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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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Apple iPad Review (5th Gen 2017)




A few weeks ago, Apple announced their new iPad line which includes the current iPad mini 4 that now only comes in 128GB and the new iPad. That’s right, its now just called iPad -- not Air, Air 3 or anything else. What’s even more surprising is that it’s even cheaper than the iPad Air 2 and Mini 4. The price was so good that I ended up buying one on impulse.  Let’s see if the new iPad is really worth buying or something that’s too good to be true.

Specs:

9.7 inch Retina Display 264ppi
A9 64bit CPU
32 or 128GB Storage
2GB RAM
Touch ID
8 MP rear and 1.2MP front camera
WIFI and LTE models
Twin Speakers

32GB US$329 (Php 16500) 
128GB US$429 (Php 21500)



Design and Performance:

At first glance, the new iPad looks like the iPad Air 2 when in fact based on the spec sheet, it's actually the same size as the Air 1. The difference is just a few millimeters that you really need to put them side by side to tell the difference. It is also a bit heavier than the Air 2 but again, only by a few grams. I guess these are aspects where Apple had to cut some corners in order to sell it at a lower price point. 








Another apparent and glaring (pun intended) aspect where they had to scale back is the screen. It doesn’t use an anti-reflective coating and laminated display as the older iPads. What does that mean? Well, in a nutshell the screen is more prone to glare specially outdoors or under direct light and also you’ll notice a very small black space or gap between the edges of the LCD screen and the glass screen. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. If no one points this out, it’s pretty hard to notice. 


Small gap between the LCD and the glass



Also, Apple says that the screen is brighter than previous models so it cranks up the brightness to compensate for the lack of anti-reflective coating (at the expense of battery life). Again, it does seem to work as I had no problems viewing the screen outdoors.

So those are the negatives. On the plus side, the new iPad has a faster A9 chip which is about 1.6X faster than the old A8, faster graphics processor and 2GB of RAM. And I have to say that there is noticeable difference in performance from the older iPad models.



Conclusion

Apple may have gone a one step back, two steps forward with the new iPad. It may even feel like they are using left over components from older models. But with the improved performance and great price point, its good enough to overlook some of the negatives, which in reality aren’t really that big of a deal. Apple might just have a winner on their hands. I can see students and businesses buying tons of these. The price is so competitive that if you have an older iPad or Android tablet this might be a great time for an upgrade.

The Good:

Price
Performance

The Bad:

Design and screen quality (compared to iPad Air 2)
Previous generation touch ID sensor