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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Google Nexus 6p by Huawei - A User Experience

Finally in Singapore, Huawei decide to bring in the Nexus 6P in Graphite and Aluminum.  I finally got my hand on it on 24th Nov 2015.

Some might ask me why not Samsung, Sony, LG, etc?
  • I was very keen with LG but G4 has been out for awhile.  The only impressive thing LG did was their camera at F1.8 which is very decent.
  • Samsung TouchWiz UI is just too heavy, it can come with 4GB memory like Note 5, but it will still slow down due to the demand of the UI.  
  • Sony, almost vanilla Android, my previous phone is a SOny Xperia Z3.  It was decent but lots of Sony own apps like Music Play, Camera, etc. not that is not good but the inbuild storage was too little for me.  Yes Z5 might be a good choice, but I want a bigger phone and shortlisted Z5 Premium but drop the idea completely after see that the volume button is at the bottom half of the phone makes it hard to use when in a call.
Eventually I chose Huawei Google Nexus 6P been first it's stock Android and it's tuned on the hardware so it will be as good as a iPhone in terms of smoothness.

The case more of environmental material not very hardy or very premium.  The outer wrapper is the one that tie the box together.  However the IMEI tag is on it so after opening this wrapper need to be kept for warranty for sure since it doesn't stick after opening.

In Singapore, the phone does not comes with any $50 Play Store credit instead Huawei just throw in their own phone case (which I find it poor in quality as it has sharp edges) and ear phones (which I prefer using my own).  You can find accessories in Qoo10, Amazon or even Taobao easily.

Why Aluminum vs Graphite?
I got the the Aluminium one instead of the Graphite.  As Singapore only release these 2 colours to choose from reason for this was Graphite is a fingerprint magnet it's just like your glossy screen protector which make me switch to Aluminum after a hands on the real thing.

Free case and ear piece

In the box, is one power adapter, one USB-C to USB-C cable for use with the power adapter to charge the phone, a USB-C to USB-A cable to connect to a laptop or use with other power adapter using USB-A, Nexus 6p and the SIM card tray removal pin.  The instruction sheet is nicely done in diagram and pictures as you can see.

A few things you might want to take note that many reviews just mention the great features but left out some stuff.
  1. Most mobile phone charger is using 2A output however in Nexus 6p, it is a 3A.  You might use the old mobile phone power adapter with the USB-C to USB-A cable however do not the fast charging timing will not be the same since the current output is different.
  2. Buying a USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to USB-A cable online or from anywhere else, might not be able to leverage on the fast charge feature or it might damage your USB port if it does not meet the USB-C specification.  You can refer to Benson Leung from Google who has reviewed and explained which cable works to avoid this.  He also added almost every USB-C to USB-A cable in Amazon.  You can also download the CheckR, and connect the cable to your PC and your phone and switch your "Use USB for" to Photo transfer (PTP), if it turns green been the cable is USB-C compliant.
  3. USB-A to USB-C adapter that convert your micro USB cable, might not be able to use as a data cable anymore but end up been a charging cable (I have bought some and it turn my data cable to a charging cable).
  4. Buying a screen protector that covers the proximity sensor lying just under the bottom right of the upper speaker will cause black screen when in a call.
  5. Buying a case that covers the mic at the back below the finger scanner might cause your call quality to drop.
Option to choose which to use with the USB

CheckR showing green indicating cable to USB-C compliance

How do you know how much is fully charge and how long more?  There is an indicator on the time remaining only on the locked screen below.

If you are charging from a source that output too little power you will see the message below.

How do you enable the percentage shown on the battery and also change the quick settings icons and layout?  Just pull down your notification window and pull down one more time to have quick settings in sight, press and hold the setting icon (gear logo) for a few seconds and release.  Go into your settings and the last item of the list will be System UI.  You will see a percentage on you battery.  While charging, you can only see the percentage on the notification screen by pulling down twice.

If you want to save some battery power, you can turn on Battery saver from the Settings>Battery, click on the top right hand corner where the 3 dots are and choose Battery saver.  You will be directed to the below section.  Turning on the Battery saver switch your theme to orange.  Don't ask me why Google choose this colour.  Do note that Battery saver is automatically turn off when you charge your phone.  Do note that when Battery saver is turned on, the phone animation will be turn off which I find it rather appearing very fast as there is not transition animation.

Inbuild in the Settings menu also contain a Explorer.  I would recommend you to download one e.g. ES Explorer instead.  However if you want to use the internal one, you can go to Settings>Storage. You will see the section as below, click the last line Explore.

You will be brought to the below section.  This is an internal explorer where you can browse and copy and even delete files here.

While there are no major bugs or issue that I came across, there are some cosmetic interface bug I discovered so far:
  • Finger mark on the Google search bar left behind if you press and hold and slide off which is also found once left on the Google Now page on the extreme left of your dashboard.
  • Words correction prompt come out below the word covered by your keyboard which can be resolved by hiding your keyboard.

Taking screenshot can be done pressing the Volume Down button with Power button at the same time.  You will have to use the native Google Photo to view or share the photos.  I used it quite often and turn on the auto backup when charging.  Alternative photo app I used is QuickPic Gallery from Cheetah mobile (the one who also make Clean Master used by Samsung) where you get free online storage.

A new method introduced in the new Google Now, is to hold the Home button and Google Now will give you share icon, choosing that will allow you to share to your friends without saving a copy in your storage.  You need to be using Google Now as your default home button.  This needs to be turn on at the server side so you might not received it yet.  At time of writing (14th Dec 2015), you can join the beta release to use it join here.  I joined and after awhile I got the Share icon.

For those who find the colour of the display too high a contrast, you can switch the screen colour display to a sRGB scheme via the developer menu.  You will need to press a few times on Build Number in Settings>About Phone till it says Developer Options unlock.

One thing to note if you use the adaptive screen, often I find the sensor does not sense accurate either too bright or too dark.  I end up doing my own adjustment and turn off that adaptive function.

So far the camera is decent.  However you cannot shake too much of your hand else the picture will appear blurred.  Also the flash when taking people do have Red Eye which many reviews did not test this out.  Nothing can't be fixed with some photo editing apps.  (I will show some of the camera picture at later as to make sure I know how to use it completely and with other apps.)  You can enable quick camera launch in the Settings to Press Power Button twice to go to camera mode.

Something which I find most manufacturer camera app is focusing the right focus.  What do I mean, trying focusing on a lightup signboard with lights, likelihood it will be blur out.  But for Google Camera, it knows its too bright and will dim it down!

The battery life for me wasn't ideal for now it manage to last me about 10 hours from the time I left the charger till I am home.  Will update the battery further on this.  The main reason for this might be due to the use of my Moto360 which requires a constant connection over Bluetooth.

One thing to note, if you are using any Android Wear Smart watch, make sure you turn off "auto connect" if you are not wearing else Android Wear will constantly try to search and connect and this will run off some power.

You can now auto backup your photos using Google Photos.  Be Careful of what you choose for the setting especially only do when it is charging else you might end up wasting power trying to backup via Wifi or wasting data using your mobile.

Updating in progress...  While I am still using it, I will constant put up what I discover the good and bad of it.  Do check back.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

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IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY - we are 34 this year! Here at Logitech, we believe in celebrating birthdays with a bang. If you're a...
Posted by Logitech on Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Logitech MX Anywhere 2

The Logitech MX Anywhere 2, I have been waiting to upgrade to for the longest time.  I thought Logitech has decided to stop using Darkfield laser technology.  Luckily this is not true and this time they have come out the Gen 2 of the replacement.  For the Gen 1, there is version 1 and 2, both are the same in everything except the top surface is matt for version1 and shiny for version 2.  Not sure the reason for doing this.  Hope Logitech don't do this on the Gen 2.

I have been using the Logitech MX Anywhere Gen 1 mouse, M905.  This has always been my go to mouse since using Windows to now Mac it has never given me any problem.  The beauty of this mouse is you cannot see the laser beaming out of the mouse at the bottom like other mouse.  This is so because Logitech is using the Darkfield laser technology which is mentioned able to use on a glass surface as thin as 4mm.

I have used it on a glass surface and many shiny surface and this mouse never fails while my friends failed big time with other mouse.  This has gain my trust and confident and have never look at changing to other brand of mouse.  In additional, Logitech nano receiver works with their keyboard as well so I do not have to have one for keyboard and one for mouse where some brands does that.

As this is just launched in Singapore and available at selected Challenger shops in Singapore (advised by Logitech Singapore Facebook), I quickly go down to the one at Bugis Junction.  Got one out of the two left.

The box view with the mouse

The inside opening up the flap with some magnet to keep it close

What is in the package

You will see nothing much is in the box namely:
  • MX Anywhere 2 mouse
  • USB cable
  • Nano receiver
  • Instruction booklet
  The front view

 You will see the micro USB port for charging is in front of the mouse.  You can use the mouse while charging via nano receiver or Bluetooth.

Left side view
Here you see the forward and backward button (by default assigned) for browsing the web.  You can assign other function to it if you do not use that.

Right side view

Here I took it with flash on purpose to show the texture diamond like design on both side.  It's not a complete smooth surface it create some sort of grip with some design.

 Underside view

You will see the on off switch on the top left.  Followed by the connect button for Bluetooth connection on the bottom of it.  The bottom button is used to switch between three devices if you have it paired with if any.

Old nano receiver (Left) New nano reciver (Right)

You can see the the newer nano receiver bundled in with this mouse is short and smaller.

 Underside of the MX Anywhere (Left), MX Anywhere 2 (Right)

The older Anywhere has a slide switch which can easily use with your thumb or any finger.   The latter however require some nail action.

To quickly set it up, you need to choose between a nano receiver or using Bluetooth.  Do note that if you choose bluetooth, your machine must support Bluetooth Ready Smart device (meaning it must support Bluetooth low energy feature found in Bluetooth 4.0).

Head over to download the software to configure the mouse on first connection.  I am using a Mac so I will show screenshot for it.  Windows should not be much different.

The new software is call Logitech Options instead of the old, Logitech Control Center

You will see this screen first before the configuration screen

You will see the above before the configuration screen.  In case you close the configuration screen, you can click the "Relaunch" again to open it up.

 The configuration screen

Here you will configure the mouse buttons actions.  Swap the left/right button the scroll wheel press down and the front back buttons.  You will also see the connection status at the bottom and the battery level.

Click "Add Device" at the bottom to add the mouse

Clicking on the "Add device" button at the bottom of the configuration screen, you will be ask to choose how you want to connect your mouse via nano receiver (you have to make sure its already plugged in) or via Bluetooth (turn on).  Clicking on either will go through the respective steps.  Click OK to head back to previous screen.

I tried pairing with the nano receiver and the bluetooth.  However you can only do with one and the other connection will be lost.  It still works with my old nano receiver which is neat.

Assign the action

Clicking on any of the blue dots to assign the action.  You can see from my screen shot I click on the scroll wheel, here you can also adjust the horizontal speed if it is assign "Scroll right".

Point & Scroll section

In this section, you can adjust the pointer speed and the scrolling speed.  Play around to find the one that suits you best.  Enable smooth scrolling if you want to, default is disabled.  Not sure why.

About the device

Hitting on "More" button on the main screen, brings you to see the firmware of the mouse.  Wonder if they do update firmware as I have never receive any from MX Anywhere Gen 1.  You can enable battery level low warning here.


In the Software section, you can see the current software version.  You can enable automatic check for updates.

I tested this and the mouse feel good.  Just like the Gen 1.  In fact the mouse is much lighter now comparing due to the build in battery this time which I even forgot about it when I placed in my jean's pocket.  In Gen 1, it can be inserted with two AA batteries and this added the weight though it can work with just one.

You can also work with the USB cable plugged in while working and charging it.  Not sure how long this mouse can last with one full charge.  Have yet to test this out.

In summary the mouse feel exactly the same but lighter.  Here I listed the the pros and cons

  • Lighter than Gen 1
  • The software is cleaner now to configure
  • Bluetooth connection save one USB port
  • Connect up to 3 devices to be use with one mouse
  • Able to use with old nano receiver

  • Battery might not last as long as Gen 1 as it is now build in
  • Never come with a pouch for a premier mouse like Gen 1 (it's not cheap)
  • Nano receiver cannot be kept on the mouse unlike Gen 1
  • Bluetooth only works with Bluetooth Smart Ready device only (Bluetooth 4.0)
  • Power on button have to use nail
  • Darkfield laser glass is not covered unlike Gen 1

For Mac users on Yosemite, you might end up finding if you do with Bluetooth connection, the pointer is very sluggish.  With some findings, it seems there is some bugs with Apple Handoff function discussed here.

You will need to disable Handoff as shown below and perform a reset on your NVRAM with the guide here.  That should resolve your problem as it did for me.

 System Preferences, Go to "General"

Uncheck Handoff

Hope this give you a good guide on the mouse.  I will update again on my usage on the battery after using it for awhile.

Update 13th Sept 2015
Since my last update two months ago, that was my first full charge of the mouse.  Today I am still using that first full charge.  Seems like the battery does last.  Just the habit to remember to turn it off when not in use comes in important.

I also have updated to the latest software of the Logitech Options.
With this update comes per applications setting for your mouse.  Yes per application you hear it right.
When you launch Logitech Options, you will be see a new icon on the top right hand corner.
A toggle switch to enable the feature

Once you enable you will be able to add application to the list and configure different profile mouse function for every single app.

Adding/Remove an app
When an application is added, you will see the applications listed.  You can remove by clicking the cross "x" next to the app name when placing your mouse pointer next to it.
Application is selected

You can select the application and you will see the app icon as shown to configure your mouse button function accordingly when using the app.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Credit Card Usage Oversea or Online

I am writing this based on myself living in Singapore using a Singapore Credit Card issued by the banks in Singapore Dollars (SGD).  You however can also checkout the information in your respective counties.  The concept works almost the same.

Many of us travel overseas.  We know we can use our Credit Card overseas with convenient.  Often when you made a purchase while overseas, do you encounter why retail counters often ask if you like to pay your purchase in their foreign currency or Singapore Dollars.

So I did a asked on my Facebook and see what was everyone's choice.  Guess what?  Everyone chosen foreign currency where they are at.  So is this the best choice?

Most of us like myself isn't aware.  Paying something in foreign currency do incur charges from the bank that issue you.  The percentage however are mostly the same except for one or two special credit cards.  I am not going to sniff one particular card.  Below is the list of banks direct pages of charges out of which Standard Chartered has the highest transaction fee for foreign currency payment using VISA or Master

Here you can refer to the various bank terms and conditions.  There was none from OCBC.
Citibank, DBS/POSB, UOB, Standard Chartered

Other than AMEX which have a high charge for transaction fee, the rest for VISA and Master are as follows.  I will use a purchase I made in Paris recently to use as illustration.

  • All purchased made in foreign currency, the currency will be converted to USD then to SGD and the total will have a transaction fee of 2.5% based on the sum.  You will be subjected to the spread by the bank on the currency paid to USD and from USD to SGD.
  • For payment in SGD outside Singapore, including purchase made online e.g. Amazon or using Paypal where their retailer uses a foreign payment, there will be a 0.8% transaction fee of the total sum.
Scenario 1
I paid for an item for EUR79 and my credit card bill came as SGD124.30.  This was after a 2.5% transaction fee.  Most people if not aware will divide out and thought it was 1.57 exchange rate.  The actual amount is actually SGD121.258 (exchange rate after two conversion 1.53) before the 2.5% transaction fee.

I was also offered at the cashier to pay for SGD123.55 (exchange of 1.564) before a transaction fee of 0.8%.  If I were to pay in SGD, my credit bill will reflect SGD124.538 (taking transaction fee would be 1.576).

In this case, my purchase made in foreign currency is better than paid in SGD with a saving of SGD0.20.

From the above, it seems that paying in foreign currency favours the buyer.  At the time of my purchase, the exchange rate by the bank for EURO to USD and USD to SGD was lower than what the spread that the retailer exchange offered me (1.53<1.56) or after transaction fee ratio (1.57<1.576).

This amount can change if the exchange rate does not favour you, payment in foreign currency will made you loses.

So which should you choose, since Forex changes everyday, you can do your homework.  Just choose the currency that you like honestly.  Of course if you are in US, please pay using USD as you will only lose one conversion rate and normally bank rate are better than the retail rate.

The difference is minimal so for convenient sake, you might just pay in foreign currency since you know the bank rates are never as bad as the retail rate.

Update 13th Dec 2015
Here back again to update this post.  Apparently though reading that AMEX has a high transaction rate but the exchange rate overall including the rate in EUR was lower than Citibank VISA.  Doing a check at EUR/SGD, there was slowly increasing from 7-12 Dec.  I did some spending on Citibank VISA on 7th Dec and on AMEX on 8th Dec, and another CITIBANK VISA on 11th Dec.  The rate for both Citibank VISA was higher than AMEX even though the EUR/SGD rate was going up over these few days.  Seems like spending overseas might be better to use AMEX after all.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Touring Paris On Foot Guide

Updating in progress...

This is my first time to Paris and and decide to took a stay using AirBnb as usual just like my London trip guide and as well some of the advice here hoping to help you get around.

AirBnb Apartment
We stayed at a small apartment near Eiffel Tower.  We booked it the moment it was first listed and the owner, Phlippe offered us a bottle of their local champagne on our arrival which he did.  He was at the location as communicated early to wait for our arrival and his response through AirBnb is fast.  Apartment uses key, so you have to carry around.

The Good: Great view of Eiffel Tower and walking distance.  Supermarket and river cruise is just around the corner.  Host provide basic instructions for nearby attractions.  There are also some attraction books which can be used.  Comes with WiFi, utensils, toiletries, bathing towels and toothpaste, hair dryer and stove.

The Bad:  No washing machine.  Train station is quite a distance with about 15mins walk.  The lift is rather small so you might have to take multiple trip to go up.

Here is a look of the apartment:

 Upon entering you see the apartment rather small as it has a sofa bed.

There is TV but unless you understand French that is.

The view is great looking out.

The attraction comes when you look out of the windows and turn left.

It is the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

 Yes, the lift fits two.

Moving around from Airport/Train/Hotel/Apartment
If you arrived via the airport, you can go to arrival hall for Uber.  We arrived taking Eurostar from London to Paris.  From the train station, there is taxi stand.  I suggest you use Uber.  It's a cashless taxi service which you can sign up here.  Uber is very popular in Paris and the cars are waiting at the main entrance of the train station not at the Taxi stand.  Use the fare estimate here.

There are few types of Taxi, the cheapest is UberPop, per trip is roughly between EUR4 - 8 depending on distance.  Do note this can come with all sizes of Taxi, big or small it's by luck.  I encounter a Suzuki Swift with our luggage to our restaurant.  UberX is the more premium ones and if you are going to airport or you need a big car for luggage, you can take this as the normal charges is about EUR50 to airport and water is free in the car in case you are wondering.  There is no need tips as the fare is inclusive.  You are free to give some if you wish.  Cab off the streets are much more expensive.  Most drivers speaks little to decent English.

Data/WiFi/Prepaid Service
Please get a Prepaid card in France.  There are hardly any free WiFi unlike London else your phone bill will skyrocket.

Metro Train Tickets
Metro tickets can be purchase with per trip.  Each Ticket+ ( that how it is labeled on their machine) cost about EUR1.8 per trip.
Train ticket for entry.  You don't need for exit.

Food are generally average priced to slightly more expensive at attractions or restaurants.  Tipping is not required and is also part of bill.  You may if you wish.

Touring London On Foot Guide

Updating in progress...

This was my first time to London of course I am not on tour.  If you are on tour you won't need this guide as that will be planned for.

I was on a Pre-Wedding Shoot trip to London and that was only 1 day.  I am staying there for about 7 days.  Of which, my fiancee and myself have planned our itinerary for this trip and I am going to share with you how you can save and go easy on your pocket.  Where to get the deals and how to get there.

To save on apartment, we stayed in an apartment using AirBnb.  I am going to review the apartment we stayed there so to let you know what to look out for.

AirBnb Apartment
First thing, the picture on their listing is one of the 8 units they have.  It is completely different from the one we stayed.  Apartment is accessed via numeric number locks.

The Good: Our apartment is at Great Tower street which is in between Monument Station and Towerhill Station.  It also has a supermarket, Tesco coming from Monument and a food joint, Weatherspoon from Towerhill.  This is hosted by Q Apartment.  Our apartment is very well equipment with fast WiFi, Iron, Dish washer, Washing machine, utensils, stove.  Enough for you to leave for a week for us.

The Bad: There have 8 units in this building and we were assigned unit number 1, which is on level 4 and there is no lift!  3 days before the stay, I also have to constantly send them message to get the actual address (AirBnb will only give you the exact 3 days before).  We didn't know you can request to change else we would have done so.  Their response isn't very fast.  Check the room in detail as there are hidden compartments looks not possible to open but when open, give you a wardrobe and more.  There are several hidden compartments which could have provided with some labels.  Instruction on equipments could be provided.

 Here you see the door on the upper right is where you enter.
You will see the washroom upon entering.
Further on you will see the kitchen.

 Entering from the kitchen will be the bedroom.  A fan to move the wind.  During day time is extremely hot.

The worse thing about this apartment is the rooftop is directly accessible by the next block and there were renovation works.  Anyone could just walk over and peep into your bedroom.  Yes the bedroom is facing the windows, facing the rooftop.

All windows panel in front of the bed covered with blinds where some are faulty.  You can see people doing construction and can easily walk over and take a peep.

Moving around from Airport/Train/Hotel/Apartment
First thing first, cab is going to be expensive in London and there is Uber however everything will be in pounds.  You can either use airport shuttle service or call this private car service which is pretty affordable Addison Lee.  Just call them up in advance and go through the phone options, they also have an app to use, just provide the location and destination and they will provide you the price.  No tips is needed is already part of the fare.

Data/WiFi/Prepaid Service
You can purchase a data card only with 500MB/1GB/2GB for a 4G modem or get a local Prepaid card for 20 pounds which comes with 2GB data and 500 minutes of airtime and unlimited SMS for 30 days.  My advise, save your money as London has so many WiFi hotspot, you hardly need to use that prepaid card.  I regretted buying it and my stay use less than 1GB.  Note this, there is no reception in Metro as they are underground so you won't see people using mobile phones in train other than playing offline games.  If you really need, go to any mobile shops they will sell these cards.  There are a handful at Oxford Street/Piccadilly (Similar to Singapore Orchard Road) e.g. Vodafone, O2.

Metro Train Tickets
Assuming you are like me first time in London, you might want to get a train ticket with unlimited access.  Most if not all the attractions are located in Zone 1 & 2, so get an Oyster card and purchase a 7 days Zone 1 & 2 access which will cost you 32 Pounds.  Check out the latest rates here.  Buses are free just let them scan your Oyster card and do a hope on and off for the experience.

Yes everyone loves shopping whether you are a guy or lady.  In London, there is one too which is a Bichester Village.  Just take the Metro to Marylebone station and switch to a Train to Bichester North station.  Here you can check out the service time.  You will have to get a ticket there for return ticket.  Remember to arrived early else you will have to wait for the next train.

Train station at Marylebone to take to Bichester North.

Once you reached the station, you will need to get bus tickets to Bichester Village from the train station.  Here you will find all the outlet store here.  Wifi is free throughout the village.

You can have some good food around.  However there is a food joint that has many branches everywhere call Weatherspoon.  They serve affordable and good food and if you drink, it's cheap as well.  They run many promotion at different time.  Get a table on your own, check out the menu on your desk, bring it to the counter to order and take note of your table number.  Order and pay at the cashier.