Onida Google Certified Ultra HD (4K) LED Smart TV (UIC)

I finally decided to get a 4k TV and the choice was between a custom Android MI TV or the latest offering from Onida which is supposedly Google certified and runs Android 8.

After much deliberation, I decided to go for the Onida offering since it was much better on paper as far as application compatibility was concerned and also the price.

Flipkart, like Amazon, is my on my trusted list of online vendors, unlike some others.

So, I placed an order for a 50″ UIC Onida TV on the 28th of August 2018 and it was delivered the very next day. The installation was scheduled for the 31st of August 2018.

The delivery personnel was professional and opened the TV box to show me that the TV was delivered in good condition and there was no physical damage to it. I could not see any damage as such and signed off on the delivery.

Since the TV was out of the box (which I could not have done alone), I decided to plug it in to make sure the unit was functional. The power light came on and I was quite happy that there was no damage and the TV seemed to work…

I put in new batteries on the remote and tried to power on the TV and nothing happened. Although I could see a light blink on the remote by pressing any button, the TV refused to respond.

That got me a bit worried and I called the Onida customer care only to get an assurance that the installation team would fix all issues once they came for the installation.

Not the kind of answer that comforted me after having purchased a brand new 50″ TV. I found no review or information on the net excepting for the Onida promo which I had already seen before placing the order.

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Discarding the iPhone! Moving to Android MIUI…

Sunset at the park today...

Mi4i back camera. Standard Quality, 4:3, HDR Enhanced.

Finally…The time has come for me to discard the iPhone and iOS in favour of the Mi 4i running Android MIUI. I thought that the steady degrade of the quality of hardware and software coming from Apple would keep them ahead for at least another few years, but, Apple seems to have stepped on the gas to make sure that the original Apple experience no longer exists. With the possible exception of FaceTime, there appears to be no advantage to using an Apple device anymore.

While I had been fiddling around a variety of Android based handsets, I never found anything usable until recently. I had seen the Redmi 1s earlier and also had a brief look at the older Mi 4 and I liked what I saw overall. With the Mi 4i, the equation seems to have tilted away from iPhone and iOS.

While both iOS and MIUI have their own share of nuances and bugs, they seem to be on an equivalent level now. I like the Mi 4i hardware a lot better despite it’s 5″ size. In fact, the screen is very good as is the battery life and the overall UI/UX. I had tried the MotoG (2nd Gen) for a few months and that worked fine as well. Motorola has included some useful apps unlike the useless app cram most other Android vendors do. The Moto G experience gave me the courage to try out the new Mi 4i which is also based on the latest Android.

MIUI seems to combine the best of both worlds at a reasonable compromise. Considering that iOS devices are a commodity item now, with prices ranging from 5k to 50k, it’s no longer a premium device with a great user experience. When I compare this scenario with a Mi 4i priced around 13k, I get an equivalent UX and far more flexibility than the iPhone 6 for 1/4 of the cost.

Having used the Mi 4i for over 2 weeks, I have gone through a couple of updates, reset the handset, tried the apps that I use and have switched over from the iPhone and changed my existing nano-SIMs to Micro-SIMs. MI has a very responsive user forum and there is active work on enhancements and bug fixes unlike any other similar company. Hopefully, their service centres will improve over time as well.

I think Google should take a lesson from MI and stop talking about technology like “Material Design” and concentrate more on usability and consistency. They can also learn from Apple and not keep adding features just to be able to talk about those “new features” without making sure that the existing ROMs and apps work as expected to create a seamless user experience. I still feel that Microsoft had, and still has, the best chance of taking over this arena, but, they seem to lack direction almost completely.

On the app side, there seems to be considerable improvement on the Android end and I hope that more apps will get better on the Android systems, compared to iOS. Given the better hardware and larger screens that are quite affordable now, apps might just get better on Android systems overall. Since developers now have to cater to multiple iOS versions, it would be somewhat equivalent to catering to a couple of Android versions.

It is sad where Apple stands currently and where it seems to be headed. Having used the iPhone since the first one, it was not easy to find another device to switch to. MI with its devices running MIUI seems to have taken up the game where Steve Jobs left off.

I will share my experience of the Mi 4i and the MIUI in a later post and talk about some of the nuances and issues with it. Overall, the experience has been good so far. The only thing I dis-like about the Mi 4i is the volume and power buttons. These feel out of place with the rest of the device.

Sunset at the park today...

Mi4i back camera. Standard Quality, 4:3, HDR Enhanced.

So, for now, MIUI on the Mi 4i it’s going to be…For me!

Telegram – Now with iPad support

The open source messaging app, Telegram, has been the new rage in messaging for some time now. Its secure and free (including ad free) nature, coupled with support for multiple platforms as well as desktops makes it a far better choice for messaging than most others including WhatsApp.

With group chats of upto 200 people and secret messaging, it beats most others on this count as well.

What makes it even better is that all the normal chat text and data (video, photo etc) is stored on the cloud automatically unlike other such messaging apps. There are no limits on the data sizes.

The recent release of Telegram HD for iOS supports the iPad as well. Android users can check out Telegram on the Google Play Store.

Telegram identifies you by your phone number, as before, for all the devices you install it on.

WWDC 2014 – iOS 8, OS X 10.10 – Apple opens up iOS a bit more!

Well…Not a very exciting event from Apple, but, there are some points that could stretch Apple’s lead in the mobile and desktop market to some extent.

  1. Apple has opened out more APIs on the iOS side allowing app functionality, officially, that was previously available only on jailbroken devices. Given the wide developer base, we could see some exciting apps coming up in the near future. iOS 8 Enterprise features have also been enhanced and could spur wider enterprise adoption.
  2. The introduction of a new programming language, Swift, which could accelerate the development on iOS and OS X platforms far more than ever before.
  3. The integration and extension of the functionality of the 10+ year old Nokia PC Suite into Yosemite is a welcome addition. Most people using iOS devices would probably understand that this could be quite useful on occasion. This page has details.

A word of caution for early adopters. Do not attempt to try iOS 8 just as yet on your primary phone. Most of the current applications will not work as expected and a vast majority would simply crash, including the stock apps. Yosemite, although usable, is quite laggy and slow, which is to be expected from a developer preview. The same applies to Xcode 6 beta.

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BBM for iOS and Android…Bypass the Queue!

Despite the scaling issues BBM has, it also has one open loophole to bypass the queue system. This is very similar to PasswordBox earlier.

The only pre-requisite is that you have an active BBM account, just like with PasswordBox earlier. You enter the email ID for your active BBM ID and then you get the option to create a new BBM ID. Thats it!

Really, it is that simple, provided you have at least one active BBM ID on iOS/Android.

BBM available for iOS and Android…Again!

Well…once again, Blackberry has made the BBM available for iOS and Android. The interesting fact of this rollout is that Blackberry has a queue system like MailBox and PasswordBox for iOS earlier. It would seem that a company that catered to millions of users should have been able to deal with the traffic caused by the new BBM users, but, like many startups, it chose to go the queue way.

Unlike the other startups that queued up users and scaled slowly to provide a better end user experience, Blackberry has major issues even with existing users like my account. It keeps telling me that I am in queue on my Android device. So much for end user experience.

Blackberry, like most others, seems to have missed the point of releasing BBM for iOS and Android. They have completely ignored the tablet segment. While this might seem okay for the Android part, ignoring the iPad is not a very wise idea.

Let’s see how the multi-platform BBM shapes up. For now, it does not look very encouraging.

Apple iOS 7 – GM & iPhone 5C and 5S

Well…after trying to come to terms with the “nothing” Apple event of September 10th and a day with the GM of iOS7, I can probably echo the thoughts of many Apple device users and the stock market…Apple has lost it.

While most people would agree to the fact that Apple has some of the best talent in terms of developers and designers, they alone, cannot really do much. The current Apple “leadership” has to shoulder the responsibility for this.

They legacy that they (Apple) inherited is so strong that the momentum will continue to make money for some years to come. Given the fact that the other mobile OSes are not really anywhere close to the iDevice ecosystem, the current Apple “big guns” will continue to make money while the company faces a downtrend.

In an earlier post, I had mentioned the fact that if Apple brings out another cheap variation of the iPhone, then, we could be sure that the company had lost it.

When the rumours of the iPhone 5C (I still call it cheap, even though it’s not) surfaced, it was disturbing. Then, there was the thought that…why not? People who had not used an iPhone because of the price barrier, would probably go for it. The drawback might be that Apple might not be able to deal with the massive traffic caused by a cheaper iPhone variant.

Alas, that was not to be. The Apple “leadership” had other ideas. The iPhone 5C is not cheap by any standards. Then, one has to wonder as to why the 5C was even created…? Logically, it would seem that the 5C was created to make a lower end iPhone 5 so that the 5S would look like a premium option. If we compare the iPhone 5 and 5S, I have serious doubts that the majority would pay a premium for the 5S. To be honest, I would wonder why people would pay a premium for the 5S since the 4S would be free on contract. If all I wanted was a faster device to play games, I would not be purchasing a phone.

Again, I already mentioned in an earlier post that for the majority, a phone is a phone. People who go after the latest and greatest will pay for the 5S, but, people who use the iPhone as a “smartphone”, will probably skip it.

If we look at the track record of Apple since Jobs, it has gone just one way…down. The iOS 6 and the so called Apple “Maps” disaster continues even in iOS 7 GM. iOS 7 itself, was a disaster to begin with. Although somewhat toned down to be just about usable now. The UI might be acceptable just because it needed a change, the UX remains terrible. The built-in apps are completely inconsistent in terms of UI and UX. The calendar app remains unusable. The choice of colours is absolutely atrocious, specially in the case of calls.

While some people, myself included, would have accepted any incremental change in the UI simply because it was needed, the iOS 7 UI was not it. It lags iOS 6 in terms of usability and consistency.

While Apple claims to have added “n” number of “new” features, they forget to mention the fact that all of these “n” number of features existed in the 10+ year old Nokia phones. Of course, the usability of these “new” features is questionable. For example, none of the lists in iOS 7 GM are indexed even now. You can keep scrolling up and down even in the notifications under settings and spend a lifetime there. The block list is scattered across 3 different locations with no navigation/grouping or anything to make it usable…not even stats of blocks! Pathetic!

The entire history of Apple devices, since Jobs, reflects the same pattern. The same applies to the laptops and OS X. A company, once known for it’s attention to detail, design and innovation, seems to be going off on a tangent now.

For example, take iTunes. Even though the iOS 7 has reached GM, there is not even a beta that supports the folders in iOS 7. Never before, in the history of iOS or iDevices, has this happened.

To summarize, given the fragmentation of Android, the state of affairs of BlackBerry and the similar state of the Microsoft-Nokia combine, the iDevices and iOS, despite their faults, will continue to rule the premium segment for sometime to come. The only hope of something better, might come from Microsoft, if at all. Of course, there is a slim chance that it could come from a completely new source.

Lastly, like most iDevice users, I can only hope that there is some serious re-jig at Apple which would change it’s current direction and go back to being the company we all admired and invested in. Not a company that goes into selling leather jackets/covers and docks for devices just to try and make some more money…

WhatsApp for iPhone – Free for a limited time

Want to have a common chat platform with people on the Android platform? WhatsApp is currently free for iOS for a limited time. Get it here.

In case you are looking for a better alternative, check out Viber. This is free on all platforms including desktop versions. Viber also features great voice calling quality with the ability to transfer a call from the desktop to the phone and vice-versa.