Does anyone have a Windows Phone?

Post by Mark

windowsphone

According to a recent news article, Microsoft is claiming that the Windows Phone outsold the iPhone in Kuwait. Thing is I don’t know anyone who has a Windows Phone. I think the last time I saw someone using a Windows Phone was a few years ago and it was a friend visiting from Dubai, but even he’s back to the iPhone. [Article]

Thanks Tuan


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Breville – The Smart Kettle

Post by Mark

If you’re a tea drinker then you should check out this kettle before they get sold out. I first spotted it maybe around a month back at Xcite but I didn’t get it and I’m glad I didn’t because they’re currently heavily discounted and are being sold for a lot cheaper than Amazon.

The reason I was checking out kettles in the first place is because I was looking for one which would allow me to select a specific heating temperature instead of just boiling it to 100° like my regular kettle did. For some teas like green tea, pouring boiling 100° water on the leaves can scald them leaving a bitter taste. That’s why for green tea for example, it’s recommended to heat up the water up to just 80°. This Breville BKE820 Smart Kettle allows me to do just that. There are a five preset temperatures ranging from 80° to 100° and I select the one I want and click on start. Very easy and very cool to use. By cool I mean lots of nice flashing lights and beeping sounds.

Now the reason I’m posting about this is for some reason Xcite have dropped the price of the kettle from KD47 down to KD28. It’s a ridiculously good value considering my other two alternatives were a Cuisinart and KitchenAid kettle, both of which cost over KD60 at Williams-Sonoma. Last time I found a good deal like this was for my Breville juicer. They don’t have the kettle listed online and I’ve only seen it at their AlRai branch off the 4th Ring Road, so that’s where you need to go to get one.


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Review: Ecoxbt Waterproof Wireless Speaker

Post by Mark

The Ecoxbt is an interesting little speaker since it’s completely waterproof. While I use my Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 on the shore, once I get into the water the Ecoxbt takes over. It’s a small lightweight speaker that not only is waterproof but also floats on the water. I’ve been using it now for three weeks and it’s really made chilling in the sea more entertaining.

The first time I took the Ecoxbt to the beach I literally threw it as far as I could into the sea. I didn’t have a specific reason other than the fact I could do it knowing the speaker would still be ok. The Ecoxbt pumps out just 6 watts of sound which isn’t much but surprisingly it’s more than enough when you’re out in the water. It’s a bluetooth speaker and I use my iPhone with a waterproof case to stream music onto it. When I’m home I have the speaker setup in my shower and I could stream music to it from my iPhone which would be charging in the adjacent room. So give or take around 10 meters apart. Out at sea though the distance drastically drops. Water kills the signal so if you have your phone in your back pocket under the water the bluetooth signal won’t get to the speaker.

Another downside is the Ecoxbt floats away if you leave it floating in the water. If you want to just leave it in the water like that then its best to do it in the pool where there are no waves. What me and my friends have been using the Ecoxbt mostly for is listening to music while relaxing and tanning in the shallow waters near the shore. I just dig the speaker into the ground and then dig my iPhone into the sand right next to it and they’ll both stay there until I take them out. These are small speakers so don’t expect any kind of thumping bass but they more than do the job. The rechargeable battery also lasts a ridiculous 15 hours so we’ve never run out of juice.

I’ve really been enjoying this speaker and it now has a permanent spot in my beach bag right next to my Beolit 12. The Ecoxbt costs KD42 and is available to purchase online from [Blink] and [uBuy].


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Review: Hitcase Pro iPhone Case

Post by Mark

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the beach this summer and one of my most important summer accessories I’ve been using is my iPhone5 LifeProof case. It’s my need-to-have accessory since it allows me to use my iPhone on the beach or in the sea and not worry about sand or water ruining my phone. The size is perfect and so far I haven’t had a leak but the case does have its shortcomings. Firstly the case doesn’t have a wrist strap nor a place to connect one. When I went paragliding I was worried I would drop my phone so didn’t take any risky shots, if I had a wrist strap I would have taken a lot more interesting photos. A wrist strap is really a must on a take everywhere case and it sucks the LifeProof doesn’t have it. The other issue I have with the LifeProof is the fact they recommend submersing it to a maximum of 2 meters for 30 minutes. This means I can’t keep my phone in my back pocket the whole time I’m in the water since I’m usually in the water for a lot longer than 30 minutes. Finally, even though I’ve never had a leak I’m always worried I will since the case is pretty thin and the only thing that’s stopping the water from getting into the case is a flimsy o-ring which seems to always get loose when I open the case.

The Hitcase Pro wasn’t available back when I purchased the LifeProof case and I didn’t even know they released an iPhone5 version until the local dealer contacted me asking if I would be interested in reviewing it. I quickly checked the specs of the case online and emailed the dealer back with a big yes and to send me the case before the weekend so I could try it out. That was three weeks ago and since then I’ve used the case a number of times and it has now officially replaced my LifeProof. I love it.

I don’t know where to begin this review since there a bunch of cool things about the Hitcase Pro. I’ll start with the case answering the shortfalls of the LifeProof. The Hitcase Pro comes with a wrist strap, that alone would have convinced me to jump ship even if it didn’t have any other advantages but it does. The Hitcase Pro can be submersed down to 10 meters so it can basically stay in my back pocket all day under the water and I won’t be worried about it leaking. The Hitcase Pro also feels and looks heavy duty so when I put the phone inside it and close it I don’t have any of the confidence issues of the LifeProof. So already without going any further the case has already solved all of my issues with the LifeProof and there are two more additional features that were interesting to me.

The Hitcase Pro has a built in wide angle lens for the iPhone camera. This was a bonus feature I didn’t think would make a big difference to my shots but it has. Other than the fact I could fit more scenery and people into my shots, the wide angle lens has made selfies a lot easier to take and the very slight fisheye look has made the shots a lot more interesting looking. The other cool feature of the Hitcase Pro is the fact it turns your iPhone into an action camera. The case allows you to use GoPro mounts or mounts that use the tripod socket. This means all my Contour+ mounts now work with my iPhone case so I could mount the camera on a jetski, a car or my bicycle. I’ve actually decided to sell my Contour+ now since I wasn’t using it much and if I do need an action camera I can just use my iPhone 5 now.

The Hitcase Pro does have two shortfalls though when compared to my LifeProof case. The Hitcase Pro is a lot more bulkier than the LifeProof case which doesn’t make it practical to use as a day to day iPhone case. I only use my LifeProof at the beach but I know a couple of people who use it as their everyday case. The second issue is you can’t charge the phone without removing it from the case. With the LifeProof there was a little latch at the bottom which when opened allowed me to access the Thunderbolt lightning connector. I don’t usually charge my iPhone while at the beach but I do connect it to my Bang & Olufsen portable speaker. None of these issues are major though and I’m willing to sacrifice them for all the other advantages the case provides.

The Hitcase Pro costs KD39 which is the same price as Amazon and is available to purchase online from [Blink] and [uBuy]. According to the dealer it will also be available soon at GoSport, Extreme Sports and Explorer’s Base.


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Roombas in Kuwait

Post by Mark

I noticed Lakeland at Marina Mall is selling Roombas. They had two models, the Roomba 630 and the Roomba 390 which washes floors. Sadly, both models are ridiculously priced. The Roomba 630 is being sold for KD200 (KD99 on Amazon) and the Roomba 390 is for KD269 (KD142 on Amazon). Amazon ships the Roomba internationally and it will cost you just KD28 to ship the Roomba from the US to Kuwait via DHL. So that’s a considerable saving compared to buying it locally.

I used to have the really older model back in 2003. If you don’t know what a Roomba is click [Here]


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Dji Phantom in Kuwait

Post by Mark


[YouTube]

I know of two friends so far who have this Dji Phantom drone. It’s ridiculous and you can get it for around KD200 from eBay [Here]


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Xcite iPhone & iPad App

Post by Mark

Yesterday I got a phone call from Xcite telling me they launched their iPhone and iPad app. I checked out the iPhone version and it’s not bad although the main page for some reason makes me feel very claustrophobic. I think its because of all the icons squeezed into the bottom 1/3 of the screen. Anyway if you want to download it and check it out just search for Xcite in the App store or click on this [Link]


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Review: Kindle Paperwhite

Post by Mark

A few months back I upgraded from the entry level Kindle to the Kindle Paperwhite and although I hated it at first I’ve grown to like it, a lot.

Literally 10 minutes after getting the Kindle Paperwhite in the mail I was offering it up for sale because I hated it so much. I found it incredibly sluggish and hated the new graphical interface. I just couldn’t see myself using the Paperwhite without hurling it out the window 2 minutes later and I just wanted to get rid of it right away. Thankfully I didn’t. Some of my followers who found the Paperwhite frustrating at first told me if I used it for awhile I’d get used to it and a week later I was.

Once you get used to the Paperwhite it’s actually a pretty good ereader. First of all the biggest improvement over my entry level Kindle is the fact the Papwerwhite is backlit which means I can use it in complete darkness. The second improvement is the fact the Paperwhite has no buttons and uses a touch screen. At first this annoyed me but after using it on the beach a few times I now appreciate the fact the Paperwhite doesn’t have any buttons where little grains of sand can hide under. The Paperwhite is slightly larger and heavier than the entry level Kindle but I no longer notice the difference. Battery life is still extremely long, even with the backlit on it still lasts over 2 weeks with me per charge, maybe even more.

Yes the interface is still sluggish specially when compared to other touch devices like the iPad or any touch screen phone on the market, but I’ve really gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I’ve now given my older Kindle away because I can no longer go back to it and yesterday when a friend asked me which Kindle to get I recommended the Paperwhite to them. Even with whatever little faults it has, at KD35 it’s a really good deal. [Amazon Link]


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Review: Bose Soundlink vs Jawbone Big Jambox

Post by Mark

This review turned out to be tougher than I expected since I was expecting the Big Jambox to easily come out on top but the Soundlink put up a pretty good fight. Both speakers are similar in that they are compact and very portable, run on rechargeable battery and connect to your music player wirelessly using bluetooth.

From the two speakers right off the bat I’ll say the Big Jambox is the better sounding of the two. There is no question about that. I played a variety of music ranging from Mumford & Sons and Zulu Winter to 16 Bit Lolita’s and Guy J when testing the speakers out. Switching between the two speaker was very easy using the iPhone and so I was easily able to compare the same songs on both speakers. In each and every case the Big Jambox topped the Soundlink when it came to the sound quality. The Jambox always sounded richer, had deeper lows as well as clearer highs. To top it off the Jambox could also go a lot louder than the Soundlink.

So you’d think there was a clear winner here but there isn’t. The thing is although the Big Jambox did sound better than the Soundlink the difference isn’t that dramatic in most cases. Because I was switching from one speaker to another instantly I was clearly able to distinguish the differences but if I had heard the two speakers on different days for example it would be a lot more difficult to distinguish the differences.

What I think clearly separates the two really depends on what you’re planning to use the speaker for. A friend of mine was looking for a speaker to take when traveling and use in hotel rooms, the Bose Soundlink would be the one to recommend in this case because although slightly taller its lighter and more compact so will fit easier into a suitcase. On the other hand if you have a gathering and want a portable speaker you could move out onto the balcony or onto the beach than the Big Jambox is the one I’d go for.

Design wise I personally prefer the colorful and chunky Big Jambox over the Soundlink. It comes in a variety of colors and it just looks funkier than the classier and more conservative looking Soundlink. The Soundlink has a 6 hour battery life while the Jambox has an astounding 15 which is why I’m guessing the Jambox is much heavier. Both speakers are selling for the same price of KD99 here in Kuwait.

So which one is better? Sound and design wise the Big Jambox is the clear winner for me. But the Soundlink does sounds pretty good as well and comes in a more compact and lighter package. For my needs though, I’d go with the Big Jambox.

Jawbone Big Jambox is available at Blink [Here]
Bose Soundlink is available at Xcite [Here]


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Review: Trent IMP120D iCarrier

Post by Mark

Last month I purchased and posted about the Mophie Powerstation, a small device that will charge your USB powered devices like an iPhone or iPad while away from a power supply. This month I purchased and tried the Trent IMP120D iCarrier, a slightly bulkier device that holds three times the amount of power reserve at 12000mAh compared to the 4000mAh of the Mophie Powerstation.

Although the Trent holds three times as much power its selling on Amazon for the same price as the Mophie which makes it a great deal. I tried it out last weekend while camping and found it very practical. The Trent comes with two USB ports which allows you to charge two devices at the same time. I ended up charging three phones that night, an iPhone 4s, a Galaxy III and a Blackberry. I also had the iPhone plugged into the device all night playing music. By next day the Trent iCarrier was showing me that it still had around half the power left! That’s just crazy.

The only disadvantages over the Mophie is the fact the Trent iCarrier is bulkier and the build quality isn’t as good. If you squeeze the device a bit you can hear the plastic squeak so not sure how it’s going to handle being thrown around in my backpack in the long run. But, at around KD22 on Amazon this is a great buy specially if the size of the device doesn’t matter much to you. [Amazon Link]


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