Fitbit Blaze
[USER EXPERIENCE] I bought Fitbit Blaze (without retail packaging) from Qoo10 about 1 month ago. Here are some thoughts on my second ever smart wearable.

Heart rate sensor: the green lights will blink non-stop
Good looking and fun!

I really like the looks of Fitbit Blaze. It is a personal preference, I asked a dozen of people if they think the same, the opinion is split. But I like it!

For me Fitbit Blaze stood out from the fitness bands and smartwatch market; it is made up of 3 parts, the tracker, frame and strap. A gentle push on the screen and the tracker will pop out. There are plenty of third-party frames and straps that you can get from Lazda or Qoo10 at around S$7+ for the frame S$10+ for the strap.

I think that is what makes Fitbit Blaze fun because for as little as S$50 you can get at least 3 sets of strap and frames. Straps can come in metal, leather, rubber (the default black) or Milanese. Surely a style for any occasion and the frame really adds a differentiator to competition.

The Blaze features a larger 1.25-colour touchscreen with a 240x180 resolution while not as high resolution as I would have like, is a bright display and some smart graphic design of the clock face makes the pixelation much less noticeable.

The only I didn't like the thick bezel at first but well, some things are possible to get used to. This is one of them.

The silver bumper and watch strap are of genuine quality
It's sufficiently useful but not as smart

As much as it looks like a watch, Fitbit Blaze is not the typical definition of a smartwatch. It is a fitness band with smartphone notifications (via Bluetooth) that looks like a watch. For one, there is no app store. Fitbit Blaze also does not allow replies to the messaging notifications like Whatsapp or SMS and only phone calls notifications for iOS devices, not for Android.

Software, it is really dull and there is little interaction. Here is a list of most common interactions with the Blaze;
  1. Hold up to check the time and step count
  2. Hold up to check notifications or when I get a phone call
  3. Startup exercise tracker, for example, Walk or Run to activate connected GPS
  4. Set alarm clock
  5. Turn on/off heart rate sensor occasionally
That said, Fitbit Blaze offers a comparatively excellent battery life to even the most premium smart watches out there. I consistently get 3 days or 72 hours of battery life before I get the low battery notification.

Some glaring limitations are a lack of built-in GPS, not waterproof and depending on whether you like them, eight clock displays might be too little. It is not possible to put up a wallpaper, which I really believe will make Fitbit Blaze a much more attractive proposition.

Fitbit fitness trackers track more than 17 different exercises but for a rather soft man like me, all I have tried are walking and running.

Tracker with rather chick clock display
My only wearable for two months

The only issues I have got so far, are the synchronization with the phone. The Bluetooth connection is great while connected. But once in a while, it doesn't reconnect and I have to reset Bluetooth on the phone. Well at least keeping Bluetooth always on the phone does not suck more battery life than I thought.

Then there is also this problem where the Blaze doesn't show Chinese characters unless Chinese is the menu language.

All said, Fitbit Blaze is very lightweight and for me, I almost don't feel like I am wearing a watch so it seems that I am more willing to wear for the day and to bed. Which of course is not everyone's preference. But it is for me and coupled with the excellent battery life and a design that I dig, it has effectively replaced my daily watch.

So S$148 for a Fitbit Blaze? It's excellent value. Despite being released more than 1 year ago, Fitbit Blaze is still available in retail stores for S$218, a recent price drop of S$100.

For a non-smart watch that looks great, with an array of cheap straps, decent phone notifications, comfortability and decent battery life, it's excellent value.
Screenshot of Samsung Pay Rewards page
[NEW SERVICE] I was eager to pay with Samsung Pay when I first got my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge last year. For a while, I scored cheap thrills out of surprise expressions of the cashier when I tapped my phone instead of a card with Visa PayWave and MasterCard PayPass (magnetic cards) and feeling so state-of-art about it.

Naturally, some months later I don't feel the thrills and as well started to forget about Samsung Pay altogether. Especially because not all cashiers are equipped with PayWave or PayPass, thus I always have to have the physical credit cards (those that are already in my Samsung Pay) in my wallet, and the first instinct is to draw the physical card instead of Samsung Pay.

Visa Paywave terminal: Image from uob.com.sg
So for months, I did not make a single Samsung Pay transaction. Until last week, I got a pop-up titled "Samsung Pay Rewards". Well hello again, Samsung Pay!

The program essentially offers accumulated points via each transaction regardless of the payment amount. Based on the number of payments made each month, the points accumulated will be given on a tier basis, for example, the start out level is Bronze, one tap gives 10 rewards points, no matter how much you paid.

I guess for consumers like me that always liked a little extra for my money paid, such reward program does entice me. That said, there are very little options redeemable with the Samsung reward points at the moment.

There are the Wheels of Rewards, pay 10 Samsung Rewards points to spin for a pair of Liverpool vs. Manchester tickets or redeem 600 points for a Samsung wireless charger or redeem 1,000 points for $5 Grab voucher. Decent, though it will take a while to accumulate the points redeemable for something.

What is surprising is that I did not see a single advertising material about this new Samsung Rewards program except in the Samsung Pay app itself. Probably coming soon then!
No Brand Multi-Function Jump Starter: Box
[USER EXPERIENCE] While owning a car offers lots of convenience at times, it may also be some work to take care of it. For instance, just 2 weeks back, my car battery went totally flat. So the natural course of action is to power up via another vehicle battery.

But then I recall seeing this car jump starter on Qoo10 and at the IT shows, so following the principle to buy a gadget whenever necessary, I invested. And it really work as advertised!

Back of the box
This one that I bought is a no-brand one, supposedly an OEM product, mainly because a search on Qoo10 shows many products that looked the same albeit with a slightly different specification. The differences are largely the battery size ranging from 20,000mAh to over 60,000 mAh.

The specification of the unit I bought is;
  • 68,800mAh
  • 4 USB ports (output 5V)
  • Short circuit proof
  • 3 LED SOS modes
  • Laptop Output 15V/16V/19V
  • Window breaker
Contents
There plentiful in the box. The start jumper itself, the connector to the car battery and an array of cables such as various types of power adaptor tip converter, car cigarette port and USB converter to lighting, micro USB etc.

The array of accessories gave me a hint the car jump starter will do more than just jump start.


Out of the box, my device is nearly full charged as I can see from the battery gauge meter to the left of the power button you see in the image above.

So I tried it immediately, connecting the blue-red power connector to the device, where it says "Engine Start", then to the car battery and viola! My car started when previously it's completely died.

I had to jump start again the next day to drive to the workshop and it works well again to prove that a small device like this packs in enough to start a car a few times!


The main objective fulfilled, I proceed to check out the USB ports and the flashlight and it's SOS modes. There is also an cornered edge on one end of the device that the user manual says is used to break the car window in emergencies.

I guess features that we shouldn't use often, at least we hope not.


All-in-all this will be a life saver when the car battery runs out and in some other emergencies. Though the build quality of the device looks below decent, thus I somehow have this concern of placing it in the car where temperatures can get high. That said, the specification states the operating temperature up to 60 degree celsius, I am probably paranoid then.
Yale Look Door Viewer: Box front view
[HANDS-ON] My brother-in-law acquired the Yale Look Door Viewer yesterday in an attempt to make his home smarter and as well monitor what is happening outside his door.

Yale Look Door Viewer is essentially a door viewer on steroids. Replacing the traditional door viewer, the device allows you to video chat to whoever is at the door via the Yale Look App with a 720p camera and live motion detection at your door providing snapshots/videos.

Yale Look Door Viewer: Box back view
It is an intriguing gadget because it seems to be a cross between a CCTV camera and a door walkie talkie you see at some condominium and on top of it, it offers video chat.

My time with the door viewer started with the installation process for the viewer to be mounted to the door. It is safe to say not many have the experience of removing the original door viewer. A few Youtube videos later, we have a gaping big hole in the door with the original door viewer removed.

We are eager to find out if the hole meets the minimum requirement of 14mm diameter. Luckily it does, and FYI, it's an HDB (built in 2015) door in this case. The next step is easier, the put the camera through from the front and tighten it to the metal plate holder with 2 screws.

The final step is to connect the physical monitor to the plate. Removing a small cap on the hanging wire, it will be connected to the back of the physical monitor.

Device attached to the door
Physical connection completed, it's time setting up the door viewer to the Internet. Step number 1, the Yale Look Door Viewer is in WiFi-direct mode, your phone is supposed to connect to it directly and so your router information can be entered.

However, we tried it several times, Yale Look App setup wizard could not automatically connect, we have to sort of connecting it manually by looking for a Wifi connection named "DDV-XXX" and apply the Yale default password, 12345678.

I suspect this could pose trouble for more than a few because the App does not say the device is Wifi-Direct mode and Wifi-direct mode might be a concept not everyone might know instantaneously.

Thereafter onwards, the setup wizard poses no more problems though it took like more than 5 minutes or so for the wizard to complete.

Front view of the door viewer
Finally, when everything is done, we await the moment of truth when we press the doorbell (I forgot to take a picture of the front part camera with the doorbell button on it). Viola! The moment the doorbell is pressed, my Brother-in-law got a notification on his phone.

Opening up the notification, the app will ask if you would like to pick up the doorbell and speak with the visitor.

However, generally, this process isn't as good as it sounds. First, the doorbell button is not noticeable, it is more likely the visitor will press a regular doorbell if there is one. Also if the door is looking out to the sky, the backlight affect the images taken, faces of the visitor might be darker than you expect. Finally, the times when the video streaming did connect, the images are rather choppy.

Security is other concern too because the door viewer is connected to the net, maybe not be much of a big deal since the camera is facing out of the main door.

All in all, Yale Look Door Viewer is does what it claims, you should be able to get good updates on what's happening outside your door and remote communication with the person at your door. The latter is somewhat not as smooth as I would have like and I get a feeling it is something that a software update will take care of. That said, I fancy the door viewer more like a novelty rather than something is that is actually going to be productive unless you are really interested in what's happening behind your closed door.


Updated 8th October 2017: Feedback from Brother-in-law, the door viewer works fairly well to capture movements in front of the door, he caught mostly flyer distributors. What will work better is that when the door is not close, no more images should be captured since it is then capturing of movement within the door way, which is not very useful.
Dreamcore One: Official Website Image
[NEW GADGET] Desktops seemed to be a thing of the past for awhile then it makes its comeback somehow through the gaming folks. It appears that they are the main type of consumers that go for Desktops today where laptops are cheaper.

That said, Desktops should still be an option for in an use case where one would bring out a tablet on-the-go and go back home to a proper Desktop because it is still cheaper to build a powerful Desktop than buying a top-end laptop and as well Dreamcore is probably another reason why you would want a Desktop, style!

Dreamcore is a Singapore-based custom PC shop. The box you see the image above is one of their flagship product called, Dreamcore One. The case features a compact design weighing 4kg (without the power adapter, the case uses an external power supply) and more interestingly an industrial outlook that would fit into any hipster home interior design.

I visited the Dreamcore booth at the recently concluded Comex 2017 and personally loves the Dreamcore One design.

Dreamcore operates a build-to-order model where one can customise order a PC with options to the cases, CPU, storage, GPU, essentially nearly all computer parts. Check them out at the link below.

Link - Dreamcore Website

Sennheiser CX 7.00BT In-Ear Wireless Neckband Headphone
[GADGET DEALS] This one is coming from media release; Sennheiser, the premium German audio specialist, announced the launch of its first direct-owned online store in Singapore. The new ecommerce platform offers Sennheiser’s most holistic of  consumer products, audiophile headphones, prosumer microphones, as well as sales exclusive models for music lovers, artistes and videographers. Even business communications solutions and mobile wireless conferencing systems!

APAC Exclusive: Sennheiser CX 7.00BT

To celebrate the store opening, Sennheiser Asia will be unveiling the new CX 7.00BT wireless earcanal headphones on the online store, which is only available in selected APAC markets ahead of the global launch at IFA 2017.

The CX 7.00BT offers Bluetooth 4.1 and Qualcomm® apt-X™ for true wireless Hi-Fi sound. The headphones employ NFC one-touch pairing to immediately connect to smart devices with multi-connection capability enables simultaneous pairing with up to two devices such as a smartphone and a computer. 

The CX 7.00BT provides users with a ten-hour battery life, which can be recharged via USB in only 1.5 hours. CX 7.00BT retails at S$239.

Store Exclusives: Limited Edition Sennheiser Mystery Bundles

More excitingly, from 12pm on 19 August 2017, seven specially-packaged mystery Sennheiser product bundles with an original Sennheiser warranty will be on sale! See below for more description of each bundle from Sennheiser media team.

Limited quantities are available, while stocks last. Excellent value from the looks of it, as much as 65% savings!

Mystery Bundle Categories Description Price
Home Recording Kit The Home Recording Kit offers great value with 70%
savings, featuring two mystery Sennheiser recording
products and branded merchandise: A Sennheiser
true condenser digital recording microphone paired
with a premium pair of Sennheiser headphones, so you
can have your mobile studio everywhere you go.
Simply connect the mic to your preferred iOS device
or laptop and you are ready to capture great sound.

This bundle is perfect not only for the everyday
musician, but also in the rehearsal room and
interviews for YouTube podcasts. Unrivalled studio
sound is now available anywhere, anytime.
S$299
(worth S$1,045)
Mobile Journalism Kit The Mobile Journalism Kit comes with a massive 65%
savings, featuring a Sennheiser mobile recording
microphone, earphone and branded merchandise.
Perfect for multi-location shoots and interviews, it was
designed for the busy journalist and budding digital
marketer in mind.

Containing the only essential accessories you need for
your iOS device when it comes to high-quality audio
recordings on-the-go, your Facebook, Instagram,
Snapchat and even webinar videos will now help you
capture only what you want your followers to hear.
Make lasting impressions with impressive sound,
S$149
(worth S$420)
Videographer’s Kit At almost 60% off regular retail prices, the
Videographer’s Kit is one value buy for new
videographers. The bundle comes with a rugged,
compact and versatile mic for great video sound, along
with branded Sennheiser merchandise.

Perfect for users of cameras with a lighting shoe
mount and external microphone input, this mystery
video recording microphone features an all-metal
housing and integral shock-mount for handling noise.
S$149
(worth S$352)
Singer/Songwriter Kit With over 70% off, the Singer/Songwriter Kit contains
one of Sennheiser’s bestselling vocal and instrument
handheld wired microphones.
Ideal for live stage performances, this microphone is
made in Germany and produces a warm and powerful
tone with exceptional signal clarity. Experience the
difference a German-made microphone can make.
S$39
(worth S$139)
Sports Enthusiast
Kit
If you enjoy outdoor sports or running marathons, the
Sports Enthusiast Kit is for you. Available in iOS or
Android variants, this bundle contains our branded
merchandise and a pair of sweat and water-resistant
Sennheiser sport earphones that offer maximum
ruggedness and durability.
These earphones will remain securely in place,
whether you’re running up a hill or sprinting to the
finish. Control your music and pick up calls during your run with an inline smart remote and mic on the cable.
Make workouts great again with your new sporting
buddy.
S$79
(worth S$212)
Home
Entertainment Kit
Love watching TV in the comfort of your own home?
Home entertainment just got more entertaining with
the exclusive Sennheiser Home Entertainment Kit –
complete with our most popular wireless closed,
around-ear home entertainment TV headphones and
branded merchandise at over 55% off.
Equipped with an ergonomic design for enhanced
wearing comfort along with state-of-the-art Bass Boost
and Surround Sound listening modes, this pair of
wireless cans will allow you to experience your
favourite movies and music from home sweet home like
never before.
S$189
(worth S$415)
Gamers-Only Kit Game time is your time and we know that. Want to level
up your gameplay for the eSports arena? Sennheiser is
the sound games are made of. Game developers use
Sennheiser recording equipment and Sennheiser
headsets to develop game audio.
The headset in our Gamers-Only Kit is engineered to
bring you the same high level of detailed acoustical
quality that the game developers intended you to hear.
Just ask the people behind Guild Wars, Hitman, Far Cry,
Assassin’s Creed and many other games. They all use
Sennheiser.
With a limited 60% off, snag a pair of our bestselling
multi-platform gaming headset for PC, Mac and PS4
along with a gaming amplifier packed with 7.1. Virtual
Surround Algorithm developed with the needs of
professional gamers in mind. Experience an immersive
game on a whole new level.
S$229
(worth S$534)
VBscript Icon
[CODING] Desktop programming is one of the fastest way to develop a program on a manged computer without administrative rights. For example, Microsoft Visual Basic Advanced and Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition.

They are not the best programming technology but they can do awful lot, likely to work on nearly all other computers without additional preparation, work straight out of standard Office and Windows installation. All the ideal conditions in a small office environment.

That's how I come across to write lots of programs this year. And today I am sharing one excellent resource on how to copy to Windows clipboard without Internet Explorer.

If you have arrived at this page while Googling for a routine to perform the copying, congratulations! I think you found what you want or rather, what you don't want; to use Internet Explorer to copy to clipboard. Somehow it is the most popular or if I may, the one and only option on the first few pages on Google.

The solution to copy to clipboard in VBscript without Internet Explorer, is on one of my favourite blog when it comes to Windows PowerShell. The ironic part is that it is not the content of the post that offered the solution. It is in one of the comment section further down the page.

Nevertheless, thank you ScriptingGuy1 and benj9 for the solutions!

Source: Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog Learn about Windows PowerShell
Set oFs = CreateObject("Scripting.FilesystemObject")
Set oWsh = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
SetClipboard "Hello Clipboard"
WScript.Echo GetClipboard()
WScript.Quit
Sub SetClipboard(sText)
Dim sFile, oFile
sFile = oWsh.ExpandEnvironmentStrings("%TEMP%")
If sFile = "%TEMP%" Then sFile = "."
sFile = sFile & "~SetClipboard.hta"
WScript.Echo sFile
If Not oFs.FileExists(sFile) Then
Set file = oFs.CreateTextFile(sFile, True)
file.WriteLine ""
file.Close : Set file = Nothing
End If
oWsh.Run sFile & " " & sText, 0, True
End Sub
Function GetClipboard()
GetClipboard = CreateObject("htmlfile").ParentWindow.ClipboardData.GetData("text")
End Function
Linksys Max Stream AC2200 (EA8300): In Press Release
[NEW GADGET] This one is coming from a press release which I thought is a decent tech buy. Technology may have dominated our lives yet not everyone is keen to understand it more. Here is one example, a less savvy consumer may be more likely to subscribe to a faster Internet subscription than upgrade a router!

If you are still a owner of the free router the Telco gave you, consider an upgrade. This month, the good old brand in the router market, Linksys, released a new entry level router, Linksys Max Stream AC2200 EA8300.

Linksys also sells the same router with different speeds. There is a EA9500 as the model number implies, a faster router than EA8300. The latter should suffice for most networking needs especially the EA8300 comes with Tri-Band, that should allow the network capacity to be spread out among the devices.

SingTel subscribers should look away since EA8300 does not seemed to support Virtual LAN, a necessity for SingTel setup.

Linksys recommended retail price at S$279 with Hachi Tech going for S$259. A AC2200 tri-band router from a reputable brand at these prices sounds as good as it can get!

Features:
  • Tri-Band Technology: Three dedicated Wi-Fi bands deliver combined speeds of up to 2.2 Gbps (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz + 5 GHz).
  • MU-MIMO Technology for Simultaneous Wi-Fi to Multiple Devices: Uninterrupted Wi-Fi for simultaneous power streaming, gaming, web surfing, and more—without lag or buffer.
  • Easy Setup: With the Linksys App, just plug and play, follow the intuitive directions, and enjoy blazing-fast Wi-Fi speeds in minutes.
  • Seamless Roaming: Always stay connected to the strongest Wi-Fi signal so you can move freely throughout your home.
  • Advanced Beamforming Technology for Reliable Connections: Focus your Wi-Fi signal and maximize performance and coverage for both 2.4 and 5 GHz.
  • Auto Updates Keep Firmware Current: Automatic firmware updates so your router is always secure and current.
  • Airtime Fairness Improves Wi-Fi to Wireless Devices: Improve overall Wi-Fi efficiency and reduce lag caused by slower Wi-Fi devices.
  • Smart Connect for Fast, Optimized Performance: Intelligently chooses the best radio band for each wireless device to ensure balanced and reliable connections.
  • Robust Security with SPI Firewall and DoS Protection
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0": At Popular Bookstore
[GADGET DEALS] I blogged about my new iPad Mini 2 purchase some weeks back. In that, I mentioned a strong alternative, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0". Then I happened to see it showed up at Popular Bookstore on promotion at S$468 for the WiFi version.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0": At Popular Bookstore
As mentioned in the previous, My requirements for a tablet are simple; 8-inch display, a minimum pixel density of 300, at least 2GB of ram, a recent mid-range processor, and decent build quality. Mainstream options will probably only include iPad Mini 4 and Tab S2.

I would explain my requirements a little.  8-inch is the perfect because any bigger the arms will be strained from more than 10 minutes. Pixel density is extremely important too because that's what we are staring! Any lower, pixels are apparent. Finally, I use the tablet for media consumption so 2 GB ram and the mid-range processor will do the job.
Compare iPad Mini 4 and Tab S2
So I did a simple comparison table. The one downside of Tab S2 is probably the battery size and probably the design, Tab S2 looks somewhat dated. Besides that everything else matched up. 

At the end of the day, your decision is probably the comparison might not be useful since the Apple camp and Android camp are rather divided. A buyer looking for an iPad Mini can consider the Mini 2 or 4 while the Android can plenty of choices. 

In this case, Samsung Tab S2. And even if dare, some shops in Singapore can go lower than $468 of course at your own risk!

Google Opinion Rewards: On Play store
[NEW STUFF] By chance came across Google Opinion Rewards app in Play store; I have earned quite a few vouchers from online surveys, so I had to give it a try.

What is the Google Opinion Rewards Android app does is it asks you a few questions from time to time and rewards you with Google Play credits when you are done.

The survey questions are short, for example, some questions I can remember "Have you used any of the following Google products in the last months?", "How likely are you to recommend the product to others?".

So the questions are pretty straightforward, probably takes less than a minute per survey. Google Play credit with minimal effort.

With free credits, I am sure you will be happy to purchase the app or game that you have been eyeing but aren't sure if you really want it. Case in point, I installed the App for around 2 months, I have gotten S$5+ already!
Refurbished Apple iPad Mini 2: Delivered!
[GADGET DEALS] My requirements for a tablet are simple; 8-inch display, a minimum pixel density of 300, at least 2GB of ram, a recent mid-range processor, and decent build quality. I wanted to have it to be a living room tablet and the occasional outing. Honestly, the pixel density requirement largely excludes my choices.

Here is my shortlist candidates; Samsung Tab S2 8.0, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi MiPad 2 or 3, Apple iPad Mini 2 or 4.

Only one in the six are released in 2017! That speaks volumes about how little manufacturers care about tablets these days.

Samsung Tab S2 8.0 is probably an excellent choice because, at $470 (Kaisa Mobile), it comes with LTE. Nvidia Shield has gotten rave reviews but it is only available in export sets without warranty. For about $270 on Qoo10, the value is pretty good and near stock Android experience is a major plus.

Xiaomi Mipad shares the same woes as Nvidia Shield where only exports set are available. Worst, they are come up to around the same price. Without Micro SD card slot and possibly Google Play store, it's not attractive.

Finally, the usual suspects and the manufacturer that sold the most tablets ever in human history, Apple and ultimately my choice, a Refurbished Apple iPad Mini 2 32GB Wifi.

Refurbished Apple iPad Mini 2: Looks absolutely new
In case you didn't know, Apple test and certify all Apple refurbished products and include a 1-year warranty (extended Applecare also optional). All refurbished iPad models also include a brand new battery and outer shell.

For a Refurbished iPad Mini 2 Wifi, the cost savings is S$60 based on the last known retail price but that said the iPad Mini 2 has been discontinued, it is only available as a refurbished set.

That's right I bought a refurbished set from Apple because of cost savings and the device meets my requirement to be a living room Tablet. It is the cheapest tablet in my shortlist and to me, the best build quality too.

Of course being a 2013 device, the iPad Mini 2 gives a slower performance and comes without Touch ID. However, 4 years later, it still has the same display as the iPad Mini 4! Very happy with my purchase!
Mediacorp Online Service: What an adventure
[USER EXPERIENCE] Lately I was called upon to help a friend replace his SingTel router as they just renew the contract and gotten a new router. This should have been a routine job except Toggle app on LG TV is not cooperative.

LG SMART TV's Toggle app doesn't load after the replacement of the router and doesn't show any messages. It's a grey screen and nothing more.

Some closing/opening later it is still as dead as it is. The option of uninstalling the app is as baffling as it can get, because I didn't manage to do it. A factory reset on the TV is the only solution in the end and thankfully it works. Having to perform a factory reset on the TV after a router replacement is such an overkill.

My friend, a big fan of LG TV, have another LG TV with a Toggle that doesn't allow login of the mediacorp account. The error message is "This device cannot be registered.". This has nothing to do with the router replacement since the problem has been there before.

If you get this message, it is might be due to the fact that one mediacorp account limits up to 5 devices to be login at the same time. It took 5 minutes of Google to find out, though I am pretty sure the error message could have mention it.

To fix the limit, one has to login to Toggle.sg on the browser, find the "My Account" link and the list of registered devices are shown there. One will be able to remove the older devices to make space for the new one according to preferences.

One last baffling complication; The TV which was factory reset appeared twice on under the account! I suppose each time a device login, it must be accompanied by a logout.

All-in-all, Toggle app does need more efforts be more robust, especially being the online service of our national TV!
Plantronics BackBest Sense
[USER EXPERIENCE] I am hardly into audio like an audiophile, that said, I have seen the wonders of today's audio equipment gave all consumers better music on-the-go. So I am happy that recently, a kind vendor from work loaned me a on-ear wireless headphone, Plantronics BackBeat Sense.

Head Cushion: Extreme comfort! 
Plantronics Extreme Comfort

Plantronics is best known for monaural headsets of the wireless and business/call center. Not many I asked heard of the brand, though we have been using their headsets in the office for a long time. The audio quality of those were impressive, so I wanted to try their consumer headphone too.

When I put on Plantronics BackBest Sense, I was pleasantly surprised by its comfort. I have a relatively big head; I could not fit in any of the helmets in the driving school and need to buy a size L helmet outside.

It's lightweight and have 10 levels of marks to extend the size of the headband. This mobile friendly on-ear Bluetooth headphone comes with memory foam earpads with the left/right indicators on it. Chic design and importantly I feel no stress from prolong period of usage. I had it on usually on my bus ride home, an hour long journey.

The Sense comes with a contemporary canvas case for storage, a 3.5mm audio cable (for wired connection), a USB cable for charging.

Plantronics logo on top
Features and Connectivity

Plantronics BackBeat Sense comes with some fun features. It has a sensor that would pause your music when you have them off and intelligently resumes playback from the same position when you put it back on. It's an amazingly convenient that I am puzzled why this haven't been more commonly deployed.

It also has a red button on the left that would pause the music and allow you to listen to your surrounding in at amplified level via the dual microphone. It's kinda fun and convenient to talk to someone with the headset on. Also people around you may think you are listening to music when in fact you are listening to their conversation, loud and clear!

As well you can pick up calls on the connected mobile phone, again without removing the headphones.

Other buttons includes a call answer/end button on the outside of the right earpad and a pause/play button along with track back/advance buttons on the outside of the left earpad. Volume is adjustable using a ring control on the left earpad.

On-Ear Cushion with Left/Right indicators
The Sense works on Bluetooth v4.0. It is capable of simultaneously connecting two Bluetooth source devices and switching between them. I have great experience by first switching bluetooth on my mobile phone then subsequently the Sense. Upon connection, the headset will notify via a robot voice that the headset has been connected to "Phone 1" and/or "Phone 2", the names for the Bluetooth source.

The Sense claims extended wireless range up to 100m instead of the standard 33 feet/10m with a common Bluetooth device although I experienced interference from to time to time on the road causing the audio to be intermittent.

Battery life is rated at 18 hours of music playback, for a daily 2 hours of usage, it last much more than a week before the next charge.

Highly recommended!
Sound Quality

Plantronics BackBeat Sense does not come with noise cancellation, a rather popular feature in the market, yet that's how I like it to be because I prefer to be more aware of my surroundings while on the road especially in public transport.

For someone who is in a regular company of audiophile, among them my father, cousin and friends, I like a balance of comfort and sound quality for a headphone that I would use for my daily commute.

The Sense is exactly that. It is a well-balanced headphone with decent bass and rather good clarity. For the time I have it with me, I played LalaLand OST nearly daily. It was a spectacle of audio performance given that it doesn't support noise cancellation.

I like the crisp piano notes, soundstage that reminds me of the movie and clarity of all the musical instruments playing at the same time, my top favourite is Credits track (track number 40). Someone in the Crowd, track 4, by Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno & Jessica Rothe is also incredibly decent experience.

If I have to be picky, I would say that I have to play at near highest volume as the Sense is seemingly rather soft even when compared the original earphones from my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. As well, at a recommended retail price of S$279, the Sense is pricey.

Besides these, I would highly recommend the Plantronics BackBeat Sense to anyone, except audiophiles, looking for a great sounding and comfortable wireless Bluetooth headphone. However, please note that Plantronics is releasing an updated version of the Sense, you might get this at a better price later or you might simply like the updated version better!
The ever popular Bugis Junction: Home of Challenger New Flagship Store (Photo from Capitaland web)
[NEW STORE] From the publicity agency today is Challenger's new flagship store at Bugis Junction! The new store at the basement of the ever popular shopping mall will span a whopping 14,000 square feet. A Olypmic Swimming pool is approxmiately 13,500 square feet, go figure!

For those that are familiar with Bugis Junction will probably remember an existing Challenger store on higher levels. Not sure it will continue to operate though the new Challenger store will be taking space not in basement leading to the MRT station but over at the space where the old Arcade is.

The new flagship store will feature 15 concept zones such as "Fitness Station" showcasing the fitness gadgets; essentially the typical splitting up the store to much organised shopping and try-out experiences.

I will look forward to some very interesting happenings like Samsung showcasing the Galaxy Plus VRcade, allowing shoppers to experience a truly immersive gaming experience with the ergonomically designed Gear VR with Controller. And as well DJI and Parrot, unveils its first-ever experiential counters in Singapore.

With this expansion, Challenger will now have 40 stores island-wide consisting of 1 flagship, 25 superstores and 14 small-format stores. As well to complement the physical stores, Challenger has a online store call Hachi.tech (which i never understand why it is never call "Challenger Online", a straightforward and relatable name!).
DBS PayLah!: Receiving payment with QR code

[NEW SERVICE]  This one is coming from a DBS media alert for a new consumer payment solution service adding an arsenal of mobile payment methods in Singapore.

QR CODE PAYMENT: HOW DOES IT WORK

Kudos to DBS for being the first bank in Singapore to introduce QR code payments locally! Though QR code payment is already widespread in China with WeChat Pay as I witnessed it firsthand on my work trips to Shanghai.

QR code payment is extremely easy to use and incredibly fuss-free (with the exception of Samsung Pay, which I will come to later).

To receive, just show the permanent QR code embedded in PayLah! app to the payer. Vice versa when you need to pay, whip out PayLah! app and scan the OR code for the payee.

DBS PayLah!: Making payment with QR code

QR CODE PAYMENT: CHALLENGES

It is really easy to use QR code to pay/receive but the biggest challenge here is surely the adoption rate of PayLah! DBS claims in the media alert that the user base is now 500,000, roughly 1/10 of our population. Truth is there really aren't many around me that uses PayLah!.

The love of cold hard cash is still strong, DBS said more 80% of the transactions in small shops are completed with cash, regardless the definition of "small shops", that really means none of the existing cashless payment products has captured the market.

Existing cashless payment products have fairly obvious weakness. Credit/Debit cards are not accepted everywhere and not everyone can own one especially the young. Standard Chartered-SingTel Dash made a huge push in marketing but it's not a mass solution. For the same reason why Apple Pay is never going to capture the mass market; NFC terminals.

The most common cashless is probably NETS, so any merchants to adopt the likes of Dash and Apply Pay mostly have to deploy additional devices.

There is also Samsung Pay, my favourite cashless payment at the moment. When there is paywave or paypass terminal, Samsung Pay is acceptable, there is no deployment required. But it too isn't common because then it is only limited to Samsung phones users, and only S7 and above are compatible with paywave and paypass.

All said. I see DBS PayLah! having advantages over all the above with their compatibility with NET terminals (if it is really all the NET terminals as claimed, they will have Singapore covered instantly without deployment of additional device), big customer base (safe to say most will have an account) and ease of payment (QR code will be easy and trustable).
Wavecom Digital Indoor TV Antenna ANT-T25: Razor thin antenna!
[EXPERIENCE] Mediacorp doesn't seemed to impress many around me these days, so I question my decision making ability a little (I thought Channel News Asia is not too bad) when I wanted a Digital TV Antenna in my room. Here are 2 things about this amazingly decent product!

GETTING IT IN

I got it off the back of first, good pricing and second, decent reviews on Qoo10. I happened to have spare Qoo10 coupon so I bought Wavecom Digital Indoor TV Antenna, ANT-T25 for around S$22 bucks. It is originally listed at S$35 (excluding shipping).

Back of the box: Notice it says the antenna should sticked on the wall
Having previously shop around for the Akira Digital Setup Box HDVB-T2A1 (Link), I am clear that no matter how decent the antenna is, an amplifier always give the connection a real boost. So this Wavecom fits the bill perfectly with an external amplifier.

Contents: With exception of two 3M velcro pads and antenna base
Out of the box, I find relatively solid quality parts especially surprised with the 3M velcro pads to sticking the antenna to the wall or window. While the antenna is really razor thin, as advertised, its a firm piece.

The antenna cable is a decent 3 metres long. The USB cable for amplifier and its coaxial cable running to the TV is both around 1.2m.

PERFORMANCE

The Wavecom ANT-T25 impresses me greatly, especially compared to my existing Akira. Here is my case. I have the Akira set hooked up to the living room Plasma TV and the Wavecom antenna connected to my Sony Bravia LED TV in my study room.

External Amplifier: Key component
While in different rooms, the antenna are placed in same rows of windows. Now, the Akira antenna has to be sticked on the highest area of the window in order to get maximum signal strength and intensity. The wavecom, on the other hand, works just by place the antenna near the window on the table! Though to get the Channel 8, the antenna has to be really need the window.

Antenna hold up by the base
I can also report that the Wavecom set works so well because of the external amplifier, compared to Akira's internal amplifier. When i turn off the external amplifier, the signal is almost instantly lost.

I highly recommend the Wavecom ANT-T25 if you have a DVB-T2 compatible TV else, this antenna should also work well with generic DVB-T2 tuner.
Samsung A5 @ Sunget Sungei Kadut Megastore
[NEW GADGET] Samsung is having a rough time now. Not only they are having problems with the phones , the Samsung Group CEO is getting into trouble with the law. Unfortunately, consumer electronics advances rapidly and it would not wait for Samsung to sort out their problems.

Samsung's 2017 latest A Series, Galaxy A5 and A7, gave the impression that Samsung knew that and they do still have plenty of technology in them. Here are a few things about the Samsung Galaxy A5 2017.

Samsung call this pink, Peach Ocean 
Solid and safe

Samsung's best bet is to stick to test and tried methods and create products with incremental updates and keep the features that has been proven to be crowd favorites.

This is what Samsung A5 is all about. Starting with the minimalism outlook with excellent grip made possible by the rear 3D glass. The available colours are rather muted too. In their fancy names, Black Sky, Gold Sand and Peach Cloud. Besides this outlook, the rest of the phone is probably a carbon copy of it's bigger brother, S7 Edge.

Starting with the IP68 rating, offering reliable protection against liquid and dust and as well allowing a bath for the phone when it's dirty. Yep, that's what I do, I wash my S7 Edge occasionally!

Then there is the Always On Display, a feature that is again only limited to the S7 Edge in 2016 albeit in a 1080p five inch display (7 inch for A7). Another of my favourite feature to be able to look at the time discreetly in a meeting!

The biggest feature from S7 Edge is the Samsung Pay over MST terminals, allowing Samsung Pay to be compatible nearly everywhere.

Powered by a 3,000mAh battery (3,600 mAh for A7) and equipped with the latest USB Type-C port and microSD slot for up to 256GB expansion rounds up an excellent mid-range Android phone.

Speaking of mid-range, up till this point, with the exception of the 1080p display, the rest are really flagship stuff. But Samsung A5 will be a mid-range more because it is running on Exynos 7880 chipset equivalent to a Snapdragon 600 series processor typically found in mid-range to low end phones today.

The front and rear cameras are both 16MP and offers excellent image quality as I tested albeit in a nicely lighted gallery.

Ocean Cloud, probably the prettiest pink smartphone around
Worthy Competitor!

The Samsung A5 2016, from last year, costs exactly the same as its successor here and that means the 2017 version is more competitive in the market. If you would like the top features of a Samsung Flagship but not the price, Samsung Galaxy A5 is an excellent choice.

The best $500ish phone at the moment goes to OnePlus 3T and the A5 is not far behind, only it's mid-range processor holding it back. Though there are just so many great phones out at the moment, even moving down the price range, there are excellent sets like ASUS Zenfone 3 or even Samsung J7 Prime is a very decent option.

A decent price at $548

Samsung S7 on SingTelShop Online
[COMMENTARY] Probably coincidentally, I was asked a few times this week if it is a good deal to get a particular zero dollar phone from the telcos.

The answer to the question usually depends on the phone in question. If you are getting a decent phone, then it is probably a good enough deal since you don't pay a cent apart from the monthly subscription.

Though in this relatively bad economy climate, there is a part 2 to the question.

Calculations with prices as of end January 2017
In the chart above, row 2 to 5 shows Samsung newest phones on sale in SingTel shop online in January 2017. Column B shows its respective prices with a SingTel Combo 3. Column C shows its retail prices in the non-telco shops.
 
Row 8 to 13 is similar to row 2 to 5 except that in column C it shows the approximate prices that you can resell the corresponding iPhone for.

I think the chart is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially you do a bit of homework and understand which phone offers the highest amount of rebate. And if you would like a budget phone, you are more likely to be better off with recontracting an iPhone, sell it and buy phone of your choice from non-telco shops.

In this example, you can also try to recontract a Samsung S7 due to it's higher savings against the retail price. But that retail price is what you can buy the Samsung S7 for and if you try to sell a brand new set outside after recontracting, you certainly get a much lower amount. iPhone has a reputation for better resale prices and take-ins.

I want to point out the retails prices are quoted from the trusty Kaisa Mobile and Mobilehardware Zone. They offer good prices and genuine Singapore sets.

Link - Kaisa Mobile
Link - Mobilehardware.


The box!
[USER EXPERIENCE] Recycling hardware always has that satisfaction that I contributed to green efforts as well as feeling geeky about it. One of hardware that is easily recycled is the disk drive in your unwanted computer whether it is a hard disk or solid state drive.

Mostly likely a 2.5" disk, it could then fit into Orico 2.5 inch SATA USB 3.0 Hard Drive Enclosure, my recent purchase!

Solid plastic
I bought the Orico 2.5 inch SATA USB 3.0 Hard Drive Enclosure (model number 2588US3) from Qoo10, seller ID: Goodmart for about S$10.90.

Simple design
It is a fuss-free disk enclosure that provides good value for its price. The good build quality and tool-free installation and a USB 3.0 connection are fundamentals to a quality buy.

As well Orico is not unheard of in Singapore, it's range of products like USB hub are available in Singapor Apple stores such as Nubox. Of course, for premium prices.

No tool required for installation

It doesn't look terrific on the inside but it's decent especially when the disk is loaded.

Proprietary cable connection to PC

The proprietary cable is probably what's not the best solution given a cable that would be hard to find a replacement.

LED when in use

In terms of performance, I am able to achieve the maximum performance or thereabouts of 30MB/s on my USB 2.0 port. Don't have a USB 3.0 port to try but if you are getting this inexpensive enclosure, optimal performance may not be your top priority!


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