The Sony QX10 and QX100

Post by Mark

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The new QX series cameras from Sony are part of their new range of mobile phone cameras.Sony realized that camera phones in general are pretty limited with the majority for example lacking any kind of optical zoom. Phone cameras also have really tiny sensors so the photos aren’t very sharp or detailed neither do they do so well in dimly lit situations. Thats why Sony came up with the idea to create a new line of cameras that would clip onto your current phone giving it a big boost. I picked up both the Sony QX10 and the slightly larger QX100 from the Sony dealer for this review.

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Both the QX10 and QX100 follow the same principle, they both don’t have any screens and other than the power, shoot and zoom buttons, both cameras don’t have any other controls. The Sony QX10 is the smaller and cheaper of the two, it has a sensor delivering 18MP and it has a 10x optical zoom. The QX100 on the other hand has a large size sensor that delivers 20MP as well as an added bonus of having a bright F/1.8 lens. On the downside, the QX100 has only 3.6x optical zoom, it’s double the size of the QX10 and it’s also a lot more expensive.

Lets get something out of the way. Both these cameras perform much better than your mobile phone cameras. Between the two cameras the QX100 was obviously and clearly the better of the two because of the larger sensor and better lens optics. Because of the fact both these cameras easily out perform camera phones I decided this post wouldn’t focus on the quality of the photos but instead I’m going to focus on the practicality of the cameras.

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Because these two cameras lack a screen you need to connect them to your phone. That’s a fairly easy process, you turn on the cameras and then you connect your phone to the cameras wifi. You then need to download the Sony app “PlayMemories” which will allow you to control the camera and take photos. Every time you want to use the camera, you launch the PlayMemories app and turn the camera on and wait for the two to connect. This is where I start having issues.

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When it comes to capturing a quick moment both cameras fail miserably. If the camera isn’t already on and connected to your phone then you’ll most likely miss your shot because turning it on and then connecting it to your phone is a process that can easily take over 10 seconds. By then whatever moment you were trying to capture is long gone.

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My biggest issue is that fact the cameras really aren’t that compact.Between the two the QX10 fits into my pocket but it’s still thick enough to create a bulge, a similar bulge to one I would have if I had a slim full featured point and shoot camera in my pocket. Actually the Sony DSC-TX30 is even slimmer so I would have less of a bulge with that. The QX100 on the other hand won’t even fit into my jeans pocket.

Now both these cameras do have one very cool feature that no regular point and shoot can compete with. The QX series cameras don’t have to be attached to your phone to work. If you’re at a concert you can hold the camera in your hand way above your head and while checking and taking photos from your phone at your eye level like a periscope. You can also set up the camera on a table in front of you and then use the phones screen to setup your selfie. You could even setup the camera in one room while taking photos from another and the reason you can do all this because the cameras work over WiFi. This I think is the coolest thing about these two cameras.

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Which brings me to a question, who would prefer these two cameras over Sony’s other cameras? I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s for people who would take advantage of the fact you don’t have to have the camera connected to your phone. Price wise, both cost nearly the same price as Amazon with the QX10 costing KD69.9 and the the QX100 KD147.9 at the Sony dealer. If I was to choose between the two I would go with the QX10, its cheaper, its smaller and it has the added benefit of a 10X optical zoom.


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InfoConnect 2014

Post by Mark

The 32nd InfoConnect exhibition starts tomorrow and will be running till February 2nd at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds. You can usually get some great deals on phones and internet subscriptions at the exhibit and theres already a thread in the Community listing some of the offers.

For more details including the exhibition timings click [Here]

Note: Their website says January 26th to February 1st but their flyer says January 27th to February 2nd.


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Does anyone have a Windows Phone?

Post by Mark

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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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