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Friday, October 18, 2013

iPhone 5 vs Lumia 920: Beauty vs Brains

The WP8 Nokia Lumia 920 for one is new to the scene, and has been wowing punters and the media alike with its amazing camera and gorgeous styling that. There’s also the iPhone 5, which is pretty similar to the Lumia 920 in terms of style and specs. So which one of these beauties should you consider if you’re looking to upgrade to a flagship smartphone? Let’s take a look.
Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5
The Nokia Lumia 920 is a bit bigger than the iPhone 5 – 3mm thicker – and it has a 4.5” display compared to the 4” screen on the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 screen resolution is unusual – 1,136x640p, but it’s also one of the best around. The Lumia 920 screen may be larger, but its ppi is higher. Another big advantage it has is that it responds to gloves and even fingernails. The Lumia is one of very few devices that beats the iPhone 5 on screen.
Both phones have amazing tech, including LTE up to 100mbps. Both also have fast dual core chips with 1GB of RAM, as well as stable and user-friendly operating systems. Windows Phone 8 is quite the breath of fresh air, whereas iOS is now on its sixth version and could do with a bit of a UI change. On the other hand, though, the App Store trounces Windows Marketplace on apps…it’s got shedloads!
The Nokia Lumia 920 comes into its own with its camera. It has an 8.7MP PureView camera which is just about the only camera out that beats the iPhone 5’s. It’s especially good in low light, and also takes great video thanks to advanced video stabilization capabilities.
The Nokia Lumia 920 comes in five colours and the iPhone 5 comes in two – black or white. The iPhone 5’s design has changed a bit, but not much really when compared to the 4S. The same can be said about the WP8 handset when you compare it to the Nokia Lumia 800.
Apple nixed Google Maps and installed Apple Maps, which was an unmitigated disaster. Tim Cook ended up saying sorry and recommending Nokia Maps, which is what you’ll get in the Nokia Lumia 920. If you do a lot of navigating, the Lumia 920 is the phone for you. Of course, you can get Google Maps for both devices now.
You’ll get around 10 hours of talk from the Lumia’s 2,000mAh battery, as well as 67 or so hours of music playback. The iPhone 5 1,440mAh battery will give you eight hours of talk and 40 hours of playback.
If you’ve been on iPhones for a while, you’ll probably want to stick with iOS, especially if you’ve been collecting apps for a few years. The Nokia Lumia 920 however is a good option for non-Apple fans. We don’t know if the Lumia will make it big yet, but it’s looking good. The phone is already doing well, and it can only improve with every new version. If it does have a weak spot, it is the OS which is still maturing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

iOS7 Points The Way To The Future Of Mobile Innovation

Apple’s decision to completely redesign its aging user interface for the latest iteration of its mobile operating system, called iOS 7, has naturally sparked many a debate. 
With iOS 7, I think Apple deserves a genuine pat on the back for bravely moving away from its comfort zone in its attempt to revitalize its platform – even if it meant “ripping off” from other platforms.

There were plenty of “new” iOS 7 features that have appeared before on other platforms. The Verge‘s Aaron Souppouris and GigaOm‘s Kevin C. Tofel both went into great depth tracing the influences behind iOS 7, which shows concrete inspirations from Android, Windows Phone, MeeGo…and even Windows Vista.
In fact, one could go further. Sailfish OS, the new mobile platform from the same people behind MeeGo-Harmattan, has a system-wide feature called Ambience, which dynamically and intelligently adapts the system’s colour theme to match the prevailing colours of the user’s selected wallpaper. A near-carbon copy of this is found on iOS 7, just like how Sailfish’s use of translucency – which was shown to the world as early as November last year – making an appearance on Apple’s latest iteration of iOS.
At some point or another, one platform will absorb features from the competition into their own product. webOS had plenty of features that were adopted into other OSes such as Android. Symbian had support for widgets on the S60 platform way back in 2007. MeeGo-Harmattan’s Swipe UI in some aspects was reminiscent of iOS. Never forget, too, that the founders of Android had Steve Jobs as a mentor back when in the early days of iOS. And, the massive undertaking that was Project Butter on Android last year was a direct riposte to the buttery smooth animations that iOS consistently achieves.
Is it a crime, then, that iOS 7 is seemingly made out of the best bits that the competition offers? Of course not. If anything, iOS7 may just prove to be the catalyst for Apple and the competition to innovate further in mobile user experiences – whether they be entirely new ideas or older ones revisited with fresh new perspectives.
And, from what we can see of iOS 7 so far, it appears that the whole is greater than the sum of its seemingly copied parts. From the inspiration drawn from various other platforms, Apple has managed to conceive an entirely cohesive and elegant user interface that finally blends minimalistic design with powerful software engineering. 
A New Old Way of Interaction
One particular feature subtly making an entry into iOS 7 is the use of gestures. Gesture-based navigation isn’t something new, but since the fully gesture-based Swipe UI introduced in the Nokia N9 in 2011, there has been a steady adoption of gesture navigation in button-based platforms such as Android, and it is proving to be the way forward in future mobile user experiences (UX). It is intuitive and, when done right, offers a delightful yet practical user experience.
With the introduction of the “swipe to go back” gesture in most of iOS 7′s stock apps, it is fairly certain that gesture-based navigation will finally see a breakthrough in mobile platforms. I have already seen, with my own eyes, my editor close to shedding tears of joy seeing the swipe animation as his thumb moved across the screen of his iPhone 5 running iOS 7, the email gently sliding away to reveal his inbox. “Finally!” I hear him scream enthusiastically, thumb still on screen. If someone already familiar to gesture-based navigation is so excited about it finally arriving on iOS, imagine the impact this will have on the tens of millions of users who have never used anything other than iOS before. This level of excitement can only be good for the entire industry.
On the Other Hand…
Not every criticism of iOS 7 was about the blatant copying of Android and the other platforms. There were genuine concerns about the new OS that Apple should really be looking to fix – with iOS 7′s iconography right on the top of the list.
Confusing. Amateur. A childish attempt. Those were just some of the scathing opinions regarding the new set of icons on iOS 7. And they’re true: the new icons lack any kind of synergy between them, where a minimalistic black and white icon can be next to a vibrant one with a full rainbow of colours. Some icons are flat, some feature backgrounds with colour gradients that give a sense of depth. It’s a jarring experience that indicates a lack of attention to detail that is very unlike the company identity.
In addition, Apple should also be explaining further its definition of allowing multitasking for all apps. Is this “true” multitasking that some platforms, such as Blackberry 10 and Sailfish, offer? From the video demo above, it seems as if Apple’s definition of multitasking is more of  a selective one: apps that are used the most are refreshed frequently, even if they’re not opened. It’s a feature similar to what Sony offers with the Battery Stamina mode in its new Xperia smartphones and, recently, in the Qualcomm Snapdragon Battery Guru app. However, whether open apps are frozen when the user sends it to the background still remains a mystery for now.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that iOS 7 is still in beta mode. We will definitely see a much-improved version of the platform when it is available later this year – preferably with a better set of icons.
The Bigger Picture
Soon after the iOS 7 announcement, Sotiris Makrygiannis, the former head of productivity and director of applications for MeeGo at Nokia, shared via Twitter that he’s “having a big smile“. Rather than vocally chastising the American company for lacking ethics/creativity/credibility with their efforts on iOS 7 that seem to copy parts of the Swipe UI found on the MeeGo-running Nokia N9, Makrygiannis takes it all in his stride.
If the head of development of such a project can understand the significance of Apple’s new direction for iOS 7 and the UX, who are we to blast Apple for ripping off winning ideas from other platforms? If anything, Apple’s adoption of such ideas and features actually paves the way for greater awareness of innovations that were driven by other platforms with the help of its massive user base and, just as importantly, revitalizes the mobile industry to be open for more innovation – especially coming from a company many have claimed to be stagnating.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HLA Cash Promise : The latest buzz in financial industry

HLA Income Builder sold off so successful on end of February this year. But the demand for another Hong Leong Assurance saving plan is huge.

Thus, HLA launched the new saving plan, HLA Cash Promise, that promise you more than just a saving plan!

There are some enhancements on this new plan compared with Income Builder. Below are the key features and benefits:

  • GUARANTEED short pay of premium for 6 years only
  • GUARANTEED yearly income for 25 years
  • GUARANTEED death benefit
  • GUARANTEED maturity benefit
  • Full refund of premium paid with future premium waived upon TPD during first 6 years
  • Enhanced death benefit 
  • Enhance TPD benefit 
  • Nomination to serve more effective than Will for Wealth Distribution
  • Tax relief

For more info on this latest buzz in town, just give me a call/SMS or Whatsapp me: +6017-8865207 (Cheng)

This is a newly Structured Saving Plan brought to you by Hong Leong Assurance that helps you to achieve your financial goals.

Friday, March 15, 2013

HTC One Review: This is Beauty and the Beast

HTC’s high-end Android flagship phone, sporting a sexy body, stunning screen and out-of-the-ordinary camera.
A review of HTC's new One smartphone

Who’s it for?
People who want the most polished and smooth Android experience available, and maybe don’t want to stretch (literally and figuratively) to the five-inch screen that’s becoming common on top-end Android phones.

HTC’s always been good at making pretty phones, and the One keeps the gorgeous genes within the family. It’s got a minimalist metal construction with polycarbonate ‘accents’, which reeks of exquisite build quality. The metal construction and reassuring weight give it a chassis that feels rock-solid, and the rounded back, tapering to supermodel-skinny sides, makes it genuinely comfortable to hold in your hand.
The 4.7-inch screen is clad in Gorilla Glass, which wraps beautifully round the edge of the chassis — HTC says it ‘flows’, and it almost has a point. The glass doesn’t just stop at the edge of the screen, but contours round to give a silky-smooth edge you’ve got to feel to believe. Overall, tiny details like this conspire to make the One the most gorgeous phone I’ve laid eyes on in years, and a refreshing change from seemingly endless copycat, look-a-like phones. I’m smitten.
A review of the HTC one smartphone
The minimalist design is, sadly, carried over to the more practical side of the phone too. You won’t find a microSD card slot lurking anywhere, and as for a removable battery? Dream on. All you get is a headphone jack, micro USB for charging, a pop-out SIM tray, and a pair of buttons — a metal volume rocker, and a weird-looking power button that also doubles as an IR blaster, so you can use your phone as a TV remote.
One area HTC hasn’t skimped on is the speakers: you get two of them, on the front of the phone no less. The holes are drilled out of the aluminium  and there’s a notification LED — always a good thing in our books — lingering behind one of those holes on the top speaker.
The One’s also more than just a pretty face. Under the Gorilla Glass is a stonking great 1920x1080p display, powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor, and a sweet 2GB of RAM — the same as the Nexus 4, Sony Xperia Z or LG Optimus Pro. Don’t be fooled, though — performance on this is nippy as you like.
A review of the HTC One smartphone
This thing is fast! Zipping around HTC’s well-skinned version of Android — and zip is definitely the right word — there’s nary a hint of lag or stutter. Given the processing power under the hood, that’s hardly surprising, but it’s still damn impressive. Even pushing the system with the more graphically-intensive Android games — Asphalt 7 or Real Racing 3, the One purrs along better than anything else out there.
In terms of OS, the One is running HTC’s custom Sense 5.0 on top of Android 4.1.2. Sense 5.0 sports a bunch of differences to vanilla Android, but the overall impression you’re left with is that Sense helps casual users access some of the more hardcore Android features, without needing to mess around deep inside various settings menus.
The customisable lock screens are a good example: they’re one of the things Android’s really got going for it, but normally it takes a fair bit of messing around with custom widgets to make a decent one. Sense comes preloaded with a bunch of different lock screen themes.
We won’t dive into an exhaustive rundown of all the software differences here , but suffice to say that Sense is the only manufacturer Android skin I’d seriously think about keeping on a phone.
HTC one review
Once you’ve finished obsessing over that gorgeous body, you’ll inevitably reach for the on switch (which is a little hard to find, being almost completely flush with the body), and light up the screen. The 4.7-inch, 1920x1080p panel is incredible — forget numbers, forget stats, and just revel in what, for my money, is the best mobile display made thus far.
The PPI is obviously somewhere north of pointless (468, for those of you who get aroused by meaningless metrics), but more importantly, the screen is a competent all-rounder. Viewing angles are excellent, and you can actually read the damn thing in direct sunlight. Side-by-side with the Galaxy S III’s AMOLED display, you can see that the blacks aren’t quite as good, but that’s real nit-picking.
A review of the HTC One smartphone
Of course, if there was one feature HTC trumpeted above all else on its new phone, it was definitely the Ultrapixel. To recap: HTC’s being the good guy, going against the megapixel myth, and shipping a 4MP phone camera it reckons is not only as good as the better-endowed competition, but is actually better in low light.
Does it work? Yes. In low light, the pictures this thing cranks out are seriously impressive, managing to make out objects without having to resort to a blurry noise-fest.
A review of the HTC One camera against the Sony Xperia Z smartphone's camera
Compared against the Sony Xperia Z, one of the best Android shooters out there, the low-light performance is out of this world. In the sample images above, (which are both cropped to the same extent), the text in the One’s photo is totally readable, whereas the Sony’s is a horror show you’d be hard-pushed to find a single letter in. Obviously, those sample images are a worst-case scenario, but they prove a point — the One’s camera craps all over the competition when the Sun goes down.
We tested the low-light against a bunch of other phone cameras, and the results are impressive — the Nokia Pureview 808 wins (almost inevitably), but the One is close behind, and certainly leagues better than the blurry, noisy mess churned out by the others.
Sadly, the performance isn’t quite as stellar when it comes to everyday photography. Whether it’s due to the lack of pixels, or some other less-than-stellar component in the camera assembly, the One’s photos aren’t particularly sharp. They’re fine viewed on the phone screen or Facebook, but blow them up any bigger, and everything goes a bit marshmallow-soft. Overall, it’s fair to say the One’s packing a decent shooter, but not anything particularly revolutionary and certainly not a Lumia 920-dethroning upstart.
A review of the HTC One smartphone

Tragic Flaw
You might’ve read about Blinkfeed, HTC’s live tile/RSS feed mashup that spits out a constant news feed onto a home screen widget. You probably skimmed over it, thinking it’s another bit of bloatware crap to be discarded as soon as you start setting up the device, right? Wrong.
Blinkfeed is here to stay, as a permanent wart on your home screens. Sure, you can change it from being the default home screen, but every now and again you’re going to scroll onto your Blinkfeed page and get inadvertently slapped in the face by reality. For now, Blinkfeed is here to stay, a constant presence in your life (and probably on your data usage and battery, since you can’t disable auto-refresh).

This is Weird
The handset gets almost worryingly hot when used a lot, especially if shifting a lot of data over the mobile network. We’ll chalk it up to that metal back, and it’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it’s still a tad disconcerting.
A review of the HTC One smartphone

Test Notes
- Oh my god the speakers are good — better than any mobile speakers have the right to be. Playing music to various people through the phone is a funny experience, and one worth trying if you’ve ever wondered what the actual definition of jaw-dropping is. It’s not so much the volume, which is definitely the best of any smartphone but hardly deafening — it’s that over the whole sound spectrum, the stuff the speakers spits out is fairly accurate and distortion-free.
I don’t know whether this is due to the Beats Audio EQ (unlikely) or the excellent dual-speaker setup (far more plausible), but the speakers on this thing are damn close to putting small travel speakers like my own Altec Lansing out of work. It’s that good.
- The IR blaster, which is embedded in the power button (now that’s what I call multitasking!), lets you use your phone as a universal remote with your TV and home theatre set-up. It’s quick and easy to configure. Moreover, the system leverages Peel to provide a personalised TV guide that ties in with the remote — just tap on a currently airing show, and your TV will switch over to that channel, as if by magic.
- Battery life is average. The One is packing a 2300mAh cell, which gets me through a full day of fairly punishing use. On a brutal video rundown, it lasted about seven hours before conking out, translating to a good day of real-world use, especially if you crank up HTC’s power saver mode, which lets you (among other things) restrict CPU usage and screen brightness.
- Internet speeds, especially web browsing, feel pretty nippy. With the chomping-at-the-bit processor under the hood, this is hardly surprising, but the One also seems to hold onto mobile signal a little bit better — in rooms and Tube stations I’d previously had marked down as dead spots, I was scraping a little bit of coverage. We’ve tested on both EE’s 4G and Vodafone’s HSPA+ network, and download speeds are exactly in line with other top-end smartphones — anything between 1 and 12Mbps, depending on signal and how much lead is in the walls.
- HTC’s get-started software merits a mention for making the getting-going procedure surprisingly slick. If you’re not restoring the phone from an HTC account backup, you can choose to do the initial setup on a computer rather than the phone — just navigate to a webpage, enter the code your phone generates, and you’re free to set up email accounts, lock screens and the like from your computer. It might sound like faff, and it’s hopefully not something you’re going to use more than once, but as someone who switches between phones with depressing regularity, not having to type out every email address and super-secure password on a touchscreen keyboard is something of a godsend.

Should You Buy It?
The One is, undoubtedly, an excellent device. It does everything well, some things — the build, screen and mind-bending speakers come to mind — superbly, with only a few entries in the negatives column. Of course, being average doesn’t cut it any more, not with new smartphones spilling from Mother Innovation’s every orifice.
Compared to the competition, the One still fares well. It’s certainly at the top of the Android stable, with only Sony’s Xperia Z and the bargain-basement Nexus 4 (and probably whatever Samsung’s got in store) able to give it any competition. It’s also one of the few devices that can compete with the iPhone on lustworthiness — the rock-solid build and that awesome screen certainly give it a dinner-party-wow-factor in a different league.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

High-end flagships with massive displays are fast becoming the norm, but can the Samsung Galaxy S4 outgun Sony's Xperia Z?

Sony Xperia Z: Key specs and features

The Sony Xperia Z may be a flat rectangle, but what a flat rectangle it is. Clad on front and back by extra-tough Dragontrail glass the phone has a premium feel while looking classy with panelled detailing on the sides and snazzy embedded silver buttons. The Xperia Z is also waterproof and has IP57 certification.
Sony Xperia Z
The screen bezel is very narrow and the edges have a chiselled shape. The display itself is a 5-inch LCD with a 1920x1080 pixel Full HD resolution at 443 pixels-per-inch (ppi). This delivers fantastic brightness and pure whites, while Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine 2 creates punchy colours and OptiContrast technology ensures everything pops.
Watching video on this thing is unreal, it’s rather a lot like glass-less 3D even though there’s not a whiff of 3D tech involved. This is easily one of the best displays around alongside the HTC One.
Power comes from a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor along with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 GPU. 

While newer chips are starting to take over, this particular model is still a recent one and remains competitive in the current market. It’ll deftly handle Android’s interface and multitasking as well as any apps or games you care to try on the Google Play store.

Samsung Galaxy S4: Key specs and features

The processing power inside Samsung’s Galaxy S4 represents the next wave of mobile hardware as it’s based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 architecture as well as its big.Little technology. It’s the Exynos 5 Octa eight-core chip, which buddies up a 1.6GHz Cortex-A15 quad-core cluster.
Samsung Galaxy S4
This allows the chip to optimise high-end speed against low-end battery efficiency depending on the tasks at hand and should result in quicker performance than its rival as well as longer life on a single charge. Samsung’s setup also sports a PowerVR SGX544MP3 tri-core GPU and 2GB of RAM.
Another key component of prolonging battery life is the new display technology – it’s called Green PHOLED and is up to 33 per cent more efficient than conventional AMOLED at no cost to image quality.
The 5-inch panel has a Full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution of 441ppi. Visuals are crisp and colourful with great contrast and it’s a neat display for consuming multimedia.
Storage space is reasonably plentiful with options for either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of onboard capacity plus expandability via microSD cards by up to 64GB.
You’ve also got Android 4.2.2, the most up-to-date Android build available with all of its slick optimisation and reliable performance upgrades.
With a 2,600mAh battery, things will keep going for a long time - well - much longer than on the Sony Xperia Z anyway.


The Xperia Z is a brilliant phone and we’ve rarely encountered a display that’s this rich, however, you pay a price for it and not just in monetary terms.
The battery life is not particularly good and the device only has 16GB of onboard storage. There is the option of expanding this by microSD by up to 32GB, but here the Galaxy S4 has an advantage with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal capacity plus card capability up to 64GB.
The Galaxy S4 still offers a fantastic display which is much kinder to your power consumption, but it backs this up with a faster processor which is also not as hard on the battery.
That said, the Xperia Z certainly beats the Galaxy S4 on visual design and build quality.
So, if battery isn’t important to you and you’re looking for a pretty yet portable media viewer with an insane display, the Xperia Z may be for you. Otherwise, for a well-rounded smartphone, the Galaxy S4 seems like a better choice.
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