With the country facing the prospect of losing young, bright minds to foreign countries, we who remain are hard pressed to make do. Yet I always believe that there's always a benefit in any situation, and I learned that when I got a laptop for graduation. Over here, notebooks easily cost 50% more. Thanks to relatives who are admittedly part of the brain drain and live in the US, I was able to avail of their cheaper prices over there. Deals2Buy.com is just one of the many websites full of great deals for electronics, not just laptops. I ordered my graduation gift, a maxed-out Dell Insprion E1505 from Dell's website, using the coupon codes found on Deals2buy. Instead of paying $2200 (Php 113,300), I got $750 off and my final price was almost "only" $1600 (Php 82,400), including taxes. The only problem is that because of rampant credit card fraud, online US retailers only accept US-issued credit cards. A relative over there may buy, but international shipping costs lots of time and money. Luckily though, my tita was there for a wedding. It was a simple matter of a Tito ordering the laptop, having it shipped (for free) to him, and giving it to my tita before she went home. And just last week, a friend of mine was getting a camera for her birthday. With her tita coming home for the summer, she was also able to get a great deal. A Sony Cybershot DSC-T5 costs around Php 23,000 here, but she was able to get for only $200 (Php 10,300). So there is indeed a good thing coming out of this sad brain drain our country is suffering. With relatives all over the world, we can avail of the best electronics they have to offer, at their usually better prices. Just make sure that Tita Mharie or Tito Jhun will be able to bring it back to you, and that they don't mind becoming a pack horse.
May 2006 Archives
By the time this blog hits the web it may already be too late, and most if not all the stocks may have already been gobbled up. But just the same... Konica Minolta had long ago announced the cessation of their digital camera business. It was a stunning announcement in the camera world, but that's reality for you. A couple of months down the line, and stocks of Konica Minolta cameras are now being disposed of. And the prices are mind-numbing. So I just bought myself a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D 6.1 megapixel D-SLR. For just 15,500 pesos. Yep, for a digital SLR! My purchase was unintentional. I was just walking past The Digital Studio at Walter-Mart when I saw the prices on display. At first I thought that nah, the prices were all wrong. But I went inside anyway... and good thing too. When they assured me (three times, at least, because I was in total denial) that yes, these were brand new units, and yes, these were indeed the prices, then I just had to buy that one last D-SLR right there and then. And good thing too because two minutes later and this photographer fellow who walked in would have gotten it. The 5D used to go for 50,000++ pesos (!). Other amazing deals: Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z20 5-megapixel 8x optical zoom camera - P4,500.00 Konica Minolta DiMAGE X60 5-megapixel 3x optical zoom camera - P6,000++ Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 8-megapixel 7x optical zoom prosumer - P14,000++ The DiMAGE A2 was still there when I left the store, so if you are looking for a cheap prosumer with a swivel-LCD (good for taking photos at odd angles), head on over to The Digital Studio at Walter-Mart at Pasong Tamo, Makati City, across Makati Cinema Square. I hope it's still there! Konica Minolta cameras will now be serviced by Sony. What's more, Sony will be introducing a line of D-SLR cameras that will have the same mounting as Konica Minolta's, so lenses (and perhaps parts to some extent) should not be a problem. So now I have a D-SLR. And I know nothing about photography. Oh well, time to start learning... Postscript: My friend the Geekette has informed me that it turns out that The Digital Studio has already moved their Konica Minolta inventory to Columbia last Saturday. And that Columbia may not be selling these stocks anymore. Oh well...
A PC that you assemble yourself is called a white box. A laptop that you assemble yourself? It's a white book. Not too many people know this, but white books have been here for some time now, and they give laptop buyers the power to choose the specifications of their desired laptops. Want a 12.5" screen? What about at 15" one? With or without WiFi? How much hard drive space do you need? Unfortunately, a bit of education is still required before buyers feel empowered enough to choose their own specs. This is because we have come to associate laptops with preassembled packages that already come ready to run. And dealers know this, which is why they have decided to just put together their white boxes themselves, under private label brands, and serve these ready-made to the market. Thus you have the Neo and the Viper brands, for instance, and these are sold as completely built-up units. Even if, at heart, these actually have white book platforms. But an even greater barrier to the emergence of a true white book market is the lack of standardized parts. Laptop makers have their own proprietary designs, so you can't, say, fit the LCD display of white book brand #1 to the slot of brand #2. Not for long, hopefully. Under its Common Building Blocks program, Intel has been at the forefront of a campaign to standardize sizes and ports for principal laptop components, such as keyboards, power supplies, display panels and optical drives. If successful, this can even help develop the third-party market as well, leading to companies that specialize in, say, laptop displays alone. Result? Even lower prices for the consumer, as well as the assurance that if ever a component breaks down, it will now be easier to just buy off-the-shelf replacement parts. And hopefully, sometime in the near future, laptop owners can mix and match components just as easily as desktop owners do theirs. It might still be a while before we get there. But in the meantime, an interim step that is emerging is that white book manufacturers are now expanding the variety of plug-in options for their respective products.
Notice the logo above? It's a sign of things to come. Watch for it. :)
A few days ago, the company formerly known as PalmOne, currently known as Palm has just announced the availability of the Palm Ultralightweight Bluetooth Headset. The Ultralightweight Wireless Bluetooth Headset weighs a mere 9 grams and has interchangeable earpieces to ensure user comfort. Unlike its predecessor, the Ultralightweight model has a single button that answer, end, redial and mute calls. Just like its predecessor, the Palm Ultralightweight Bluetooth Headset has the standard multi-connector plug used by the Palm Treo 600, Treo 700p and Treo 700w. The headset itself looks pretty good and the addition of interchangeable earpieces is a big plus if it has the same quality as that of the Jabra Bluetooth headsets. -o-o-o- At almost the same time, Palminfocenter has previewed the Palm Treo 700P. This is *not* the Windows Mobile-based Treo but instead, it still runs the venerable PalmOS (Garnet 5.4.9). The form factor is very much the same as the Treo 700W but I'm expecting better performance from the 700P because its hardware is better suited, in my opinion, to PalmOS. Treo 700P runs a 312 MHz Intel XScale processor and it has a 128 MB of non-volatile memory where 60 MB is available to the user. The built-in camera has 1.3 megapixels and can take pictures at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024. It can also record video clips at 352 x 288 resolution. Palm seems to have listened to its users this time because they also added a built-in voice recorder and its expansion slot now supports SDIO operations BUT (and this is a big but) it still doesn't seem to support wi-fi SD cards. A notable feature addition is its Dial-up Networking (DUN) support "out of the box". More info at the Palm's Treo 700P website.
And so it begins ladies and gents. As soon as Apple announces the new MacBook, PhilMUG decides to go gaga and do a conference chat filled with "ooohh!" and "aaahhh!" How cute! What transpires is a really long chat session with topics covering: 1. How does shared memory perform with the MacBook? [ perfect for the "man on the street"] 2. For Sale: [insert old PowerPC portable model here] 3. When is it coming? (7-10 days daw) 4. MacBook Black or MacBook white?
Check the local PhilMUG coverage here.
Check the local PhilMUG coverage here.
Because 2006 is Palm's 10th year and Apple's 30th year, the guys and gals from MaPalad and Podcentral have decided to hold a joint usergroup meet. When: May 20 2006 4PM to 7PM Where: Coffee Bean and Teal Leaf Greenbelt 3 You can check out the Podcentral thread here and the MaPalad thread here. For such a small country, we've proliferated with several technology user groups. What makes it even more interesting is that a good chunk of these people are members of ALL these tech groups, it's hard to tell black from white anymore. On the plus side, people with specific tech support questions can easily find the help they need when visiting specific hardware and software forums. It gets a bit dragging however when you read the same off topic threads from all these usergroups. Reinventing the wheel? Maybe. Maybe not. But if the goal is really just ot build community, then good work!
We've uploaded a page dedicated to the bios of the staff of our huge magazine. Alternatively, you can also click on the banner link that says EDITORS. We constantly update this page to include long-time writers as well as the staff credentials to show that we're not just any other tech magazine.
We're reposting the first m|PH podcast we did a few months ago. We're actually in the process of creating more multimedia content so in the meantime, let's get the ball rolling with this one. Do enjoy our first podcast, in all Web 2.0 Odeo glory!
Wow, has it been three years already? The magazine formerly known as m|PH has now reverted back to its original name, Mobile Philippines. We're in for a lot of squeaky clean changes: apart from the new Web 2.0 Portal on the online side, we completely revamped the magazine to give you much more for less the size. Yep, we've resized ladies and gents. Though you won't be able to use the magazine as an umbrella or a picnic blanket anymore, you will now be able to carry us around inside your shopping bag or between your armpits. Mobile Philippines is the only magazine that specializes in personal electronic devices from phones to music players to laptops. Mobile Philippines offers comprehensive device reviews, how-tos, tips and primers. It is the most authoritative guide to today�s mobile lifestyle and bears a strong focus on how the Filipino consumer uses mobile technology to improve his life. The guys and gals behind Mobile Philippines At the throne of the magazine is our Editor in Chief Adel Gabot, Palanca award winner, and all around nice guy. Adel has been in the tech scene for the better part of his life, having had experience in radio and Mac portables even before you were born. He was the former chairman of PhilMUG, the most prolific Macintosh user group in the country. Contributing editor Art Ilano is a man of few words. This mild-mannered marketing maven is a marketing professor in UP and is currently finishing his doctorate. Art is the current Editor in Chief of PC Magazine Philippines, a truly fun job that allows him to play with servers, USB dongles and heatsinks. Contributing editor Howard Paw has ninja-like reflexes that surprises the most brazened of men with his "now you see me, now you don't" ninja skills. Being in the tech retail industry for the better part of his adult life, Howard, or "Bogs" to his friends knows what you really should be buying. Contributing editor Jason de Villa is the six degrees of seperation for geeks. Most people know him as the founder of MaPalad, the Philippine Palm Users Group. Though he only falls second in rank as "Mr. Second Nicest Guy Next to Adel Gabot," don't mess with him, for the last thing you will see is his one million page dissertation flying towards you - written in Spanish. Assistant Group Editor Eva Gubat is the rose among the thorns. Her job is to make sure that all of the guys remember to submit all their articles on time, since they most often forget that what they are doing is work. She would rather not have her juicy personal blog link posted here. Contributing expert Bernie Janda is a former Technical Support Commando but is shifting careers. He is working to become an Information Security Ninja for a company that provides I.T. services to the largest bank in the country. He is also saving up for an Apple MacBook. One of only two Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for mobile devices in the country, Carlo Guerrero is also the founder and president of the Pinoy Windows Mobile Users Group. He is also a contributor for The Unwired, an international website on mobile technology.
Hi folks. Hehe I guess you caught us with our pants down. We're currently updating the site's look so please bear with us. Everything works except for the new banner links. We'll be adding some new blog features in the next few hours so stay tuned. UPDATE: We're aware of the "comments not showing up" issue. We're trying to fix it now. UPDATE 2 : Comments should be back to normal.
Since last Monday, SMART has finally imposed a fee structure on its 3G service. This is a major development because, for the longest time, people have been wondering just how the industry would price 3G here in the country. The good news: unlike GPRS in the old days, you are not going to be billed based on the number of kilobytes downloaded. Instead, internet surfing is ten pesos per thirty minutes, for instance, while video/audio streaming goes for fifteen pesos per thirty minutes. The bad news: SMART calls these "introductory rates." Which means that the rates could still go up and may just be artificially low as they cast a weary eye at Globe Telecom's direction to see what their rates are going to be. And if you're using GPRS for instant messenger applications, brace yourself for what may be a very painful shock. Here are the 3G rates thus far: Internet - P10/30 minutes Video/Audio streaming - Streaming fee - P15/30 minutes - Live TV streams - P20/day - Movie trailers, live camera streams, music videos - FREE - Music streams, video clips - P5/view Downloads - Preview clips - FREE - Actual music files, premium games - P50 - Video ringtones, regular games - P30 - Downloadable clips - P20 Okay, now let's look at this a bit more closely. Note that there is "streaming" and there are "downloads." Streaming refers to video/audio that get played on your phone without being stored -- effectively turning your phone into a TV set or a radio tuner. Downloads, meanwhile, refer to content that you actually can save. (Those of you with hacker mindsets will immediately realize that, sooner or later, someone's gonna offer some phone software to actually save these multimedia streams, transforming your phone into a digital video recorder.) Note that the streaming fee is separate from the content fee. The streaming fee goes to SMART, while the content fee presumably gets shared with the content provider. So if you want to watch "Jewel in the Palace" on the road, you will have to pay P20 for the right to watch GMA-7 for the day, as well as an additional P15 for every thirty minutes of the program. I'm happy with the 3G internet rates. Ten pesos per thirty minutes to me sounds reasonable, and is at par with the rate you'd get from surfing at a net cafe. But if you're using a mobile instant messenger service such as Agile, brace yourself. GPRS used to go for a per-character rate, so current habitual users of these services are used to paying pennies for running their messengers 24/7. As of May 1, however, GPRS access rates have been pegged at THE SAME PRICE as 3G access, namely 10 pesos per thirty minutes! So if you have made it a habit to leave your instant messenger running for 24 hours over GPRS, you might find a nasty P480 charge on your bill. And that's just for one day! So until SMART clarifies this, you better shut down your mobile phone's instant messenger application. As in RIGHT NOW. Other than that, I have no major complaints about the 3G rates, aside from the possibility that they might still be jacked up in the near future. But for now, surfing at twenty pesos per hour seems fair, and I'm looking forward to the live camera streams, assuming that SMART does make multiple live streaming traffic videos available. This last one, I think, can be a killer app that can make motorists want to go 3G as well.