Wednesday, 4 June 2014

iOS 8 - Short Rant

I was quite upbeat with the upcoming iOS 8 and the OS X Yosmite until I actually saw the enitre conference online. While I am not criticising the conference, I am just wondering what sort of "innovation" which Tim Cook is referring to before WWDC 2014.

No doubt that the iOS 8 and the OS X Yosmite UI include many new features, they are not really innovations taking into account other companies have managed to produce such apps. My point here is that there is no real "innovation" apart from the fact that it is the very first time Apple is incorporating such features such as third party keyboard apps. It looks as if Apple is willing to accept the risk of their operating systems being flooded with potential viruss or malware. This is a concern taking into account what Android has gone through recently.

I welcome new features on the new operating systems but felt let down nontheless. Luckily I did not pay to watch the event except for electricity and time to do so.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Avoid Buying on eBay!

Introduction
I am a frequent eBay buyer. In fact, I don't really understand why would I trust eBay so much despite other people trying to warn me of scams on eBay. I did not really take much notice of their warnings until recently where I was one of the victims of fraud. I was being conned for more than £400.

In a nutshell, I purchased an item for £400 but the seller said that his paypal account is not working so I would have to send money into his account directly. I should have not listened to the seller. After sending £400 to the account which he gave me, he refused to send me the goods which I have ordered and paid for it.

Immediately I called eBay but they said that they could not help me because I paid via bank transfer and they have no legal right to insist the seller in returning the money to me or send me the good. This is because I did not pay via paypal.

eBay's Failure (1)
I then questioned eBay as to how they are going to deal with my case. All I've been told that eBay has implemented some measures on the seller but I do not know what is it all about. I am not allowed to have the seller's address because it is a breach of data protection. I don't quite understand it because it is unfair taking into account that the seller has my address but I could not have the seller's address despite there are sufficient evidence to proof that the seller has received the money but did not send me any goods.

eBay's Failure (2)
Since I was told from the beginning by one of eBay's customer service advisors that I could not retrieve the money which I have spent even though the seller did not send me the good as promised, I pursue the matter with eBay. However, unfortunately I was told that there is nothing much eBay could help me in this case. I then insisted that they investigate the matter further. I did call them many times but they gave me the same answer as they are looking at the matter.

eBay's Failure (3)
I don't think that eBay is serious about protecting a buyer at all. I then made further calls to eBay and made some suggestions to eBay. I insisted that someone from eBay send me a reply into what is eBay going to do with this seller. One month has passed and I have not received any e-mails nor any calls from eBay even though I have specifically asked them to do. They did not bother to send me an e-mail stating as to the next course of action which they might be taking against the seller. Before I got aggitated with eBay, I did mention to them that they should take onboard Amazon's model where both buyer and seller will have better protection because sellers will have to sell via Amazon's credit system and monies will only be despensed to the seller if the goods have been shipped. If the seller has not sent the goods even though it is stated "shipped", the buyer will be able to get a refund from Amazon and Amazon will investigate further. I don't believe that the eBay customer service officer is keen in improving their security at all.

I am not surprised when eBay sent me an e-mail asking me to change my password due to some security breached. In the e-mail itself, eBay does not seem to be interested in ensuring eBay user's security at all. If that is the case, why would we want to use eBay to buy goods at all? I think we should just spend less time in buying on eBay and move over to Amazon instead.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Dell XPS 15 (9530) - A Simple Review after 48 Hours of Using It

Although the Dell XPS 15 (9530) has been selling since Q4 of 2013, I have not taken the plunge of getting one because I was really interested in the Macbook Air due to its superb portability. At that moment in time, I do not need the firepower of a quadcore cpu.

However, at this moment, I would need to have a good laptop with a quadcore cpu. Apart from that, I would also require the laptop to be around 15" and it must be a slim laptop. After doing some research, I have the finalist - Dell XPS 15 (9530) with 512GB mSATA and 16GB of memory; MSI GS60 Ghost Pro; Gigabyte P35K CF4 and the Macbook Pro 15 with 512GB PCI-e storage as well as 16GB of memory.

Initially, I have ruled out the Gigabyte P35K CF4 due to some quality control issues. It is quite well known if you have paid a visit to notebookreview.com. It seems that Gigabyte is still trying to improve on the P35K's chassis.

Perhaps I could get myself an MSI GS60 Ghost Pro since it comes with the latest Nvidia Gforce 870M graphics card. After doing some research, I have also ruled it out because I am not impressed with the cooling system of such device. I just could not work with constant light buzzing coming from the cooling fans.

Alternatively, I could get myself a Macbook Pro 15 with 512GB PCIe storage with 16GB of memory since it is a quiet machine and it has superb connectivity as well as thunderbolt 2 ports. I did not take the machine due to its high price tag.

This means that I would have to settle with the Dell XPS 15 (9530) with 512GB mSATA storage as well as 16GB of memory. Honestly the machine is not too shabby because it has a beautiful screen with a resolution of 3200x1800 and the machine is light at 2.02kg. It has 4 usb ports coupled with a mini display port as well as a HDMI port. It is simply beautiful. In addition to that, it is relatively cheaper than the Apple Macbook Pro 15 which I have mentioned above.

After paying for the Dell XPS 15 (9530), I was told that it will take around 12 working days to arrive. Oh dear... It is such a drag. I was told that the machine will be arriving from China so that is the reason. I then told myself that I am patient and I will wait for the machine to arrive.

I was asked to track my order online. In summary, it took 6 days for the machine to be build before it is being shipped from China to the UK. I wonder why it took so long to build the machine since I have not made any changes to the stock machine in the first place! Anyway, after it has been shipped, it took another 8 days before I have the machine delivered to me.

I was really happy when I have received the machine. It is sturdy and classy. The chassis itself looks premium and it is light. The mSATA is fast (I am not surprised because it is a Samsung 841 product) and the screen is magnificient. I have no question in relation to the dead pixels on the screen. The machine is also very quiet when I am merely surfing the internet and the system fan rarely run above 1100rpm.I am also very happy with the fact that the 91Whr battery lasted me 6 hours before I need to recharge the machine for the first time ( Bear in mind that I have only used it for word processing as well as light surfing on the internet).

I then had to recharge the XPS 15 when the battery is low. At this moment, I am counting by the time as to how long will it take for the machine to be fully recharged. Well, it took the machine 3 hours to fully recharge the battery. I am puzzled but not surprised because the machine comes with a 91Whr battery. Well, it would only take less than one hour for someone to fully recharge an Apple Macbook Pro 15 and it is equipped with a 95Whr battery! That is certainly very strange indeed.

While I was browsing on the internet with the wall charger plugged in, I can hear faint noises. I then decided to do some tests and it is certainly it is noise surfing the internet with the wall charger plugged in. It is worst when the battery is fully recharged. The noise will stop when the wall charge is removed. I am quite upset because it is a new machine and I would not expect a new machine to behave like that. I then did some research and it relates to a condition of coil whining.

Apparently Dell knows about the problem but they claimed that it is merely an isolated problem.

Well, the coil whining problem is not the only problem I had. The magnificient screen has caused many problems to me. While I can adjust the screen's resolution, it will only make toolbars extra large while the text on the toolbar too small to read. I then called Dell and they managed to scale the resolution down to 1920x1080 but I still have problems because the toolbar on the internet browser is too big while the text is readable. It goes the same to the toolbar when accessing Word documents.

Eventually, I called Dell customer service again and an engineer was called to fix my laptop the following day. He came over and he managed to replace the motherboard and the power cable before he left. Unfortunately, with the change of the motherboard, it has rendered Windows 8.1 unusable. This is because the laptop kept on rebooting by itself and gave me an error which states: Driver_Power_State_Failure. I was then given the option of asking the engineer to fix the problem or Dell will eventually place an order for a new unit. I am also given the option of a full refund since I have only had it for two days.

I did not think twice and told the kind Dell customer service officer that I would like to have a full refund because I am not happy with the product which I am using due to problems which I have encountered. There is no guarantee that a new unit will be free from any problem though. In that case, I would have to resort to laptop hunting again.

What a shame, Dell!!!

Update:

30 May 2014 - The return of the laptop took one week but I have yet to receive my refund. Maybe it will take another week to do so. 

04 June 2014 - Finally, after many calls being made, I have received an e-mail stating that my account is closed. However, I have yet to receive any news in regard to my refund.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Dell's Delivery System

I am not sure how am I going to start writing about Dell's delivery system but surely I will lend a hand in adding another negative score to Dell's delivery system.This is because I am quite upset when I was being informed that my order will arrive on a particular date but later found out that it has yet to leave China!

The entire problem started when I've tried to order a Dell XPS 15 (9530) machine via the telephone on 29 April 2014. I ordered via the telephone because I would like to speak to someone on the phone. Evetually I have managed to secure an order (By the way, it is a standard order without any customisation) and I was being sent an invoice.

The date on the invoice has suggested that the Estimated Time Arrival will be on 23 May 2014. I am puzzled as to the massive time taken by Dell to deliver the order. When I've tried to question the delivery date, I was being informed that this is the latest in which my order will arrive.

I then received another invoice (by the way, it is the same as the first invoice) from the same sale representative two days later. In that e-mail, I was given a link which will direct me to a website where I could track my order in real time.

When I did try to click on the link, the link brought me to a currier called WalshWestern. I then looked at the Estimated Time of Arrival on the website and it has suggested that I will most probably receive the order by 12 May 2014. I was really impressed taking into account that the order was shipped on 5 May 2014. However, I was taken a back seat when I realised that there was no movement from the website apart from the fact that the order has left the factory on 5 May 2014 even though it is 11 May 2014.

Quickly I gave Dell a call and I was being asked to call WalshWestern (The Dell Representative gave me a 0871 number but it does not work. I had to use saynoto0870.com to find the right telephone number to call.). Apparently the company is based in Ireland and the kind woman on the other hand was really honest with me. She said that they have yet to receive the order from China. When I've tried to ask her why did it take so long to arrive, I was told that the company have to take into account public holidays. Well, the truth is that there is no public holiday in China as of now so I have no idea what was she trying to tell me. Perhaps she was referring to public holidays in the UK. Anyway, I have being told that the order will most probably arrived at their facility on this coming Thursday and I will receive it the next day which is on a Friday.

At this moment, I don't really understand the logic in Dell tryhing to deliver goods to its customers. It seems that Dell has out-sourced their delivery of goods sold to Walsh Western who act as an agent. Dell does not have any total control over their delivery system anymore. I am really sad right now because Dell have not gained more customer by out-sourcing their delivery system to other companies. This is because it is illogical when it takes more than two weeks after the goods have been shipped to arrive at the doorstep of the customer. It is simply unimaginable.

Dell, you need to improve on your delivery system or else people will just buy another brand especially Apple! You need to value your customers!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Blackberry Z10 (After Updating to 10.2.1) - Simple Review

Ever since the former company RIM has decided to release the Blackberry Z10, I have been eyeing on the device for quite some time now. I like the 4.2" clear and bright screen; a 1800mAh battery; light in weight (138g); packed with 2013 specifications including NFC and A-GPS as well as GLONASS. The veru first released OS10 on the Blackberry Z10 (BB Z10) was clunky and slow. I could not wait for the menu to move over to refresh as it was taking ages to do so.

A year after the launch of the BB Z10, Blackberry has released the latest OS 10.2.1 firmware to address many problems of the BB Z10 previously reported. Before I venture into the negativity of the BB Z10, it will be a good idea to discuss about the many good qualities of the BB Z10.

From my point of view, there are many good qualities of using the BB Z10. It goes without saying that the device is very light. I am also impressed with the fact that it has NFC and HDMI as well as the support of an external microSD card up to 64GB. I believe that the device will also support Sandisk's 128GB microSD card but I only have a 64GB Samsung Pro microSD card to test the device.

If you are an experienced Andriod or iOS user, you might find the OS 10 a little bit overwhelmed and you would require some time to get used to it. Initially I was reluctant to try using the BB Z10 but I have changed my mind when it has 2GB RAM and comes with a standard 16GB internal flash storage which you could increase the storage with an external memory card which I have discussed earlier.

I have no issues with the hardware of the device although it could be argued that the camera quality of the BB Z10 should have included a 6 lense element as well as a 13MP on the main camera. The main camera could record videos 1080p at 30fps where else the secondary camera is a 2MP digital camera with 720p recording at 30fps. I guess I could not complain because the shutter speed will put all Nokia Phones to shame. The shutter speed is as quick as the Iphone 5s. The picture quality as well as the video quality on the BB Z10 is superb under normal condition but suffered slightly under low light. The user must ensure that he/she is not taking any pictures or videos under too much light or else the picture will get disorientated. Moreover, there are not many camera functions to play with on the BB Z10. I guess the BB Z10 device is not meant to be used primarily for taking pictures.

What is important is that I am impressed with the improvements under OS 10.2.1 as compared to when the OS 10 was first lauched as well as the hardware of the BB Z10.

If there is a problem with the BB Z10, I would have to point it towards the lack of sufficient apps in the Blackberry World. However, this should not be a problem because a BB OS 10 user could install Google apps without any problem. The only problem is for the user to find the particular apk file to install. Apart from that, the device is still taking ages to boot up! It is also worst if you want to perform a system wide reset. If you do so, it will take around 15 minutes or more to reset the device. I believe that this is the slowest booting time for a device which I have ever come across for the last fifteen years since I've started meddling with mobile phones. I am not in favour of Blackberry Hub. It is clunky.

Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am falling in love with the BB Z10. Coupled with the fact that it is now £180 for a brand new SIM free unit, I believe that the device is well worth trying and use it as a primary mobile phone.

Keep it up, Blackberry!

Update:

10/05/2014 - I have spoken too soon. My Blackberry Z10 could not read any micro SIM cards. That is pretty strange because it could do so since I have purchased it. I'm afraid that the unit will have to be sent to Blackberry for repair for now. How sad...

14/05/2014 - I went back to Carphonewarehouse and they swapped my faulty BB Z10 for a new unit. I am happy as the new unit is running properly now.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

Ever since Samsung has launched their phablet Samsung Galaxy Note, I have been interested in acquiring a phablet from Samsung. It did not happen until they released the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. My intention of writing up this article to look deeper into the hardware and the relationship between the hardware and the complimentary Android OS 4.4.2 Kitkat OS into the Samsung Galaxy Note 3[SM-N9005] (hereinafter SGN3). I will also be writing up in regard to the day-to-day userbility of the phablet.

What's Under the Hood

I am pretty impressed with the hardware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I am happy that Samsung has placed a 13MP camera at the back as well as a 2MP camera at the front for video conference or for taking selfie pictures. The 5.7" Super AMOLED capacitive screen with 386ppi is ever so responsive and it is being protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The device comes with microSD card support and for this review, I have used a Samsung Pro microSD card to conduct various tests. The Samsung Pro microSD allows a read speed of 70MB/s and a write speed of 20MB/s.

I am equally impressed with the 3GB RAM and the 32GB internal storage of the device. Please be careful as there are many versions of the device being sold in the UK so potential buyers will have to be careful before they make a decision to buy a SGN3. The list below will indicate the availability of the SGN3:

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9000 - With 3G connectivity;
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9002 - With 3G and dual SIM card support;
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005 - With 3G and LTE; and
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9009 - CDMA 2000.

The N9005 which I am using comes with LTE Cat4 download and upload with usb 3.0 support. The SGN3 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 which runs at 2.3 Ghz and it is a quad core Krait 400 cpu. The SGN3 supports A-GPS and GLONASS for the Russian GPS and its SAR rating for use in the EU is 0.29 watt/kg when using it closed to a person's head and 0.36 watt/kg if worn on the body. It comes with an S pen which is highly sensitive.

Android 4.4.2 OS KitKat

When you purchased the SGN3, it will most probably be equipped with the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS. You will then be asked to update the OS to 4.4.2. I would suggest that users should update the OS first before installing any softwares on the device. Once you have updated the OS to 4.4.2, I would suggest that you should rest the phone and then you could start install your favourite apps on the device.

Advantages of using the SGN3

When you start using the SGN3, you might feel that the device is quite big in your hand. If that is the case, you could activate the phone's one-hand opetation within settings. This will enable users to execute a function by using one hand only. Users may also feel that the screen is a beauty. I am most impressed with the smoothness of the menu speed. The screen is readable under strong sunlight. You may also want to enable 'Developer options' via this way - Settings - General - About device. Once you are within 'Above device', please click many times on the 'Build number' until you are being told that 'Developer options' is available.

With the developer options, you could actually disable many animations to speed up the menu even further.

Besides that, I am also impressed with the performance of the 13MP digital camera. With the upgraded firmware to 4.4.2, I do not experience any lag when taking pictures. Moreover, with the video function, users can also enable the 'smooth recording' under 'recording mode' to enable 60fps recording. The result is ever so stunning! The pictures taken under normal sun light is ever so impressive, similarly with the video recording under normal sunlight. However, I think the Nokia Lumia 1020 produced better pictures and videos under low light. However, the Nokia Lumia 1020 suffered from 3 seconds delay in between taking pictures. The delay has been reduced to 2 seconds after the upgrade to Nokia Black. If you are an iphone user, you might find taking pictures or videos on the Nokia Lumia 1020 inconvenience. I hope that futher firmware updates on the Nokia Lumia 1020 will enable zero shutter lag on the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Despite many complaints about its inbuild wireless antenna performance, I do not find any problems when using it though. I like the fact that the SGN3 has many inbuild features eg: NFC, bluetooth 4.0 and other 2014 specifications, I have yet to try out many of its features except for Bluetooth 4.0. I am happy to report that the bluetooth 4.0 performed remarkably.

With the 5.7" inch screen, watching movies on the SGN3 is exceptionally marvellous. The screen is crisp and clear without any lagging. Moreover, the device supports many audio and video codecs. The speaker is good but I would recommend using a pair of loud speakers if you want to watch a movie on your desk with the phablet.

The removable 3200mAh battery has solid performance! Usually a single charge will allow me to use it for one day. This is good due to the fact that the screen on the SGN3 is huge!

I seldom use the S Pen so I could not really commend on it but it looks cool.

I can report that the day-to-day usage of the phone to receive and make calls is good. I don't have any problems with drop signals despite using SIM cards from many mobile network operators in the UK. The GPS lock is fast and I am equally impressed.

Disadvantages

While I have not encoutered any problems with the userbility when using the SGN3, I find that the phablet may be slightly too big to keep it in my back pocket. On the other hand, the weight of the phone at 168g is way heavier than the iphone 5s which I am so accustomed to. However, I find that the 168g is nothing compared to my good old Nokia E90 which is weighted at around 200g with cover.

Conclusion

I feel that Samsung has done a good job in producing the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. However, in anticipating the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4 after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 a week ago, I hope that the successor to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will include optical image stabilisation.

Keep up the good work, Samsung.



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Mobile Phone Plan Price Increase

I am disgusted by the move of the many mobile phone companies in the UK to increase their prices during mid-contract. While I understand that mobile phone companies have struggled to make even more profit after the ruling by Ofcom and the EU Competition Commissioner to reduce roaming charges. The ruling by the EU Competition Commissioner to cap all incoming and outgoing roaming charges were well received by customers within the EU because it means that customers will not be charged at an astronomical price when they returned to their home country. The downside to this is that mobile companies no longer have the leverage to charge customers at a higher price. It cuts into their profit level.

Apart from that, the ruling from the recent report from Ofcom stated that mobile networks must notify customers if they want to increase customer's tariff during mid-contract. This comes as a good moves for customers but there are already drawbacks. One of harem would be the move by mobile network O2 in the Uk. They have pre-empt the decision by Ofcom by inserting exclusion clauses to prevent O2 customers from cancelling their contract even though there is a price increase during mid-term of he heir contract. The only way which customers could cancel their contract is to pay an Early Termination Fee.

On this note, O2's desire to increase customer's price plan during mid-contract is far from over. Most of the O2 customers have not received any news about the increase of their price plan via post or via text. The only thing which O2 did was to post a small article on their website indicating that there will be a price increase. What is going on with O2? I feel that O2 customers have been short-changed in this situation.

The bad news is that O2 is not the only mobile phone company in this bandwagon.other mobile phone companies eg: Vodafone, EE, T-Mobile, Orange and Tesco Mobile have indicated that they will be increasing their price tariff during a customer's contractual duration. So far, only EE have decided to inform customers of their intention to increase customer's tariffs via text messages, post and by giving customers a telephone call.

As for me, I think these companies are highly unethical. I will be using 3UK when my contract with O2 expire. So long, O2.