Review: Lenovo IdeaPhone P770

This is an initial review for someone who has just used the Lenovo IdeaPhone P770 for barely a day. I will not bore you with the specifications which you can find in reviews elsewhere, but I will try to write about my experience as a regular smartphone user which I hope will be of benefit to anyone deciding whether to buy this phone or not.

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According to the official Lenovo press release:

Businesspeople demand more from their smartphones: more talk time, more security, more reliability and more options. The IdeaPhone P770 is a perfect complement for today’s always-connected, frequently traveling global executive. Sporting a 3500mAh battery with enhanced power management software, the P770 delivers up to 30 hours talk time between charges, while a unique, “genuine battery detection” function ensures P770 users get the most from their phone. In fact, with USB on-the-go, the P770 can even serve as a charger for other devices, while easily sharing files and data secured by native anti-virus software. Dual SIM capabilities allow you to move seamlessly across networks wherever your job may take you.

I have been a smartphone user since 2006. My first smartphone was a Samsung BlackJack which I used for almost 6 years. Trying to find a replacement took a while since I was very particular in how the keypad feels. I like them qwerty and embossed so my fingers can feel the letters I am trying to type. The next smartphone I found was the HTC ChaCha and have used it now for about a year. However, I was pretty disappointed with the way the touch screen gets out of sync and had to constantly reboot the phone to get it to work again. So I was in the hunt for my next smartphone and that’s how I stumbled on the Lenovo IdeaPhone P770.

I have used Lenovo laptop and netbook in the past and have always been impressed with its form and function. So I was not hesitant to look into a Lenovo phone for consideration. I’ve heard a bit about the Lenovo IdeaPhone P770 and its battery life which got me curious to look around the mall to see which store has one.

I went to SM Megamall Cyberzone and asked most of the phone stores about it. Several stores has them and the price range differs on each and every store. Prices start from P11,300 to P12,300 for straight payment or cash and P12,400 to P14,500 for installment. I ended up buying mine at a store called Power Premium Gadgets for P12,890 on a 12-month installment (around P1,074+ per month) since it was the best deal I found of all the other stores I asked around.

The salesman at Power Premium Gadget was pretty helpful and demoed the unit to me while describing how to use the basic functionality. I was happy with the packaging of the phone and had a screen protector put in (although the screen protector was a custom one, they said there is no screen protector that is an exact fit yet.)

I’ve just set the phone up and tried different settings. Several things that impressed me right away are:

  • The touch screen keypad is just perfect for my fingers. I can type well as I used to type on a smartphone with a built-in qwerty keypad (this was my major concern)
  • When I delete what I typed, it’s pretty fast. I have used other phones where deleting what you type takes more time than you would want.
  • Sliding between screens and apps is fast too.
  • I can share my battery life with another phone since it comes with a USB plug that another phone can use to charge their battery.
  • Gmail synching is fast. I got several of my Gmail accounts loaded which did not take time – in HTC ChaCha it takes a while to get Gmail synched to the phone.

For my initial impression – this phone to me is very appealing, feels solid (not cheap like other smartphones), has a wide screen for better viewing and best of all, very reasonably priced!

My rating: Good (so far)
(reasonably priced phone with above average features)

I will update this review again once I’ve used the phone enough to make another assessment. Stay tuned!

Posted in electronics | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Review: P.F. Chang’s in The Fort BGC, Taguig

20130214_162731I was excited to hear about the opening of P.F. Chang’s in the Fort. I have been a fan of the restaurant in the States for many years. They serve a very good American take on Chinese food, with a emphasis on service and presentation. In Metro Manila the big Chinese chain restaurant is North Park, and I like North Park,  but the service there is spotty at best and most locations feel more like a cafeteria (stainless steel tables and benches) than a upscale restaurant.  The menu at North Park also leans more towards traditional Chinese cuisine, and the presentation just being so-so, I think of them more for take out than dine in.

This Valentine’s Day, I took my wife and daughter (20 months old) to the new P.F. Chang’s in BGC, you can’t miss the place with the giant terracotta horses in the front. Upon entering we were greeted by the floor host Anthony who showed us to our table and got a high chair for our little one. I have been to over 100 restaurant here in Manila the past 5 years, many more back in the States. It was refreshing to go into a place that had their act together.  Our server was quick to approach us with the menus and take our drinks order, she also brought color crayons and an activity sheet for our daughter to color on.

20130214_164400For an appetizer we ordered Egg Rolls, they were served fairly quickly. They were hot and the wrapper was crispy yet light and fluffy. The mix inside them is very good, though I prefer the insides of egg rolls to be a bit more dense. The spicy mustard is amazing and the presentation was very nice.

20130214_170918We ordered the P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Chicken. I love Sweet and Sour Chicken and whenever I would go to a new Chinese restaurant in the States that is always the first thing I would try. For the most part P.F. Chang’s always hit the mark back home, and it is just as good here. The chicken is moist breast meat, the batter is light and crispy and the sauce is delicious. I think to do it proper sweet and sour sauce needs pineapple, red and green bell pepper and onion. The fried rice was great, full of fresh ingredients and looked as good as it tasted.

During our dining experience we never had to ask for a refill, as a matter of fact they brought a new glass with fresh ice and beverage each time. Nice touch that no other restaurant I have been to here in Manila has done. The wait staff was well trained to be aware of their tables without hovering.

Food wise it was on par with the locations in the States. I think the place really shines when it comes to service and presentation. The fact they have just recently opened and the fact it is only the second location in the country speaks volumes about the management. I would suggest every restauranteur here in Manila to take a trip here and see how it can and should be done. Floor staff should always be looking for eye contact with diners not avoiding it. They should be proactive in refilling beverages and clearing dirty plates not reactive.

The food met expectations but the service, presentation and ambiance exceeded and made it a very enjoyable experience. We will be going back soon.

My Rating: VERY GOOD

P.F. Chang’s
W Global Center
9th Avenue cor. 30th St.,
Fort Bonifacio Global City
664-5956

Posted in vacation | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Nux MFX-10 guitar multi effects processor

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I recently found myself in the market for a new effects processor for my guitar. I did some searching on the local for sale boards looking for something cheap. While looking at the many Boss, Digitech, Korg and other brands listed I saw a few ad’s for Nux processors. Having never heard of them I did a little research, visited their website and looked over the specs. They looked good on paper but I was still a bit apprehensive. The prices on these were lower for new units than other name brands that were 5 to 10 years old. Next I searched youtube finding a half dozen or so videos. There were a few from the company that showcased a lot of the models and features. Then there is a few videos in other languages from users. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but the unit sounded really good.

So I made my decision to take a gamble on it, and at php5200 ($130USD) it really wasn’t that big of a gamble. I have been playing guitar since the late 80’s and when I started I used stomp boxes. I have had 50-75 thru the years and like the ease of use and control over them. It wasn’t until the mid nineties that I bought my first multi effects board, a Zoom 2020. I have been hooked on them ever since, to date I have had maybe 35-40 different ones. So I know their up’s and down’s, what separates the good ones from the bad ones.

Back to the Nux MFX-10. First impression is this thing is built like a tank. Solid steel construction much like the Boss GT series. It has huge rubber feet on the bottom to keep it planted in place. The pedals are large and spaced far enough apart to avoid accidentally hitting the wrong one, yet close enough where you can activate the built in tuner which requires stepping on two pedals simultaneously.

The expression pedal is a nice large size with a thick rubber pad, I do wish it had about 1 more inch of travel but that is the case with most pedal boards in my opinion. One of the high points of this processor is the color LCD display. It is very brite, crisp and detailed. It makes editing patches a breeze! It is a big step up for the boards that only have a 2 digit LCD display (this board also has the 2 digit display as well).
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Editing patches is a breeze! The different amp models and effects show up in the color screen and you use the 4 large knobs to adjust the parameters. You just scroll thru the amps and effects, twist the knobs and hit save. That’s it! You can also rename your saved patches. Another feature I love is the fact every patch has an A and B setting, much like switching channels on an amplifier.

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Connectivity is pretty standard, there is an Aux in to connect an ipod for jamming along to music. There is a footswitch input (might be handy for those using this to record with. You could keep the unit on the desk and go thru patches while keeping your hands on the guitar). It is missing USB connectivity so there is no backing up your patches or being able to share them like the Line6 products. The input jacks feel really solid and high quality as do the knobs on the front. The knobs are plastic but feel solid and the selector wheel has a very tactical feel to it.

The most important thing to an effects processor is the sound. This one doesn’t disappoint, once you get past the presets which tend to be to much of everything. I guess company’s do this to show off all the bells and whistles but usually presets are pretty worthless for actual use. I have gone thru all of the amp models and they rival the ones in Boss, Digitech and Line6 products. I have a suspicion they might actual have copied Boss’s models as they are very close. The chorus, flanger and tremolo are very creamy and smooth. There are analog reverb models as well as digital delays that are very nice as well. The only effect I was really unhappy with is the pitch shifter. There is a wammy effect but it sounds really harsh, no where near the quality of say the digitech wammy pedal. For me this isn’t a big deal as it isn’t an effect I would use anyway.

Other features include a handful of drum samples to jam along with. The selection is small and the samples are so so, but it’s nice to have when you get bored of practicing to the metronome. It also has a 20 second sampler with sound on sound recording.

All in all I would recommend picking one of these up. With a brief look over the manual operating the MFX-10 was a breeze to figure out, it’s been well designed and is very intuitive. At the price you can’t beat it!

Pros: Price, Color LCD Screen, Sound Quality, Build Quality
Cons: Unknown Brand, No USB Connectivity, Pitch Effects Lacking

*note: for testing I used a Jackson SLSMG with EMG 81 & 85 pickups

Posted in electronics, Guitar, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Review: Adobo Connection

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I was meeting someone near RCBC Bldg in Makati when I stumbled upon Adobo Connection restaurant as I was walking along Valero St. I decided to eat there for late lunch instead of fast food so I can sample their menu.

The restaurant is pretty empty at 2p.m. Not sure if it was a good sign or not. I went to eat there anyway. The restaurant looks clean and the chairs and tables look unbeaten yet. I went to order and I wanted to try their Mix Adobo sa Gata. Unfortunately I was told that they don’t have chicken anymore which was a bummer. I settled with the Pork Adobo sa Gata (P115) with Iced Tea (P20) and waited for the food. Maybe less than five minutes later, the food was served. It came on a square plate with their restaurant logo, when I saw the plate I thought it was pretty dull. It did not excite me to eat the food as I looked at the plate served before me. Though the rice was warm, the Pork Adobo sa Gata was short of being room temperature. I was hoping to get a hot dish as I am not in a fast food but in a restaurant.

The pork adobo itself was a bit odd, it wasn’t in cubes as I would expect a pork adobo to look like. There were no peppercorns or laurel leaves or a little fatty oil in a sauce (I am used to my mom’s dry adobo with a bit of the pork fat oil which is to die for.) The meat appears to be dry and covered with what looks like a gravy. To me it looked like the meat and the sauce were cooked separately. When I tasted it, the adobo sauce had a little tang – maybe from the vinegar – mixed with gata or coconut milk. I generally like Adobo but I had some questions on my mind about the hint of sour taste that I was having. I tried cutting through the meat and to my disappointment, it was chewy, like they did not cook it long enough to make the pork very tender.

Even though they offered rice-all-you can, I thought what was in my plate was enough to give my verdict on their Pork Adobo sa Gata.

As I walked out to leave, most of their staff thank me for dining with them. So I guess that’s a positive.

My rating: Average
(eat if you are hungry and there’s no other option)

Posted in food, restaurant | Tagged | 1 Comment

Review: S&R Membership Shopping

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S&R Membership Shopping will be familiar to anyone who has shopped at a Sam’s Club or a Costco. It is a membership bulk store, with a yearly membership costing P700 or $17.25.

They have several locations: Bonifacio Global City, Congressional, Alabang, Aseana – Baclaran, Cebu & Pampanga. We have been to Aseana – Baclaran once, We go to the Bonifacio location once or twice a month on average. Having been to another location I can say they seem to be basically the same.  The store is about half groceries and half consumer goods. The inventory and selection of stuff is different from visit to visit. Most visits we find ourselves walking up and down all the aisles to see whats new.

On the consumer goods side they have a small selection of mid to high end electronics and appliances. There is usually a good selection of housewares, from towels, bedding, dishes etc..  Sometimes there are toys, clothing, lawn and garden equipment. Just depends on the day.

The grocery side of the store is what really shines for me. They carry a lot of products from the states you won’t find at SM or Market Market. They also carry many of the items in bulk, great for a big family but sometimes to much for a small one. We usually stock up on things like toilet paper and diapers which are noticeably cheaper then the other stores here in the area.

They have a good selection of canned and jarred products like soups and sauces. A very large selection of juice and pop, you can even find Dr. Pepper!  There is a good sized baked good area with breads and buns, cakes, cookies  you name it. I would suggest you inspect your bread items carefully as on one occasion we bought a loaf of honey wheat bread only to find out the bottom was moldy when we got home.

The deli has some great stuff as well. Lunch meats, cheeses & sausages. The meat department is big and has a separate seafood section with very fresh catches. The price on ground chuck, chops and steaks seem to be a bit better here and the quality is really good. The produce section again has a great variety with a some stuff you don’t normally see like fresh raspberries and blueberries. On more than one occasion I have scored some incredible shiitake and portobello mushrooms. If wine, beer and spirits are your thing they have a respectable selection of all, imported and domestic.

I noticed a lot of shoppers stocking up on the health and beauty products, of which they have a lot of and most of which are imported. Another thing to watch for last shopping trip we bought a big refill of Johnsons & Johnsons Tip to Toe baby wash. When we opened it to refill our bottle we found it was watered down not the normal consistency of the product. Upon closer inspection of the refill packaging I noticed the made in China. So closely examine packaging of products.

There is an automotive department that I have never really browsed but it looks like they specialize in tires and batteries. They have a service garage and look to have a nice selection of tires. When I need to replace tires on our car I will most certainly be going there for them.

I saved the best part of S&R for last. They have a food court inside the store. I would happily pay the membership fee each year just to be able to eat there. With out a doubt they have the best pizza in Manila. I am talking real authentic New York style pizza, calzones too!  They also have hotdogs, hamburgers, baked chicken and beef rolls, roast chicken, clam chowder and churros. All of it is great and most of the menu items are P99 or lower. They also have a Blue Bunny ice cream stand. If you have never had Blue Bunny ice cream you must try, it is thick rich and creamy.

Summary: I highly recommend people get a membership, if only for the pizza. You will save money on some items and find other items you won’t see any where else. The downsides are the place can get very crowded on the weekends. The lines for the food court and check out can get a little crazy. best to go during the week or get there when they open.

Posted in appliance, finance, food, health, restaurant, vehicles | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments