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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Asus Transformer Mini Review

A couple of years ago, I purchased an Acer W8 Windows tablet and it was a great purchase at the time. Then it was started to slow down and show it’s age. The 8-inch screen was also starting to feel small. That, or my eyesight must be starting to deteriorate. So I decided to get a new tablet. This time, I chose the Asus Transformer Mini. I was originally thinking of getting the Microsoft Surface 3 but alas, Microsoft decided to discontinue it. With the urgent need of a replacement that would suit my failing eyesight, I decided to get the Mini. Now let’s see if it was a wise decision.


10.1 “ 1280x800 screen
Intel Atom X5 Z8350 1.44 Ghz processor
4GB RAM and 128GB eMMC storage with Micro SD expansion
1 USB, 1 Micro USB and 1 micro HDMI
Fingerprint Sensor
Front 2MP camera
Weight 800g
Comes with detachable Keyboard and Stylus
11 Hrs battery life

Model T102HA
US$ 399 on Amazon

Design and usability

First of all, let’s lay it all out there. The design of the Mini is exactly like the Microsoft Surface, except smaller. Everything from the kickstand to the keyboard cover is the same. Of course, the Surface is more expensive so Asus had to cut cost by making it smaller and use a slower Atom processor. To be fair, the all-metal build of the Mini feels very sturdy and gives it a more premium look. Another place where Asus had to cut cost is in the screen. You only get an HD and not a full HD screen. On the upside, they make up for it with the quality. It is very bright and with good viewing angles and on a 10-inch screen, it doesn’t really bother me all that much. One place where they do better is that Asus includes the Keyboard and Stylus while Microsoft will charge you and arm and a leg for those.

The Mini is very light and I was actually quite surprised when I picked it up for the first time. Using it with one hand for extended periods is no effort at all. I also do like that they included a full USB and a micro HDMI port. The micro USB port is also great which means I can just use a standard phone charger so I don’t have to carry an extra one.


Like I mentioned, Asus had to cut some corners and one of those was using a low power Atom X5 processor. I wish they had used an M3 or even an X7 but I’m sure the people who will buy this aren’t power users anyway. I’ve been using this for a week now and so far, no hiccups. Browsing, watching movies, YouTube and MS Word were no problems at all. The 4GB of RAM helps a lot with multitasking but I’m quite sure that playing demanding games will be almost impossible on this machine.
I have to mention that the keyboard is quite small so I don’t think you’ll be writing your next best selling novel on this thing. I am however able to write this review with no problems. Another bonus is that the included stylus is quite good for drawing with only the only drawback is that it needs a hard-to-find “AAAA” battery. Lastly, the included fingerprint sensor is very responsive and useful. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of a rear-facing camera which would have been very useful for taking photos of documents and such.


I have to say that I took a leap of faith when I got this. Since this was a newly released product, I was never able to see it and there weren’t that many reviews online at that time. Several things surprised me with the Asus Transformer Mini. It’s lightweight, the screen is very bright, the fingerprint sensor works instantly and lastly, the battery life is very good. Knowing the limitations of the Mini this could be very useful for a student or for someone that needs a light travel sized 2-in-1 laptop/tablet. If you need more power I would suggest getting the Transformer 3 or Pro or even the Surface 4 Pro. You also get a free copy of Microsoft Office which is a great bonus on this little versatile machine.

The Good

Light weight
Bright Screen
Fingerprint scanner
Build quality
Keyboard and Stylus are included
Free copy of Microsoft Office mobile

The Bad

Small keyboard

No rear camera

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trivoly Smart Watch Review

Smartwatches are fantastic. They give us a taste of the Dick Tracy future we always dreamed about. However, there seems to be something missing about high tech wearables. If you’re a person who appreciates the engineering and craftsmanship involved in making classic mechanical watches in the league of Rolex, Omega, IWC (just to name a few,) then you would know what I’m talking about. I looked back at my then LG G Watch R and realized that this thing had no soul, no heritage and no long-term value. Even a cheap mechanical Seiko watch had more charm and value than a smartwatch. It was then that I made the decision to free myself from the shackles of a high tech wearable. Don’t get me wrong, I still think smartwaches are great, but perhaps for specific uses. I could still see myself wearing one when I go to the gym or out for a run. But for everyday use, I was going back old school. After resurrecting my old mechanical watches, I realized that I sort of missed being able to get notifications on my watch. So after searching high and low, I found a solution called Trivoly on Kickstarter. The idea seemed like the best of both worlds. Their slogan is, “turns any watch into a smartwatch”.  I decided to back the project and after a few months of waiting, I finally have my Trivoly. Let’s see if this unique little gadget lives up to its promise.


Trivoly 2

• Full fitnes tracker: optical heart rate sensor,
pedometer, stairs, sleep, sports (works with
Strava, Google Fit, Apple Health and more)
• Messages, notifications, calls, alerts
• Control your smartphone from your wrist:
Camera, Spotify, iTunes, SONOS
• Works with any watch
• Sleek, ergonomic design
• Hypo allergenic: certified skin friendly
• Water resistant
• Up to 4 days battery life
• USB-charger

Trivoly 1 EUR 99
Trivoly 2 EUR 129

Design and use

The concept of the Trivoly is quite ingenious. Just stick this tiny disk behind your watch and it will basically turn it in to a smartwatch. While you obviously can’t read messages on it, at least you could get a vibrating alert every time you get a call or notification. The Trivoly has two versions. One that only gives notifications and the other version has some fitness tracking features like a heart rate sensor and step counting.
As with any Kickstarter project, there are risks involved. The first snag was the delay of about 4 months from the promised delivery date. The second was the negative feedback and comments I was seeing from the first batch of users. When it finally arrived, I was really excited to use it. Unfortunately, it seemed like the negative comments I saw were true. First of all, it’s not as thin as I had hoped. It makes your watch to sit too high on your wrist. It’s also a bit uncomfortable to wear and it leaves a mark on your wrist. Secondly, the build quality is pretty bad. It feels like it was made in a rush with no regard to fit and finish. It would be a sacrilege to put this under a Rolex. Lastly, the Trivoly Android App itself is quite terrible. It only supports a handful of third party apps. There’s no support for Viber, native Samsung text messaging app and alarms.


While it may seem that Trivoly is a disaster, it’s not really that bad. To be fair, it does work as advertised. I was able to get call notifications, Whatsapp, Gmail and I was even able to control Spotify on it. Unfortunately, my stock messaging app for Samsung won’t work (you have to install a third party message app which I don’t want to do), no alarms which is probably one of the best features of a smartwatch and no Viber support. The heart rate and step counter are not accurate. In fact, the heartrate monitor would fail half the time. On the bright side, most of these issues are fixable if they update their app. What is not fixable is the build quality. I posted some photos to see what I mean. In the end, the Trivoly seems more like a prototype than a finished product. The makers of Trivoly truly have a bright and innovative concept. If they don’t straighten up their act, I sure hope someone else does.

The Good

Great idea
It works

The Bad

Build Quality
No Viber support
App needs improvement
Heartrate sensor does not always work

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review

Are you looking for a basic fitness tracker but don’t want to spend a lot of money? The Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 may just be the answer. You’ll get a basic fitness band with some smartwatch features, all for a very reasonable price. As you can tell from the name, this is the second generation of fitness trackers from Xiaomi. The first distinction is the OLED screen which is a huge improvement from the 3 dots of the previous model. I had ditched my Pebble and LG G Watch R and went back to mechanical watches. Yet, I still wanted the functionality of smartwatches without breaking the bank. Let’s see if the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 could fulfill just what I’m looking for.


.42 inch OLED Display
Shows Sleep, Steps, Heartrate, Time and Battery
Incoming call and notification alert
IP67 Water Resistance
70 mAh battery with up to 20 days standby
iOS and Android compatible
Between Php 1,400-1,800 on

Design and Features

Almost all fitness trackers look and feel the same. I mean you can’t really do much with a band that you put on your wrist. Just like phones, they may all look similar but there are still some design choices that make them stand out from the others. Xiaomi decided to improve on the 1st gen by including an OLED screen. This is a huge improvement from the 3 dots one would get in the previous model. At least now you can see your steps, heart rate, time and battery without the need to open the app. The band itself is light, fits well, and comfortable to use all day. One of the bonus features is the ability to get notifications from your phone. While it won’t display your message, at least it will vibrate and tell you if it’s a call or an app notification. I really wish they did include the option to display the message. The Xiaomi App is actually pretty good but a bit basic. It does show you all the important stuff like steps taken, calories burned, sleep data, history, notification settings and ability to set alarms which I really like. It does not have the ability to track different types of activities like weightlifting, cycling, swimming, etc. I compared step and heart rate tracking with a treadmill and my Galaxy S7 and it wasn’t far off.
One feature that could place the Xiaomi Mi Band at a competitive level along with more popular brands is the battery life. It is rated at 20 days. So far, I’ve actually been getting more than that. While Fitbit and other brands can only manage 7 days, by experience, the Xiaomi needs to be charged only once a month.


Fitbit, Garmin and Misfit may have the market share when it comes to wearables but they should start getting worried when the likes of Xiaomi are making good wearables at a fraction of the price. While it may not be as good as a Fitbit yet, it’s pretty close. The huge price difference plus the excellent battery life justifies its existence.

The Good

Battery life
Call and App notifications

The Bad

Limited activity tracking

Flash Plus 2 Review

Last year I reviewed the Alcatel Flash 2 and said that it was probably the best Android phone you could get at that price range. This year, Flash decided to break away from Alcatel and go on its own although it’s still part of the TCL group which also makes Alcatel’s phones. Their new phone called Flash Plus 2 continues the brand model’s name offering real value for money products. Initially available through online retailer Lazada, there was no way to see the actual phone in person so I took a gamble and decided to get one. Let’s see once again if I made the right decision.


5.5” FHD IPS 1920×1080 pixels Resolution at 401 ppi
ROM: 16GB/32GB high speed EMMC
End user memory: 10.4GB/25.4GB
MicroSD (up to 128GB)
Android  Marshmallow 6.0
CPU:MTK Helio P10 MT6755M
13MP Autofocus f/2.0 aperture CMOS. Rear Camera
5M F2.4 Front Fixed focus camera with LED Flash. Front Camera
Dual SIM LTE/WiFi/GSM Connectivity
AKM4375 Chipser+NXP9890 Audio Amplifier
Fingerprint Sensor
Battery: 3000mAh
Talk time: 16hrs(2G) / 15hrs(3G)
Standby time: 528hrs(2G) / 405hrs(4G)

Price Php 6,190 16GB/2GB and Php 8,490 32GB/3GB

Design and Features

Before I continue my review, I have to mention that there are two models of this phone. One with 16GB ROM and 2GB RAM and the other with 32GB and 3GB RAM. The model I’m reviewing is the 32/3GB model. I decided to get the higher model as I took advantage of a sale on Lazada. Design-wise it looks great, a big departure from the previous models. Instead of plastic, they now use metal components except for the upper and lower edges that house the antennas. A big improvement nonetheless and it does gives it a more premium look and feel. The back is still removable to give access to the SD and SIM slots and one thing that I need to mention is that you get two SIM slots plus micro SD and none of the hybrid/SIM configuration that everyone seems to be adopting. One thing that is puzzling is that you can’t replace the battery on a phone that has a removable back.

The screen is a 5.5 inch display with a full 1080p resolution. However it’s not as bright as I would like. It’s ok for indoor use but a bit hard to read outdoors. I had to disable the auto brightness and crank it up all the way to suit my needs. Also, the side bezels are a bit thick but still not a deal breaker. Performance from the P10 processor is actually good as long as you stick with the model with 3GB of RAM. Other reviews mention some lag issues with the 2GB model. I’m hoping most of them can be fixed a firmware update. I was able to play some games like Sniper 3D, Galaga Wars, Gunship Strike with no issues. Youtube, Spotify and other apps worked without a hitch. Multitasking is also pretty good. The 13 MP camera was a mixed bag. In good light, you can get really good photos but in low light, you can feel it struggle and most of my shots came out grainy which is to be expected at this price range. Video is limited to 1080p so no 4k just yet. I’ll post some photos so you can see for yourself. Battery life is adequate for a full day usage. Having 4G on standby usage caused a 25% drop. The fast charger is big help when you just need a quick top up. Audio quality is quite impressive using a headset and the speaker. Lastly, I have to mention one nice surprise, the fingerprint scanner works very well. In fact, the scanner works better than my Samsung Galaxy S7.

Front camera

Low light shot


All in all, I’m quite impressed by this phone. The Flash Plus 2 is one of the first phones to have Mediatek’s Helio P10 chip inside and I have to say that performance is quite impressive as long as you get the 3GB RAM model. Despite some issues with the screen brightness and camera performance, this is still one of the best phones you can get in the sub Php 8k category. One tip is to wait for a Lazada sale and combine it with a promo code to get more than 1k off the list price.

The good

Fast fingerprint scanner
Almost stock version of Android

The bad

Screen brightness

Camera’s low light performance

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.


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.

Update 1 Oct. 10 2016 - After just two months of using the LED Cover it suddenly stopped working. I tried to return it to Samsung but my case is still pending as they are giving me a hard time with my warranty coverage. I'm afraid to think how painfully hard it would be if anything would happen to my S7. Samsung might need to change their name to "Shamesung". 

The Good



Build quality

The Bad


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".


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

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. 



image from

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.


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

Delayed delivery

Not all features were delivered

For more information and current pricing go to