Monday, January 7, 2019

Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless

Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless 9I have an admitted headphone fetish.

 

I did end up selling the very good B&W PX headphones; they were good from an audio quality perspective, but just too heavy for their primary use, long-haul flights.

 

I decided to stick with the slightly dated Bose QC35’s; while the Sony WH-1000XM3’s seem to be the new king of the hill, the difference doesn’t seem to justify the price tag.

 

But I did end up buying a pair of Beyerdynamic Aventho (wireless). While the software app is a bit buggy, the audio quality out of these headphones is simply sublime. I really enjoyed the sound out of the T51i’s that I have, and the Aventho’s don’t disappoint.

 

They’re definitely a good pair of cans!

 

Gigsky eSIM

GigSky website logo2I have used Gigsky’s eSIM product on an iPhone Max XS, and can truly say it works exactly as advertised.

 

This is truly a no-brainer if you travel and/or are time/convenience-conscious when travelling. This product isn’t for the “is this the absolute cheapest way to get cellular data overseas” crowd, or the “I’m overseas for weeks on end” crowd either; those crowds would be put of the roughly 50% premium on local rates that you’re paying, and the inability to make/receive calls on a local number.

 

But if neither of those things are important to you, its a winner!

 

iPhone XS Max

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Another year, another iPhone. This time, the XS (Max). The biggest, best, yada yada iPhone Apple has ever made.

 

With the obligatory cheesy movie from Johnny Ive describing the amazing build process.

 

Except this one has one massive technical feature that does, indeed, make it different from the other iPhones. It supports eSIM, and amazingly, in China is available as a physical dual-SIM version.

 

While I did think about trying to get hold of the China physical dual-SIM version, I decided against it because I wasn’t sure what bloatware / backdoor was on the device thanks to the large Chinese market that Apple would be desperate to tap into.

 

So I got the local eSIM version from my carrier, and other than being bigger, I didn’t really notice much difference. Except when I travelled.

 

I managed to test the eSIM functionality using a company called Gigsky, in San Francisco, Thailand and Hong Kong. And other than paying a premium for the service from Gigsky, it worked perfectly and better than advertised! Buy the second data-only eSIM for the country you wish to use it, “download” it, and hey presto, 2nd SIM!

 

Coverage was adequate (not brilliant), and speeds were average to ok. But better than roaming rates, better than hunting for a local SIM and a device to carry it and infinitely more convenient to literally do nothing but switch your phone on! Awesome.

 

Punchline : if you travel, get an iPhone XS / XR. Otherwise, don’t waste your time and skip this version.

Monday, June 18, 2018

OnePlus 6

Https blueprint api production s3 amazonaws com uploads card image 777116 72154279 40b3 424b 81a8 b995c1c96fb8I’m a big fan of Android phones. I am currently the proud owner of a Samsung S9 and a Google Pixel XL2. Those have their pro’s and con’s;

 

S9

 

  • High-end specifications
  • Good camera
  • Dual SIM (the version I ordered)
  • Fiddly Touchwiz overlay
  • Awkward form-factor (long but not wide)
  • Great screen

 

Pixel XL2

 

  • Always first with updates
  • Super fast
  • No bloat ware
  • Pure Google Experience
  • Large form factor (big, nice form factor)
  • Iffy screen
  • No dual-SIM

 

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about OnePlus, as the flagship-killer quality and build. Having played with the OnePlus 6 now for two weeks, I can honestly say I’ve now found a non-OEM Android phone that I really like.

 

  • Great build quality
  • Super-fast!
  • Awesome screen
  • I love the mechanical mute / change ringer state slider button
  • Dual-SIM!
  • Pure Android experience
    • Almost anaemic in the lack of apps and software pre-installed on it

So far, loving it! Great device.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones

Px product image coloursI have a headphone fetish. I know. Its a problem.

 

  • AKG K550 - simply the best pair of wired headphones for sitting down, listening. Painful because they’re so damn big, but pure sonic bliss. Absolutely the best pair of “permanently connected to your amp” headphones for all kinds of music. Probably the nicest to my hearing.
  • beyerdynamic T51i - simply the best pair of wired headphones for portable use. Awesome to use, awesome to travel with, but so damn expensive I’m scared to. Probably equal to the AKG’s in terms of sound reproduction, but the cable just gets in the way so it doesn’t get used as much as it should.
  • Bose QC35 - simply the best pair of wireless headphones I’ve used. And the noise cancellation ? Sublime! My go-to for sustained listening while being portable to use, and nothing else will be used while actually wanting to listen to something while on a plane.
  • Apple AirPods - my go-to portable headphones. No wires, sound isn’t totally rubbish, and the pairing is really easy and works well. Exceeded my expectations by a country mile.
  • Klipsch X12i - I had a pair of X10i’s, and they just were overused. Amazing wired in-ear headphones, small and discrete.These used to be my go-to for portable use, but today are only used to provide background when on a plane to let me sleep.
  • Bose Soundlink on-ear - not bad headphones, but nothing superlative either.
  • Sennheinser RS180 - old faithful, used for those heavy TV / movie watching nights when I don’t want to disturb anyone else.

 

 

The newest addition is a pair of Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones. They’re well priced, and incredibly well presented and made. They just ooze quality, and look like they’ll outlast me.

 

I’ve only used them for two days, but some initial impressions;

  • I like that I can adjust the level of noise cancellation (default options are Office, City and Plane) and the amount of vocal to let in (it can apparently tell if someone is speaking)
  • I love the build quality and fancy schmancy case it comes with (although I would prefer a hard case)
  • Bose has better noise reduction
  • They’re very heavy
  • USB-C charging is a plus!
  • Battery life seems good
  • Bass seems heavy and unrealistic (grr, catering to the Beats crowd)
  • They do go louder than the Bose, but your ears feel more fatigued

 

I’m doing some travelling, so will put them through their paces to have a point of comparison; right now, the Bose QC35 look like they’re a better pair of headphones in terms of comfort and audio quality.

Samsung S9

Gvp Samsung Galaxy S9 Lilac 5000826 480So I was told to get a Samsung S9, because it is the latest and greatest from Samsung. I bought the dual-SIM version, to have some flexibility in the number and type of mobile connectivity (the idea being to use one for calling, and the other for mobile data).

 

Like my previous experiences with Samsung, its incredibly well built, and would work well if I didn’t have the privilege of having run stock Android. But, I have run stock Android, and the clumsy Google / Samsung app confusion, Samsung’s insistence on messing with the stock Android experience makes for a clumsy and frankly unnecessary irritation when trying to get things done.

 

And most of the gee whiz features, like the AREmoji, awesome camera, super-slow motion and the edge display are features I don’t use.

587182 oneplus 6

If you have access to a Pixel XL2, get that rather. I am also very intrigued by the Oneplus 6. Now that looks pretty interesting, and much better value for money.

 

If its your own money, better value to be had elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

VAST Networks

I am incredibly proud of the work my company, VAST Networks, has done. As the CTO, I am responsible for

  1. Continuously rearchitecting the network to deliver robust and varied services
  2. Deploying new hotspots
  3. Exploring and finding more efficient, cheaper and/or more scalable ways of deploying new hotspots
  4. Supporting and maintaining the hotspot locations
  5. Developing and keeping current products and overall network health

 

Our work over 2.5 years has resulted in us winning the Best Wi-Fi Service Provider in the World 2017, and Most Affordable Service Provider in the World 2017 as recognised by Wi-Fi Now. We were also shortlisted for Best Wireless Infrastructure in the World by the WBA, which we lost to Cisco. Not bad company to keep if you’re going to lose.

 

However, what I am most amazed by is the lack of interest in our local market in our products and/or services, when we seem to be smashing the lights in almost every metric that counts;

  • Page impressions
  • Unique visitors
  • Concurrent visitors
  • Session lengths / durations and repeat custom
  • Network throughput
  • Captive portal load times
  • Redundancy and resiliency of the network
  • Different on-boarding methods

 

Why is it that South African media and mobile companies haven’t woken up and exploited the network that is already there ? I am also convinced that local media/press only advertise companies or recognise innovation in success from people who advertise with them. Pathetic behaviour and so much for the “impartial tech press”.