Tuesday 26 September 2017

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Fantabstic side-kick!

I have been using the Tab for a number of weeks now and I am fairly comfortable, giving my 2 cents on this piece of kit. First, this is Samsung's first truly premium tablet. I have to describe its build and aesthetically features to demonstrate that fact. Unboxing
The Tab comes in a very nice dark grey box with seals for guarantee of "newness". Opening that box exposes some well thought-out and neatly packed items which include the S Pen, The Tab and the charger together with cable and documentation. The Tab itself will be in a dust proof sleeve, whose unfastening process actually gives you that kind of satisfaction, if you get what I mean.

Unboxed Tab

Unboxing this beauty was an awesome experience. As always, and often, I had the luxury of doing the unboxing, with my 2 best buddies who are 11 and 6 years old :D, Their reaction was very positive, and they liked what they saw. We have an unboxing video on periscope, can follow the link below


Looks and feel With the Tab S3 it is clear that Samsung are aiming for the most premium and complete android tablet experience. The metal rounded edges and glass back together with a light weight, only 429g, makes the tablet is perfectly balanced and fits very comfortably even in somewhat small hands.

Talking of premium look and feel, the AKG glass back of this tablet is just one such feature which gives the device its "Woohah!"

The screen is so vivid, as if things are about to spring into life. Using the tab, is like a kill, in broad-day-light. I mean literally, the screen is so vibrant that you are forced to wonder why there ever had been some tablets with screens that simply did not work in bright sun/day light. Simply this table is the best 'under the sun', excuse the pan.

Specifications, Hardware and S Pen The following is an overview of the specifications of this Tab;

Dimensions (mm) 237.30 x 169.00 x 6.00 Weight (g) 429g Battery capacity (mAh) 6000mAh Removable battery No
Screen size (inches) 9.7 inches Resolution 2048x1536 pixels
Processor 1.6GHz quad-core Processor make Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 RAM 4GB Internal storage 32GB Expandable storage Yes, microSD upto 256GB
Rear camera 13-megapixel Camera Flash Yes Front camera 5-megapixel
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac GPS Yes Bluetooth Yes, v 4.20 NFC No Infrared No
Compass/ Magnetometer No Proximity sensor No Accelerometer Yes Ambient light sensor Yes Gyroscope Yes Barometer No Temperature sensor No
The S Pen is fantabulous, its thick enough to feel like a real pen and is quite sensitive. Air-play (or is it whats its called?) works like a charm, sensing the pen even whilst its still hanging up in the, Oh boy..."air"
The S-Pen is light weight and comfortable to use and obviously doesn’t need batteries or charging or some pairing process with the tab before use. It just works. The animated "swoosh" sound that plays as you write with the pen is quite satisfying, as if one is writing on a real paper. My handwriting is probably among the worst, people used to say I write like a medical doctor on hospital cards, but the Tab has always got the gist of what I would be trying to write, every time, Its magical.
Well, as it happens , my first test-drive included streaming my beloved Beatles collection in the background while I checked-out loads of other features. Its an understatement to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound. My auditory orifices where quite elated on consuming such well-rounded acoustic and sonic energies. In simple words, top-quality audio... That quality audio is bellowed from 4 speakers at each of the rounded corners of the tab. Call it surround sound or what you will, I will call it perfect sound from a perfectly sound technology. Did I tell you this sort-of indulgence lasted a good half-day? (24hr day :D) Well, if that's not "New testament" to the battery capacity, I don't know what is. The Tab can pack a sizeable punch of AmpHours to make even Mayweather jealous. It makes the Tab go on and on and on like an energiser battery, and believe me, that's great staying power!, no one minute wonders... For once it feels good to own a mobile device that I don't have to charge every hour.

Competition I will not even let you search wildly in the market, for this Tab's competition, because there is only one. Without beating about the bust, the iPad Pro is the only competition here. Both Tabs come with a stylus, a metal frame, a vivid display and comparable size and weight.

So what separates them?
this image may be copyrighted

Its probably best that I don't waste time on obvious stuff, and stick to the issues. There are differences that some people may be interested in. Generally these two devices offer comparable value, so I will highlight the 3 areas where I believe you may notice differences.
First is the screen. You may want to head over to iPad pro 9.7' s specs to compare, buy simply, the Galaxy Tab S3 takes the crown here. The S3 Tab is HDR ready (High dynamic range) which allows to watch HDR content, bringing more sharp and vivid images onto the screen.

The second is the camera. Tab S3 has 13Mega Pixels compared to iPad Pro's 12MP, BUT the results from the iPad trounce the S3 by a country mile. Visually the sharpness of the images from the iPad is captivating. Could it be the True Tone flash? could it be the Live View functionality? my opinion is that the iPad wins on this one.

Lastly, but not least of-course, if the juice tank that keeps everything ticking, the battery. From my research (of-course i do not own the iPad pro 9.7) generally the iPad ticks for around 10hrs continuous use as compared to the Tab S3 which can go upto around 12hrs. It should be noted that the iPad battery is 7306mAh whereas the Tab S3 is 6000mAh. So the Galaxy tab wins on this one.

I have not forgotten about the issue of the pocket by the way. So I will simply say Samsung produced a device to give Apple a run for its money in this particular market. So it can generally be expected that Samsung's offering will equally break your bank in the same fashion your usual Apple device does.

The Tab S3 retail price is £599 including S pen (Standard 32GB WiFi model). It comes in black or silver colours.
The iPad Pro costs £549, plus £99 for Apple pencil (Standard 32GB WiFi model). It comes in silver, gold, space-grey and rose-gold colours.
So not much difference in price, (iPad cost £49 more) but indeed both tablets aim to search your pockets somehow, when compared to the rest of that market space... I do believe they deserve to, though...
I dressed my Tab S3 in quality gear that did not even break my bank. I am talking about the case and Bluetooth keyboard.


This device has become my companion, providing entertainment (I love movies and music) on the go. Funny enough, I have also found that its a formidable work device. I am "rdesktoping" to my work computer and enjoying both worlds simultaneously. Sometimes I am also using Google Docs to do a lot of business and work on the tab. Writing with the S Pen is making this a favourite of mine for any office work Kudos Samsung!

Monday 25 September 2017

Ring Video Doorbell WIBNIF (Wouldn't It Be Nice IF.....?)

I will admit that I am a gadget lover, and have had considerable experience with various gear over the years. That being said, there have been instances when my purchase of a gadget had been influenced by real/true/genuine necessity rather than curiosity. When I moved home a few years ago, I fould that the analogue door bell that was in place was useless. It was a wired set-up but the bell was placed, still, in the entrance hall. Even after cranking its volume or adjusting the solenoid, it was still inaudible when one is upstairs. Moving the bell anywhere was going to mean running long cables.

Now my first solution was obvious. I had the house already set with LightwaverRF smart lighting, smart power sockets and heating (www.lightwaverf.com). This is one of the cheapest, easy and yet stable smarthome solutions (if one does not want to tinker with Domoticz). So it  was a no-brainer not to consider LightwaverRF's door bell offering, which came at about £30. What you get is a traditional metal bell (solenoid hit) and a push button to install at the door. The good thing is the two work wirelessly (433Mhz RF like all other LightwaveRF lighting products) and the bell is battery powered by 2 CR232? batteries which can last for almost a year.

Image result for lightwaverf bell
LightwaveRF Door Bell set

You get to pair the push button wiith the bell, and you can place the bell anywhere in the house, and indeed its loud enough. Mine I hanged it up in the stairway,  hanging on just a single wall nail/screw.

I also paired the bush button with my bedroom lights, and set it so that when someone rings, the lights flash (on-off-on-off) These settings are set by 4 small switches at the back of the push button, so you can check the manual to set them according to your desired lighting response,

My main issue with this bell was, it was quite expensive for what it offered. The flickering of lights was quite mundane because you would not notice it on a bright day, and also was not necessary as long as the bell was still working, save for cases when your bell battery goes flat without your knowledge, which should be quite a rare event.
This bell was markerted as a LightwaveRF wireless bell, but there was nothing smart about it. There are better wireless bells with a mains plugged chime (no need to buy batteries) which cost £6 online.
I would have loved a situation where this bell could notify me via the LightwaveRF app, whenever the bell was rung, but alas. I have the same issue with LightwaveRF's door/window magnets, they are quite dumb.
I tried to search IFTTT (www,ifttt,com) for recipes that use the bell push or the magnetic switches, but there are none. It seems you can only use these 2 products to activate lights when the push button is pressed or when the door is opened, no push notification or anything else.
At least ifttt recipes would have been better, but you cannot select the 2 devices as sources because LightwaveRF's devices are passive, and STATELESS! They do not communicate their state (eg. is light on? is door open? etc, you cant make such queries)

So what I decided on was to try something better in terms of functionality. I therefor sold my LWRF bell on ebay for £24 gross (that was a good sell)
I bought the much talked about Ring Video doorbell (www.ring.com), the battery operated one. I bought mine from Argos, which sells the bell bundled with a chime unit (the sounder) for £169, but I had a £10 voucher which any Argos customer can get hold of easily, so it costed me £159 for both. The chime is around £24 separately, so it means I got the bell for £135, which is a very good find. Also Argos  offers buy-now-pay-later for 6 months on this, so thats slightly over 20 quid per month, interest-free. Thats equivalent of me skipping my after-lunch coffee for just 2 days per week, honest its worth it.

Image result for argos ring door bell and chime bundle
Ring Video Door Bell and Chime set

Now on to the Ring itself, the device is well made and quite sturdy. At the time of this writing, Ring has just released its second version of the door bell called "Ring Video door Bell 2" From what I can tell, this new video door bell only differs with the original in that it records videos in 1080p (instead of 720p), is a bit slimmer (not thinner!) and removable batteries. On the downside it comes with slightly reduced field of view (FOV) There could be another subtle differences but I believe I have mentioned everything thats worth highlighting.

You connect your bell and chime to your wifi network. The chime will sound when the door bell id pressed. this happens over wifi, so if either of these disconnects to wifi, no ding dong sound for you.

WIBNIF 1. Chime and bell should have had their own direct RF signal for communication.

Also when the door bell is pressed you receive a notification on your phone (same with motion detected by the way...) You can then answer the doorbell by tapping on the notification and voila,... you are talking to your PPI sales guys, or The Watch Tower brethren or even your Royal mail delivery guy (one-way video and 2-way audio)

The major flaw in this design is the LAG that exists between button pressing and receiving of notification. This means if your home broadband is not fibre and has high latency, and you are away from home, chances are that you will answer the doorbell when the delivery guy (who happens to be in a hurry to meet his quotas) is gone, or you may be luck to see his back as he leaves.
I must say however, Ring has been working very happy to reduce this delay to acceptable levels. I think they are making sure that the device does not go into deep sleep, which however sucks the juice outta the battery, I want to see the mods that ring are making to address this issue....
My setup so far, after a lot of tweaking, has a delay of around 7 seconds, which is acceptable and in most cases I have been able to catch the delivery guy just as he dragged his first step off and in other cases I simply had to say a loud hello on answering.

So what other WIBNIFs does this system have?, well, if you install this as your first ring product, it becomes apparent very quickly.

WIBNIF 2. extra bell push button, to sound the chime?

Imagine if you have multiple access ways to your property, or just a simple back garden or kitchen door. Wouldn't it be nice to have a simple bush button to install at these extra access ways, so that it sounds the chime? Most of the time you would not really need another video doorbell at these points, so a simple push button would have been enough.

Ok, from my comparison with the newer version, you probably have picked up that these doorbells are battery powered. This original one has no way of charging the battery without dismounting the doorbell from the wall. I will not comment about the removable battery in 2nd version.

The Ring Video door bell and other Ring cameras, are compatible with IFTTT, meaning you can do clever triggers and actions based on motion detection. This is a very welcome features for these devices. You can turn on lights when someone rings the bell,or when motion is detected. You can even use Alexa recipes.
They are also compatible with Smartthings, so one can use security smart-apps in Smartthings, to trigger the alarm when motion is detected outside normal hours.

It should be noted that Ring devices record videos to the cloud, and you have o pay something like £25 a year per each device, to be able to use this feature. There is no local storage, leading to my next wibnif

WIBNIF 3. sdcard slot for local recording?

It would have been nice if these devices were able to record locally to an sd card and offer an option for user to not use their cloud platform.

Overall Ring video bell is a well made product which is being letdown by technology employed, which inherently introduces delays. If the door bell could talk directly to chimes, at least the system would be very usable EVEN only as an expensive wireless intercom, without the bells and whistles of being an internet enables device.