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The real review: HTC Desire

15 Jun

This isn’t my last post on the phone but just the full-on ‘proper’ review.

Will have a retrospective Day with the Desire log up soon but here’s a post written for the people who want to know the answer to the burning question: Should I get the damn phone?

Because most tech reviews are, seriously, bloody boring, I will do this review in the style of…Team Fortress 2.

tf2guys

Bring it, bitches

If you haven’t heard of TF2, it’s only the most fun multiplayer shooter on the planet. I’ll do the review from the viewpoints of various classes in the game. So let’s bring it on!

icon_scout DESIGN: Surveying the territory

“Well, first impression of the phone: SWEET! OK, you have to admit it kinda looks like the Nexus One. The Nexus seemed lighter, though and the Desire has dedicated physical buttons as compared to the Nexus’ and swaps out the girly ‘nipple’ for an optical trackpad.

That suede back makes the phone easier to grip and the front portion show some great design of real estate – dedicating most of it to the SWEET AMOLED 3.7-inch screen. Good placement of ports – volume controls on the side, headphone jack on top neatly spaced from the power button. microUSB port on the bottom for quick connecting of charging cable.

But man, that back cover. Hell on the nails, know what I”m saying? And not making it easy to hotswap your microSD cards out by having a side port is insane. I have to take out my battery and the back cover just to switch microSD cards? Only good if you’re scared of losing your data.

UI-wise, if you love the HTC Sense UI, you’ll love how polished your Android experience is compared to Motorola’s kit. The purists who want to run Froyo, well stick to the Nexus One. For those who would great eyecandy and super usability, the HTC UI makes sense even if it means getting the latest Android updates a bit later.

So after surveying the terrain, the HTC Desire ain’t sexy (though the screen is, hell yeah), it is a nicely made piece of kit. Slim, easy to carry but make sure you get a nice big microSD for the phone as replacing it is a fiddly, annoying endeavour.”

icon_heavy SPECS: Is the Desire packing enough ammo?

“Ain’t easy playing tank so I need all the firepower I can get and it had better be enough to kick the other team in the teeth. So does the Desire deliver? Well, the innards speak for themselves: 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of memory, 512MB internal storage, 5 MP camera, 1400mAh battery (up to 340 hours of standby time) and support for up to 32GB of microSD storage. That’s quite the arsenal if you ask me.

The bad: 512MB is hardly enough if you want to get your fill of apps. If the internal storage isn’t going to be much, then make it easy to upgrade your microSD card for chrissakes.

480 x 800 WVGA is pretty decent resolution for the screen but AMOLED makes it unusable outside in harsh sunlight. You’ll just be looking at your face reflected right back atcha.

But it’s a great multitasking taskhorse. Screens are zippy, loads fine, OS very much stable. With minimal usage (read: no surfing/gaming), it can go over 2-3 days without charging. But with heavy YouTube usage, Tweeting, surfing or IM, battery can go down to 6-7 hours. Hope HTC’s planning optional higher capacity batteries.

I say the Desire’s got the goods under the hood all right.”

icon_engineer FEATURES: Can the Desire prove a great workhorse?

“Well, the Heavy’s got a great summary of the power the HTC Desire packs. Like the Scout says, the Sense UI is pretty sweet. Customising screens is a dream compared to the iPhone’s fiddlyness. You can pick and choose as many icons as you want. There’s so much more flexibility at your fingertips.

The camera? Eh. It takes great pictures outside, but it’s not going to be the ideal replacement for your pocket camera. Video could be better – someone figure out how to hack the Desire to shoot HD too, please? They managed it on the Nexus One after all.

You have to say Google’s Market does the job where apps are concerned. Not as informative or as fun as Apple’s App Store but definitely pwns Nokia’s pathetic Ovi Store.

Music player is rather boring, iTunes does it better. The headset that comes with it isn’t particularly stellar and the speakers? They’re loud, I’ll give you that.

But as a multimedia machine, I have to say watching video on it is great, with a decent set of headphones, sound is decent and browsing on it? Sure beats Safari on the iPhone or any Nokia browser. Though I like the native YouTube app, the syncing is a little off. Hope they fix that in an update.

If you, like everyone else on the planet, have Google accounts, this syncs perfectly with your contacts and Gmail. The iPhone doesn’t come close to doing mail as well as HTC’s Android does – IMAP, POP, native Gmail accounts – this is top-notch stuff.

As a regular phone, reception’s all right and a tad better than the HTC Legend (what the heck persuaded them to put the antenna in the bottom rubber attachment? Morons). Call quality is clear and not as wonky as the Nexus and its dual mics.

I have to say the specs make the touchscreen probably one of the most responsive ones I’ve used. The touchscreen keypad is very usable though you’d probably want to turn the autocorrect feature off. Damnably annoying.  Texting and making calls with it has a slight learning curve but practise makes perfect. Give it half an hour or so.”

icon_demoman CONCLUSION: Is it worth it?

“You bet your pansy ass it is! If you gave up on Nokia, don’t want to be associated with the iPhone fanboys, find Sony Ericsson
etc etc boring and want a real Android phone…the HTC Desire is the IT-phone.

Sure, it could do better but the niggles are tiny. It’s very usable, has a hell of a great UI, can beat any phone to the multitask crown (I’m looking at you, N900) and you can’t call it mediocre in any aspect. This is probably the best Android phone on the market, period.

Granted, this isn’t for the pussies who can’t be bothered to learn how to stretch battery life or really master using this sweet piece of kit (sorry, Scout) (wait, I’m not sorry) then you don’t want an Android phone. But out of the box, it works great.

You want a good phone? YOU WANT A GOOD PHONE? This is a good phone. “

wallpaper_team_fortress_2 (Disclaimer: Team Fortress 2 is the property of Valve and is just being abused by me for the sake of not boring myself to death. KTHKSBAI)

 

 

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"Haven't we met?": HTC Desire first impressions

11 Jun

Hope you enjoyed my ‘unboxing’ video. As promised, a real writeup on the HTC Desire. This will be the first of a series but today it’s just about the initial experience.

I’ve been carrying it around for a couple of days already. Having reviewed the Nexus One and owning an HTC Legend, the Android OS and Sense UI were things I’m already used to.

The Desire is pretty much a slightly souped up Nexus One with some minor tweaks here and there. Nearly identical specs but the Desire has 64MB more RAM and a few design changes as I’ll explain later.


Yes, you might have met my twin the Nexus One

For a phone dubbed the ‘Desire’, it doesn’t bring much to the table in the sexy stakes. The design award would go to the stylish unibody Legend.


You want me, you know eet

Physically what the Desire does have going for it is its light 135g. Very light, surprisingly thin (11.9mm) and the build feels solid. I like the rubberised back and burnished metal sides.


So thin, I make the Legend look fat

Have to say I really like the the 3.7 inch AMOLED 480 x WVGA screen. Lovely – the Legend’s feels cramped in comparison. Both phones’ screens are rubbish in bright sunlight, just so you know.


No release catch to slide off the back cover = pain

Getting the phone back cover off was a bitch, though. Took quite a few tries to remove and it’s annoying that you have to remove the cover and battery to swap out the microSD card. The SIM I can understand but not the SD card.

.
Hello custom buttons

What primarily differentiates the Desire from the Nexus One is the absence of the latter’s trackball. Instead, it sports a similar optical joystick to the HTC Legend, as well as additional buttons at the bottom.

How has the first day of use been?

My notes:

1. The battery life on the HTC Desire is disappointing. It’s not so bad if, like me, you spend most of your time at the desk or in front of a PC so you can keep the phone charged via USB. But the battery lasts 6-7 hours if you’re a power user like me. I listen to music to it on the train, check email, Tweet, Foursquare, listen to Internet radio and the like.

EDIT: On normal usage, it can last about 16 hours before needing charging. You will still need to charge it everyday.

2. The 1 GHz Snapdragon processor makes a lot of difference. The screens are zippier on the Desire compared to the Legend. The latter tends to lag when taking photos or video but the Desire can handle my running 4-5 apps at a time without crashing.

3. The responsiveness of the touchscreen is great – I’d have to rate typing with Desire’s onscreen keyboard the best I’ve experienced, even next to the iPhone 3GS or third-gen iPod Touch.

Summary: So far I’m having fun with the phone. The fast processor and massive memory ensure the absence of lag and build quality is good but not as impressive as the Legend. What is annoying, though, is the battery which could have been better. Also questionable design choices where the back cover/microSD card slot is concerned.

Next up, how the HTC Desire takes being pushed to the limit of social media usage.

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The laziest unboxing video evah – HTC Desire

9 Jun

Somehow Maxis got suckered into letting me review the HTC Desire for 2 weeks.

It was hinted that an unboxing video would be nice, but there was one problem.

To be honest, I fall asleep through most unboxing videos.

It’s hardly exciting hearing a stranger randomly drone about something he or she just brought though Google’s Ninja unboxing video of the Nexus One was hilarious.

Also check out the iPad stop-motion self-unboxing video.

Being too busy/broke to do anything that fancy, I just took my HTC Legend and shot a few stills and video of the HTC Desire as I ‘unboxed’ it. Kept the video very short and concise so you get an idea what’s inside the box without going into a coma from my monotone voice.

For a full specs-list, go to HTC’s site.

More to come as I chronicle my experiences with what is supposed to be the best Android phone of 2010. In the UK, it’s selling out which shows the phone certainly is proving ‘desirable’.

Powered by ScribeFire.

The laziest unboxing video evah – HTC Desire

9 Jun

Somehow Maxis got suckered into letting me review the HTC Desire for 2 weeks.

It was hinted that an unboxing video would be nice, but there was one problem.

To be honest, I fall asleep through most unboxing videos.

It’s hardly exciting hearing a stranger randomly drone about something he or she just brought though Google’s Ninja unboxing video of the Nexus One was hilarious.

Also check out the iPad stop-motion self-unboxing video.

Being too busy/broke to do anything that fancy, I just took my HTC Legend and shot a few stills and video of the HTC Desire as I ‘unboxed’ it. Kept the video very short and concise so you get an idea what’s inside the box without going into a coma from my monotone voice.


For a full specs-list, go to HTC’s site.

More to come as I chronicle my experiences with what is supposed to be the best Android phone of 2010. In the UK, it’s selling out which shows the phone certainly is proving ‘desirable’.

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Rules for warriors of truth

12 Jan

I’m known to be a despot about books. While I am totally against book banning, I have no reservations about slamming a book down someone’s throat.

There are books that I will demand my friends read, to the point of taking said book, handing it to them or literally smacking them on the heads with it.

“You. Have. To. Read. This. Book.”

There is one book I think all journalists, editors and yes, even bloggers must read. It is called ‘The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect’.

http://www.journalism.org/node/71

On the subject of bloggers, it would be nice for you to read it but it isn’t absolutely essential if all you blog about are personal subjects. Now if you’re one of those so-called sociopolitical bloggers, then I probably will hit you on the head with it. WIth a lot of force because most of you piss me off that much.

Two excerpts from the reviews of the book:

“Don’t even think of becoming a reporter, editor, columnist or influential blogger without reading this modern classic.”

-William Safire,

The New York Times

 

The Elements of Journalism…belongs on the shelf of every citizen who reads the paper or watches the tube.”

Roger Mudd

Wall Street Journal

It angers me to read a lot of the reporting on the current hot topic – the Allah issue – as there is a lot of sensationalist, ridiculous speculation going on. I was hopping mad when one online publication reported rumours as fact.

Irresponsible journalism is unforgivable. Journalists are purveyors of truth, after all. It made me even more angry to see text messages being sent out that claimed cars were burning in PJ and Christians must remove all their religious paraphenalia and PROTECT THEIR CARS.

No, not look after yourselves, be careful, or pray. The message is ‘LOOK AFTER YOUR CARS’. I am disgusted with the abject selfishness and materialism shown by these so-called  Christians. If you were a Christian, you’d know you don’t own anything. God does. It’s His car, not yours. Pray for your country, its people and not your damn cars.

Back to the book, here are the elements of journalism as espoused by said book:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
     
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.
     
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
     
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
     
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
     
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
     
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
     
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
     
  9. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.
  10.  

  11. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.
     

Do our journalists and publications follow those elements. For the most part, no. Our newspapers are mostly glorified party newsletters. Or worse, patsies of advertisers. The press should serve the people but they are now beholden to the people who actually pay their salaries. Hint: it’s not the people.

No wonder circulation is down. It’s because the public no longer trusts in the mainstream media. Journalists no longer know how to be journalists and the public doesn’t even know what they should expect, no, demand from them.

Standards of reporting are down. Standards of writing are down.

It’s everyone’s fault, really, for allowing those standards to drop.

Then we have bloggers and those who Tweet. I believe in a right to free speech and expressing opinons but some of these people are just plain irresponsible. Some silly girl on Twitter was claiming that no Malays offered help to rebuild or protect churches.

Who are you, little girl? A journalist? Were you on a church board? You didn’t check your facts, but instead made hateful comments and worsened the situation. You complain about Malay/Muslims being racist but take a good long look at the mirror and tell me what you see. Would God really be proud of your self-righteousness and blatantly ignoring the truth?

If you refuse to be part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

As a writer and occasional blogger, I am beholden to the truth. My personal stance is that I refuse to be anyone’s mouthpiece. Not BN, not Pakatan nor any religion.

I belong to God, not religion. I believe in His mercy, His compassion, His grace. But I will not be any religion’s mouthpiece, nor push any agenda that does not place truth at the heart of it.

So please, before you forward any moronic SMS or hate Tweet/post/email, think. Is this the truth? Can I prove it is the truth? Will I really be doing good or harm by spreading these words.

Think. Pray if you do pray. Ask. Verify.

Else you will just be part of the problem.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Why I went Mac – my Macbook Pro experience

7 Aug
fzSkinned with my favourite Van Gogh painting

Skinned with my favourite Van Gogh painting

After years of resisting Apple’s computers, I finally swapped my self-assembled desktop Windows PC for a 13.3 inch MacBook Pro.

“Finally!” “I’m so proud of you!” Of course, my Mac fanboy friends just had to comment.

Truthfully, I’d never been enamored with Apple’s PC hardware. The pricing usually made my eyes bug out especially considering you could probably get a pretty decent desktop for half the price of an Apple iMac. Being in the tech mag industry, I’d tried and tested notebooks of all sizes and shapes from every existing manufacturer in the market. I knew what I wanted. I knew what I could get with my money. Apple’s proposition was just too hard to beat.

If you want value for money in the desktop arena, I’d still say get a non-Mac PC instead. The new MacBook Pro range, however, is a whole different story. I wanted something that was light without skimping on the screen size. It had to have a great keyboard. It should have good enough specs to handle basic image editing, the odd video processing, a game or two, and good battery life. The MacBook Pro had it all.

I chose the lower end model 13.3 inch MacBook Pro which set me back a cool RM4.5k. Not cheap. My more frugal friends would have argued for non-Mac laptops. Yes, they’re cheaper. But they didn’t come with Mac OS X, iLife ’09 and funky touch commands. They didn’t have a lovely backlit keyboard that’s even better to type on than the ThinkPad range’s. Then there’s the nearly seven hours of battery life.

To top it all off, it’s a stunningly beautiful machine. It is. It’s the supermodel of ultraportables. Not as skinny as the MacBook Air, but at least it makes up for it with its specs.

With BootCamp, I can have my Windows gaming cake and eat it too. Since I’ve left the MMO world, the only game I have on the Windows partition is the Company of Heroes anthology. Three of my favourite males cajoled me into it so WWII RTS-ing I go. And you know what? It installs and runs like a dream on the MBP.

It’s a great laptop, which just happens to be a Mac. But you know what makes it better than 90 percent of the ultraportables out there? It doesn’t come with unnecessary vendor bloatware. Dudes, you make great machines but your vendor software? It sucks. OS X, fortunately, doesn’t. Next up – waiting for the Snow Leopard upgrade which only cost me RM39. Yes, I love my Mac and I probably ain’t going back.

Engaging bloggers for (PR) dummies

6 Apr

So this PR person (not a Textie) asked me: "How do we engage bloggers?" Part of me wants to say: if you have to ask, you shouldn’t even try. That’s the cynical, mean part.

But I suppose I should add my own two cents to the blogger/PR debate which blew up oh-so-nicely last week. Before I joined PR, I was a rarity – a journalist who also happened to be a blogger. It’s certainly an advantage for me in my current job. I can honestly say to journos and bloggers that I know where they’ve been and where they’re coming from. It also makes me rather peevish when I see clueless PR blindly attempting to ‘engage’ bloggers and making a right royal flub at it.

Bloggers are not journalists. While journalists can be bloggers as well, the reverse does not hold true. You do not ‘pitch’ bloggers the way you do journalists. But there are certain things you do with journalists that you can do with the New Media crowd:

1. Find out their niche. What do they cover? What are their interests? Don’t just send any pitch or release willy-nilly. An example of what not to do? Send Paul Tan a pitch about hydrophonic plants instead of about cars, and you deserve to be tarred and feathered.

2. Politely make contact, introduce yourself and what you do as well as who you represent. Don’t wait until you have something to pitch to make New Media friends. Importantly, ask them how they would prefer to be contacted. When I was an editor, I preferred IM or emails. If a PR person had to, then call me at work. My mobile phone was off limits except for absolute, dire emergencies. Press releases and invite attendance did not fall into the latter so I did blow my Fiery Editorial Pissy Breath on clueless PR person. Don’t get me started on the Kaspersky rep who called me at 8pm at night.

3. Work on building a relationship. Don’t treat them like one night stands. Use, abuse, chuck. Malaysia’s small. The media circle is small. Heck, even the PR industry in Malaysia is pretty tiny which is how my appointment got blown up as big PR industry news. Make the effort. Play your cards right and you’ll be regarded a reliable source at best or at worst, angry bloggers won’t be crucifying you on their blogs.

What you don’t do with bloggers which you can with journalists:

1. Send them unsolicited releases. No, no, no. Yes, Gmail may give you lots of storage space but most bloggers do not want releases from absolute strangers in their inboxes. Get in touch with said blogger first, ask politely if blogger would like to receive news about your client, then send them. Just don’t bother sending releases to Shaolin Tiger unless you want to see him do a Hulk Rage. He blogged quite a few times about receiving unsolicited PR writeups. And he’s still getting them, the poor sod.

2. Invite them for events and expect them to write about them. Journalists are obligated to write about news or if your client advertises (sad but true) but bloggers are free agents. You want a nice big writeup on their blogs? Contact Nuffnang or Advertlets for blogger advertorial rates. If you call up a blogger and ask him what angle his blogpost is going to have, quit your job now. Please. You’re the type who makes the rest of us look like morons.

Bloggers aren’t a different race or breed of people. Heck, even Tun M blogs. Treat them like people, relate to them, reach out to them and don’t just consider them a ‘means to an end’. What if the shoe was on the other foot? A journo I knew once said this in passing about a PR friend: "Pity she isn’t more useful." Ouch. What PR needs now is authenticity, sincerity and earnestness. The days of spin and fakeness are over. I’ve said this before – I believe there is a way to be good again. Even for us so-called PR flaks.