In The Wild… Windows Phone!

Saw this guy in the bus this morning…

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Yup, that’s a Windows Phone!

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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.

Qoo10 Finds! Asus Zenfone 3 Case and Screen Protector

Finally found a case and a screen protector for my Asus Zenfone 3!

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Coming from various Apple and Samsung devices… You’ll notice that finding a case and screen protector for other phone manufacturers isn’t easy…

Even the ever reliable i.Comm Mobile Plus (HarbourFront Centre) only had a tempered glass which means around 2mm per side of the screen is not protected thanks to the Zenfone 3’s curved screen (Asus calls it 2.5D Contoured Glass!)

Case is crystal clear which was thick enough to protect the rear camera hump… I chose the clear screen protector over the matte since it just looks better…

As usual, delivery was quick and items had enough protection to survive the trip.

 

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Highly recommended!

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!

Review: Allwin 0.2m Braided USB 3.1 to USB Type-C USB Data Sync Charging Cable For Phone

Bought a short USB 3.1 to Type-C cable as a back up to the standard USB Type-C to Standard-A cable that came with my Nexus 6P.

Personally, I find shorter cables more convenient when charging devices with a powerbank…

Why I wanted a “USB 3.1” to USB Type-C Connector (yes, the one with a blue insert)… Fast charging…

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Found this cable at Lazada… As usual, delivery was fast.

Product description states the the cable is .2 meters… But it’s actually an inch longer…

Cable feels strong… Especially since it has a nylon braid… Blue insert is blue which should mean that its USB 3…

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Sadly, after connecting it to my Nexus 6P, it DOES NOT charge it “rapidly”

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As you can see, max power my device is getting is 4.399 volts, but only 480mA max! (I’ve seen it go 600mA but that was for a very limited time only.

Other than my issue with charging… For it’s price, I can recommend it to others… But if you can find an alternate cable that supports quick charge… I suggest you go that way.

New Android devices that use USB Type-C support quick/fast/rapid charging and it will always be convenient if your cable supports it too.

Free Internet: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Paragon Shopping Centre

Date: 17 September 2016
Time: 1130-1200H
Device: Nexus 6P

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Located at: #01-37 Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road, Paragon Shopping Centre, 238859

Once connected to their WiFi, you will be asked to click a link to go to their Facebook page… Then start surfing.

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It was so slow, I made me rethink if I was in Singapore…

Ok… It isn’t that bad, it’s free and it works… Doesn’t even require you to buy anything from their shop.

If you’re a tourist and you’re looking for free WiFi to send a message someone… You can have coffee here (or stay near where you can get their signal) then send your message…