to pair a TomTom cadence + speed sensor via the watch integrated Bluetooth, forgoing the need for installing and wiring up sensors up to the handlebar, the watch however, does not support ANT+ sensors, which is a shame. Like having to enter pool length parameters for the swim activity, you need to specify your bicycle wheel diameter manually in the watch cycle parameters to get speed from the sensor, though I personally recommend just using the GPS speed, forgoing the need to calibrate your sensors over a range of bicycle sizes.

Though the multi-sport has easily navigable menus, there are very limited information/race metrics which can be displayed in-activity. Only 3 types of information can be displayed at any one time, with the option to emphasize one data type at the centre of the display and others rotatable via the d-pad. I found myself putting Clock, distance/swim laps and speed/pace (main) as my main data, though it will be good to have an option for an additional 4th line for HR display especially in running mode: e.g. Speed, HR, Distance and Time providing all info on one screen at one glance on your run.

There is also no triathlon race mode in the Multi-sport, like that on the Garmin 920XT, as such getting to each of these modes require you to manually exit the current mode and start the next mode through the menus- not something you have the luxury of doing in a race. Though Garmin is a far superior watch with its 4 colour screen, far more advanced triathlon watch, but is priced about $200 SGD more.

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Speed monitor when trekking
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Just adequate battery life
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Hit or miss syncing

Fair Battery life
From a full overnight charge, a 120 min hour run with GPS and HRM on and a 90 min swim brought the battery down to about a 50% charge, where, left on standby on my non-training days for the rest of the week lasts a full week before going flat . As such, I can say the watch is good for a single marathon event, or even a standard Triathlon with the HR monitoring on throughout. Based on the watch update rate in-run, pace and HRM is updated every second on the screen, which I assume is the default telemetry poll rate of the watch. It will be good to allow the user to specify the refresh intervals (e.g. 1s, 5s, 10s) depending on the activity sport type for battery endurance and longer runs. I reckon the watch may just have enough battery charge for a full Ironman.

Bluetooth, sync and Gripes
The multisport is well supported by a mobile app and website allowing you to review your exercises. All information stored on the watch can be synced via Bluetooth direct to your phone instead of a computer. There are however, few glaring features which are lacking in the Cardio watch, considering how feature packed and capable the watch is. Despite having Bluetooth connectivity to your phone, the multi-sport does not feature phone Bluetooth message notifications, neither does it has activity day tracker functionality (steps/distance) function.

It is also exceptionally easy to accidentally set the watch backlight ON, even a simple brush on the side of the watch turns the backlight on. You can activate the but since the watch runs off there is not much a worry of draining expensive cell batteries typically found on legacy running computers . It might be good for TomTom to set a capacitive screen hold period of maybe 1-2 seconds instead of the current <0.5s to turn it on.

You can store a limited amount of activities (depending on duration of data collected) before having to sync to clear the internal memory. I will need to sync every 2 months at a time with about 2000 minutes of activities before running out of storage space for new activities, data space is limited not by number of activities, but rather the duration of the activity, where more telemetry data needs to be stored. Syncing your exercises will remove the stored activities on your watch. The proprietary USB dock also does data sync (faster than Bluetooth) and charging which is convenient for travel instead of having to lug a proprietary power brick around.

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Web interface
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Route review
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Web telemetry

In addition to accessing your running data on the mobile app, you can review them too on Tomtom website after logging in using your MySports account, allowing you to review your activities in more detail. Here get telemetry graphs with respect to time of all your saved activities, as well as GPS plots on google maps which I found really good in summarizing and planning your future activities.

In all, the Tomtom multi-sport is a very well featured watch delivered in a trendy contemporary package. It has its flaws, but is still otherwise very well priced for what it can offer. The watch is one of the best integrated fitness watches you can buy now.

Rating 75% (Good).
Pros

  • Good 1 week battery life
  • Full multi-sport functions
  • Excellent 50m water resistance
  • Well supported by mobile and web-apps
  • Accurate real-time GPS tracking
  • Trendy replaceable straps with variety of colour choices

Cons

  • No day and second hand timer on watch
  • Limited screen display fields
  • Long GPS lock duration
  • Slow Bluetooth connectivity
  • No daily activity tracker
  • Hyper-active backlight
11th Nov
Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I am a certified amateur (ham) radio operator!

Posted by Shaun at 7:36 pm under Gadgets | 13897 Reads | Post Comment

Passed my radio exams today and I am on the way into obtaining my official callsign from Ofcom in a few days time!

Ham radio is something greatly enjoyed by both the young and old here in the UK. In other to operate radio equipment legally here, you have to pass the first of 3 exams (foundation, intermediate and advanced), with each increasing level of difficulty giving you access to more bands as well as increased transmission power. The foundation level was written in a way so that people across all ages can get started on amateur radio, whether they are young school children/outdoor boy scouts to retirees looking to start a new hobby.

The radio exam set by Ofcom themselves, which is the wireless regulation authority Office of Communications here in the UK (which is synonymous to the FCC in the US and IDA in Singapore). Anyone can get on air with a radio, but it’s the education and understanding that comes with the license that makes our airwaves a more friendly place to be in.

I took both the foundation and intermediate level exams back-to-back in one sitting which I passed reasonably well despite not actually being able to seriously spend time studying for it, given my hectic college term-time schedule. But my exam was actually pretty easy- completing the exam in less than a third of the allocated exam time. Even the examiner (who is also a Cambridge alumni) jokingly remarked that the Ofcom should set much harder questions specifically for Cambridge students as we always take it too easy. Now, I am certified to the intermediate level at 50W Tx!

Cambridge radio shack

On top of your written exam, the foundation (beginner) and intermediate radio certification levels requires a practical assessments, which are usually conducted by your local radio club. In my case I was assessed by the Wireless society senior, Mr Martin, we saw me through both my foundation and intermediate practicals in one afternoon sitting. On the foundation level, topics of proper radio use were taught on a more hands-on level, specifically making local and overseas UHF/VHF/HF contacts using the club call-sign while supervised. Here you are taught to do Morse codes, explain antenna theory, propagation and troubleshoot electromagnetic compatibility. Key things taught are the proper band-plans, power levels for transmission as well as appropriate discipline on the air.

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20th Apr
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Apple’s new 4th Generation iPhone leaked? Android with HTC Incredible or iPhone 4G?

Posted by Shaun at 12:57 am under Gadgets | 3927 Reads | 1 Comment

I’ve always been waiting for the successor of the iPhone 3Gs, apparently June 28 may not be the day the phone be announced due to a leak of a confidential unit so as claim by Gizmodo, which they had the chance to get their hands on for a review of the dud unit. Apparently, the phone was found running iPhone OS 4.0 before it was remotely killed. And before Gizmodo could actually see it. It has a much blockier design which looks real sleek and more modern than the iPhone 3Gs. It does make it’s predecessor look old!

4th Generation iPhone

The big question whether the phone is a geninue item is still open for debate. Gizmodo even dissected the phone to find quality Apple-labeled boards and circuity inside, typical that of apple products and reaffirming that it is not some China clone or rip off. Most of the parts are minitureized, including the introduction of a micro-sim card, all to make way for a larger internal, non-removable battery. Not only does it show up in iTunes, Xcode, and System Profiler, but it has different product identifiers than the 3G or 3GS.

Unfortunately, the phone was wiped and they couldn’t get it to boot out of recovery mode, but a number of new features and changes are evident just by holding it. Obviously, it’s thinner than the 3GS, with smaller internal components and a larger battery inside the metal frame.

Here is a list of the observable features in the new 4th generation iPhone:

  • Front-facing video chat camera
  • Improved regular back-camera, rumored to be around 5MP
  • Camera flash
  • Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad)
  • Improved display. It’s unclear if it’s the 960×640 display, but boot screen looks clearer.
  • 2 mics for noise cancellation, one bottom, one top, next to the headphone jack
  • Split buttons for volume
  • Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic
  • The back is entirely flat instead of curved, made of shiny plastic
  • Aluminum border going completely around the outside
  • Slightly smaller screen than the 3GS (but seemingly higher resolution)
  • Squared design
  • 3 grams heavier
  • 16% Larger battery
  • Internals components are shrunken, miniaturized and reduced to make room for the larger battery
  • Looks almost like the HP slate.

I had been considering the 4G iPhone as my next phone, with Android as a very suitable contender. I’ve always had my eye on Android phones even before I’ve got my 3Gs, the 3Gs failed in many ways to make my expectations of a modern smartphone, I mean I was real fad up that I could not even use the phone as a mass storage device, nor even put PDF files into it locally to read e-book (I have to email them to myself to get them on the phone). It does not support Bluetooth stereo controls, (something even my 5 year old phones can do), not to mention unable to change message ringtones as well. The iPhone was just rubbish. However, it does make up for it for it’s style, substance, usability and shitloads of fun and crazy apps, maybe that is just the reason why I am still using it today.

Hello Android!
Android is really catching up on the race with Apple, with almost 50%-50% smartphone share in the US. Even when seeking opinions for my next phone, almost everyone recommends me an Android without a doubt- Strangely.

The HTC Incredible

On the Android area, I did have the HTC Incredible in sight. This phone can be what I call a worthy upgrade from my Nokia N95 8GB and iPhone 3Gs (which was not much of an upgrade in anyway). It sports a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 8GB of internal storage, 748MB of ROM, a microSD slot (with support for up to 32GB cards), an 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash and autofocus, 480×800 AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, and most importantly, Android 2.1 with HTC’s Sense UI on-board. It records video up to 800×480 resolution at 30fps with that 8MP sensor.

One of the key area where Android phones shine is the price, the operating system, provided by google is open source, which cuts down the price of the phone by a considerable bit, a lower version of the HTC incredible, the HTC desire goes at about £350 without a contract here in the UK, the same can be said for the Incredible when it releases end this month too. The cheapest iPhone costs £450, with the 32GB 3GS going at £550, expensive!

It is true that Andriod do not have as many established apps as Apple has and I did mention that apps are what I really like about the iPhone. But what you get on the apple app store is severely regulated, which can be like a double edged sword. The Andriod marketplace may be smaller, but it’s operated on a more free-rein basis and is speedily growing larger everyday!

Remote wipe? A possible anti-jailbreaking measure?
The thing which strikes me the most on the iPhone is the need to Jailbreak it to make the phone is anyway useful beyond the scope of the common idiot it was designed for. Apple had long been fighting the battle against jailbreaking phones, whether it’s the harsh warranty voiding of jailbroken phones, or bricking phones with updates. The ability to wipe this new iPhone NAND memory remotely does paint some interesting speculations of what Apple have in store for potential jailbreakers. Maybe jailbreaking could even be hardware prevented in this new phone, just like the newer generation 3Gs phones. I mean when I spend almost a fortune on a phone, I want it to work how I want it to me and not use it as if I am a criminal or something. That’s another tick for me in the Android department.

This new iPhone does look real good and sleek, but based on these preliminary specs, the HTC incredible trashes it completely. Currently I am leaning and maybe might go Android afterall, impress me Apple.

30th Mar
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

4th (4G) Generation iPhone to be annouced on June 22nd 2010

Posted by Shaun at 2:00 pm under Blogs, Gadgets | 2727 Reads | Post Comment
iPhone Sync

And so as told by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Soon after the news broke, we were informed that the next-generation iPhone would be announced on June 22nd (a Tuesday, naturally) and would be dubbed the iPhone HD (a name that has been tossed around before). That certainly makes sense given that Apple almost certainly has to up the pixel count in order to rival the EVO 4G, HD2 and all of those other high-res handsets, but we’re still reserving judgment until we see that fateful media invite hit our inbox.

There had been speculation of the phone spotting a 5 Megapixel camera as well, (a much needed improvement considering how bad the current 3.2MP camera is) given a large mysterious order for 5MP CMOS to a Chinese firm last year. The form factor will still remain largely the same, candy bar with a non-removable battery body. The only difference is just a bigger camera hole at the rear and a discreet video conferencing camera at the front near the earpiece, so as the pictured by the release of the 4th Gen internal housing shells by Chinese OEM mobile parts maker as few months back, where production could have already started.

WSJ’s John Gruber also weighed in with some more tidbits, in his characteristically polite way. Gruber says the next model will have an A4-class SoC, a 960 x 640 display, a front-facing camera, and that iPhone OS 4.0 will enable third-party multitasking. A pretty safe set of predictions, in all, but Gruber’s done pretty well in the past, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

27th Jan
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Apple iPad annouced, not a workhorse, but hey it can run iPhone apps!

Posted by Shaun at 10:30 pm under Gadgets | 2347 Reads | 1 Comment
Apple ipad

It interesting that such technology and capability already existed ages ago, but no one seemed to put it all together for the consumer. Apple seem to always get that right, this time they are doing it again with a new slate tablet computer called the iPad.

At first glance, it looks like an over sized iPhone, which the distinctive bezel, form factor and home button. It’s not running the full workstation-capable version of OS 10 contrary to much speculation, but rather a portable-enhanced version of OS 10 which is largely similar to the interface on the iPhone, for a larger screen. It comes in 2 favors, Wi-Fi or one with additional 3G in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB capacities on flash drives.

The fun device seems to cater for a void in the market which tries to be neither on both ends, namely a phone nor a work-capable computer. If you need an, it will only truly shine for it’s wireless capabilities and size, so it will be wise to get the one with 3G. Otherwise, it will just be a regular slate with no noticeable selling points. To me, the iPad seem to fit into the market for people looking to have a device around the house for quick access to emails and the internet, but not much one being a full-fledged computer, something which might rival the iMac or iBook. So technically it’s in a class of it’s own filling the void between the iPhone and the iMacs.

Though multi-touch may be a selling point, capacitive touch screens are good for gesture based commands and navigating menus. Not exactly that impressive for writing, something a tablet must be good at. Capacitive touch screens are just simply something notorious for precision. Moreover, I don’t see a need for a slate, being a tablet user myself for almost 5 years, having used on screen digitizers (wacom penabled screens) on convertible slates as well as traditional pen based drawing tablets (intuos4) from wacom, I find the lack of precision of the screen a big turn down for a promising product- It is just not as practical as I’ve expected it to be too. In short, the precision offered on dedicated tablets is very important and is something I don’t see the iPad fitting well into my needs as a student who needs to use a tablet for lectures as a student, let be precise enough to take down notes or do drawings accurately on.

The iPad is after all, a fun product not intended for work. Like, the iPod touch bigger brother. An expensive toy.

Hardware-wise, it does bags 10 hours of battery life. But big no nos will be the lack of a user-replaceable battery and a small resolution XGA screen- You can’t really call the slate an internet machine with a screen resolution of 1024×768! The 1Ghz A4 processor of the iPad is adequate, despite not being as speedy as most mainstream tablets on the market now. This apple designed processor is largely tailored to the basic needs of the device and OS, thus would be adequate for the basic functions it aims to serve, don’t expect it to be much of a production computer though.

The really cool thing I like about it is that it can run literally all iPhone apps on it out of the box, so that will allow many users to port over from existing iPhone platform and also establishing a good base for the new product to grow on.

I can’t deny that the device is indeed very pretty, but it will never be powerful enough to be justifiable to do descent work as a proper computer or for school, etc, yet too big to conveniently carry around as a portable device. It’s trying to be something, but not really found it yet. Anyway, with apple aggressively promoting the iPad SDK since it’s launch, it will be fair however to give it some time for iPad dedicated apps to grow on it where it’s functionalities can be truly realized. But for now, and for me, I will be putting my money for the next gen iPhone maybe coming out in June, that will be a better choice.

Video of the iPad at the click:

» Read more…

24th Jan
Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Solving iPhone 3Gs apps “unknown error” or “file not found” in iTunes 9.0.2 64-bit

Posted by Shaun at 11:28 pm under Gadgets | 3758 Reads | Post Comment
iPhone Sync

I had this problem with iTunes previously, but solved the problem by reverting the program, so I am posting this here in case anyone who experienced the problem on a same setup can get a solution here.

After updating iTunes on my PC to the spanking new 9.0.2 64-bits to suit my current system platform, I kept getting numerous errors whenever I try to install new apps on my phone. The system will just fail an app install each time and will demand a phone restore each time I plug the phone back into the sync cable. Bad!

Also, what you will get from iTunes will be a myriad of irritating, yet not very helpful error messages only the person who wrote the program knows about. I mean who knows error codes man? So much for user friendly apple software!

“The application was not installed on the iPhone because an unknown error occurred (IxE8008001).”

“Cannot install… file not found”

Seemingly, the programs are not installed at all on the phone, but with the icons showing on the springboard. True enough, launching them will crash you back to the homescreen. iTunes will simply just hate your iPhone (Latest firmware 3.1.2) and treat it like some foreign virus, demanding it be cleansed with a restored backup each time after plugging your phone into your PC.

I’ve heard about file permission errors in the iTunes music directory. Sometimes, R-clicking on your iTunes music folder C:\Users\username\Music\iTunes and unchecking “Read only” under “Properties” will help.

In the end, it turned out that it’s an iTunes program error with the 64-bit version. Apparently, the latest iTunes 9.0.2 64-bit does not work on my setup running Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate. Force installing (the installer will recommend you to install the 64-bit version) the 9.0.2 iTunes 32-bit version makes everything work like a charm.

18th Oct
Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Got a new ASUS WL-600G all-in-one network gateway

Posted by Shaun at 11:16 pm under Gadgets | 5339 Reads | 2 Comments
Asus WL600g

Got a new ASUS WL-600Gg wireless gateway DSL router today at Sim Lim to replace my old 2wire 1800HG which went “kaput yesterday” after a good old 4-5 years I say. Looking around, I am surprised at how low the prices of networking equipment now. Back before 2000 I remembered paying a premium for home networking equipment. That was before wireless networks became mainstream, so wireless equipment were only available at a premium price- the equivalent price of high end wireless-N routers now.

For me, wireless-N is currently more of a market gimmick, a gimmick I see many of us won’t be fully ultilizing considering that even most conventional regular broadband speeds (let be DSL) in Singapore do not even break a sweat out out regular-G wireless. A basic home gateway with an in-built DSL modem, wireless-G+wired 4 port router and firewall will only set you back a descent $80 now. I remembered paying about $150 for just an ADSL router and $170 for a basic Linksys 4-port wired router almost 5 years ago. Man do prices fall fast!

I got my Asus-WL 600G with a high-gain antenna after a haggle to $129, the device is largely an all-in-one device- ADSL modem, 4 port wired and wireless-G router, with the usual bits such as DCHP, firewall, traffic/gaming bandwidth prioritization, web GUI etc. The main selling point of this baby is the VOIP capability, media streaming features as well as an in-built USB print server (no multifunction printer support though), FTP server, NAS with external USB drives and Webcamera function with a hack to the Linux Kernel. Since it runs on Linux, it will be possible to find a port for SANE to allow network scanning, let be run a bit-torrent server to save direct to the NAS. If I were to say, get all these in bits years ago, it would have costed easily a $600+ bundle, though it won’t exactly be fair to say so considering relative improvements in manufacturing capabilities and components over the years, not to mention competition.

Setting up out of the box was a breeze, unlike ISP provided hardware with pre-configurations (who needs those anyway), the Web GUI were all intuitive and assessable, I was able to set up my DSL login, password, as well as my home SSID and encryption keys within 10 minutes and I next I was uploading some photos and here typing this post.

The main let down of this product I see will be the power adapter, which I could see, be the first thing I will see which will fail in the years to come. The power adapter looks cheap is really very different in contrast to the excellent built and quality from the main router unit itself. Presumably this one is sourced by the importer here in Singapore who have to include the adapters locally in the sets due to regional requirements. It’s just irritating that manufacturers put so much technology into their systems, only to let them be fueled by incompetent technology.

Other than that, I am loving my new router!

24th Sep
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Nokia Repair, well that was quite decent. Confirmed failure after warranty?

Posted by Shaun at 3:22 pm under Gadgets | 4392 Reads | 1 Comment
Nokia Care Repair Wheelock

Collected my phone yesterday at the Wheelock Nokia service center. The service was rather good on my personal opinion, besides the long string of complaints and comments the service center is notorious for. I mean, come to think about it, dealing with customers at the service is not an easy job, having to put up with downtime for the customers who area already fuming mad about their phones, only to put up with long waiting queues and slow service just makes it worst, well that’s what most people say of it. So in the benefit of the doubt to only people who are only good at complaining, here is a commendation for you Nokia.

I sent my phone in last Friday after it’s screen went blank after taking it out for an evening jog. Nothing fancy, just using it for the plain usual music. Same as what I did for my marathons and half-marathons, only that the screen was like not powered/no data went I took it out to make a call thereafter.

Having said that, my phone is almost about a year old already, so I wonder the warranty was still on. So I have to call them. My only gripe was trying to contact them with regards to warranty issues before dropping down. Apparently, based on their web contact they had their fax and phone lines switched- Calling their fixed line gave the fax buzz, while calling their fax line resulted in a ring tone but with no answer even after 5 consecutive calls. I went to search for more updated contact info on the web only to be bombard by complaints and dissatisfaction you get from the Nokia “Care-less” center, turns out Google is not a good place to get info on Nokia repairs.

So I went down to Wheelock anyway. My N95 8GB warranty without any warranty card is set to expire next October month by using the launch date as a reference. I was tended to on a weekday evening and sent my phone in in 10 minutes after getting my number. Collection was fast too, within 1 1/2 days I got a call that my phone is ready for collection. Collection was slower, as about an 18 minutes wait, but it was still bearable though. The counter and service staff were friendly and courteous, despite having to put up with so many customers for the day. They said they changed the screen and make my phone slider tighter, making it more firm now.

I think if I were to use my phone as a phone, it will bound to fail right after the 1 year warranty period, it’s like there is a time bomb in there waiting to go off. I think just like how IKEA stress test furniture for premature failure, bringing your phone for a jog/run accelerates the impending failure of your phone, just as how manufacturers rate failure rate and the corresponding warranty period. So I guess it was a blessing in disguise to get it repaired now so it can last till it’s next possible service.

Now to reinstall all my S60 3rd ed programs, it’s quite a pain to get anything installed on a Symbian phone now, maybe I might switch back to Windows mobile for my next phone.

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