Weekly Performance

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apple iPad

Give yourself a reason to spend and embrace the future of touchscreen.
Once thought to be dead, the tablet is back with Apple's iPad.
Starting at USD$499.
The iPad is not an 'upsized' iPhone.
It is a netbook of the future.
I can forsee:
a doctor's reviewing patient details on an iPad,
a financial advisor showing the prospectus on an iPad,
an interior designer showing and doing live 'drawing' on an iPad,
a researcher keeping records of experimental data on an iPad,
a wedding couple showing their wedding album on an iPad,
or simply use an iPad to enjoy 'real' Youtube videos, going on Facebook, chats, emails and surfing the web, all with the comfort of a huge 9.7-inch touchscreen!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Samsung GT-E1390 MP3 Mobile Phone

View Gallery Here

Samsung GT-E1390 MP3 Mobile Phone
S$79 (U.P. S$108)
Imagine in the middle of night, Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" tore through silence, so loud that it woke your whole company. That makes this the most powerful MP3 phone for the local men who need and can only use a non-camera phone for National Service. This phone is also great for those working the the government sector where camera phones are also disallowed. I did considered this when I got this phone, but the GT-E1390 is meant for mum who needs to downgrade to a simple, easy-to-use phone that playbacks her favourite MP3 ringtones loud and clear.

Specs in brief
Dual Band (GSM 900 / 1800) support 3G SIM cards
CSTN, 65K colors
128 x 128 pixels, 1.63 inches
Vibration; MP3 ringtones
Stereo Dual Speakers
1000 entries phonebook
5MB internal memory
microSD support (up to 2GB)
GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 - 48 kbps
WAP2.0 / xHTML
FM radio with RDS, FM recording
MP3 player
Voice memo
Chinese support and Pinyin input
Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh
686h Standby
10h Talktime
Size: 108 x 46 x 15.3 mm
Weight: 80g

Contents include: Instruction manual leaflet, Music Download Guide, Warranty Papers, Charger, Headset and Phone.
Note: 1GB microSD card is given free by the dealer.
Note: USB cable is not included.

Music controls is preset in the 4-way navigation cursor with Enter button.

Individual soft keys are used for the numerical keypad.
Hidden beneath the battery compartment is the microSD card slot and SIM slot.

Dual speakers with noise buffering cushions inside.
Removing the back cover is as easy as push and slide.

Port for headset and USB.

Super light-weight plastic phone that slips into the pocket easily.

Compared to HTC Tattoo and LG KS20.

I had to be cautious not to get a no-contract phone that cannot support 3G SIM card. Apparantly, as I was told, only the Nokia's have that issue. Since, I must choose one that does not have a camera, that cuts down the list to maybe 10 models. But still a lot to pick. One that plays back MP3 and has microSD suppport, filters the list to 2 or 3 models. But one that is below S$100, there is only Samsung GT-E1390. At S$79, it is probably the cheapest MP3 (with external memory support) no-contract phone in Singapore! This deal came with a free 1GB microSD card from the dealer.
I do not expect too much out of a CSTN screen, which made picture viewing and browser viewing quite redundant. This phone does not support video format playback. High resolution pictures are also no supported. But it delivers all my MP3 and WMA files through the Dual Speakers, loud, crisp and clear! It is the loudest from any phones that I have tried.
Apparantly, the phone is made of cheap and light plastic. Why do I say so? I accidentally dropped my adaptor on the phone, and resulted in a small ding on the edge of the shell. Nothing to cry about though, its only S$79!
It is the best phone for army! But it is also a perfect stand-in phone for my mum's cranky Nokia 5610 XpressMusic. It fulfills her criteria of playing back MP3 ringtones, super loud, Chinese support and excellent battery life.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

EATZ: The Green Room

A piece of tranquility still exists in the established heartland surrounded by towering pigeon holes. A part of the Aramsa Spas located in the centre of Bishan Park II, The Green Room is a modern vegetarian café that resembles a green paradise where the time simply stood still. The compound which also includes Canopy and PowerMoves, is surrounded by tall green trees and ferns, isolating it from the urbanization.
The Green Room Vegetarian Café serves a variety of healthy vegan and gluten-free dishes such Baked Zucchini & Eggplant, Laksa, Gnocchi, Vegetarian "Chicken" Rice and Curry "Lamb" Pie. Complete the meal with an Old Fashion Apple Crumble and Mango Fig Infusion fruit smoothie, Detox juice blend, a fragrant cup of Cappuccino or a soothing cup of Camomile Tea. Choose to dine indoors where the natural sunlight still shines through and breathing life to the tree that stood in the middle of the café, or unwind on the couch al fresco, while enjoying the greenery and breeze.

The Green Room Café
[Location Map]
Bishan Park II 1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1
Singapore 569931
Tel: 6556 1533
Opens daily 11am to 10pm

Fruit Smoothies
Strawberry & Orange Nectar - $9
Strawberry, orange and pineapple - rich in vitamin C and antioxidants
Blue Rush - $9
Blueberry, banana and apple - rich in antioxidants

The Green Room Gado-Gado
- $12
Thin strips of tempeh, tofu, cucumber, sweet turnip, french beans stacked together and served with nacho chips and a special roasted sweet & spicy cashew sauce.
suitable for vegan and is gluten-free.

Laksa - $13
Savour a guilt-free non-GMO soy milk laksa gravy with thick beehoon served with soy-based mock "prawns" and bean sprouts.

Freshly Baked Muesli & Almond Waffle - $10
A crsipy waffle with a choice of topping - butter & maple syrup, fresh bananas or fresh strawberries.

The Green Room is definitely a perfect place to unwind in a lazy afternoon with a few close friends or family. A getaway from the busy town and shopping malls. The Green Room makes the perfect place to have an afternoon tea session with my vegetarian friends. On weekdays, The Green Room holds a regular "Afternoon Tea in the Park", where they serve a variety of unique cakes and pastries.
If you think vegetarian food is unhealthy and tasteless, you are wrong! The Green Room serves food that are prepared with the health of the diners in mind, yet preserving the rich taste of its non-vegetarian version. The price is definitely not suitable for those who are used to eat vegetarian beehoon with loads of gluten mock meats. The prices are like any café or coffee houses, around S$10 per item. Some might consider it expensive to pay that price for vegetables, but the food are definitely prepared in a way using the freshest ingredients, to justify its price. I never got to try out the "Afternoon Tea in the Park", but I would love to try it someday. I heard that it is very good.
I spent some quality time from afternoon till the sun goes down, with an occasional shower. I definitely enjoyed the whole experience. It resembles dining at any restaurant in Rochester Park or the P.S. Cafe @Harding. I will definitely recommend and bring other friends to The Green Room.
Note: that 10% service charge and government taxes are applicable.

Photography & Editing by William Tan
©William Tan 2010

Monday, January 04, 2010

HTC Tattoo - Android™ Smartphone

HTC Tattoo Gallery
The new HTC Tattoo is the Taiwanese company's answer to the growing market of Android™ smartphones. Tattoo is marketed as a simplier and budget Andriod™ handset compared to its earlier Dream, Magic and Hero. As the name "Tattoo" suggests, the cover art of the Tattoo can be customized with designs according to the end-user's liking. This is done through the service provided by Garskin (for Asia) on TattooMyHTC. Tattoo is probably targetted at the mass-market who wishes to put a finger on beauty of Android™ devices.
For those new to Android™, Android™ is a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. Andriod™ was subsequently bought over by Google, and lately by the Open Handset Alliance, which allows developers to write codes in the Java language and control the device via Google-developed Java libraries. With this alliance, it means that there will be more apps developed for the Android™ Market.

Features At A Glance
Screen size: 2.8 in (71 mm)
Screen resolution: 240 x 320
Input devices: Resistive Touchscreen
3.2 megapixel fixed focus rear-facing camera
Digital compass
RAM: 256 MB
ROM: 512 MB
microSD slot (SDHC compatible)
Operating system: Android 1.6 and HTC Sense
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR & A2DP
HTC ExtUSB (Mini-B USB backwards compatible)
3.5 mm audio jack, microphone, speaker
FM Radio

Like any HTC Android™ smartphones, Tattoo comes in a slender white hardcover paper card box designed like a drawer, whereby the insert slides out from the bottom of the box. The front and sides of the box shows the many possibilities to "tattoo" your HTC Tattoo. As the snug fitting insert slowly slides down from the exterior box, the Tattoo unveils itself resting on a tray.

The contents are really simple. TheTattoo handset sits in a hard paper tray on the top tier. The battery is already installed in the device, however, it is protected by a sheath protecting the contacts, which needs to be removed to power up the phone. The documents includes: Quick Start Guide, HTC Care and Warranty Statement. Apparantly, the full instruction manual is not provided, and must be downloaded online. The leaflets includes: Accessories catalog and information on Garskin (official Tattoo cover manufacturer in Asia). For my handset, I get a complimentary cover redemption scratch card, which I can design and redemm a set of free Tattoo covers. My handset also comes with a Sandisk 2GB micro SD card with adaptor. Other accessories include the travel charger, 3-pin adaptor for the travel charger, mini-B USB cable and 3.5mm stereo headset (which has microphone capability).
The travel charger is like any USB adaptor that supplies 5V out from the USB port. I highly suspect that the generic S$5 ones from my local PC stores at SLS can function as a back-up charger.
The travel charger is like a universal charger which can accept various adaptor heads, mine came with a standard 3-pin plug for the local power sockets. The standard USB port at the bottom of the travel charger in hooked up via a USB-to-mini-B USB cable.

HTC Tattoo
The handset design immediately reminds me of the old HTC Touch. The texture of the default cover has a matt finish similar to those found on expensive Sigma photography lenses or some laptop chassis. However, I suspect that the coating might "peel" over time. Nevertheless, the capabiltiy to completely change the appearance of the Tattoo saves the day! The fully customizable covers can be design and ordered through Garskin. Compared to the earlier HTC Android phones, Tattoo comes in a smaller 2.8-inch resistive touch screen. This resisitve touchscreen does not support multi-touch, but allows finger nail operation (the ladies cheers!). The smaller screen means a smaller display resolution at 240 x 320px with 65K colors.
Measuring only 106 x 55.2 x 14 mm and 113g (including battery), Tattoo is definitely a shirt pocket-friendly phone.
The top edge of the Tattoo is a 3.5mm input for any standard 3.5mm earphones. For mic support, use the provided headset. A 3.2 megapixel fixed-focus module camera is located on the rear side of the Tattoo. This simple camera gives a maximum output resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. It does not have autofocus or macro modes. It does not come with a flash as well. Sad to say this means that the pictures are practically useless and chances of blurred pictures are very high.
The bottom edge of the Tattoo is the mini-B USB input for data transfer and charging.
The standard Android phone buttons are located at the bottom of the display: Home, Menu, Back, Search, Accept & End Call. Unlike the Magic or Hero, Tattoo does not come with a trackball. The navigation is done using an old-skool four-directional cursor located on a narrow ring. The centre of the ring is a huge Enter button (good for fat thumbs).
A simple press and slide-up motion removes the back cover, revealing the battery. Rated at 1100mAh, the cell allows talktime up to 6.5h on GSM. However, expect to charge the battery everyday, when you are constantly connected to the internet (which what Android phones are meant to be).
Under the battery reveals the SIM card slot. The bottom left corner is a microSD card slot which supports up to 16GB. Despite being a hots-wappable port, it is of any annoyance if the user needs to constantly remove the back cover to access the card.

Tattoo is powered by a single Qualcomm MSM 7225 processor which runs up to 528Mhz. Tattoo can communicate on GPRS and EDGE class 10, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 384 Kbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, miniUSB 2.0. Tattoo runs on Android™ 1.6 (Donut) platform which is newer than Magic and same as Hero. Multi-tasking is possible by holding the Home button, which will display the last six applications used. These remain active until overwritten by the seventh application. In People Widget, you can add contacts from various networking websites or email accounts. You can even get updates from them such as Facebook or Flickr updates. That is the beauty of Android smartphones! They allow users to get updated by staying connected to the internet! Never get lost again with the built-in GPS integrated with Google Maps.
The startup sequence can be quite a wait before being greeted by the green Android™ robot doing a "peek-a-boo".
With the HTC Sense UI (only on Hero and Tattoo, but not Magic), users can customize up to 7 Homescreens with HTC or Android™ widgets and shortcuts. The main Homescreen has the standard layout of a Clock and Weather Widget, People, Messages, Browser and Camera shortcuts.
To release the GUI from Lock, simply drag the time bar downwards.
The number keypad interface is designed so that fat fingers will never miss a button.
In the applications menu, you will find the standard applications. Some really useful applications will be GMail, Google Talk and Google Maps. More applications can be downloaded from the Android™ Market. Tattoo supports various multimedia formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, MPEG4, WAV, MIDI, Real Audio and Ogg formats. The integrated FM Radio that can be run in the background or listened on loudspeaker.
Chinese input is supported via pin yin or scribbling anywhere over the screen. This makes a perfect input method for my mum who prefers to text in Mandarin.

In the Hands
Tattoo, unlike its big brothers Hero and Magic, rests perfectly in the palm and slips away easily into the shirt pocket. Some like it big, but those who like the good things in small packages, Tattoo is the one. Single-handed operation is thus possible for those with long and flexible fingers.

Size Comparison
How does the Tattoo compare to other devices and objects?
Hands down, Tattoo is smaller than anything!
Tattoo VS LG KS20 and Nokia E71.
Off course, there are objects smaller than the Tattoo.
The usual residents in my reviews, usually unassociated but just cries for some cameo.
I must admit that my review barely covers 50% of what the HTC Tattoo, even lesser of what an Android™ smartphone can do! Bascially, with Android™, it is a whole new world out there with contributions from all around the globe. Using Android™ smartphones is all about staying connected to the internet. A mobile data plan is strongly recommended to fully utilise Android™ phones. I admit that I am noob to Android™ and there is a whole world to explore out there. First, I need to get connected!
I first fell in love with Android™ phones when I knew that I can do Google Talk on them and also stay connected in the background. I later started to appreciate its Google apps and widgets. The HTC Footprints™ feature is a simple but fun application to capture life chronicles through pictures and geo-tagging them on Google Maps. Google Maps with digital compass means that I will never get lost!
I soon found the sound from the Tattoo pleasing since the speaker on my KS20 cracks. I know that I will miss Office Mobile, which comes in Windows Mobile phones. I utilise the Excel 99% of the time, but I am certain that the Android™ version, DataViz's "Documents-to-Go" can satsify me. I know that I will definitely be disappointed by the camera and video calls without a secondary camera. But I know that the fun from Android™ applications will soon outweigh the things that I'll miss from my LG KS20.
So why Android™ and not iPhone? Android™ is the direct competitor to iPhone. Both platforms makes staying connected to the internet, more fun! Both have a wealth of widgets and apps to download from the internet. But the popularity of an Apple product still dominates (at least locally). Nevertheless, I would never like to join my uncle, aunt, nephew, nieces, stranger on the train, stranger on the street, as an iPhone user. Hence, I joined the other bank.
Why HTC Tattoo over Hero or Magic? The currently available Android™ phones from my Telcos are the Magic, Hero and Tattoo. I settled for the latter, because Hero is too expensive, despite have trackball and multi-touch, (2) Magic is running on the older version without HTC Sense UI and 3.5mm support and FM Radio. Tattoo has a smaller screen resolution which might make some of the apps from Android™ Market not compatible. However, I picked the S$30 cheaper Tattoo over Magic because the Tattoo runs on the newer software (same as Hero), has a3.5mm input, FM Radio, allows scribbling on the resistive touchscreen, directional cursor, smaller form factor, interchangeable customized covers. I got my HTC Tattoo at S$68 with a basic 2-year mobile contract sign-up.
Android™ smartphones are not the next best-thing, they are already the in-thing! HTC Tattoo is the cheapest way to let me get familiar to the wonderful world of Android™, while I anticipate the arrival of a legend! Have you joined Android™ yet?

Photography & Editing by William
©William Tan 2010

Please respect the copyrights of the photographs and content in this post. Please support my work by linking back to this post via this address: http://mybearbrick.blogspot.com/2010/01/htc-tattoo-android-smartphone.html
This is an individual and independent user review, for more information on the official product, please refer to: http://www.htc.com/www/product/tattoo/overview.html

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