Features

17 biggest hits and misses of 2017

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We can all agree that 2017 was a tough year for everyone, but it wasn’t all bad. There were bright spots too, as proven by this list we’ve compiled.

With hundreds of stories in both tech and lifestyle to run through, cutting this list down to 17 was difficult. Striking a balance wasn’t easy either, yet here we are: These are what piqued our interest most in 2017 — both good and bad.


Apple in India

Hit: Apple will start making iPhones in India

In order to set up official stores in India, Apple had to first locally manufacture iPhones in order to comply with the “Make in India” initiative. After months of rumors leading into 2017, it finally happened.

Hit: Nokia 3310 steals thunder from Nokia 3, 5, 6

Nokia made a successful comeback by joining the Android bandwagon with their Nokia 6, but it was the resurrected 3310 that made the most headlines in 2017 with its ability to tug on everyone’s nostalgia strings.

Image credit: Getty Images

Miss: Essential Phone continues to face hurdles leading to delayed launch

What could’ve been the biggest newcomer of 2017 turned out becoming the floppiest introduction of the year. Essential’s first phone looked great when it was first revealed, but shipping delays and mismanagement ruined a potentially great company.

Hit: Vivo shows off Under Display fingerprint scanning

Although the technology didn’t make it in time for any 2017 smartphone, Vivo’s demo of their Under Display fingerprint scanning was one of the most exciting handset features of the year. We can’t wait to see it on all phones one day!

Miss: Uber suspended in the Philippines for a month

Uber has had legal trouble in countries all over the world, and the Philippine branch wasn’t exempted. Because of the company’s failure to comply with rules set by the local transportation regulating body, the ride-sharing service was suspended for a month.

Hit: Samsung is still the top smartphone vendor in the world

Despite 2016’s Galaxy Note 7 recall and the rise of every other smartphone brand, Samsung managed to maintain their position as the world’s top smartphone vendor with nearly a quarter of the total worldwide smartphone shipments.

Miss: Google acquires part of HTC’s smartphone business

Depending on how you look at it, this could also be viewed as a hit, but ultimately, it’s sad to see HTC lose a large chunk of its team to the search giant’s hardware division. On the bright side, Google made good use of their acquisition with the production of the Pixel 2.

Hit: SNES Classic solves NES Classic’s two biggest flaws

2016’s NES Classic had two issues: limited availability and overly short controller cables. 2017’s SNES Classic handled those flaws while making it one of the most memorable gaming consoles of the entire year.

Hit: Huawei finally overtakes Apple in smartphone sales

It took a while, but Huawei finally made good on their promise to go beyond the number three spot in the world’s smartphone market and overtake Apple at number two earlier this year. While they still have a long way to go to secure their position, this put Samsung and Apple on notice.

Miss: OnePlus confirms they secretly collected user data

Security was a major topic going into 2017, and OnePlus became one of the bad guys after being caught secretly taking user data without the proper permissions. They quickly changed their policies and apologized, but the damage was already done.

Miss: Windows Phone is dead, but Microsoft tried to make it better

One of the biggest what could have been moments of 2017 was when a former Microsoft employee revealed that his company had plans of releasing a near-borderless Lumia phone in 2014. It would’ve cost less than US$ 200, and prototypes showed how gorgeous it could’ve been.

Hit: Android One was never really dead

Android One, if you recall, was Google’s platform for bringing a pure Android interface to less-expensive smartphones. After months of silence, consumers thought the program was dead, but it suddenly got revived thanks to a partnership with Xiaomi and the launch of the Mi A1.

Miss: Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are facing serious defects early on

In a sad turn of events, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL were marred by defects as they came out of the factory. The media was all over their rocky start, and some reviews were even pulled or revised with the bad press in mind.

Miss: Smartphones are indeed getting more expensive

A research institute confirmed what we’ve all been noticing in the past year: Smartphones are definitely getting more expensive. 2017 saw US$ 1,000 become the new mark for the high-end segment, and it only looks to go higher in 2018.

Hit: Apple iPhone X sells out instantly, doing better than expected

Despite the unworldly price, the iPhone X sold beyond expectations and proved that Apple’s allure is stronger than ever. Shipments went as far as being delayed by weeks because of the incredible demand. Reviews were mostly glowing, too.

Miss: Android Oreo distribution is still terrible

Android Oreo has been experiencing the same sad fate as Nougat’s; even though it’s been out for several months already, only a fraction of the Android smartphone population has it. As of this month, only 0.5 percent of all handsets have Oreo.

Hit: OPPO still tops market share in China, rivals quickly catching up

China’s smartphone market is currently being led by four homegrown brands: OPPO, Huawei, Vivo, and Xiaomi. OPPO is the current leader, but not by much. The tight competition is great for consumers since it pushes companies to never settle for mediocrity.

SEE ALSO: Where GadgetMatch has been in 2017

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Automotive

What makes the 2020 Range Rover Evoque one of the safest vehicles in the market?

It boasts a five-star safety rating

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Just recently, the 2020 Range Rover has been introduced to the Philippine market. And while it’s got the latest tech to make the riding experience easier and more comfortable, it’s also considered to be one of the safest vehicles available right now.

For starters, its Euro-spec model has received the highest possible rating (five stars) from the Euro NCAP safety rating. According to reports, testers were particularly impressed with its automatic emergency braking for pedestrian and cyclist detection.


They then added that the Evoque performed really well in all tested areas. These include frontal-impact tests, moderate overlap tests, side-impact tests, and more. Check out this video from Euro NCAP showing the Evoque undergo rigorous crash tests.

Apart from keeping the driver and passengers safe, the Range Rover Evoque is also safer for the environment. It uses a low-friction engine design which the company says has reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90%. It is also the first luxury compact SUV to be certified for emitting 80mg/km or less of pollution — passing the Real Driving Emissions stage 2 (RDE2) legislation in Europe.

This also certifies the Evoque for more than a year ahead of RDE2’s scheduled implementation on all new vehicles by 2020.

Adding to that is the fact that the SUV comes in a Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) option that allows you to maximize your fuel efficiency. The less gas you burn during your drive, the less pollution you emit.

Apart from those performances and achievements, the Evoque also boasts technologies that further ensure safety of those inside and outside the vehicle. We previously mentioned the company’s ClearSight Rear View Mirror that works when the rear view is obstructed and the world’s first Ground View technology for squeezing in tight spaces.

Together, all these work together to and make the Range Rover Evoque one of the safest vehicles available in the market today.

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Automotive

The GadgetMatch team goes for ARCC 2019

It’s that time of the year again

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Sunshine TV’s Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (ARCC) season is here to enforce and remind everyone of road safety and driver discipline. It is also a celebration of the popular Sampaguita Rally in the Philippines back in 2001.

If you just heard of ARCC and have no idea what happens during the event, you may quickly read our feature from last year.


Ford had a total of three teams comprised of three members each

Just like the previous ARCC, each automotive brand can send up to three teams with three members per vehicle. And for 2019, Ford went with an all-Raptor lineup to join the competition.

Wii Gamboa of Sunshine TV kicks off the event

What’s different from last year was that this time, we had a solid GadgetMatch team for the driver, time-keeper, and navigator positions. As such, we’ve collected our experiences during the run to show how exactly the dynamics work between the three roles.

Rodneil (time-keeper):

Going into the rally, people were saying the time-keeper had perhaps the most challenging role because he had to do the math. While I’d like to think my math isn’t too shabby, there was more to the role than just crunching numbers.

Rodneil re-enacting his confused look after being given the handbook

Like anyone doing anything for the first time, I quickly entered into a mild panic the moment we were handed the handbook that contained the rally’s route. Sure, we prepared the night before but that didn’t seem to matter for the first few seconds. Luckily Kevin and Dan were a little more level-headed and helped me calm down lol.

It was smooth sailing from there, or at least that’s what I would like to think. I was flipping through the pages making sure I calculate the ideal time to complete a certain leg while also letting Kevin know if we should slow down or hit the pedal to the metal.

Each entry has a corresponding time to get from one point to the next

The second leg was a little bit rougher. We got lost and confused at multiple stops but were able to find our way somehow. The bonus stage was super fun because Kevin really got to take advantage of the Ranger Raptor’s capabilities sliding our way through the wet roads and dodging obstacles.

Even though I honestly wasn’t sure what I was doing 90% of the time, I’d like to think we did pretty okay and more than winning, I really like the teamwork we had during the rally.

Dan (navigator):

As a first-time participant in ARCC, I was both excited and nervous. When I was told that I’ll be the navigator for the team, I felt the pressure to make sure that we’re in the right way. I’ve always been good with directions, especially when I have a map with me. However, the directions included in the rally’s handbook were just arrows with minimal clues (see picture below) and it was definitely a challenge.

Making the right turn is important or it could offset the distance counter

Throughout the race, I had to closely coordinate with Kevin, the driver, so we don’t miss any turns. I also had to check in with Rodneil, the time-keeper, to keep track of the time. The first leg was relatively easy for me since we mostly passed by the expressway and long secondary roads that go around and through the rural areas.

The second leg was a different story. Just as it started, I got confused with the initial directions and the tiny traffic cones. Unlike with the first one, the second leg of the rally was within the city center. I had to deal with multiple intersections and a number of small roads that weren’t specified in the handbook. Sad to say, I was muddled and not able to keep my head in the game.

Overall, I had fun. It was enjoyable to have a different activity. I wasn’t in front of my laptop the whole day which means the rally really took my full attention.

Kevin (driver):

I’ve participated in ARCC for a couple of times now and I’ve always been the driver every single event. The reason being I feel it’s where I’d be effective the most and personally, I just enjoy driving. As the one behind the wheel, you basically just have to listen to both the time-keeper and navigator to tell you how fast you should go and where you should go.

A steady pace is one of the key things to keep in mind for the driver

Although that may sound simple, you also have to be able to know when to go beyond the recommended speed to make up for lost time, for example, or when to slow down when you’re ahead of the perfect time.

As Rodneil and Dan have already stressed out, the first of two legs was pretty simple and directions were straightforward. We didn’t miss any of the checkpoints and we’re actually pretty confident of our recorded times.

Different cars from different brands ready for flag off

During the afternoon leg, however, the directions were a little bit more complex — making us turn at more corners in short distances which made things a bit confusing. We found our way towards the right direction, though, and were able to make up for a few lost seconds. We even did good time during the bonus stage clocking in half a second past the perfect time.

Overall, it was still an enjoyable event that brought friendly competition between automotive brands. On top of that, STV was successful in making the event not only fun but also serve an important reminder to always follow traffic rules and practice road safety. It was awesome to once again represent Ford Philippines and this time, with our very own GadgetMatch team.

We’re looking forward to next year’s ARCC!

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Automotive

A Father’s Day drive up north

Story time!

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We recently got the Ranger Raptor for the second time to use at this year’s STV ARCC and represent Ford Philippines. And since we had a free day before the event itself happened, I decided to use it and take out my dad along with my brother for a road trip. Good thing Mom had an errand to do that day!

Dad wanted to visit a certain theme park restaurant north of Metro Manila so I agreed and went for it. We already brought the Raptor to a 4×4 route for some off-road action, so now we go for long, paved roads with hungry stomachs.


That’s Dad, my brother Kiefer, and me on the road

After four hours of driving from the south, past the traffic metro, and all the way up north, we reached our destination. The place is called Isdaan Floating Restaurant and it’s at the municipality of Talavera in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. “Isdaan,” when translated, means “fishery” so it already paints you a picture of what to expect. The restaurant is hard to miss as it has a wide, inviting facade fronted with sculptures.

The staff greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to our private floating nipa hut with koi fish swimming around and under us. Looking at the menu, there were lots of choices from appetizers, meat, seafood obviously, and even specialties that you don’t usually see in city restaurants.

“Guarding” the floating nipa huts

We got Bicol Express (spicy stew), Sinigang na Liempo (pork belly soup), and Binukadkad na Plapla (butterflied fish) from the menu. One of their signatures is a Boat Special. Basically, they offer select dishes in a long sizzling plate mounted on a wooden counter-top that resembles a boat. This was how Bicol Express was served which greatly added to the presentation value.

Food was really great especially the soup. While the service wasn’t too snappy and could definitely be improved, the food compensated for it. It has that home-cooked taste that hits the spot after a long drive.

After eating, we decided to walk around the area and check out the theme park side of the place. There were giant statues everywhere — from the Charging Bull similar to New York’s, Big Buddha of Phuket, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. It does make for great photo opportunities as you’ll see in the following photos.

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Apart from the gigantic and humorous characters, another attraction to find here is a corner to vent out all your pent-up emotions. For a reasonable price, you can choose objects like those plates or coffee mugs that you can smash onto the wall. If you ask me, I feel it’s a bit out of place in this family-friendly restaurant but it still does make the place unique.

Those are all fun but what usually entices people to visit this place is the fact that you can dip your feet in this shallow pond and have large koi fish swimming in between your legs. It might sound weird and it’s probably not for everyone, but the novelty of being able to do it was actually fun.

These koi quickly gather around you as you go near the water

Caught this little guy trying to nibble on his watch

Can’t leave the place without this obligatory shot!

After all the photos were taken and a few minor mishaps (one of us slipping trying to get in with the fish, not telling who), we were ready to go back home. It was another four hours inside the Raptor and we ended up exchanging stories and laughing our way through the expressways while the truck was mostly on cruise control. It was definitely a trip to remember.

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