Fish

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.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Vodafone 4G Review

I have been longing for a good signal in my area particularly when no mobile network in the UK could provide me with a decent 3G signal. Typically I will only have five bar 2G on Vodafone which is not good at all. I then complaint to Vodafone customer service and they said that there is not much thing they could do to improve the signal at my area although it is mentioned that I should have a good 3G in my area.

Since the announcement of 4G by Vodafone, I have been asking Vodafone customer service as to whether there would be a good 4G signal in my area and they said that I will have a very good 4G signal in my area. I took their advice and purchased a 4G enabled mobile phone which will support Vodafone's 4G.

I have to make it clear that while Vodafone's 3G signal is weak, their 4G signal is very strong. In fact, I have 3 bars out of 5 bars of 4G on my mobile phone. Coupled with the fact that I am on Vodafone, I have 3 months of unlimited data to use and then followed by 12GB of data every month until my contract runs out in 12 months time.

I think it is much safer to chat with a Vodafone customer service advisor online before visiting a store. I think their customer service needs improvement. I think they should learn some tricks from 3UK. I had a long history with Vodafone where I had to call them a fwe times to do a simple thing which would have taken 3 minutes to do in the first place.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with the performance of the 4G. I could download apps up to 44Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps. I think that is impressive. Keep it up, Vodafone.


Tesco Hudl Tablet - A Valuable Competitor of the Ipad Mini and Google Nexus 7 (2nd Generation)

I was intrigued by the move of Tesco to launch their Hudl Tablet for a mere £119. It shares many up to date specifications of a modern tablet eg: quadcore chipset, HD screen, 16GB of internal memory with the option of increasing the storage to 48GB in total by inserting a 32GB memory card, stereo speakers and two cameras (one in front of the tablet and another, at the back of the tablet).

I am of the opinion that Tesco might not be able to make a huge profit by selling the tablet at such a low price but this issue will be dealt with later. As for this article, I will begin by providing a review on the Hudl's hardware and also on the software before comparing it with the Ipad Mini and the second generation of the Nexus 7.

The chipset found in the Hudl is not a yesterday's item. The 1.6Ghz quadcore cpu coupled with 1GB of memory and featured a respectable Mali-400 gpu with 16GB of storage space is a direct competitor to the Amazon Kindle HD, the Apple Ipad Mini and also the Google Nexus 7 (2nd generation). Apart from that, the Hudl have a pair of loud speakers but the sound may be distorted if put on too loud. It comes with a primary 3MP digital camera for the back and a 2MP for video calling or video conferencing. I am also impressed with the weight of the device which comes in around 380g. The IPS HD screen is bright and I have no problem in using it under direct sunlight. It comes with bluetooth, GPS and external memory storage for up to 32GB. Consumers can choose up to four colours when ordering for the Hudl tablet. 

So far, I have no issues with the hardware of the Hudl although the quadcore Mali-400 gpu seems to be quite old right now. The same gpu was featured in many mobile devices including the Samsung Galaxy S2. Nevertheless, I could not complain due to the price of the tablet in question.

In relation to the software made for the Hudl, it comes with the Android 4.2. When you boot up the device, it will ask you to upgrade the firmware to 1.2. You would need to have a wifi connection to update the firmware though. The whole process would not take a long time. It took me around 10 minutes to download and install the new firmware. The tablet will then reboot after installing the new firmware.

In respect to the user-friendliness, I have to be critical in the sense that the response when you touch on the screen is not as quick as you would have imagined on a quadcore tablet. However, I would not hesitate to start returning the tablet to Tesco because it does the job. I always use it for browsing and do presentation which has no problem at all.

There is only one thing which annoyed me a lot which is the location of the charging port and the location of the camera. The charging port is smacked right in the middle of the tablet so it is really difficult to use it while you charge the tablet. Apart from that, the location of the front video camera is in the middle - landscape mode. I am so used to the front video camera being at the side when you put the tablet in landscape mode but that is just my preference.

In using the tablet, I have not encountered any forced reboot of the software due to severe lagging of the device. In fact, it is serving me quite nicely. Moreover, the device can take in an external memory card up to 32GB which is really convenient. You can store your videos and pictures on the memory card instead of inside the device. Best of all ,you have a stereo speakers at the back but it will be covered when you use a cover so you would have to increase the volume if you are using a cover.

In conclusion, despite many shortcomings, the Hudl tablet from Tesco is worth a try. The nearest rival, the Google Nexus 7, is almost £80 more. I am satisfied with the customer service offered by Tesco in relation to the device itself. Kudos to Tesco in this occasion.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Vodafone's Decline in Profits - What's the Problem?

Vodafone's declined in profits have sprung warnings across other telecommunication networks in the region. What are the possibilities which caused Vodafone's profit to decrease?

While I am not able to discuss about the reasons behind the decrease of Vodafone's profit in other region, I might be able to discuss about the possible reasons which lead to the decrease in Vodafone's profit in the UK. We shall start with Vodafone's customer service.

Traditionally Vodafone's customer service has been their strongest point until recently. I have been a customer of Vodafone for the past ten years but I have not encountered a problem with bad attitude of their customer service until recently. I have no idea the change in the attitude of those lovely people but I feel that some Vodafone customers no longer feel the need to remain loyal to Vodafone.

Apart from a degrading customer service, Vodafone's 3G service should be called to question. I am wondering whether anyone will take note but I think I will give my unbiased review of Vodafone's 3G service in this post.

Initially, Vodafone's 3G service was pretty decent. They have lots of transmission masks around the UK including the countryside. I was getting a good signal using my trusted Nokia E90. I have endless joy using data via 3G on the Nokia E90. Out of the blues, the 3G signal just vanished. I was gobsmacked. I ended up calling customer service many times. However, I have come to a conclusion that they will not be able to help me because they said that my house is situated at the very end of a transmission tower which I beg to differ because I was getting a very good 3G service on my E90 until a few years ago.

The customer service agent then changed her attitude and said that they are working on their 3G signal. She then told me that they are going to release their 4G service and it will be much better than their 3G service.

At this moment, I am stuck on using 2G on my mobile phone but luckily I have wifi at home so it is not that bad. The point is that Vodafone knows that they have signal issues with their 3G service but they could not do anything more to improve the service!

Moreover, their price plan is also quite expensive as compared to other mobile networks eg: T-Mobile and other virtual networks like Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Giffgaff.

It is time for Vodafone to improve on their 3G signal to regain the crown. I have faith in Vodafone but they need to speed up in their improvements!

Update:

21 December 2013 - I have tried my level best to give Vodafone UK a chance to redeem itself. Recently I have upgraded my only contract with them for a Samsung flagship phone. Suffice to say, I was unhappy with their service. It has come to my attention that there are two types of contract where (a) store or (b) online. If you have upgraded your contract online or via the telephone, you have a better chance of seeking a replacement of the phone as opposed to upgrading your Vodafone contract in the store.

It is just a piece of advice but I will not recommend Vodafone UK anymore because they have absolutely no interest in providing good customer service especially those service assistance in the store. If you really need to stay with Vodafone, I would recommend you to take up a contract online or via the telephone and never ever sign up to a mobile contract in the store. You will regret it.

Vodafone UK does not put customers first. Apart from their poor 3G coverage in the country, their so called 4G coverage remain patchy. O2 UK arguably have the best 4G coverage in the country although EE have more 4G coverage than O2 UK. My analysis is O2 UK have the best 4G coverage in terms of stability and speed. No wonder Vodafone UK is losing customers much faster than other mobile network providers. It does not make sense if Vodafone UK is asking customers to pay £42 a month with 3 months unlimited data service if the customer can only receive 2G data for most of the time. Is this the way how Vodafone UK want to move forward to attract more customers? If that is an affirmation, I pity those Vodafone customers. Even ASDA have decided to ditch Vodafone UK and utilise EE for their prepaid service. I wonder why was the need to switch mobile partner. Perhaps this might provide a glimps of the true reason for the split. So long, Vodafone UK.

Friday, 12 July 2013

MSI GE40-20C Dragon Eye - Acer Aspire 3820 Clone?

I am curious in acquiring a portable laptop without sacrificing the raw power of a laptop since the release of the MacBook Pro 15 with retina display (hereinafter MBP-r). The  MBP-r is a good laptop. It comes with an 15.4" screen with retina display and it weighs approximately 2.02kg. If you have purchased a full body transparent casing for the laptop, you will be looking at a total weight of 2.5kg. Bearing in mind that even after the installation of the casing on the MBP-r, it is still considered light in weight. One of the strong points of the MBP-r is the low noise level and the slim chassis with a backlit keyboard. However, the problem with the MBP-r is that users will not be able to upgrade cpu and the memory as they are soldered on the motherboard. Above all, it is fairly expensive as it is being sold around £2000 in the UK.

Will a consumer be able to obtain a laptop which has similar specification as the MBP-r without breaking the bank account? Yes, indeed.

MSI has just launched their gaming laptop called GE40-20C Dragon Eye. The chassis is similar to the old Acer Aspire 3820 which I had before. Consumers in the USA and in many parts of the world will be able to customise their MSI GE40-20C but the option is not available in the UK. The GE40-20C is quick to boot up after I have swapped the original 750GB HDD for a 250GB Samsung 840 SSD. I have also managed to upgrade the existing 8GB DDR3L SODIMM memory to 16GB DDR3L SODIMM. Users will have to pay attention as the memory is not the normal DDR3 memory but instead, it is the newer DDR3L SODIMM memory. At this moment in time, it is very difficult to obtain another stick of DDR3L SODIMM memory from ADATA so many users of the laptop have sorted to sell the existing memory and buy a pair of 8GB DDR3 SODIMM memory from Kingston.

I am also happy with the performance of the laptop. Apart from swapping the hard drive and adding more memory, I have also swapped the wifi/Bluetooth combo card to my old Intel Advanced N6235 as the Azureware 1x1 ART8723AE wifi/Bluetooth combo card is nowhere near the superb performance of the N6235 card from Intel.

Some users have complaint about the noise level of the unit but I have no such problem at this moment. Perhaps potential buyers in the USA might want to modify their GE40-20C's copper heatsink solution as it is available from Xotic PC to ensure that they will definitely not have any problem with the heat especially during gaming. I am not sure whether the company will be able to sell the modified copper heatsink to customers outside USA but I will have to try asking them for help.

If you are thinking of downgrading the existing GE40-20C from Windows 8 to Windows 7, it is possible provided you download all the necessary drivers and utility suits for Windows 7 before you commence downgrading. I would advise users to avoid meddling with BIOS update.

Since I had the machine for four days, I am satisfied with the performance of the usb 3 ports on the left hand side of the machine and the speedy starting and shutting down time of the machine. I would recommend users to downgrade the machine from Windows 8 to Windows 7. Apart from that, the machine is very portable and it fits into my medium sized bag! I think the 14" 1600x900 resolution anti-glare screen with almost 8 hours of usage with a single charge with light surfing the internet and accessing word processor heavily is a good buy.

When it comes to gaming, users may feel that the noise is loud but it is bearable. The palm rest may get slightly hot but other than that, the machine is fine. The sound system is good even though it comes with a pair of stereo speaker without a subwoofer.

Overall, with a price of £955.14 from Scan computer in the UK, it is worth every penny of it. However, you need to be careful with computers being sold online as it might be returned units within the 14 days cooling period and it has been mixed up and being sold as new. Just be careful.



Nokia Lumia 1020 - Make or Break

Ever since the very first leak about the so called Nokia "EOS" being widely distributed across the internet, I have been fascinated by the hardware of the device. I want to witness myself during the launch of the "EOS" which is now known as the Nokia Lumia 1020 as I am really interested in the performance of the 41MP camera on the phone itself.

I gather that the initiative to launch a new 41MP camera device is nothing new to Nokia. If you noticed during the beginning of Steven Elop's address recently, he voiced out Nokia's innovation in creating good camera mobile phones which includes the Nokia N8, Nokia 808 Pureview and now the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Since the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020 (hereinafter NL1020), many sample videos and still pictures have being uploaded onto Youtube. From my understanding, the six element Advanced Carl Zeiss lens 41MP camera is a serious threat to both the Apple Iphone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 range of mobile devices.

Traditionally, the camera function on the iOS is pretty slick as users can always experience zero lag shutter. There are still some lag on the Samsung Galaxy S4 despite the South Korean's beat effort in providing zero lag shutter speed. I believe that the NL1020 has the potential to chew away some of both Apple and Samsung's customer if users are longing to  use an alternative device to an SLR camera.

On paper, the NL1020 is superb. The hardware and the design of the mobile device is somehow similar to the Nokia Lumia 920 minus the weight (The NL1020 is slighter lighter) and the NL1020 comes with a huge camera lens. I will be very interested to get myself a Nokia Lumia 1020 for a spin since I am in the mood of taking pictures. The good news is that the NL1020 will be available in the UK via both 3UK and O2 beginning of September 2013. I guess it will be worth waiting for the device to be purchased in September 2013.

Let's face it - Nokia has the upper hand in relation to the camera device on a mobile device but Nokia is not alone in this area. There are many companies who are offering 13MP cameras on mobile phones which includes Samsung. I think consumers might just get themselves a NL1020 although it is not running on a quadcore cpu or even loaded with an Adreno 330 gpu. However, the device will come with 2GB RAM which is worth mentioning. Most probably the NL1020 will come with the next generation of Windows Phone 8 or WP 8.1.

I think Nokia should release the NL1020 to users within two weeks of launch as it will help the company to regain some market share. Otherwise Nokia might face their biggest threat from Apple when they launch their successor to the Iphone 5.

Good luck to Nokia.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 I9502 (Dual Sim) Review

I have always been a fan of Apple since the inception of the Iphone 2G. However, time has come to move on from using the Iphone 5 since it is no longer my preferred choice for my daily use. This comes as no surprise because I am getting old and I could not rely on the small 4" screen on the Iphone 5. Please don't get me wrong as it is a formidable mobile phone. It will allow users to multitask and it has great features. Among them would be the great variety of apps and also the user friendliness of the iOS. Coupled with the soon to be launched iOS 7 to the mass public, it will certainly capture more customers.

However, I need a change at this point in time. This is crucial because I want to have the ability to insert two sim cards on a mobile phone itself without compromising the great functionality of a mobile phone. From the past, we have many dual sim mobile phones manufactured by Samsung, Nokia, HTC and Alcatel but it does not provide the state-of-the-art functions eg: 8MP digital camera with 441ppi resolution screen. One could argue that HTC has just released a dual sim version of their highly popular HTC One and it will be sold in many countries including Russia.

It is understood that the HTC One is one of the best mobile phones in the 2013 era. This mobile phone supports the LTE and it has a pair of stereo speaker. Apart from that, the UI is smooth and it is just about the right weight although it has its share of problems. I like the exceptionally good 4MP digital camera which HTC could have improved on the hardware of the digital camera.

The Nokia 920 is another good contender. It has a beefy battery and comes with Windows Phone 8. I have posted an article evaluating the quality and the friendliness in using the Nokia 920. The only possible criticism with the Nokia 920 is with the size and weight of the device. It is bulky and it reminds me of the Nokia E90 which I've used a good few years ago. The Nokia 920 supports LTE and comes with lots of modern era features including NFC. However, it should be taken into account that there is no external memory slot so users will only be able to utilise the in build 32GB of memory which is sufficient. I don't think the Nokia 920 will be suitable for me due to the weight of the device.

I then sat down and think of a formidable device which will be suitable for me and I will be able to keep it for a little longer than most of the mobile device which I have used before. I then started thinking of Samsung with their newly launched Samsung Galaxy S4. The problem with the Samsung Galaxy S4 is that it comes with many variations. The only Samsung Galaxy S4 (SGS4) variation which is available in the UK only comes with 16GB of internal storage. Moreover, users will only have less than 10GB out of the 16GB storage space to use due to the pre-installed softwares. Having said that, Samsung has just issued a firmware update to address this problem but it will only be available to the I9505 variation for this moment.

The updated firmware seemed to have allow users to install their apps on the external memory card but nonetheless, it is not acceptable. Many mobile phone users like me would have to resort to buying mobile phones online in order to obtain a 32GB or even a 64GB version of the SGS4.

Besides that, I would also require dual sim support on the mobile phone. It seems that the I9502 variant will suit me well so I've managed to secure a 32GB SGS4 I9502 from China since it is only available in China.

The I9502 is a serious contender to the Iphone 5. It has a bigger 5" screen on the SGS4 and it supports dual sim although the second sim slot will only support GSM and not 2G or 3G frequencies. Nonetheless, I have the opportunity to use only one mobile phone instead of having two mobile phone with me at all time.

The I9502 is similar to the I9500 variant as it uses the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chip. Apart from the variation from the I9500, the other difference will be in the form of its OS. This is because the I9502 is exclusive to China Unicom so it does not include Google Store but rather China Unicom's own webstore. Apart from that, it also includes Samsung App. Many users of the I9502 have tried to install Google Store on their I9502 devices without any success.

What is required of a I9502 user to install Google Store on their devices will be the need to obtain the latest firmware from samfirmware.com. Once a user has secured the latest firmware, it will be useful to download Odin 3.07 and to obtain the files to Root the I9502. You will be able to retrieve the files and specific instructions to Root the I9502 here. You would also require the Google app file which you can download from here.

It is fairly easy to install Google Store but you need to understand that I bear no responsibility if it bricks your mobile phone. In addition to that, I would also advise I9502 users to back up their ROM before doing the following procedure.

The steps to install and run Google Store successfully is fairly simple. All you need to do is to point your browser here to go through the steps in order to successfully install Google Store. You need to bear in mind that you need to use Google Translate to translate the website language from Thai to your desired language. Apart from that, it will be as easy as ABC.

I have to comment that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a worthy contender. It has a superb 13MP digital camera. It has a good sized battery and it is light! I did not use many of its in-build features eg: S Beam and S Voice as I do not require such function.

Good luck have a good time!

Update:

19 June 2013

I am in no position in trying to make use of the many advanced features of the SGS4 including air view because I find it a hassle to do so. I think Samsung would have to provide future firmware updates to enhance their capabilities. Apart from that, I am quite happy with the device.

At this moment in time, there is a new firmware for the I9502 which users could obtain it from samMobile here. I have managed to flash the new firmware and it has increased the phone's internal storage. However, it will not upgrade your I9502's baseband. I am still trying to silent the camera sound on the I9502 without any joy.

26 June 2013

After using the I9502 for nearly two weeks, I can confirm that I am impressed with the device. Many people have criticised the device for the lack of LTE but they have to understand that the device is exclusive to China Unicom and they have not released the 4G service in China. There is no use of installing an LTE radio on the I9502. 

I hope that China Unicom will release an updated firmware which will allow I9502 users to transfer installed apps from the internal memory to the external memory card soon.

12 July 2013

I am satisfied with the performance of the I9502. I am most happy with the fact that I do not need to carry two mobile phones. I hope that China Unicom will release an updated firmware to address the possibility of installing apps on the memory card soon.