Monday, December 26, 2011

Koss Portapro home user review.

This is not a review for the audiophile. Mainly because I couldn't describe sound as other audiophile reviewers and I don’t own expensive headphone to do the comparison. Therefore, my review below is just plain simple for the average user.

I bought a Koss Portapro from Jaben Malaysia just to replace my previous Bluetooth headphone Sony DR BT 22. I consider the Sony is a good on-ear portable headphone although there are some minor glitches in the sound due to Bluetooth connection. Sometimes I feel the tempo kinda missed a few and gain back again after a second or two. Anyway, one of the ear piece is now silenced and I bet it was the cable that wore off due to constant twisting and folding to compact size for travel.

After a couple of researching on the Internet for my next portable headphone, I landed on Koss Portapro and Sennheiser PX100. Well, for budget wise, I went for the Koss Portapro because it was a lot cheaper than Sennheiser and based on the reviews, most stated that both sound quality doesn't have too much of a difference. I hate to say this, for me, the budget comes first than sound or premium build quality.

Great sound quality

I tested the demo set at Jaben Malaysia sales office using my Galaxy Tab 7 with Poweramp music app for an hour. I smiled when I change to my dance music. The Koss Portapro really shined when comes to bass heavy music or I would say that this headphone is meant for dance music. However, I have to tone down the bass in other genre music such classical, vocal and rock. Speaking of toning down the bass, it is best to pair this headphone with mp3 player that comes with EQ feature. Mp3 player that allows to tone the bass and treble, will work well with this headphone else this might not that appealing to you.

Here is my conclusion on the sound quality:
Best - Dance, Techno.
Good - Vocal, Pop, Rock.
Average - Classical

Coming from stock earphone, I would say the Portapros really is a great sound quality upgrade. The volume is higher. Bass and treble (after EQ up the treble), music and songs are much clearer. Thus, it makes listening to music more enjoyable compared to stock earphone.

Average hardware

Appearance wise may not attractive for some people and wearing it might take some effort than normal headphones. Sometimes when I take off the headphone, the metal band will spring back to it's original form and I have to re-adjust the headband to wear it again (This will become very annoying if you're putting  this headphone on and off frequently). Furthermore, the metal band might pull some hair out (luckily I got short hair) so you might need to watch out for that.

There is a comfort zone setting on each earpiece that allows how tight you want the earpiece to stick on your ear. I always set the comfort setting to lightest and this will require me to re-adjust the switch every time I unfold the headphone. I have modded the switch to stick on light by cutting blue color straw (from packet drinks) with 4mm length and then jam it the switch so it will not spring back to firm.

Anyway, once I put it on my head, I can listen more than an hour because it is very light and much more comfortable compared to my Sony. However, the headphone starts to become uncomfortable after that and I guess it's best for portable use rather than home use with long hours of listening.

Some people may find the construction is too fragile but I think it may last longer than average headphone due to the cables are not part of the folding mechanism; plus it comes with a lifetime warranty.  The package comes with a pouch which is too small for putting in the headphone easily and it ends up storing my receipt (for one year store warranty).

(For Koss portapro division employee who is reading this, you definitely need to do something  about the pouch. Change it to a larger size with a zip/case for easy storage.)

Sound isolation for this headphone is poor. This means you can hear the environment sound clearly with almost no isolation. However, this can be a good thing if you want to hear surrounding sound (e.g. mom calling you for dinner, people knocking on your door.)

Summary

+ Great sound quality upgrade for replacing stock earphone.
+ Able to fold for great portability and light weight for carrying
+ Great comfort for listening.
+ Affordable headphone compares to other similar type (e.g. Sennheiser PX100/PX200)
+ Cable should be able last longer due to cable is not part of the folding mechanism. (no twisting)
+ Responsive to EQ
+ Lifetime warranty

- Treble needs EQ to shine
- Annoying headband and comfort zone re-adjustment
- Appearance may not appeal to some people
- Fragile construction.
- No noise isolation (this can be a + point)
- The headphone can not be put around the neck as the metal band spring will clamp.
- Ear piece will clap and hit each other if you not too careful putting them down.
- Included pouch is too small

Further note

1. Beware of fake and only buy from genuine store.
2. A good quality headphone requires a good quality source. (I found the FLAC music file sounds better than MP3 320kbps. However, for the normal home user, 320kbps MP3 is considered good enough sound quality.)
3. Loudness can be normalized using mp3gain/flac.

Links
Innerfidelity review (audiophile review)
Koss Portapro, PX100, PX200 Frequency graph

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is a 7 inch screen phone fit for you?

I thought of writting this article after using using my Galaxy Tab 7 as phone for 6 months. Below are my findings:

1. For people who has large pocket.
I'm a tall guy and fitting the galaxy tab into my pants was no problem. Or you don't mind carry a bag around for putting it in.

2. For people who does not always talk to the phone all the time or occasionally can leave the phone behind.
I don't make a lot of call and also not expecting a lot call. Even there is one, I usually use the earphone for talking, which is not convenient. (Anyway, there is a new version call the Galaxy Tab 7 plus which comes with a ear speaker, so you can take calls without using the earphone.) Speaking of not expecting calls, on lunch hour I leave my phone behind in the office because for all those months, there is no one call came in on that hour.

3. Screen size is your top priority; for video, games, reading and web browsing.
Seriously, I'm not going to let the phone sitting idle for all day waiting for call, which hardly any calls come in. The phone now can be use for reading, casual games, video and web browsing. Games looks much more better in 7 inch screen size compared to my friends 3.7 inch screen and the control is much easier too for Cut The Rope and Where's My Water game. This alone explain the rest for video, reading and web browsing.

In short, 7 inch screen phone is NOT for people with small hand/pocket, has to carry the phone all the time for calls and mobility is top priority.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

DVD player may not necessary needs hdmi


Just want to say that the old conventional DVD player video still works well on modern TV.

My home DVD player gone dead months ago. It was good,  it served my family well and it comes with a hdmi output. Most of our surprise was that hdmi connection where it does shows clarity compared to old DVD player. Until one day, the player got too heated and the picture on the screen started to black out occasionally. Finally, It becomes dead completely when I try to plug in the USB fan to cool it down (Don't try to plug into the USB port something that doesn't design for in the first place).

Well, from that day onward, we have been using mini hifi for DVD movie. Of course, I can hear complaint across the family board due to bad picture quality. "Enough is enough", said mom-in-law one day and decided to get one of the cheap DVD player available in the major store outlet.

RM 99, Sony brand, without hdmi but conventional cable with 3 color plug, small and slim form factor, comes with one year warranty, looked just the perfect piece for our living room. After the cable setup and initial DVD configuration, pop in a DVD, seat back and relax, then it was jaw dropping.

It was not just as good but even better than our previous hdmi DVD player. I don't know what Sony has done to make a cheap DVD so great but it sure worth every penny spent.

In the end, mom-in-law happy, I'm happy (I watched my movie on my laptop by the way) and I realized that hdmi shouldn't be one of the feature that affect DVDs player buying decision (Probably the price and the picture quality should be the buying decision, if you got the chance to test them on the spot).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blackberry phone does not come with address book management

My wife recently just bought a Blackberry 9870 phone with a new Sim card. I was helping her to export her contacts from her old dump phone and import to her new Blackberry. I installed the Blackberry Desktop Software so I can help her to manage the contact easily. To my dismay, the desktop software does not comes with address book management. It relies on Microsoft Outlook or Windows 7 contacts to manage them.

WTH? My dump phone Nokia 2730 that comes with Ovi Desktop software includes a address book management. My wife dump phone sony ericsson comes with address book management software. My Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 also comes with address book management software. Blackberry phone, nothing.

I guess the reason is Blackberry targets on enterprise user which usually uses Microsoft Outlook. However, they seems to be missing the home user market. My wife wanted a Blackberry because she dislikes touch screen phone. She always missed the keys when trying to type a message. In the end, it was Blackberry keyboard that wins her heart (plus she does not plays games with her phone, no point getting a large screen).

Now I have to use the Windows 7 contact to manage the contacts although it seems not very user friendly. Anyway, I was thinking of getting another Blackberry for myself but after all this, I rather get other smartphone instead (sorry to say this but it was all the small things that count for a decision of getting a smartphone).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Traveling to China

This is a my second personal trip to China (probably around Beijing). The first one was like ~10 years ago. I was young then and couldn't get any camera gear to take good photos. Now, this coming trip (which I will boarding my flight in 12 hours) with my wife is looking forward to take some great pictures while we there. I bought an extra battery for my camera since the first battery was like more than 2 years old (I was hoping to get the Nikon 35mm 1.8G DX for some night shot but I think I'll settle it with a tripod).

The trip planning wasn't done by me so I have no idea what we're going to do there. Nevertheless, my wife's friend, who's origin there, will take us around for the first couple of days. Later we will be on our own and my wife was rather good on doing adventurous (last minute) planning. :P

Lastly, I'm recovering from flu which I caught it from yesterday. I went to see the doctor this morning and took some medication. Hopefully, it will be all well when I board the flight. Although the flu weakens me but my heart is feeling the excitement on this coming trip.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Gingerbread short review.

I have tried countless of time to download the latest firmware for my Galaxy Tab using Kies and countless of time I have been disappointed. This is either the firmware won't download, always stuck at 0%, time-out error, unknown error dialogue box pop up for no reason (even though I was surfing the web uninterrupted). Beside that, the software does not support resume feature, which means that every time there is a time-out error, it won't resume where it left off.

Probably, I'll just keep using the current Froyo version until Samsung finally has an update on fixing this issue.

Update: Finally I sorted out the internet issue by using mobile 3G connection and finally successfully download the firmware (300mb - 350mb). It seems that my phone 3G connection worked much more stable than landline. Anyway, I have tried out the Gingerbread firmware and I found it does not give too many surprises. Below is a short list of the new features which I found:

1. New text selection which is great for text editing.
2. New apps (sketch memo, hubs, pulse, downloads) and widget (daily briefing widget is updated).
3. Smaller icon for notification. Probably it's best you have a lot of notification service running so they can fit in.
4. Task and memory management is updated (not more level 1 or 2 clearing).
5. Notification pull down now runs much smoother.
6. New boot up screen and sound.

Unwanted features:
1. Folder in home screen lagged when closing (almost 3 second). I had to install Go Launcher to replace it.
2. Gameloft Dungeon Hunter HD needs to be re-installed and saved game will be lost.
3. Gameloft Spider Man needs to be re-installed but saved game remains. (thank God, but only playable till halfway. Known issue.)
4. USB connection type selection is removed while connecting to laptop using usb cable. Kies is set as default and it doesn't work with my Ubuntu. To set it as mass storage, unplug the usb cable from laptop, go to wireless and network in setting, select usb setting and set mass storage. Well, I still prefer the old usb connection type selection screen.

In short, it's really just the 0.1 version increase. Probably I can do without it. Nevertheless, there are some technical benefit behind it. Such as more apps available in Market perhaps? There is not much different in browsing speed. So 0.1 is still 0.1 increase. No miracle here.

Final Note: Some suggests to do a factory reset after upgrade. In my opinion, seriously, I don't want to go there because there's too many apps to restore (around 80 apps).



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coffee

I used to drink coffee in office. One day, I found out that I get depressed after drinking coffee and I suspect that it was caused by the stress in work and that caffine back fired (just a assumption based on my experience, no scientific approved). However when I get a coffee break while I was shopping with my wife, the caffine worked just fine.

So, here I realized that coffee can somehow react differently under different condition. When I drink it while I was happy and enjoying it, it tends to boost the feeling. On the other hand, if it was drink under stress, it tends to boost that too. So, I stop drinking coffee when I’m stress. :P

Monday, May 16, 2011

Galaxy Tab 7 home user review

I bought the Samsung galaxy tab (3G version, 7' screen size) couple of weeks ago and start playing it around ever since. In summary, I really enjoy using it.

The unit I'm reviewing was used mostly in WIFI. I don't use the unit for phone call or sms (I already have a dumb phone) but mainly for web browsing, ebook, occasional msn, games, music and YouTube. There are no technical spec provided in this review, as a home user doesn't really care much about the spec. Seriously. However, I do care about whether this device able to handle the stuff we're are looking for. (e.g. playing video without a need to convert the format or resize the resolution)

Sound
I love the sound quality. The default music player is superb that comes with equalizer and effect. My preference music setting is Rock equalizer with Wide/Sound Clarity effect. For classical music, choosing classical equalizer plus concert hall effect is awesome. The player also comes with 5.1 channel surround sound but I guess that is for the TV output using the HDMI accessory. Unfortunately the earphone comes with it is average quality and the bass output was rather flat. I recommend get a portable headphones (such as Koss Portapro) for better sound experience.

A side note, do be careful when delete files in the disk while your music is playing. This is because the media scanner will stop the music and re-scan the media again. Furthermore, the stock earphone sometimes will automatically plays music when I pull them out from the jack. I'm not sure why but that's rather inconvienent. Sometimes I have accidently press the earphone call button and music player starts playing. This can't be turn off in the music player setting. Errrrggg.
 
Update: If you are serious on getting good quality sound out from the tab, get the PowerAMP Music Player app music player (tweaking required) from android market. I have tried the app for one day and I already love it. It really changes the sound and music to a new level.

Screen (video and reading)
Viewing angle is great and text is crisp and clear. Video playing is great (with general avi format) with bookmark and subtitle support. Screen is also superb for ebook and web page reading. Anyway, like other tablet suffers, finger smudges all over the screen after few pages turned and links tapping. Furthermore, the screen is reflective type (will become annoying in bright area) and it can be solved with an anti-reflect screen protector.

There is one cool app which is the Digital Frame where I can turn the tab into a desk frame. it can show the clock, photo or playing music. of course it should always connected with the charging cable else it will run out battery fast.

Typing (Blogging, messaging and web browsing)
Portrait typing is easy and pleasant. Landscape typing wasn't that comfortable as the key is bit too far for my 2 thumbs to reach (but increase in accuracy). However, typing on screen lacks of physical key feel thus it's easy to make mistake. No fear, the keyboard comes with spelling correction. However, it was not always foolproof.

Position the cursor in a statement is hard because setting the cursor just beside "I" is hard to pin point using index finger. Highlight, cut and paste a statement require some effort to get it right. At this point, I'm missed the mouse I used for document editing in laptop.

The keyboard comes with 3 types.The Samsung basic keyboard, swype, and the Diopen Chinese input keyboard. Now not only i can type in English but in Chinese as well.

Update: Typing using swype is a joy because it uses gesture for input. It's like drawing on the keyboard screen and your text just pop up. For me, I think it's kinda fun. I also recommended it to my friend with a samsung phone and the first time he try it, he was hooked. Anyway, I will made swype as mandatory for my future phone purchase. No swype, no phone.

Blogging is a joy as once the idea comes along, pick up the tablet, press the power button and I can start writing straight away. No need to hold the idea until I get to my laptop, where sometime the idea slipped away. Writing/blogging can be done on every minute if the mood is right because there's no need to stick at the desktop/laptop.
Synchronization between tablet and laptop is must for me (I hate connecting cable to laptop) when editing my article. Therefor, I relied on Dropbox (which is a great app) to do the synchronization between laptop and tablet for me.
Internet messaging now can be bring around with you to where you go, as long you have 3g connection setup or in a WIFI hotspot.

Web browsing does not have the same experience as a laptop and I always do my web surfing at home using laptop whenever possible. Tablet browsing has some lag and it gets bad when multiple tab are opened and flash content is loaded (always set the flash plugin in demand mode or disable it). Nevertheless, it still perform much better than using my dumb phone, plus web page text still readable using landscape position without resize the text or zoom in. (Get Opera browser for better performance. Please note that some web pages will not show properly but most of the popular website shows just fine.)

Battery life
It can last for a day for heavy used. Light usage may extend the battery for 2 days. Nevertheless, this is a charge daily device because I guess no one wanna leave a tablet half charged when taking it out for a spin. Beside that, I recommend to get a usb extend cable because the default cable is short. Having a extend cable will allow me to use the device while charging comfortably.

App
The Galaxy Tab comes with ThinkFree office (full version), which I think it's essential for any office document reading (including pdf viewing support) or writing. However, editing office document in the tab was not as smooth as in laptop. Furthermore, there are no spell check, thus editing your final work is better take place in the office site in your desktop.

Other standard app such as ebook, memo, alarm clock, calendar, contacts (if you're using the phone function), browser, YouTube, music and video player are user friendly and easy to use.

There are no games included but you can download the Need for Speed Shift for free from Samsung app, which is a very good driving game in my opinion. There are more games available in the Android Market but limited (probably due to different screen resolution compatibility). Nevertheless, gaming on a flat screen surface is rather weird for me because I prefer using a game pad with buttons. Therefore, I don't recommend tablet for serious gaming but thumbs up for Sudoku or Board game which fully utilize the screen surface.

Other app that I recommend install as follows:
1. Opeara browser offers for more performance compare to the default android browser. Dolphin browser for more add-on and feature. (Opera still my favorite choice)
2. Quick Setting and Quick Battery for easy access to system menu
3. Colordict dictionary + dictionary files for word searching
4. Adobe reader for pdf ebook reading but go for ezpdfreader if you can afford 0.99.
5. Taskos for easy manage todo list
6. Catch note/Springpad for better note taking with online sync.
7. Ebuddy for online chat
8. Dropbox for synchronization between laptop and tablet9. Jota text editor for text file editing. Better performance than writing in ThinkFree word document.
10. Viber (text and voice call) and Whatsapp for text messaging using wifi.
11. GPS essential to replace Google maps for navigation.

Purchased Apps
1. Gingerbread Keyboard works much better than default keyboard and comes in black theme, which helps save battery life (Unfortunately, Swype is better which I found it out later).
2. ezPDF for reading pdf files. It has bookmark and remembers setting that you have set for reading earlier. Works much better than Adobe reader plus it supports Colordict so you can search words while reading. Best pdf reader ever.
3. Switch Pro for better power control widget.
4. Juice Defender Plus for extend the battery life
5. PowerAmp that comes better sound quality and control for music player 
6. ADWLauncher for home screen customization.
7. Beautiful Widget, well the app name explains itself. 

GPS Navigation
 This is where the downfall of mobile GPS and Google Maps. First, GPS is sucks for mobile because of the slow respones and coordinate lagging. Second, Google Map is nice but it requires data connection (to get the online map) to work. Therefore, you need 3G connection plus GPS working along and this going to suck the battery life fast (required car charger to fix this). In addition, Google Map does not allow to save location. Therefore I need to search back the location again every time if I need to go back to the same place. For the time being, let's hope Google can fix this in future (as in full function navigation device) to compete with GPS device out there. By the way, the Navigation app does not work in Malaysia.
Price
When they first launch this product, it was bloody expensive. With the same price at that point of time, I can get a gaming laptop. After the price has finally come down over a year, it cost around the same price of a average smartphone. There's even a wifi version which cost much cheaper than the 3G version making them even more affordable to get. I wanted the 3G version because I might need the connection when I'm on an oversea trip to look for more info on a spot if there are no wifi around.

Verdict
Finally, I think Galaxy Tab 7 is great buy. It gets the job done for surfing the web, writing my work, playing some casual games, listening to music and viewing videos on the go. Although the new and more improved version of Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10 just around the corner but I think the 7' screen is what makes it stands out.

Update: Gingerbread firmware has finally released. You can grab them from Kies software.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Avoid prepaid broadband

Half hours of online surfing gone because Maxis has just suddenly cut off my line while i was in the middle of online game with my colleague. I have paid my hard earn money of RM 3 for 2 hours of prepaid internet access and what did i get is just only 1 and 1/2 hour. I also checked the data cap and it still within limit (< 100mb). I can't believe it, also embarrassed, as my colleague couldn't believe it either.

Lesson learned. Prepaid 3G broadband seems not reliable in Maxis. I heard DIGI also having some problem with 3G connection sometimes. Anyway, luckily i got the cheapest package as i was wondering of getting the 10 dollar package for 2 day access. :-P

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Karaoke in Malaysia

They can be heard in a high class chinese restaurant. Don't be shocked if you're having your dinner and suddenly, someone go on stage karaoke singing. It's common because there was a wedding reception going on on the other side and we all sitting in one big hall with no sound proof divider.

If the singer is good on singing, you're on a lucky day. If not, the food somehow taste different.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A talk with a real estate executive director.

I and my wife were doing some real estate scouting just to look for some unit for investment. Since the real estate market in Malaysia is booming (as in a lot houses and condo being built at this point of time), so we thought probably we might get some great deal.

We saw one advertisment in the newspaper and went for the sales office. To our dissapointment, the office was closed and when we're going leave the place, somehow we noticed 2 persons in the office. The man inside noticed us, opened the door and let us in. The first couple minute of introduction, we are not sure who he is as he doesn't looked like a sales person and he also mentioned his staff wasn't working that day. Even after he hand over his business card, we didn't noticed the title until I found an article on the table that he is the executive director for this company.

He started talking about his latest project and unit available in detail plus some tips on finding a good investment property. He also mentioned that he had open couple of seminar and talks about property investment strategy to the public. I was surprised that in his tone, he was humble and no sign of bragging or looking down on us (probably we're looked young and he thought we're buying our first home). Then I slipped my mouth and ask him whether we can have a visit to his existing project. He replied in a heart beat that he will take us there personally.

First, I thought we're going there by our own car taggin his car but he insisted that we go with him on his Mercides Benz S class. I was shocked but still keep my cool intact. He showed us around the condo (plus the rooftop) he'd built and mentioned along the tips he talked to us earlier. Well, it's true and the place sure looked more attractive to those previous condos we have scouted so far. After the tour is done,  we exchanged couple of thoughts and investment ideas on our way back to the sales office. We thanked him for the sharing the investment tips and the hospitality of taking us for a tour.

Seriously, I've never ride in a executive director's car and go for a tour until I met this man. But I'm sure his going make a lot of friends and sales on his project with his generous hospitality.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Half an hour hassle just for 4 cents

I got a letter from Maybank stated that my 4 cents balance amount has been overdue. To my shock, this 4 cents wasn't stated anywhere in the online banking list of account nor in the e-statement. After a call to the bank, I and my wife got to know that the 4 cents is actually a bank charges on my credit card balance transfer. Argument happened in the phone between my wife and the operator as my wife was concern on our credit point deduction in National Bank due to late payment. Finally, we ask for the manager to handle this case (by issue a letter) because clearly, we have no idea there is a balance and it can't be seen thru online banking nor e-statement. Thus, we can't make the payment.

Today, I went to the bank just to make the 4 cents payment and out of my expectation, there is traffice jam and no parking lot. It took me half an hour to get a parking and another 15 mins to settle the amount. Is it worth the hassle? I just shake my head and couldn't believe why Maybank system unable to show the 4 cents balance and allow me to settle it thru online banking.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bad attitude

There was one day I went to Sungei Wang for lunch and shopping. I usually go for Low Yat Plaza basement parking because it was much easier to find a parking there than in Sungei Wang. Somehow, there was an event happing in Low Yat and we're are directed to Sungei Wang to look for parking.

As usual, we drove quite a while at the basement car park and finally we saw a couple walking towards their car and seems ready to leave. We putted our car signal on to indicate we going to park this lot once the couple left.

We waited for 5 minutes and the driver still not start their car engine yet. My wife started to get impatient and I can see that the driver was dialing his phone and put the phone towards his ear. Well, all knows that if there is a car waiting for your parking lot, for sure we will try not to make others wait but this driver is clearly seems doesn't care (For optimistic thinking sake, I bet his has an emergency call needs to make at this point of time).

Then I checked my phone (maxis line with the best signal) and it shows that there is none signal bar at all! At this point, I'm not sure whether I should cry because I'm a victim here. Laugh, because of the driver stupidity. Angry, because of the waiting. (Luckily I didn't go crazy because of this mixed feeling).

In the end, I laugh at it, although my wife was angry how could such people exists in the world. All I can say is that stupidity does not have a cure. :D :D :D. The driver finally found out his stupidity in a short while, put down the phone and drove away.