Monday, May 30, 2016

ASUS made a better copy of Apple and Microsoft products

Copy cats

Taiwanese PC maker ASUS made a big statement during their Computex 2016 press conference in Taipei yesterday. They introduced a whole slew of computing products in all forms and sizes and honestly, I don't quite remember a company cramming in so much of new products during a launch event. Combining their Zenvolution and ROG event, the company unleashed more than a dozen new products.

While the smartphone trend has definitely affected trade shows like Computex which has previously been heavy on computer hardware, ASUS did manage to show off a number of PCs alongside their new ZenFone 3 series which is definitely the focus of the press conference as they spent the bulk of the time to explain the new features gracing their new smartphone lineup.

The overall trend with ASUS's biggest unveiling of the year seems to be catching up with the competition but they did also show off some cool innovations like Zenbo and their pure metal technology that makes metal smartphones look better by removing the weird looking antenna lines. And that brings me to the point of this article. Why hasn't Apple done the same thing.

I know it's a little premature to criticise Apple on this as the iPhone 7 is still not official yet but as leaks have shown, it looks like Apple still plans to keep the antenna lines on the next generation iPhone and as history has shown, Apple will recycle their new iPhone designs every other year. So, we might need to wait another two years before seeing an iPhone without antenna lines.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review: Nearly perfect

Should you buy a laptop or a tablet? That question still remains to be answered. Apple in particular is betting that tablets (iPad Pro) is the solution for the future. But in the Windows camp, Microsoft and it's partners are going multiple ways. The most popular and versatile option being the 2-in-1 form factor which is able to be both a tablet and a regular laptop. Microsoft's Surface Pro lineup has come a long way. Being refined each and every part of the way, the Surface Pro 4 is nearly a perfect machine for being a tablet and also a laptop for day to day use.

In terms of the hardware, Microsoft has got it spot on but the software in the other hand is not as perfect as the Surface Pro 3 when it first came out to the market. I will be taking this review from a basis of a computer rather than a tablet, because honestly, I rarely used it as a tablet because Windows 10 just isn't made for touch.
My experience in buying the Surface Pro 4 in Malaysia — "I waited for a few days and out of the blue, an email from Lazada came up saying that my order has been cancelled and that a refund towards my payment will be made in the next two days. This made me very even furious compared to what I was facing when they told me to wait for two weeks" Continue reading.
Before jumping into the nitty gritty stuff, I have to talk about buying this Surface Pro 4 itself. It's no secret that Microsoft was having some serious yield issues in the start mainly due to Intel not having enough Skylake processors for production. But that was Microsoft's side of the problem, my side of the problem has to do with a combination of hardware and logistical issues.

Long story short, the unit that I am using right now is the second Surface Pro 4 model because the first one I got had a dead left speaker and the online store I ordered mine took 3 weeks to tell me they were out of stock. You can read more about that story here.

My doubts about the Smart Home

The perfect world of Google Home

This year at I/O, Google looked into the future with lots of bright ideas that implement various Google technologies. There were some cool things like the new Google Assistant or the new Android Instant apps, but what caught my attention most is Google Home. The big reason why I feel so excited about it is because I just reviewed the Chromecast earlier this week and the Google Home speaker feels like the extension of that.

Just like what the Nexus Q could've been, Google Home Is the central hub for Google's vision for the smart home. People are calling the Google Home as the true competitor of Amazon's Echo speaker first introduced last year and even Google made it clear about where they got the inspiration to build a talking speaker.

Right now, concrete information about the technical specification and actual functionality that the Google Home is capable of is still scarce. But there is a video that Google played during the announcement to introduce the product to the crowd of developers at Google I/O. That video made me real excited and also doubtful about the validity of the product.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Google Chromecast (2015) Review

Google's original Chromecast launched in 2013 and since then, the hardware product evolved into and ecosystem with the rebranding of the Chromecast app into Google Cast. That shift in focus was due to the introduction of the 2nd generation Chromecast last year which introduced a new puck like design and also a second model dedicated to streaming audio.

In case you are unfamiliar with Google's Chromecast technology, it is a pretty simple concept. With the $35 Chromecast dongle, any television will automatically turn into a smart TV with the help of the Google Cast application on your Android or iOS device. The idea is pretty ingenious and frankly speaking, the process of streaming videos from your smartphone to a television is so simple and flawless.

So, here's my review of the 2nd generation Google Chromecast (2015)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Skinning the Surface Pro 4

The most precise fit on earth. That is the tagline of Canadian skin maker dbrand. If you have watched tech YouTube videos in the last couple of years, chances are you have probably heard about dbrand skins or other skin brands like Slick Wraps. I know I have, for years I have been watching those product placements with those skins outfitted on the devices and I won't say that I never wanted those cool looking skins, I just never felt that it was a compelling buy. But I have never felt the urge to do so until March 2016. Just so happens, the week before, dbrand announced skins for the Surface Pro 4 and I was deciding whether to get it or not.

Turns out, that extra waiting time got me a 30% discount as the company was holding a storewide discount on all skins to celebrate the comeback of their bamboo skins. At that point, it was pretty much an impulse decision to place an order for the Surface Pro 4 skin. So, after using the skin on my Surface Pro 4 for about a month now, does it live up to the claims on their website? Well, let's find out shall we.