an unfair perspective of Android – quick view of the Samsung Spica

Before we start, I have to admit that this will not be a fair “review” since I will be comparing my first impression of the Android OS via an entry-level device (Samsung Galaxy Spica) with my 6 month old iPhone 3GS.

samsung spica side by side iphone 3gs

an unfair comparison

To be blunt about it, Android is a capable and promising OS, but it’s not “here” yet. Pundits say that the os has arrived, but after giving it a spin for about a week or so, it really feels unfinished.

Perhaps we can blame the apps. Or my familiarity with the iOS version of the apps. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, 4SQ, TweetDeck and Social City – these are my staple apps both on my 3GS and on the spica. Now I don’t want to go in to @nal details, but I can’t help but feel that the Android versions of the apps are forcing the issue of using the menu/back buttons for the ‘droid. Some actions HAVE to be seen from the get go and not shown after a button click. Try 4SQ and you’ll get my drift.

Screen

The spica’s screen is quite nice for it’s pricepoint. Resolution is so-so, the brightness is manually adjustable and is capacitive -which means it should be responsive to say the least. Never mind if it doesn’t support multi-touch out of the box, but it should be responsive, right? Wrong. Even with a speedy 800mhz processor, for some reason, the display IS JUST FRIGGIN FRUSTRATING! It’s just so unresponsive that there are lot of moments that I feel like smashing my phone on the ground! Scroll through tweets and you’ll end up clicking on a particular tweet by accident. And accidents do happen with the screen.

Right now, I’m on the standby screens of both the 3GS and the spica and the spica just won’t let me swipe to unlock. I have to press a bit more or use a different finger for it to respond. What the hell is this? A capacitive/resistive display?

Anyways, just typing my impressions of how unresponsive the display is just frustrates me so I have to cut this short. I might end up just bashing the phone (unfairly) because of the display. I’ll try my best to come up with a better review of this soon, but if I don’t, you’ll know what happened – I probably got rid of the phone! hahaha

Cheers!

Boracay in October – part 1

Boracay is my favorite quick-break vacation spots. It’s such a familiar place to me already, yet I don’t get tired of it. There’s something about getting away from it all, having the sun shine on your face, the waves lapping gently at your feet, while the fine soft sand caress your toes… really, it’s that wonderful. Add some familiar creature comforts like ice cold beer, excellent buy-one-take-one beach cocktails, fresh (albeit expensive) seafood and relatively good service – I’m in paradise.

Last weekend was no exception.

Ela and i hurriedly booked our trip there, a mere 2 weeks before peak season starts. Flights were still cheap and accommodations aplenty and reasonable. We ended up taking PAL Express and staying in Nigi Nigi Too.

Two firsts in one

It was our first time to take PAL Express – the new budget airline extension of PAL and it was our first time to go to the new Terminal 3. T3 is really nice. It reminds me of Kingsford-Smith International Airport in Sydney. It’s big, yet not intimidating, spacious without being too massive. Just what we need to welcome weary travelers. Oh yeah, make sure you BRING A JACKET when you’re passing through terminal 3. It’s really cold there!

It was raining cats and dogs that cold Friday morning, so we were rather worried that either our flight gets canceled or delayed. Surprisingly, we flew out just in time. Oh yeah, funny thing about taking PAL Express in the new terminal – you feel like you’re a second-class citizen in the airport. The gates are in the lower part of the terminal – with some electrical wirings still visible and temporary sound systems in place. Heck, you even have to board a bus and drive far from the terminal just to reach the plane!

No biggie though, because the new PAL Express planes are quite nice. Q300 – that’s the aircraft model they have. Turbo-prop, very clean and neat inside. The FA’s uniforms are festive too. Floral button down shirts and bermuda-looking shorts.

But there aren’t any potholes in the sky…

The weather was awful and the minute we took off, it was evident that we had to tighten our seatbelts throughout the flight. Clouds clouds everywhere, and the plane was battered by monsoon winds. There was even a moment that the plane was pitching and rolling in all 4 axes for about 3-5 minutes – which seemed like an eternity! Man o man… that was one of the scariest flight experiences I’ve ever had. Seriously!

Mercifully, the turbulence ended soon, and it was relatively smooth sailing all the way to Caticlan. I have to applaud the pilots of PAL Express – they landed that plane quite well. You know how scary Caticlan landings can be right? Rushing down and approaching the runway at over 200KPh, and you can see the water mere meters away, and then when the plane hits the ground, the pilot seems to slam it and hit the brakes as hard as he can…
That wasn’t the case with our flight. It was smoooooth as silk.

next up… pictures and pictures of our stay in boracay

Wireless in the Philippines – leadership versus influence

Talk about wireless and mobile anywhere in the world and invariably, the Philippines will pop up as a model, a case study or a hot-bed of sorts. With 63 Million mobile subscribers (out of about 91 Million total population) and all sending over a billion messages per day, we still are the Text Capital of the World.

Being the leader of this massive wireless tribe is really an accomplishment if not a Herculean feat – so kudos to Smart for being the clear leader in sheer numbers, in ARPU and in total business. Globe isn’t a laggard either, with their excellently packaged 24ever campaign, their iconic iPhone 3G and their die-hard influential post-paid subscriber base.

But credit is due to what I sincerely believe as the most INFLUENTIAL player here in this field: Sun Cellular.

These guys are the true mavericks in the arena. Sure, they haven’t really brought in any new technologies or new products, but for some reason every move they make warrants either massive paradigm shifts or tectonic pricing movements across the industry.

They seem to have a knack of knowing what people *actually* want from their telcos – unlimited bucket pricing for calls and text (check)
call all you want promos for off-peak usage (check)
easy subscription plans (check)
less red-tape to get subscriptions (check)
bottomless 3G mobile broadband (check)

Sure, their GSM offering was years behind Smart and Globe’s, but the way they priced it was light years ahead of the curve – they effectively turned mobile telephony into the landline of old – Telebabad was back!

Again, there’s nothing special about their post-paid plans – in fact, purists complain about signal quality, dropped calls and other generation-one problems – but the fact remains that for people and companies who shift their telco requirements to Sun, they experienced massive savings on telephony.

Lastly, this bottomless 3g mobile broadband offering is so tempting – even Smart lowered their Smart Bro dongle cost. Globe did one even better and really dropped their prices to less than 50% of original price.

Market leaders and brand innovators are supposed to lead the pack in technologies, pricing and products, but why is it that the smallest reputable telco here is the one causing shifts in pricing and in consumer behavior?

Leadership versus Influence.

I imagine both Smart and Globe following suit by offering simple one-ID subscriptions, uber-cheap per minute calls, 3G rate cuts among others just to counter Sun’s offerings. Which is just fine and dandy for the much beleaguered Filipino consumer.

With that, hurray for Sun, hurray for Smart and for Globe. Thanks for taking care of the Filipino mobile customer. Keep up the good work

San Miguel Premium

There’s a new beer in town, and it’s aptly named San Miguel Premium.

 

Just had it in Mag:Net cafe earlier, and the group found it quite nice and agreeable.  To sum the experience up in one word…  

heineken

that’s the beer closest to San Miguel’s newest and supposed best.

San Miguel is the country’s oldest and largest brewery (and food conglomerate) and it has been known to be one of the world’s best brewers of beer.  How good? Well, let’s just say that some Spaniards (mostly my friends) think that this proudly Filipino brand is their own!

Going back to SMP (san miguel premium) it is a departure from the usual San Miguel taste.  Gone is that malty (aratiles) taste that goes well with fried and grilled foods… Gone is that “chico” aftertaste that makes our beer distinctly Filipino.

instead you get a very refined beer, and a very good one.  It has none of the usual bitterness that is associated with beer, and it has that “imported” vibe that can only be delivered by beers 3x the price of our much loved Pale Pilsen.

Heck, even the bottle looks sosy, and it’s actually green.

Verdict: If you’re a foreinger looking for the classical Filipino beer, stay away.  You’re better off with either pale pilsen, red horse or super dry… but if you’re a local looking for that imported taste then look no further.

hic*