HTC One (M8) Review: Best Android Smartphone 2014 with Little Glitches

HTC One M8 review banner

HTC One M8 review banner

HTC One (M8) is HTC flagship smartphone in 2014, the successor of HTC One (M7). It was launched in Malaysia in May 2014.

The new Android smartphone inherits the award-winning metal unibody design, improved HTC BoomSound speakers, added new Duo Camera technology and HTC Sense 6.

I had a chance to loan an HTC One (M8) for a few weeks and used as my primary phone. The phone has now been returned and here is my 2,700 words comprehensive HTC One M8 review.

HTC One (M8) Design

I have a bias toward metal phone body. I like the cool, hard, strong metal touch. You deserved to have a phone build with good tough material after spending so much to buy it, anyway.

HTC One M8 smartphone back
HTC One M8 smartphone back

HTC One (M8) does not disappointed me a bit. 90% of the phone is metal. The review unit I received is Gunmetal Gray. It looks classy and manly.

The phone is slim and lightweight (160g), though 90% is metal. The 5-inch curved body has no sharp edges. It is comfortable to hold with one hand but impossible to type with one hand.

At the front, the most eye catching thing is the HTC’s signature front-facing stereo speaker grills at the metal frame. Next to the top speaker is the 5MP front facing camera and sensor.

A HTC logo located above the bottom speaker. It is not a button. The whole black bar has no function. I guess HTC purposely use the design to increase the phone’s size to fit in more components. The design make M8 becomes taller than other 5-inch smartphone.

At the top right hand side is microSD memory card slot, which opened with a pin. HTC One M8 supports microSD card up to 128 GB. Next to the card slot is the volume buttons, which only stick out a little bit but easy to press.

HTC One (M8) microSD and nano SIM slots
HTC One (M8) microSD and nano SIM slots

The opposite side is the nano SIM card slot. Nano SIM card size is smaller than the already small Micro SIM card. You may need to do SIM card replacement at your telco service center. Your telco may charge you for SIM card replacement. I was told it is RM10 for Maxis but I got mine free of charge.

The micro USB port and headset jack is at the bottom of the phone. I like headset jack at the bottom because it feels more natural. But the micro USB port is close to the headset jack, you get messy wires if you plug in earphones and USB port at the same time.

HTC One (M8) bottom
HTC One (M8) bottom

Like previous HTC One phones, HTC still stubbornly place the power/sleep button at the top of the phone. It is difficult to reach with one hand without moving grip. Apparently, HTC tries to solve the problem using new software feature — Motion Launch gestures (read more about it later).

The first thing you will notice at the M8’s back is the new Duo Camera. Above the HTC UltraPixel camera (4MP) is a smaller secondary camera that capture depth information so that you can add special effects to your pictures. M8 has 2 different colour LED flash for taking more natural photos with flash fired.

The non-removable metal back cover is smooth and the brushed pattern looks stylist. It has an emboss HTC logo at the center. 2 black stripes at top and bottom, so that wireless signal can pass through the metal body.

While the metal back does not attract finger prints, it could become slippery after some time, especially noticeable in horizontal mode. It is not a big issue, a simple wipe on your T-shirt will solve it.

Or, you can buy new HTC Dot View phone case (no review) to protect M8, whilst displaying notifications and interactions in dot-matrix style.

HTC One (M8) photo gallery

Full HD Display

HTC One M8 display is Full HD 1920×1080 pixels. It is sharp and bright, plus wide viewing angle. The text and pictures are beautiful.

Watching Full HD videos on M8 is a pleasure. The 16:9 aspect ratio display gives you full screen, no black border view.

I have a feeling that image on M8 has been enhanced. Photos look better on the phone than after transferred to computer.

The touch screen display is sensitive and responsive. Sometimes I feel that it activates even before my finger touch the screen! A little too sensitive? Fret not, I had no issue with it.

HTC BoomSound

HTC One (M8) BoomSound speaker
HTC One (M8) BoomSound speaker

HTC One M8, as you have expecting, has the signature dual front-facing BoomSound speakers with build-in amplifiers. M8 speakers is 25% louder (max output 95 dB) than previous generation, offer “richer & punchier sound across all spectrum”.

I can’t comment how does it compare with previous HTC One editions. But I can tell you that the sound is great.

The sound is loud and clear, balance bass and treble. No burst at high volume. I played kids music for my baby and the music filled the whole room, like it was playing back using expensive portable speaker.

By the way, BoomSound cannot be turned off and you do not get equalizer setting.

“HTC One (M8) has the best smartphone speakers.” you can quote me this.

Kitkat and HTC Sense 6

HTC One (M8) uses the latest Android 4.4 Kitkat with HTC Sense 6. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate. Many Google apps are pre-installed, but I did not find any useless bloatware.

Turn on HTC Backup

HTC offers a HTC Backup service to do daily back up of your phone’s content and setting to Google Drive or Dropbox, so you can easily restore them on new phone or after factory reset.

HTC Backup
HTC Backup asks to turn on after every app installation/update.

It is a handy feature. But I do not need it for the review unit, thus I did not actiave HTC Backup. Then, it was nagging me non-stop whenever I installed or updated apps, even I ticked “Don’t ask me again” but it simply ignore my decision…

HTC Sync Manager required

Unlike most other Android devices that you can connect to computer as USB storage device, HTC One (M8) was not detected when connecting to Windows 8.1 and OS X.

You are requires to install HTC Sync Manager to transfer media files to computer. The application is good for content synching and management, but slow performance.

For simple file transfer task, I prefer to “drag and drop” in File manager or Android File Transfer app.

BlinkFeed

HTC BlinkFeed has been updated to support more apps and services: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, fitbit, Instagram, Wechat, Google+, Linkedin, Plurk.

I check BlinkFeed every morning after wake up. I like the idea of summarizing my social network feeds into one app. However, BlinkFeed does not learn your interests and reading habits like my favourite Zite app does (acquired by Flipboard).

If you are a Pocket app user, you can launch the app via BlinkFeed’s menu. No integration, too bad.

Motion Launch

HTC One (M8) includes Motion Launch gestures control to unlock phone in a swipe, launch camera, flip to silence call.

I use the swipe to unlock phone feature a lot, it solves the hard to reach power button problem. You can also double-tap on screen to quickly check time and new notifications.

However, the motion detection is not perfect.

The phone randomly accidentally unlocked while it is in my pocket as if I had swipe to unlock it, random apps were launched without my knowledge. I had been extra careful not to launch any gesture control while holding the phone locked.

The feature is designed to activate only when you pick up the phone. I found that you can still activate them while the phone lie flat on table.

You can launch phone camera immediately by picking up the phone and press down volume button. It is a bit tricky, you must hold the phone straight up. A little bit slanting will not activate the function.

Motion Launch is useful features but more tuning required here.

Duo Camera

HTC One (M8) duo camera
HTC One (M8) duo camera

M8’s primary camera is still the HTC UltraPixel 4MP camera. It has a 1/3″ sensor with 2.0 um pixel size. The lens is f/2.0 28mm.

The smaller camera in the duo camera system is to capture depth information for special effects later. It is activated by default. You will be warned when your finger is blocking it.

You can easily takes clear and sharp images, especially in low light environment. Avoid straight bright light, images may overexposed and colour washed out.

The front camera is 5MP sensor with f/2.0 wide angle lens. I enjoy taking high quality selfie using it.

M8 has two LED Flash with different colours. It helps to take more natural skin tones photos with flash fired, without over-exposed.

4 MegaPixels

Many people believe higher pixel count means better quality, which is wrong. Can’t blame them, because pixel count is easier to understand than picture quality.

The fact is that high resolution camera produces large image files taking up precious phone storage. High resolution image is only useful if you want to print poster or crop image.

4MP gives you 2688×1520 pixels, enough for 8×10″ photo quality prints. More than enough for online photo publishing on facebook, instagram, etc.

Camera app

HTC One M8 camera app
HTC One M8 camera app

The camera app launches in a second and ready for shots. Tap to focus is fast, HTC says the focus time is 300ms. You can use volume button as shutter button or zoom, it is customizable.

The camera interface is simple to use but also have advance features for power users. Beside swipe to swtich front or back camera, you can also tap the “4 circles button” to fast switching camera mode — Selfie, Camera, Dual Capture (picture-in-picture), Video, Pan 360, Zoe camera.

The Selfie mode has default 3 seconds countdown (customizable). It helps to avoid camera blur caused by pressing the shutter button.

HTC One M8 camera manual mode
HTC One M8 camera manual mode

For power users, tap on the “3 square boxes” button will reveal advance settings, such as ISO, EV, white balance, filter, etc. You can even switch to Manual mode for 100% manual settings!

Special effects

With duo camera system, you can have special effects like Ufocus, Foregrounder, or more fancy special effects like Seasons, Dimension Plus.

Ufocus allows you to refocus any object in picture and create a “deep of field” effect. It makes your picture looks more “professional” with object popup from blur background, as if it was taken using high aperture lens.

However, Ufocus is a hit-and-miss. The effect is cool if the targeted object is distinct from the background.  Most of the time, re-adjusting focus point using Ufocus make the picture looks like amateurs photoshop edit. The blur effect looks fake.

Foregrounder includes 4 interesting effects — sketch, zoom blur, cartoon, colorize.

Seasons is another fun effect to add live sakura, dandelion, maple leaf or snow into a picture. The result can be saved as video or photo with options to add location and date.

Seasons effect is eye-catching for first timer. It is just another fancy feature you would not use more than 3 times.

HTC One M8 duo camera effects
HTC One M8 duo camera effects (click/tap for fullsize image)

Talking about fancy feature, the Dimension Plus is No.1 useless. It creates a fake 3D image which rotate following phone’s orientations.

No, it does not reveal what’s not in the original photo. Stop dreaming!

The 3D effect can only playback on the phone. You can save it as dimension plus file to share with other HTC phone users (HTC One M8 only?).

Gallery app can automatically create short videos with background music with your photos and videos. It is very handy for non-technical person to create professional looking slide shows.

Note: Picture special effects are not applicable for pictures shoot using shooting mode or filters, nor edited pictures. In short, please use AUTO mode only.

HTC One (M8) camera sample photos

Here are some sample photos taken using HTC One (M8), without any filter nor edit. Click/Tap for fullsize image.

Top Performance

HTC One (M8) is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.3Ghz quad-core CPU, the fastest processor available now. The phone has 2GB RAM and 16GB storage.

M8 is a 4G LTE phone using Nano SIM. Other connectivity supported are NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5GHz), DLNA, MHL, and Miracast wireless mirroring.

No doubt. M8 is one of the top performance smartphone you can buy today. Every app launch and app switching is faster than a blink.

Playing 3D games on M8 is a pleasure experience. Thanks to its Full HD display, loud front facing stereo speakers, powerful GPU.

HTC One M8 benchmark scores
HTC One M8 benchmark scores

Following are the benchmark scores:

  • AnTuTu Benchmark: 35,007
  • Quadrant: 25,452
  • Futuremark 3DMark: 19,979*
  • Vellamo HTML5: 1812
  • Vellamo Metal: 1306

*HTC One (M8) is delisted by Futuremark because it has not complied with Futuremark benchmark rules.

I would like to highlight a touch screen problem I encountered. Once in a blue moon, the display did not response to my finger touch, regardless tap or swipe. Close apps or restart would solved the issue. In the couple weeks reviewing period, I forced restart the phone once because it did not take touch input.

Good battery life

If you hate to bring power bank or charge smartphone in the middle of the day, you would love M8’s battery life (2600 mAh).

With full charge in the morning, M8 still has battery juice left in the night after 17 hours of usage. Impressive!

HTC One M8 long battery life
HTC One M8 long battery life

I did not need to worry about phone’s battery level nor I need to bring a power bank, because I knew it will last till I was on bed.

In my test, the battery drained 13% after playback 1 hour Youtube video in fullscreen. Fully charged would provide you 7 hours 41 minutes non-stop video playback.

Charging HTC One (M8) from 5% to 80% took 2 hours 5 minutes using the included HTC charger, which was hot after charging phone.

Power saving mode is automatically kick in when it left 15% battery juice. Want to further extend battery life? Switch on the Extreme Power Saving mode. HTC says it delivers 60 hours of extra standby time at 20% power, 30 hours at 10% power and 15 hours at 5% power.

Extreme Power Saving

Extreme Power Saving Mode
Extreme Power Saving Mode

In Extreme Power Saving mode, M8’s CPU clock is slower, screen brightness reduced, vibration feedback and pedometer are off, data connection is on only when screen is on.

Extreme Power Saving mode only offer 5 basic functions: Phone call, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Calculator. You will still receive apps notifications but you cannot launch any other app in Extreme Power Saving mode. (Recent apps icon is removed)

In short, your powerful HTC One (M3) becomes a feature phone in Extreme Power Saving mode to extend battery life to the maximum. Chances are you will only use it in case of emergency.

I only used Extreme Power Saving mode once in my loan period (thanks to its long battery life!). It gave me peace of mind that I will still have a working phone in the next few hours even only few percent battery juice left.

Availability

HTC One (M8) in Malaysia is available in Gunmetal Gray and Glacial Silver at a retail recommended price of RM 2,399 (~USD 744), same price as iPhone 5S in Malaysia.

Conclusion

HTC One (M8) is one of the best smartphone you can buy in 2014. It has good phone build, great Full HD  display, long battery life and good cameras. The BoomSound speakers are the best smartphone speakers. Great phone for your on-the-go movie watching.

However, HTC needs to fix the software issues — not serious but would degrade user experience — Motion Control needs tweaking, Duo Camera refocus effect does not really work.

In a nutshell, if you are not into iPhone, buy HTC One (M8) and nobody can say you are wrong. Buy it!

I would like to thank HTC for the opportunity to review HTC One (M8). This is a free product review with honest write-up. Interesting to send your products for review? Get in touch with me.

Here’s What Maxis Do NOT Tell You about Maxis ONE Plan

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(Image: modesty by Lexie Lannom, on Flickr)

MaxisONE plan is the new Maxis postpaid plan launched on 30 May 2014. The Internet plans offer free calls, free SMS, and flat rate data roaming.

“It is the only internet plan that offers limitless talk and text, an ‘Always On’ internet experience and worry-free roaming.”, say Maxis.

The plan looks great but there are some hidden information you may want to know before subscribing. Read on to know what Maxis not telling you openly.

[box type=”info”]Update: Maxis ONE plan with UNLIMITED Calls and SMS, for Real[/box]

What Maxis tell you

MaxisONE banner

Two MaxisONE plans are available: MaxisONE plan lite (RM78) and MaxisONE plan (RM128).

Maxis ONE plan lite

  • Limitless calls to all Maxis/Hotlink numbers
  • Limitless SMS to all Maxis/Hotlink numbers
  • 1GB monthly data quota
  • No extra charges after data quota
  • One flat rate data roaming in 106 countries (RM38/day)

MaxisONE plan

  • Limitless calls to all networks (including fixed line)
  • Limitless SMS to all networks
  • 2GB monthly data quota
  • Data quota is upgradable up to 6GB for RM30/GB/month
  • No extra charges after data quota
  • One flat rate data roaming in 106 countries (RM38/day)

You can temporary increase data quota with purchase of Data Boost. It is one-time fee and non auto-renewal.

Maxis offer three smartphones with both MaxisONE plans: Huawei Y530, HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5.

What Maxis do not tell you…

1. Limited Limitless

“Limitless talk and text” means “unlimited call and SMS”, right? Wrong.

Though Maxis uses “limitless” in the postpaid plan, it actually has a FUP (Fair Use Policy) of 3,000 minutes call and 3,000 SMS per month.

Yes, 3000 minutes and 3000 SMS are a lot, still it is not all-you-can-talk/text plan. It is about one and half hour call and 100 SMS per day.

[Tweet “MaxisONE plan is NOT all-you-can-talk/text plan”]

After exceeded the monthly bundle (3000 minutes and 3000 SMS), you will have to pay per use:

  • MaxisONE plan lite: RM0.15 per minute and RM0.10 per SMS (all networks)
  • MaxisONE plan: RM0.10 Maxis/Hotlink call and SMS, RM0.15 other networks call and SMS.

2. ‘Always On’ Internet is not usable

Maxis does not charge you after used up all data quota, but your mobile connection speed will drop to a slow speed. The data speed is so slow that you will pull off all your hair and pay for data boosters.

3. More smartphones with Maxis ONE plan

Besides the already told MaxisONE plan with Huawei Y530 (free), HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5, Maxis also offer the following smartphones:

  • Sony Xperia Z2
  • Sony Xperia M2
  • Xiaomi Mi3
  • HTC Desire 816
  • HTC Desire 310 (free)
  • Huawei Y330 (free)

All smartphone with MaxisONE plan is tied to 24 month (2 years) contract.

4. Flat rate data roaming with quota

The RM38 per day flat rate data roaming in 106 countries is subject to Fair Usage Policy. Meaning, it has a data quota limit. Do not dream to download movies while you are using data roaming.

Maxis have not tell what is the data quota limit. I guess it depends on the local telco you are visiting.

Anyhow, if exceeding the unknown fair usage limit, your mobile Internet speed will be very very slow. You can purchase another data roaming pass (RM38) to recover the Internet speed.

You would not be charged for exceeding data roaming quota limit, however.

5. Other charges

Though not sure why you still use these on smartphone, anyway, there are charges for video calls and MMS. 1 minute video call will charge you 15 sen (on-net) or 40 sen (off-net). Each MMS is 25 sen (on-net) and 50 sen (off-net).

MaxisONE plan in details

Here I made a table better showing MaxisONE plan structure:

Maxis ONE plan details
Maxis ONE plan details

Thoughts

When you use the words “FREE” and “Limitless”, I am expecting “free and unlimited”. Yes, I know it would be too good to be true and not practicable in business.

Please do not shout “limitless” when it has limit (FUP).

MaxisONE plan is best for smartphone users who talk and text a lot. If you talk and text less, check out Maxis TalkMore plans. If you consume Internet data more than you call & SMS, use Maxis SurfMore plans.

Take note that MaxisONE plan lite’s free talk and text is only Maxis network. Unless all your family, friends, and customers are on Maxis network, MaxisONE plan lite might give you bill shock.

What do you think about MaxisONE plan? Please comment and Share this with your family and friends.

[box type=”info”]Update: Maxis ONE plan with UNLIMITED Calls and SMS, for Real[/box]

[Review] Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 is Best Tablet for Watching Movies

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 banner

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 banner

If you have a tablet, then you probably buy a tablet stand too. Do you wish your tablet has a stand so that you do not need to bring tablet stand every time you go out?

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 is the first Android tablet with kickstand to enable multiple usage modes: Hold, Tilt, and Stand. Is the unique design brings good user experience? How is the tablet’s performance and battery life?

Read my Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 review here for details.

Design

LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Tilt mode with kickstand
LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Tilt mode with kickstand

My first impression about Yoga tablet 8 is good. The silver color metal body with battery cylinder on the side reminds me the Apple Magic Trackpad I am using.

Hold the tablet horizontally, below the display you see a pair of front-facing stereo speakers. The laser-etched back housing make the tablet comfortable to hold, not slippery. It prevents smudges and oily fingerprints.

The kickstand is integrated with battery cylinder. You flip it over to open kickstand. The hinge is stable to hold your tablet still. Covered by kickstand are the SIM slot and microSD card slot.

At one side of the kickstand is the 5MP rear facing camera and power button is located at the edge near the camera. micro USB port is next to the power button.

LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 back camera and power button
LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 back camera and power button

The power button is big and you need to press it quite deep (1cm?) to activate its function (sleep, wake, power on/off).

The opposite side of the power button is the 3.5mm headset jack, and above that is the volume rocker and microphone.

Kickstand

LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Stand mode side view
LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Stand mode side view

The kickstand maximum angle about 70 degree. It is quite straight for a small 8″ tablet which you will using in close distance.

Though Lenovo product tour video demo the kickstand hinge with adjustable angle, I found that it is easily fall back in lower angles. The kickstand is small and need to place on a still and flat surface.

As you can see, Yoga Tablet 8 has a different body shape than all other tablets. It took me few days to get familiar with its shape.

LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Hold mode
LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8 Hold mode

As in Lenovo’s demo, I prefer to hold the battery cylinder with one hand in vertical mode for reading. The ergonomic grip is more comfortable than holding other flat tablets. But, the tablet weight and smooth surface on battery cylinder, make it feels slippery to hold for long usage.

If you hold Yoga Tablet 8 horizontally with speakers at the bottom , it won’t be comfortable because of the battery cylinder.

When watching video on sofa, instead of using the tablet’s kickstand, I prefer to hold Yoga Tablet 8 horizontally by resting my index finger under the battery cylinder. It is Stand-mode upside down in the air.

Display

LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8
LENOVO Yoga Tablet 8

Yoga Tablet 8 is using 8-inch LED IPS multi-touch display with 1280×800 pixels resolution, which converted to 188.68 PPI. The screen resolution is common among budget tablets.

I did not notice colour balance problem. I enjoy using Yoga Tablet 8 for web surfing and reading articles, and watching video.

The viewing angle is good, I can read on screen text clearly in any modes – hold, stand, or tilt. Lenovo claims that it has 178 degree viewing angle.

Sound

Every tablet should have front-facing speakers. Sadly, most tablets put their poor little speakers at the back or side.

Yoga Tablet 8 is one of the few tablets with front-facing stereo speakers. Better still, Lenovo make the audio output better with Dolby Digital Plus enhancement.

Depends on the tablet mode you are using, the volume buttons act differently. Volume up/down button are not fixed, the volume function can switch depends on the tablet alignment. For example, the volume up button in stand mode will become volume down button when you flip the tablet upside down.

It is quite confusing at first but become natural later – regardless the tablet alignment, the upper volume button increases volume, or vice versa.

Watching videos and listening to music on Yoga Tablet 8 is a pleasant experience. It may not be the top class audio output but better than average tablets.

Software

Yoga Tablet 8 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It does not have app drawer, all installed apps are on the home screens. You can arrange apps in folders, you know, just like how iOS works. The app icons are cute looking with rounded corners and shadow.

Yoga Tablet 8 apps screenshot
Yoga Tablet 8 apps screenshot

The tablet includes a Smart Side Bar software that slide out from the home screen’s edge offer you quick access to frequently used apps in hold and stand modes. It appears that the sound setting also changed according to the mode you are in.

However, the mode detection is not always right. Good to know that you can manually tell the tablet which mode you are using via the quick settings menu.

Performance

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 uses 1.2 GHz Quad-core MTK 8389 processor and 1GB RAM.

It is not the top performance processor like MediaTek’s True 8-core CPU but normal tablet tasks such as web surfing, games, video playback can be handled without sweat.

While no problem handling multiple background apps, I noticed that sometimes Yoga Tablet 8 shows loading spinner after exit app. Not a big issue, it is one to two seconds waiting before return to home screen.

Yoga Tablet 8 benchmarks
Yoga Tablet 8 benchmark scores: Quadrants (left) and Antutu. (click to enlarge)

Here are the benchmark test scores for your references:

  • Antutu: 10238
  • Quadrant: 4861
  • Vellamo HTML5: 1549
  • Vellamo Metal: 496
  • 3DBenchmark Ice Storm: 2959

Compare to Gphone EVO with 8-core CPU (read my review here) , Yoga Tablet 8 (quad-core) is about 50% slower.

Battery life

One of the selling feature of Yoga Tablet 8 is its huge battery capacity – 6000 mAh.

In my test, the battery drained 8% after playing 1 hour YouTube video, meaning it could play non-stop video for around 12.5 hours.

Normal usage should last up to 18 hours as Lenovo claimed. During my review period, I only charge Yoga Tablet 8 every couple of days. Very nice!

Camera

Yoga Tablet 8 has dual cameras: 5MP back; 1.6MP front. The camera app has both photo and video buttons sitting side-by-side, allows you to take photo or video without changing shooting mode.

The front camera could not capture moving objects in indoor (low light). I only get 1 good take out of 10 of my selfie with baby:

Yoga Tablet 8 front camera test - indoor (click to enlarge)
Yoga Tablet 8 front camera test – indoor (click to enlarge)

Do not expect high quality photo using the 5MP back camera. As shown in the sample picture below taken in good light condition, the result is over exposed, low contrast. The details are lost.

Yoga Tablet 8 front camera test - outdoor (click to enlarge)
Yoga Tablet 8 front camera test – outdoor (click to enlarge)

Here is sample indoor video taken by Yoga Tablet 8 back camera:

Specs

  • Processor: MTK 8389 Quad Core 1.2GHz
  • OS: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Display: 8.0″ LED 1280800 IPS Multi-touch
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 16GB EMMC, up to 64GB microSD
  • Dimension: 8.4“ x 5.7” x (0.1–0.3)”
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
  • Sensor: G-Sensor & Ambient Light Sensor
  • GPS/Voice Call/3G/WiFi: Yes
  • Speaker/Mic/SIM: Yes
  • Camera: 1.6MP front, 5.0MP back
  • Ports: 1x micro-USB, 1x 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 2 cells 6000mAh
  • Weight: 400g

Price: RM 999

Verdict

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8’s build quality is good, the unique cylindrical design is comfortable to hold.

With kickstand, front-facing stereo speakers and long battery life, Yoga Tablet 8 is the best tablet for watching movies.

However, there are other cheaper 7“ or 8” tablets with higher resolution, better performance, and less weight.

[Tweet “Yoga Tablet 8 is the best tablet for watching movies.”]

Photos

I would like to thank LENOVO for the opportunity to review Yoga Tablet 8. This is a free product review with honest write-up. Interesting to send your products for review? Get in touch with me.

ZenFone 4, RM300 Android Smartphone by ASUS Malaysia

ZenFone banner

ZenFone banner

Not everyone has the luxury to buy expensive flagship smartphone. Some of us only need a cheap smartphone that works.

We heard a lot of nightmares about cheap smartphones that are difficult to use and do not last for a few months.

Could we have a branded, cheap, and reliable smartphone? ASUS ZenFone 4 may be your answer.

ASUS ZenFone 4 phone price is not RM600, not RM400… It is only RM299! It is the ASUS’s most budget Android phone released in early 2014.

Unbelievable? Let’s check out the phone’s specs.

Specs

ZenFone 4 has a 4-inch (800×480) display using Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (anti-scratch). It is powered by 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2520 processor and 1GB RAM.

The phone uses Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (upgradeable to Android 4.4 Kitkat) with ASUS ZenUI.

ZenFone 4 has 5MP rear camera and 0.3MP front camera. 8GB on phone storage, plus supports microSD card up to 64GB. You will also receive free-for-life 5GB ASUS WebStorage.

ZenFone 4 supports Dual SIM Dual Standby. The removable battery’s capacity is 1200 mAh. The phone is only 115 gram.

Features

ASUS ZenFone colors
ASUS ZenFone colors

 

ZenFone 4 uses vibrant colours for the phone case, the back cover is curved shape. The design is simple and stylish. (based on the product photos)

The new ASUS ZenUI user interface aims to “turn complexity into simplicity”. The UI is flat and clean. It has productivity features like “What’s Next” and “Do It Later” for busy persons.

PixelMaster is ASUS technology for smartphone to produces high quality photos. It has low-light mode, image stabilizer, easy head count selfies, depth of field photo, object focus tracking and more.

 

Price and Availability

ASUS ZenFone 4 is available now at Malaysia retail stores for RM299 in Red, White, Black colours.

[box type=”info”]Update: Zenfone 5 now available in Malaysia.[/box]

Thoughts

ZenFone 4 display is not sharp but still better than many do-not-come-from-where phones. Intel Atom 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB RAM can handle general tasks and apps. I won’t play 3D game on ZenFone 4, though.

0.3 megapixel front camera cannot take your selfie photos. Dual SIM and productivity features of Zen UI make it a budget work phone, but the 1200 mAh battery capacity means you need a spare battery or power bank.

If ZenFone 4 has kids friendly features (parental controls, kids theme, tracking, etc) then many parents would buy the RM299 phone for their children in school.

What do you think about ZenFone 4?

➤ ASUS

Everything You Need to Know About Xiaomi Malaysia

Xiaomi Malaysia banner
Xiaomi Malaysia banner
Xiaomi Malaysia banner

At last, Xiaomi is here in Malaysia! Xiaomi Malaysia had their official launch event on 19 May 2014 (a day before its 1st sales in Malaysia). LiewCF is one of the invited media. As much as I am exciting about the new smartphone brand in Malaysia, I see many Malaysians do not know the China company yet.

Here are some information to help you understand Xiaomi Malaysia background, their products, and list of Xiaomi Malaysia service centers.

Who is Xiaomi?

Xiaomi Inc. is founded on April 6, 2010 in Beijing, China. Xiaomi is a “Mobile Internet” company, they say. They are not only selling electronics but combine hardware, software and services for ultimate user experience – “Triathlon” business model.

Xiaomi Founders
Xiaomi Founders

 

Xiaomi Inc. has 8 founders: Lei Jun, Lin Bin, Li Wanqiang, Zhou Guangping, Huang Jiangji, Hong Feng, Wang Chuan, Liu De. Some of them were working in Google, Microsoft, Motorola.

Hugo Barra, who previously was Vice President of Android Product Management at Google, left Google and join Xiaomi in August 2013 as vice president of Xiaomi Global.

Currently, the company has over 4,000 employees worldwide and valuated at over 10 billion USD. Xiaomi is definitely not another China “shanzai” company!

Xiaomi logo

Mi heart
Mi heart

 

Xiaomi means “millet” in Chinese. The “MI” in Xiaomi logo is short for “Mobile Internet”. There are other meanings, such as “Mission Impossible”. If you turn the logo upside down, the logo will become a Chinese character “心” (“Heart”), means they do products heartily. The character is one point less, which also means Xiaomi want their customers worry less.

[box type=info]Do you know that? Xiami purchased MI.COM domain name for USD$3.6 million in April 2014? It is the most expensive domain name in China. MI.COM replaces XIAOMI.COM as the official website domain of Xiaomi.[/box]

Xiaomi Products

Xiaomi only sell two products in Malaysia at the launch time – Mi 3 Android smartphone (RM 889) and Mi Power Bank (RM 36).

On 20th May 2014, Xiaomi Malaysia sold out all 4000 units Mi 3 and 5000 units Mi Power Bank in 17 minutes at first launch. 6000 Mi3 and 5000 Mi Power Bank sold out on 28 May 2014 in 15 minutes.

Redmi 1S to be available in Malaysia in June 2014. The price should be around RM450 (China price is RMB799).

Xiaomi Malaysia told us that they are working “very very hard” to bring more Xiaomi products in Malaysia. Other Xiaomi products you would be interested are:

  • Redmi Note (RMB799) – 5.5-inch Android phablet
  • Mi Pad (RMB1499) – 7.9-inch Android tablet with Retina display and NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor
  • Mi TV 2 (RMB3999) – 49-inch 4K Smart TV plus soundbar and wireless subwoofer
  • Mi Box Pro (RMB399) – world’s first TV set top box supports 4K resolution.
  • Mi Wi-Fi (RMB699) – 802.11ac wireless router with 1TB hard drive.
  • Mi Wi-Fi mini (RMB129) – small 802.11ac wireless router that look like Apple Magic Trackpad.
  • Mi in-ear earphones (RMB99) – high quality in-ear earphones

Besides electronics, other Xiaomi software and services includes:

  • MIUI ROM – highly customizable Android operating system
  • MiTalk – messaging application
  • Mi Cloud – online cloud storage

How to buy Xiaomi products in Malaysia?

Xiaomi sell their products online, and online only. They do not have a retail shop. They do not have wholesaler, distributors, etc. They do not take offline orders, even their own Mi Home only sell accessories.

You would not see phone shop selling Xiaomi phones. If there is any, then it is not officially authorized unit. Most probably sell at higher price. Do not buy.

[box type=”note”]Xiaomi only sell products on their official website — Mi.com[/box]

So, how to buy Xiaomi in Malaysia?

It is easy if you already familiar with online shopping. Xiaomi Malaysia uses PayPal to process customer payments. You do not need to sign up a PayPal account to pay. You can pay with your credit/debit card through PayPal.

Assume the Xiaomi sale starts, here are the steps to buy:

  1. If you haven’t done so, register a free Mi Account at https://account.xiaomi.com/pass/register
  2. Login www.mi.com/my with your Mi Account
  3. Add the item(s) you want to purchase.
  4. Checkout and pay with PayPal money or Credit/Debit card.

FedEx and UPS are Xiaomi Malaysia’s delivery partners. One of the delivery companies will ship your orders to your doorstep in 6-8 working days.

Why take so many days to ship? Because Xiaomi Malaysia have not a warehouse in Malaysia, yet. Your orders are shipped all the way from China or Singapore. Malaysia warehouse is in planning, by the way.

Do I have to fight for Xiaomi Malaysia sales every time? Depends on their stock number, sooner or later, you can buy Xiaomi products anytime. For example, Mi 3 in Singapore can order anytime, but Redmi and Mi Power Bank are limited stocks. In China, Xiaomi has stock for all Mi phones and China customers can buy immediately.

Mi Fans

Xiaomi’s slogan is “Just for fans” (为发烧而生) as their hardcore fans are leading the company’s every step. xiaomi hardcore fans are called “Mi Fans” (米粉, “rice noodle”). They are a strong community supporting Xiami and the company takes them seriously. Example: You could suggest a wanted feature in MIUI, and you may see it in next MIUI release. In fact, many Xiaomi staff are Mi fans before joining the company.

Xiaomi marketing strategy does not spend money on traditional advertisements. The company invest in social media marketing, instead.

Currently, Xiaomi Malaysia uses Facebook Page to communicate with Malaysia Mi fans. I heard they will have a Twitter account soon.

Xiaomi Malaysia Office

Xiaomi Office
Xiaomi Office

As far as we found out at Xiaomi Malaysia media launch event, they do not have a physical office in Malaysia just yet. As far as I know, Xiaomi Singapore team is in charge of Malaysia market as well.

Xiaomi Malaysia service centers

You can contact Xiaomi Malaysia service center daily 9am–6pm at:

  • 1–800–281–182 (free call)
  • 015–4840–7777
  • Online Chat

Or, email to service.my@xiaomi.com anytime.

Xiaomi Malaysia service centers map
Xiaomi Malaysia service centers map

 

Xiaomi Malaysia has appointed SEMS Service Sdn Bhd to have 4 service centers to collect and repair your Xiaomi products.

The first four Xiaomi Malaysia service centers are in Petaling Jaya, Ipoh, Penang, and Kota Bharu. More services centers are expected.

Xiaomi Malaysia service centers
Xiaomi Malaysia service centers

 

Mi Home, the Xiaomi owned operated service center, will be coming into Malaysia in 2015. You can have products hands-on experience and product services at Mi Home. However, it does not sell products, except accessories.

Xiaomi has their first warehouse in Singapore to shorten products shipping time in Singapore. They probably will have warehouse in Malaysia for better shipping time, too.

Ask Xiaomi Malaysia

Did I missed any info? What do you want to know about Xiaomi Malaysia? Add your questions in the comment below.