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Hands on with the HTC Sensation XE aka HTC Beats

Last week, HTC launched their new ‘Beats’ line of smartphone composed of the HTC Sensation XE and the Sensation XL. Main difference of both is that the XE comes with a 4.3″ screen while the XL comes in a hybrid 4.7″ form factor. I have the XE version at home so here’s a quick unboxing and weekend first impressions.

The release of HTC’s ‘Beats’ is exciting as these phones come bundled with a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre in-ear earphones which are some of the best in the industry.


Really excited about: True 3D projection technology

Remember R2-D2 projecting to the rebel alliance? Remember Robin’s tactical overlay in Young Justice? I’m really excited for the “next phase” in display. Although it may take an additional 10 years to be improved and adopted by consumers, there’s hope in the horizon!

Digital Signage: Although the demonstration shows monochrome colors, full color projections are possible with the use of red, green and blue lasers. Imagine getting rid of all the ugly billboards along EDSA and instead have lasers projecting only in certain spots. But the key take away here is that these signs can be turned off anytime to give way to bluer skies.

EastWest Bank wants you to win a BlackBerry Torch (and more!)

You know, it’s OK to admit that your wallet seems to empty itself during the holiday gift giving routine. It’s the same story every Christmas — that I either decide to buy bulk gifts for all my friends (i.e. my blog themed cupcakes from way back) or individual gifts for people who are really memorable to me during the year. Now it’s usually the former, but one thing that I always had a hard time doing was budget my expenses. Well. Because even if let’s say I set a budget of PHP3,000-PHP5,000 for gifts (excluding family) I find out at the end of my shopping spree that I’ve emptied my wallet! I think “sales” are a consumer trap, especially if you’re into gadgets.

Hands on with the 5.3″ Samsung Galaxy Note

Been playing with the Samsung Galaxy Note for the past week. It’s a peculiar device, being the biggest smartphone to date yet doesn’t seem to have that bulky feel compared, say to Dell’s Streak. I’ve shown this phone to a lot of friends and the most common reaction is that of intrigue accompanied by the question, “would I look stupid carrying this around?”

Interview with Justin Gary, Creator of the Ascension Deck Building Game

OK. So here’s another side to my geekiness. Board games.

I’m hooked on Ascension. It’s the staple board game (sorry, Bang!) I play with my regular gaming group next to 7 Wonders. It’s fast, easy to understand, doesn’t require much setup, and you can play with 2-4 guys. A 30 minute game is already long. So I was thrilled at the chance to interview Justin Gary of Gary Games, creator of Ascension. For those who enjoy deck building games like Dominion, Ascension takes direct precedence as a more compact but still epic deck builder. This interview talks about how Ascension was conceived as well as the latest expansion, Storm of Souls.

SMART Communications to offer iPhone 4S by end 2011

The Inquirer reported this evening that SMART Communications would be offering the new Apple iPhone 4S come end of 2011.


MANILA, Philippines—Wireless telecommunications giant Smart Communications is set to heat up competition in the offering of telco services bundled with Apple products with the rollout of Apple’s game-changing smartphone iPhone to premium subscribers within this year.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Smart’s parent firm Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., confirmed that Smart was in talks with Apple to launch the latest version of the iPhone—iPhone4S—before yearend.

Similar to what happened to bigger markets like the United States, Germany and Canada, consumer electronics giant Apple has abandoned the regime of exclusive iPhone distribution.

With the lapse of the exclusivity deal with Globe Telecom, the original iPhone official carrier in the Philippines, Smart is now getting ready to launch iPhone4S as well.

The article also mentions the possibility to bring in Apple iPad tablets with data plans.

It seems that a Twitter hashtag campaign has started called #smartiphone. You can try to follow this for more developments. This development is rather interesting as SMART has already cornered exclusivity deals with HTC for their Android phones. WIth the iPhone 4S deal, has SMART locked in the smartphone business for both Android and iOS?

Aside: During the launch of the Netphone 701 and SmartNet platform at the Jump store, one of the execs did hint of being in talks with Apple for something related to smartphones. It seems like the cat is out of the bag. Are we going to see a SmartNet app pretty soon on the iTunes Store?

[N.B. There is a general disclosure on my blog’s about page on who I work / consult for.]

5 Things I Learned from the ASUS Zenbook launch in El Nido, Palawan

I spent my birthday in El Nido, Palawan together with some media friends and the ASUS crew. Here are 5 things I took home after ASUS presented their product lineup for Q4. In the evening of our first night, Jamie Ysrael together with Gabe Mercado (a good friend and fun host) launched the drool-worthy ASUS Zenbook.

On the side, I was also able to take several underwater photos from a dive fronting Miniloc island together with Intel’s Wowie Wong and Randy Kanapi.

So here’s what I learned:

My Solution to Watermarks

I don’t watermark photos. That’s because the photos that I sell are always printed on canvas anyway and I never give out the high resolution files so it’s really not a big deal for me if people grab my shots and post them all over the place. I’d love a linkback but if that’s not given, well, welcome to the Internet. So unless photography is your bread and butter I don’t see the need for you to batch watermark everything. Here’s a work-around solution to watermarking photos.


Tadah! Watermarks!

I think this is actually makes more sense than having a huge www.mywebsite.com at 50% opacity in the middle of your photo. It’s informative and you can even get creative with the use of empty space in your shots. I prefer doing text because I can’t draw but if I did, I’d doodle on them (<--- that cooking blog is amazing). What do you think?

Is the Samsung Galaxy Note too big? Here’s our actual hands on!

EDIT II: Want to see the Galaxy Note UNDERWATER? Check it out.

EDIT: Hands on with the Galaxy Note here.

I have a conspiracy theory about the worldwide consumer IT industry. Every year, all the manufacturers (except Apple — coz they’re not fun) add 1 inch to the screens of their smartphones to make consumers look more and more ridiculous when using these devices.

OK, but no, that’s probably too far from the truth but you have to admit that on paper, having a device that has 5.3″ of screen real estate can barely be called a phone anymore. In theory it all sounds bizarre, but this is one of those times where actually holding the device gives you that “aha!” moment. In short: The Samsung Galaxy Note works.

Top: Side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S II (4.3″ screen vs 5.3″ screen on the Note)

Read on for more photos and comparison.


Nokia N9 Preorder with SMART Communications comes with FREE Wireless Headset

The beautiful Nokia N9 is now available for preorder under new post-paid plans with SMART Communications.

The Nokia N9 comes free with Unlimited Data Plan 2000 for the 16GB model and free at Unlimited Data Plan 3000 for the 64GB model. The phone also comes free with the new All-In Plan 3500 for the 16GB model. PRE-ORDER NOW! You will be able to pick up the phones on the 21st of November. If you pre-order you will receive a free Nokia Wireless Music Receiver.

If you’re not familiar with the new All-In plans these are essentially fully customizable plans that give you really good options for saving A LOT of money. IMHO, it’s even better than pre-paid. Here are examples of services that the All-In plans offer:

80 minutes calls to all networks – PHP 250 / 30 days
2,500 SMS to all networks – PHP350 / 30 days

The Nokia N9 is a looker running on the MeeGo OS platform led by Intel. If you loved the N8 (everyone did!) the N9 is a step up to a good experience despite the stigma of Nokia “being left behind” by iOS and Android. Before you make judgements, I do suggest trying out the Nokia N9 in experience stores soon when you have the chance. It is great.

Lenovo A60 runs Android 2.3, Dual SIM, a steal at only PHP 7,990.00

EDIT II: Lenovo has released its holiday 2012 lineup — the P700i, K860 and S560 models. There is also an upgrade to the A60, the A65 and the more recent A60+. Check them out! So as not to confuse with the timelines, the P700i, K860 and S560 are the latest releases. Here is a comparison between the S560 and the P700i.

EDIT: Updated to include more insights after really getting to use it

I won Lenovo’s latest gem, the A60, last night. It’s been a long time coming but Lenovo Mobile is finally here. Oddly enough, the mobile division isn’t being handled by the consumer group of Ida Ong. Lenovo Mobile is a completely separate group with the phones being distributed by Open Communications Inc.

Clark as the Future and Inevitable Choice

Several of you who read this blog know my father, Jose Ma. “Digoy” Fernandez. He’s a columnist for various newspapers, was formerly in banking and also with government for a time. After retiring more than 10 yers ago he was asked to take a seat in the board of CIAC (Clark) to help in the acceleration of the new International and domestic terminal. Since NAIA I has been getting a lot of flak nowadays, this article brings to light the 5 year plan for (1) developing the new terminals in Clark for 50,000,000 passengers, (2) new commuter infrastructure and (3) decongesting of Manila and moving a lot of businesses up north.

Completion of new domestic terminal by end 2012
New International terminal (ala Singapore) within 5 years
Greenlighted budget flights to the USA
Clark as a regional FBMR station (Fixed Base and Maintenance and Repair)
NLEX-SLEX connection
High Speed Railway to Manila
Expansion of businesses up north to the Clark-Subic area to decongest Manila
Conversion of Clark into a tourist destination “Airport City”
50,000,000 tourist capacity

BusinessMirror.com.ph Home Banking Clark as the inevitable choice
Clark as the inevitable choice

THE former US Armed Forces base in Clark has been in the news of late, partly because of the rather unflattering publicity generated by the country’s premier airport in the capital metropolis. The problems associated with the single runway and the long-delayed rehabilitation of Terminal 1 have finally come to bear, and planners have started to take a longer and harder look at building up the necessary infrastructure to make the use of Clark a more viable option.

Please read. Please share. This one is happening.

Lytro Light Field Cameras Pricing: starts at USD $399 for 8GB model

I have been waiting for these to make it to retail and yes folks, this is definitely worth ordering for the holidays. The Lytro camera is part of the next generation camera technology that may replace point and shoot digital cameras as we know it.

In the “past” the conventional way of taking photos would be to focus on a subject and then take a snapshot. A lot of frustration can happen once photos are loaded onto the computer because shots were out of focus. I experience this a lot with underwater photography as I shoot using a 60mm macro lens and taking photos in strong current while floating (my typical subjects are usually the size of a grain of rice) make it so hard to concentrate on photography.


Presenting Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich

Google has been working closely with Samsung to unveil the latest iteration of its ‘Nexus’ line. Simply put, whenever you see a phone tagged as Nexus, it means that it was made with direct collaboration with Google, not just through the regular Android licensing agreement for hardware manufacturers. So what does this mean?

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Y Netphone Edition

Got my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Y Netphone Edition. Here’s an unboxing with a bit of commentary. On the side, I actually prefer writing commentary on the photos rather than watermarking it. Makes it more informative. =)

Read on.

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