2 Mar 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6: Is this the Samsung phone we have been waiting for

When it comes to mobile phones, I have been a loyal Samsung fan. I was converted after I bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 several years back. It was an impressive mobile phone and I am still using it. Since then, I have owned the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 1. However, my loyalty has kind of slowly faded. Even my wife who used to be a loyal Samung fan has moved on to Lenovo. Samsung keeps on bringing out unimpressive mobile phone models, one after the one,  which are not attractive nor innovative and yet, not cheap either. I can understand why hundreds (if not thousands) of people can wait in queue whenever a new Apple iPhone comes out.

I was seriously tempted to jump ship and get myself a new iPhone after trying out my sister's iPhone 6. However, the ridiculous price of the phone kept me check. The phone I was seriously considering was the Sony Xperia Z3. Two factors convinced me - the picture quality and the fact that it is waterproof.

A few days back I learnt that Samsung was launching their new phone which has been covered by a few tech blogs. There was none of the anticipation or excitement that accompanies an iPhone launch. However, Samsung may have finally done something right.

They unveiled the Galaxy S6 at MWC 2015 at Barcelona. Learnt that there are infact two models - the Galaxy 6 and the Galaxy 6 edge.

I guess Samsung has finally listed and there is no trace of plastic (at least not on the surface) on the phones. They are aluminium and Gorilla glass wrapped. The only difference between the two models is that the S6 Edge's screen extens along the edges on both sides which can be turned into informations strips similar to last year’s Galaxy Note Edge. The phones have 5.1 inch, 2560x1440 displays and is powered by Samsung Exynos processor (2.5GHz quad + 2.1GHz quad) with 3GB of RAM. The phone runs on the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS.

It has a 16-megapixel camera with the lens protuding from the back which somewhat spoils the design but I guess it is one of the technical issues you face when you want to place a high pixel camera in a thin phone (just 6.8mm thick). It also has a 5MP front camera with real-time high definition recording.

On the negative side, some features have been lost. This includes lack of a MicroSD card slot and the 2550mAh batteries which can't be replaced.

Not sure I am convinced though. Have to try it out hands on and look at the prices. Then I can finally decide.

View their launch here.

8 Jan 2015

Zummi - introduction to robotics

One of my friends has recently launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funding for their easy to learn Robot which they call Zummi.


Zummi Prototype

According to Fauzan Che Harun, leader of the team, he wants to show how easy it is to learn electronics. They use Arduino - a cheap microcontroller which allows you to do many things with just a few lines of code. Zummi uses code block programming and Fauzan insists that anybody can learn programming using Ardublock, which is open source. What is amazing is that they intend to make the design open source so that everyone can make their own robot and learn at their own pace.

Current add-on includes robot shooter, robot sniper, and robot servo hook with more add-ons planned in the future. You can get the bare Zummi for just USD50,where you get an unsoldered PCB and they have designed it with minimal surface mount and through hole soldering which can be a good way to learn soldering. You also get the casing design which you can print out yourself using a 3D printer.

If you do not want the hassle of assembling the robot, you can get the completely assembled Zummi for only US$100.

Check out the Zummi Indegogo site here.

If you want to learn more about the Zummi Robot project, go to www.zummibotz.com

6 Dec 2014

iLoop - multifunctional phone holder

I am sure you have had occasions when you wished that you could position your mobile phone upwards. This happened to me quite recently when I had a lecture and wanted to record a video but did not bring along a phone holder. IN then end I propped my phone up on some books. Through the recording, the phone slipped slowly and finally ended up pointing upwards.

That's whay I was quite interested when I found out about the iLoop Kickstarter campaign - an idea so simple yet useful and wonder why nobody thought about it. The iLoop is the brainchild of Andrej and his team at Provoco Studio. It is a silicon loop (80x80x18mm) and you just push you phone in to hold it in place (see pic). You can use it to make freehand video calls and simplifies taking group portraits. Apparently, the iLoop even enhances sound a little bit as well.


You can also use it with another loop if you want to position your mobile horizontally.


Another use of the iLoop, according to the designers, is as a stress reducer - you can squeeze it whenever you feel stressful.

Check out their Kickstarter campaign page. You have to pledge at least $10 - a great early bird offer, considering that the estimated retail price is around $20.


17 Nov 2014

Casio G-Shock DW-5600EG-9 review

This is the latest addition to my watch collection - the Casio G-Shock DW-5600EG-9. What I really like about this watch is the fact that it not very different from the first G-Shock - the Casio DW-5000C which was first launched in 1983. No Tough Solar, No Wavecaptor nor Multi-Band.


What makes this model different from other DW5600s are the gold buttons, clasp and the screen with a slight golden hue with a blue green light.

It has 200-meter water resistance and of course like other G-Shocks, very tough and take almost anything thrown at it. It is not that big (dimensions: Size of case: 48.9 × 42.8 × 13.4 mm) and fits my wrist perfectly.

I noticed this watch for sale on the Lazada site at a very discounted price of RM 213.85 (Approx £40) with free shipping. It is made in China and was posted to me from Hong Kong. It did not come with the original box but I have confirmed that it is an original watch.

Of course, the G-Shock I really want is the MTGS-1000D-1ACR Limited Edition metal watch. Totally different from this watch and feature packed.

13 Nov 2014

Xperia Z3 Compact: The perfect mobile phone for me

After shopping around a bit, I think I have finally found the mobile phone perfect for me. And you probably have guessed it from the title of this post.

Why the Xperia Z3 Compact and not the Xperia Z3? 

Well, I am not a fan of big phablets and a 4.6" HD (1280x720 pixels) display is good enough for me. The dimensions of the Xperia Z3 Compact are 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm as compared to 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm for the Xperia Z3.


Plus, it also has the same camera specs with its bigger brother - 20.7 MP main camera with auto focus and 2.2 MP front-facing camera. However, what I am really excited about is one unique feature - it is waterproof and dust tight (is that two features?). Compling with IP65 and IP68 - supposed to be the highest waterproof rating. However, remember to keep all the ports and covers firmly closed.

I also learnt that the phone's battery lasts for 2 whole days before the next charge.

The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Quad-core and runs on Google Android 4.4 (KitKat). It is available in four colours (white, black, orange and green) but personally I prefer white.

Read more about it here.

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