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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Broadlink RM Mini 3 Review





The Good
1. Price
2. Easy setup
3. Compatibility with  a lot of devices

The Bad
1. Works better with Amazon Echo
2. Requires additional setup for some devices
3. Doesn't always work

Verdict 

Do you have an Amazon Echo or Google home? Perhaps you want to control your TV or some other home appliance? Then this Broadlink Mini might be the device for you. I came across this device while doing a YouTube search on how to use my Google Home to do some home automation. The best way to describe this device is that its like a universal remote control that you program with either Alexa or Google Assistant. First of all, this device works better with an Amazon Echo. If you’re using a Google Home, it will work but it does need some additional steps. I suggest watching some tutorials on YouTube before taking the plunge.

The initial setup is very easy. Some devices like my LG air conditioner worked right away as it was in the list of supported devices. However, other devices like my Dyson fan had to be reprogrammed in the Broadlink app to think that it was a lightbulb and then teach it to learn the Dyson's remote control. Finally, you will need to create “scenes“ in the app to automate some commands. Then link those scenes in your Google Assistant App. It may sound complicated but after watching a few tutorials it’s pretty straightforward. With all that said, the RM 3 Mini is only Php 1000 (US$20) on Lazada. It’s really not much considering what you get. If you’re into home automation, I highly recommend starting with this RM Mini 3. It’s cheap enough that you won’t feel bad if it doesn’t work as expected.







Monday, May 21, 2018

Huawei Honor Band 3 Review



It's been quite a while since I did any review. My schedule has been so busy lately that I decided to change the format of this blog in order to get through the backlog. I will be making most of the reviews more concise and to the point. So here it goes.

The Good

  1. Price 
  2. Accurate heart rate tracking 
  3. Battery life 
  4. Health App

The Bad

  1. Not enough swim tracking information 
  2. No music control

Verdict 

My previous fitness tracker was the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. I really liked it but it didn't have continuous heart rate tracking plus the screen was too small making it difficult to read sometimes. Honor Band 3 does have it. In fact, I did a recent treadmill stress test and compared its heart rate data with the Honor Band 3 and it was almost the same. I also got this for the swim tracking feature. However, I was disappointed that it only showed time and calories burned. No distance or number of strokes. Overall, I'm still pretty happy with my purchase. For only Php2000 (US$40), you get a decent fitness band with a good companion app and excellent battery life lasting up to 15 to 20 days on a single charge. 







Friday, October 6, 2017

Xiaomi Xiao Fang IP Camera Review



With a lot of bad things happening in the world today, it may be prudent to invest in a CCTV security system for your home. While that idea may sound expensive, Xiaomi might just have the solution for you. Xiaomi has been on the market for quite some time now and proving to be quite a rebel, offering quality products at affordable prices. Mostly known for their phones, they also make laptops, routers, TVs, wearables and IP cameras and more. In fact, this is their third IP camera.

Xiao Fang might sound funny, but it means “small square” when translated from Chinese (at least that’s what I’ve been told). The design is quite literally, a small square. I have an existing IP camera, the Compro TN50W, which I also reviewed here. But it’s starting to show its age so. Taking advantage of a flash sale on Lazada.com, I decided to take a chance on this Xiaomi camera. Let’s see once again if I made the right decision.

Design and hardware

True to its name, the small square design is unique compared to other IP cameras. This design allows it to have a square and flat stable base, which allows for more mobility in different positions. The magnetic base provides additional mounting options.





The camera has 1080P HD F2.0 lens with a nice and wide 110-degree field of view. Together with an infrared light provides a clear image day or night. It also has other features like two-way audio calling, video recording via a micro SD card, Smoke alarm detection, and WiFi. All of which can be controlled by the Mi Home App.

Another bonus is the fact that it powers over micro USB, which means you can use a Powerbank and place the camera in different locations even far away from a power outlet.


Mi Home App and Setup

First of all, let me say that this was probably the easiest IP camera I have setup ever. It took less than 5 minutes from the time I found the installation tutorial on YouTube. With that said, all the instructions are in Chinese. Luckily, there are lots of video tutorials that are easy to follow.
Once connected, everything is controlled via the Mi Home App, which is available for both Android and iOS. Again, the app is in Chinese, but once you set it up, there are English menus. The app is pretty straightforward, and you can control voice calls, video quality, recording settings, etc. The smoke alarm detector doesn’t actually have a smoke sensor but what it does is it uses the microphone to pick-up the sound from your smoke alarm.





Verdict

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with this “small square” camera. For Php999 (US$20), it’s quite hard to beat! It’s cheap, reliable, and video quality is pretty decent. The lack of English instructions is a small price to pay for an affordable home security camera system.

The good

Price
Size
Micro USB power
Easy setup

The bad

Chinese instruction
No local support or warranty

Monday, September 4, 2017

Review of SmartGo Pokefi Global Roaming Pocket WiFi



If you travel a lot for business or for pleasure, staying connected is a necessity. While most telecom companies offer international data roaming, it’s usually a fixed amount and can be quite expensive after a few days of use. I have always wanted a reasonably priced and simple roaming data plan with a fixed amount that I could use when and where I want. If you’re like me, I may have found the answer in Pokefi. Check the review right here.

The idea

The name may sound funny but this just might be the traveler’s new best friend. What most travelers really need when they get to a foreign country is to be able to check email and maybe book an Uber to a hotel. Additionally, they may need Google Maps or Waze for directions, and use various messaging apps to keep in touch with people back home. These don’t require much data. But most telecom carriers will charge per megabyte or a fixed amount of unlimited data for a hefty penny. The reality is that if you need to do a lot of heavy data use, you might do so at your hotel or a place with a decent WiFi connection. This is where Pokefi comes in. It will give you 5GB of data that doesn’t expire. This means that you could use it for a year (or more) in different countries if you’re a light user. And if you run out, the reload rates are quite reasonable. They also have a 5-day unlimited pass option.





Cost

The Pokefi pocket WiFi device costs US$169 on their website (http://www.mypokefi.com) which includes 5GB of data. However, I was able to purchase mine on Philippines Airlines on-board duty-free for US$127. To top up or reload, you can use Paypal or credit card with the following rates:


US$15 - 5 day pass unlimited data
US$6 – 1 day pass unlimited data
US$15 – 5GB of data, 2 years expiry
US$6 – 1GB of data, 10 years expiry

Verdict

I’ve been using Pokefi for almost a month and so far it has always worked in the three countries I have tested. They support over 60 countries so check their website before buying. There were some signal issues but once I got out of the hotel or building, I was able to get a steady connection.

Unfortunately, the unit itself is very basic with only a power on/off switch and a signal indicator. I do wish it has an LCD screen to show more information. They have a web browser-based app to show more information such as data usage, signal strength, and battery level.



I was always able to get through a regular day of use with about 20-30% battery remaining. Their website claims a 12-hour battery life. I haven’t used up my 5GB of data yet so I can’t say how easy the reload process is. Since I only use messaging and Google maps, I plan to stretch the included 5GB for a long as I can.

The Good

Price, including Top-up or reload
Battery life
Coverage in over 60 countries
Connect up to 8 devices

The Bad

Weak indoor signal
No LCD information screen
Limited coverage in the Middle East