Non-flagship phones are good phones…

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large4-M400N-Black

LG Stylus 3 M400N   http://lg.com.hk_en

Most people are excited about a new flagship launch, Samsung S8, Apple iPhone 7, …for me a bang-for-the-buck accountant I get excited with budget phones that are true value for money. The allure of “trendy” eludes me because my pocket is not deep, and I don’t live in a sea of debts.

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Redmi Note 3

I bought the Redmi Note 3 in 2016 for a meager HK$1,499 (US$ 200), and I have been liking it since. I am getting an exceptional good product that have features and hardwares comparable to a flagship’s. I have finger sensor on the phone, which is a delight to use. It can be programmed to recognize both left and right fingers. It is a snappy phone, with true 1080p display. The only problem I have is the LTE bandwidth frequency which is not compatible with FIDO in Canada. (A great site to check for compatibility https://www.frequencycheck.com/countries.) Honestly, this is more than a technical nuance: 4G vs 4G Lte.

Although I am satisfy with the Redmi, I also like new gadgets. One day I was web-browsing and I saw the new LG Stylus 3 selling at a special price HK$1,698. After doing a specs check, I concluded that I needed to have this phone. The main reason is for the stylus, it is more convenient if you use handwriting inputs for Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, etc. Sure, you can do that without, but with the stylus it is more accurate.

Of course, being a phone of a certain niche and at the lower-end compares to the new flagship LG G6, I will have to sacrifice some features: 720p display and only one option of a 16GB internal SD. So how I’d give up a 1080p & 32 GB Redmi?

In a small screen 1080p and 720p is hardly noticeable. True, the colors are more saturated with a 1080p or 2K screen, but human eyes will adapt quickly.  An inadequate 16GB storage should make it a laughing stalk in 2017, but not if you read the fine print that it supports an external SD card up to 2T (in theory of course, 256GB SD card is the max so far.) One caveat, I notice some apps can not load onto the SD card, that it may be a problem down the road, since there doesn’t seem to be storage management tools available to solve the problem. Simply say, I can’t load too many apps on the phone. It’s fine with me.

If you are looking for a new Android phone with a snappy Octo-CPU, a stylus to make notes or input Japanese Hiragana and Katakana, and Android Nougat,  this is a good option. Unless, you want to wait for the flagship Samsung Note 8 coming out this year.

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iOS7: Selling Sleekness

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What a smart move when the two icon-based systems, Android and iOS, are getting hard to distinguish, Apple pulls its design trump card! Perhaps saying copy all you want, we create, or Apple is just tired of all the patents lawsuits with Samsung.

I watched the video http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/ to get to know some of the new features. My impression was more form over substance, even the recording voice and image of John Ive, SVP, Design, gave the feel that I was in a meditation session: calm, tranquil in the luxury displays of new interfaces, yes, sublime too.

I bet this is also a direct assault to MS Win8, remember the busy click-clack of tiles in its commericals?

What does this mean? iPhone will stay, despite I and my friends were getting bored with it, since there were no drastic changes for the longest time until this announcement.

People who like esthetic stuff and somewhat practical will remain loyal customers. I will put my hand up too after seeing this (I like nice designs), though I was seriously thinking of upgrading to Samsung’s S4 or Note III for practicality reasons the last few months.

Don’t forget Apple is a luxury brand and that’s what it is selling!

Think Rolex, Cartier, Louis Vuitton!

Nothing is easy with Windows! (HDMI to DVI Display)

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Male DVI connector pins (view of plug)

Male DVI connector pins (view of plug) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I figured my monitor has a DVI in, and my relatively new laptop has a HDMI out, why not get an inexpensive HDMI to DVI cable to get the benefits of digital display, instead of the VGA‘s analog cousin.

As usual I did my research about HDCP’s issues (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), which prevent you from dubbing HD contents digitally, and I found none. So I bought the cable at Amazon. The cable arrived and semi-excited I plugged the receptors in to their corresponding acceptors, and booted my laptop: Froze on boot!

So first,I checked BIOS. No option with display adapter. Un-plugged and booted into Windows 7 , 64X  , and no monitor shown after re-plugged HDMI- DVI cable. Tried varies combinations and permutations, no luck. I gave up.

Unhappy with the cable purchased, I went on Google, and not surprising tons of posted problems not so much with HDMI to DVI connection, but the problems lie with Intel 3000 graphics card on the motherboard that Intel never solved the known issues. So as usual, downloaded the most current driver to see if it would do anything! Once again, as usual, went through installation, and after two to three minutes, it said my laptop was not compatible with the driver version downloaded, I need to contact OEM!  WTF! Oh, yes, it did pre-warn me that if the driver was OEM installed, then it might not work. I thought Intel should support future upgrades regardless! I guess THEY DO NOT, so BUYERS BEWARE! looks like it is now all up to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), in other words, if Gateway does not buy the licenses from Intel I am out of luck to use any latest drivers! This is game changing!

Anyway, another frustrated ending. Still not convinced, I Googled again, and in Intel communities’ forums, I finally found a temporary solution:

1) Unplug HDMI cable, and boot laptop

2) Once booted and log-in to Windows, plug your cable in, and go to Control Panel > Harware and Sound >Device Manager; Display Adapters > Intel (R) HD Graphic Family, right-click and select disable, and Yes, don’t worry about what it says or warns.

3) Repeat step 2, but select enable this time.

Caveat: Screen-saver will kill the setting and you have to redo step 2 and 3 to get multiple displays again : (

You should be able to peruse both displays.

So here is my point, if I am not semi-technie, I will be frustrated as hell! But one thing is sure, I have been putting up with Windows and hardware and software issues for so long that nothing is really surprising. Unfortunately, the annoyance variance is still far less than the premium demands of a Mac! (Mac has its issues too)

Cheers.

P.S. Result: DVI is better than using VGA! Essentially (very broadly) DVI is the same as HDMI, except there is no audio.  Also, my monitor does not have HDMI-in.