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Xiaomi Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones

Just purchased Xiaomi’s Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones…

I find it strange that this is only my 2nd Xiaomi purchase. The first one was a Mi Band 2.

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I am not an expert on audio quality, I’ll have to leave that to experts…

As expected from Xiaomi, the item’s packaging looks familiar. It does not have the firm/compact feel of Apple, but it looks good.

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Inside the box, there’s a very sort charging cable, different sized ear tips and a manual.

It would be nice if Xiaomi updates the charging port to a Type-C cable, but since most of the powerbanks in the market still use a Micro USB, it’s not that big of a hassle.

I was not able to test it with an Android device, but I was surprised to see it’s battery level when connected to an iPhone.

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Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Can sync 2 devices at the same time
  • White subtle LED (turns red when shutting down)
  • *it will dictate the phone number of the incoming caller

Cons

  • Volume controls are the top of the earbuds (can be difficult to reach)
  • No next/previous song button
  • *it dictates the number of the caller… Not the name, even if the contact is saved in your device.

 

 

It was love at first sight for my daughter so I had to get her Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 Wireless while she uses the Mi Sports…

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Battery life is so far so good…

My wife told me that sould quality is not as good as her Bose (she has the Apple Version)… But the Xiaomi costs less than half, and it’s wireless!

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PGYTECH DJI Mobile Adapter for GoPro

Yes I know… You can easily make a GoPro adapter for the DJI Mobile…

I’ve tried using an old iPhone case with some rubber bands… And a Styrofoam with AA batteries on the other side as counter weights 🙂

But I wanted something that will look better.

Found this from Lazada

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It’s not perfect, but it already looks way better compared to my iPhone case + rubber bands and styrofoam + AA batteries!

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Meike MK320 Flash for Micro Four Thirds

Yes, my camera needs a flash…

But since I’m now using an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (my daughter presently use a Olympus E-PL2), I needed something small…

After doing my research, I found the MK320 and bought one from Lazada at SGD 86.91.

Inside the box.

It came with a soft case, a stand, diffuser and a manual.

I have to admit that the box is well built… Plus points for me since it’s my first time to encounter the brand.

Features.

It has an LCD Display (with back light) and the usual buttons

And a charging port. You can plug a MicroUSB to charge your NiMH (as per manual) batteries…

This feature is a big plus for me since I will no longer need to carry a charger for my AA batteries when travelling.

Functions.

TTL, Slave mode and Manual.

It also has a “flash light” mode which is useful for your videos.

The Looks.

Size matters and I think this one is just fine.

I was surprised on how the MK320 took care of my lighting needs…

Battery life was a bit disappointing, but maybe I can blame my batteries for that.

Power was sufficient and it was ready to fire again whenever I needed it.

Highly recommended for those looking for an inexpensive flash.

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Anker PowerPort+ 5 USB-C with USB Power Delivery

Just purchased an Anker PowerPort+ 5 USB-C with USB Power Delivery from Lazada

I actually purchased it weeks ago, but this is the first time I’m using it…

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As you can see, my desk is a bit cluttered today.

You can actually see my Multi Plug Extension in the background…

Don’t get me wrong, I love using my Multi Plug Extension while travelling.

However, as new devices can accept higher voltage/ampere… A faster charger would be handy…

This is where my PowerPort+ 5 comes in… USB-C for my Nexus 6P and Zenfone 3 (and future devices)… Yes, my GoPro Hero 5 also uses a USB-C, but I have a few USB-A to C which should make the other USB Ports useful.

According to Anker (I’ve also sent them emails on this product), it also has enough power to charge a Macbook (including the Pro) and the iPad Air…

I’m not testing it with Ampere this time, but noticeably. It really charges my devices faster…

Zenfone 3 in less than half a day from less than 10% battery and less than 4 hours to fully charge my Power Bank (I needed 2 days to charge this using any of the chargers I have).

Physically, this thing looks and feels good… Even the packaging looks great!

It’s small, but it has a noticeable weight.

It’s tough to recommend this charger to anyone… Most people I know are just happy to use the free charger that came with their devices.

But once you’ve experienced using the PowerPort+ 5 USB-C… You will never find a reason to use your old chargers again.

I can even confidently say, if you use a a Power Bank that’s more than 10,000mAh, you need to have this charger!

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 (Keyboard and Mouse)

A year later, I received another keyboard for Christmas

No complains… Since I will be using the Desktop 900 for work.

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This is a keyboard and mouse wireless combo

Sadly, it will need a small USB dongle since it doesn’t use BT.

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Keyboard will require 2 AAA batteries.
Mouse will need 2 AA batteries.

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Both are included in the package.

According to Microsoft, batteries will last for 2 years.

I’ve been using this for more than a week and so far… Batteries are still ok…

It would be nice if Microsoft can show the battery life status from Window’s task bar… It’s are their hardware anyway…

Edges of the keys feel a bit sharp… Would be nice if they rounded it off a bit.

Space between the scroll keys and number pad is actually narrower than usual. There are times when I’m pressing the End key instead of Delete and the Insert key instead of Backspace.

Keyboard does not have an on/off switch. Although the mouse has one.

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You will also notice that the keyboard does not have LEDs to indicate CAPS, SCROLL and NUMBER lock.

Calculator, play/pause and volume keys are nice to have… Very convenient for those Skype calls…

I’ve tried a couple of keyboards on shop display and Microsoft’s Desktop 900 is the closest thing I found that has a “laptop keyboard feel.” I would prefer something that feels like Apple’s Macbook/Pro keyboard, but I think it’s too early for third party manufacturers to copy Apple’s “butterfly mechanism.”

The Desktop 900 is also quiet and the mouse doesn’t have an odd shape/size.

Highly recommended for office use… Especially if you need a number pad.

Cotton On VR

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Virtual Reality…

Everyone is trying to get on-board now…

And surprisingly, I was able to buy an inexpensive Virtual Reality headset from…Cotton On!

Since they we’re having a “Black Friday sale,” I was able to purchase one for only SGD 15.00 at Cotton On Vivo City

I initially wanted to buy one from Typo, sadly it was sold out!

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Basically, this thing is made of cheap plastic… Similar to those inexpensive ones you’ll find online.

It also uses a tray that holds your phone.

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For it’s price, do not expect external controls like you’ll find from a Gear VR or a Daydream.

But it isn’t that bad. It has 2 straps (one is over your head), it is also well padded, and you can actually make small adjustments to its lenses.

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Thanks to the lack of external controls, you will need to load your video and quickly insert your phone on the VR to use it.

Another issue I’ve found (with my 6P) is that the phone tray’s holder is hitting my phone’s power and volume buttons… I can insert the phone upside down, but the other side of the tray does not have holes for headphones and power cables.

The holder was big enough for my Zenfone 3 with case and the case was thick enough to protect the phone tray to press any buttons.

I honestly would have preferred Typo’s VR… It looks better. But functionality wise, it would have been the same…

Having Cotton On sell an inexpensive VR is good for everyone who wan’t to give it a try… Daydream looks great, but you’ll presently need a Pixel to use it and good luck in finding one now outside the US.

The Replacements: ASUS Zenfone 3 (ZE520KL)

That was quick…

Saying goodbye to my Galaxy S5 and saying hello to the Zenfone 3… The 5.2 inch version.

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Quick complain on M1’s website..

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They have provided very little information about the phone!

“ebrochure” also didn’t work!

Quick Google Search gave me all the information I needed

Released August 2016… From Asus’ history (on older Zenfones, this device should get Nougat)

5.2 inch super IPS+ capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Corning Gorilla Glass
Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 (Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53)
Adreno 506
3GB RAM
32GB Storage – up to 256 GB MicroSD
16 MP camera f/2.0, laser/phase detection autofocus, OIS (4-axis), dual-LED (dual tone) flash (2160p@30fps video)
8 MP fron facing, f/2.0, 1080p

Honestly… Processor and screen resolution looked OK… But the big plus for me over the close number 2 on my list was that this phone can take 4K videos, used a USB Type-C and has a fingerprint sensor.

For those wondering… Number 2 on my list was the Sony Xperia XA, #3 was the Xperia XA Ultra. Yes… You can call all devices on my list are fairly inexpensive… Some would call them “mid-range”! Would have chosen the Xperia if they used USB Type-C… Using a non-USB Type-C device will mean another cable when travelling.

Zenfone 3 Review…

I’ve made a 5 minute video on the Apps Asus pre-installed on the phone… It will also give you an idea on how ZenUI looks.

Removed the apps I didn’t need… Installed Google Launcher and Keyboard… And the phone is now ready for my hands-on.

What’s in the box…

Phone (of course)
SIM/MicroSD tray removal pin… It came with an Asus logo which is a very nice touch.
Cable – USB-A to type C, great since most of our laptops doesn’t have a Type-C port yet.
Earphones
Charger

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Hardware

This phone looks like the love child of the iPhone 6/6S and the Galaxy S6

 

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Looks really nice to hold, something I didn’t expect from this price range…

Only issues I can see.

1. Power and volume buttons have a noticeable shake.
2. Power button is located below the volume buttons… You will get used to it, but it’s a bit strange.
3. Capacitive buttons for the back, home and previous apps buttons doesn’t light up… Same as the older Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 2.

The phone can handle 2 SIMs, but you’ll need the second SIM slot if you want to use a MicroSD card.

Software

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As you can see from my video above, ZenUI animations make the phone look slow…

I’m also not a fan of their keyboard…

The device is running Marshmallow out of the box and I’m expecting this device to get Nougat soon…

Sadly, based on my interviews with owners of older Zenfones… No one received an OTA of their device’s Android updated… Security patches come regularly, but for Android version updates, you’ll have to go to Asus’ Support page.

On your first sign-up, the device will recommend you Apps to install… Some Apps like Facebook, Messenger and some ZenApps (?) can only be disabled.

My favorite ZenUI Apps… (Ones that survived the cut)

Laser Ruler – I’m questioning its accuracy, but it’s fun.

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Calculator – it comes with a currency converter (you’ll need data to use this) and unit converter.

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Camera

16MP camera at the back… 8MP camera at the front! Rear camera can record 4K videos and 60fps Full HD but you’ll loose OIS.

Front facing camera’s “beauty mode” will remind you of Samsung’s Galaxy S6, there will be times when your face will look like wax!

Compared to my Nexus 6P… The Zenfone 3’s camera is fast… Galaxy S6/iPhone 6 fast! Which again is a good thing thanks to its price point. Some reviews may give you actual numbers on how many milliseconds does it take to capture a photo… But for real world usage, the number’s wouldn’t matter much… The camera is fast and it works!

Like most Android devices, the Zenfone 3 came with a lot of modes built inside the camera… Favorite Camera Modes…

QR Code Reader
Time Lapse
Smart Remove – camera will take 5 consecutive photos and remove the moving things automatically.

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I would have loved to see a version of Samsung’s Dual Camera video since it’s handy when making travel videos.

I’ve created a new Flickr Album for all photos taken by my Zenfone 3.

After more than a week of testing… The Zenfone 3 (sadly) does not perform well in low light action shots… (Low-light still shots are ok, but it’s a totally different story when taking candid shots in low light)

The camera has this fast feel… But the photos turn out to be blurred… Compared to my Nexus 6P that captures photos slowly, but the photos turn out to be usable..

Then there’s this other issue when my phone’s camera will just freeze up (maybe Asus will release an update for this)… Only way to revive it is to restart the device… This incident happened twice during a party I attended which was very annoying.

***Update***

1 minute 4K video (3840 x 2160) will take up 315MB space.

My Nexus 6P which will only need 305MB

Wrap-up

Thanks to my M1 contract, I paid S$78 for this phone…

Without a contract, the phone is less than S$400…

Yes, I keep mentioning the price.

People looking for phones at this price range may be looking for a back-up device… A phone better than their entry level phones, a phone for their children or their parents.

For that amount you get a phone that looks and feels good.

You get Full HD Screen and a fast camera (see my comment on the camera performance).

For geeks like me, we also get the USB Type-C and 4K video capability.

I would have loved to see Qi compatibility and NFC, but at this price point, I can live without it.

The Zenfone 3 is good enough for most of you who wants to get the most out of their S$400!

I can’t imagine Sony, LG and HTC outselling this device this year…

How I wish Asus would support their devices longer… Maybe until Android “O” then I can truly recommend the brand…

Samsung gave the S5 Marshmallow… A device released in 2014 running on KitKat out of the box.

If Asus can do the same… I’d give the Zenfone 3 5/5! Even if I need to update the device manually. At present (only guaranteed until Nougat), I’ll give this phone a good 4/5… At a higher price point, this phone will not get anything higher than 3/5!