And the top 5 phone brands in Southeast Asia are…

In Business, Phonesby Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Research firm IDC has posted a new report about smartphone shipments in Southeast Asia in the first quarter of 2015, along with a list of the top 5 brands in the region. IDC’s findings reveal that Samsung, Apple, ASUS, OPPO, and Huawei shipped the most number of phones, with the Korean electronics giant accounting for 23 percent of the market on 5.5 million units sold.

IDC’s findings reveal that Samsung, Apple, ASUS, OPPO, and Huawei shipped the most number of phones in Southeast Asia.

Apple came in second with a 7.5 percent share on 1.8 million sales, while ASUS, OPPO, and Huawei ended up in third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively.

Curiously enough, the latter three gained market share over the same quarter last year, while Samsung and Apple lost sales to their rivals over the said period, indicating that more and more people in Asia are buying phones from brands not named Samsung or Apple.

Of the five, OPPO comes as a huge surprise given its relative inexperience in making Android smartphones. If anything, it speaks to the company’s aggressive retail push that I keep hearing about. Here’s a chart culled from the IDC website showing smartphone shipments this year and last:

[frame src=”https://secureservercdn.net/166.62.108.43/7x3.214.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/IDC-report-2015.jpg” target=”_self” width=”620″ height=”412″ alt=”Premium WordPress Themes” align=”center” prettyphoto=”false”]

IDC also notes that Southeast Asia saw a slight decline (9.5 percent) in overall smartphone sales compared to the previous quarter (Q4 2014), though, the number represents significant growth (65 percent) when measured year-over-year (Q1 2014).

Another interesting observation is that 4G LTE-capable and 4.5- to 5.3-inch smartphones now account for 25 and 53 percent of the market, respectively, which reflects a growing preference for feature-rich devices.

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Silvertooth Opens New Gym to Employees

In Newsby Alora Uy Guerrero

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HOOQ vs. iflix vs. Blink: Who wins the streaming wars?

In Games, Apps, and OSby Ramon Lopez16 Comments

After months of growing pains, the next big thing on the Internet is finally gaining traction in the Philippines. No, I don’t mean ride-hailing services, such as Uber and GrabTaxi, though you could make a case that we’re seeing a greater demand for taxi alternatives. But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is that, right now, there are more options than ever to watch movies and TV shows legally online, and the list will expand with time. And as wireless Internet access becomes more and more affordable and ubiquitous in the country, subscribing to a video-streaming service is fast becoming a viable option for those who want the luxury of viewing content on-demand anytime, anywhere.

I mean, who wouldn’t find it irresistible to catch a Hollywood blockbuster or binge-watch popular programs from the comfort of a cushy seat? Who wouldn’t be tempted to (gasp!) pull the plug on cable TV when there are cheaper and more flexible ways of consuming video on just about every screen out there?

As Internet access becomes more affordable and ubiquitous in the country, subscribing to a video-streaming service is fast becoming a viable option for those who want content on-demand.

Which brings us to the all-important question: Among the top 3 video-on-demand providers in the Philippines — HOOQ, iflix, and Blink — who comes out on top? The answer isn’t as complicated as you think at this point. Spoiler alert: It’s not Blink, which is somewhat surprising considering the big head start it had over its peers.

Hooq-iflix-blink-comparison-ph

Tale of the tape: HOOQ vs. iflix vs. Blink

CONTENT

There is no getting around the fact that more is better as far as video-on-demand services are concerned, and when it comes to the sheer number of movies and TV shows available, HOOQ leads the way by a wide margin. Currently, HOOQ offers over 30,000 hours of programming, whereas iflix and Blink have approximately 11,000 and 2,000 hours of streaming titles, respectively.

HOOQ offers over 30,000 hours of programming, whereas iflix and Blink have approximately 11,000 and 2,000 hours of streaming titles.

HOOQ also boasts an impressive catalog of Filipino movies and teleseryes that’s lacking from the competition, in addition to a much richer selection of Hollywood and Asian libraries.

You can’t find Tagalog content on iflix and Blink, so that pretty much leaves you with one option if watching homegrown talent ranks high on your priorities. Another thing to note is that Blink is the only one of the three that streams live TV channels.

The catch in all of this is that, with a few exceptions, you won’t find recently released titles on either HOOQ, iflix, or Blink. Cable TV still has the edge in that regard. Don’t expect to see original programming either.

AVAILABILITY

All 3 video-on-demand platforms are available on freely downloadable apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as on the Web, with support for multiple devices on a single account. PC and Mac users with a HOOQ or Blink subscription have to first install the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in, which can be downloaded separately, before streaming content on their monitors.

Meanwhile, iflix can be streamed natively through browsers like Chrome without fiddling with plug-ins, meaning it will work nicely with Chromebooks.

HOOQ lets you choose videos to save for offline playback. By comparison, iflix and Blink don’t have an offline mode.

While that sounds great and all, compatibility across a wide range of devices is nowhere near as important as the ability to download videos for offline playback. HOOQ allows that — up to 5 downloads at a time — and it’s what elevates it above its rivals.

The feature is particularly enticing for those who have access to a reliable home connection and don’t want to pay extra for going over their monthly data allowance. By comparison, iflix and Blink don’t have an offline mode.

VALUE FOR MONEY

For P199 per month, HOOQ gives members unlimited access to 30,000 hours of movies and TV shows. An iflix membership costs P129 monthly, and this gets you 11,000 hours of non-stop entertainment. Blink’s streaming package is more expensive at P250 per month but comes with fewer reasons to subscribe.

If we put a price on how much an hour of content on HOOQ costs, it will come in with the lowest cost among its peers. It goes without saying that even at P199, HOOQ represents greater value for money.

HOOQ is the best video-on-demand provider, in large part because of the wide range of local and foreign titles available on its platform and the ability to download videos.

VERDICT

All things considered, I think HOOQ is the best video-on-demand provider right now, in large part because of the wide range of local and foreign titles available on its platform — nearly thrice of its nearest rival — and the ability to download videos for offline viewing.

Of course, there’s always the option of getting more than one subscription. If that’s the case, I would recommend signing up for HOOQ and iflix — duplicate titles be damned. (There aren’t too many, by the way.)

However, if you can afford just one, HOOQ should be your top priority. It’s not perfect, but it’s ahead of the curve in terms of available content and features. Don’t take my word for it, though; try out both options for free for a limited time and then decide which one better fits your needs.

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Facebook Lite is here. But why should you care?

In Games, Apps, and OSby Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Facebook recently released the Facebook Lite app for Android, six months after being in the beta labs. Essentially a watered-down version of the Facebook app and website, Facebook Lite is intended for emerging markets where Internet connections are unreliable and bargain-basement devices are outselling their mid- to high-end counterparts by an embarrassing margin.

The app is currently available in India and the Philippines, and soon in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Its only about 430KB in size compared to the full Facebook app, which gobbles up 140MB of my phone’s storage.

[frame src=”https://secureservercdn.net/166.62.108.43/7x3.214.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Facebook-Lite-interface1.jpg” target=”_self” width=”620″ height=”412″ alt=”Premium WordPress Themes” align=”center” prettyphoto=”false”]

The Facebook for Android interface (left) compared to the vastly simplified Facebook Lite interface (right).

A Facebook experience tailored for slow devices and slow Internet speeds looks like a dream on paper, but it comes with a few big caveats. You’ll have to deal with an interface that is nowhere near as pretty or responsive as what you’re used to on your smartphone or PC. Plus, you’ll be seeing a lot of poorly cropped photos on your timeline. All this for the sake of a Facebook app that will play nicely with dual-core Androids and 2G connections.

Personally, I’d recommend installing Facebook Lite, if only for the allure of lower bandwidth and storage requirements.

MY TAKE: If you know me personally, you probably know that I’m not a Facebook guy, or at least not until recently. I’ve only been egged on by my co-publisher Alora Uy Guerrero.

I’m a Twitter addict, to be honest, which sort of explains why I’ve been holding off on getting back on the Facebook bandwagon — and for good reason: Facebook and Twitter are two very different social networks. Obviously, I prefer one to the other, but that doesn’t mean I should quit the Internet’s biggest social-networking site altogether.

Personally, I’d recommend installing Facebook Lite, if only for the allure of lower bandwidth and storage requirements. You never know when you’ll be stuck in an area with poor cellular reception. But don’t count on me to delete the regular Facebook app from my phone anytime soon.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adaM8L5_2wQ” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Facebook Lite preview from of TechCrunch’s YouTube channel

Play your favorite games anytime, anywhere w/Globe’s GoSURF50

In Press Releasesby Revu TeamLeave a Comment

Take your digital lifestyle to the next level as the country’s leading mobile brand Globe Telecom gives you free access to your favorite games with a GoSURF data plan.

Register to GoSURF50 and enjoy access to top mobile games titles such as Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, Summoners War, Soul Seeker, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Hay Day, Dungeon Hunter 5, Brave Frontier, and Asphalt 8: Airborne on your mobile phone or tablet for an entire 3 days.

With GoSURF and games, you can fight epic Clan Wars in Clash of Clans, line up sweet combos in Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, or grow your farm in Hay Day, among many others.

Available to Globe Prepaid, Postpaid, TM, and Tattoo customers for only P50 valid for 3 days, GoSURF50 offers 300MB of data that can be used to browse your favorite sites online and an additional 400MB of free data to access your favorite games plus Spotify — anytime, anywhere.

With mobile games now part of today’s digital lifestyle, GoSURF50 has been upgraded to provide mobile and broadband customers the leisure of playing games on their devices without worrying about data allocation. A consumable mobile data plan that gives customers more value for their money, GoSURF also offers access to premium online content such as Spotify, NBA, HOOQ, and now, games while extending the browsing experience with higher data allocation.

“The enhanced GoSURF50 is our response to the market’s constantly-growing appetite for digital content and the growing mobile gaming industry in the country. With more data allocation plus free access to premium online content such as games and more, GoSURF is your best companion to be always connected and entertained while on-the-go,” says Globe Vice President for Content Jil Go.

Access to games via GoSURF is also available for as low as P10 valid for 1 day with GoSURF10. To know more or to keep updated about GoSURF, text GoSURF50 to 8888 or text “GoSURF FREE” to 8888 to get detailed information about the different freebies you can get with the promo. To know more or to keep updated about GoSURF50, visit www.globe.com.ph/gosurf or www.tattoo.globe.com.ph/promos/gosurf.

Starmobile Up Neo: big screen, small price

In Phonesby Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

Starmobile today announced a new big-screen phone as part of its push in the low-to-midrange segment. The Starmobile Up Neo is the latest addition to the company’s Up series and sports a 5.3-inch, high-res display to go along with a nice metallic frame and a textured back cover.

The overall look is reminiscent of the Starmobile Knight Luxe, but with a larger screen real estate that has its share of pros and cons.

The overall look is reminiscent of Starmobile’s recently released Knight Luxe, but with a larger screen real estate that has its share of pros and cons. To its credit, though, the Up Neo’s dimensions are said to be no bigger than a regular 5-incher’s.

As far as the specifications are concerned, you’re looking at a 1.4GHz octa-core processor from MediaTek with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable memory running Android KitKat 4.4.

You also get 13- and 5-megapixel main and secondary cameras with triple-LED flash (for the rear-facer) and backside illumination for improved performance in low-light conditions, as well as a 2,500mAh removable battery that supposedly delivers up to 18 hours of talk time or 642 hours of standby time.

The Starmobile Up Neo is priced at P6,490. It may be a decent option to consider if you’re after a big-screen phone on a budget. But if you’re picky about speed and gaming performance, there are certainly better options available in the sub-P7,000 segment.

Starmobile Up Neo specs (Price in the Philippines: P6,490):
* Dual SIM
* 1.4GHz 64-bit, octa-core MediaTek MT6592M CPU
* Mali-450 MP4 GPU
* 1GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
* 5.3-inch IPS display (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with BSI triple LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera with BSI
* 2,500mAh battery
* Android KitKat 4.4

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPfJvd6J_AY” width=”560″ height=”315″]

Starmobile Up Neo preview courtesy of Starmobile’s YouTube channel

SALE ALERT: OPPO reduces price of Find 7a to P17K

In Phonesby Ramon LopezLeave a Comment

OPPO Philippines has announced a month-long sale for 4 of its existing smartphones. Throughout the month July, you can get the OPPO Joy Plus, Neo 3, Mirror 3, and powerhouse Find 7a at discounted prices across all OPPO stores and partner retailers nationwide. The sale lasts until July 31, 2015.

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You’ll find the full roster of discounted products in the list below.

OPPO Joy Plus — P3,990 (from P4,990)
OPPO Neo 3 — P5,990 (from P6,990)
OPPO Mirror 3 — P9,990 (from P10,990)
OPPO Find 7a — P16,990 (from P21,990)

If you recall, OPPO Philippines took the wraps off the affordable Joy 3 last week. Before that, the tech company launched a trio of new smartphones to round out its low-to-midrange offering.

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45hQpWvr3vQ” width=”560″ height=”315″]

OPPO Mirror 5 preview from our YouTube channel

Mid-range Samsung Galaxy Tab A comes w/LTE, S Pen

In Tabletsby Ramon Lopez4 Comments

Samsung’s been in the tablet business for quite some time, and over the years, it has played around with different designs to keep things interesting. Right now, it seems the Korean giant has taken a different approach to making mid-range slates, as evidenced by the outward appearance and 4:3 screen ratio of its new Galaxy Tab A tablet. It is, in many ways, the unofficial successor to the Galaxy Note 8.0.

The 4:3 ratio, as Samsung puts it, “is ideal for reading books, magazines and newspapers, as well as surfing the net,” though I’d argue that packing more pixels into the 8-inch TFT screen would provide a better viewing experience. The 5-megapixel autofocus rear camera, meanwhile, is optimized to take serviceable photos and video.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A

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The slate’s insides, while certainly not the stuff dreams are made of, is, in fact, fairly decent. A glance at the spec sheet reveals a SIM slot for telephony and 4G LTE connectivity and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 processor running Samsung’s reworked (and improved) TouchWiz UI on top of Android Lollipop, alongside 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. The 4,200mAh battery should deliver up to 12 hours of LTE browsing, but I’d rather put it through its paces myself before I buy the claim.

The main selling point here is the S Pen, which gives the Galaxy Tab A all the credentials of a productivity machine and differentiates it from just about every tablet around.

But the main selling point here is still the S Pen, which gives the Galaxy Tab A all the credentials of a productivity machine and differentiates it from just about every tablet on the market. Among other things, the feature-filled stylus lets you scribble away on a large screen, drag and drop multiple files, and trigger a small but useful set of functions to help you get the most out of the device.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A is available in white and gray and due out this July for P15,990.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A specs (Price in the Philippines: P15,990):
* Single SIM with telephony and LTE support
* 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 CPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
* 8-inch TFT display (1,024 x 768 resolution)
* 5-megapixel rear camera
* 2-megapixel front camera
* 4,200mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOOMpLGa5IY” width=”560″ height=”315″]

TVC for the Samsung Galaxy Tab A culled from YouTube

Lenovo unveils 4 new laptops, price starts at P14,495

In Laptops, Tabletsby Ramon Lopez2 Comments

Hoping to maintain its competitive advantage in the PC and tablet industries, Lenovo today unveiled 4 new consumer laptops for the local market. The company’s latest offering includes the Lenovo Yoga 300 and 500, Ideapad 100, and Z51 laptop, which is by design a multimedia workstation aimed at music and movie lovers.

The Lenovo Z51 is a 15-inch laptop equipped with a full-HD display and AMD Radeon graphics. Other internals include up to an Intel Core i7 processor and up to 1TB of built-in storage. Its base price starts at P42,995.

Lenovo Ideapad 100

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The entry-level Ideapad 100, on the other hand, is powered by up to an Intel BayTrail-M N3540 chip with an integrated GPU. When it comes to screen size, you’ve got two options: 14 and 15 inches. I’m told the Ideapad 100 is the most affordable 14-incher in the Philippines, with the base model starting at P14,495.

The Yoga 300 and 500 represent Lenovo’s latest line of convertible laptops and have a 360-degree hinge design that supports four usage modes.

The Yoga 300 and 500 represent Lenovo’s latest line of non-traditional, convertible notebooks and have a 360-degree hinge design that supports all the usual usage modes Yoga laptops are best known for. The Yoga 300 and 500 are now available in Lenovo stores and resellers, retailing for P22,995 and P28,495, respectively.

Lenovo is currently the world’s leading PC maker and holds the number 3 spot among tablet manufacturers. The company is also the second-largest tablet vendor in the Philippines, according to research agencies IDC and GfK.

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

Promo video for the Lenovo Yoga convertibles