The Redmi 2 Prime is here!

There’s something joyful about having your online shopping merchandise delivered and opening them. Especially when it’s the latest gadget that you can’t wait to play around with. In my case, it happens to be the Xiaomi Redmi Prime 2 that will have a flash sale exclusive in Lazada, this Monday. I’m lucky enough to have the device before being sold tomorrow, and this is a quick unboxing of it.

The usual recycled paper box of Xiaomi phones.
The usual recycled paper box of Xiaomi phones.
I think this box is better than the Mi4i’s, since it’s smaller and has no excess space.
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The usual papers, which i don’t think anyone will read.
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What’s in the box: Phone, battery, charger & USB cable. No earphones included.
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It looks just like the Redmi 2 Nothing’s change, but it’s the internal that matters. 2GB of RAM & 16 gigs of internal storage.
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I love this dark grey case. Better than your usual Xiaomi white, although the texture feels a bit slippery.
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2,200 mAh battery. Nothing’s change from the previous model.
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That’s it! Will be using this as my daily driver and see how it goes.

Xiaomi Mi4i Review

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AADX, atau Ada Apa Dengan Xiaomi? Itu yang gue pikirkan setelah melihat beberapa teman penyuka gadget yang tidak berhenti membicarakan mengenai brand tersebut. Komunitas yang menjadi advokat brand tersebut juga kuat, dan sangat aktif sekali, apalagi setelah produknya yang bernama Mi4i diluncurkan di Jakarta. Produk dengan premis “Affordable Flagship”, yang menurut gue secara pesimis, ngga akan ada bedanya dengan handset Android lainnya.

Gue beberapa kali menggunakan handset Android, dan ujung-ujungnya selalu kembali ke iPhone karena satu hal, konsistensi performa. Pakai Nexus 4 dan 5, yang notabene selalu memberikan konsistensi paling baik dari sisi software, tapi mengecewakan dalam battery life dan kualitas kamera. Pakai LG G3 yang camera nya sangat bagus untuk ukuran handphone, tapi kecewa dengan konsistensi performa nya karena seringkali melambat, memanas, dan ujung-ujungnya baterai lumayan boros.

Iklan Samsung
Dengan memakai Samsung, kamu akan bahagia karena berlari-lari di taman dan memiliki hidup yang berwarna-warni cerah.

Samsung… Gimana ya? Menurut gue pembeli Samsung itu secara spesifik berasal dari kalangan ‘orang yang masih percaya iklan’. I’m not saying that it’s bad, but you can definitely get better stuff if you only ask your techy friends instead of believing in social media buzzers who seem to glorify them (twice each year during the Galaxy S & Note series periodic launch). Yah, pernah pakai Galaxy S3 dan A5 punya kantor. S3 belum dipakai setahun dan performa nya melambat walau sudah factory reset, dan A5 sebenarnya cukup oke sih, tapi terlalu mahal untuk spesifikasi mid-range nya. So, ya begitu. Gue belum pernah menemukan handset Android yang memuaskan, yang bisa membuat gue bisa meninggalkan iPhone di rumah, dan sehari-hari memakai handset itu aja.

Tertarik dengan omongan teman-teman bahwa Xiaomi Mi4i ini memuaskan, gue bertanya-tanya, dan setelah satu dan lain hal, akhirnya menggunakan handset tersebut selama beberapa minggu ini. Secara singkat, gue sekarang tahu kenapa teman-teman gue merekomendasikan handset ini, dan brand nya memiliki komunitas yang sangat kuat juga. Handset ini simply memuaskan. Ini alasannya:

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Boleh lah ini battery life nya.

1. Battery kuat
Dan ada alasannya kenapa begitu. Satu, secara spesifikasi, ukurannya besar. Lebih dari 3,000 mAH, tapi lucunya, LG G3 yang dulu gue pakai juga memiliki baterai dengan ukuran sekitar itu, dan jarang sekali menembus 12 jam standby dengan penggunaan sedang (Waze sekitar 30 – 40 menit, sekitar 100an push email, chat, social media, browsing, puzzle games, dan sekitar 2.5-3.5 jam layar aktif). Perbedaannya terletak di prioritas designer handphone nya. Xiaomi itu mendahulukan user experience dibandingkan spesifikasi, terlihat dari Layar LG G3 yang 5.5 inch Quad HD, atau sekitar 538 ppi (pixel per inch) sedangkan Mi4i “cuma” Full HD, dengan 441 ppi. Apakah terlihat bedanya? Ngga. Tapi memang spesifikasi LG lebih sexy buat dipampangkan di brosur, walau efeknya lebih memberatkan prosesor dan membuat baterai boros.

Ibaratnya kalau mobil, LG membuat mesin 6 silinder yang lebih besar, tapi menghasilkan akselerasi yang sama dengan mesin Xiaomi yang cuma 4 silinder. It’s pointless. Dengan si Mi4i, Sehari-hari, paling jelek itu gue mendapatkan sekitar 12 jam. Rata-rata sekitar 15 jam, seringkali lebih. Copot charger jam 5.30 pagi, dan baru masuk charger lagi sekitar jam 11 malam. Sangat cukup buat gue.

2. Performa
Performanya konsisten. Masalah gue dengan LG G3 dulu adalah ketidak konsistenan performa. Kadang mulus, tapi seringkali mendadak melambat, bahkan disaat gue cuma ingin scrolling Home screen atau buka app. Mungkin cuma sekitar 0,5-1 detik sih lag nya, tapi dikali beberapa puluh kali melakukannya setiap hari, berasa lah. OS nya Mi4i yang bernama MiUI ini secara mengejutkannya cukup responsif dan konsisten. Tidak seperti kebanyakan Android dengan skin ala produsen lain yang biasanya memberatkan kinerja, OS ini dirasa sangat optimal buat handphone ini. Bukan cuma asal membedakan tampilan dan fitur, tapi memang dirancang untuk melengkapi hardware yang mid-range. Emang sih, RAM yang ukurannya 2GB itu kadang berasa ngga cukup, karena biasanya cuma tersisa sekitar 800-400MB untuk user (sisanya dimakan oleh OS tersebut). Lalu, namanya juga Android ya, masih perlu di reboot paling tidak seminggu sekali untuk mempertahankan mulusnya performa. Dimaklumi lah ini.

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3. Camera
Memang camera handset ini ngga bisa dibandingkan dengan iPhone 5S atau LG G3 yang pernah gue pakai. Noise nya cukup banyak dalam kondisi remang-remang, lalu tidak menangkap detail sebaik handset2 tersebut. Tapi begitu ingat bahwa handset ini harganya 2,8 juta Rupiah, kekurangan itu sangat dimaafkan. Bahkan, agak sulit mencari camera handphone sebaik ini dalam rentan harga tersebut. Camera nya responsive, cukup cepat dinyalakan dari standby sampai mengambil gambar, sangat mudah digunakan & memiliki fitur-fitur unik, misalnya cara menyetel exposure value yang intuitif seperti ini.
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Beberapa fungsi dasar camera Mi4i
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Beragam mode foto Mi4i
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Mode selfie dengan sensor umur built-in. Dengan kacamata, gue dibaca sebagai 50 tahun, tanpa kacamata, lebih muda 20 tahun.

Camera itu sangat penting buat gue, dan menjadi salah satu alasan kenapa gue urung menggunakan Nexus. Camera dengan kualitas gambar konsisten itu alasan gue kenapa sejauh ini selalu memilih menggunakan iPhone untuk mengambil gambar, dan tidak memakai handset Android lainnya. Dengan si Mi4i ini, gue semakin sering menggunakannya untuk mengambil gambar, terlebih karena kamera 13 Megapixel nya ini lebih cropping friendly dibandingkan 8 Megapixel nya iPhone 5S gue. Untuk sample foto Mi4i, silahkan scroll ke paling bawah.

Sharp & vibrant. Something that you don’t see in a phone at this price range.
4. Layar dan desain
Menurut gue, 4.7-5 inch adalah ukuran layar terbaik, dimana real-estate visual cukup, tapi tidak mengorbankan handling jika menggunakan satu tangan. It’s the sweet spot. Layar 5 inch nya Mi4i yang digabung dengan body yang tipis membuatnya gampang digunakan, bahkan dengan satu tangan. Selain itu, layarnya tajam dan warnanya sangat bagus.
Apabila Samsung memiliki hobi yang aneh untuk membuat saturasi warna terlalu kuat, Xiaomi ini lebih condong ke Apple untuk racikan warna layar. Netral, visual angle nya luas dan menggunakan teknologi IPS dibandingkan LED. Foto dan gambar terlihat natural dan ekstra tajam. Memang kekurangannya adalah ketika di tempat gelap, there’s only so much brightness you can decrease. Kalah dibandingkan layar AMOLED nya Samsung yang bisa extra redup dan tidak menyilaukan. If you’re a fan of reading in the dark before going to bed (or you’re Batman), you might be losing sleep because of this.
Tampilan dasar home screen MiUI. Tidak punya app drawer seperti Android pada umumnya. I like this better. Who access their app drawer anyway?
Walau tampilannya iOS banget, tapi widgets bisa dong. Best of both world.
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Multi tasking screen nya kelihatan familiar ya…
5. Detail OS
Walau terlihat Xiaomi ini ‘terinspirasi’ sekali dari Apple, banyak sentuhan-sentuhan kecil yang dilakukan Xiaomi yang membuatnya berasa lebih intuitif atau menyenangkan dibandingkan versi Android lainnya. Contoh paling kecil, aksi swiping untuk melihat notifikasi tidak usah dilakukan pada layar bagian paling atas, tapi bisa dari mana saja.
Lalu, mode satu tangan yang sangat intuitif dan gampang dilakukan, bahkan sampai cara switching dari camera belakang ke depan (tinggal swipe atas/bawah saat camera menyala) atau posisi angka timer di selfie-mode camera yang posisinya dekat dengan lensa, agar mata lebih fokus melihat kearah lensa tersebut. Banyak sekali detail-detail kecil yang membuat OS ini unik, intuitif dan menyenangkan digunakan, baik itu animasi nya, maupun designnya. Untuk segala fitur MiUI, dapat dilihat disini.
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I don’t mind using this as my daily driver. In fact, i want it to be.
Kesimpulannya, gue jatuh hati dengan handset ini. Memang ini masih terlalu cepat untuk mengatakan apakah Mi4i ini akan bertahan lama atau memberikan performa yang konsisten dengan berjalannya waktu, but, i’m more than willing to find out. Handset ini menyenangkan untuk digunakan. Ia membuat gue nyaman untuk memindahkan nomor utama ke sini, dan (kadang) meninggalkan iPhone di rumah. Handset ini actually ngga membuat gue was-was dengan performa baterai nya, atau memberikan gambar yang lumayan bagus dengan cepat tiap kali gue nyalakan kameranya. In fact, this is what i’m looking for in a handset. Perasaan tenang bahwa handset ini akan bekerja tanpa drama. It just works.
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Those faux chrome & plasticky buttons
Tapi, seperti ungkapan ‘tiada gading yang tak retak’ (atau kalau disesuaikan dengan era masa kini, ‘tiada Kelapa Gading yang tak banjir’) kekurangan itu pasti ada. Pertama, ukuran memory internal yang cuma 16 GB. Emang sih ini bisa disiasati dengan selalu selektif memilih file apa yang akan kita simpan, but i’m echoing realistic women here that size, in fact, does matter. Kedua, feel dari power & volume button. As you can tell as how i’m nitpicking here, sebenarnya ini bukan sesuatu yang penting, tapi akan lebih baik apabila rasanya lebih ‘click’ dan less plasticky. Apalagi ya? Mungkin tekstur body nya. Memang dia menggunakan coating yang membuatnya anti kotor. Segala noda gampang sekali dihapus, tapi kadang membuatnya berasa licin. Oke, gue mulai kehabisan materi untuk dikomplain. Selain itu pun, segala keluhan diatas lagi-lagi dimaafkan mengingat harganya yang dibawah 3 juta.
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It’s hard to find a better phone all around at 2.5-3 million price point. I highly recommend this phone for that kind of budget.
Ada masanya harga dibawah 3 juta itu merupakan pertanda sial bahwa handset yang bisa dibawa pulang adalah merek ngga jelas, atau Samsung low-end dengan spesifikasi yang hanya terdengar wow ketika band bernama Base Jam masih terkenal. Dengan senangnya gue memberi tahu bahwa masa-masa gelap itu telah berlalu (begitu pula dengan Base Jam). Budget terbatas sekarang bisa mendapatkan handset dengan kualitas sebaik Mi4i ini.
P.S: If your budget is lower than that, and i mean below 2 million Rupiah, you shouldn’t worry as well. Xiaomi baru aja meluncurkan Redmi 2 Prime yang harganya sekitar 1,8 jutaan, dan apabila optimalisasi OS dan hardware nya sebagus si Mi4i ini, harusnya performa nya akan sangat memuaskan untuk harganya. I will be reviewing it once i got my hands on it and spend a good time with it. (Big love to the guys at Xiaomi for allowing me to do some reviews on their gadgets)
Beberapa sample foto yang diambil dengan Mi4i:
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Pagi hari cerah, indoor, sudah dibumbui dengan preset VSCOCAM.
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Maghrib, outdoor, sekitar jam setengah 7 malam.
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Indoor, malam, dengan cahaya lampu neon.
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Malam, indoor dan remang-remang ala bar.
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Kondisi malam. Mengkompensasi noise dengan kontras cahaya yang tinggi.
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Indoor, kondisi terang sekitar jam makan siang.

The new Apple TV won’t be a gaming console killer, but it’ll definitely sell.

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One of the most important item from last night’s Apple product announcement for me isn’t the iPhone 6s or the iPad Pro, (even though that pencil feature is tempting for my illustration hobby) it’s the Apple TV.

As an Apple TV user myself, I find the device to be restricting. The interface is clunky and the remote has limitations despite how elegant it is. But you know what I use it mostly? To have my iOS game projected to my TV screen.

You see, I’m a casual gamer. I don’t have consoles like the PS4 or Xbox since I don’t think it’ll be worthy of the investment. For one, I have limited time to play games, hence making it not worthwhile to spend on, and second, most of my favorite types of games (racing, fighting, and puzzles) are available on my phone or tablet. Why would I need one?

And despite the number of gamers out there who actually invested both of their money & time in console games, I bet the numbers of casual gamers like me is greater, hence making the Apple TV a more relevant gaming platform for them.

Oh, and of course, by having Netflix as an app that’s available on the TV, who needs cable?

Unexpected Gadget: The Xiaomi Mi4i

So, last Wednesday I was curious & asked around about the Xiaomi Mi4i’s performance, which turns out was rolling into an unexpected direction. Long story short, the guys from Xiaomi contacted me and they are giving me a brand new Mi4i to test! And here it is on its first unboxing attempt, which reveals a very spartan packaging, but a very clean-designed one nonetheless.

The guys from Xiaomi Indonesia
Me & the good guys from Xiaomi Indonesia, meeting up at Filosofi Kopi, Blok M.
First time opening the Xiaomi Mi4i
It’s brown, recycled, and… that’s it.

In the next couple of days/weeks/months I will be reviewing this mid-range device on its consistency of performance. Out of the box, it performs brilliantly. But as my previous experience with Android devices, it’s the long term performance that most of the time suffers. Experienced it on a Galaxy S3, HTC One V and LG G3. (surprisingly I didn’t encounter it on the Nexus 4 & 5, but the battery life was horrifying)

I’ll be updating on the day-to-day performance for the camera, speed, memory management, battery life, and in general just how does it feel to live with the device. I’m not a benchmark geek (or in some cultures, Jemaah Antutudiyah), so what matters is the overall consistency for my day to day. I usually use it mostly for emails – 80 to 120 emails per day, chat, camera, social media, music, YouTube video playing & keeping up with my daily newsfeed. In the mean time, do shoot the comments if you have anything to ask about this device.

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The Mi4i is a great 5 inch phone. It’s very comfortable and has a great handling for a big screen.
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The polycarbonate backside feels like the old HTC One X. It’s solid and doesn’t feel cheap despite its 2,8 million rupiah price tag.
The unboxing of the Mi4i
Aaand that’s it. Phone, USB charger & cable and more recycled cardboard.

A Thought On The 2015’s Ford Everest.

I live in a metropolitan & jam packed city like Jakarta, and if there’s one thing I never get, is why do people are consistently using big SUVs like the Fortuner, Pajero Sport or Everest in a city like this. Sure it contains more people than its smaller counterparts (X-Trail, CRV, etc) but knowing on a daily basis usually it carries no more than 4 people, why? Not to mention the road space in Jakarta is very limited. The sheer sizes of those SUVs occupies more space compared to other types of cars, and moving that gargantuan body requires more fuel as well. It’s illogical.

That uber-manly look of the new Everest
The new Ford Everest.

Hence, when the good people of Ford Indonesia asked me to have a go at their latest Everest, I said ‘yes’ boldly. Not only because i want to know how a modern truck-based SUV feels like to drive (FYI, I used to drive a Diesel Chevrolet Trooper, and it feels very agricultural. Not something you’d like to drive in urban areas) but also i’m curious about what makes the city slickers around me keen on using them as their daily driver.

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This place is a twin sister of somewhere in Jawa Barat.

The test drive event itself was done in Chang Rai, a city located on the northern side of Thailand. The city is filled with lushes green trees, hills, rain & a huge river. It’s basically somewhere in Jawa Barat, but cleaner (and they drive more neatly compared to Indonesian drivers). To reach the city, it’s another hour of flight from Suvarnabhumi which makes it a full day spent travelling from Jakarta.

I was accompanied by a group of automotive journalists, people who have more capabilities to talk about cars than me, and my buddy, Raya Fahreza, that also shares his opinion of the car in here (in Indonesian). We’re probably the only one in the crowd who thinks that Camshaft is a byword for schlong.

Raya & I. Two of the most clueless & luckiest people on the event.

So, let’s talk about the car. My first impression was that it’s big, bulky and looking like something that Chuck Norris would drive. It wouldn’t be misplaced with a wooden log cabin, deers & a lake in the background. It’s reeks of masculinity in every inch, i actually grow more beard & chest hairs just by standing next to it.

The new Ford Everest
That manly snout that look like it can take a punch or two without flinching.
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It doesn’t look out of place at all in the wilderness.

Climbing (yes, climbing. It’s bloody tall) into the interior, it’s actually another story. It’s very well laid out, some say that it looks a bit too spartan, but then you ran your hands across the stitched leather dashboard, the thick leather-padded steering wheel and the seats and realise that they’re serious about luxury.

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Clear visibility, very well laid out and the stitched leather dashboard is a very appreciated plus.
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The rear cabin is quite spacious. Not a bad car to be chauffeured about.

And of course, it’s not a modern car without its array of toys. Dual zone electronic climate control, electric adjusted seats for the driver, front passenger and the rear seats. The visibility is really nice & bright, especially with the huge sunroof up top, and A pillars that are quite thin compared to other modern cars. Listening to music was a pleasant experience as this car doesn’t cut short in fidelity systems. It has 5 speakers, 4 tweeters and 1 subwoofer to entertain, while the head unit also function from playing music, syncing with your phone over bluetooth, rear monitor and even adjusting the colour of the ambient lighting inside the car. I won’t be surprised if anyone told me that it can do a Powerpoint deck. In short, as manly as it looks from the outside, the inside is not a gym, it’s a high-tech gentleman’s club.

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Dual zone climate control for times when your mother in law is complaining that the AC in the back doesn’t feel cold.

Driving it also has a different feel compared to your standard big-sized SUVs. For starters, the steering is feather-light yet greatly accurate on parking lot speed, making city driving a breeze. But it as you speed, it gets heavier and meatier, building a great sense of confidence as you carve through corners. I’ve driven Fords like the Focus & Fiesta to know that the brand stands for cars that are fun to drive, and this car is no exception. Its suspension soaks up bumps like how cars with European-designed suspension does, yet it still tolerates corners well, even though eventually the tall & heavy body still contributes to body rolls when you pushed it to its limit. It’s light-years from the previous Everest, which feels truck like and handles like a 90s Toyota. The Everest magically makes you feel like you’re driving something much smaller and agile than it actually is, and as one who enjoy driving especially in the twisty road across Java, this car got me from the first drive. If previously Pajero Sport has the best balance of being sporty & comfortable, this car redefines it. It’s more comfortable yet sportier than any of its competitor.

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This car handles corners just fine, as long as you remember that it weighs greatly.
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A half-cut Everest flexing to show the suspension & chassis’ technology. Nope, it’s not for sale half price.

The engine was no slouch either. I’ve driven 2 types of engines, the 2.2 turbodiesel with 158 horses & 385Nm of torque, also the 3.2 5 cylinder turbodiesel with 198 horses and 470Nm of torque. Both mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission with manual mode and offers great power on acceleration. Top tip: If your day to day is city driving with the occasional Bandung travel on the weekend, the 2.2 is more than enough, as it also has better acceleration from the get go. But if your daily route consists of challenging interstate driving, hills or empty highways, the 3.2 is a beast. My only complaint lies on the manual shifter. Instead of shifting up to upshift, it actually downshifts, making it feels unnatural even though the shifting process itself is responsive.

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Up is down and down is up. Ok, got it. Sorry, what’s that again?

Also as how a Ford should be, the driving technology doesn’t disappoint (even though i think most of them won’t ever get used when you’re in a city like Jakarta). Smart lane sensors that can sense whether your car is going off the lane & warn you, or if there’s any other vehicle cut you off and brakes automatically (which will practically makes it stuck in Jakarta), or Cruise Control that can adjust the speed automatically if the car in front of you is slowing down. One of the best feature would be the park assist control though, since it can automatically adjust the steering when you’re parking (even parallel ones!) and all you have to do is adjust the braking. It’s a dream come true for ibu-ibu Pondok Indah Mall!

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I’ve reached to the point where i gave up trying to know what tech features this car has.

Last but not least, the off-road capability. Ford wanted to show us this car’s capability so bad, they took us to visit the Akha hill tribe (that obviously lives in hills) where on our way there, the car will go through muddy hills, tight turns, rivers and slippery slopes. The car was equipped with all sorts of 4 wheel drive technology wizardry that not only makes the car more than capable to penetrate those muddy hills, it does that without breaking any sweat.

Ford Everest on location 006
All road conditions with just a flick of a switch. This used to be Range Rover’s territory.
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People of the remote tribe has meet their match.

The system itself can simply be adjusted to four kind of road conditions – normal, snow/mud/grass, rock & sand, where it will deliver the best power & traction for each conditions just by turning a switch. Then there’s the low range and the differential lock, plus the hill descent control where it’s basically a cruise control for going down on steep hills. All you need to do is let your foot off the pedal, steer the wheels & it’ll go down on itself. You can adjust the speed you want to go down those hills by simply tapping the buttons on the steering wheels. I was a bit disappointed though when we were going through the river, since the river’s depth is only around 30 cm-ish. The wading depth capability of the new Everest can go more than double that, or 80cm to be precise. Making it the perfect candidate to be the official car of Tarakanita high school. There are no obstacles that actually made me worry whether the car will make it through or not. It just will.

Ford Everest on location 030
“Seriously? Is this the deepest water you can throw at me?”
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Muddy hills? What muddy hills?
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I wonder why we don’t have off-road parks around Jakarta. This activity is actually very fun.

At the end of the test drive session, i get it now why these type of cars has high demand. It simply makes you feel special. It sits you high in a tall commanding position with great manoeuvrability and power, it drives nicely (very car-like, unlike yesteryears’ SUVs), it’s refined, well built, supposedly has great durability & very comfortable. To my surprise, the engine is also quite efficient for such burly car. The 2.2 ranges from 9-13km/lt during while the 3.2 is almost similar, at 8-12km/lt. But that’s not all though.

I know that the 4WD version probably wouldn’t be the most popular variant because of the price and it’ll mostly be used for city driving anyway, but there is a massive loss if you’re buying the 2WD version – adventures. I, for one never thought that 4WD is something that you need in a car, but having tried the its capability, it’s actually a shame not to explore those undrivable roads on the remote areas of Java to experience something that’s beyond Bandung or Taman Safari. If you have the money to buy it, do go for the 4WD version and go explore further. It’s simply a first-class ticket to adventure.

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This car looks at best on tracks like these.
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You know you want to go out & about exploring the land. I know i do.

My concern for this car would be the pricing scheme. This car is overly designed for its class, making the top spec 3.2 with all the bells & whistles would command the price to be stratospheric, especially with the unique tax system our government has. And knowing most Indonesians who have money rather buy something with more brand statement to show just how successful they are, they will go for an “entry level Louis Vuitton” instead of the “most expensive Marks & Spencer”. Ford Indonesia needs to be smart on the trim variants, which i think will make them sacrifice the 3.2 4WD version’s availability, and go for a top-spec 2WD 2.2lt version to sell in our local market. It’ll be disappointing if it ever will be heading that direction, but at least I can proudly say that I’ve experienced the real deal on a track where it should be.

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Thank you, Ford Indonesia!

(Thanks to the awesome guys at Ford Indonesia & its PR team for the amazing experience)

On the Lumix GF6 – new Leica lens

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The GF6 with the Leica 25mm f1.4

I got lucky and (thanks to my awesome dad for lending me! ) have these two amazing lenses at my disposal. First, it’s the Panasonic owned 14mm f1.7 and the other one, my kinda holy grail of lens, the Panasonic-made Leica 25mm f1.4.

I’ll be doing some comparison between the two and post the review some time next week, along with sharing some tips on my style of photo editing. Here are some preview shots from the Leica below.

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Leica 25mm f1.4
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Happy feet! Notice those creamy bokeh?

Lumix GF6 – A brief thought about Panasonic’s latest camera

Let me start this review by asking this question: With the progressing quality of cellphone cameras, is it still important to own a digital camera, especially when you’re not a photographer? Well, for me, that depends on several factor. First, there’s the camera. Does it deliver quality photos that separates it from top-end cellphone cameras like the iPhone 5S, Lumia 1020 or the HTC One? Is there any extra function that truly benefits the user? Is it small enough to be carry daily? And the most important thing: Why should I carry this when I got my phone with me all the time? (This is not a technical review for a Lumix GF6. You might want to look here for any detailed reviews regarding any technical info & comparison with competitors. This is how I feel about the Lumix GF6)

The new Panasonic Lumix GF6
The new Panasonic Lumix GF6

Enter the Lumix GF6, Panasonic’s latest entry to the mainstream consumer market. It’s a micro four third camera system (click here to know what it means) which means it has interchangeable lenses in a compact body. I won’t discuss each feature it has or how does it compare to its predecessor, the Lumix GF5, or my previous Lumix, the GX1 which came from the prosumer line. But I do want to highlight features that matters to me: The awesome touch screen, WiFi connectivity, and a new processor that leaves me with a positive experience in using it.

One of the best touch screen i've found on a camera
One of the best touch screen i’ve found on a camera
The tilting screen lets me do a selfie that actually has worthy resolution.
The tilting screen lets me do a selfie that actually has worthy resolution.
That awesome tilting screen.
That awesome tilting screen.

The touch screen: Have you ever tried one of those camera touch screens that has the response speed of Indonesian state worker (clue: it’s not fast. Not. Fast. At. All) and has jaggy low resolution? I’m glad to tell you that this isn’t one of them. The response is fast & fluid just like on a modern day smartphone. The screen’s resolution & brightness is also a beauty. I wish it was bigger, but the fact that you can tweak it for low angle shot & selfies makes it forgivable. The UI is also good & informative. I wouldn’t say that it’s the most intuitive UI in the world, but compared to my old GX1 is like comparing Windows 95 to Vista. It’s not a MacOS yet, but it’s better.

Directly copying the image to my phone.
Directly copying the image to my phone.
I can directly see my camera's photo library from my Nexus phone.
I can directly see my camera’s photo library from my Nexus phone.
The interface of the remote function. Plenty of settings access.
The interface of the remote function. Plenty of settings access.

The WiFi connectivity: This camera has the ability to upload the photos directly to the cloud using WiFi connection, but who wants to do that? Especially with the user interface that isn’t exactly made for picture management, one isn’t to blame when he thinks that this WiFi is as gimmicky as NFC on smartphones, something that is only made for bragging among friends during parties or events. But boy was I wrong to think that. Turns out there’s a Panasonic Image App that can connect smartphones (iOS & Android only. If you’re on Windows Phone, you’re out of luck. If you’re on BlackBerry, you’re probably already used to being left out like this) using the WiFi connectivity. Once you pair it using a password (or NFC on equipped smartphones), you can use it as a remote control to take family photos, or more awesome selfies! It also lets you transfer images to your phone. (Why the hell would you want to transfer photos to your phone? I’m going to write that for my next post about the GF6. But first things first) Overall, for me it adds tremendous value in using the camera. It also is a better party piece to impress people!

The new processor: I’m not gonna get geeky and discuss processor specs here, but I will highlight one major point that differentiate this camera from my GX1 – the speed & low light processing. Now, I have no complaint about the speed on my GX1. I think it shoots quite fast in any circumstances, but then I tried on the GF6. Even though the GF6 is not a pro camera like the GX series (should be comparing the GX1 with the GX7), it shoots faster and much more stable compared to the GX1, especially when it comes to low light performance. The actual photo result itself isn’t different as they both share the same image sensor, but the experience is just more pleasant on the GF6.

So, getting back to the argument whether it’s still necessary to have a separate digital cameras for mere consumers like us. Does the GF6 produce great photos? In short, yes. Although it also depends on the type of lens you’re using. It ships with a 14-42mm F3.5 lens, which in my opinion is nothing special, even though with the GF6’s retail price around US$500, I can’t exactly complain. I do recommend on pairing it (at least) with Panasonic’s fixed 28mm F2.5 lens or better yet, this 25mm F1.4 Leica. Here’s a couple shots below to see the result.

Low light photo in black & white.
Low light photo in black & white taken using the F2.5 28mm.
My wife, multitasking like women in general.
My wife, multitasking like women in general.
The street in front of my house at night time.
The street in front of my house at night time.
Tested using the F2.5 28mm lens.
Tested using the F2.5 28mm lens.
Long exposure shot in Lippo Mall, Kemang.
Long exposure shot in Lippo Mall, Kemang.
My cat, taken with the 14-42mm lens.
My cat, taken with the 14-42mm lens.
Low light indoor photo during an event.
Low light indoor photo during an event.
Low light photo using the F2.5 28mm.
Low light photo using the F2.5 28mm.

About the feature, does it offer something new? Not really, but for me, the WiFi connectivity with the smartphone app nails it. Not only it adds more function that work seamlessly with my existing smartphone, but it’s also a feature that I would actually use in real life.

And last but not least, why would I have the extra weight of carrying this camera inside my bag? Well, for me, there are moments that could only be capture using the light-speed action of your mobile phone, but there are also moments that’s only worthwhile taken with something much more better, like the face of your loved ones, or that unforgettable travel destination you only visited once in your life. And believe me, this camera captures them perfectly.

It’s Worth It

It's Worth It.

Throughout life, I’ve stumbled upon stuffs which it’s quality mirror their price tag. For instance, iPhone, MacBook Air or any other Apple products. The quality of the product is the same as the price you pay. It has great built, works flawlessly, long lasting and a joyful experience to have. You get exactly what you paid for.

In other times, there are objects that deemed to be overpriced when compared to the quality or experience that you get. For instance: Coffee Rub burgers, Toyota Fortuner and Indonesian tax.

This post is a share of objects (well, more like stuffs or gadgets) that surprises me with their quality beyond the price that I paid.

Starting from the number one: Klipsch S4 in-ear headphones.
I paid around Rp 900K for this piece, which seems to be a lot of money for what looks like an in-ear headphones with a nice metal case. But as it turns out, the sound quality it churns is amazing! The bass lines are there without overpowering as Beats’s and also produces nice mid & high range frequency.

Number two – Jawbone’s Jambox.
This 2 million Rupiah Bluetooth portable speaker is one of my arsenal to bring during presentations. Simply paired it with my MacBook and I have my presentation video sounding like what they meant to be. The sound quality is decent for its size, and the bass! Oh the bass… Also, the battery life is simply stellar. My minor complaint is regarding the Bluetooth connectivity with Macs. It frequently fails and made me turn off my Mac’s Bluetooth switch to get it connected again. I suspect the culprit is the Mac OS, since it work flawlessly with my Nexus 4 & iPhone/iPad.

Number 3 – Philips Aquatouch ATH-750 electric shaver.
I got this product for 500K, and it has been in my possession for around 2 years. It offers practical shaving for dry & wet condition flawlessly. The razor is great & shaves faster then any regular shaver, and to my surprise, it shaves off quite clean (well, for an electric shaver type. Don’t compared it to traditional razor blade for precision). The battery life is also excellent. The first months i was only getting a week out of it, but over time, i manage to squeeze around 2-3 weeks between charges.

Number 4 – LG Nexus 4 smartphone.
Now, don’t get me wrong. it has its faults. The camera is quite rubbish, especially on low lights, and the glass material they use for the back part is unlaminated, therefore scratches easily and some say it’s quite brittle (luckily i haven’t broke mine after many drops without any case). But for 4 million Rupiah, this thing offers an Android experience that works flawlessly, unlike the much-pricier Samsung Galaxy S3 that I’ve used. It just works. And trust me, coming from a dude who likes iOS products, it’s a high praise.

Number 5 – Seiko SKX007 mechanical diver watch.
I’ve always been a fan of mechanical diver watches. The combination of complex mechanical underneath that robust construction truly fascinates me. While my grail watches are Swiss made and costs car-like, this watch isn’t. I bought this watch a couple of years ago for around 2 million Rupiah, and if you know your watches, Its Swiss-made counterparts are at least priced twice that amount. It’s not a perfect thing though. The glass isn’t made from the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the standard bracelet that comes with it is quiet flimsy. But for a mechanical watch that’s ISO certified for 200 meters diving with reputation coming from a Vietnam war era heritage, that’s a real bargain.

So yeah, those are the stuffs that I (so far) found to be worthy in comparison for their price and quality. Hit the comments to share yours!

That missing logic in Up movie

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Some say there are 2 theories out of this movie on why Fredericksen was able to meet with Muntz on the Paradise Falls.

1. Carl & Russel was actually killed during the cumulonimbus storm they encounter on their way there, therefore they were engaging with ghosts.

2. The atmosphere in Paradise Falls has an effect for one’s vitality, therefore making Muntz age slower, and explaining why Fredericksen has more stamina & vitality when he was there.

I don’t know which one is right, but I prefer the second one. I just don’t want the characters in my favorite Pixar movie turns to be anti climatic.

Which one do you think is the most possible one?

The real android experience: The original is always the best

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So, I’ve been lucky enough to play with Google’s official handset, the Nexus 4 for these couple of days. This is a short opinion on what I think about the peculiar handset.

For starter, the Nexus 4 is a real Google Android handset. It means that the operating system is officially made by Google, not customized by Samsung (like the ones in Galaxy) or any other handset manufacturer. The result is actually quite contrast. This handset’s fluidity is on equal term with my iPhone 4S, even starting and switching apps faster than it. And believe me, that’s the highest compliment I can give for an Android phone. I’ve used Samsung’s so called flagship, the Galaxy S3, and I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. The operating system is heavy, bloated, and it looks like it was designed by an 8 year old using Microsoft Paint. A stark contrast compared to the untouched one in the Nexus 4 with its Holo theme, a design theme where it looks like it was taken from Tron, but simplified so a mere human like me could easily understand.

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The hardware is also very different. While the Samsung believe in plastic (like most Korean boy/girl band), the Nexus uses soft touch plastic sandwiched with Gorilla Glass on the front and the back, giving it that “expensive” feel, even though it costs less than the Samsung. (I think around 5 million for a brand new one).

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Comparing it with the iOS on the app side, the Android still lacks that cohesive feel iOS has. Each app isn’t designed uniformly up to Google’s standard. Some app perform fabulously, like the LinkedIn apps that has more fluidity and sleekness compared to its iOS counterpart, but most of the apps are still better on the iOS version. Some example is the Nike+ app that can be connected with Path seamlessly on my iPhone. The Android app still doesn’t have this feature. It does offer sharing function to Facebook or Twitter, but no Path integration.

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Some comparison on the Nike+ app

How does it feel to live with it? Well, on the battery life side, it’s on par with the 4S. On days where I don’t use it much, it’s quite frugal. Passing by the 12 hours mark with ease. On active days with push mails, snapping cameras frequently and plenty of Internet browsing, it gave up on the 10th hour. The camera on the Nexus 4 is just okay. It’s not horrible as BlackBerry’s, but not as good as iPhone’s or Galaxy S3’s, especially in low light condition. Surprisingly, the audio quality on this device is excellent. Using a Klipsch S4 earphone and the iPhone 4S as the benchmark, I could safely say that the clarity is on equal term, although it still haven’t been able to match the iPhone’s volume level.

Would I use this device as my daily driver? Hell yeah. But would I exchange my iPhone for it? Well, if I was comparing it with a Samsung Galaxy, then the answer is no, in a heartbeat. But since the Nexus 4 is that good (on equal terms with iPhone’s quality. Finally!), I would probably ask whether I could just use both of them as my daily driver, since deciding between the both of them is harder than deciding between coffee or tea on a relaxing afternoon, and I think I will just do that.