Vodafone UK – 4G

Vodafone

All the Providers are talking about their 4G Coverage in London. Of course the 4G Services is only available to Contract numbers, not Pay As You Go or Top Up lines. In my case I have a contract line and upgraded to 4G contectivity with a max of 8GB per month for 36 GB per month, you can change from month to month, but only stay on 4G.

I was happy and thought I would get the same service as I do in Kuwait. At full signal I was getting 50+ MB/s which was impressive. Out of all the companies – EE, Orange, O2, Vodafone, & 3 – I read that Vodafone has the best 4G coverage in London as well as the fastest.

It seems their definition of coverage is similar to swiss cheese, lots of holes in the network. 4G was fine as long as I had 4G coverage, spotty would be putting it nicely. The coverage in London’s main metropolitan area is a disaster. Every building I go into, there is almost little to no coverage, and even when we are outisde it is max one or two bars. Rarely do I see full bars, I don’t know how they planned their coverage but Vodafone falls far behind Zain or any of our Mobile Companies in Kuwait. Zain has spoilt us, our expectations are too high.

WIMD – Constant Service

WIMD

With the introduction of Zain’s 4G Router people had options for their homes and remote locations. 4G has drastically changed people’s options, even with the caps it isn’t too bad. But at this point the links have gotten somewhat saturated still it’s faster then land lines, you get between 10 to 20 MB on a constant level when nobody’s online you might get 25 to 30 MBs.

For my case I can only get up to 0.5 MB on my land line so that isn’t an option and fiber has been promised since 2008 and I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that. WIMD has been the best and most consistent option for me, they are company who are genuinely trying to improve their services.

I have had a 20 MB subscription with them since they first opened over a year and a half ago and after about a year it would get as far as 14 MB and wouldn’t come close to 20 MB. That was after February when my subscription was renewed. The service would go down every once in a while but no longer then 30 minutes at most and their support is very responsive. But that happens at most once a week sometimes the whole month is fine.

In June of this year I was contacted by WIMD Sales for my 20 MB Subscription to reduce it to the 15 MB Subscription since they couldn’t retain the 20 MB Speed, and they refunded my the difference right away, even discounting the period from February until June which is very surprising for an ISP. So instead of the 1250 KWD that I paid, they refunded me the difference of 400 KWD down to 850 KWD even though it has been four months since the subscription started. Then on top of that since June onwards my connection which would hit between 16 to 18 MB on downloads consistently without any issues.

They do have some technical issues but they are working through it and the issues aren’t repeated, they are growing their bandwidth because the service speeds in my case has improved. And their service has been constant, unlike what I have seen from Mada who came out strong out of the gate but invested in the wrong technology and failed to improve upon it, ending up with some very crappy services. In my opinion WIMD has excellent service and for some people I know they have had bad experiences because of their location, but in my case honestly it has been fantastic and I hope they keep this up and gain more subscribers because of it.

The New Windows Phone Line Up

NokiaLumia625

Nokia is coming out strong with their new Lumia line up and thanks to Jacqui for bringing to light the details of the Lumia 625. I have the HTC 8X which I think its fantastic and it lasts over 24 hours which is odd for a new phone, and whats great about it is that it has never hanged and is something that can’t be said of either the iPhone or Android. The Windows Phone hasn’t had an update since WP 8 and it doesn’t look like any updates are coming along any time soon only the hardware. I don’t have a major issue with Windows Phones, the status updates need to updated as it currently sucks but everything else is pretty good. The new hardware brings 4G into the mix, the 625 looks great except for the camera, and the 1020 has a ridiculously large camera which makes the phone slightly oversized, and the 1520 is too huge. I want a 4G Windows Phone which is light, and a great camera which would be the perfect Windows Phone, but Nokia’s new line up looks impressive.

Nokia Lumia – 625

  • 5MP Camera – Not That Great Expected Better
  • 4G
  • 4.7 Inch Screen – Pretty Good

Nokia Lumia – 1020

  • 41 MP Camera
  • 4.5 Inch Screen
  • 4G

Nokia Lumia – 1520

  • No Exact Details
  • 6 Inch Screen

NokiaLumia1020

Fasttelco – Aloo Service

FTAloo

I got my hands on the Fasttelco Aloo service a few weeks back now and its turned out to be much better then expected. The Aloo service is an ISDN service based in Kuwait from Fasttelco, you can have a local land line number attached as SIP line to any SIP capable App like Media 5, Bria, or Zoiper. The local lines start with 2220XXXX, these are the regular lines. It works great across 4G & 3G while driving, didn’t disconnect at all.

You get different different choices of lines:

  • Normal Line 70 KWD
  • Silver Line 120 KWD
  • Gold Line 200 KWD
  • Platinum Line 500 KWD
  • Diamond Line 1000 KWD
  • Royal Line 5000 KWD

This is a one time payment for those lines above, then its 60 KWD a year for the service. The yearly service rate is a reasonable rate compared to what you can do with the line. I purchased a Gold Line for a number that is easy to dial and remember. I plugged the line directly into the Android internet calling, it would ask if the call is through the internet or through the phone line, when I choose internet it uses my FT Aloo line which works perfectly. We tried it on two phones but only one could be used.

The best use of this phone is when you travel, it doesn’t matter what line you have on your phone as long as you have data. So when I’m abroad I can divert my Kuwaiti line to the FT Aloo line and it will ring where ever I am as long as I have data in the country that I am in. One point though, even if it doesn’t connect the line will still ring and miss you service from Zain won’t show the line that called you because it was diverted. Still the ability to use this line abroad is fantastic and well worth it.

Fasttelco 1838485

Dual Sim Phones – 2013

HTCDesire600

HTC Desire 600 – Dual Sim

  • Display: 4.5-inch Super LCD2 display at qHD resolution (960 x 540 pixels)
  • Camera: 8 MP camera with auto focus, LED flash with 720p Recording
  • SoC: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 200, quad-core, 1.2GHz
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage + microSD (up to 64GB)
  • OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Sense 5, upgradeable to Android 4.2.2
  • Battery: 1,860mAh battery (non-removable)

Price: TBD

HTCOneDual

HTC One – Dual Sim Specs

  • Display: 4.7-inches, Super LCD3, 1080×1920 pixels (469 ppi pixel density)
  • Camera: 4-megapixel Ultrapixel camera, 1080p video recording, HDR video
  • SoC: 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 and Adreno 320
  • Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage + microSD (up to 64GB)
  • OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Sense 5, upgradeable to Android 4.2.2
  • Battery: 2,300mAh battery (non-removable)

Price: $790 (Only Available in China)

SGMi9150

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 I9150 Specs

  • Display: 5.8-inches, 540×960 pixels (190 ppi pixel density)
  • Camera: 8-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording
  • SoC: 1.4GHz dual-core CPU
  • Memory: 1.5GB RAM, 8GB internal storage + microSD (up to 64GB)
  • OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • Battery: 2,600mAh battery (non-removable)

Price: $380 (Only Available in India)

At this point I think I see about 80% of people carrying two phones at one point or another. I have been carrying two phones for a few years now, and every time I look at Dual Sim phones they are usually very crappy phones or not available. Recently I have been looking around and the only viable dual sim phones are the three above with the Desire 600 being the weakest one. The HTC One Dual sim is an impressive Dual sim since its the same as the normal one but with two Micro Sims, and they are all Micro Sims. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Mega i9150 which its impressive specifications and one very large phone, almost 6 inches, bigger then the usual phone. Two phone are top tier phones while the Desire 600 is a mid level phone, its very hard to find high spec dual sim phones, but these two are very viable but the only problem is that the HTC One Dual is only available in China, the Desire 600 was available in the UK but can’t find it anymore and the Samsung Galaxy Mega is only available in India. One other note about Dual Sim phones is that they only come in 3G, there haven’t been any chip boards developed with dual 4G in mind, it might be another year before that happens but still out of the bunch these are the only ones. Searching through ebay and amazon you get to find out every once in a while but you won’t find a good dual sim easily.

Bose Quiet Comfort 20

BoseQC20_1

You can say what you want about Bose, but they are the kings of sound, different headphones have different effects depending on what you want out of it. Some people swear by Beats or Sennheiser and they are excellent products but from my experience Bose always tops the list. I have the in-ear Triport headphones which I live by them when I ride, and I have the the Quiet Comfort 15 which are the best to use when flying, and the battery is fantastic on them. Bose maybe mainstream, but their products are quality products and speak for themselves.

BoseQC20_2

The Bose QC20 is Bose’s first-ever noise-cancelling earbuds from Bose, there have been other, but I think that Bose would have taken their time to do this and get it right. It’s price at $299 and set for release on the 1st of August and I for one will be purchasing it right away without a second thought, the QC 15 are amazing, but sometimes bulky to carry around. It comes into variations, the QC20 and QC20i, the QC20 is for Blackbbery, Android, and Windows, while the QC20i is for all Apple products, they have different reactions to the answer button.

BoseQC20_3

Acoustic Noise Cancelling Technology in in a small device. There is also an “Aware” mode lets you hear what’s around you when listening to music, which is pretty intuitive when using this device, so you won’t feel like you are in a silent room. You still have to have some sort of controlling device to use it but I can live with that.

Link: Bose

BoseQC20_4

Samsung Galaxy – Going On All Directions

SamSungGalaxyNX

The Beast from Samsung, they decided to combine their best selling product into a DSLR and came up with the Samsung Galaxy NX. It has Interchangeable lenses, Android Jelly Bean and 4G LTE to say the least. The device is said to be as big as the Canon Rebel than that of a smaller Samsung NX300 model. The size is a determination factor for some people looking for a DSLR but a very smart one in this case, connecting to Wifi or Bluetooth or LTE. This is when to great devices are molded together looks like.

Galaxy NX also packs a large 4.8-inch HD LCD display on its rear and is powered by a 1.6GHz Pega-Q quad-core setup and separate DRIMe IV Signal processor for imaging. The UI should look pretty familiar to anyone who’s used an Android device before, and specificly the Galaxy Camera before, with the common apps and widgets submenus, as well as the wheel interface for its 30 Smart Modes — employed when selecting imaging settings. And if you happen to own any of the company’s other NX cameras, you’ll be able to swap out lenses (13 in all) as the Galaxy NX is fully compatible with that range. It also incorporates a hybrid AF, culled from the best of DSLRs and compacts, with a shutter speed of 1/6,000th of a second and 8.6fps shooting.

SamsungGalaxyS4Active

This though is an interesting “mutation” from Samsung, there aren’t a lot of heavy duty use phone’s out there, and if there are then they are usually very low spec with a lot of armor. But the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is high spec and its also waterproof and a bit of added armor, and barely any reduction in quality. The camera on this phone is a little less powerful from the 13 MP to 8 MP but it seems to compliment under water use. I just think this phone can take a beating and thats why some people would like it in comparison to the S4. And honestly I prefer the buttons at the bottom then they do the touch panel on the S4, I missed buttons when they took them away.

SamsungGalaxyS4Zoom

This one though is truly a phone, not just a data enabled camera like the Samsung Galaxy Camera. The phone features a 10x optical zoom lens in front of its 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, with a Xenon flash for adding some extra light to your images.

The S4 Zoom has a 4.3-inch qHD (960×540) Super Amoled display and 1.5GHz dual-core processor, runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and supports LTE. Predictably, it’s big and heavy, at 208 grams and 15.4 millimeters thick — nearly double the thickness of the original Galaxy S4. It is, however, measurably slimmer than last year’s Galaxy Camera, Samsung’s first crack at adding an Android interface to a consumer point-and-shoot. Photographically speaking, things look similar between the two: both devices shoot at the same resolution and max out at ISO 3200, although the older Galaxy has a much longer 21x optical zoom range. Its lens is also slightly (less than a third of a stop) faster, at f/2.8-5.9, compared with the S4 Zoom’s f/3.1-6.3 maximum aperture. So the Samsung Galaxy Camera is faster with a better Zoom but thicker, so who would go for this, I wouldn’t be too inclined since I have the Galaxy Camera and I’m very happy with it. But still its only a point and shoot, no comparison to the Canon G12 or G15 in my opinion as to speed or depth of shot.

HTC One VS. Samsung Galaxy S4 – Battle Of The Titans

HTCONESAMSUNGS401

With the release of the Samsung S4 & HTC One, everyone was running to get their hands on it, true 4G Android Devices which honestly make the iPhone 5 look like crap and its going to have to do a lot more then just another hardware design to beat these two machines. HTC have been having a hard time getting things right with Android after Samsung took the lead as the best, but I honestly think they have a great device on their hands with the HTC One. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was a smart move by Samsung, the S3 was so successful that they just improved on it slightly in regards to the design and packed it with the best possible hardware they could put together.

There were a lot of comparison and technical reviews, but I wanted a real use review of both machines to see which fit better and for what use. I wanted to really try both phones and after almost a month of having them both I can honestly say there isn’t just one conclusion, it just depends what you want because they are both really good.

Wifi

It’s very important for a device to have a strong wifi signal capability, it has to capture it and use it. And out of all the Android brands out there, I can say that Samsung has that down, they pretty much have everyone beat. And sadly the worst out of the bunch is HTC, I had the problem with the HTC One X and with the HTC One it’s signal always weaker then the S4 and sometimes it can’t see the Access Points.

HTCONESAMSUNGS404

Screen

The Samsung S4 screen is huge, both screens are crisp and excellent touch interface. Honestly they are both excellent. If you want the bigger screen then the Samsung S4 is the way to go, but its a matter of preference. Both of them have amazing brightness and you can easily see them during day time.

HTCONESAMSUNGS405

Design

Honestly hands down the HTC One wins in this department, if Apple wants to copy anyone for their next phone then it would be the HTC One. The Samsung S4 is 80% the same as the S3 just bigger screen and an aluminum frame which I liked. The one benefit to the Samsung S4 is that it feels lighter then the HTC One, but still it looks better then the S4. One aspect that I like about the S4 is the ability to add the a MicroSD Card, that is a huge win for the S4 in my case. You don’t need that much space on your phones these days but having the ability to is a huge plus.

S4A

Above is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Shot & Below is the HTC One Shot

HOneA

Camera

HTC has the Ultrapixel which is sort like a supercharged 4MP which performs better then most camera phones with higher Megapixels. The HTC has the machine gun shot which shoots multiple shots and you can choose the best or keep them all which is a great feature. The Galaxy S4 has an amazingly crisp camera, they improved on their best selling Galaxy S3. And they included all the features of the Galaxy Camera with all the different settings and mode. The HTC One has the low light shots done perfectly, this is one thing that HTC has had down. Between the two I preferred the S4 camera, but it’s just barely better. And hands down both better then Apple iPhone 5.

S4B

Above is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Shot & Below is the HTC One Shot

HOneB

Battery

This takes a bit longer to figure out but both Android devices lasted a full day of abuse. Nonstop wifi use, making phone calls and sending messages, they could both take it. And I know over time I will get the Mophie battery case for the either phone, and its a matter of time the case comes out for the S4 since its selling like crazy as expected.

HTCONESAMSUNGS406

Interface & Feel

To be very honest you can go with either of them, this really comes down to preferences. I prefer the HTC One Sense Skin feel over the Samsung Touch Skin, since its less intrusive in this case. I always prefer getting phones from Google because its a clean installation and I can do as I please, but in this case I had to choose, and the HTC One was cleaner and crispier. I just get annoyed with Samsung trying to make things more watery with the TouchWiz Skin. Now for the Sound hands down the HTC One has amazing sound, by far much better then the S4 and it can easily blast music in a room, you wouldn’t think its a phone speaker.

HTCONESAMSUNGS407

What I don’t like about the Samsung S4

I really hate the keyboard, had to get the Swift Keyboard so my fingers don’t feel like they are stretching across the screen. It really made me feel like I was learning how to type for the first time. The speaker is loud but not crisp, I wish they put it up front. The air gestures aren’t really that useful, I only like the finger hover when in the gallery for a preview but the rest makes you look crazy when your staring at the screen trying to make things move, if you have an S4 you know exactly what I’m talking about.

HTCONESAMSUNGS408

What I don’t like about the HTC One

I hate the Blink Feed, wish there was a way to get rid of it since its taking a piece of the screen that I could use and you only have a limit of 4 screens. The Weak wifi signal is a breaker for me, I have to have good wifi on my phone.

HTCONESAMSUNGS409

Which One

Choosing between them is tough but I had two deciding factors which were the Wifi Signal and Camera, which in this case the S4 was the better choice even though I really like the HTC One design. I picked up the Samsung S4 LTE from Al Babtain and got the HTC One from a friend. Honestly Babtain did a great job of making the phone available all over Kuwait and quickly, the HTC One was like hunting an endangered species.

Microsoft XBox One

XBOXOne1

The new XBox One is here, Microsoft is referring to it as the new “Entertainment System”, people don’t realize that at the core of all this is gaming, we want to play games as well as have other features, gaming is the main feature, everything else is secondary. So Microsoft has to do a lot to live up to, but one thing I like is XBox Live and your Gold Account is going to carry over to the XBox One which is great, the functionality of XBox One is going to be the same with a mix of XBox 360 & Windows 8 so if your familiar with them you will be fine. They are trying to introduce more functionality with TV, Skype, and Internet Explorer, its ok but not key for me. I want to see if they will be releasing another Halo, now that would be Epic, even though I haven’t finished Halo 4 yet, I still have the rest of 2013 to do that. One surprise for me is that they have finally introduced a slot-loading BluRay player, I still buy BluRays but only of movies that I love, so I’m not sure how many people have BluRays when they have the option of streaming, still its a good option.

XBOXOne2

As far as installation, when you first insert a disc into the Xbox One, it’ll install the game to the hard drive — you won’t have to use the disc again. As for internet connectivity they haven’t given a clear picture, so I’m not sure if it has to have internet connectivity to keep playing the games, that wouldn’t be a wise decision if you have to have constant internet connectivity. I like the idea that you load the disc once and then you don’t have to use it to play the game. The controller is an update that I really like, they put a lot of thought into it and everyone keeps saying how great it is, so that is something I want to try. They new Kenict is a bit like the CIA’s dream it can hear and see you while the console is off, you can use gestures and voice commands to switch the XBox One on and go through its menus.

XBOXOne3

Annoyances:

  • TV Features – Useless to anyone outside the US, and its not a settop box, I want a gaming machine
  • Again not backwards compatible – I only have about 20 Games that I cherish, so what to do with them now?
  • No Used Games, So I don’t know how thats going to work for rental companies now! Sometimes I want to try a game but don’t want to buy it, so whats the solution?
  • New Kenict which is watching you all the time, not a feature I like, will probably point the Kinect to the TV, don’t like being watched!
  • Gamers will have to connect the console regularly, possibly at least once a day, and game discs will be restricted to your Xbox profile if you use them on a second console

XBOXOne4

Both consoles promise to track your motions, power on instantly, and seamlessly update themselves in the background, among many other common features. Lets see how that works out, how many people have power up their XBox 360 or Playstation after a month of not touching to play a new game and end up having to perform a systems update for an hour or more so that you can play that new game. Honestly what I loved about the XBox was XBox Live, I could always play with friends across the globe, this time around I don’t know what they have planned.

Overall I’m honestly excited about the new console but they have to clarify a few points about the 2nd hand market and online connectivity. I’m the graphics will be phenomenal, and I want to see what games they have lined up, not sure what they are going to price it at, but I’m hoping it won’t pass the $400 mark.

Link: TheVerge

XBOXOne5