Sunday, 22 December 2013

Opinion: Why I'm Holding off Buying a PS4 (For Now)

PS4 is here in Malaysia, and many other countries, right now. It's definitely one of the gadgets I'm having in my wishlist. It packs a 8-core AMD Jaguar architecture CPU, Radeon GPU, 8GB of RAM, 500GB HDD, secondary processor to handle background and OS tasks. So, it's a ridiculously more beefy specs over the PS3, which definitely need to be, considering the PS3 is on its 7th year.

I'm certain that PS4 is my next console instead of the Xbox One, as my gaming habit and collections are built around the PlayStation, I'm not willing to start all over on the Xbox. But I'm not buying a PS4, at least within the first year, as I considered certain things I believe it's not worth it right now.

Malaysian PS4 is expensive

Economically speaking, this is the killer blow, Malaysian PS4 are ridiculously priced at launch. The US is retailed around $299 (RM1,200++) and Hong Kong is around the RM1,300++ range. However in Malaysia, PS4 is priced at a whopping RM1,799 for standalone and RM1,899 for the bundle! This makes the local PS4 not worth it, even with the beefy specs. I would hope that I can ask my relative who travel to other countries frequently to help me to look out for it, or wait for the local price drop.

Hardware Issues could be around

As a frequent gadgets follower, I know that a lot of tech gadgets suffer from hardware issues earlier in their life cycle, game consoles are no different. PS2 suffered from disc reading errors, Xbox 360 suffers from the infamous Red Ring of Death until the Xbox 360 S revision and PS3 also has a poor and half-baked software and OS earlier in the life cycle. There are some reports of PS4 not starting up properly and loose HDMI port while Xbox One suffers from discs reading issues as well. So advice is, if you're not eager to put your money on PS4 early, it's better you wait.

Launch Games are not that great

Killzone Shadow Fall, NBA 2K14, Battlefield 4 and Resogun looks and plays like a next-gen game, but the rest, CoD, Need For Speed Rivals, InJustice, Assassin's Creed Black Flag feel more like a port from PS3. And with games like inFamous Second Son, Watch_Dogs, DriveClub and many other good games are not coming to PS4 until sometime in 2014, holding off buying a PS4 until more great games comes along is a no-brainer.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Review: My Childhood Memory Can Sleep Well Now

Michael Bay, stand aside, Guillermo Del Toro (writer of The Hobbit movie, director of Hellboy) just showed how robot movie should be done! As for me growing up watching robots and monsters movie, Ultraman, Gundam, Jurassic Park and Godzilla, I was hoping I can watch a made in Hollywood monsters vs. robots movie, Pacific Rim is that movie. Giant mechs? Check. Giant robots? Check. And boy, it delivers!

In the near future, giant alien monsters, known as Kaiju (Japanese for monsters) have risen from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean through a portal, which took a heavy toll on the human race. The world decided new solution is needed, hence the creation of giant humanoid robots, know as Jaegers (German for hunter), pilot by two pilots in neural link, to fight these Kaiju.

The plot is not bright, but is serviceable to this movie. Not all movie needs great storyline, but Pacific Rim is definitely better than those visual effect fest movies in recent years. It makes you at least believe that is "Oh shit! We need robots!" The acting of the movie is just normal, not particularly bright, but one got my attention, the no non-sense Jaeger program leader, Stacker Pentecost, played by Idris Elba, luckily they chose him over Tom Cruise, whom I think is not suitable at all. The only problem with it is one or two of the subplot is not necessary.

Now let's talk about the spectacle, for that, this movie is absolutely pitch perfect. Well probably, because it just channeled out some of my nerdiness. The robots vs. monsters is something to behold, Guillermo Del Toro made the sequences believable, the Kaijus are something fearsome and scary, Jaegers are fearsome and powerful as well. They made it fit at least to some extent of the laws of physics, which the Jaegers are big and powerful, but due to size, are not fast and agile. Once the talking and explaining has settled, the movie is in full on attack mode, endless wave of Kaiju attacks, with different weapons variations.

It's amazing how in just these few years that the visual effects has evolved significantly, it's just two years since the last Transformers film, we though last time, "Wow, how are they going to beat that?" They did that with Pacific Rim. What's sets it apart from others is that the movie takes place primarily at the ocean, which gives audience a different take of these kind of movie.

In a nutshell, Pacific Rim is one heck of a movie for the summer, it set out on doing what it needed to accomplish, and it did, by creating grand spectacles of giant robots fighting monsters. It is the entertainment spectacle of the year, a movie my childhood memory deserves. I felt good watching this.

Score: 5/5

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Why I'm Convincing My Sister to Play Mass Effect

I wanna say, my sister is a big sci-fi fan, she reads a lot of novels, watches a lot of movies that is categorised as sci-fiction, she is the reason me and my other sister is a big Star Wars fans as well. That's why I have been trying to convince her to get a shot playing Mass Effect, but haven't succeed yet.

Convince her to play the games is a no-brainer, Mass Effect series is a fitting game to her taste. Plus, she is a gamer as well, even though she has since retreated to playing more casual games nowadays, she used to play Red Alert and SimCity, just to name a few. She might need time to get familiar with Mass Effect, but I guarantee, she will like the series, a lot!

Why? To me, Mass Effect is one of, if not, the best sci-fi game to come across gaming in recent years. I love the fact that the trilogy is completely related to each other, even the decisions, for example, the character you decided to kill off in Mass Effect 1, will not be returning in 2 and 3. Sometimes, there are different variations of certain missions at play if the character is not involved, which is truly unique.

In Mass Effect series, you play a character named Commander Shepard, the galaxy's first human Spectre, which he/she is the humanity's symbol in the galaxy and legend. There's no real Shepard defined, he/she is defined by the players depending on the choices they make. Players can choose to be a hero, who try to play out the game in a much positive, excellence figure, or complete the missions at any costs, regardless of casualties, or a mix of both.

Female version of Commander Shepard

But the main highlight of the series is definitely the storyline and the emotions. Throughout the entire trilogy, I've grown fond with most of the characters, laughing and crying along with any ups and downs through the story. I remember one time in Mass Effect 3, one of the characters (a squadmate in Mass Effect 2), decide to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the galaxy. I can't stop him, even there's a button to try to convince him again, he will continue regardless, due to I've done something in Mass Effect 2. Watching him facing his inevitable death is painful. This shows how alive and interesting these characters that existed in the universe.

I admit, along with millions of other gamers around the world, criticising the nature of the ending of Mass Effect 3. Even though the extended edition has rectified most of the problem, it still has the feeling that the ending is rushed, with the decisions of the final phase doesn't matter at all. It's beautiful, of course, but there's a sense of lacking with all boom! end! of the ending, it fits well as a cinema going experience, but not as a game you spent countless hours on. But, that doesn't deter from saying that the trilogy isn't amazing.

This is the main point of Mass Effect series

Not to mention the final expansion pack of Mass Effect 3, the Citadel, which features all of the beloved squadmates from the first to the third. With witty punchline from all the characters and unbelievable funny jokes. It fits well as a final send off and tribute to Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy (name Shepard's ship).

Mass Effect is one of my favourite stuffs in recent years. Great storylines, characters, music and great voice acting are the main reason why it is a success. My sister is a sci-fi fan, she will love this. With all the paths that will be crafted by herself, she will have her own Shepard.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I'm not Anti-Apple, but that doesn't mean Apple must be good

I have been asked many times regarding my stances whenever there's a conversation about tech, for example: "Why so anti-Apple?", "Why all the negativity about Apple?", "You’ve always been an Android fan,” and many more. All these questions and statements come from my family, relatives, friends and even on social media. I wanna take this opportunity on this post and said, “NO, I am not anti-Apple.”

I think the assumption was made probably because when people asked my tips on what smartphone I would recommend to them, I recommend them go for Android smartphones rather than the iPhone. There’re reasons to that, I would love to go through that.

On why people ask why I always recommend them Android phones, it is because they tend to start with “what phones have good specifications that you think is good?” This will gives me an impression that you want a phone with a good camera, speakers, top of the line processors and memory. In that case, I choose Android 10 out of 10 times, because it’s what they asked for. Apple isn’t and won’t be in contender for best performance, what they offer is software, the system inside it. If you ask me on which phone I would recommend if you want the ease of use and smoothness, or unified softwares across the iOS platform, iPhone is the choice.

I am not an anti-Apple, anti-Android, anti-Windows Phone kind of guy. Yes, I do prefer Android, but I would recommend any good phones to anyone, based on their preferences. I understand there are always people with different needs and wants in their life, smartphone is no exception.

Apple is a great brand, I admit. They have been building great software with a decent hardware. The iOS of iPhones and iPads have been great, with great smoothness, almost lag-free experience and easy to pick up and use. With the closed system of the OS, it’s really easy to transfer content from device to device in Apple’s ecosystem. I was impressed and like the iPhone 3GS and 4 and even the the lastest iPod Touch. Not to mention that the Mac line-up is incredible as well, the great looks of Mac OS and ease of integration between iOS and Mac is useful as well (Microsoft, learn from this!).

But iPhone won’t be good for those who are after specifications. The processor is not the fastest, not enough memory to stack up against the big boys. Heck, I won’t recommend iPhone for camera until iPhone 5. The closed system of iOS is one of the big flaws as well, the use of App Store or iTunes is a must by default, there’s no other option for the users, no competition, and it’s hard to get apps at an affordable price for iOS.

Another problem with Apple is that they overhype things too much. Sure, it works, but ever since the late Steve Jobs left the company, many of the news seems meh for now. The iPhone 5 lacks the 'WoW' factor of iPhones, the 4th iteration is just pure milking of the iPad brand. The decision to dump Google Map as the go-to map application for iOS for the disastrous Apple Maps didn’t help the cause either. The recently iOS 7 unveiling is more like a been there, done that from other companies.

You could say that Android is my go-to OS. I admit that, I love Android. Why? Because in Android, is all about flexibility, and I love that. You could use Android phones as everyday phone, to power user where you can manage a whole lot of tiny details inside the phone. Android is open source software, means that phone makers can use it with their own customisation, and it’s competitive too. Vendors like Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, Motorola and others to keep competing to get the most out of the software and make a good hardware. With an open system, you can get content anywhere you like, don’t like Google Play Store, get it from Amazon or any similar stores.

The worst thing of Android could also be the best thing of Android, the open source. This leads to uncontrollable fragmentations of the Android ecosystem, I could say that there are hundreds of thousands of cheap phones and cheap knockoffs of famous brands available in China right now, running Android. There’s so many customisations done to different phones on the market, so updates and after sales services are poor on phones with lower price point. With those big vendors keep slapping their own skin on top of the OS, the experience can be ruined as well. Only phones with Nexus brand and Google Play Edition (the recently relaunched HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4) can be considered as pure Android experience.

Lastly, it’s the Windows Phone. Now in the new iteration of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is looking more and more serious as a contender for mobile market. Windows Phone is more between Android and iOS, with customisation and some closed system security. Windows Phone have been set up a range of specs developers can work on, this means even the lower spec-ed Windows Phone can run smoothly on many of the apps. And the sleek and flat UI is extremely attractive too. I only have test drives of Windows Phone devices, and I can say the Windows Phone has the potential to be a big player.

The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft for Windows Phone seems to have paid off too. I previously doubted it, but I was wrong. With Nokia, Windows Phone have a brand new opportunity to break into new market faster, particularly Asia, where Nokia has a strong brand presence. And Nokia has the best camera for phone without a doubt, the camera quality of Nokia Lumia 920 is top notch!

Flaws? Well, right now the apps ecosystem of Windows Phone is still lacking, so apps and games is less than what Android and Apple offered. It's a short experience of the Windows Phone for me, so not much to criticise yet.

In the end, Apple is great! But that doesn't mean I like it, and I won't totally shun Apple because they still offer great stuffs and advantages over its rivals, but I admit that there are obvious flaws from all three systems. So, don't call me Anti-Apple, I'm open to everything.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Review: Man of Steel

75 years since his first appearance in the media, and more than 6 years since his last appearance on the big screen, Superman, also known as the Man of Steel gets a big and fresh reboot. The reboot is what Superman needed, and it was done very well. After all, he is the first of all the superheroes.

Before you go into the theaters or waiting for home media to be released, you have to know this, you can't compare this to the old Superman franchise. It is so different from the old ones that a lot of people didn't like the change. For me, personally, Man of Steel is a good Superman movie in its own right.

If you're craving for a more action movie route, Man of Steel is definitely the movie for you. Right from the first moment the movie started, you're introduced to the fiery & crumbling world of Krypton, the birth planet of Superman. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is directly placed into the fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon), the main villain of the movie. As far as the action sequences go, Zack Snyder nailed it, it was brilliant! But at the same time I feel that some of the action sequences have dragged far too long, a bit unnecessary to be honest.

After the opening, the movie slows down a bit. It is time to explain the theme of the movie. Since this is the reboot of the franchise, origin story is inevitable, but executed in a different way. I think the use of flashbacks to tell the origins of Superman (Henry Cavill) is a smart move, with him finding himself who he really is, then think of his past is really good. Not to mention great cast and performances by Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) and Michael Shannon (General Zod). Henry Cavill plays the role of Superman well, but sometimes he might played the role too seriously.

In general, Man of Steel is finally a Superman film that we all need and want to see. Despite the overblown and over long action sequences, they were brilliant done. The good performances by some of the cast and a different take on Superman is a great plus to the movie. I think it deserves a sequel.

Score: 3.5/5

Saturday, 1 June 2013

First 10 Days with the HTC One

I know I have been blabbering for awhile now, as you remember I also posted few months back. I have decided to get myself an HTC One, and I have to say it's a great choice!

I have been using HTC phones for quite awhile, since the HTC Desire S, my previous phone, for more than two years. Over the course of the time, HTC did not captivate me with another great phone, Sensation is okay at best, EVO 3D is pure gimmick with the 3D camera, even the One X which is a great phone, does not stand out in the crowd. Probably due to their falling market share and profit, HTC needs an amazing phone, quick!

So here it is, the brand new HTC One! Labelled as the one to save HTC, HTC One makes a wholesome change to HTC's smartphone war charge.

And it does, the first thing anyone, including me, notices is the unbelievable build quality of the phone. The unibody aluminum design definitely makes the One stands out in the crowd. I once placed it on the table in my class the other day, a lot of classmates walked passed the table and noticed the striking phone on the table, that is definitely plus. I have never seen a smartphone so well built like this, not even iPhone or the Motorola Razr came close!

The phone is designed with one thing in mind, speed. The phone features a 1.7Ghz Qualcomm S600 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 320 GPU and 32GB of storage. I've been using the past few days and it hardly slowed down at any given moment with its quad-core processor at work. It does slow down a bit during gaming session, but that is a thing that is still plaguing the Android platform. Overall, the One is one snappy phone.

Let's talk about the screen and audio of the phone, shall we? The phone has a 4.7 inches 1080p SLCD screen with pixel density of 468ppi, it is the most beautiful screen I've seen in a smartphone, the screen is sharp and has a very good contrast. Watching YouTube videos with this phone is a pleasant experience, and added with the front stereo speakers, dubbed the "Boomsound", is an icing on the cake. Speaking of speakers, the front stereo speakers of HTC One, added with the Beats Audio enhancements, is the best Beats integration in HTC ever. The sound quality of the phone is top notch, the sound is crystal clear, even without the headset on.

The phone has a 4MP 'Ultrapixel' camera, which has lower megapixels and bigger sensors, this result in photos with terrific lighting, it perform really well in night shots. The only trouble with the 4MP camera is that, it lacks details in certain situation. Below are some of the shots I've taken (click for better picture):


The only mixed feeling so far is the UI, which features the HTC Blinkfeed, which allows you to customise news content, social media content in your homepage. It is definitely handy to browse through the latest information I desire, but sometimes it is a bit overwhelming with tons of information at one go. The problem with Blinkfeed is that it cannot be removed, which I would love to because I can turn off from time to time.

Nonetheless, HTC One is the best phone I've experienced in the past few years. The built-quality is second to none, excellent performance, stereo quality with Beats is great. The camera, although it is only 4 megapixels, has been made up by the better camera sensors. This is one phone I would love to recommend to anyone.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

[SPOILER ALERT!] My 5 Favourite Star Wars Moments

Today is May 4th, YAAAAYYYY!!!! Some of you might be asking right now, why I'm so excited for this date. Well, May 4th is the official Star Wars day! As a Star Wars fan, I'm super excited for anything that's Star Wars. To celebrate this long lasting and unbelievable Sci-fi franchise, I'm gonna list out my five favourite Star Wars moments (not an easy one). NOTE: Not in order

Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul

The only redeeming thing in The Phantom Menace, is the war scene and lightsaber duel scenes, the final Battle of Naboo fighting against the Seperatist force with Qui-Gon and Obi Wan swinging their lightsaber towards the face-tattooed Darth Maul with his awesome dual blade lightsaber. With the prequels, they showed us how much the cinema has progressed with the no nonsense actions sequence such as this. The duel is fast paced, no jibby jabbing, and continuously moving around.

Battle over Coruscant


Star Wars opening is iconic, with the logo and prelude that gives a story before the movie started, which every Star Wars fans like it a lot. But what I like about the opening of Revenge of the Sith, is what follows after the opening, with scrolling down towards a Republic Destroyer with two small starfighters swinging over it. Right after some flying, the two Jedi in the starfighters decided to swing down and join the battle, with everyone exchanging bullets and explosions at each other. It is an awesome sight!

You were the Chosen One!

You were the chosen one!

[MAJOR SPOILER] Another from Revenge of the Sith, probably because I was born in the Star Wars prequel era. This time is near the end of the movie, when Obi-Wan fighting against Darth Vader at the magma planet, Mustafar (in one way the planet's name reminds me of Lion King, "Mufasa! Mufasa!"). In this scene, Obi-Wan jumps over the hill, saying he has "the high ground" to Darth Vader, which prompted Darth Vader to challenge him by jumping over too. Obi-Wan then chopped off the arms, the legs of Darth Vader, and let him burn with the magma. Obi-Wan then said to his former friend and apprentice, saying he was the Chosen One rather than become a Sith Lord. This scene to me is the saddest scene in Star Wars saga, and also the darkest.

Darth Vader first appearance in the Original Trilogy

I watched the original trilogy way before I watched the prequel, means that I was very young back then, I always follow what my sisters watch, so I'm a Star Wars fans today is because of them. The first appearance of Vader is something mesmerizing, with the Rebel cruiser escaping from the ever growing (literally) size of the Imperial Star Destroyer, handicapped the cruiser quickly without effort. Then after boarding and killing the Rebel forces, Darth Vader made the entrance, with his iconic breathing noise and his sheer size. Then he proceeded to interrogate and kill one of the Rebel officer without using effort. The message is don't mess with this guy, he's a bada**!

I am Your Father

[ULTIMATE SPOILER ALERT] It might seems totally normal now, back then it was not! This is voted by many film critics and websites as one of the biggest film plot twist of all time! Darth Vader's biggest revelations to Luke Skywalker that he is his father. What kind of sorcery just happened??!! It was so out of the blue. This also lead to Singaporean radio's hilarious take on Hokkien version and Toy Story 2 made quite a big fun with this scene.

Now for the Toy Story version:

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Review: Iron Man 3

Tony Stark is sure on the roll at the moment, four straight movies, four straight positive reviews (Iron Man 2 is well-received, just that is not that good as the others), Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. has teamed up together to make this iron clad superhero, from known only by comic books fan to everyone's favourite superhero right now. If you ask movie audiences today who is their favourite superhero, a whole of them will say Iron Man, and Iron Man 3 makes sure that streak continues.

Iron Man 3 continues few months after the events of Marvel's The Avengers, where genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark (played by RDJ) suffers from visions and anxiety from the New York attack. To add up to his problem, the Mandarin and Aldrich Killian, who the latter is the inventor of biological upgrade, the Extremis, under his heels and threatened to kill him. The movie also sees the return of Pepper Potts, who Tony loves and wants to protect from harm and James Rhodes, who return as Iron Patriot aka War Machine mk. II.

Storytelling wise, Iron Man 3 is probably the strongest in the series, where the story and theme of the movie is slightly darker and more serious than the previous two, and a certain plot twist here and there (I won't say it cuz it will spoil the movie out). But the movie manages to keep the great one-liners and humours intact, which is a really good thing to see. One of my favourite moment from the movie is when Tony hangs out with a kid known only as Harley, which is really funny and kinda sweet. It feels good that Pepper Potts got the chance to have a go at certain action sequence suiting up as Iron Man.

The chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle (War Machine) has clicked this time around. Previously seemed like a hit or miss between the duo, they have finally found a dynamic that works well for the, which is just what the movie needs.

The miss of the movie is probably Rebecca Hall's character as Maya Hansen, former love paramour of Tony Stark, her character is underdeveloped and too shallow to consider her as important. Although, Aldrich Killian fared much matter, his motives towards the national attack and Extremis is a bit blur at times.

Now, move to the action sequences. Action sequences doesn't disappoint, especially during the climax battle sequences, where the whole troop of Iron Legion appears to fight alongside Iron Man and War Machine, which brought a lot of audiences go WOW!!! or WOO!!! Not to mention that with the latest upgrade, Tony Stark is able to summon his Mk. 47 armor just by thoughts, which shows a lot of cool moments.

Iron Man 3 is one heck of a movie, in terms of storytelling, this is one of Marvel's best efforts, it is smart, mature yet funny in many ways. Robert Downey Jr. has achieved something, he is Iron Man, Iron Man is him, just like Sean Connery is James Bond, Harrison Ford as Hans Solo and Indiana Jones. If one day Robert Downey Jr. decided to hang up Iron Man suits, Marvel will have a hard time choosing a successor, because he has set the bar too high. Despite some of the shortcomings, Iron Man 3 is thoroughly and highly recommended to everyone who loves a good popcorn flick.

Score: 4.5/5

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Five Top My Chemical Romance's Songs

It's been almost a month since the disbandment of one of my favourite band, My Chemical Romance. I've been listening to their song lately and I've been thinking, which of their five songs are my favourite, including my all-time favourite, Welcome to the Black Parade. I made my decision and these are the five songs.

No. 5 I'm Not Okay (I Promise)

The song that started my loving towards My Chemical Romance. It's not particularly special in any way, but due to the inclusion of the song in Burnout 3: Takedown, I've started to take notice on My Chemical Romance.

No. 4 Planetary (GO!)

This song is from their latest album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and is included and the "Spec 1.0" intro of the popular racing franchise, Gran Turismo 5. I love the song because it's loud! And in some ways catchy!

No. 3 Helena

One of the reason is the song matches the music video, and another reason, it's kinda like a metaphor to the band's disbandment.

No. 2 Teenagers

This song is from what I think is their best work they've made, The Black Parade, which contain a lot of my favourite songs. Teenagers is an alternative rock and it's loud, but it's catchy and sometimes feel like a Top 40 pop hit as well, you rarely get that in songs like this. This song even gets approval from my aunt, who doesn't like this kinda song and genre.

No .1 Welcome to the Black Parade

Well, it's unsurprising, isn't it? The long undisputed No. 1 in my book, Welcome to the Black is and always will be my all-time favourite My Chemical Romance's song, all musics even. What sets apart this song is, it has nice lyrics, a beautiful slow start and a very loud towards the end. It's even incredibly catchy, I always can't get enough of this song.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A New Phone Purchase Conundrum

I have been using my HTC Desire S for more than two years, in the real world, that's not a very long time, but it is in the world of tech, especially when life span of gadgets are very short. My Desire S (Ass if you wanna name that) has been under a lot of problems lately, which signals the end is nigh. So, I've decided this year is the year I change my phone.

This time (around March) is the perfect time to change phone every year. Why you ask? It is because this period is usually when phone companies introduce new phone technology and upgrades, and year end is usually slight tweak in software updates and rehashes. Buy around year end means you are going to get disappointed fast because it is close to brand new tech.

Now, I'm doing research for quite some time now, I've ended up with a choice of two phones. This is where the problem starts, I equally like these two phones, the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z. I didn't make my decision on Samsung Galaxy S IV because no. 1, I don't really like the phone as it looks like Galaxy S III S and no. 2, my sister won't let me get near any Samsung products (you should ask her), so I would love to forget about the S IV. And don't get me started about the iPhone.

So, let compare the two phones in question, shall we? For starters, they are both a full HD smartphone capable of displaying 1080p visuals, both are quad-core processors, LTE ready, Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and upgradable to 4.2.

Now let's put up the differences. Sony Xperia Z has a 13MP camera, 1.5Hz S4 Quad processor, TFT screen, whereas the HTC One has 4MP 'Ultrapixel' camera, 1.7GHz S600 Quad processor, SLCD screen. Sony uses glass for the phone's front and back where HTC uses full aluminum unibody contruction, both looks very solid. And Sony UI looks more like Android skin and HTC One is customized by HTC itself called the Sense 5.

For me, specs are irrelevant to me right now, flagships are so advanced these days that some of the performances differences are not significant to each other. Right now I am thinking of which exterior looks will get my attention most. On the Xperia Z, we have a very high quality all glass construction which is magnificent to look at, it looks absolutely classy in every way. On the other hand, we have the HTC One, which has a unibody aluminum construction that set the bar for smartphone's build quality, it is also looks very pretty in silver.

The question for me now is: Should I go for the glossy glass construction of Xperia Z? Or go for the industrial design aluminum unibody HTC One? It's a touch choice. I managed to test out the Xperia Z last time I went out for a walk and find it quite comfortable, despite my small hands and the phone's large dimension. Now, I am waiting for HTC One to test it out. One of these two will be my communication companion for the next two years at least. It will be the toughest purchase decision I will ever make.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Review: Sequel or a Reboot?

G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra is a extremely flawed, but decent movie, it engages audience purely as an entertainment medium, nothing more. It is successful because of that. In 2012, for the 3-D sequence, the movie is delayed to 2013 and for some reason, most of the characters has been replaced, makes the movie kinda in a limbo. Is it a sequel? Or a reboot?

The answer is kinda both. G.I Joe: Retaliation is somewhat more enjoyable if you watch it as a full reboot, but you can't ignore the predecessor's storyline, because it is connected. In the movie, only Duke, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, President of America, Cobra Commander and Zartan returned for the sequel, the rest of the casts are brand new. With Bruce Willis, The Rock and Adrianne Palicki join the ensemble cast.

Plus points of the movies are the cheekiness of Rise of Cobra is still there, some good one-liners, comedic moments from the casts are notable. The CGI and audio effects have been improved significantly from Rise of Cobra, with seamless visual effects and greater audio power. Bruce Willis looks great as General Joseph Colton, the original G.I. Joe. Despite the action being more grounded, more realistic than its predecessor, action sequences is still a treat!

Now the minus. What the hell are they thinking when they are making this sequel??!! They are calling this a sequel but replaced most of the cast, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is gone as Cobra Commander, Ripcord, Scarlett, General Hawk and etc is all gone! And not to mention Channing Tatum, actor who portrays Duke has little screentime and all of a sudden has a better friend in Roadblock (The Rock) and didn't mention his old 'bro'. Due to that, most of the time, it makes the story non-relevant anymore, even though it doesn't have a good story to start with.

In conclusion, G.I. Joe Retaliation is a great all-out action movie with great effects in full force. But, it must be treated as a reboot rather than a sequel in order for it to be enjoyable, which I did. If you are in for the true sequel of Rise of Cobra, you will be disappointed.

Score: 2.5/5

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Thank You, My Chemical Romance

Just now, I've learned a sad news, one of my favourite bands, My Chemical Romance, has announced that they're splitting after 12 years together.

To me, part of my teenage years has just died. This band has given me some of the best songs during my high school, with hits like: Teenagers, Helena, Na Na Na, Planetary (Go!) and of course my favourite song of all time, Welcome to the Black Parade!

In his blog post at the band's official site, Gerard Way wrote:

"Being in this band for the past 12 years has been a true blessing. We've gotten to go places we never knew we would. We've been able to see and experience things we never imagined possible. We've shared the stage with people we admire, people we look up to, and best of all, our friends. And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end. Thanks for all of your support, and for being part of the adventure."

Hopefully, they still produce great songs and albums on their own after they split up, it's been great to hear those great music material from these guys over the years...

Before I go, here's the Famous Last Words...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Driver is the Problem, Not the Car!

The automobile industry is different now, with global warming and the increases in fuel prices. Automobile industry has no choice but try to innovate by using an alternative mode of powering the car like Hybrid engines, plug-ins, Hydrogen cars, reducing weight of the car by trying lighter materials or even longer mileage and fuel saving tires.

One of the most common sight of eco cars right now are Hybrid cars. Hybrid cars are usually powered by a normal combustion engine and with an electric motor assist, which are really economical and low on carbon dioxide emission, which is a good thing for the Earth and the wallets of the drivers. Even on Malaysian roads, Hybrids are popular as well, they usually make up by several car models, Toyota Prius, PriusC, Honda Civic Hybrid, Jazz Hybrid and the sporty looking CR-Z.

Or This??

But I have heard from hybrid car drivers complaining about the cars themselves are not very economical as they promised and advertised, which they feel like it's a rip-off. I couldn't believe them at first, but after driving around the town observing how hybrid drivers drive, I have three possible hypothesis:

  1. The hybrid car is really not as economical as they promised.
  2. There are problems with the car itself
  3. Malaysian drivers are driving like cocks!
Sorry for the harsh word, I couldn't hide my feelings, but what I said is true, Malaysians are driving like maniacs!

What I found it hard to believe it, but it's true. Hybrid cars are designed as fuel-saving economical cars to drive around the city, what I see is people use them as a normal car. For a typical road users here, driving normally is like braking when the car is very close to the car in front, accelerating hard along the highway and swerving left and right.

These driving will result in lower fuel economy, that's for sure. But don't complain that it's the car is not what it was promised! This not only applies to hybrid cars, but cars in general. Don't change cars because you find petrol is expensive, change your driving style, a smooth driving driver will save a lot of fuel than aggressive drivers. I tested before, I drove around the city smoothly with my 1.6L Proton Waja for a few days. After that, calculated the mileage, fuel up petrol and drove around the city in the same travel period and same condition, but this time drove aggressively. I found out if I drive smoothly, I can squeeze out almost 100 km more mileages than aggressive driving in my Waja.

If you still not convinced, watch the video below by automotive entertainment show, Top Gear, in which Jeremy Clarkson tested out the same theory. The first-half of the video is humourous, I admit, but the second half he is absolutely spot on!!

In general, look at yourself before complaining about the car, it might be your own problem!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

As soon as I heard that Kathryn Bigelow is going to direct Zero Dark Thirty, my mind was set, "I'm going to watch this movie!". Why, you ask? Well, Bigelow's previous movie, The Hurt Locker, is an amazing piece of war film. It was tense, suspense and almost perfect. So, Zero Dark Thirty, a movie about the hunt for terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden, has a lot to live up to.

Before the movie, everyone probably knows how the movie is going to end up, due to the massive news few years back, but this movie has done very well on showing how it gets there. The movie sent shivers down my spine the first moment the movie started, it started all blacked screen with telephone recordings of the Sept 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre. Forget horror movies, hearing all the victims' last messages to their loved ones and emergency services with only voices and no videos are much scarier, setting up well for the movie.

But the scene after the opening might disturbs viewers with its torturing scene. I don't mind torture scene usually, but the torturing scene is so realistic and authentic, I found myself hard to watch the scene the whole time, this movie is certainly not for everyone.

Nonetheless, Kathryn Bigelow has done a brilliant job with Zero Dark Thirty, provide suspense and intensity throughout the movie even though everyone knows the outcome of the ending even before it started, and several subplots are just as interesting and intense, letting me glued to the screen the whole time, anticipating what about to happen next.

Let's not forget, Jessica Chastain's Oscar nominated performance, who portrait CIA agent, Maya, who is tasked to find the whereabouts of the terrorist leader. With her "end justifies the means" attitude and her determination is very well acted throughout the movie.

Lastly, the climatic scene where the op to kill bin Laden makes sure that the movie has the intensity from start to finish, with a totally dark environments and night visions camera guiding the viewers and the on-screen soldiers. This is very different from what we usually seen in war movie where the climatic battle is loud and all-out actions, Zero Dark Thirty offers a much more quiet but just as terrifying action sequence.

Zero Dark Thirty probably surpasses The Hurt Locker in every way, in terms of storytelling, actions and the intensity, but the torture scenes might turn a lot of people off. It's not for everyone, but if you can watch it, I recommend you to watch it. One hell of a movie! It was one of the best film of 2012. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Score: 4.5/5

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My 3 Recommended 3-D Films

Let’s face it, 3-D is not doing well at the moment, the hype has died down and not as much people are going to 3-D cinemas as compared to few years ago when 3-D saw resurgence due to James Cameron’s Avatar. One might be simply that 3-D is not really being more immersive compared to normal 2-D. The other one will be film publishers just simply slap a 3-D conversion to just about any movie they can make, making some of the 3-D films fake-ish and unimpressive.

But, there are movies that really take advantages of the 3-D technologies really well. With proper editing and effort, 3-D films can be great. Here are the 5 movies I think people should go for a 3-D version.

The film that started the whole 3-D resurgence. James Cameron's Avatar is true visual masterpiece, his implementation of 3-D in Avatar is probably one of the best in the film-making world. The world of Pandora in the movie is extremely immersive and highly detailed, the colour tone of blue and green is gorgeous. When the camera pan out and revealed the huge world of Pandora, you can be taken aback and enjoy the lovely setting, and I haven't mention the final sequence when the fight take place up upon the mountains.

Tron: Legacy

The movie, actually it's not great, with a so-so plot and some weird one-liners, but the 3-D of Tron: Legacy is pretty well done. The 3-D in Tron is the same used in Avatar, which explains the nice effect, and general colour of the movie is black, which make other colours like Blue & Orange very distinctive and showed 3-D in great effect. The 3-D is clear and impressive when during the fight scenes, when Sam is riding the Tron motorcycles in the arena or during "Disk Wars" or the final escape flight sequences.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Why I choose this one?
Transformations, robots got blown up, metal pieces falling of robots! AND A LOT OF EXPLOSIONS!!!!!!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

PlayStation 4: My Perspective

It's been around 2 weeks since the announcement of PS4, the latest entry into the PlayStation series and the successor to the current PS3. Generally, the reception ranged from great to mixed, but I'm not here not talking about what other people think, I'm here to say what I think about PS4.

I love my PS3, I really love playing it. But despite how much I love playing it, I accept that it's time for a new one, due to the rapid advancement of technology these days. I was also amazed how much the staying power the PS3 has over the last few years, considering the computer tech has eclipsed the PS3. The most example of that is when you placed the PC version of Crysis and Battlefield 3 with the PS3 versions side by side. Hence, PS4 is needed.

From the announcement, I was pleased about the details they revealed so far. The PS4 engineering architecture is very very close to PC. This change in architecture is probably due to complaints by game developers that PS3 is difficult to develop games, as evident in certain PS3 games, which struggled to catch up with other game consoles and gaming PC. It features an 8-core AMD Jaguar processor unit, APU developed by AMD and Sony, an unspecified GPU unit and 8GB GDDR5 memory. It was impressive, even by today's standard, this will make sure games will be easier to work on and most of all, better longevity than other generations' of consoles.

Then, there's the controller, I have mixed reaction towards it. At first, it is exciting to see that they redesigned the R2-L2 buttons from the PS3, which is a bit clunky to use. But then, they slightly redesigned the DualShock form factor, which is very comfortable for me to use because of my smaller hands. So, I need to test it before I can judge the new controller.

Sony also announced the latest PlayStation Eye camera, which will have better resolution and better integration with the PlayStation Move. I'm won't go much into details about this, because I already have doubt with the current PlayStation Move, I need more details about it to convince me.

The highlight of the announcement was probably the social features, which might be catered towards social gamers and to the more connected and more social network-centric society today. This is obvious when they showed the "SHARE" button on the DualShock 4 controller, which allows gamers to share their screenshots, gameplay videos and other gaming content through social networks like Facebook or Twitter. I believe I might use some of the time considering I have been sharing my PC screenshots quite a bit.

Lastly, it's the game. Sony announced a number of games from the conference, such as Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, inFamous: Second Son, and Knack. Games from other developers like Bungie's Destiny, Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, Blizzard's Diablo III and others. But the only game we've seen with longer gameplay sequences and show the early potential of PS4 is Killzone: Shadow Fall by Guerrilla Games. The game ran on true 1080p full HD with bigger sense of scale and details than it's PS3 counter-parts. It is not a really significant leap, but considering the game is up and running just a few months in, it's quite impressive.

I can't wait for the PS4 to come, even though we haven't seen the design of the console itself and the pricing of the console. But considering PS3 still has a lot of games still left to play, I don't need to worry much and probably wait a year before I buy one.

Lastly, a PlayStation montage!