Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Toshiba 55L5450VE Full HD Smart TV

About 


The Toshiba 55L5450VE is a full high definition 1080p smart TV powered by Android. This means you do not need a separate Android box for all your favourite apps as it comes with a Play Store and you can install apks not available in the store as well.

Design


The TV is quite slim and looks pretty. It's so light that I can actually mount onto the wall bracket on my own. Design is simple and elegant with its thin black borders with a silver bottom where sensors and power indicator are located at the right end.

The TV stand is questionable especially since it comes with a screw hole which means it most likely is not that stable to support the TV in the first place. This is definitely a poor design or cost cutting measure gone too far.

The power cable is built in instead of the standard IEC C14. Should you shod the cable, it may cost you to get it replaced instead of simple heading down to the store to get a replacement.


Functionality


All the physical  control buttons are on the left of the TV along with some inputs; a little too far in for my liking. The rest, as usual is at the back.

It comes with two remotes, one for the TV and the other for the 'smart' function which is basically to manage the Android OS. This is clearly a way for Toshiba to cut cost by supplying the same remote to all their TVs and adding an additional smart remote for smart TVs.

The smart remote controller may look nice but the jogstick makes it frustrating to use. You can never get the pointer exactly where you want it especially for small icons etc. I wonder who came out with this terrible idea for a 'smart' remote.

Features


The TV function itself is an application therefore the settings for TV stays within the TV application. What this means is that in other application, the TV settings does not exists therefore you cannot adjust screen brightness, sound settings etc.

The TV is also laggy so it can be really frustrating when you have an abundance of apps to install from the app store but not able to run smoothly on the TV.  The lack of storage is also an issue because it does not accept external memory therefore you are pretty much stuck with the default storage available.

Some HD streaming videos audio may go out of sync. This is clearly due to poor hardware specs.

Play store used to detect this TV as a Google TV, not Android TV or a standard Android device. Now with Google TV a thing of the past, you cannot even install YouTube from the Play Store. This is the reason why Toshiba provided a patch just for the YouTube app alone.

CONCLUSION

Bottom line is, if you are not concern with the smart feature, then this TV is alright but then you might as well go for other cheaper Pro Theatre series like the L2400 series which do not come with Android.

So buy it if you like what you see. Forget about that built-in Android. It is cheaper to get an external box with way better specs and performance.


Pros

Good picture quality
Slim design
Abundance of apps from Playstore as well as custom apks.

Cons

Slow Android performance
Two separate remotes
Smart remote uses joystick instead of gyro
TV picture/sound settings cannot be changed outside of the TV app
TV stand is unstable. Needs to be screwed down.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Masbro Village Malacca

We stayed at one of the units in late October 2015.

Located at Taman Paya Rumput Indah, Malacca, Masbro Village boasts some A Frame houses within a gated area.

Direction to the location is easy as it is very near a highway exit though you may miss it like I did due to it being assimilated to its surrounding which is absolutely not touristy at all. Google Maps does the job so once you exit the highway and turned right, go slow and look out for colourful houses with sharp pointy roofs on your left.

Parking is limited so should there be no parking lots available, you may have to park outside.

There are 8 units in total but only 6 for rent while the other two are used by the owners as their own residence as well as their office.

Each unit looks nice from the outside with its pebble roads and landscaping.

The lower floor consists of a living area with a small TV, a dining set, a kitchen and a bathroom. There was a good selection of TV channels and of HD quality too.

Some houses are connected with a small additional area in the middle for families to mingle, else it will just be left unused which is kind of a waste.

It is not elderly friendly as the stairs are too steep making the huge sleeping area upstairs inaccessible to the elderly and even small children. As I have two young kids, we have to keep an eye on them almost all the time.

There are two queen size bed upstairs but only a sofa bed for the lower floor. Maximum occupancy is 6 pax but only 4 pillows are provided. We didn't ask for additional pillows so we are not sure if it can be requested.

There is another bathroom on the upper floor with a water heater unlike the one below.  Both are cramped due to its design.

There are no food stalls let alone restaurants in the village but there is one just a short walk outside. I didn't know there's one so did not get the chance to try the food. I drove instead a few kilometers away and had take away. Apart from that the only nearby shopping mall is Tesco.

So, will I visit again? Maybe as a stopover but there is nothing much to warrant a repeated visit so it will be a one off for me.

Pros

Unique
Good TV channels
Nice host.

Cons

Not anywhere near tourist attraction.
Need to drive to have access to food and rations etc.
Not elderly or small kids friendly

Straits Hotel and Suites Melaka

We stayed for a night in a suite and a connecting deluxe room in late October 2015.

The hotel is owned by the same owner of Novotel Hotel which is just next door but managed by a different management team hence the reason why both hotels shares the same car park.

The hotel is very new. Located very near to malls and major attractions, you can practically venture by foot if you are adventurous enough.

Lobby is really small, if that matters to you but service staff was awesome.

The suite is huge. Easily the size of deluxe 2 rooms. The bathroom comes with a huge tub and a separate shower area as well.

There's a comfortable sofa and an armchair in the living area but a small TV with limited channels available and poor signal quality. I didn't bother watching anything.

In the suite's bedroom there was also a long study table and a huge closet space.

The deluxe room is bigger than normal hotel rooms and comes with a kitchen as well.

Both rooms comes with a balcony but it is locked for safety reasons which is a shame but as a parent I kind of understand the need for it.

WiFi is provided and it is really fast with good coverage throughout the whole hotel.

I find it strange that a normal aircon indoor unit is installed instead of the normal vent type but that's hardly a deal breaker.

Rooms either faces the sea or the town so do not forget to request for one facing the sea.

There is an infinity pool on the 23rd floor which we were not able to use as it was drizzling then for safety reasons. There is no other pool for kids etc though.

Other facilities includes a sauna and a gym which we didn't manage to use due to time constraints. The official site states that there's BBQ and Kids zone area but I am pretty sure those are not yet ready when we were there hence no pictures as well on the site.

The breakfast is something you can forget about. As the occupancy is low, the variety follows suit. There are plenty of good food just around the hotel.

Currently on promotion, RM242 for a suite and RM188 for a deluxe room, the price is worth it.

Pros

Bigger than normal rooms
Fast free WiFi
Deluxe room comes with a kitchen
Near to shopping malls and attractions
Plenty of eatery around
Some rooms has the view of the sea

Cons

No pool for kids hence not for families with kids
Abysmal breakfast buffet
Small lobby
Poor TV channels and signal quality

URL - http://www.straitshotelsuites.com/melaka/

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Online shopping at Lazada

I bought an item at Lazada recently which was my first there as there was a pretty good discount for an item I was looking for. The purchase process was a breeze and I received all the necessary notification right after the purchase was completed.

It was only after I browse around the site that I realised I could actually get the item for less if I applied a different discount code. So I emailed the customer support and I received a call from them the next day, which was a Sunday. The CSO offered to cancel the order (as the item was not shipped out yet) so that I can make a new order with the preferred discount code and I gladly accepted.

I received the item within a week and this was an overseas item. I am not sure if different vendors make any difference or not but so far, I am very pleased.

I have always shopped at eBay and it looks like I may just switch to Lazada should the same item I am looking for is available there. Just as eBay, there are various payment mode available and there's buyer's protection as well.

Below are the plus points

1. Items are all in local currency and generally cheaper with discount applied, especially now when USD exchange rate is higher.

2. Lazada's 100% Buyer Protection and Satisfaction Guaranteed policy covers the return shipment cost.

3. All items are trackable through Lazada or through the couriers. Shipping fees range $0.50 to $10 which is way lower than many shipping options in eBay.

4. COD is available as an option

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Midea System 3 Multi Split Aircon

This is a review of the Midea Oasis aircon range which is one generation before the latest Opal range by Midea.

Package

Indoor unit

3 x Oasis 9K BTU MS11MI-09

Outdoor unit

21K BTU M3OA-21CDN1-QC4 (2 ticks from NEA)

Warranty 

Midea provides 2 years warranty on parts including labour and 6 years on compressor which means it covers only the compressor from the 3rd year onward.

As I purchased this unit from Gain City during a promotional period, it comes with an extended 5 years installation warranty which effectively means an extra 4 years on top of Midea’s 1 year installation warranty.

Warranty however do not cover the remote and filters





Features

WiFi Control

The system can be connected to an existing wireless network or set up as a separate wireless network (WiFi Direct) and can be controlled through a mobile phone app. It can also be remotely controlled on mobile networks (3G/LTE) through Midea servers.

Note: Midea has stop producing Oasis range with WiFi support so if the dealer says the unit they are selling are WiFi enabled/ready, get that written in black and white.

High Density Filter

A piece of additional high density filter that is placed on the wire mesh filter. It can be removed and cleaned just as a normal filter.

Self Cleaning

A hydrophilic fin evaporator that washes away dust and grease on the evaporator through condensed water.

The louver will remain open with fan mode to dry out the coil and pipes up to 15 minutes to prevent mould formation for better unit life span after the unit is turned off. It is activated by default.

It can be overridden by pressing the power off button twice. However, take note of the following statement by Midea

Manual overriding (by pressing “power off” twice) of the self-cleaning function may have unfavorable consequences and promote mould formation that requires maintenance servicing not covered under the original product warranty.

Plasma Electron+

Ionizer than removes airborne germs, bacteria, dust, haze particle, pollen, smoke viruses from indoor air. To activate, press and hold the 'Sleep/Fresh' button on the remote each time you turn the unit on.

Will only be able to confirm if this actually works after using it for a while.

3D Air Flow

Both the vertical and horizontal louvers can swing automatically.

Follow Me

When activated the temperature sensor on the remote controller will replace the blower’s. Hence it is important where the remote is placed to provide a more accurate reading for the system to match the set temperature 

This is another function that needs to manually activated each time you turn the unit on.

Blower / Fan Coil / Indoor Unit

In terms of quality, the units are very much on par with any branded aircon that I have purchased before. Although the previous Luna range from Midea do have quality issues this Oasis range is of a much better quality.

Lifting up the cover to change the filter don’t feel as flimsy as the Luna and so do the filters itself.

It has a white LED indicator which shows the set temperature as well as the indicator for the following functions - Fresh, Defrost, Run, Timer

I find the ‘Defrost’ status on the blower pointless as it will hardly ever lit up in Singapore. I also find the ‘Run’ indicator to be redundant as the temperature indicator is already sufficient to show that the unit is running.

It is also disappointing that position of the horizontal louvers are not 'remembered' and will swing to its default position each time the unit is turned on.

Remote Controller

The remote however do feels cheap. It looks different from the conventional squarish design that most aircon comes with.

It is light and very plasticy. Although the display screen is LED back lit, the buttons however are not and are flushed with the bezel so it makes it harder to fiddle in the dark.

The remote has a built in temperature sensor which will be activated when the 'Follow Me' feature is activated therefore where the remote is placed matters as the system depends on the reading on the remote in regards to the set temperature. This is a very useful feature. However, do take note that the remote needs to be within range else it will not be able to send the info required by the blower so you could end up with a room too cold or too warm. How you place the remote matters too as the remote IR transmitter is design in such a way that it was meant to work with you holding the remote up pointing to the blower. Therefore placing it flat down facing up may cause it not be able to transmit the signal over to the blower. To overcome this, place the remote facing down instead.

The on/off timer on the remote can be set up to 24 hrs in an increment of 1/2 hr. There is no cancel button though, so if you have already set the timer, you have to either take a pin to press the 'Reset' button or pressing the timer button repeatedly until it reverts back to '0'. Good thing is, you can simply press and hold the button will increment automatically.

Some button has dual role in where pressing and holding the button for 2 seconds will activate the other function. 

One thing I find the remote is lacking in remembering some of the common features that I believe many would use like 'Fresh'.

It also comes with a sleep mode where the temperature will be increased by 2 degrees after each hour and then turned off after 7 hours. Take note that pressing other button will cancel this off even though the remote is still showing that it is active. This to me is a defect.

Compressor / Outdoor Unit

With a rating of 2 ELS ticks, when used for 8 hours a day, it will cost approximately $859 annually.

I turned them on daily for 8 hours minimum and mostly 2 blowers at the same time and my whole electricity bill comes up to about $80/per month. This is inclusive of all other electrical devices including fridge, TV. washer and dryer etc.

Conclusions

I have been using the aircon close to a year and so far, no service calls needed.

In terms of cooling power, it does so very well even with 3 blowers turned on at the same time. Even with a set temperature of 26-C, the room still feels very cool. 

Both the blowers and compressor are very silent, even before the 'Silent' feature on the remote is turned on.


Pros

Cost. Easily 1/4 cheaper than competitors.
Quality is good for a China made product
Looks good.
As silent as it gets.


Cons

Some settings on the remote is not stored
Remote feels cheap.
Not enough information on the manual.
WiFi no longer supported.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hitachi R-SG37BPS Refrigerator

I decided to get a new fridge when I moved to the new place as the old fridge needs to be replaced with the following must-haves

-         automatic ice-maker
-         a separate vegetable compartment
-         bottom freezer.
-         cost less that $1K.

I ended up with the Hitachi R-SG37BPS. (R-SG37BPH - Hong Kong, R-SG37BPTH - Thailand, R-SG37BPU - Russia)

Introduction

The reason why the R-SG37BPS is so affordable is because it is made in Malaysia, as far as I know. It is also not exactly a new model and has been around for a couple of years. Even the brochure available from Hitachi Singapore's website is printed in April 2012.

The official Hitachi website states a net capacity of 365 litres based on JIS. The ISO capacity is actually 296 litres.


Features

This fridge comes with small water tank that is used by the automatic ice maker instead of a direct water inlet (tap). This makes the fridge portable although it is rarely a need to move your fridge unlike furniture. However, it saves the hassle and cost of plumbing works.

I was advised by almost all sales personnel to avoid fridge with a water tank because the internal hose may get contaminated and affects how the ice quality (or water, for those with water dispensing as well) in the long run. It was a concern, especially when you are being advised by 'experts' but the concern was unfounded because regardless of water tank or not, they all comes with hoses and it can be replaced so I decide to trust my gut and went ahead anyway

It is also equipped with Nano Titanium filters that is supposedly able to eliminate bacteria and odors. From my use so far, placing a used tea bag in the fridge gets rid of the odors better.




It is powered by a inverter compressor which will consume approximately 423 kWh annually. It obtained 4 Green Ticks under the old Energy Labeling Scheme. However with the new rating scheme, it obtained only 1 Green Tick.


The fridge will sound a soft alarm, which can be deactivated, if any of the doors are left opened for  a minute or more. I wish it is louder so you can't miss it especially when you have an occasion where your place is typically noisier than normal.

By the way the door grip is recessed so there are no handles sticking out which I prefer for so many reason including safety and aesthetics as it flushes with your cabinets.


Control Panel

The fridge operation can be managed from the control panel located at the top left of the refrigerator door which is convenient.


The temperature for the freezer and refrigerator can be set independently. By default it is set at the 3rd mark which is basically halfway from the coldest setting.

The Child Lock function only works for the control panel and not the fridge doors. Since this panel is high up on the door for any child to reach (unless they climb onto something), I find this option redundant.

You can turn on the Energy Saving function when storage volume is low or when you are away on a long vacation where the doors will not be opened for long time. It will automatically turn off temporarily when it detects that the temperature in the fridge has rises and because of this I turn it on during normal use. However, if fatty ice cream, etc, becomes soft or if dew appears, you should turn it off.

If you are away for a long vacation, you should turn off the Ice Maker function as well and when you are back and need ice quickly, turn on Quick Freezing.


Refrigerator Compartment

The first thing that I noticed when I open up the fridge compartment is that it is pretty big. Not surprising since it is made up of 3/5 of the total capacity, which is enough for my family of 5.

The white LED lighting is bright too which makes it easier to view the food being stored.

There are a lot of pockets on the door for drinks, jam, eggs etc. If you are wondering why the bottom compartment of the refrigerator door can accommodate two rows of bottles/cartons, that is because the back of the refrigerator compartment slopes inwards around the 2nd shelf and below. 


It comes with a 3-way flexible shelf, which is great actually as you can fold it away to fit in tall jugs and the like. However, take note that there is only one of such shelf while the rest are fixed tempered glass shelves.


At the bottom left of the fridge is where the water tank is stored and on the right is the Fresh Room sliding case for fresh meat, fish, prawn and process foodstuff that you do not want to freeze. 

Vegetables/Fruits Compartment

The vegetable compartment is roomy enough and so far managed to keep my fruits and vegetable stay fresh longer as compared to my old fridge. I can't say for sure how effective it is as I have not made any actual comparison.

The compartment is separated by a sliding case on top for fruits while the rest is for vegetables. You can also store your bottled drinks as shown if the refrigerator compartment is full.




Freezer Compartment

The freezer compartment, about 1/5 of the total capacity, could be bigger. We store loads of frozen stuff so the freezer was a tad too small.

As with the vegetable compartment, it is separated by a sliding case for ice cubes on one side and for ice creams etc on the other. The case itself is for the other frozen stuff. You really need to pack in the frozen food nicely or you will not be able to make full use of the limited space. Always pull the top tray to the drawer door before closing the drawer door to ensure it will close properly.




The ice compartment is big enough to store ice for a jug of cold drinks. Ice will be ready is an interval of about a few hours. So if you plan to make ice for a couple of jugs, you may have to store the ice out of the compartment so that new ice can be made or you can turn on the Quick Freezing function.

A note of advice, change the water in the water tank when it runs low. Do not top it up. This will avoid the water that has absorbed the odors from the fridge ending up effecting the taste quality of the ice to be made.

Conclusion

Overall I am very pleased with the fridge. There are ample space and I love that it makes ice automatically. 

If you are looking for a fridge with same criteria as mine, you cannot go wrong with the R-SG37BPS. Do take note of the cons though.

If you are interested, you can get it online from SPARKnet

You can download the brochure here

Quick Specs

Dimensions
590 (W) x 1,816 (H) x 630 (D) mm
Max Load
Fresh Room - 3kg
Vegetable slide case - 4.3kg
Vegetable case - 12kg
Freezer slide case - 4.6kg
Freezer case - 11kg