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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Stirling Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review



The Good:


Price

Works as advertised

Useful remote


The Bad:


Difficult to get

No Warranty

No App or Wifi control


Price:


Php 2,500 in HMR or OLX


Verdict:

Do you hate vacuuming? Are you as lazy as me? Then maybe a robot vacuum might be just what you need? Stirling may not a household name. This is the first time I encountered the brand. Stirling is an Australian brand which sells washing machines, microwaves, and others home appliances. Their robot vacuum cleaners are overstock items imported from Australia and sold locally through warehouse dealers like HMR. I was able to get mine through an importer from OLX. Usually, the starting price for a decent robot vacuum is about Php 7-10 thousand so when I saw the price of Php2,500 I just had to give it a try.

In the box you get the vacuum, extra brush, charging base, remote and a sensor for places you want the vacuum to avoid. Setup is straightforward. However, I urge you to read the manual as the remote control setup requires you to pair it with the vacuum using a unique code.  This is very important because using the remote makes this vacuum more efficient. 









I’ve been using this vacuum for over a month, and I must say that I’m very impressed. Using it is very easy, it has sensors and AI built-in so it will find the best way to clean. While does like to take its time cleaning,  I discovered that auto mode works best at the same time using the remote to point it in the right direction. It does tend to get stuck under low objects like chairs if the height is just tall enough that the sensors think that there is no obstacle. Also, it works best on hardwood floors. One nice feature is that will return to its charging base automatically once its battery gets low or you can also use the remote. 

It’s difficult to find faults in a product that does so much but costs a fraction of the price of other robot vacuums. There is no APP or WIFI to control this device, and you can’t integrate it with Alexa or Google Home, but it does what it’s supposed to, which is to clean automatically.  It may not have the all the bells and whistles of a Roomba, but if you want a cheap and straightforward robot vacuum, it ’s hard to find something better than this.

Xiaomi SL2 USB Electric Shaver Review


The Good:

Price
Very portable
USB C charging
Easy to clean
Good performance
Wet or Dry use

The Bad:

Difficult to find
No charger in the package, just a USB C cable

Price:

Between Php 1,200 to 1,700 (US$23-32)
Shopee or Lazada

If you’re wondering why I chose the Xiaomi instead of going with mainstream shaver brands like Philips or Braun, I’ve been impressed with Xiaomi products so I thought I’d give their shaver a try. I need a small portable shaver for travel. I considered the Philips PQ206/190 and the Braun M90. But they were both more expensive and didn’t offer some of the features of the Xiaomi.

In the box, you get the shaver, USB C cable, cloth pouch and instruction manual. Everything is in Chinese but using it is very straightforward.






Verdict

After using this Xiaomi shaver for a week, I can finally compare it to the Braun Series 3 I reviewed a few weeks ago. First, the Xiaomi is approximately 1/4 the price of the Braun plus it is also smaller but less powerful. It is also a rotary style shaver vs. the foil design on the Braun. To be honest, I was quite surprised by the results. You can see the before and after photos below.









There is not much difference in the actual shaving results, perhaps just a slightly better shave using the Braun. The one advantage of the Braun is that it’s more powerful, so it takes less time to shave. I have to say that for the price, the Xiaomi wins with its versatility. Meaning you can use it as a daily and a travel shaver. I was so impressed that I ordered another one for my son.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Braun Series 3 3040 Review




The Good:

Reasonable price (for Braun shavers)
Easy to clean
Wet and Dry use
Built-in trimmer

The Bad:

Difficult to get locally
Cheaper alternatives are available

Price:

Php P4,200 on Shopee or Lazada
US$ 60 on Amazon

Verdict:

Have you ever wondered why some people use electric shavers? If you’ve been using disposable shaver blades for years, check out this review as it just might make you change your mind. Full disclosure, this is the first electric shaver I’ve used. Except for a cheap one I kept in the car for emergency use 20 years ago. I did a lot of research before deciding on this Braun 3040. I considered some cheaper alternatives like the Philips AT610/620 and the Xiaom Mijia Flex Razor. Since I needed a portable shaver for travel, I also bought a Xiaomi USB shaver. I’m still waiting for delivery, so it will be interesting how this compares to the Braun.








While doing some research, I found out that there are two kinds of shaver designs, Foil and Rotary. Most review sites say that one is better for thick hair, while the other is for light to medium growth hair. Most of it is confusing and some contradictory. But most sites agree that the Braun Series 3 is the best budget shaver you can get for less than USD$100. There’s also a consensus for wet and dry shavers.

Braun has a huge line of shavers, and it can be very confusing. They have a Series 1 all the way to the Series 9. One way to look at it is like buying a BMW. A Series 7 will be better than a 1 series. What you get will also depend on your budget. That is where the Series 3 comes in. It’s right in the middle of the line. So now let’s shave and see the difference. Check out the photos below.


Before




Half wet and half dry












After


After using it for about a week, I have to say I’m happy with it. While it does not shave as close as a blade, it’s close enough. One advantage of using an electric shaver is that you don’t need to worry about getting a nick or a cut. I preferred a wet shave rather than a dry. Also, you’ll need to do a double or even a triple pass to get a clean shave. The built-in trimmer also helps with hard to reach places. Charging takes about an hour and should be good for a week of daily use. One tip I can give is to use an aftershave lotion or balm to prevent irritation.

Call me a convert on electric shavers. It will be interesting to see how it will compare to the rotary shaver I ordered. Check back in a few weeks to see my review on that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Review



The Good

Value for money
All day battery life
Good performance
MIUI (surprisingly good)
Free case in the box
Built-in Spam blocker works 

The Bad

Micro USB charging, not USB C
Uses hybrid dual SIM 
Camera low light performance

Specs

5.99 inch IPS FHD display
Snapdragon 636
4GB RAM, 64GB Storage
Dual Hybrid SIM with Micro SD
WIFI AC, Bluetooth 5, LTE
Camera 12MP+5MP and 13MP Front
Micro USB
4000mAh Battery
Price Php 11,990 (US$220)


Verdict

I've been a Samsung user since the Galaxy S2 (except for a year using LG). I decided to experiment. Can I live with a mid-range phone? What exactly are you giving up when you don’t buy a 40k ($800) device? 

I had a difficult time choosing between a few mid-range devices like the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Huawei Nova 3i, and a few Xiaomi phones. I finally picked the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and gave up my Galaxy S8. Was it the right decision? Read on and see.

First, let's look at the design. The Redmi Note 5 looks nice, a typical mix of metal and plastic. Build quality is solid. Looks aren't a priority for me (since I'll end up putting a case on it). Side bezels are thin, but the top and bottom ones could be smaller. The screen is bright, and colors are accurate, outdoor usage wasn't a problem either. 


No headphones in the box. But you do get a free case.




Still uses Micro USB

Three things surprised me. The performance of the phone was fast. Everything was snappy, even quicker than my S8. The second surprise was the fingerprint scanner (again, faster than my S8). Lastly, MIUI, Xiaomi’s skin on top Android 8.1 was a pleasure to use. 
To be honest, I was prepared to hate it and had already decided to change it with Nova launcher. But after using it, I liked it. Ok, so it's basically an homage to iOS. But in reality, it’s very user-friendly and still has enough of Android to customize it to your liking. 
Probably the best selling point is this phone's battery life. Finally, a phone that lasts all day. To give you an example, I took the Note 5 off the charger at 7 am, used about 7 hours on LTE, 2 hours of Waze, the rest on WIFI, a few calls, Chrome, YouTube, Spotify and by 10 pm, I still had 49% left. Why can't Samsung or Apple put bigger batteries on their phones?

What do you give up when you don’t buy an expensive flagship phone? No wireless charging, no water residence rating, no Gorilla glass protection. The camera, while excellent, is not outstanding. Especially in low light. Check out the same photos.



Portrait mode


Low Light




Very Low light

So, to answer the question. Yes, you can live with this phone, with one caveat. One thing remains to be seen. The real test is if it’s built to last. I’ll probably be able to tell after 6 months to 1 year of usage. On the other hand, even if it doesn’t, you can buy 3 to 4 of these for one flagship device. If it breaks, buy another one. You'll still save money.