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Saturday, March 21, 2020

My Samsung DEX setup




It’s now day six of the government-sanctioned quarantine due to COVID-19. I figured what better time to update Techamuna? I decided to write about my Samsung DEX setup. For those unfamiliar, DEX is Samsung’s desktop extension on top of Android. It is an interphase that looks very similar to Windows on a PC. It’s been available on their top-end smartphones and tablets for a few years now. All you need is a Samsung device that supports it, a USB C to HDMI cable, a monitor, Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse.

My setup consists of a Samsung Galaxy TAB S6, A ZSCMALL 15.6” USB C Monitor, a Rapoo Bluetooth keyboard, and a mouse. To sweeten my setup, I also added a Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth Speaker, USB C Hub with HDMI, Ipega Game pad, Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick and a monitor stand.



Why DEX? 

You might ask why someone would need a setup like this, especially if you already have a PC or laptop. And you might be correct. But to make my point, when I decided to write this post, I thought of using my computer which I haven’t used in weeks. After turning it on, I took me more than 15 minutes just to get started because of all the Windows updates that needed to be installed. If I had used my Galaxy Tab, it would have taken just a few seconds, which brings me to my second point, updates. You usually keep your laptop or PC for 3-5 years before upgrading it, sometimes more. But you typically upgrade your phone every 1 to 2 years. That means your setup will be more updated. Not only that, using your phone as your computer also means you’ll always have access to all your files and apps anytime. You can even use the same device at home and work. All you need is another monitor and keyboard. I also need to mention that Samsung is not the only one implementing this desktop mode. Huawei, LG and even Google (although still in development) have something very similar. But in my opinion, DEX is the most polished. There are also other companies like Nexdock that make laptop-like shell to plug in your compatible phone.

From Samsung.com


What works with DEX? 

Once you connect your phone to your monitor, you’ll have an option to either just mirror your phone screen or launch DEX. Most apps will work with DEX, but there are still quite a few that are not compatible. Popular apps like Microsoft Office Mobile, most web browsers, YouTube and Play Store all work fine. Other apps will work but in a phone size window. The usual problems are with games. Most of the games I play don’t work correctly with DEX. The solution is to exit the DEX mode and just use the screen mirror function of your phone.

Logitech joystick works with Infinite flight


Verdict

The way Smartphones have been evolving, it’s not uncommon to see phones that have more memory than most PCs. My Tab S6 even has more RAM than my laptop. There is also the convenience of having all your apps and data wherever you go. I’ve been using DEX so much in the past few months that I rarely need to use my laptop. Most of the stuff I need to do is usually an app on my phone or tablet anyway. Having a bigger screen and external keyboard only makes things easier. It’s not hard to imagine that very soon it will be widespread to have your phone as your all-around personal computer. The technology is already here. We just need more companies to make it more accessible to everyone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Haylou GT1 Review




Are you in search for a decent pair of wireless earbuds but are on a tight budget? Perhaps you’ve been wondering how good are those cheap wireless earbuds you see on online shopping sites like Amazon, Lazada and Shopee. Hopefully, this review can give you some guidance on at least one of them.

The Good:

  • -          Price
  • -          Battery life
  • -          Comfortable fit


The Bad:

  • -          Micro USB charging
  • -          Questionable after-sales support



Specs:

  • -          Bluetooth 5.0
  • -          Touch control
  • -          Voice assistant support
  • -          3.5 hrs use, 12hrs max with 310 mAh charging case
  •              Price is between Php 700 – Php 1,000 (US$14-19) depending on flash sale prices


Help out techamuna.com, buy the Haylou GT1 here

Design and use:

The first thing I noticed with the GT1s was how small and lightweight they are. Comparing them to my already tiny Galaxy Buds, these are even smaller. One thing I can say is that the quality of the plastic is not up to Samsung Galaxy Buds or Apple Airpods standard. They feel cheap and hollow in comparison. However, at this price range, I’m willing to look past that, and after using it for about a week, it’s not that bad. One thing that I do like is that they fit very well in my ears. Since they are light and small, I could comfortably wear them for hours without any ear fatigue. Pairing is quite easy, not as simple as Airpods, and you’ll need to pair the right one first before the left. Since the instruction manual that came with it was in Chinese, a simple YouTube search will give you an easy guide to paring them. 



Battery life is also very good. I was able to use it for about 3 hours straight, and it still had not given a low battery warning. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to check the battery percentage.

Finally, we come to the sound quality. I’m happy to say that it’s okay. I would not call it exceptional or mind-blowing, but at this price, I was very pleasantly surprised. There’s a decent amount of base, plus the mids and highs are clean enough to hear the voice and other high pitched instruments.





Verdict:

Again, I was very pleasantly surprised by the GT1s. At first, I had a dilemma choosing between this, the Redmi Airdots and QCY QS2. What I liked about it was the size, as I wanted something small and pocketable. The final decision was made easy since I found them for just Php 700 (US$14) during a flash sale. I know that there are a lot of truly wireless earbuds to choose from, at least for me, the Haylou GT1 is a keeper. It has decent sound, good battery life, and very affordable.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Xiaomi Mi 9T / K20 Review







It’s amazing how fast technology advances. One segment where you can enjoy these benefits is in the mobile phone market. It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, you would have to spend an arm and a leg to get some of the features available on the Mi 9T (also called the Redmi K20 in other markets). 
After using Xiaomi phones for the last two years, I truly believe that brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, Viv0, and Huawei have given Samsung and Apple a cause to worry. Now let’s take a look at this phone and see what the big names in the industry have to worry about. 
Specs 
  • 6.39" inches AMOLEDFHD+ Full Screen Display
  • 6GB RAM and 64 GB or 128GB Version
  • Sony 48MP ultra high-resolution wide camera + 8MP telephoto camera + 13MP ultra wide-angle camera 20MP Pop-up selfie camera
  • Fast in-screen fingerprint sensor
  • 4000mAh High-capacity battery+ 18W Fast charge
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon 730 up to 2.2GHz
  • Price Php 15,990 (US$305) 64GB. Php 17,990 (US$345) 128GB 


The Good
  • Price The great full-screen AMOLED display
  • The very useful wide-angle camera
  • Fast Snapdragon 730 processor
  • Great Battery life 
  • NFC
  • Design and build quality
  • Price


The Bad
  • Camera quality looks over-processed
  • No expandable storage
  • Included case not very useful
  • Fingerprint sensor not very accurate  


Design and Features
The first thing you’ll notice when you unbox the device is the design and build quality. Xiaomi leveled up and I have to say it’s stunning. The model comes in black, blue, and red. I chose the blue after seriously considering the red one, but no matter the color, anyone can be happy with either. The finish is just stunning, and while the glass back gives it some heft, it’s the good kind with a solid feeling in the hand. Turning it around and you’ll be greeted with a “notchless” bright AMOLED screen. It’s quite refreshing not to see a notch especially after using the Pocophone for about a year. It made me realize how much I missed AMOLED displays. I was a Samsung user from the S2 to the S8, and I missed those deep blacks. The rest of the phone is nice and slim, and considering the large 4000mha battery, it’s pretty easy to hold with one hard. 

Performance
The Mi 9T is the very first device to use the new Snapdragon 730 processor. It’s one of Qualcomm's upper mid-range chip, and it feels very fast and snappy for everyday use. Coming from the Pocophone, I can’t tell any performance difference. That’s quite an achievement since technically, the Pocophone has a faster 845 chip. Even playing graphically-demanding games is no problem for this processor. 
Unboxing

The camera, on the other hand, is a mixed bag for me. Photos in bright light come out okay but I noticed some over-processing when you zoom into the image. I decided to use the Google Camera APK mod, and there was a significant improvement in the quality of the photos. The good thing is that Xiaomi can fix this in a software update and I have a feeling they will address this in future firmware rollouts. What I really enjoyed was the wide-angle camera. If there’s one thing I missed from having an old digital camera was the ability to shoot in wide. It just gives you so much shooting options that you wonder how you ever managed without it. 

Photo from the stock camera, it looks okay but..

If you zoom in, you'll see over processing

Using the Google Pixel camera app, photo looks much better

Zooming in, you can see more detail

Video is also very good. You get EIS, and you can also use the wide-angle lens for video. Resolution tops out at 4k, 30FPS. There’s no option for 4K, 60FPS. 
Lastly, the in-display fingerprint scanner is not as accurate compared to the old capacitive ones. Sometimes it would work consistently, while at other times, it would just refuse to register. Again, I’m hoping this is something that can be fixed with a software update. 

Verdict


By now you can tell that I really like this phone. More so since I was able to purchase it during a Lazada sale and together with a credit card promo, I only paid Php 13,900 (US$265) for the 128GB model. Considering its retail price of Php 17,990, that’s “bang for your buck” pricing if I ever saw one. And at that price, I’m willing to accept some of its shortcomings. Some of which can be improved with software updates, anyway. I think the days of the Php 50,000 (US$1000) flagship phones are numbered. Of course, some people will still want those, but the good news is that you don’t have to. You no longer need to pay through the roof for a phone that does 99 percent of what expensive flagship devices can do. Apple and Samsung, it’s time to level up!