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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Samsung LED View Cover for Galaxy S7


 The Galaxy S7 has been reviewed so many times that I decided to review the case that I got for it. Truth be told I actually got the S7 partially because of this case. It's so unique that I'm surprised that there are just a few reviews about it.

Design and features 

Samsung did something quite exceptional with this case. At first glance, it looks just like an ordinary leather case. But the magic starts once you get calls or other notifications.  Embedded inside the front cover are a row of LED lights that activates only when you get calls or notifications. Once activated you can swipe to answer calls, silence an alarm, check the time, and control various functions. You can specify how the cover activates and even set icons to correspond to specific callers in the phone settings. 










The rest of the case itself is well made. It protects your phone from almost all angles. There is even a sleeve to put an ID card. But what is most impressive is how the case is powered.  There are no batteries. It just uses the power from the wireless charging capabilities of the phone. Quite ingenious.




Verdict 

In case you're wondering, the Galaxy S7 is quite exceptional as well. The case just makes it even better. To put it simply, it enhances the functionality of the phone perfectly. 

There are just a few quirks that I wish Samsung would fix like compatibility with third party apps like Viber and Whatsapp. Right now, the case only responds to the stock apps. The price is a grievance too. At Php2,800, it is quite expensive for a case considering you can get a simple wallet case for Php500. With that said, it's still a unique case that lights up not only itself but also my face every time I use it.

The Good


Unique 
Looks
Build quality
 

The Bad



Price
Compatibility with other apps

Monday, May 30, 2016

Baubax "World's best travel travel jacket" Review



Have you ever had an idea for a gadget but never really had the means to make it a reality? Thankfully, with sites like Kickstarter, people are able to get funding for their bright ideas. One such bright idea is the “World’s best travel jacket”. Baubax is one company that had a simple idea of making a tech-friendly jacket fit for travel. Apparently, a lot of people like myself found the concept and design of this innovative project so compelling that the campaign ended up with a total funding of more than $9M! Making them one of the most successful projects on Kickstarter. So let’s see if it's truly worthy of its self-proclaimed title, “world’s best travel jacket".

Design 

I really love Kickstarter. In fact, this is the 5th time for me to back up a project. I was so onboard with the Baubax jacket that I ordered not just one, but two. It’s as if Baubax read my mind and ticked every box in my must-have list. Built-in neck pillow? Check! Gloves? Check! Eyemask? Check! Pen and stylus? Check! Pockets for every conceivable gadget? Check! 

Image from baubax.com



They have four stylish designs to choose from but I decided to order the Windbreaker and Bomber jackets. The thing with Kickstarter products, you never really know how it'll come out until they're delivered to your doorstep. Design-wise, the Bomber looks better. To me, it's lived up to Baubax promise. The Windbreaker looks like any other jacket that doesn't need the hype of a Kickstarter. Somehow, the expectation of a Kickstarter is a product that has some more edge to it. Groundbreaking, so to speak. In this case however, the outstanding feature of these jackets is simply that they look like normal jackets but with added features one would not normally expect from a normal jacket. Not convinced? Read on. 

Bomber

Windbreaker

image from Baubax.com




Buying clothes online is very tricky. There's that question of quality and size. Thankfully, Baubax has given precise size guidelines. Quality-wise, the material used on both jackets are actually quite nice and the fit and finish are quite good. I was expecting some quality issues but I was actually pleasantly surprised that it looks polished. 



While it does fit, it became a bit tight once the pockets got filled up. Perhaps getting a size bigger would have been better. 



Actual use

After waiting months for the jackets,  I was really excited when it finally arrived.  Here are some yays and nays of this product. 



The first thing I noticed was that neck pillow was not really built-in but rather one of those inflatable ones. The real test of this product is the inconspicuous and practical placement of the added features. So it's a nay for the neck pillow. While it does have space for you to store it in the hood, it’s just too heavy and feels awkward having it there. Instead, I just kept it in one of the pockets. On the bright side, the pillow is actually quite comfortable for an inflatable. 



Inflatable neck pillow



I was also skeptical with the gloves as they are just “half gloves” and does not cover your fingers. However, they do come with separate regular gloves which you’ll have to keep in the pocket. Folding the built-in half gloves feels funny. I wish they had thought of a better way to store it. With that said, I found the half gloves quite useful much more that I thought I would. 





The eye mask is built into the hood which was something I thought I would use a lot but strangely enough, I hardly ever use it. I also wish they had included a more convenient way to fold the hood.

microfiber cloth

Hood and eyemask




The pockets on the other hand are really great and you can fit everything from an iPad to your passport.

Verdict

So let’s get down to the big question. Was it everything I expected? Well, yes and no. Would I buy it again? While I do like it, I can’t help but wonder if I should've held out and waited for a possibly better, more polished version of it. Possibly even more designs and colors to choose from. 



Baubax hit the nail on the head in marketing a product with so much promise. But now that I have it, I also can’t help but realize that you could actually make your own travel jacket. It just won’t be as well incorporated as Baubax. If you search on Amazon, you can actually find travel jackets that have lots of pockets and you can simply just buy neck pillow, gloves, eye mask, etc. 



Baubax hit production and delivery delays which was a huge problem.  The five-month delay made me think twice about proceeding with my order. Especially since each jacket was a $125 investment. 



Despite that, I still find my Baubax really useful. And until such time I find a better one with all the snazzy built-in features that I want, this is my go to travel jacket. 


The Good

Build quality
Lots of pockets

The Bad

Price
Delayed delivery

Not all features were delivered

For more information and current pricing go to http://baubax.com/

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kata M2L Review



Kata has been on a roll lately after the Kata Box. They actually announced the M2L before the i3L but as I decided to review the i3L first, let’s now take a look at its big brother. It’s pretty hard not to notice this phablet so let’s check out the specs and find out what makes this bad boy special.

Specs:

5.5 inch IPS 1280x720 display
1.3Ghz MT6735 Processor 64bit
Mali T-720 GPU
13.3 MP rear and 8MP rear camera
16GB storage with micro SD
1GB RAM
Dual SIM LTE
WiFi bgn and Bluetooth 4.0
3000 mAh removable battery
Android 5.1

Price Php 6,999

Design and  features

At first glance, the M2L looks like your generic 5.5 inch phablet, very similar to a Galaxy Note 3 and there’s nothing really wrong with that. However, a closer inspection does show some other highlights. The phone is actually quite thin and light, the power and volume buttons are placed properly on opposite sides thus eliminating my pet peeve of accidental presses and despite being a big phone, it actually can be used with one hand. I would go on a limb and say that even with big hands, it’s at the absolute limit of one hand operation. But most phablets have the same problem anyway. The screen despite being just a 720p is actually nice and bright with good viewing angles. The additional screen size does make it really nice for watching videos and web browsing. Just like the i3L, Kata has put a slightly modified version of Android 5.1 Lollipop removing the app drawer and just making everything available on the main screen ala iOS. I actually installed Nova Launcher to give it a more Google feel but that’s the beauty of Android. You can simply modify or install any launcher you want. Also pre-installed are the usual Kata set of apps like MegaVPN, WPS Office, Kata Cloud, etc. At the back you’ll find a Dual SIM slot (1 regular and 1 micro), SD card slot and a removable (hey!) 3000mAh battery. You can find out more about the standard Kata apps by reading my T4, Kata Box and i3L review.








Performance

Having almost the same internals as the i3L, I was expecting that performance would be very similar. But I noticed that the i3L seems a bit snappier to use. Not that the M2L was slow. Navigating around the device was still smooth except for the when I tried lots of multi-tasking but it still managed to pull through with some delay. Just like I said with the i3, I think an extra gig of RAM would have made this phone even better.  Still, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. Most games played well and I’ll post some benchmarks and screen shots so you can see for yourself. The camera was also not bad, photos in good lighting conditions came out clear. However, for some reason the shots from the i3 came out better at least to my eyes. In low light though, it really struggles to keep up. I was able to test LTE using Globe and had no signal problems. Battery life was also pretty good, lasting a whole day with just WiFi.  Your battery life may vary depending on your usage. 









Dog selfie






Verdict

The M2L and i3L are basically the same phone with the screen size and few other oddities differentiating the two. While I personally prefer the i3L, you should ask yourself what you’ll be doing with your phone. If you’re a phablet person or plan to watch a lot of videos than I would suggest to go with the M2L. Either way, it would be a good idea to visit your local Kata store to give them both a test drive. I also have to disclose that after writing this review, there was an OTA update for the M2L and I’m hoping that this will fix some of the issues I had.  At least it’s nice to see that Kata is diligent in updating their products. Kata has also just announced their new online shop and they plan to have a sale of a particular product every Friday so make sure to check them out if you want a good deal.

The Good:

Nice Big screen
LTE
Dual SIM

The Bad

1GB RAM
Not as fast as i3L


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Kata i3L Review


After using the i3L for a little over a week, I can finally write my full review. I also have the M2L with me so I can’t help but compare the two. As I mentioned in the preview, I’m partial to the i3L because of its size. Anyway, let’s list down the specs one more time and proceed with the full review.

Specs:

- MT6735 1.3Ghz Quad-Core processor

- Mali-T720 GPU

- 1GB RAM

- 16GB Internal storage with Micro SD slot

- 5 inch HD IPS 1280x720 display

- 13MP + 8MP camera

- Dual SIM and LTE

- 2100mAh removable battery

- Andoid 5.1

- Pre-order price of Php 6,599 which includes a screen 

protector, flip case and 16GB OTG drive

Design and features

As you can already tell I really like the design of the i3L. It’s very simple but the size and minimal weight make it really nice to hold and use with one hand. Everything is within thumb’s reach which is just the way I like it. Personally, the sweet spot for me are phones with a really thin bezel and a screen size of 5-5.2 inches. The screen was a nice surprise despite having a resolution of just 1280x720, it was very bright with good viewing angles. Kudos to Kata for spending a little more on a nice screen. The only buttons you have are for the volume and power. Although I found them too close to each other. As a result, I would accidentally press the power/lock when I wanted to use the volume and vice versa. Kata decided to put their own Android skin which removes the app drawer so everything is on the home screen, very similar to iOS. Of course, the beauty of Android is that you can always just install a different launcher if you want. It’s also pre-loaded with the usual suite of Kata apps like KataCloud, WipeOut, Mega VPN, Netflix, FOX, PBS, Discovery, etc. Just like their T4, you can use the VPN to access US only content. The plastic back can be removed which gives you access to the 2 SIM slots both capable of LTE, a Micro SD slot and a removable battery (Yay!). 








 Performance

Navigating around the device was very fluid. At first, I was worried that the 1GB of RAM would hamper the device but in actual use everything was nice and smooth. I guess the combination of the MT6735 processor and Android 5.1 Lollipop seems to work well for this device. Games like Traffic Rider, Shadow Strike took some time to load but once loaded were very playable. Less demanding games like Swing and Grabtron had no problems at all. The camera was also better than I expected. In fact, photo quality seems better than the more expensive i4. Focusing was pretty fast with outdoor and macro shots producing very sharp and clear photos. Low light was a bit grainy but that’s to be expected at this price range. But overall more than you’ll need for those Facebook or Instragram posts. One of the main selling point for this phone is that it supports LTE. I was able to test it using Globe and so far 4G signal was pretty good. Unfortunately, my Smart SIM only supports 3G but I was able to get good 3G signal as well. Battery life was also pretty good. It lasted the whole day for basic calls and text and WiFi but once I used mobile data the battery really dropped. But that’s pretty common even on the high end phones. I have to mention that my unit was a demo and it had a “low capacity” sticker (not sure what that means) on the battery so your performance may vary. As usual I will post some sample photos and benchmarks so you can judge for yourself.




















Verdict

There were a lot of pleasant surprises with the i3L. Despite having only a Quad-Core processor and 1GB of RAM, the user experience was still very good. I can’t help but imagine how much better it would have been if Kata installed 2GB of RAM. Then again, I guess more power hungry users will spend the extra money to get an Octa-Core processor and 2GB of RAM. With that said, most users will find the i3L quite capable, with the nice screen and LTE. You would be just as pleasantly surprised as I was.

The Good:

Screen Quality
Android 5.1
LTE
Removable Battery
Size 

The Bad:

1GB RAM

Volume and power button placement