Boompods brings gadget accessories to PH via Lazada

In Wearables by Ramon Lopez2 Comments

Boompods has recently launched an extensive catalog of accessories in the Philippines that caters to a young, tech-savvy demographic that wants a dash of color in their gear. Boompods has also partnered with online retailer Lazada Philippines to sell its products locally, without the hassles of making purchases in a physical store.

Among Boompods’ initial offerings are lighting cables, battery packs, battery cases for iPhones, and wireless headphones and speakers, including a waterproof speaker.

Among the brand’s initial offerings are lighting and microUSB cables, external battery packs, battery cases for iPhones, wireless headphones, and wireless speakers, including a waterproof speaker called Aquapod, which, as the name implies, can withstand incidental exposure to water of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. It even comes with a suction cup, allowing you to secure it to a shower wall, making it the perfect accessory for those who love to sing in the shower. If you’re looking for a rugged device for outside use that can handle rough and tumble and a bit of water, check out the best outdoor radio list over on Outdoor Empire.

Boompods accessories are available on Lazada Philippines. But, to be honest, I’d rather purchase my audio gear from brick-and-mortar establishments because when it comes to sound quality, beauty is, more often than not, in the ears of the beholder. However, if you’re only planning on buying wires or portable chargers, online shopping is the best way to go.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHr3_Cm0XIw” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Check out this promo video for Boompods accessories

Nissan Philippines beats industry for Q1 2015

In Press Releases by Revu TeamLeave a Comment

Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) scored a first quarter record growth of 32%, outdoing the industry performance of 22% for the same time period, according to a report from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI).

Since its inception in March 2014, the young company has unceasingly rolled out exciting and innovative programs that put the brand back on the map. With its current initiatives that further boost NPI’s brand image, improve after-sales service and strengthen dealer-network presence in the country, these are strong proof points that NPI has clearly established a solid foundation that propelled its successful sales growth.

Sales figures from the company showed market enthusiasm exemplified by the leading volume contributor, the Urvan, followed by the Almera, which is deemed as an emerging contender in its segment. The successful sales growth was also supported by the global model, the new Sylphy, as well as the award-winning executive sedan and compact SUV, the new Altima and all-new X-Trail, respectively. Shortly, a month after its availability in the market, the all-new NP300 Navara has been well received by the customers as exemplified by its promising sales performance.

NPI also marked a significant milestone when they breached the 1,000 units sales mark for the month of March. “This makes March 2015 an important month for us, seeing how our improved teamwork has led to making this first quarter all the more meaningful as a success,” Zara said. In addition to its momentous progress, the first quarter of 2015 has been reported to be the best Q1 in Nissan sales history in fifteen years.

“We at NPI are proud to say that we reached this important highlight in our corporate history through a combination of factors,” he continued. “We attribute this on our exciting product lineup, as well as our improved after-sales services, as demonstrated by topping the J.D. Power Philippines Customer Service Index (CSI) in 2014,” he continued. “We owe this victory to our valued customers who choose Nissan as their preferred brand of choice. With new technology utilized through using something similar to a range of tech like a lintechtt mmwave radar, seen on lintechtt.com, in an effort to make Nissan car’s safer.”

Claiming that 2015 will be Nissan’s year, the company has laid out a clear strategy to achieve its targeted 40% sales growth for FY15. NPI is all set to aggressively launch new vehicle models every quarter as well as increase and firm up their dealer-network nationwide by recently signing up six new dealerships in one day. All these efforts will contribute in achieving Nissan Global’s mid term plan the “Nissan Power 88”.

Nissan GT Academy PH continues search for first Filipino race driver

In Press Releases by Revu TeamLeave a Comment

Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) revs up its search for the first-ever Filipino race car driver who’ll take it to a podium finish at Silverstone as the first Nissan GT Academy Philippines draws closer to its National Finals this July.

“Ever since we launched the program last March 25, we at Nissan are overwhelmed to see how the Filipino GT players rose to our call, and answered the challenge of making good time on the virtual track in their quest to become real race car driver,” Antonio Zara, NPI President and Managing Director, said. “This can be seen in the number of players who’ve signed up in all of our Live Events, with nearly 20,000 trials made in the 13 Live events we’ve held to date,” he added.

There has been 20 excellent players who have led the charge in the leaderboards. However, they are advised not to rest on their laurels, as NPI holds the succeeding Live Events scheduled in June which includes a provincial run as it expands its search for potential talents in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Antonio Zara also confirmed Marlon Stockinger, a young Filipino race car driver who has raced for Status Grand Prix, as the mentor and guest-judge of the Filipino finalists. “Following the footsteps of Marlon, we are very hopeful that a Filipino will emerge as the next international motorsports sensation,” Zara said.

The Nissan GT Academy Philippines will be holding the National Finals for the top 20 finalists from the Live Events in July. The top finalists are expected to hurdle a series of challenges that will tax their driving skills, mental and physical agility as well as tactical ability, in order to qualify for the Race Camp Week in Silverstone, UK this August.

The following is the schedule of the Live Events for June:

* SM BF Paranaque and Robinsons Bacolod – June 5-7
* Centrio Mall, CDO – June 5-6
* SM Cebu – June 11-17
* SM Masinag – June 12-14
* SM Sta. Rosa – June 18-24
* SM Manila– June 19-21
* Glorietta 2 Activity Center – June 26-28
* High Street, BGC – June 27

If you’re interested in racing, check out this guide for more information on how to adapt your car to race. For more details on the Nissan GT Academy, go to NPI’s Facebook page.

LG G4 is official in PH, price starts at P31,990

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Just a month after LG hosted multiple launch events to make its biggest tech announcement of the year, LG Philippines has taken the wraps off its flagship-phone contender for 2015. Say hello (again) to the LG G4. It’s a memorable device — and I mean that in the best way possible. Perhaps memorable enough to give its fiercest Korean rival (read: the Samsung Galaxy S6) a run for its money.

If you haven’t read our primer about the G4, here’s what to expect from LG’s most advanced smartphone to date: a choice between plastic and leather back covers that can be peeled off to reveal a user-replaceable 3,000mAh battery and microSD expansion; a slightly curved 5.5-inch IPS display with a super-high resolution of 1,440 x 2,560; the latest hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor; and a 16-megapixel, f/1.8 rear camera bolstered by laser autofocus and a color-spectrum sensor for improving color accuracy.

The LG G4 is now available for preorders and will ship starting June 3. The version with a plastic back sells for P31,990, while the genuine-leather variant is priced at P32,990.

LG G4 (taken by Alora Guerrero during the Singapore launch event)

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Specs of the LG G4 (Price in the Philippines: P31,990):
* LTE
* Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 CPU
* Adreno 418 GPU
* 3GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (1,440 x 2,560 resolution)
* 16-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus, color-spectrum sensor, and f/1.8 aperture, LED flash
* 8-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh removable battery
* Android Lollipop 5.1

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TvoQRnpzu4″ width=”560″ height=”315″]

LG G4 preview (raw video), taken during the phone’s launch in Singapore

The LG G4 is every bit as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S6, and it seems to take better photos in different lighting conditions, which is a huge compliment given the latter’s impressive optics.

MY TAKE: I’ve spent some hands-on time with the LG G4 today, and all I can say for now is that the Samsung Galaxy S6 finally has a worthy competitor at the top-end of the market. The G4 is every bit as fast as this year’s signature Samsung handset, and it seems to take better photos in different lighting conditions, which is a huge compliment given the Galaxy S6’s impressive optics.

Starmobile Knight Luxe: A looker of a phone for P7,690

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

It appears MyPhone isn’t the only local brand with a budget phone that features an emphasis on design. Starmobile has also shown an eye for beauty, as manifested in the Knight Luxe and its 6.85mm-thick, all-metal frame with chamfered edges reminiscent of Samsung’s series of Galaxy A phones.

Under the hood, you’re looking at an octa-core MediaTek processor paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage underneath a removable and textured back cover made of plastic. Other specs include 13- and 5-megapixel rear and selfie cameras, a 2,050mAh battery, and Android KitKat 4.4.

The Starmobile Knight Luxe comes in a choice of gold or gray colorways and is now available for P7,690.

Starmobile Knight Luxe

Picture 1 of 5

Specs of the Starmobile Knight Luxe (Price: P7,690):
* Dual SIM
* 1.4GHz octa-core MT6592m processor
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5-inch AMOLED display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,050mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4

The Starmobile Knight Luxe comes close to what the Lenovo A7000 and Alcatel Flash Plus can manage and it does so while looking nothing like a low-cost phone.

MY TAKE: Starmobile didn’t plan on just coming out with a decently specced handset for all pockets; the Knight Luxe attempts to draw in a budget-conscious crowd that doesn’t want to choose between form and function. And while it doesn’t provide the same smooth experience of using an Android Lollipop device, it does come close to what the Lenovo A7000 can manage and it does so while looking nothing like a low-cost phone.

An uninspired Android skin and the lack of LTE might make the Knight Luxe a tough sell, though, especially considering the high level of competition in the local mobile space.

SKK Mobile says ‘size matters,’ outs 5.5-inch Aura

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

SKK Mobile is out to prove that size matters with its latest entry-level handset. The SKK Mobile Aura is an Android KitKat phone with a big, 5.5-inch IPS display and an even bigger appetite for pleasing design purists, no thanks in large part to a polycarbonate body that could easily be mistaken for a metal construction.

The Aura’s resolution maxes out at 540 x 960 pixels, which is no surprise given its price point. The phone runs on a quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz and armed with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage that can be bolstered up to an additional 32GB via microSD expansion. You also get 5- and 2-megapixel rear and front cameras, a 2,800mAh battery, plus your basic litany of connectivity options, including 3G, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth.

The SKK Mobile Aura comes with an incredibly low price tag of P2,999, making it one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, 5.5-inchers around. There’s no word on an exact release date just yet, but the device should arrive pretty soon.

Specs of the SKK Mobile Aura (Price: P2,999):
* 1.3GHz quad-core processor
* 512MB RAM
* 4GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display (540 x 960 resolution)
* 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 2,800mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4

MY TAKE: Size does matter when it comes to handsets, especially if you treat your device as a portable movie player. But to me, what matters most is user experience — how quickly a smartphone can respond to touch and load apps, how smoothly it can navigate an operating system, and how well it can handle multiple apps in the background, among other things.

Size does matter when it comes to smartphones. But to me, what matters most is user experience.

Judging from the specs above, it’s probably safe to say that the SKK Mobile Aura won’t impress in the manner of affordable octa-core units like the Lenovo A7000 and Alcatel Flash Plus. Then again, how often do you come across a big-screen phone that’s cheaper than a pair of Nike signature shoes that run over P4,000?

Report: PH Internet speed is second-worst in Asia

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

U.S. broadband-diagnostics firm Ookla (aka speedtest.net) has ranked the Philippines 176 out of 202 countries worldwide and second-last among Asian nations in its latest household download index, which compares global download speeds over a period of 30 days (between April 18, 2015 and May 17, 2015). As if we needed further proof that we’re getting the short end of the stick, the Philippines’ connection speed is listed as 3.64Mbps — a far cry from the global average of 23.3Mbps. Only Afghanistan’s median download speed of 2.52Mbps fared worse than the Philippines in Asia.

To give you a better idea of how embarrassingly far behind the curve we are, here’s a brief look at how the top Asian countries stack up in Ookla’s rankings:

1. Singapore: 122.43 Mbps
2. Hong Kong: 102.96 Mbps
3. Japan: 82.12 Mbps
4. South Korea: 59.77 Mbps
5. Macau: 50.66 Mbps
6. Taiwan: 50.59 Mbps
7. Thailand: 19.82 Mbps
8. Mongolia: 17.92 Mbps
9. Vietnam: 17.70 Mbps
10. Bangladesh: 9.86 Mbps

We don’t need Ookla to tell us how lousy our broadband speeds are. Most of us only need to go to YouTube to realize that our home network can’t handle a standard-def clip without hiccups.

MY TAKE: We don’t need Ookla, or another company, or Bam Aquino, to tell us how lousy our broadband speeds are. Most of us only need to go to YouTube to realize that our home network can’t handle a standard-def clip without a few hiccups. This issue rests entirely on the shoulders of the government and the Internet-service providers it allows to operate freely — and without accountability, it seems — within the country.

If our political leaders are indeed serious about the telecommunications industry playing a key role in the Philippines’ economic future, the hammer needs to come down hard on broadband companies, and it needs to come down now.

MyPhone refreshes Infinity phone line for 2015

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Homegrown tech company MyPhone has refreshed its line of Infinity smartphones, dropping three new Android KitKat models with decent specs and affordable price tags. Leading the way is the MyPhone Infinity 2, a mid-ranger that bears premium design elements, such as a metal back that curves softly around the sides, to go with an octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz. At the lower end of the spectrum are the MyPhone Infinity 2 Lite and Infinity LTE, which take aim at bargain hunters who want some of the features of the higher-end Infinity but don’t want to pay its full price.

The MyPhone Infinity 2 and Infinity LTE are slated to go on sale next week for P12,799 and P8,299. The Infinity 2 Lite starts at P7,399 and is already available in stores nationwide.

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From left to right: The MyPhone Infinity 2, Infinity 2 Lite, and Infinity LTE

Specs of the MyPhone Infinity 2 (Price: P12,799):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* 1.5GHz octa-core 6752m processor
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,450mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4

Specs of the MyPhone Infinity 2 Lite (Price: P7,399 for 1GB RAM + 8GB ROM; P8,399 for 2GB RAM + 16GB ROM):
* Dual SIM
* 1.4GHz octa-core 6592m processor
* 1GB/2GB RAM
* 8GB/16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,400mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.2

Specs of the MyPhone Infinity LTE (Price: P8,299):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,820mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4.4

Where the MyPhone Infinity series falls short, though, is where many low-cost smartphones like the ASUS Zenfone 2, Alcatel Flash Plus, and Lenovo A7000 are making their mark: substance.

MY TAKE: MyPhone’s Infinity series has always been about style, and I think the company has done enough in the beauty department to distinguish its offerings from the rest of the pack. Where it falls short, though, is where many low-cost smartphones like the ASUS Zenfone 2, Alcatel Flash Plus, and Lenovo A7000 are making their mark: substance.

Unfortunately for MyPhone, the local market has a history of going for substance over style, especially if it saves them a lot of money. Perhaps if MyPhone knocked a couple of thousand pesos off the prices of its latest smartphones, that might get people talking about them.

Faceoff: ASUS Zenfone 2, Alcatel Flash Plus, Lenovo A7000, Meizu M1 Note, Honor 4x

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Now that ASUS has at last revealed the local pricing for the Zenfone 2, it’s time to step back and take a deliberate look at the top phones in the value-for-money rankings. And what better way to do that than to lay out all the details around the Zenfone 2 and its competition in chart format. Here’s how the devices stack up against one another.

(A quick side note: The phones listed here have all been announced in the Philippines and are either already available in stores or on track for release this month.)

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MY TAKE: I’ve played with these devices for extended periods of time. And, as you may know, I’ve already reviewed the ASUS Zenfone 2 and Lenovo A7000. My thoughts on the Honor 4X will be posted in the coming days.

I’m leaning more towards the Lenovo A7000. It’s the second-cheapest of the bunch, doesn’t make compromises on internal hardware, and it already runs Android Lollipop.

But before I tell you which phone I think offers greater value for money, I must say: You can’t go wrong with any of these options. We’re now seeing a golden age in which manufacturers are producing better and cheaper smartphones that suit all pockets, and there’s no better time to upgrade from a feature phone to a smartphone than now.

But back to the matter at hand: It’s a toss up between the Meizu M1 Note and Lenovo A7000, but I’m leaning more towards the latter. It’s the second-cheapest of the bunch, doesn’t make compromises on internal hardware, and it already runs Android Lollipop out of the box.

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Review: Lenovo A7000

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

The mobile business is a ruthless one, known for leaving giants on their knees, desperate and willing to bend their principles to avoid the possibility of extinction. Just ask Nokia, BlackBerry, Sony, and HTC. And it has only grown more cutthroat with time. It’s no surprise, then, that more and more phone makers are thinking outside the box on how to market their products, often turning to e-commerce platforms to increase their profit margins and lower operating costs.

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Lenovo A7000 to go on sale on Lazada PH May 21

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Hands up if you’ve heard of the ASUS Zenfone 2, a strong candidate for smartphone of the year if value for money is of utmost importance? Yes, well, it’s about to face some serious challenge from a most likely source in the Far East.

Meet the Lenovo A7000, a low-cost challenger in the mold of the Zenfone sequel, with its large HD display and rather beefy specifications, which includes LTE and a rear-mounted speaker that makes use of Dolby Atmos audio settings. The latter is a world first, according to Lenovo. Not that those settings make much of a difference in sound quality, as we found in our testing.

The Lenovo A7000 will be exclusively available on online retailer Lazada Philippines’ Web and mobile platforms starting May 21 at 12 noon. It will retail for P7,390, making it one of the highest-specced smartphones in its price bracket. So, yeah, ASUS and the rest of the mobile industry should be worried.

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Specs of the Lenovo A7000 (Price in the Philippines: P7,390):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6752m processor
* 2GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card expansion (up to 32GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,900mAh removable battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

I find the Lenovo A7000 to be a delightful phone that ticks many of the same boxes as the ASUS Zenfone 2. It’ll likely cost less, too.

MY TAKE: I’m currently using the Lenovo A7000 as my daily Android driver, and I find it to be a delightful phone that ticks many of the same boxes as the ASUS Zenfone 2. It’ll likely cost less than the 5.5-inch variant of ASUS’ signature handset, too, which begs the question: Should you pick up the A7000 instead? Well, that really depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. But if a big screen, a buttery-fluid user experience, and speedy mobile data rank high on your priorities, Lenovo has you covered.

Honor 6+, 4X, 4C now official in PH

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Honor 6+

Perhaps inspired by Xiaomi’s success in some parts of the world, Huawei has turned its attention to online selling and has formed a sub-brand to tap into the e-commerce boom. And so here we are, talking about the Honor sub-brand, which debuted in the Philippines yesterday alongside a trio of Android smartphones aimed at the cash-strapped crowd. The Honor 4C, 4X, and 6+ all feature above-average specifications for their price points, echoing a trend we’ve seen across the mobile industry.

The Honor 4C and 4X list mostly the same specs and functions, though the latter offers a bigger (but not necessarily better) display, a higher-capacity battery, and LTE connectivity for faster mobile-data speeds.

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Honor 4C

The Honor 6+, meanwhile, is powered by an octa-core Kirin 925 processor and 3GB of RAM — the same combination found in last year’s Huawei Mate 7. Its 78 percent screen-to-body ratio and high-contrast 1080p IPS panel are just as impressive.

But the kicker here is the dual-camera setup around the back for improved depth perception and reduced noise when shooting in low light. In fact, Huawei is so confident of the phone’s low-light chops, the company calls the Honor 6+ the “king of night photography.”

The Honor 4C, 4X, and 6+ are already available on Lazada Philippines for P6,390, P8,290, and P17,490, respectively.

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Honor 4X

Specs of the Honor 4C (Price in the Philippines: P6,390):
* Dual SIM
* 1.2GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 620 processor
* 2GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,550mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

Specs of the Honor 4X (Price in the Philippines: P8,290):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* 1.2GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 620 processor
* 2GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

Specs of the Honor 6+ (Price in the Philippines: P17,490):
* Dual SIM
* LTE
* Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 925 processor
* 3GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display (1,080 x 1,920 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 8-megapixel dual-rear camera
* 8-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

Oppo PH outs 3 new phones, hints at R7, R7 Plus

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Chinese manufacturer Oppo is, understandably, taking aim at the low- to mid-end segments and has launched three new smartphones in the Philippines, bannered by the R1x, which has a distinctive design under a sapphire-glass rear panel. The 4.5-inch Neo 5 is a low-cost Android phone backed by a quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, while the 4-inch Joy Plus offers milder specs for less money.

But back to the Oppo R1x: As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, it fits a lot of power into a thin-and-light package, running Android KitKat 4.4 on an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. It’s also one of the thinnest and lightest devices in the category, measuring just 6.9mm thick and weighing in at 130 grams. The pattern on the back is a real eye-catcher in royal blue, too, not to mention sapphire glass is one of the most scratch-resistant materials around.

The Oppo R1x, Neo 5, and Joy Plus are now available locally for P15,990, P7,990, and P4,990, respectively.

On a somewhat separate note, Oppo Philippines’ operations manager Garrick Hung revealed on the sidelines of the Oppo launch event that the upcoming R7 and R7 Plus are headed to local shores sometime in June or July, and that the still-unnamed follow-up to the flagship Find 7 phone is also coming to the Philippines later this year. Exciting times ahead, people.

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From left to right: The Oppo Joy Plus, Neo 5, and R1x

Specs of the Oppo Joy Plus (Price in the Philippines: P4,990):
* Dual SIM
* 1.3GHz dual-core MediaTek MT6572 processor
* 1GB RAM
* 4GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 4-inch IPS display (480 x 800 resolution)
* 3-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* VGA front camera
* 1,700mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

Specs of the Oppo Neo 5 (Price in the Philippines: P7,990):
* Dual SIM
* 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 4.5-inch IPS display (480 x 854 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 2,000mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

Specs of the Oppo R1x (Price in the Philippines: P15,990):
* LTE
* Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card expansion (up to 128GB)
* 5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,420mAh non-removable battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

The Oppo R1x looks gorgeous in person, and it has the brains to match its beauty.

MY TAKE: The Oppo Joy Plus and Neo 5 face an uphill battle against bargain blowers from industry veterans like Cherry Mobile and MyPhone, but the R1x has more than a fighting chance to shine on the mid-range stage. The 5-incher looks gorgeous in person, and it has the brains to match its beauty. It’s a shame none of the devices run Android Lollipop at launch, which would have given them a major advantage over the competition.

PH is first country to make Uber legal

In Business, Cars by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

In a statement released Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will later this week introduce a new category to the public-transport sector to include ride-sharing services, thereby legalizing Uber in the Philippines after more than a year of unregulated operations.

It marks the first time the likes of Uber have been given the green light to operate on a national scale without any issues whatsoever. The announcement comes in the heels of months of collaboration between the department, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and ride-sharing companies.

Under the DOTC’s revised classification of public vehicles, Uber will be grouped into the Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) category, which is limited to sedans, vans, AUVs, SUVs, and similar vehicles that are no older than 7 years. In addition, Uber operators will be held to the same standards as their traditional counterparts. For Uber drivers, that means screening and registration with the LTFRB is mandatory.

Speaking on the revision, DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya said, “We view technological innovation as a driver for progress, especially in transportation where it can provide safer and more convenient commuting options to the public. App-based transport services help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization.”

The DOTC also plans to adopt a new standard, this time for cab-hailing services like GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi, allowing upscale taxis equipped with GPS and payment systems for cashless transactions to legally ply the streets of Metro Manila and beyond.

MY TAKE: Finally. As a frequent Uber user myself, I couldn’t be happier, though it’s fair to suggest that the ride-sharing app has already received a warm welcome from the public even before the Philippine government came into the picture.

I find that it’s easier and faster to hail an Uber now than it was a year ago, even if the chances of winding up seated behind someone who has zero knowledge of the streets of Metro Manila — and would be quick to admit to such — happens with increasing frequency.

And don’t get me started with drivers who cancel bookings at the last minute, those who run traffic signs, those who drive like it’s their first time behind the wheel, or those who drive like it’s their last. For Uber riders at least, the inexorable rise of owners and drivers has proven to be a double-edged sword.

And I’m fine with that, because the alternative is infinitely worse. Getting a decent cab ride in Metro Manila, let alone a decent cab that isn’t a decade removed from its best days, is a rarity now. Here’s hoping Uber actually delivers on the promise of better transport options outside of the service itself. We all know this country needs them badly.

FAQs: Smart’s ‘tingi-tingi’ video data bundles

In Business by Alora Uy GuerreroLeave a Comment

Roughly two weeks after announcing its partnership with Skype, Smart Communications has introduced new video data plans to make online video content more accessible to Pinoys. We say accessible because the bundles should appeal to the sachet or tingi-tingi nature of Filipinos. Imagine availing yourself of a plan as low as P5.

So what are the offers all about? How do you subscribe to them? We answer these questions and more in the guide below. Promise, this should be quick.

What are Smart’s new video data plans?

There are four bundles:

* YouTube5, where you pay P5 to get 65MB of data for 15 minutes of standard-definition video streaming on mobile phones. This is valid for a day;

* YouTube25, where you spend — yes, you got it right — P25 to enjoy 160MB of data for 35 minutes of standard-def video streaming on handsets. Again, it’s valid for one day;

* YouTube50, for 400MB of data for 90 minutes of standard-def video streaming, valid for three days. This is worth P50; and

* YouTube199, where your P199 gives you 1,200MB of data for 270 minutes of standard-def video streaming, valid for 30 days.

Do the bundles only cover videos watched on YouTube?

Nope. The plans may have the word “YouTube” in the keywords, but you can also avail yourself of any of the plans when you want to use Dailymotion, Vimeo, Viewstream, Skype Qik, and app-of-the-moment Dubsmash.

How does one subscribe to any one of the new video data bundles?

It’s simple. Just text YOUTUBE5, YOUTUBE25, YOUTUBE50, or YOUTUBE199 to 9999. You may also dial *121#, which is Smart’s access number for all of its promos.

Can you take advantage of them even if you are on an existing package?

Definitely. Your existing data subscription won’t be affected.

How about the payment process?

Smart has made it simple for its subscribers. Once you have successfully registered to a plan, you get an instant notification of your subscription. The amount will be charged against your prepaid load or billed on top of your monthly service fee.

How will you know that you have used up your subscription? What now?

There’s no bill shock to worry about, as the plans are covered by Load Protect, which should, well, protect you from unwanted data charges. You get a warning message when your subscription is nearing expiration. You will also be directed to a paywall when you have fully consumed your subscription.

Are the offers available to Sun Cellular and Talk ‘N Text subscribers as well?

Yes, they are.

MY TAKE: The tingi-tingi mindset prevalent in the Philippines, where Filipinos buy items in sachets instead of in whole packages, shows the financial capability of the people. The country’s poverty incidence is at 25.8 percent, so a lot of Pinoys live by the day. Going for the whole shebang just doesn’t cut it often here. You can see it in sari-sari stores, where items are micro-packaged to make them more affordable. You can see it in our palengke.

This culture has extended to the telecommunications sector as well. Can’t afford a P1,500 (sort of) unlimited data package? Subscribe to something that will cost you only few pesos — and only when you need it.

A lot of Pinoys live by the day, so just for this move to give more Filipinos access to online video content alone, I say, ‘You’re doing it right, Smart.’

So just for this move to give more Filipinos access to online video content alone, I say, “You’re doing it right, Smart.”

CloudFone unveils dual-OS, Android Lollipop tablets

In Tablets by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Are two operating systems better than one? Local tech company CloudFone seems to think so, as it has just unveiled a pair of dual-OS tablets, alongside two other slates leveraging the Intel platform. The CloudPad Epic 7.1 and 8.9 can switch between Android KitKat 4.4 or Windows 8.1 pending a hardware reboot, while the CloudPad Epic 8.0 is a pure Windows tablet that comes with a Bluetooth keyboard. The CloudPad One 7.0, on the other hand, gets Android Lollipop 5.1 out of the box and timely over-the-air updates for the next two years, similar to devices under Google’s Android One initiative.

As the naming convention suggests, the One 7.0 and the Epic 7.1, 8.0, and 8.9 are equipped with 7-, 8-, and 8.9-inch IPS displays. Their specs vary a bit, though the most technically powerful of the bunch is also the largest, with CloudFone including 2GB of RAM in the Epic 8.9 to go with its 32GB of storage and 1080p screen. You can check out the specs for all devices below.

The CloudPad Epic 7.1, 8.0, and 8.9 are priced at P4,999, P7,999, and P8,999, respectively. An attractive proposition by itself, in large part because of Android Lollipop and the promise of timely software updates, the CloudPad One 7.0 retails for P6,999. All four devices are already in stores nationwide.

Specs of the CloudFone CloudPad Epic 7.1 (Price: P4,999):
* Quad-core Intel Atom Z3537F processor
* 1GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 7-inch IPS display (1,280 x 800 resolution)
* 5-megapixel rear camera
* 2-megapixel front camera
* Dual boot: Android KitKat 4.4 and Windows 8.1

Specs of the CloudFone CloudPad Epic 8.0 (Price: P7,999):
* 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor
* 1GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 8-inch IPS display (1,280 x 800 resolution)
* 2-megapixel rear camera
* 2-megapixel front camera
* Windows 8.1

Specs of the CloudFone CloudPad Epic 8.9 (Price: P8,999):
* Quad-core Intel Atom Z3537F processor
* 2GB RAM
* 32GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 8.9-inch IPS display (1,920 x 1,080 resolution)
* 5-megapixel rear camera
* 2-megapixel front camera
* Dual boot: Android KitKat 4.4 and Windows 8.1

Specs of the CloudFone CloudPad One 7.0 (Price: P6,999):
* 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot
* 7-inch IPS display (1,024 x 768 resolution)
* 5-megapixel rear camera
* 1.3-megapixel front camera
* Android Lollipop 5.1

MY TAKE: First, let’s get this out of the way: The CloudPad One 7.0 is worthy of consideration if you’re after a Nexus-like tablet experience but don’t have the cash for a new or used Nexus 9. Even if that means losing out on particularly brisk performance and certain features.

The Epic 7.1 and 8.9 offer a potent price-to-performance ratio and a choice between Android and full Windows, but they are not without their share of drawbacks. Judging from my experience, there are two that standout.

As for the Epic 7.1 and 8.9, they offer a potent price-to-performance ratio and a choice between Android and full Windows (not RT), something we haven’t seen in this part of the world. That’s great news for those who want the flexibility of running applications from completely different platforms, not to mention the convenience of a desktop environment.

However, CloudFone’s dual-OS devices are not without their share of drawbacks, and, judging from my experience, there are two that standout: changing operating systems requires a slow and mandatory restart and onboard storage is split between platforms. In the case of the Epic 8.9, only 16GB — out of the possible 32GB — is accessible to either Android or Windows.

How Globe-Disney team-up is different from Smart-Disney deal

In Business by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Globe Telecom yesterday announced a multi-year partnership with The Walt Disney Company, which owns Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and multi-channel network Maker Studios, among many others, in an effort to bring more family-friendly content and experiences to a swelling user base of 44 million. Now, if you’re on Smart — and there’s a good chance you are given the carrier’s 56-million-strong subscribers — you may be thinking, “Haven’t I heard of this a few months ago?”

Um, not really. Because what Globe is serving is the full-course meal of the Disney experience that’s objectively superior to its rival’s appetizer plate of Disney-branded content. When the Smart-Disney collaboration was disclosed in January this year, consumers were given access to a plethora of Disney mobile games and ebooks that can be purchased using prepaid credit or by way of carrier billing. That’s it.

Globe, meanwhile, is offering video-on demand services — beloved Pixar franchises like Toy Story and Finding Nemo, Disney TV favorites, including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Phineas & Ferb, and Disney Channel programming — in addition to the stuff Smart has listed. Everything can be accessed by prepaid, postpaid, and broadband customers on their smartphone or tablet, even when they’re away from home.

The story here is about Globe making Disney’s most enduring and memorable creations available to anyone who owns a phone or tablet.

As for the actual offers, Globe has yet to finalize the Disney bundles it will be adding and whether or not a Toy Story marathon will count towards your monthly data allowance (we’re crossing our fingers it won’t). Regardless, it should be clear which carrier is bringing the true Disney experience to its ecosystem.

Globe’s latest effort sounds rushed, if not incomplete, sure, but the last time I checked, Disney didn’t become the entertainment behemoth it is today by telling stories through games and ebooks.

MY TAKE: Globe following in its rival’s footsteps and aligning with the Disney empire isn’t the story here. The story is instead about Globe making Disney’s most enduring and memorable creations available to anyone in the Philippines who owns a phone or tablet. And that, I believe, should be the function of any collaboration involving the company responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Frozen, to name a few.

The way I see it, one company has a Porsche-designed BlackBerry, the other owns the car itself. And we all know which one is more desirable.

Low-cost LG Leon, Magna now available in stores

In Phones by Ramon Lopez1 Comment

LG has quietly released two new low-cost smartphones in the Philippines that ship with an up-to-date version of Android (in this case, Lollipop) out of the box. Announced back in March, the LG Leon and Magna retail for P5,990 and P10,990, respectively, and represent the South Korean company’s latest attempt at winning the (price) war against domestic brands and Chinese tech startups.

Both devices are powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor backed by 1GB of RAM, though the cheaper Leon has fewer attractions, not to mention a smaller, 4.5-inch touch display with fewer pixels. By contrast, the Magna offers 5 inches of bended screen real estate at 720p resolution. And though the arch is not as pronounced as the LG G4’s, the screen is bent in a way that you’d notice. Viewed from the front, the Magna looks exactly as LG intended: a discount G4. (As it turns out, a curved phone doesn’t need to be expensive.)

As always with current LG smartphones, all physical buttons are located around the back, below the camera module, and screen-off gestures like double-tap to wake are baked into the custom user interface.

Specs of the LG Leon (Price in the Philippines: P5,990):
* 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 4.5-inch IPS display (480 x 854 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* VGA front camera
* 1,900mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

Specs of the LG Magna (Price in the Philippines: P10,990):
* Dual SIM
* 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582
* 1GB RAM
* 8GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 2,540mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

There aren’t many handsets from big-name manufacturers that can touch the Leon and Magna in their respective price brackets. That may be their biggest selling point.

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: It’s hard not to like what LG has done with the Leon and especially the Magna. Both offer decent specs at reasonable prices, something I wish the Koreans did with more consistency last year. But that’s water under the bridge now. It seems that LG, like other industry veterans, is trying as hard as it can to bring the best Android experience to the masses. There aren’t many handsets from big-name manufacturers that can touch the Leon and Magna in their respective price brackets, and that may be their biggest selling point.

ASUS Zenfone 2 to debut May 16th in PH

In Phones by Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Here’s a small dose of good news in the aftermath of the #PacquiaoMayweather non-fight: ASUS Philippines has revealed on its Facebook page the launch date of the widely anticipated Zenfone 2 in the Philippines. The date to remember is May 16, just a week and a half from today. And as we previously reported, the Zenfone sequel’s local debut will coincide with its pricing announcement and release, meaning you can buy it off the shelf on the said date, or a day after.

At this point, all that remains in question is how much money you’d have to fork out to own a particular variant of the Zenfone 2. We’re told consumers in the Philippines should expect lower prices. We’ll know for sure on May 16.

Specs of the ASUS Zenfone 2 (ZE551ML):
* LTE
* Dual-SIM
* 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 CPU
* PowerVR G6430 GPU
* 4GB RAM
* 32/64GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (1,080 x 1,920 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

Specs of the ASUS Zenfone 2 (ZE500CL):
* LTE
* 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 CPU
* PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 2,500mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: You can almost hear the clock ticking. For gray-market sellers, the honeymoon of profiteering is at an end. But before you decide on whether or not the Zenfone 2 is worthy of your hard-earned cash, read our review, if you haven’t already. Read up on other people’s experiences with ASUS’ newest signature smartphone as well. Make sure you know what you’re getting, and you’re absolutely sure about it.