Features

18 biggest hits and misses of 2018

More misses than hits once again

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We don’t want to do it, but we have to. Twelve long months have passed and we need to look at both the best and worst of the year.

What you’re about to read are the biggest hits and misses in the tech, gaming, and lifestyle world for 2018. Let these be the basis of what’s to come in 2019 and beyond.

Miss: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

This was a terrible way to start 2018. The exploits presented by Meltdown and Spectre shifted the security landscape for months to come — decades, in fact, if you count the damage they dealt.

Hit: Nokia reboots another classic: The 8810 4G

First we got the 3310 in 2017; this year, it was the 8810 — now with 4G! The banana phone we all know and love came back in a stylish yellow option, and it made us hungry for more throwbacks.

Miss: Huawei is spying on you, says US government

This was the start of several obstacles for Huawei in its pursuit of global product distribution in 2018. The investigations are still going on, and several countries have followed suit. This will likely continue to show up in headlines for the entirety of 2019.

Hit: India is now world’s second-largest mobile phone producer

Tech brands have been seeing the potential in India for both production and buying power, thus becoming the second-biggest phone manufacturer cements their place in the techie world order.

Miss: Uber sells their Southeast Asia business to Grab

What’s worse than a duopoly? A monopoly, sadly. Grab took over the ride-sharing space in Southeast Asia, resulting in no alternative for commuters who want options on their smartphones.

Hit: Thanos of Avengers: Infinity War comes to Fortnite

When you put together 2018’s most popular movie and video game in one package, you get absolute chaos that everyone can enjoy! It was madness that resonates to this day.

Miss: ZTE faces ban from using Qualcomm, Android on their phones

ZTE was another Chinese company that experienced misfortune in the US. President Donald Trump later came to their rescue, but the damage was already done to ZTE’s image.

Hit: The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, and Ariana Grande perform her new single with Nintendo Labo

Now this was a collab that we thoroughly loved! Ariana Grande’s hit song played with Nintendo’s cardboard Labo was a match made in heaven. LSS, anyone?

Miss: Microsoft recalls Windows October update due to deleting issues

Losing files is never cool, especially when it happens without you knowing because of a major bug. Windows 10’s October update was a major headache for everyone, and took what felt like forever to resolve after even more mess-ups.

Hit: WHO officially recognizes gaming addiction as a mental health disorder

While mental health disorders suck, recognizing one as a legit problem is a definite hit. WHO reminded everyone in 2018 that video game addiction is real, and it can cause more harm than good.

Miss: Google is shutting down Google Plus after data leaks

The oft-forgotten social network got dealt its final blow after it was revealed that user data was leaked and Google+ was subsequently destined for closure. This is a Google-made product, mind you, making this breach even more worrisome.

Hit: Huawei takes Apple’s crown as second-largest smartphone brand

No one saw this coming a few years ago — except Huawei, of course! While Apple still enjoys record-breaking sales, the Chinese giant could at least savor the fact that all its hard work has been paying off.

Miss: Stan Lee passes away at 95

The most significant pop culture icon to pass away in 2018 was Stan Lee. It’s gonna be hella sad to no longer see his cameo appearances in upcoming superhero flicks. 😭

Hit: Apple is now worth $1,000,000,000,000

Those are a lot of zeros! With Tim Cook at the helm, Apple has been experiencing its most fruitful results since the company started. Watch them fight for that next trillion.

Miss: Tumblr will start banning porn this month

Tumblr has turned from being a haven for porn into a hub for… things that aren’t porn. While sexy creators scramble for another platform to share on, Tumblr struggles to form a newer, cleaner identity.

Hit: Esports added to the official sports for the 2019 SEA Games

What a victory for the competitive gaming community in Southeast Asia! Esports is finally getting the recognition it deserves, placing its PC, mobile, and console warriors alongside traditional athletes in 2019’s major event.

Miss: China bans Apple from selling iPhones

While the western world gives Huawei and ZTE problems, Apple is facing a serious ban in China. Although it only affects older iPhone models, the hit in sales could impact future sales in the world’s biggest consumer market.

Miss: Samsung will re-evaluate fake Supreme partnership after criticism

This made hypebeasts around the world go whaaaat. The partnership initially seemed too good to be true, and that’s because it was. After all the backlash, Samsung has been asking the cool kids in their departments how to fix this.

Features

Samsung The Serif: What’s it’s like to watch on an artistic TV?

You just can’t help but fall in love with it

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I have always been in love with Samsung — smartphones, tablets, accessories, and their digital appliances. There’s just something suave about their designs that please my aesthetic, evidently amplified in their lineup of lifestyle TVs.

That je ne sais quoi had my eyes set on having The Frame and The Sero for its bespoke vibe that somehow fits the lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of. But in a twist of fate, I found myself completely hooked over Samsung’s The Serif. And it’s far different from the lifestyle TV’s I’ve always been eyeing on.

Coup de foudre (Love at first sight)

The Serif, designed by the Bouroullec brothers, carries the Bouroullec principle in its design — practical, sensuous, exquisite, and sophisticated. Wherever you place this artistic TV, it certainly embellishes any space.

It fills a room with grandeur beauty, thanks to the fusion of art and technology resulting in an avant-garde form factor that makes it a sight to behold.

At a glance, The Serif is unconventional. Somehow, my eyes fell in love the first time I saw it. Maybe because it’s dressed in white? Or maybe because I’m a designer and The Serif, in some manner, is reminiscent of serif typefaces I’m familiar with all too well. Times New Roman. Playfair Display. Baskerville.

If you squint your eyes a little, it forms the shape of the letter “I” in those serif typefaces — with its strokes on both ends giving an impression of an expanded I-beam.

Cool, right? Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen in love right away. It’s not my usual type, but from the get-go, I knew I’m captivated like a firework show.

An exalted home decor

What makes it appeasing to the eyes of many — urbane or gauche — is its ability to look graceful and charming, and even elevate one’s home. Its evocative, 360-degree style along with its practical setup and artistic technology helps it blend anywhere. Whether it’s in your living space, your bedroom, your dining area, or even your sanctuary-like bathroom.

It has an elegant cable management system hiding unsightly wires needed for display, power, and connectivity. Further, it comes with a detachable floor stand so you can place The Serif on top of a TV stand or a raised, marble floor.

Or you can also place it in the middle of the living room as if it’s a cultivated sculpture. In some ways, I’d think of The Serif as prized ornamentation: Portable, versatile for any home style, and suitable for a culturally-refined taste.

When you’ve successfully placed the TV to your liking, you can turn it up a notch and use Ambient Mode to install and exhibit art pieces that can act as wallpaper. Instead of having a big, black box, you get a power-saving feature that spruces up your home.

Can’t take my eyes off you

Yes, The Serif is easily explained through Frankie Valli’s 60’s pop-rock “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” It’s my anthem for every time I fall in love — which is quite rare — but it also applies in the way I experienced Samsung’s Parisian-looking piece.

Its picture quality is breathtaking. I was mesmerized, awestruck at the sight of its QLED panel parading vivacious colors and exceptional contrast. I thought to myself, “the devil is surely in the details” especially with how its 4K resolution and AI upscaling worked hand-in-hand to present dynamic shows, even if it’s content from the distant past.

Samsung’s Quantum Dot Technology also put in the work, bringing out the best of any content down to the tiniest detail through a 100% Color Volume.

Though I’m no stranger to how QLED works, I’m still enchanted reveling in a spectacular display for months. It made me want to skip work and lounge around. At some point, I pondered how I could spend a day staring, marveling at The Serif’s beauty.

But instead of being smitten for days, The Serif helped me embrace the art of slow living — dilly-dallying, mellowing out, falling in love with life, and becoming more intentional with my time.

Meaning, less work and more time for things that give me joy. That includes basking in films and series with European sensibilities or catching up on dashing animés to serve as my muse for my art and poetry. Because if you have a TV as remarkable as this, how could you not make the most out of it?

Smart and good-looking

I like my partner the way I like The Serif — serving looks, intelligent enough to carry a conversation, and smart enough to make things work with ease. It’s just convenient when everything seamlessly connects. Part of the reason why I got my claws on Samsung’s ecosystem. I’m not giving it up easily.

SmartThings, Samsung’s app to connect their smart devices, has been central to my connected lifestyle. It helped me link my devices, and sync my smartphones and tablets to The Serif. At times where I misplace the gorgeous, curved remote control, I turn to the SmartThings app to activate the TV and navigate the screen.

Sometimes, I adjust its settings such as sound and brightness. Sometimes, I play around with Ambient Mode where I collage my memories, which I directly send using my smartphones.

When I’m feeling sprightly, I use the NFC technology feature by placing my smartphone on the top bezel — another way to connect instantly. The screen automatically turns into Ambient Mode to cast music from my smartphone and display visual effects that move along with the beat.

Moreover, it’s easy to cast videos on TV or mirror your smartphone’s screen whether it’s through Smart View or Tap View. The Serif is full of unique tricks that’ll make your exquisite watching experience a bit modern and convenient.

Je t’aime, Serif

Props to Samsung for producing a sculpture-like piece that can instantly add pizzazz to an otherwise boring space. Lifestyle TVs don’t get a lot of appreciation because of their unconventional style and features that are seemingly unfamiliar for most people.

Little do they know, they have a picturesque display and crystal-clear sound quality, too, that makes up for a remarkable experience. It’s like watching your favorite shows while touring Musée D’Orsay. That chic, classic Parisian aesthetic is all over The Serif.

It’s probably The Serif’s pièce de résistance: the je ne sais quoi, the allure that you can only experience when you’re graced by this perennial beauty, the one-of-a-kind experience that makes you fall in love with it, with yourself, and with the life you’re living. I guess it’s safe to conclude: I’m in love. Au revoir.

Samsung’s The Serif comes in two sizes: 43-inch (PhP 55,999) and 55-inch (PhP 79,999). The lifestyle TV is available in authorized Samsung dealers nationwide.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Samsung Philippines.

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Reviews

vivo V23 5G Unboxing and Review: Color Changer!

With a revolutionary color-changing back!

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While the X-series is vivo’s line of flagship smartphones with the best in class rear cameras, the V-series is for those who want a great midranger option with star-studded selfie cameras.

Apart from the color-changing back due to Fluorite AG glass, the vivo V23 5G offers more than meets the eye. It’s packed with well-rounded hardware if you may ask.

But should you get the vivo V23 5G? Head over to our vivo V23 5G unboxing and review now to help yourself out.

 

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Apps

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay 2.0: Cut through the queue

Make life less hectic!

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Starbucks Mobile

When you’re an adult, coffee isn’t just a power-up drink helping you get through the day. It becomes an avenue for conversation, an invitation to meet people, a kick you need to fuel your creativity and productivity.

While there are several ways to brew coffee and there are different local neighborhood cafés to explore, Starbucks has always been within reach. And it has ingrained itself as an important part of my working life. A staple of the modern workforce’s culture. A lifestyle — tradition to an extent — that seeped in through the interstices of friendships and family.

When the pandemic struck, I started learning how to brew my own coffee. Occasionally, I order my caffeine fix through Grab or Foodpanda. But the experience isn’t the same.

Keyword: Experience. That’s precisely what Starbucks offers. So when Starbucks Philippines sent me a holiday card to try the new Mobile Order & Pay, a feature they had for a while that was rehashed, I decided it’s time to go out and try again.

Exploring the app

The Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 is available through the Starbucks app. If you’re a Starbucks lover, you probably have an account registered to Starbucks Rewards. The app is easy to use, particularly because of its clean user interface (UI) design.

Through the Starbucks app, you can check your account’s transaction history, monitor the stars collected via the Rewards program, and make some changes to your personal profile and payment methods. The app also has a lot of promotional materials, parading their latest drinks and treats that you can avail yourself of in-store or online.

Starbucks Mobile

And more importantly, you can reload your account, register your cards, and of course, get ahead of your day and order your favorite beverages.

Cut through the line

Once I got my cards settled in, I ordered my go-to drink: Cold brew topped with four pumps of white mocha sauce. I placed my order through the Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 feature, which gave me four options to pick up my order. Although, the options vary depending on the closest branch near you.

There’s the usual In-store pickup where you head straight to the pickup counter for your order. Yes, you won’t get in line anymore. When I tried this pickup option, everyone gave me looks when I went past the queue and headed straight to ask the Barista about my order. I had the audacity to ask about my drink because the app notified me when the order was ready.

Starbucks Mobile

When I got my drink, I walked out of the store feeling ravished. It felt like I was in a slow-mo montage of a coming-of-age film where the protagonist suddenly did something extraordinary. Frankly, this is my favorite pickup option. It makes so much sense to just get your orders if you can walk inside. And that gives you extra steps for your smartwatch to count. Get moving, people!

But if you don’t like the hassle of scanning your QR codes and getting your temperature checked, or the usual mumbo-jumbo you encounter inside a store, there are other pickup options outside.

Just wait outside

My other favorite option was the Outdoor pickup, which I chose when I was passing by Starbucks The Grove — my favorite branch in Pasig. I was dead-tired from a weekend night-out with my friends at Okada Manila, and the all-night casino adventure bled through a Monday morning.

I was on my way home, ready for work. Then, I realized I badly need the good ol’ Barista Drink. Nothing can beat an americano topped with white mocha sauce splashed with sub-breve (and no water!). Especially when it comes to waking you and your senses up. More importantly, you can have it served iced or hot depending on your preferences.

Starbucks Mobile

I placed my order when I was already in Arcovia City, a kilometer away from The Grove by Rockwell. Apparently, you can’t order ahead for an Outdoor pickup if you’re 3 kilometers away, which I tried to do when I was still in Taguig. So you have to be close to the branch if you want to place your order.

I tried to do the math in my head, calculating if I can pull over for a minute while I wait for my order. But I’m bad at numbers so I went ahead. The app said the order will be ready in five to six minutes anyway.

I pulled over when I arrived at the branch, and I didn’t wait long enough for one of my favorite baristas to come out to my chosen pickup point and hand me my order.

Stay in your car

I hate parking. Or wasting the time spent trying to park properly in between enormous SUVs. Or finding a spot to park your vehicle. This is why I don’t understand the Curbside pickup option, where the barista locates your designated parking slot and gives your order while practicing social and safe distancing.

I tried the pickup option in Starbucks Sierra Valley — a humongous, stand-alone branch with a massive parking space and drive-thru option found east of Metro Manila.

Starbucks Mobile

If you’re in a time crunch, this option really doesn’t make sense. But if you have a few moments to spare and you don’t want to get out of your vehicle for safety measures against the COVID-19 (and its variants), then the Curbside pickup is the way to go.

Frankly speaking, it doesn’t work for me. I know having your order brought to you is part of the experience, but I value my time. And it was against my morals to just sit inside my car and wait for the barista to come out and bring my order. In my head, they could be doing more valuable things than going outside the store, when I can pick up my order at their counter.

The In-store pickup is the fastest option in my experience, and I feel good doing the task instead of sitting and waiting around. I guess it’s my can-do attitude speaking, but that’s how I’m really built.

Drive through it

Now, there’s another option to get your order: Drive-thru pickup. You just have to line up in a queue of cars and wait for your turn. Like the Curbside pickup option, I didn’t like the Drive-thru pickup for one reason: It takes too long to get through the drive-thru window.

People are afraid to get out of their vehicles because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s valid. That’s why there are plenty of cars lining up to get their caffeine fix. I spent roughly 30 minutes waiting for my turn, which annoyed me since it would’ve been faster if I chose the In-store or Outdoor pickup.

Making life less hectic

Regardless of my rants and experience, the Mobile Order & Pay 2.0 lets you get your favorite treats and beverages conveniently. In the way you like it.

While I’ve loved the In-store and Outdoor pick-up because they work well with my personality and lifestyle, I know some people (read: friends) would enjoy the Curbside and Drive-thru pickup. Especially since they’re cautious about the pandemic.

Not that I’m not wary of the virus being out there, I just value my time because every second counts. If I wanted to waste my time waiting, I would’ve lined up inside.

Nevertheless, the rehashed feature is worth giving a try. Through the Starbucks app, you can customize your orders. Just like your baristas, the app can modify the size, the number of espresso shots, dairy selection, and various options for your order. All done with just a single tap on your smartphone.

Frankly speaking, the Mobile Pay & Order 2.0 made my life easier especially when I’m in a hurry to get a caffeine fix. Not all days can be spent brewing your coffee, living in a slowed-down lifestyle. Some days, we just need to get through it, and Starbucks knows how to accompany me through those days.

The Starbucks PH app is available on The App Store and Google’s Play Store.

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