Samsung Galaxy Note Review

When I first heard of the Galaxy Note, I was pretty intrigued. Combining a tablet and smartphone seemed like a good idea for someone who didn’t want to lug around an arsenal of gadgets, however, such good ideas – if not well executed – will usually end up as another flop. I decided to ask around for opinions, especially from the early adopters, to see if I should even consider this for my next phone. Amazingly enough, I got an opportunity to review the gadget soon after.

And no, this is not compensated for so it’s based on my personal experience with the gadget.

The Unboxing  & Form Factor

When I first unwrapped the gadget, I expected the Samsung Galaxy Note to be rather heavy given it’s huge 5.3-inch screen but was pleasantly surprised to find that the smartphone was really light (178g) and packed a beautifully slim design.

galaxynote front

gn_img_img08

+1.

However, I do feel that there was a slight letdown for the back cover. It seems like the plastic material was flimsy and would not stand up too well to rough handling. -1

Display

There are no words to aptly describe the awesome display. Boasting a HD SUPER AMOLED Display, this is no doubt the best smartphone touchscreen display that I’ve seen. Colours were wildly vibrant and vivid, images and text were highly defined and crystal clear. Reading emails, texts, and watching videos suddenly became a luxury on the Galaxy Note. It was beautiful.

Major plus. +5

Battery Life, Software

While I was reveling in the brilliant display, a small nagging thought popped up. Will the awesome display compromise the device’s battery life? There’s no point having a great gadget/phone if it’s going to run out of juice quickly, leaving me stranded without connectivity.

Fortunately, it seems like the 2,500mAh battery is more than capable of powering through at least 1.5 days per charge (based on my usage and that’s pretty heavy given my love for all things social + emails on the go). +1

The Galaxy Note operates on the Android™ 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) Platform. This was actually abit of a drawback for me given that I’ve been using the iOS for a long, long time. However, Android does provide a little more freedom for users to customise their phones, and buyers would already know about this prior purchase – hence, no issue here.

Another thing worth highlighting here: The 1.4GHz Dual Core Application Processor also made multi-tasking on the smartphone alot less painful with minimum lagging.

S Pen, S Memo

Another unique feature of the Galaxy Note is that it came with a stylus. My god, how long was it when we were using one of those things? And they don’t even work well half the time.

The S-Pen, however, gave me a run for money. I was rather impressed with the sensitivity of the S-Pen stylus and it proved to be a great productivity feature when jotting down notes during a meeting.

What’s more (and even better) is that users can use the S-Pen to select and outline an object in a picture to crop it directly!

8-330

No additional photo editing software required. This was easily one of my favourite feature. Photo-editing made easy. +1

I’m not going to go into technical specs – you can easily google that if you need those details.

All in all, I felt that the Galaxy Note performed well in all aspects and the display, in particular, was outstanding. Users, however, will need to consider if the size is something that they can get used to and fit into their lifestyle. If it’s yes on both counts, I say the Galaxy Note would be an attractive option to consider in your next smartphone purchase.

*All pictures from http://www.samsung.com/sg.

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Easy Money

easy money

easy money

Photos courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock, www.freerangestock.com and Chance Agrella

Flipping through the papers, it’s common to see ads offering low interest loans which promise that borrowers will get the cash in hand easily and quickly. It seems like all interested parties need to do, according to the copy in the ad, is to call the number stated.

Not just that, I realised that I’ve been getting telemarketing calls from banks quite frequently. Instead of pushing yet-another-damn-awesome-credit-card-with-unbelievable benefits, their focus seemed to have diverted to promoting easy money loans at “extremely favourable interest rates”. Even when turned down, they continue to persist and suggest that their audience can take up this “irresistible offer” to repay some other loans that he/she may be currently servicing.

Honestly, I’m quite appalled at this. For the wiser crowd, this may just prove to be merely abit of a nuisance to have to constantly refuse and turn down these “great deals”.

But what kind of message are we sending to the younger, more impressionable people?

That money’s easy to come by?

That it’s acceptable to enjoy and spend frivolously now by using borrowed money?

That all they need to do is to just dial that number in the ad and, viola, cash in hand!

This is a worrying trend.

Already more kids are now growing up in increasingly privileged environments, even becoming dubbed as the strawberry generation. Would they be able to withstand the pressure and stress, should we face turbulent economic times?

I’m not all that old, and sometimes, I do question myself – for me and my generation, are we really much better as compared to this “strawberry generation”? It’s really time to do a little soul-searching and reflection.

Going back to the easy money topic, it would be easy to try and address this problem by culling such open money loan ads or cold calls. This, however, would be a really superficial solution. Getting to the root of the problem, it may just be worthwhile to try to educate kids about the value of money right from the start – maybe in school or at home, and impart relevant knowledge and skills in helping them learn to manage their money wisely. Sometimes, I really wished that we had that incorporated into our education early on. It’s an essential skill, ain’t it?

 

SPF – 警徽天职 (C.L.I.F)

If you follow Singapore’s local TV occasionally, you would know that Channel 8 has recently aired a Mandarin drama series named C.L.I.F. This short, 20-episode series depict the life and job of our policemen and law enforcers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

clif

Many have criticised that the show feels more like an extended recruitment drive advertisement for the SPF, some have even gone as far as to call it propaganda. But even if it was, is such “propaganda” always bad? Or are we too quick to jump to conclusions and judge near-everything associated with public services as propaganda?

Singapore is well-known to be a safe and secure nation – and I believe many people would agree that alot of the credit for this goes to the SPF (amongst other defense and law enforcement units). Sometimes, just because we don’t see the danger or crime happening, we assume that all’s rosy and that crime seldom happens, if at all. We forget that there are people putting themselves on the frontline to stop or minimise crime, defending our little red dot against crooks and criminals.

Even if the series might have featured some heavy doses of ad-copy-like-lines, I still feel that this show does provide a little more insight into the day-to-day duties of the men/women in blue, as well as, serve as a reminder of what is happening out there and what can possibly happen. Just because it hasn’t happen doesn’t mean it wouldn’t in future. Hopefully, this show will drive home the message that we shouldn’t take security for granted.

Although the series may have many possible areas of improvement, give the show some credit already. At the very least, they don’t seem to be issuing iPads right? 🙂

For more information on CLIF, you can go here.

Happy 45th, Singapore.

Happy birthday, Singapore.

You’ve done well for yourself thus far, and I sincerely hope that we can become even better for the next 45 years.

Just like any other relationships, I do not think that you’re perfect. You have many aspects that I dislike, and even detest at times, however, you’ve also many fantastic qualities that played critical roles in my growing-up years. Thank you for the safe and stable environment, and sound infrastructure that you’ve provided. I hope that we can continue to improve and enhance our society to become a place where our citizens can all truly feel at home here.

Since it’s our 45th birthday, I thought it might be fun to commemorate this special occasion by highlighting 45 10 things that are uniquely Singapore. (Alright, 45 is just too challenging for a lone task. Contributions anyone?)

1. Singlish

Defined by Wiki as “Singlish, sometimes known in the academic community as Singapore Colloquial English, is an English-based creole language spoken in Singapore“.

For those who want to mingle in with the local crowd, here’s a “useful” guide (just for laughs please):

Singlish much?

Image source: Post entitled “Fly lice, anyone? The love-hate relationship with Singlish” by NLB blog

On a more serious note, the widespread use of Singlish has always been a topic of contention. Supporters take the usage of this self-made language with a pinch of salt, and highlight it as something that’s truly made in Singapore (as opposed to inheriting and localizing a tradition from other regions), while others feel that the use of Singlish is eroding the standard of English language locally. Personally, I’m more aligned to the former. As long as people still maintain their good command of language, and understand when and where it is appropriate to use the different types of languages, I don’t see why Singlish should be discriminated. At the very least, it helps to build a certain level of camaraderie among fellow countrymen, whether here or overseas.

2. Local delicacies, including Chili Crab, Char Kuey Teow, Laksa, Bakuteh

Besides an obvious cultural mishmash, our multiracial population has also given rise to some very exciting mix of cuisine here – Chinese, Cantonese, Teochew, Indian, Japanese (you name it) etc.

Some famous must-try local fare, that even local Singaporeans crave for when they go abroad for extended period, include cholesterol-laden Char Kuey Teow, which has juicy plump cockles (yum yum), Laksa (with the cockles again!), Chili Crab with small, deep fried man-tous, and aromatic Bakuteh (perfect after some hard partying).

Personal favorite picks (imho):

  • Char Kuey Teow: They say Old Airport Road’s hawker centre is good for this, but I’ve not tried it personally. Recommendations welcomed.
  • Laksa: Queensway Shopping Centre – Cheap and good! Get the additional otah as well, perfect companion.
  • Chili Crab (any sort of crabs actually!): Melban at Serangoon, Mister Crab at Ghim Moh
  • Bakuteh: Opposite Central Shopping Centre (at Clarke Quay). Haven’t tried this one personally too, but it’s packing in the crowds, so ought to be good?

Do let me know if you’ve other recommendations on the above, or if you’ll like to help me expand the list.

3. Almost-singular party

Our MIW. ‘Nuff said.

4. National campaigns for everything from family planning to promoting good verbal skills

In 1970s, we had “Stop at Two”, to “Clean & Green” and moving on to the more recent “Speak Good English”, we are definitely goal-oriented, and are highly focused and extremely structured in trying to achieve our objectives – for about anything. 🙂

5. Harmonious melting pot of different ethnic groups sporting multiple languages

Walk along the street, whether in CBD, Orchard, Chinatown, Little India etc, and keep a keen ear out. You’ll probably pick up a myriad of languages and dialects from English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil to Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese etc. Where else do you get all of these on such a tiny island?

6. Enthusiastic pursuit of being world’s “first”s or “best”s in many aspects

We also seem to have a fascination in breaking world records, or winning the world’s best [insert item here]. Changi Airport, “World’s best airport for [insert years here]”, has been one of our greatest pride and joy. Other records that Singapore has achieved include having the largest group participation of country line dancing, world’s fastest text messenger and making the largest mosaic from collected plastic bottles. Oh well.

7.Seemingly ridiculous housing prices

Despite the recent BTO launches, it seems like HDB prices are still going through the roof (no pun intended). A quick check on PropertyGuru, Singapore’s leading property site (according to their website), a 2-bedroom HDB flat in Telok Blangah might set you back by more than SGD800K. It was also recently reported (26 July 2010) that HDB resale prices have set a record high in Singapore. Die lah, how to have a home next time? 😦

8. Chewing gum ban

We’re famous for this! Just Google it.

9. Love for shopping, food and technology (especially gadgets and electronics)

Our shopping districts are world-famous, we have new malls popping up every other month (or so it seems), almost our entire Orchard Road is shadowed by tall shopping centers that flank both sides of the street. According to Uncyclopedia, there are 2.1 million shopping malls in Singapore, or nearly one for every two citizens.

As for technology, it is pretty much self-explanatory – there are PC/electronic fairs held every quarter, and almost every show is packed to the brim with Singaporeans scouring to get the best deals for their laptops, smartphones, lcds, blu-ray player etc.

10. Queuing for Hello Kitty (A typical classic; old but good)

Until now, I still can’t understand why there was such a craze over the mouth-less cat in the past. Why?

***

Was giving this a little more thought – Right now, I’m pretty sure that one of the key issues that citizens are grappling with revolves around the issue of “foreign talents (FT)”. I think many are feeling a little displaced and unsure of what the future will be like, as the ratio of FTs:locals continues to spiral upwards. Taking this into consideration, perhaps it might have been more apt to select Kit Chan’s “Home” as our theme song to promote citizens’ sense of belonging to our home country, no?

Or maybe, I’m just bias as “Home” remains one of my favorite National Day songs. To me, the song, especially the lyrics (in both English and Chinese versions) come across as heartfelt, sincere and not the least pretentious.

For those of you that like it as much as I do, here you go again. 🙂

Painfully Famous

We’ve seen a slew of celebrity-linked scandals recently, from Canto pop stars, famous international golfers, and well-known local acts. And it’s almost impossible to not hear about them, given that each such scandal hogged the media’s headlines for, at least, several days. I suspect they have also fueled many conversations in pantries, over water coolers, and at dinner tables.

Amidst all the negative publicity, public outcry and some PR-driven explanations and apologies, it seems like there are rather divided views on whether these incidents should merit this much attention, and if uninvolved third parties, like the general public, should be passing their individual judgments openly on these issues.

“Leave them alone”

Some are of the view that people should just leave these scandal-tainted celebrities alone. They’re just humans who are prone to mistakes, and who are we to judge them? They shouldn’t need to ‘answer’ to the public about their private matters, and should have the freedom to overcome this issue privately, on their own terms, at their own time, exercising their personal discretion.

“You have done us wrong”

Others feel that as celebrities, they are responsible for their actions, even towards the public, including their fans, supporters and viewers.

From the support their fans have shown them, they’ve enjoyed many privileges and benefits by riding on their fame. In turn, they have to live up to their projected image towards these groups of audience. Should they falter, it’s a mistake that they must apologize for, explain and rectify.

Personally, I’m leaning towards the latter view, especially for celebrities who have been constantly pushing/selling more ‘family-oriented’ and ‘responsible’ types of images.

I recognize that they’re no saints and hence, are susceptible to erroneous judgments, but while they have enjoyed the sweet endorsement deals that came along when brands wanted to associate themselves with their projected image, they should have also expected that they’ll need to pay more dearly when they fall from grace, no?

Fame is a double-edged sword.

Girls and alcohol

Alright, the idea to create this post was sparked off by the hotly-reported, alleged ‘molest’ incident that occurred at the recent Sentosa New Year Countdown Party.

Since it has been covered extensively by both online and mainstream media, I’m not going to detail the story here again. If you’re still in the dark, just Google it. Anyhow, this post is not to discuss about whether she was right/wrong, and what the public should/should not have done. This is about alcohol, and girls.

Ideally (and most expectantly), many people would just say “Girls, just don’t drink, or don’t party, so you won’t get into these types of situations”.

Bullshit. So how many people who preached this have heeded their own advice?

Let’s get realistic and practical.

Girls, if you like nightlife/partying, and even if you don’t, I’m sure there are possible socializing events that you would have to attend, here are some drinking tips from my personal experiences and friends (I’m no expert drinker, but I used to party…quite frequently).

  • If you want to drink, build up SOME alcohol endurance. I’m not encouraging binge drinking habits, but it would be useful to be able to hold down 2-3 drinks comfortably.
  • Know your drinks. Different types of drinks have varying levels of alcoholic content in them. You wouldn’t want to order a Graveyard or Long Island Tea if you can’t hold your drinks. Order accordingly. Even different types of hard liquor has different “expertise” levels, so to speak.
  • Variety is not good. If you’re drinking beer/wines/cocktails, try to stick to one type throughout the night,. Mixing different types of drinks (e.g. beer+wine) is an extremely bad idea as the effects come back multiple folds (it will feel that way).
  • Pace yourself, be prepared. Eat a proper meal before you start having drinks (having alcohol on an empty stomach means you would feel the effects double-quick, double impact). Pace? Slow and steady does it. And sip, not gulp. Avoid bottom-ups, unless you are sure you can handle it (still not advisable).
  • Anticipating a wild night? Go with very trusted friends. Becoming slightly tipsy is still okay, dead-drunk is not. Try to stick to clubs that are more reputable. And don’t wear skimpy or flimsy clothes.
  • Know your limits. Know when you need to stop. The kick from alcohol is usually delayed (depending on types of drinks – again, we go back to know point 2 “Know your drinks”), and you need to have a good gauge of when you should stop raising that glass. At your most tipsy stage, you should still be able to survey your environment, and get yourself home safely without the need for assistance.

Girls, practise common sense please. You’re out to enjoy and have fun, not put yourself at risk.

Don’t Push Us Away

Although it seems like the recession is gradually lifting, it hasn’t taken away the impending sense of doom that I constantly experience as a young, working adult here.

Endless reports on rising prices of public housing, so much so that they’re reaching ridiculous realms, seemingly weak analysis provided to justify these trends, weird statements made that appear to contradict the idea of democracy…

And I’ve only cited a few examples here.

Increasingly, these reads are diluting my passion, pushing me (or, perhaps, part of the younger generation as well) away from a place we thought is home.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I do love this place.

A true-blue, born and bred local, I recognize and applaud all past achievements made, but just like how couples need to maintain their relationships on an on-going basis, our love can’t be solely sustained by past glories and stories.

Present actions and mapped plans ahead figure high in keeping this passion burning bright, but what I think I’ve seen so far… doesn’t look too encouraging, to say the least.

We want to stay, don’t push us away, please.

Post-AWARE Saga

I’m sure that, by this time, most of you would be aware that the no-confidence motion has been passed, with the Old Guards being restored as the ex-co of AWARE. Although I wasn’t able to be there in person at Suntec on Saturday, I followed the entire proceedings closely via Twitter. Watching post-event videos of the EOGM, I can only imagine the level of tension and emotions that run throughout the course of the meeting.

Yes, the AWARE saga has come to an end and needless to say, I’m pleased with the outcome.

1 for equality, 0 for discrimination.

However, the end of this saga is only the beginning of the ex-co’s work now. The brand new ex-co, led by Dana Lam, and the work that they do, would be scrutinized more closely than ever, especially after their enormous surge in membership in these past few weeks. I sincerely hope that they will live up to their promises to promote gender equality for all, creating an environment for women that is pro choice and inclusive.

That aside, I think this AWARE saga is also a fantastic case study to examine the role and impact of the new media. Through virtual word-of-mouth,websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, the Old Guard had quickly made their side of the story heard by the online masses. By communicating and promoting awareness of their situation and challenges, they were able to garner the support of many within an extremely short period of time – such is power and dynamic nature of new media and its tools.

This saga has showcased the might of virtual communication and online communities. As much as you and I might think that this is a good development, I’m sure there are those that are kept awake at night thinking how this could work for or against them, and what steps they can take to mitigate this risk. Wait and see.


Save AWARE

I’ve been back from Cambodia since the second week of March, but work and life, in general, as kept me away. Despite the busy schedule, I’ve kept up with news and happenings of the blogosphere. With much disgust, I’ve been closely following the developments that were unfolding in the AWARE saga thus far. I’ve read numerous articles on traditional media, dailies, blog posts and tweets.

As a woman, here’s how I feel about this:

Amazed, Disgust, Consoled

I’m thoroughly amazed – amazed at the level of deceit that has played out in this entire saga, right from the planned and callously calculated takeover, amazed at the type of comments the new exco seemed to have expressed during their hastily called-for press conference and amazed that these people are actually respected and successful professionals in their respective fields.

Next came disgust. I’m disgusted at how some people can proclaim God’s name to deploy such questionable tactics. Although I’m no formal Christian, but I have an enormous amount of respect and belief for the religion, being educated in mainly missionary schools throughout my schooling years. And I still do maintain my stand on this. The AWARE saga is not about religion, it’s about some selected group of people exercising their perceived sense of “self righteousness” to discriminate against a certain group of minorities. This is about discrimination.

Amidst all the bullshit, I’ve found solace in one thing – that I’ve seen many speak up, voicing their thoughts, their views, their opinions with regards to this issue. Of course, to be honest, most of what I’ve seen go in favor of the old guards, of which I heartily agree (if it’s already not obvious to you now). I do, however, feel a tinge of regret: Why does it take such an incident to wake us up from our apathy?

Don’t take it from us. Go, look at the information, look at what both parties (new exco and old guards) are saying, and make an informed decision about who you think best personifies what AWARE should stand for.

Remember, AWARE was formed to protect women’s rights and equality. Save it, protect it, preserve it. For more information, please read: http://www.we-are-aware.sg/

You can make a difference.

Make your choice at the EOGM on 2 May 2009. Refer to the above website for further details.

Ad Talk – Carlsberg

To celebrate the upcoming festivities, Carlsberg has embarked on an ad campaign featuring celebrities such as Fiona Xie, Michelle Chia etc.

After watching this particular ad, I was amused by two things:

1. Fiona Xie’s lousy command of Mandarin (FYI, it was an ad aired on channel eight)
2. Fiona Xie was the appointed HEALTH ambassador for Carlsberg.

For goodness sake, this is a BEER ad. Beer and health DO NOT go together.

If the purpose of doing this was to enhance the image of Carlsberg beer by associating it with health and/or a healthy lifestyle, this ad has done achieved exactly the opposite effect.

When you remind viewers to take care of their health during a beer ad, wouldn’t this come to mind:

“Yah, health’s important, better not drink so much.”

As Cowboy might say…

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