Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes to Malaysia

A Galaxy S5 reboot this ain't
A Galaxy S5 reboot this ain't
A Galaxy S5 reboot this ain’t

Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha has finally arrived in Malaysia and its ditched plastic for metal.

Actually let us rephrase that, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha has ditched MOST of the plastic part in favour of a metal frame though the back still uses the former. Still, the Galaxy Alpha does up the ante in Samsung’s smartphone design.

The Galaxy Alpha is 6.7mm thin
The Galaxy Alpha is 6.7mm thin

So what does this new stylish Sammy phone offer us? Aside from the new metal frame design, Samsung has concentrated on a more elegant and compact design as evidenced from its 4.7-inch screen and thin 6.3mm profile. Although some may have been hoping that the Galaxy would be the Galaxy S5 redesigned, it really isn’t. Specs wise, you’re getting something slightly more compact as we said before but it isn’t only  a reduction in size but in screen resolution as well. The 4.7-inch screen is a Super AMOLED HD Screen with 720p resolution instead of the 1080p resolution of the Galaxy S5. It also runs on a different processor, utilising an Octa Core (Quad 1.8GHz + Quad 1.3GHz) processor compared to the S5’s Qualcomm 801 kit. Other features include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and Android 4.4.4 KitKat for its OS. As for the camera department, the Alpha comes with a 12-megapixel sensor on the back with a 2.1-megapixel shooter up front. Of course being slightly more compact from the Galaxy S5 means the Galaxy Alpha comes with a smaller capacity battery as well at 1830mAh.

Some of the key features that you’ve found on the Galaxy S5 can be found on the Galaxy Alpha too including Ultra-Power Saving Mode, S Health, Finger Print Scanner and Private Mode. Of course with the S Health available in the Galaxy Alpha, the phone is also fully compatible with Samsung’s Gear wearables including the Gear Fit and Gear 2.

Samsung α-listers with Samsung Malaysia President Lee Dong Yong (Centre)
Samsung α-listers with Samsung Malaysia President Lee Dong Yong (Centre)


If the more stylish design isn’t enough of an indicator at the more fashionable target market Samsung is aiming at, then the people they’ve chosen to endorse the Galaxy Alpha might be a bigger indicator. Called the Samsung α-listers, these four Malaysian personalities; Alia Bastamam, Karena Teo, Lawrence Wong and Wak Doyok, are what Samsung calls the embodiment of “style and substance” in their respective fields. So be prepared for their images to be plastered all over when Samsung starts pushing out the promotions and marketing for the Galaxy Alpha.

So how about colours? A “stylephone” as Samsung calls the Galaxy Alpha, should at least have a collection right? And so it does with a choice of Charcoal Black, Dazzling White, Sleek Silver and for the bling lovers, Frosted Gold. Interested? The Galaxy Alpha is already available for purchase at RM1899.

[Quick review] HTC Butterfly 2

HTC Butterfly 2
Duo camera

The HTC Butterfly 2, first launched in Japan (and Asia Pacific) in August, is coming to Malaysia, on 19 September to be exact. I’m lucky to be one of the first few to have the device in the region, courtesy of HTC. The HTC Butterfly 2 is the international version of the HTC J butterfly HTL23.

iOS 8 is now available for download

Biggest release eh? Well that's until next year we bet
Biggest release eh? Well that's until next year we bet
Biggest release eh? Well that’s until next year we bet

All you Apple fan bois,  iOS 8 is finally available for download over the air (OTA). Apple calls it  “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store…” but then again Cupertino always had a knack for aggrandizing their stuff.  That being said though, it is a huge upgrade for owners of iDevices with a download size of around 1GB plus in size and is available now.

So what are we getting in iOS8? There are hundreds of new features including new Messages and Photos features, a new QuickType keyboard, Health app, support for third party keyboards like Swiftkey and Swype, Family Sharing, iCloud Drive and new camera features like Time-lapse mode. There’s even third party support for Touch ID, Continuity and Handoff features which work with OS X Yosemite and much more.

If you have these, you can rejoice, well maybe not so much if you're using the 4s and iPad 2
If you have these, you can rejoice, well maybe not so much if you’re using the 4s and iPad 2

So are all iDevice holders going to be able to drink in the new iOS8 Kool-aid? Not exactly. The update is available for iPhones from the 4s and above, the 5th Gen iPod Touch and iPads from the iPad 2 and above. Owners of the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 might want to think carefully before updating though, as there may be performance issues due to old hardware.

So how does your compatible iDevice get its grubby hands on this new OS from Apple? Just open your Settings app and select General, then Software Update. The update should be listed there already and ready for download. Remember to backup all your stuff before hand though, just in case the unforseen happens. Now let’s see if that download and installation’s done already.

 

Steam prices now in Malaysian Ringgit

Whoopee, no more calculating based on exchange rates anymore
Whoopee, no more calculating based on exchange rates anymore
Whoopee, no more calculating based on exchange rates anymore

You won’t need to bust your calculator and convert USD to RM when you buy your games on Steam now. Yep, now you can finally see all those games you’re going or planning on buying in our good ol’ Malaysian currency the Ringgit. There’s also one other plus point to this whole move and that’s a noticeable “discount” in what we’d usually pay for some of the games if they were to be in USD.

For example the Wasteland 2 Digital Deluxe Edition is going for US$59.99 which works out to be around RM193, give or take. However with the new Malaysian price scheme in Steam, the same title is going at RM105. That’s almost half the price from before. It’s not across the board though as some games, like those from Capcom, will still maintain a direct currency conversion, but so far, it looks like its good news for us here in Malaysia as it means that some games are going to be a lot cheaper.

However, there is a downside to this move from Steam, depending on how you’d see it. The Paypal payment option has now been removed and in its place are local payment options via MOL or eClub points. For those of us who have a preference for PayPal, this will be some sucky news. The PayPal option gave an easy and secure way to pay for games and we’re pretty sure there’s going to be a bunch of gamers out there who won’t appreciate having to switch the local options. Of course the option to just add your credit card to make purchase is still there, but it would have been nice if the PayPal option was still included.

Another hitch that we found while reading through the FAQ, is that some games might not be available until their prices get a Malaysian conversion. Now for major titles, that might not really be an issue but stuff from smaller publishers and indie labels might take a little while longer before they start showing up on the store. Hopefully though, we won’t be seeing that problem and it’ll still have the relatively same turn around time that we’ve come to expect from Steam.

Right, now where our credit card? Looks like it’s time to go on Steam powered shopping spree.

Source: Steam

Why The Legend of Korra matters

To call me a Legend of Korra fan would be less accurate. I think I’m obsessed. But I’m not about to start cosplaying, writing fanfiction, drawing fanart or amassing collectibles. At 36, I think I’m past that.

For me personally, Korra’s a nice escape from the real world without being too much removed from it. That sounds weird. Let me explain.

Let’s just, for a second, look at the main protagonist. Korra is a brown, Asian-looking girl, a fighter, strong enough to carry four people and lift them in a bear hug. She’s not ‘the girlfriend’, ‘the mother’, or any of the common tropes women get stuck in when on TV. There is nothing about Korra that is atypical for the average cartoon or television show for the matter.

For the record, Nickelodeon was allegedly none too pleased when the show’s creators decided to have a girl become the show’s lead. “Oh, no! How will we be able to sell all the action figures we normally sell to little boys!”

Over the three seasons of Korra, what has made me a fan of the show and of its lead character is the amount of growth Korra experiences as a character. From a sheltered, overenthusiastic, idealist teenager, you see Korra find a different sort of strength. Where once she was content to revel in her martial prowess, by the end of the third season Korra has learned the meaning of patience, self-sacrifice and compassion.

lin beifong

She is a very strong character and what endears the show most to me is that there are plenty of women in Korra who are just as strong and multi-faceted. An imposing police chief. A dangerous criminal. A wise leader. A loyal assistant. A doting mother. All women but all unique in their personalities, character development and backstories. That two of the women were sisters, born out of wedlock to another woman who refuses to divulge who their fathers were is rather out of norm, especially for a television show.

There is no moral judgement. The information is merely put out there, in a throwaway line: “We never knew who our fathers were.” And the plot goes on without it even being an issue.

dads_daughters

Not that Legend of Korra denigrates fatherhood in any way. Sure, in the first season, we were introduced to Hiroshi Sato, a millionaire still haunted by the death of his wife who was willing to sacrifice his own daughter to seek his ‘revenge’.

“You really are a bad father,”

Hiroshi’s daughter Asami says to him in a scene that had me bring out the tissues. But in the last season, we saw fathers supporting their strong, courageous, capable daughters and expressing their belief in their capabilities. It’s something I can relate to personally as my father was a big influence on my career path growing up. I was taught to believe that there was no reason I could be any less capable, any less smart or talented because of my gender.

It’s also refreshing to see animated character models of women without excessive displays of skin. Yes, there are attractive women in the series but they are all dressed to suit their roles. When one character does wear a skimpy ensemble, it’s appropriate as she was an actress playing a role in a Hollywood-ish action flick.

lady driver

To top it all off, the cast of Korra are not portrayed as indentifiably Caucasian. There are many skin colours, eye colours, hair colours though notably white characters do not seem to appear. There are no blondes, for instance, though there are characters with red or brunette manes.

So if I enjoy Korra too much, why shouldn’t I? I like being able to watch something made for international audiences that is truly international – not the usual white male hero with a love interest who appears mainly to be rescued or flash cleavage. It’s nice to see an enjoyable fantasy that reminds us that women can be heroes, too. I can’t wait for the fourth and final season of Legend of Korra this Oct 3, if only to see more ladies taking names and kicking ass.

While waiting, I’ll just rewatch the first three seasons for gems like this fight:

Oppo N1 Mini Review

The selfie friendly Oppo N1 get's a smaller sibling in the Oppo N1 Mini

A ‘mini’ version of a phone is usually a manufacturer’s way of saying “This is the cheaper version”. In most cases that’s true and it is for Oppo’s N1 Mini which is a cheaper (at RM1,398) variant of the Oppo N1 and is also smaller.

[Video] Star Wars: Episode 4. Minus the soundtrack

Stasr Wars Minus Williams
And Chewie gets a standing ovation.
Stasr Wars Minus Williams
And Chewie gets a standing ovation.

Remember the throne room scene in Star Wars: Episode 4? Well, here it is, minus the John Williams score. The folks at Auralnauts used some of their Jedi sorcery to come up with this gem. Catch the video after the jump.

Lenovo goes stylo with new S850 smartphone

You can expect to plonk only RM729 for the S850
Lenovo's new stylish S850 launches in Malaysia
Lenovo’s new stylish S850 launches in Malaysia

Lenovo’s really getting aggressive this year with their roll-out of phones and they’ve done it once more with their new, stylish S850.

The S-series (S for stylish get it) is Lenovo’s premium, affordable mid-range smartphone family. So what does this stylo smartphone offer us? It boasts a quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, 5-inch HD IPS display, dual-SIM capabilities and good shooters (13MP rear, and 5Mp front). It’s a lightweight in the build department as well, weighing just 140g and is remarkably thin with a lightweight all-glass exterior. The S850 also runs ib Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, and a plethora of useful Lenovo DOit apps.

You can expect to plonk only RM729 for the S850
You can expect to plonk only RM729 for the S850

How about doing some good while you’re buying the phone? Yep, you can be a do-gooder whenever you buy the S850 as Lenovo also announced its support towards the Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia (BCWA). For each of the first 1,000 Lenovo S850 units sold from 4-30 September 2014, BCWA will see a donation of RM10 from Lenovo Malaysia. Now how about that? You get a stylish new phone and contribute to a good cause at the same time.

So just how much will this stylish smartphone be going for here in Malaysia? It’s already available for purchase and you can expect to fork out just RM729 for it. And true to its stylish nature, it comes in three different colours; pink, white and blue.

Dialog Hub opens its flagship store in Subang Jaya

Dialog Hub

Dialog Hub has mainly focused itself on the online retail market here in Malaysia but recently they’ve decided to take a big step and go physical with their first flagship retail store in Subang Jaya. Considering the various other electronic and gadget outlets that have sprung up in the area (primarily due to a huge population of students), it is a bold move indeed.

So what can we expect from this new retail store from Dialog Hub? Smartphones and accessories are Dialog Hub’s bread-and-butter, and thanks to its origins in Hong Kong, it has access to the latest tech gadgets, some not readily available in Malaysia. Some examples of these devices include the OnePlus One, LG G Watch, LG G3, Xiaomi Mi TV and the recently launched Xiaomi Mi 4. Of course when it comes to grey imports like these, there always that niggling issue of warranties but according to a Dialog Hub spokesperson, they do offer a two year international warranty. So that ought to give you a piece of mind.

Of course gadgets are not the only stuff that they carry and they have a variey of accessories including he Xiaomi Mi Power Banks and a variety of smartphone covers. What caught our attention though was Dialog Hub’s waterproofing service utilising Liquipel. So what exactly is Liquipel? It’s a state-of-the-art liquid repellent protective coating for smartphones. This means that you won’t need to get any water resistant case or what not to protect your smartphone. All you need to do is bring your phone to Dialog Hub’s store and they’ll coat it for you. The process will only take 45 minutes and then voila, you won’t be panicking anymore when you spill your teh oh ais on that brand new iPhone of yours. The price for coating a smartphone with Liquipel will be at RM189.

Dialog Hub isn’t just sitting on its laurels though when it comes to the latest gadgets as they’re planning to bring other exciting devices including the Moto 360 smartwatch and Google Glass.

Exciting times ahead for gadget lovers. If you’re around Subang Jaya anytime soon, drop in at Dialog Hub. And… bring a wad of cash or credit cards. :)

Visit www.dialog-hub.com.my for more info on the store or you can head over to their Lelong store should you want to purchase stuff online.

[Geek Giveaway] WIN! WAKFU MMORPG Steam Beta codes

Enter the world of WAKFU
Enter the world of WAKFU
Enter the world of WAKFU

In partnership ANKAMA, we’re giving away exclusive Steam Beta Keys for the awesome WAKFU MMORPG. WAKFU is a highly rewarding open world free-to-play MMORPG that will definitely keep you engaged for hours.

So now, we here at THG have a treat for 50 lucky people as we have a total of 50 Beta Keys to giveaway for this awesome MMORPG. The giveaway starts from 7pm (+8:00 GMT) 4 September to 12am (+8:00 GMT) 10 September 2014. The Keys will be then valid till 16 September 2014.

To win a free Beta Key, all you need to do are these few steps:

Yep, that’s all to it. Pretty simple right? In fact, the app above already sets it all up for you (in case you’re still confused, you can always head here).

Once you’ve done that you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes for the Steam Beta Keys and the 50 winners will be randomly chosen via the entry app above, PunchTab.

The WAKFU MMORPG will debut via STEAM on 18 September 2014. So you’ll get a week’s headstart in front of anyone else. And if you’re worried about losing all the stuff you’ve collected during the Beta phases, that’s not going to be an issue as there’ll be no server wipes. So all the loot you’ve collected stays when the game transitions to full launch.

Additionally, as a reward to all closed Beta testers, ANKAMA will be offering a special item inspired by the Valve universe. 

So what are you waiting for? Enter the giveaway NOW!