Tag Archives: Waterproof

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Bone Conduction Earphones Preview!

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Bone Conduction Headphones Preview!

The AfterShokz Xtrainerz is a tough pair of waterproof standalone MP3 headphones with bone conduction technology, designed for swimmers!

Let’s take a closer look, and see how the AfterShokz Xtrainerz differs from its Bluetooth brother, the AfterShokz Aeropex!

 

AfterShokz Xtrainerz

AfterShokz Xtrainerz is basically a standalone version of the AfterShokz Aeropex, with a built-in media player and 4 GB of storage.

Join our good friend Adam Lobo for his explanation of the key features of the AfterShokz Xtrainerz, as well as the AfterShokz Aeropex which boasts Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

New Bone Conduction Tranducers

The AfterShokz Xtrainerz (US | UK | AU | MY) features bone conduction transducers that are now angled at 30-degrees, for significantly reduced vibration and improved audio quality.

It has also been enhanced with PremiumPitch 2.0+ technology for a dynamic bass and higher volume, with minimal vibration.

8 Hour Battery Life

The AfterShokz Xtrainerz (US | UK | AU | MY) has a long battery life of 8 hours, letting you enjoy a whole day of music without worrying about battery life.

Waterproof Design

Rated at IP68, you can submerge the AfterShokz Xtrainerz (US | UK | AU | MY) under 1.5 meter of fresh or salt water for up to 30 minutes.

On top of that, it is corrosion resistant – the AfterShokz Test Team put it through a 72-hour salt spray test with zero corrosion.

Its magnetic charging port is designed to detect moisture and alert you, while preventing charging to avoid damage.

4 GB Storage

Leave your phone and audio player on the shore, or at home! The AfterShokz Xtrainerz (US | UK | AU | MY) has 4 GB of storage – enough for at least 500 MP3 songs.

In addition to MP3, its built-in audio player also supports WAV, WMA, AAC and FLAC audio formats, so you can enjoy your music from different sources.

Recommended : AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Earphones Preview!

 

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Specifications

In this table, we compare the AfterShokz Xtrainerz with its Bluetooth brother, the AfterShokz Aeropex :

Specifications AfterShokz Xtrainerz AfterShokz Aeropex
Model AS700 AS800
Protection IP68 IP67
Speaker Type Bone conduction transducers
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity 98 dB ± 3 dB 105 dB ± 3 dB
Impedance 8.50 Ω ± 20%
Microphone None -38 dB ± 3 dB
Storage 4 GB None
Music Formats MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC Dependent on music player
Connectivity None Bluetooth 4.2
Range : 10 meters
Battery 183 mAh lithium-polymer battery
– up to 8 hours continuous play
– 2 hours recharging time
– 5.25 V charging voltage
145 mAh lithium-polymer battery
– up to 8 hours continuous play
– up to 10 days standby time
– 2 hours recharging time
– 5 V charging voltage
Weight 30 g 26 g

 

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Price + Availability

The AfterShokz Xtrainerz (US | UK | AU | MY) is available in four colour options – Black Diamond, Ruby Red, Aquamarine and Sapphire Blue.

It is available with immediate effect with a recommended retail price of US$149.95 / £139.95 / A$219RM 699.

Here are online purchase options :

Incidentally, the Xtrainerz comes with a 2-year warranty.

 

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AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Earphones Preview!

The AfterShokz Aeropex are Bluetooth bone conduction earphones designed to handle the harshest weather conditions, and even a dip in the pool!

Let’s take a closer look, and see how the AfterShokz Aeropex been improved from its predecessor, the AfterShokz Trekz Air!

 

AfterShokz Aeropex

AfterShokz Aeropex (US | UK | AU | MY) builds upon the popular AfterShokz Trekz Air, improving it with IP67 water-resistance, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

Join our good friend Adam Lobo for his explanation of the key features of the AfterShokz Aeropex, as well as the standalone AfterShokz Xtrainerz.

New Bone Conduction Tranducers

The AfterShokz Aeropex (US | UK | AU | MY) features bone conduction transducers that are now angled at 30-degrees, for significantly reduced vibration and improved audio quality.

It has also enhanced with PremiumPitch 2.0+ technology for a dynamic bass and higher volume, with minimal vibration.

Longer Battery Life

The AfterShokz Aeropex (US | UK | AU | MY) has a longer battery life of 8 hours, letting you enjoy a whole day of music and calls without worrying about battery life.

Waterproof Design

The AfterShokz Aeropex (US | UK | AU | MY) is sweatproof and waterproof. Rated at IP67, you can submerge it under one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Its magnetic charging port is designed to detect moisture and alert you, while preventing charging to avoid damage.

Recommended : AfterShokz Xtrainerz Bone Conduction Earphones Preview!

 

AfterShokz Aeropex Specifications

In this table, we compare the AfterShokz Aeropex with its predecessor, the AfterShokz Trekz Air :

Specifications AfterShokz Aeropex AfterShokz Trekz Air
Model AS800 AS650
Protection IP67 IP55
Speaker Type Bone conduction transducers
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Sensitivity 105 dB ± 3 dB 100 dB ± 3 dB
Impedance 8.50 Ω ± 20% 11.4 Ω ± 20%
Microphone -38 dB ± 3 dB -40 dB ± 3 dB
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0
Range : 10 meters
Bluetooth 4.2
Range : 10 meters
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Multipoint Pairing Yes, 2 Devices
Battery 145 mAh lithium-polymer battery
– up to 8 hours continuous play
– up to 10 days standby time
– 2 hours recharging time
– 5 V charging voltage
183 mAh lithium-ion battery
– up to 6 hours continuous play
– up to 20 days standby time
– 2 hours recharging time
– 5.25 V charging voltage
Weight 26 g 30 g

 

AfterShokz Aeropex Price + Availability

The AfterShokz Aeropex (US | UK | AU | MY) is available in four colour options – Lunar Grey, Cosmic Black, Blue Eclipse and Solar Red.

It is available with immediate effect with a recommended retail price of US$159.95 / £149.95 / A$249RM 739.

Here are online purchase options :

Incidentally, the Aeropex comes with a 2-year warranty.

 

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The Samsung IP68 Water-Resistance Technology Guide!

Ever since Samsung unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone, their flagship S and Note smartphones have all been IP68-certified to be dust- and water-resistant.

Let’s take a look at the engineering behind the Samsung’s IP68 rating, and clarify its limitations, so you can enjoy your Samsung smartphones for many years to come!

 

Samsung IP68 Engineering

The challenge with making smartphones water-resistant isn’t just ensuring that water won’t get inside. Before the Galaxy S7 edge, a number of devices already did that, like Samsung’s own Galaxy S6 Active smartphone or the Kenxinda Flattop ruggerdised smartphones.

What Samsung introduced in their flagship smartphones from the Galaxy S7 edge onwards was IP68 dust- and water-resistance without prior preparation.

Unlike prior water-resistant smartphones, you don’t need to prepare it in any way before you dunk it into water. There is no need to cap the earphone and USB ports. It is dust- and water-resistant 24/7.

To achieve this feat, Samsung introduced a number of engineering improvements :

  • An unspecified “new type of water resistance technology” was used to seal the unit internally against the ingress of water,
  • An “exclusive type of water protective tape” was added to the back of the front and rear glass, as well as other internal parts,
  • Rubber linings were used on parts like the USB port, the earphone port, and the SIM card tray to prevent the ingress of water

  • Anti-corrosive materials like nickel and platinum and corrosive-resistant coating were used for all external metal parts and connectors like the earphone and USB ports,
  • The USB port has a short circuit sensor to cut-off power when it detects a short circuit due to water contact
  • Portable electronic vents were used to ensure a good flow of air and outflow of water and humidity

As you can see, a lot of engineering went into ensuring that Samsung smartphones are dust- and water-resistant, while remaining ultra-slim.

Teardowns by iFixit also showed considerable use of adhesive in subsequent models, all the way to the latest Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, to maintain this IP68-rated dust and water-resistance.

 

Is The Samsung S Pen IP68 Rated Too?

The S Pen of IP68-rated Galaxy Note devices are also IP68-rated against dust and water. However, the S Pen requires slightly different techniques to achieve such water-resistance :

  • its printed circuit board (PCB) is covered with a special epoxy material
  • rubber seals are used to seal off vulnerable passageways
  • important components like the pen pressure switch are also covered by rubber seals

This allows the pen tip to move as needed, while preventing the ingress of water that will damage the internal components of the S Pen.

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Samsung IP68 Rating Clarified

All Samsung smartphones that are IP68-rated can withstand complete immersion in water up to 1.5 m in depth, for up to 30 minutes.

This means you can take it for jogs in the rain, or reading in the bathtub. However, we must point out that IP68 is a rating for water immersion.

IP68-rated devices are NOT designed to withstand water pressure. We therefore do not recommend you take it into the shower or while you swim.

The IP68 certification is based on a specific set of test conditions :

Temperature Range : 15-35 °C
Pressure Range : 86-106 kPa
Maximum Water Depth : 1.5 metre
Maximum Time of Immersion : 30 minutes

If you exceed those conditions, Samsung’s IP68 measures may not prevent the ingress of water.

In fact, if you check your User Guide, you will see that Samsung warns against exposing their IP68 smartphones to “water moving with force“.

This means you should not place them under running water from a tap or a waterfall. Even ocean waves may exert enough force to drive water into their chassis.

 

Summary : IP68 = Water-Resistance, NOT Waterproofing

The takeaway message is this – Samsung IP68 smartphones are water-resistant, not waterproof. You need to be gentle with them when they are exposed to water.

The biggest problem is water pressure, not depth. You can leave it at the bottom of a swimming pool without worry, but the force of water from a tap can exceed the IP68 pressure rating.

Do NOT do this!!! Never pour water on your device, because it exerts pressure!

Let’s consider a real-world scenario – taking photos and videos while snorkelling.

You won’t reach a depth of 1.5 m when you snorkel. But swinging your device underwater could literally force water into the chassis!

That doesn’t mean you cannot use your device underwater. You can, but you must make sure not to exert too much force. Take it in and out of the water gently, and if you have to move, do so gently.

 

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The Samsung Water Lock Mode Guide For Smartwatches!

Love to swim? Make sure you turn on the Water Lock Mode of your Samsung smartwatch before you do!

In this guide, we will explain what Water Lock Mode is all about. Find out how and why you should turn it on before a swim!

 

What Is Water Lock Mode?

Water Lock Mode is a feature that is found in Samsung smartwatches that are designed for swimming. Currently, it is available in the Galaxy Watch Active, the Galaxy Watch and the Gear Sport.

  • Enabling it disables the touch display, preventing you (or water splashes) from accidentally activating it during a swim
  • Disabling it will cause the speaker to vibrate and eject water from the speaker port

 

How To Enable & Disable Water Lock Mode

By default, it is not available in Quick Settings, so you will need to enable it in Settings 

  • Go to Settings
  • Swipe to Advanced
  • Scroll to the Water Lock Mode option
  • Tap the toggle switch to turn it on

Once you are done swimming, just press and hold the Home button to disable it.

 

Adding It To Quick Settings

If you find it useful, you can add it to Quick Settings using these steps :

  • Go to Settings
  • Swipe to Advanced
  • Scroll to Edit Quick Settings
  • Remove one of the existing Quick Settings by tapping on the minus (-) icon
  • Tap on the plus (+) icon to add a new Quick Setting
  • Scroll to Water Lock Mode, and tap on it
  • Once you add it to Quick Settings, you can tap and hold to move its icon to the position you prefer.
  • Then press Home to save your choice and exit

Now, you can swipe down and quickly toggle it!

 

Isn’t My Smartwatch Already Waterproof?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch, Watch Active and Gear Sport smartwatches are all certified water-resistant to the 5 ATM or 5ATM standard – they will withstand depths of up to 50 metres for up to 10 minutes.

You can actually start swimming without turning on Water Lock at all. Perhaps that’s why Samsung did not publicise much about this feature. However, we still recommend you use this feature if you intend to get wet.

 

When You Should Turn Water Lock Mode On / Off

Before You Start Swimming

You can swim with your 5 ATM-rated Samsung smartwatch without prior preparation.

But turning this feature on will prevent the touch display from being activated by water splashes.

After You Are Done Swimming

Disabling the Water Lock Mode after you are done swimming will eject water from the speaker port.

This is especially important if you are swimming in chlorinated or dirty water – the chlorine or dirt can dry out and clog the speaker.

In addition, we recommend that you repeat the steps above, with your Samsung smartwatch soaking in clean water for a few minutes. This would make sure the speaker port is cleaned properly, and nothing corrosive remains inside.

 

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10,000 mAh Giants – The Oukitel K10000 Max & Pro Preview

After the launch of the Oukitel K6000 Plus, U16 Max and U20 Plus smartphones, we managed to get our hands on two giant Oukitel smartphones – the Oukitel K10000 Max and the Oukitel K10000 Pro. As their name suggests, they boast a massive 10,000 mAh battery capacity.

But that’s not all… the K10000 Max is even ruggerdised! In this article, we will share with you the key features, specifications and our hands-on previews of the Oukitel K10000 Max and K10000 Pro smartphones!

Updated @ 2017-08-20 : Added new specifications and purchase links for the Oukitel K10000 Max and K10000 Pro smartphones.

Originally posted @ 2017-03-30


 

The Oukitel K10000 Pro

Despite what some websites are claiming, the K10000 Pro is not the first smartphone to feature the massive 10,000 mAh battery. That honour goes to its predecessor, the original K10000 that was released in December 2015.

The K10000 Pro not only boasts updated specifications, and runs on the latest Android 7.0 operating system, it has a slightly bigger battery capacity of 10,100 mAh with fast charging capability. It maintains the original Oukitel K10000’s industrial stainless steel design.

 

The Oukitel K10000 Max

The Oukitel K10000 Max appears to be a ruggerdised version of the K10000 Pro. Thanks to its thick polycarbonate and rubber shell, it is waterproof and shockproof.

It has slightly inferior specifications to the K10000 Pro – 3 GB of RAM, with a 13 MP main camera and a 5 MP front camera. It also uses the slightly smaller 10,000 mAh battery (with the same fast charging capability).

On the other hand, it supports the new bidirectional USB 2.0 Type C connector, while the K10000 Pro still uses the old micro USB 2.0 port.

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The Specifications Compared

This table compares the specifications of the K10000 Max and K10000 Pro smartphones.

SpecificationsOukitel K10000 ProOukitel K10000 Max
Display5.5" Full HD IPS display
- 1080 x 1920 pixels
5.5" Full HD IPS display
- 1080 x 1920 pixels
Operating SystemAndroid 7.0Android 7.0
PlatformMediaTek MT6750TMediaTek MT6750T
Processor4 x ARM Cortex-A53 (1.5 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 (1.0 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 (1.5 GHz)
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 (1.0 GHz)
Graphics ProcessorARM Mali-T860 MP2 (650 MHz)ARM Mali-T860 MP2 (650 MHz)
Memory4 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM (833 MHz)3 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM (833 MHz)
Storage32 GB internal flash storage
microSD card tray
32 GB internal flash storage
microSD card tray
Front Camera8 MP camera5 MP camera
Main Camera16 MP camera with single LED flash13 MP camera
Fingerprint SensorYes, rear-mountedYes, rear-mounted
Connectivity4G : LTE Cat6
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth : 4.2
4G : LTE Cat6
WiFi : 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth : 4.2
Battery10,100 mAh lithium-ion battery
- Supports fast-charging
10,000 mAh lithium-ion battery
- Supports fast-charging
USB Portmicro USB 2.0 portUSB 2.0 Type C
RuggerdisedNoYes, shockproof and waterproof
Dimensions77.66 mm wide
161.76 mm tall
14.0 mm thick
86.5 mm wide
168.8 mm tall
15.9 mm thick
Weight291 g337 g

 

Where To Buy?

Here are some places where you can buy the K10000 Pro smartphones.

Oukitel K10000 Pro (3GB RAM + 32GB storage) : Amazon | Lazada #1 | Lazada #2 | Lazada #3 | Lazada #4

The K10000 Max does not appear to have been released. We will update the article with purchase links when they do.

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The Sony WS623 Waterproof Sports Walkman Is Here!

26 April 2017 – Keep the music going on any terrain with the all-new waterproof and dustproof wearable Sony WS623 Walkman, now with Bluetooth Wireless Technology. Built to endure extreme outdoor conditions or any sporting activity, the wearable Walkman is the ultimate sports companion that brings you music without limits.

 

The Sony WS623 Walkman

With improved wearing comfort, the WS623 Walkman features an ergonomic, slim and light design that stays in place no matter the movement. Newly equipped with Bluetooth Wireless Technology, you now have the option of streaming music from your smartphone using the convenient Near-field Communication (NFC) one-touch pairing, or simply store up to 16GB of audio within.

Love the sea? The WS623 Walkman is salt waterproof, allowing you to swim to a depth of 2 meters with up to 30 minutes of submerged time. Also dustproof, it can withstand small particles – making it perfect for any sand based activity or a run along the beach.

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It also comes with standard earbuds and specially designed waterproof earbuds that are covered with a thin film to prevent water damage to the Walkman and optimise sound levels for underwater listening. Together with a temperature feature, the Walkman can endure extreme temperatures from -5°C to 45°C, making it ideal for a hike or climb.

Stay in touch with your surroundings by enabling Ambient Sound Mode, utilising nifty in-built microphones to pick up external voices and sounds in the surrounding environment – allowing you to communicate with your workout buddy or trainer without skipping a beat.

A quick charge feature gives a full 60 minutes of audio time with just a three-minute power-up, while a full charge will provide 12 hours of battery life.

 

The Sony WS623 Price & Availability

The Sony WS623 Walkman is now available at all Sony Stores and selected Sony Centres nationwide. The price is RM 599.00 / ~US$ 133.

 

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The 5 Features We REALLY Want In Our Next Smartphone

Every year, we are told that the smartphone market is saturated, and that it’s harder for the next smartphone model to offer consumers any real reason to upgrade. After all, how much more innovation can you pack into a device the size of a notepad?

Yet, the prognosticators of doom are proven wrong every single year. Not only are established brands like Apple and Samsung still churning out new smartphone models year after year, new smartphones brands like Neffos and Infinix are being established all the time.

That does not mean that consumers are just lapping up whatever they produce though. Many smartphones do poorly, selling only at great discounts.

 

What We Want In Our Next Smartphone

Now, we don’t know the secret formula to a successful smartphone, but we can tell you the 5 features we want in our next smartphone. Let’s see if they are also what you want in your next smartphone.

 

Water Resistance

This may seem like a frivolous feature, but water resistance is a must-have for us. If you ever lost a smartphone to water damage, that is a lesson you will never, ever forget.

Our first water-resistant smartphone was the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and we never looked back after that. Even our secondary smartphone, the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7, is IP68-rated.

Water-resistant smartphones also allow for greater creativity and flexibility. You can’t use them underwater, but you can use them near water without fear. Check out this video I took with the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7 during a recent trip to Krabi.

 

A Better Front Camera

Top-of-the-line smartphones like the HTC 10, the iPhone 6S and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge boast truly excellent main cameras, but their front cameras have long been neglected. They are only adequate for Instagram and Facebook selfies. They really need a much better front camera that can take higher resolution photos and better videos.

A better front camera is also important if you are using a gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile. Such gimbals use the smartphone’s front camera to record selfie videos. So it is important to use a smartphone with a good front camera.

OPPO identified and targeted that unfulfilled need in the market with their Selfie Expert smartphones. Their OPPO F1s smartphone, for example, has 16 MP front and rear cameras. Perhaps their success was the reason why the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7 also has 16 MP front and rear cameras!

We don’t think you need a 16 MP front camera for videos. Even the 5 MP sensor on the Galaxy S7 edge is already capable of recording 4K videos. But a higher resolution sensor paired with a bright, fast lens would allow for better selfies and selfie videos.

 

Better Audio Recording & Playback

One thing we really liked about the HTC 10 was its Hi-Res Audio recording and playback capability. Audio fidelity is an oft-overlooked feature, which is a shame because it makes a HUGE difference to the videos you record.

Once you have tried recording videos in Hi-Res Audio, you will wonder how you ever made do with the flat audio  recording of other smartphones. The Hi-Res Audio recording and playback capability is definitely something we are looking for in our next smartphone.

 

No Limit Video Recording

Many smartphones are so good at recording videos that they have virtually decimated the consumer camcorder market. The only thing holding them back are the 30-minute recording limit and the 4 GB file size limit.

The 30-minute limit is used to avoid duties imposed on video cameras, while the 4 GB file size limit is due to the use of, or support for, the FAT32 file system.

The 4 GB limit is particularly problematic for smartphones that can record in 4K (like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the HTC 10), because it limits them to just 10-11 minutes of footage.

We record a lot of long videos, and sometimes in 4K. So it is important that our next smartphone removes those limits by supporting the exFAT file system.

 

Longer Battery Life

This seems like a very obvious feature to demand, but it needs some clarification.

Smartphone manufacturers are well-aware that we want smartphones with long battery lives. That’s why some smartphones boast very large capacity batteries.

But a larger battery is not just the only way to achieve a longer battery life. What’s ultimately important to us is battery life, not battery capacity.

If they can deliver a longer battery life using more power-efficient components, even better! What matters to us is battery life, not battery capacity.

 

What Smartphone Are We Looking Forward To?

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As big fans of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, we are very psyched up about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 launch on 29 March 2017. Rumours and leaks are rife on the Internet, but as we all know – nothing is true, until the big reveal!

We have no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be IP68-rated like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A Series.

But will it have a better front camera? Support for Hi-Res Audio? How about the removal of video recording limits? Can Samsung improve its battery life?

We await with bated breath… 😀

 

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My Trip To Krabi With The 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7

During the recent 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A5 launch event, I won a holiday to Krabi and a 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7, which I reviewed here. Krabi is famous for its beaches, hot spring waterfall and the Emerald Pool, so I took the opportunity to try out the 2017 Galaxy A7 smartphone, which is IP68 water-resistant. Check out some of the pictures and videos I took on my trip to Krabi!

 

Ao Nang Beach, Krabi

The Ao Nang beach is the main beach and transportation hub in Krabi. This is where the main road meets the coasts, and where all the boats to the other beaches and resorts make port. Naturally, it is packed with tourists, and is hardly the pristine beach seen in tourist brochures. However, you can get some pretty nice photos as the sun sets.

Here are some photos I took at, or near, the Ao Nang beach, using the 2017 Galaxy A7 smartphone. They have been cropped but not edited in any other way.

Next Page > The Krabi Hot Spring Waterfall Pictures & Video

 

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The Krabi Hot Spring Waterfall

The Krabi hot spring waterfall is one of Krabi’s main tourist attractions. Also known as Namtok Ron Khlong Thom, it features a mix of hot springs and cool streams which converge to create a waterfall of warm water.

Due to the craggy nature of the rocks and tree roots in and around the hot springs and waterfall, you are highly advised NOT to carry your smartphone, unless they are water-resistant like the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A Series (IP68) the Samsung Galaxy S7 (IP68) or the Apple iPhone 7 (IP67), or are protected with a waterproof case / bag.

Here is a video I took with the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7. Because it does not support image stabilisation, a gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile is highly recommended. Then again, the gimbal is not water-resistant…

Next Page > The Krabi Emerald Pool Pictures & Videos

 

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The Krabi Emerald Pool

The Krabi Emerald Pool (Sa Morakot) is another must-see tourist attraction. Also known as the Crystal Pool, it is located in the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve, which is close by the Krabi hot spring  waterfall.

The pool requires some walking (800 meters or so), but it is worth the calories burned. Just make sure you are prepared to get wet. So make sure you bring a waterproof bag for your smartphone, unless they are water-resistant like the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A Series (IP68) the Samsung Galaxy S7 (IP68) or the Apple iPhone 7 (IP67).

Here are is a video I took of the Krabi Emerald Pool.

The Krabi Emerald Pool has a sandy bottom with rocks all around. However, the rocks are very slippery because they are covered with underwater moss.

This video and photos will show you just how good the front 16 MP camera is on the 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7!

 

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The Samsung Torture Tests – Can Your Smartphone Survive Them?

Samsung has been working hard to restore the truth of their customers that was sorely tested when the much-vaunted Galaxy Note7 was torched by battery issues. They started the long, hard process with an extensive recall process, followed by a serious revamp of their quality assurance program.

Samsung just shared with us the videos of the torture tests that all of their top smartphones have to survive. Can your smartphone survive the Samsung torture tests? 😀

 

The Samsung Torture Tests

For a quick understanding of the extensive torture tests Samsung put their top smartphones through, watch this video.

 

The Samsung Water Resistance Test

Watch this short clip on Samsung’s Water Resistance Test, where the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Amazon) was tested under simulated raindrops and splashes, and submerged under 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes. The 2017 Samsung Galaxy A7 (Amazon) and 2017 Samsung Galaxy A5 (Amazon) will similarly survive the same test.

 

The Samsung Durability Test

The Samsung Durability Test helps to ensure that Samsung smartphones live long and survive, even under pressure.

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The Samsung Drop Test

Samsung performs these extensive drop tests on their smartphones, because well, people drop them all the time!

 

The Samsung Extreme Weather Test

Finally, Samsung puts their smartphones through extreme weather tests, including extreme temperatures. Just in case you bring your Samsung smartphone to the desert or heck, even the ice planet Hoth? 😀

 

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Sony X1000V 4K Action Camera Review Rev. 2.0

In the world of action cameras, GoPro action cameras dominate the sports action video footage on YouTub. Many companies have tried to take a piece out of GoPro’s pie – Garmin Virb, Xiaomi Yi, and even the lowly SJ4000. However, Sony is, arguably, the closest competitor to GoPro.

Unlike most of the GoPro’s competitors, Sony created a rather unique form factor, which may be better or worse than GoPro, depending on your usage. Its “telescopic” design, for example, is more aerodynamic than the traditional camera design.

Sony started selling their action camera series with the AS10 and AS15 capturing a respectable Full HD resolution at 30 fps. However, the model I’m reviewing today is their latest top-of-the-line (as of February 2016) model, called the Sony FDR-X1000V.

It doesn’t have a sexy name like Hero 4 Black, which is its most obvious rival today. But they are both equally capable of recording 4K video at 30 fps. So why did I get the Sony instead of GoPro, the defacto choice for action cam?

Updated @ 2016-04-09 : Updated the review with the X1000V’s features vs. its competitors, as well as the speed requirements for recording at the highest quality 4K resolution.

 

Size and Features

The size and weight are important considerations for an action camera. In that aspect, the Sony FDR-X1000V loses out to GoPro Hero 4, especially when both are installed in their respective waterproof case. But Sony has a number of key advantages over the GoPro.

For one thing, the X1000V is “splash-proof” with an IPX4 rating and a 1/4″ tripod socket on the camera itself. In other words, you can use the camera outdoors in light rain without a waterproof case. However, the biggest advantage of the Sony Action Cam has to be its digital Steadyshot capability.

Steadyshot reduces the handshake vibration and also micro vibrations when hard mounted onto a moving object, like a sports equipment or a car. The downside is a limited Field of View choice. With only the options of Steadyshot Off (170° FOV) and On (120° FOV), you can forget about trying to use a narrower FOV without Steadyshot, or a wider FOV with Steadyshot enabled.

The Sony FDR-X1000V also has some features that are not found in many other action cameras, like the wind noise reduction, GPS (available on the Garmin Virb), NFC etc, which may or may not sway your decision to purchase.

By default (at least in Malaysia anyway), the Sony FDR-X1000V comes with a live view remote watch, which allows you to view the recorded footage of the camera on-the-fly. It also makes for easier setting changes to the camera. The remote watch is waterproof up to 3 meters, not as deep as the camera’s waterproof case of 10 meters. But that’s not as annoying as the fact you have to turn both the camera and remote watch on and off separately.

If your Sony FDR-X1000V does not come with the remote watch, its built-in WiFi capability allows you to stream live footage directly to your iOS or Android devices using the PlayMemories app. You can change the camera settings, view photos and videos using the app. This can be much more convenient than using the camera itself.

Finally, the Sony X1000V comes with stereo microphones on the front of the camera. This means it has superior audio recording capabilities than the GoPro Hero 4 series.

 

It’s All About 4K, Or Is It?

Another reason to get the Sony FDR-X1000V is the ability to record 4K videos at 30 fps. However, your options are very limited if you choose to record at that resolution. You lose Steadyshot, and the 120 fps slow-mo option, that are available if you choose to record in Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution instead. You are also limited to a 170° FOV.

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Sony actually “downgraded” from a 13 MP sensor in the previous flagship AS100V camera, to a 8.8 MP Sony Exmor R sensor in both the AS200V and the X1000V cameras. The 8.8 MP sensor allows for a maximum photo resolution of 3952 x 2224. They probably used the lower resolution sensor to allow a 1:1 pixel readout from the sensor at 4K resolution without pixel binning. In theory, that should allow for better image quality. The downside, though, is the loss of Steadyshot when recording 4K videos.

To shoot videos in the 4K or other 100 Mbps modes, you will need a fast MicroSDXC card that is rated U3 class at the very least. The Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam can be quite finicky when comes to MicroSD cards. It may refuse to enable the highest quality options with some MicroSD cards that meet the requirements.

If you want to record to the normal XAVC-S format, a standard MicroSDXC card (64 GB and above) will be sufficient. However, if you want to record at the highest quality 4K resolution XAVC-S 100Mbps or other high frame rate modes, there’s no need to buy expensive cards like the SanDisk Extreme Pro series. The SanDisk Extreme card below is more than sufficient at just 1/3 of the price of the Extreme Pro series.

The Sony X1000V offers a few shooting modes for you to play with – Loop Recording, Video, Photo, and Time Lapse. Disappointingly, Time Lapse does not support the 4K resolution, even though the X1000V obviously can record video in the 4K resolution.

Next Page > Closer Look At The Sony X1000V, The Live View Remote

 

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Closer Look At The Sony X1000V

The Sony FDR-X1000V camera has just 3 buttons to control and navigate the menu. In fact, it doesn’t even have a dedicated On/Off button. Turning on is simple – just press any of the 3 buttons, except the Record button on top. Pressing that obviously turns the camera on to immediately start recording a video based on your last recording mode.

Turning it off is a completely different story. You actually need to navigate through the menu to turn the camera off, depending on your existing recording mode. Alternatively, you can wait for the camera to turn off by itself in 20 or 60 seconds. This option can be disabled if you want.

The Next and Previous buttons at the side allow you to navigate the recording mode and the setup configuration, where the Record button doubles as the Enter button. The buttons’ tactile feedback is pretty inconsistent, especially the red Record button which failed to register my presses on some occasions.

It is also painful to navigate using the buttons, as they are not very responsive due to a laggy menu. The small LCD display also makes navigation and changing settings onerous because it cannot display the name of the options in full. It is much easier and faster to change the settings using the Live View Remote or the PlayMemories app on your smartphone.

The battery compartment, MicroSD slot, and other miscellaneous cable ports can be found under the back cover. As you can see, it is rubber sealed to prevent water seeping in.

There’s a 3.5mm microphone input jack at the bottom of the X1000V. You can attach an external microphone to it, should you require better sound recording.

The Sony FDR-X1000V also comes with built-in GPS capability. You can even create videos with GPS overlays using the Action Cam Movie Creator, if you turn on its GPS when you take photos or record a video.

If you have other Sony action cameras, you will be happy to know that Sony FDR-X1000V retains the same NP-BX1 battery. However, battery life is not that great if you are recording in the highest quality mode with WIFI enabled – it will last about 1 hour. Thankfully, Sony threw in an additional battery for free, which is a sweet deal.

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The Live View Remote

The Previous and Next buttons on the Live View Remote has the same lack of tactile feel. However, the other buttons are fine. This inconsistency is not something I would expect from Sony. Thankfully, this is the only major concern.

The response time of its screen is almost seamless, with minimal lag. All the important options can be modified on the remote, and you can even playback and delete footage on the remote. It makes recording video so much easier, especially if the camera is out of your reach.

Next Page > Performance, The Need For Accessories, Our Verdict

 

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Performance

There are many side-by-side comparisons between Sony FDR-X1000V and GoPro Hero 4 Black on YouTube, and the general consensus is that Sony X1000V has better sharpness, image stabilization, low light noise and audio clarity, while the GoPro Hero 4 has better customization options in terms of ISO settings, metering options, FOV options, time lapse at full sensor resolution, and dynamic range.

Although Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam is capable of a 170° FOV, it suffers from serious barrel distortion. Sharpness across the frame is pretty good with slight chromatic aberration, which is only visible at 4K. The dynamic range is not bad in the Neutral colour mode. I didn’t like the Vivid color mode as it exaggerates the colors too much for my liking, and the increase in contrast removed a lot of details.

In bright daylight, the Sony X1000V has very good image quality at both 1080p and 4K resolutions, at all supported frame rates. I have only tried recording in the high bitrate mode. Recording at 1080p 120 fps allows me to reduce the speed to 0.25x for some cool slow motion footage.

Its best low light performance was seen at 1080p 30 fps. There is noticeable noise when recording at 60 fps. This is to be expected since it requires a bump in the ISO to record at 60 fps. I did not expect 4K to suffer the same fate, but its noise level was higher than at 1080p. So if light is not optimal, it’s better to switch to the 1080p 30 fps mode.

The Sony X1000V may not have many features, like custom ISO settings, metering options etc, but there’s really no need to fiddle with those settings especially when you only have one shot at taking your footage. Sony’s Auto mode has been pretty decent and consistent in terms of exposure. The Steadyshot feature reduces handshake vibration pretty effectively, but I didn’t like Steadyshot when the camera was hard-mounted onto my bike. The video felt like I was floating on rough water, instead of riding on an offroad trail.

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The X1000V has a wind noise reduction mode. It effectively cancels out wind noise without affecting the audio. I would definitely use this option when I ride on my mountain bike or mount the camera onto my car.

The Time Lapse mode is one of the major flaws of this camera. This is a 4K action camera, but it only records time lapse photos at 1080p. This is simply unacceptable. There’s no 0.5 second interval option too. You can only set the interval in 1 second steps, from 1 up to 60 seconds.

Another major drawback of this camera is its underwater abilities. The original waterproof housing is capable of protecting the X1000V up to 10 meters deep. However, the curvature of front lens cover prevents the camera from focusing properly, resulting in blur photos and videos. The only way to resolve this problem is to purchase another accessory, called the Dive Door (AKA-DDX1K), which also increases the depth limit to 60 meters.

 

The Need For Accessories

One of the most basic accessories for the Sony action cam is the lens cover, AKA-HLP1. It is overpriced for such a basic item, but it is crucial if you want the lens on the camera to remain scratch-free.

Sony has been slowly improving their mounting accessories. As I would be primarily using it for my mountain biking, the Roll Bar Mount is probably the most useful mount. I can mount it on the top tube of my bike, where it offers more stability and a great point of view. The latest VCT-RBM2 uses a knob to tighten the strap, and the strap can wrap around non-rounded objects better.

The form factor makes mounting onto a helmet less obstructive than a GoPro camera. If you are mounting on top, it will have less drag especially if you are riding downhill… fast. Likewise, if you are mounting it at the side of the helmet, it is also less likely to clip onto objects like tree branches. There’s no official top-mount option, so you will need to be imaginative. You can probably use a strap to secure it to your helmet if it has vents. You can also use the (included) double-sided tape, but I would not recommend that at all.

Sony also has an interesting mount option if you are using a backpack (which I do while cycling since I carry a water bag). Unfortunately, all the official mounts are quite expensive – a common “problem” with GoPro as well, so I did not buy any official mounting accessories. Please note that most of the official accessories made for the smaller Sony AS-series action cameras, like the Skeleton Frame (AKA-SF1) will not fit the X1000V.

GoPro has been in the market a few years longer than Sony, and they have a far wider choice of accessories. Even eBay offers a ton of knockoff versions. Thankfully, you can actually use GoPro mounts with a Sony action camera. All you need to buy is a 1/4″ x 20 thread to GoPro mount adapter, which only costs USD 1 on eBay! Using this nifty trick, I get to enjoy GoPro mounting accessories with my Sony X1000V action camera, and so can you.

 

Our Verdict

The Sony FDR-X1000V is one of the best action cameras in the market today, and I have definitely no qualms recommending this, especially in its price range. The X1000V costs just RM 1450 (~USD 353), including a remote watch and a 32 GB MicroSD card (which is not capable of recording using XAVC-S mode). The GoPro Hero 4 Black edition will cost almost double the price, if you factor in the remote watch.

Not everyone will like its unusual form factor. However, it is better than GoPro or similar cameras for high speed sports.

The Sony X1000V is not without its flaws though. What may kill your interest is its inability to support a 4K resolution time lapse mode, or a narrow FOV mode without Steadyshot enabled. Sony can possibly fix these issues with firmware updates. However, this model has been in the market for more than a year and there’s still no firmware update. The digital zoom mode is now available on the newly launched Sony AS50R, and it is also capable of recording 4K time lapse. So you might want to consider the AS50R instead.

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The Sony X1000V is also pretty finicky with MicroSD cards. It’s really a game of hits and misses, as there’s no official list of recommended cards. It can be very frustrating for users who want to record in the highest possible modes.

Customization is not something that Sony action cam is famous for. So if you like playing with ISO settings, metering mode, FOV options, non-standard ratio formats, GoPro is definitely your best bet.

Aside from all the drawbacks, the Sony X1000V is a fantastic action camera, oozing with great image quality and consistent performance, high quality audio recording, slightly better low light noise than GoPro, more mounting locations, water resistant without the waterproof casing. If all you want is outstanding video recording without any fuss, the Sony FDR-X1000V is definitely the right choice for you.

Go Back To > First Page | Reviews | Home

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Samsung Gear S2 Issues With Water Rev. 3.0

The new Samsung Gear S2 is a really impressive smartwatch. Samsung eschewed the rectangular Gear S design for the more elegant round face in the Gear S2. It was also noticeably worked better with water, easily tackling rain drops and showers that would have driven the earlier Gear S crazy.

However, we identified two Gear S2 issues with water exposure. Let’s take a look at what those problems are and how you can solve them.

Updated @ 20-01-2016 : Added a video showing one of the Gear S2 issues we identified – the reboot loop. We also added additional information, includinga new solution for this problem.

Updated @ 30-03-2016 : Added a second video showing our Gear S2 in its dying throes, and our experience sending it for inspection and repair.

 

Improved IP Rating

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating is an international certification of a device’s ability to withstand the ingress of dust or dirt (the first number), and moisture or water (the second number).

[adrotate banner=”4″]The Samsung Gear S2 boasts an improved IP68 rating – one notch above that of its predecessor, the Gear S, when it comes to protection against water ingress. Officially, the IP68 rating means the Gear S2 is able to withstand a water depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

The earlier Gear S smartwatch was only IP67-certified, which means it is only rated to a shallower water depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

For all intents and purposes though, both the Gear S and the newer Gear S2 are “waterproof” enough for you to wear them when you take a bath, swim or even go snorkelling. Only divers should not take their Gear S or newer Gear S2 on their dives.

Now, let’s take a look at the two Gear S2 issues we identified, and their solutions.

 

Problem #1 : Spontaneous Reboots

On three occasions, the Samsung Gear S2 automatically rebooted itself while being subjected to a shower test. In all three instances, the Gear S2 was not being used, just worn on the wrist. The buttons were not being pressed, or the bezel turned, when it rebooted by itself.

The first and last occasions were particularly severe with the Gear S2 stuck on a reboot loop. Despite our best efforts, it refused to shut down or boot up properly for at least 15 minutes. But we managed to get it to boot up properly.
Possible Cause : We suspect that the Gear S2 has a hermetically-sealed inner compartment, with the physical buttons activating touch sensors on the outside of the sealed compartment. If so, the ingress of water may “short” the contacts for both buttons, essentially behaving as if the user was pressing both buttons together. That would cause the Gear S2 to reboot… and keep rebooting.
Possible Solution #1 : If it only reboots once, just let it boot up and it will continue on its merry way. No harm done. But if you are stuck in a reboot loop, dry off the Samsung Gear S2 and shake it to remove any water that may have seeped under the buttons.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Then press the Home / Power button (that’s the lower button) until the Gear S2 shuts down. It may take you 15 minutes or more to do so. After it shuts down properly, you can power it up and it will boot up normally.

Possible Solution #2 : If the reboot loop persists, hold the Gear S2 in one hand and tap the edge with the two buttons firmly against the palm of the other hand.

In the video above, you see me tapping that edge against the table. Do the same, just harder, against the palm. This will shake out whatever water is inside the case, and the Gear S2 will boot up properly.

 

Problem #2 : Stuck Back Button

Out of the shower, we experienced problems with the Back button (that’s the upper button) on the Gear S2. It suddenly refused to work. However, it magically came back to life after a shower test… twice!

Possible Cause : Going back to the hypothesis of a hermetically-sealed inner compartment with contact sensors for the physical buttons, we suspect that soap may have gotten in between the Back button and its sensor contact. The soap could have dried on the contacts, preventing the Back button presses from registering on the Gear S2.
Possible Solution : Run the Gear S2 under the shower, or dunk it into a bowl of water. The “malfunctioning” button will come to life after some time. You can test it by pressing it under water, although we would recommend that you take it out of the water before pressing it. Once it starts working, you can dry off the Gear S2.

 

Our Gear S2 Died & Was Reborn New!

We sent the Gear S2 for a week-long test with Samsung, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. After we got it back, we continued testing it, and it would spontaneously reboot now and then. Sometimes, it would get stuck in a reboot loop, which we we managed to resolve using the two methods above.

That ended on February 18, when our Gear S2 suddenly went into a reboot loop that ended in its demise. We left it to recharge overnight, and when we checked it in the morning, it was in a reboot loop. It appeared to be stuck in the reboot loop for several hours because it was very hot, and its battery was almost drained despite the Gear S2 being on its charging cradle.

While we tried to get it out of its reboot loop, its display started to go crazy. Take a look at the video we took :

Eventually, the display would a distorted picture with a cacophony of colours. It was a lost cause, so we sent it to Samsung for another check-up.

Despite their very thorough checks over 2 weeks, they could not determine what caused our Gear S2 to malfunction like that. It was not due to the ingress of water into the unit, although they asked me if the Gear S2 suffered any strong impact (it didn’t).

In the end, Samsung replaced the entire watch unit (sans straps), and we have not experienced any issue whatsoever with the new unit. So we now think that the previous unit was a “lemon”. After all, all of our friends (8 of them) who also use the Gear S2 did not experience any problem.

Samsung tells us that anyone who faces any issues with their Gear S2 smartwatch should send them in for a comprehensive inspection. Don’t wait. That’s what the warranty is for. Thanks, Samsung!

 

Facing Other Gear S2 Issues?

This article was based on our experience with the Gear S2 over the last 5 weeks. If you have any other Gear S2 issues, whether they are related to water exposure or otherwise, please let us know!

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Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Pre-Order Details

The wait is almost over! Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge was revealed in our exclusive sneak peek, Malaysians have been eagerly waiting for its local availability. We are very glad to reveal to you the special pre-order promotion that Samsung Malaysia is announcing today. Check out the details below!

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone!

 

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Pre-Order Details

To celebrate the coming arrival of the Galaxy S7 edge to Malaysia, Samsung Malaysia Electronics will extend a special promotion to the first 1,000 customers who pre-orders the Galaxy S7 edge in Malaysia.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge pre-order will begin at 12:00 am sharp on March 7th and end on March 11th, 2016.

The Galaxy S7 edge has an official recommended retail price of RM 3,099 (~US$ 739), but pre-order customers will enjoy an exclusive 20% discount off the recommended retail price (inclusive of 6% GST). In addition, they will receive a complimentary 128 GB microSD card, and an additional year of extended warranty!

In summary, the lucky 1,000 customers who pre-order the Galaxy S7 edge will receive :

  • a 20% discount off the recommended retail price of RM 3,099, paying only RM 2479.20 (~US$ 589)!
  • a 128 GB microSD card, and
  • an additional year of extended warranty

If you are interested in this fantastic deal, here are the steps to guarantee your pre-order :

  1. [adrotate banner=”4″]Head over to the Samsung Malaysia pre-order microsite,
  2. Place a downpayment of RM 300,
  3. Select from the three colour options, and
  4. Select a Samsung store to collect the device from.

Upon the order confirmation, you can then collect your Galaxy S7 edge on March 17 – a day before the officialMalaysian launch. Yes, you will be one of the first few Malaysians to own the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge before everyone else!

So set your alarm clock and get your credit card out, because only 1,000 units will be available for this pre-order on a first come, first serve basis.

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone!

 

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Kenxinda Ruggedised Smartphones Torture Test

On the 31st of December, Kenxinda launched their Flattop series of ruggedised mobile devices. The Kenxinda Flattop series consists of five ruggedised smartphones, one ruggedised feature phone and one ruggedised power bank. Take a look at their specifications and prices.

Ruggedised devices are currently a very niche market, but they could well become mainstream as smartphone users start to use their mobile devices to more challenging environments. How often have you been forced to leave your mobile devices at home, or at the beach?

 

IP68 & MIL-STD-810G

The Kenxinda Flattop mobile devices are waterproof, dust-proof and shock-proof. They are designed to work in harsh conditions, being IP68-certified and MIL-STD-810G rated. That means they will take pretty much all the abuse you can throw at them and still work. Water, dirt and shock will no longer be a problem with one of these devices. Take a look at what they have been dunked in.

Their IP68 rating means they are rated to be impervious to dust, as well as waterproof up to 1.5 meters in depth for up to 30 minutes. It is not known if Kenxinda actually subjected these devices through the extensive and expensive MIL-STD-810G stress tests. They probably just built them to withstand the MIL-STD-810G laboratory tests.

 

Torture Tests Of Kenxinda Ruggedised Smartphones

Kenxinda demonstrated the ability of their ruggedised smartphones to withstand water, dust, dirt and shock at the launch event. Here is the video of their demonstration :

The phones were immersed in water, dirty sandy water and flour. Later, the media was invited to throw the ruggedised devices in any manner they wish. They continued to work normally no matter what abuse we subjected them to. We even tried to scratch the phone screens with sand, but failed to visibly scratch them.

 

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Kenxinda Flattop Ruggedised Mobile Devices Revealed

The smartphone market today can be divided into three segments – the premium segment, medium segment and the budget segment. The premium segment is dominated by Apple and Samsung with smartphones that are made from the best materials available and offer superior user experience. The medium segment is dominated by the likes of OnePlus and Xiaomi with an emphasis on performance. Finally, we have the budget segment with entry-level smartphones at very low cost.

While the premium segment remains relatively rarefied, the medium segment is getting squeezed by the budget segment. With many small manufacturers entering the smartphone market, it is getting harder for them to differentiate their products in such a saturated market.

Kenxinda aims to penetrate this difficult market with focusing on the niche ruggedised devices market. Hence, on the last day of 2015, they officially launched the Kenxinda Flattop series of ruggedised mobile devices, as well as the Kenxinda W3 smartwatch. The stars of the launch were, without doubt, their Flattop series of ruggedised mobile devices.

 

Kenxinda Flattop Launch Video

 

Kenxinda Flattop Ruggedised Mobile Devices

The Kenxinda Flattop mobile devices are waterproof, dust-proof and shock-proof. They are designed to work in harsh conditions, being IP68-certified and MIL-STD-810G rated. That means they will take pretty much all the abuse you can throw at them and still work.

Kenxinda launched a mix of 7 devices – 5 smartphones, together with one feature phone and one power bank. The Kenxinda smartphone models (W5 to W9) run on Android 5.0.1 Take a look at their key specifications and recommended retail prices :

ModelBasic SpecificationsPrice
Kenxinda Flattop W9 Smartphone1.3 GHz octa-core processor
2 GB RAM + 16 GB storage
6.0" HD display
8 MP rear + 5 MP front cameras
4000 mAh battery
4G LTE, dual SIM, dual standby
RM 2,299
~US$ 539
Kenxinda Flattop W8 Smartphone1.3 GHz octa-core processor
2 GB RAM + 16 GB storage
5.5" HD display
8 MP rear + 5 MP front cameras
3000 mAh battery
4G LTE, dual SIM, dual standby
RM 1,699
~US$ 399
Kenxinda Flattop W7 Smartphone1.3 GHz quad-core processor
1 GB RAM + 8 GB storage
5.0" HD display
8 MP rear + 5 MP front cameras
2800 mAh battery
4G LTE, dual SIM, dual standby
RM 1,399
~US$ 329
Kenxinda Flattop W6 Smartphone1.3 GHz quad-core processor
1 GB RAM + 8 GB storage
4.5" QHD display
5 MP rear + 2 MP front cameras
2600 mAh battery
4G LTE, dual SIM, dual standby
RM 1,099
~US$ 259
Kenxinda Flattop W5 Smartphone1.3 GHz quad-core processor
1 GB RAM + 8 GB storage
4.0" display
5 MP rear + 2 MP front cameras
2800 mAh battery
4G LTE, dual SIM, dual standby
RM 899
~US$ 209
Kenxinda Flattop W3 Feature Phone32 MB RAM + 32 MB storage
2.2" TFT display (240 x 320)
1800 mAh battery
2G connectivity
RM 239
~US$ 59
Kenxinda Flattop Max7 Power Bank10400 mAh lithium-ion battery
Output current : 2.1 A
Input current : 1.5 A
RM 299
~US$ 69

Kenxinda also demonstrated the ruggedised capabilities of these mobile devices, subjecting them to water, dust and dirt. We were also given the opportunity to throw these mobile devices around. You can check out their demonstration here.

 

Kenxinda W3 Smartwatch

Kenxinda also launched a smaller and more affordable smartwatch – the Kenxinda W3. The name is confusing since Kenxinda also has a Flattop feature phone with the same model number.

[adrotate banner=”4″]The Kenxinda W3 has a 1.44″ LCD display with a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels, and even a 0.8 MP camera built-in! It even has telephony capability through a SIM slot that supports the quad-band GSM network (you don’t need an LTE connection on a smartwatch and the GSM connectivity offers the best battery life).

It has 32 MB of RAM and 32 MB of internal storage, with a microSD slot for additional storage. Its 300 mAh battery is sufficient to provide up to 50 hours of use. The Kenxinda W3 also comes with an integrated FM radio and Bluetooth 3.0 support.

Unbelievably, Kenxinda is pricing the Kenxinda W3 smartwatch at just RM 169 (~US$ 39), with a FREE Bluetooth earphone to boot!

 

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Samsung Gear S2 – Unboxing & First Impressions


The new Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch was officially launched in the US on the 2nd of October, 2015. However, eager Malaysian fans had to wait until the 27th of November before it hit our shores. Demand was so high that the first batch of 500 Gear S2 smartwatches sold out within 16 hours!

As a result, we had to wait until earlier this month to receive our own Samsung Gear S2. Today, we are proud to share with you our unboxing video and pictures, as well as our first impressions. The forthcoming review will have a slew of additional videos to show you how it all works.

 

The Samsung Gear S2

The Samsung Gear S2 comes in 3 different models – the Gear S2 (Bluetooth), the Gear S2 classic (Bluetooth) and the rare Gear S2 (3G). The model we will be looking at today is the Samsung Gear S2 (Bluetooth), which is also known (unofficially) as the Gear S2 Sport. Let’s take a look at the differences between the 3 models.

SpecificationsSamsung Gear S2
(Bluetooth)
Samsung Gear S2 classic
(Bluetooth)
Samsung Gear S2
(3G)
Dimensions42.3 mm wide
49.8 mm tall
11.4 mm thick
39.9 mm wide
43.6 mm tall
11.4 mm thick
44.0 mm wide
51.8 mm tall
13.4 mm thick
Weight47 g42 g51 g
Display Type1.2" full circular Super AMOLED display
Display Resolution360 x 360 pixels
Display Pixel Density302 ppi
Display ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass 3
Chassis ProtectionIP68-certified
- dust-proof and water-resistant up to 1.5 m in depth for up to 30 minutes
User Interface Controls- capacitive touch screen
- rotating bezel
- Back and Home buttons
Operating SystemTizen
System ChipSamsung Exynos 3250Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
CPU1 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 (dual-core)1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 (dual-core)
Memory512 MB RAM
Internal Storage4 GB flash memory
Memory Card SlotNo
ConnectivityBluetooth v4.1
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
3G (electronic SIM only)
Bluetooth v4.1
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
GPSNoYes, with A-GPS
NFCYes
Sensors9-axis pedometer
PPG heart rate monitor
Dual microphones
Ambient light sensor
SpeakersNoYes, mono
Battery250 mAh, 3.8 V Li-Ion (non-removable)300 mAh, 3.8V Li-Ion (non-removable)
Battery LifeUp to 48 hours (mixed usage)
Battery Charging MethodQi wireless charging dock
Available ColoursDark Gray, SilverBlackDark Gray, Silver
Strap TypeFluoroelastomerLeatherFluoroelastomer

 

Unboxing The Samsung Gear S2

The Samsung Gear S2 comes in a circular box, instead of a rectangular box of the earlier Gear S smartwatch. The model details and key specifications are printed on the lower half of the box. A single seal (broken in the last picture) ensures that the Gear S2 inside has not been tampered with.

When you cut the seal and remove the top half, you will find the Samsung Gear S2 sitting on a white tray. Remove the Gear S2 and you can remove the tray. You will find all of its accessories nicely arranged in the compartments below.

[adrotate banner=”4″]When you take everything out, you should find the following items :

  • One Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch with large straps attached
  • One Samsung Gear S2 charging dock
  • One Samsung 3.5 W travel adaptor
  • One pair of small straps
  • Two Quick Start Guides (in English and Mandarin)
  • One Warranty booklet

 

The Unboxing Video

If you prefer to watch the unboxing process, we have just the video for you. Check it out :

In the next page, we will take a look at the Samsung Gear S2 and its accessories. We will also give you our first impressions of this smartwatch.

Wireless Charging

Unlike the earlier Gear S model, the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch uses a Qi wireless charging dock. This is so much better than the clip-on battery extender / charging dock used by the Samsung Gear S. It’s smaller and less cumbersome to use.

All you have to do is slide the Gear S2 over the wireless charging dock and it will magnetically lock on and start charging. The Gear S2 will also change the orientation of the clock face so that it will display properly on the dock, no matter which way you put it on.

The Samsung Gear S2 comes with a small 3.5 W travel adaptor. This is a low-power adaptor because the Gear S2 is only powered by a small 250 mAh battery. Although it can also be used to charge your other devices, it will take longer than usual because it only has a power output of 3.5 W.

You can actually power the charging dock using any USB port on any computer or power bank. So if you are travelling with a computer or power bank, you can leave this travel adaptor at home and just pack a USB cable.

 

Extra Straps

The Samsung Gear S2 comes with two pairs of fluoroelastomer straps. The Large straps are attached by default, with a pair of Small straps included in the box.

The straps are locked using a proprietary clip. They can be frustrating to remove at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy to remove and replace the straps.

 

Quick Start Guide

As mentioned before, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with two Quick Start Guides – one in English, and the other in Mandarin. The Quick Start Guide is a must-read for all Gear S2 users. It teaches you the basics of using the Gear S2, including how to remove and attach the straps.

As the Samsung Gear S2 is quite different from its predecessor, you should go through it even if you own and use the earlier Gear S smartwatch.

 

Our First Impressions

We are so far very impressed with the Samsung Gear S2. It was a massive redesign, switching from the geeky, rectangular Gear S to a more elegant round face. Samsung also made it slimmer and lighter, making it much easier to wear for a whole day.

The addition of a bezel was a very smart move because it allows the Gear S2 to be operated (somewhat) underwater. Samsung actually one-upped Apple by adopting the bezel. The bezel is much easier (and more intuitive) to use than the small crown on the Apple Watch. As a bonus, it doesn’t stick out.

We also noted that the Gear S2 has a much better ability to recognise rain drops and showers, automatically turning off by itself. The earlier Gear S would run amok under a shower. Unfortunately, the Samsung Gear S2 may have problems with water, despite its IP68 rating.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Despite its small battery, we noted that the Samsung Gear S2 is more than capable of lasting one and a half days non-stop. Our preliminary battery life tests recorded a maximum battery life of 38 hours. This is 10 hours less than Samsung’s estimate but this is our real world test with both Bluetooth and WiFi enabled.

The wireless charging dock is a joy to use. Just slide the Gear S2 over it when you go to bed and slide it off when you wake up. Best of all, it comes with the Gear S2 – a similar Apple magnetic charging dock would set you back an additional US$79.

The biggest impediment to mass adoption of the earlier Gear S smartwatch was the fact that it had to be paired with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Samsung appeared to have learned their lesson and “opened up” the Gear S2 to support other smartphones, as long as they run on Android 4.4 or better and have at least 1.5 GB of RAM.

Stay tuned for our full review and other articles on the Samsung Gear S2!