Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

tech4xmas Review: Xiaomi Mi Max entry-level Android phablet

Friday, November 18th, 2016

There’s been much excitement surrounding the launch of the entry-level Xiaomi Mi Max phablet some six months ago. Oliver Ong Chor Yew bought one online to review it below.

Editor’s note

Xiaomi’s reputation for selling well-spec’ed phones at super low prices manifests itself in the Mi Max, offering huge value to the consumer.

I tried out the phablet too and found it was indeed slightly unwieldy to use one-handed.

But its huge and bright screen is great for reading ebooks, watching videos and surfing the Web.

And the battery life is the longest I’ve encountered – only the ASUS Zenfone Max is comparable.

You won’t get the same quality and feature set of the Samsung’s unfortunate flagship Galaxy Note7 – but at only a fraction of the price, Xiaomi’s Mi Max presents itself as an extremely value-for-money alternative to grab part of the market share vacated by the Note7.

Hence, I’ve included the Xiaomi Mi Max in the tech4xmas gift list.

Read Oliver Ong Chor Yew’s review below.

The Xiaomi Mi Max fresh out of the box (left), and the home screen (right).

The Xiaomi Mi Max fresh out of the box (left), and the home screen (right).

My Mi Max is a 6.44inch large-screen phablet with android 6.0 and MIUI 8.0 interface.

Overall verdict

With the $259 price tag and the huge screen size, the Mi Max is a good budget phone for every use.

The camera image quality is quite good.

Fingerprint sensor is extremely responsive and the device build quality makes this phone worth buying.

It is powered by a 4850mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery which is a standard for mid-range to high end phone nowadays.

The Mi Max has a Qualcomm snapdragon 650 chipset with Hexa-core processor (4 x 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 & 2 x 1.8GHz Cortex-A72) and 3GB RAM.

This model I am reviewing is the 32GB variant which costed me S$259 on Qoo10 at the time of this review was written.

There is a 64GB variant with Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 Octa-Core processor.

First impressions

The device is quite huge and it is quite difficult to use with one hand.

The build quality is quite sturdy and it feels like I am holding a premium device.

Sample shot of the cloudy blue sky, taken using the Xiaomi Mi Max.

Sample shot of the cloudy blue sky, taken using the Xiaomi Mi Max.

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tech4xmas reviews for Christmas 2016

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

So Christmas is now less than two months away, this series of reviews serves up gift ideas for those planning to buy presents for their friends and loved ones.

A photo posted by John Tan (@tech4tea) on

Planning your Christmas shopping? Stay tuned for quick and easy-to-read reviews of some of the best-in-class gadgets available today.

With Christmas 2016 less than two months away, it’s a good time to begin planning gifts for those that are close to us.

So this series features quick and easy-to-read reviews of some of the best tech gadgets/products that I’ve personally tried.

Not all are the latest and newest, but they are what I think are some of the best-in-class in their category of products.

The reviews are meant to provide ideas and start you off, so do check out some of them online and in the shops if they are what you think would bring a smile to your loved ones this Christmas.

A photo posted by John Tan (@tech4tea) on

Dell XPS 13 notebook.

Have been using this beautiful workhorse during Strata + Hadoop World in Singapore. Surpassed all expectations. Love how it’s compact yet has two full-sized Type-A USB 3 slots & a Type C slot.

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Review: ASUS Transformer Book T100HA 2-in-1 detachable laptop

Friday, June 24th, 2016

The Transformer Book T100HA is an ideal laptop-cum-tablet hybrid companion for the mobile warrior looking for good performance, portability, connectivity and long battery life – all at an affordable price of S$499.

The ASUS Transformer Book T100HA 2-in-1 hybrid features the latest quad-core Intel® Atom™ x5 ‘Cherry Trail’ processors, Windows 10 (64-bit) operating system with Cortana, the voice-powered personal assistant, and support for Windows 10 Continuum adaptive interface technology.

The ASUS Transformer Book T100HA 2-in-1 hybrid features the latest quad-core Intel® Atom™ x5 ‘Cherry Trail’ processors, Windows 10 (64-bit) operating system with Cortana, the voice-powered personal assistant, and support for Windows 10 Continuum adaptive interface technology.

I used the Transformer Book T100HA from ASUS for two weeks as I went about between meetings and events on the road, to see how usable the hybrid 2-in-1 laptop-cum-tablet would be for someone constantly on the move.

Lighter & thinner than predecessors, the tablet measures 265 x 175 x 8.45mm physically and weighs 580g, while the keyboard dock measures 265 x 175 x 10mm and weighs 470g.

Lighter & thinner than predecessors, the tablet measures 265 x 175 x 8.45mm physically and weighs 580g, while the keyboard dock measures 265 x 175 x 10mm and weighs 470g.

I found the device ideally suited as a workhorse for the typical mobile warrior – it’s compact and therefore highly portable, and its battery easily lasts an entire workday before you put it to charge when you retire for the night back at home or at the hotel.

For leisure, you can simply pull the screen off the keyboard dock and use it as a tablet.

Typically, a compact machine like this – and even those super-thin but larger Ultrabooks – suffer from a dearth of connectivity ports.

But the tablet/screen portion of the T100HA comes with 1 x Micro USB port, 1 x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, 1 x Micro HDMI, 1 x Micro SD card slot and 1 x headphone/mic combo jack.

The ASUS Transformer Book T100HA sports a durable aluminium-clad lid available in four colours: Rouge Pink, Aqua Blue, Silk White and Tin Grey.

The ASUS Transformer Book T100HA sports a durable aluminium-clad lid available in four colours: Rouge Pink, Aqua Blue, Silk White and Tin Grey.

The keyboard dock has an additional full-sized USB 2.0 port.

This means you can connect a mouse, an external hard disk drive and a mobile device all at the same time if you need/want to.

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Review: Lumia 640XL Windows Phone phablet from Microsoft Devices

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

The 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL (S$429) comes with Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 3000mAh removable battery. Wee Wu Neo from The Neo Dimension checks out the affordable phablet from Microsoft Devices.

The Lumia 640 XL will be available in matte cyan, orange, black, and white.

The Lumia 640 XL will be available in matte cyan, orange, black, and white.

The Lumia 640 series features the first Microsoft-branded LTE smartphones since the acquisition of Nokia Mobile.

By the look of its price and hardware specification, the Lumia 640 series exhibits almost identical performance to the Android Motorola MotoG.

The Lumia 640 XL with its 3000mAh removable battery. Photo credit: Wee Wu Neo.

The Lumia 640 XL with its 3000mAh removable battery. Photo credit: Wee Wu Neo.

This review covers the Lumia 640 XL, the Windows Phone phablet in the Lumia 640 series.

Design and Build

The Lumia 640 XL measures 157.9 x 81.5 x 9.0mm and weighs 171g.

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Review: Seagate NAS 4-bay 20TB Network Attached Storage for businesses

Monday, May 11th, 2015

If you’re a small growing business looking for an easy-to-use and affordable NAS storage solution that keeps your data secure and always available, this Seagate NAS 4-bay 20TB (S$1,899) could well be your answer.

Seagate NAS 4-Bay 20TB.

Seagate NAS 4-Bay 20TB.

The NAS 4-bay 20TB is one of many configurations (see sidebar below) that Seagate introduced as part of its Network Attached Storage (NAS) product line refresh that saw the replacement of its previous Business Storage series with the NAS and NAS Pro lines of product.

In the box: Seagate NAS, power supply cable, Ethernet cable, Quick Start Guide.

In the box: Seagate NAS, power supply cable, Ethernet cable, Quick Start Guide.

With pre-installed hard disk drives (HDD) and pre-configured RAID disks, as well as its latest operating system – NAS 0S 4 – Seagate offers storage simplicity for SOHOs (Small Office Home Office) and small businesses with ease of use and private cloud access over the Internet.

The ease of use and set-up is particularly attractive to small companies without dedicated IT resources, while the cloud access is especially useful for organisations with mobile workers requiring secure remote access to vital documents, data and resources from the field.

Connection is easy: Simply connect the Ethernet cable to the NAS and the router. Then connect the power cable to the NAS and the outlet and you're ready to go. You can connect a second Ethernet cable for redundancy or performance.

Connection is easy: Simply connect the Ethernet cable to the NAS and the router. Then connect the power cable to the NAS and the outlet and you’re ready to go. You can connect a second Ethernet cable for redundancy or performance.

The easy-to-navigate HTML user-interface is driven by the new LINUX-based NAS OS 4, which now comes with a redesigned Device Manager, enabling users to manage preferences and configure settings from a single location.

It includes useful features such as App Manager and Seagate Sdrive for remote access – some of the most demanded features of NAS users in general.

I found the NAS device management effortless from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone.

I was also impressed by how silent the internal fan of the NAS was – you can just leave the NAS on and hardly notice any noise.

My take:

“Seagate’s NAS 4-bay 20TB offers an excellent affordable and reliable network attached storage solution for home and small business businesses with up to 25 employees – with easy set-up and usage, as well as cloud access from anywhere with an Internet connection, from mobile devices including tablets and smartphones.”

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Review: ASUS Fonepad 8 (FE380CG) Android phablet

Monday, February 16th, 2015

The ASUS Fonepad 8 is one of the largest and most affordable phablet on the market. At only S$299, it provides you with all the features and functionality that you need out of a tablet/phone combo.

ASUS designed the Fonepad series with affordability in mind. The Fonepad 6 and Fonepad 7 were released in 2013, while the Fonepad 8 were launched in late 2014.

ASUS designed the Fonepad series with affordability in mind. The Fonepad 6 and Fonepad 7 were released in 2013, while the Fonepad 8 were launched in late 2014.

The dual-SIM gives you much needed flexibility especially when you’re travelling and wants to slot in a cheap local SIM, but still wants to remain contactable on your regular number.

Two features which impressed me was the dual-SIM capability and long battery life of the ASUS Fonepad 8 phablet.

It is easy to slot in/out the two micro-SIM cards as both slots are in a special compartment on the left side of the phablet, along with the microSD card slot, that allows you to expand the 8 or 16GB internal storage of the Fonepad 8 by up to another 64GB.

Top right corner of the Fonepad 8.

Top right corner of the Fonepad 8.

The phone supports 3G for both SIM cards but not 4G/LTE.

I found usage of dual SIM straightforward like in other dual-SIM Android phones.

The internal, non-removable 4,000mAh battery provided long hours of usage without worry of running dry.

Even with intense usage and video viewing, the Fonepad 8 easily lasted an entire day and then some.

On my more typical day, there was usually at least 20-30 percent battery left at the end of the day.

Fonepad 8 is available in four colors—black, white, red and gold. White and gold models include white bezels, while the black and red models feature a black fascia. Out of the box, the pre-loaded ZenUI color scheme matches the device’s back cover color, which is plastic and features a non-slip diamond-pattern coating.

Fonepad 8 is available in four colours—black, white, red and gold. White and gold models include white bezels, while the black and red models feature a black fascia. Out of the box, the pre-loaded ZenUI color scheme matches the device’s back cover color, which is plastic and features a non-slip diamond-pattern coating.

ASUS rates the battery life to 14.2 hours of Wi-Fi Web browsing, 12 hours of HD video playback, and 21 hours of 3G talk time.

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Review: ASUS PadFone S Android smartphone cum tablet combo

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

As a pioneer of 2-in-1 mobile devices, ASUS offers with the PadFone S the portability of the smartphone and the larger screen of a tablet by selling both at the price of one device.

Two colours are available for the ASUS PadFone S - Dark Ruby (shown above) and Pure White.

Two colours are available for the ASUS PadFone S – Dark Ruby (shown above) and Pure White. Photo: ASUS Singapore.

The PadFone S was launched in Singapore on 14 October, 2014 together with 11 other new mobile and computing products.

The PadFone S is a 5-inch Android smartphone that comes with a PadFone S Station.

The PadFone S I reviewed was the Pure White version. Normal retail price: S$449.

The PadFone S I reviewed was the Pure White version. Normal retail price: S$449.

You can use the PadFone S on its own like any smartphone or you can slot it into the back of the PadFone S Station and use the combination as an 8.9-inch tablet, leveraging the larger backlit Super IPS display of the Station.

You can’t use the PadFone S Station on its own though, because it is simply a dumb display with no computer processors within.

Actually, the Station has more – it also includes a 4990mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable) battery to provide the larger energy demands of powering a larger display.

The larger battery can also be used to charge the PadFone S to extend its battery life from 22 hours talk-time (3G) to 64 hours.

The combined PadFone S in the Station felt a little bit hefty though, at a combined weight of 664g.

My view:
I found the ASUS PadFone S provided me with the portability of a smartphone and – only when I need it – a truely larger display and usability of a tablet –> all at the price of a single device (or less).

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Review: LG G3 Android KitKat smartphone with QHD display

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Following the success of its well-received LG G2, I like the large stunning QHD display of the LG G3 and totally enjoyed using the flagship smartphone over the past few weeks.

The LG G3 is available in Singapore in 32GB (S$868) and 64GB (S$928) models.

The LG G3 is available in Singapore in 32GB (S$868) and 64GB (S$928) models.

The LG G3 is one of the first smartphones to sport a 5.5-inch Quad HD display – other makers are only now beginning to ship QHD on their flagships.

Top edge of the LG G3.

Top edge of the LG G3.

The 538 ppi resolution of the G3 is one of the highest in the market now and is equivalent to four times the resolution of HD and almost two times that of a Full HD display.

The sharper detail was remarkable especially when viewing 4K video on the display. Even Full HD video looked sharper and clearer.

The LG G3 is one of the best smartphones that I’ve used that are currently on the market. Fast and smooth, with great display and excellent camera.

The other thing that impressed me was the camera (sample shots at the end of this review).

The 13-megapixel rear camera comes with OIS+ (Optical Image Stabiliser Plus) and uses an innovative Laser Auto Focus for faster and more accurate focus on the subject.

The LG G3 comes in five colours: Metallic Black, Silk White and Shine Gold, Moon Violet and Burgundy Red.

The LG G3 comes in five colours: Metallic Black, Silk White and Shine Gold, Moon Violet and Burgundy Red.

The result is sharper photos and a faster response time.

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Review: Logitech X300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

The Logitech X300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker is a wireless Bluetooth speaker designed for both mobility and performance. It is affordably priced at S$99 in Singapore.

Logitech X300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker

Logitech X300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker

Despite its diminutive size, I found that the X300 speaker exhibited wide-range sound that easily fills a room.

That’s due to the way the drivers have been angled facing upward and out to produce a more expansive sound spectrum.

The X300 can also be placed upright. Photo: Logitech SG.

The X300 can also be placed upright. Photo: Logitech SG.

It delivers a deep and precise bass response, and detailed mid- and high-range sound.

You can also position the speaker upright in case of space constraints.

As with other Logitech Bluetooth speakers that I have tried in the past, connecting the speaker to a Bluetooth-enabled device and playing music streamed from the device is a piece of cake.

Simply hold down the Bluetooth button on top of the X300 for a few seconds for the initial pairing.

Make sure the source device has its Bluetooth turned on and is scanning for devices.

A blue light below the power button behind the speaker will begin to flash until it has paired with a device, in which case, the light will become solid.

I had no trouble pairing the X300 to my GALAXY S5 and iPad mini.

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Review: LG 79UB980T ULTRA HD (4K) TV with intuitive webOS UI

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

LG goes back to basics with new webOS user interface, marrying intuitive ease-of-use with good image quality. The LG 79UB980T has an RRP of S$14,999.

The LG 79UB980T uses a 3840 x 2160 resolution In-Plane Switching (IPS) 4K panel that reproduce vivid and accurate colors. Its wide viewing angle offers a good viewing from nearly any vantage point.

The LG 79UB980T uses a 3840 x 2160 resolution In-Plane Switching (IPS) 4K panel that reproduce vivid and accurate colors. Its wide viewing angle offers a good viewing from nearly any vantage point.

First launched in Singapore back in end May as part of LG’s 2014 ULTRA HD (4K) TV lineup, the 79UB980T offers stunning display and easy connectivity, yet keeps it simple for users to watch the content that they desire – be it live TV, Blu-ray movies, 4K or upscaled 4K content, YouTube videos, and game consoles.

You can Skype using the 8-megapixel built-in camera.

The LG 79UB980T user interface uses the webOS platform that the Korean company bought from HP in March last year.

The webOS platform simplifies the TV experience, making it easy to search, navigate and view content, connect with other devices, and also makes the the initial setup process smoother for users unfamiliar with their new TV.

The first time the user turns on the webOS-enabled LG Smart+ TV, an animated character named BeanBird appears onscreen to help users get connected and walk them through the setup process.

The first time the user turns on the webOS-enabled LG Smart+ TV, an animated character named BeanBird appears onscreen to help users get connected and walk them through the setup process.

You control and interact with the UI using the LG Magic Remote, which enables you to scroll, point, click, or activate voice control.

webOS introduces the new content Launcher is a left-to-right scrollable menu that runs along the lower portion of the screen.

Making smart simple

TVs nowadays are getting more and more sophisticated and are no longer the single-function appliances used to watch live TV and pre-recorded movies from VHS/CD/VCD/DVD/Blu-ray media.

The Internet and broadband connectivity has brought a wealth of content sources to the modern digital life – including videos shared on YouTube and social media, as well as movie websites.

The contemporary consumer also wants to use their TVs with games consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, and even Skype and surf the Web from the comfort of the living room.

The latest lineup of TVs from the most manufacturers offer these, but usually involve a steep learning curve to wrap the head around user interfaces that tend to get overly complicated as there are so many content sources and options available.

It is therefore refreshing to see LG’s new webOS-based UI, which makes it simple and intuitive for the user to get the content they want on screen – conveniently and speedily.

Seems like LG has succeeded in making smart simple for the user, unlocking the wealth of content available without making it too complicated.

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