Entertainment

Now Playing: Nevertheless, Death’s Door, and more

Everything from live action and animated romance to nostalgic games

Published

on

Now Playing

It’s been a while since we compiled things you can watch, listen to, and read. But with Metro Manila entering another two-week lockdown due to the rising cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant, now is as good a time as any for these recommendations. We have everything from live action and animated romance to games that will make feel nostalgic. Here’s the latest edition of Now Playing.

Games to play

FANTASIAN

Rodneil: This was one of the 2021 headliners of Apple Arcade made by none other than Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The gameplay is a throwback to the late 90s, early 2000s JRPG style but playable on all devices where you can access Apple Arcade. It’s the type of game I grew up playing and it’s nice to see it come to mobile.

Scarlet Nexus

Rodneil: BANDAI NAMCO’s crack at an original intellectual property (IP) is off to a good start. Scarlet Nexus opens possibilities of how anime games can explore the single-player action RPG style instead of the hundreds of arena fighters we see. The game itself is enjoyable with its engaging combat and twist-filled story. I’m hoping against hope that this approach is applied to existing Anime IPs.

Death’s Door

Leez: Death’s Door is a charming indie game that’ll inexplicably take you back to action-adventure games of the ’90s like the SNES classic Legend of Zelda — A Link to the Past. The game is gorgeous and worth every moment. Developed by just a team of 5 (Acid Nerve), you’ll play this game while scratching your head. If you have a soft spot for indie games, you NEED to play this. Just… trust me.

Shows to binge-watch

Ginny & Georgia

MJ: If you’re in for comedy, drama, and a bit of rage then Ginny & Georgia is your pick — a story following a single mom and a teenager’s life as they settle down in a fictional town called Wellsbury. Over time, you’ll find Ginny annoying unless you’re that kind of teenager. But Georgia, oh Georgia, she carried the whole show on her shoulders. Netflix may always fail at representing teenagers at their shows, but the way they wrote all the mothers here — they’re realistic and on point.

Nevertheless,

Rodneil: I really only wanted to watch this because I thought Han So Hee is pretty gorgeous. I didn’t watch her run at the World of the Married because stories of cheating trigger me. Nevertheless, deals more with grappling with attraction, emotions, and where those two things intertwine. Plus the Sol-Jiwan wlw side story is becoming a fan favorite.

Time To Twice — Tdoong Forest

Rodneil: When the pandemic struck and outside activities were limited, TWICE started their own Reality/Variety series called Time To Twice. The latest season titled Tdoong Forest has the nine members doing simple activities at what appears to be a resthouse. It’s a nice break from all the assault-on-your-senses content and has been my source of “healing” these past weeks.

Horimiya

Rodneil: Young love at its finest and purest. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Horimiya. It’s simply a nice story told about high school romance. It’s a nice and easy watch that’s for anyone who’s looking to reminisce about what it’s like to be young and in love.

Masters of the Universe Revelation

Rodneil: Gotta admit, I only checked this out because of the online uproar it caused online, plus I’m a fan of Kevin Smith’s works. I think the title itself, which excluded “He-Man”, was a big enough clue on how this show will turn out. I think Smith is taking the franchise to a new, interesting direction and I’m all for it.

Eden

Rodneil: This one likely flew under everyone’s radar but it’s worth checking out. Directed by Yasuhiro Irie (Fullmetal Alchemist), Eden showcases a world governed and populated by robots. Curiously, two robots meet and eventually raise a human child who eventually tries to learn the truth of what really happened to the planet. It’s a nice, touching, quick watch (four episodes) that can surprisingly tug at your heartstrings.

Move To Heaven

Vincenz: You may have never heard of being a “trauma cleaner.” Not only is it a tough job for cleaning the items of the deceased, but it’s also a heart-wrenching job for knowing each and every story of the dead. Each episode is a story to tell. While they are different on their own, it gives us a lesson: don’t take life for granted and enjoy it while it lasts.

Racket Boys

Vincenz: I’m not fond of sports but this series shows the reality of badminton against a baseball-driven nation. This is a refreshing take on K-Dramas that is full of romance, drama, and terror. You get the reality of badminton from both the youngsters and oldies and how it’s underrated and less supported either emotionally or financially. It also shows how being inspired and fully driven truly affects the overall capacity of an individual in fulfilling his/her dream of becoming young national athletes that either represent their respective regions or their nation as a whole.

Movies to see

Ruruoni Kenshin Live Action films on Netflix

Rodneil: Easily the best Live Action Film adaptation of any Manga or Animé, all five films of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise are now available for binge-watching on Netflix. Even if you didn’t read the manga or watch the animé, I’d wager this is still a good way to enjoy Kenshin’s story.

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Rodneil: This one isn’t coming out until August 23 on Netflix but we were lucky enough to get a screener. The story builds on the lore of The Witcher franchise. It serves as a prequel to the live action adaptation starring Henry Cavill and provides a nice little backstory about how Witchers come to be Witchers.

The animation is super high quality reminiscent of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: Legend of Korra and DreamWorks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender. It had me daydreaming about an X-Men Animated Series reboot in this specific art style.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Perfect World by TWICE

Rodneil: “Perfect World” the song is one of their best Japanese comebacks. It showcased the really dark and edgy side of TWICE that some fans have been longing to see. The rest of the album features previously released singles along with gems like “Good at Love” which is again a surprising track from the nine-member girl group as well as the feel good “PIECES OF LOVE” and the emotional “Thank You, Family” and “PROMISE.”

Taste of Love by TWICE

Rodneil: Released earlier than their Japanese comeback, Taste of Love is a splash of TWICE in Summer. This whole mini album, headlined by the title track “Alcohol Free”, feels like a refreshing drink you take in under the heat of the sun. It embraces TWICE’s bright image and color but one that feels more grown up compared to the cuter tracks from their earlier years.

Dance On My Own by LOONA

Vincenz: All songs in LOONA’s [&] EP are all worth the hype but for any newbies who are still transitioning from Western to K-Pop, this is a great song to listen to.

Even though the lyrics are emotional, the song is actually fast-paced and energetic to the point that it’ll move you to grooves. None of the members are native English speakers but the lyrics are clear and audible. LOONA is really destined to go big globally.

Si Fueras Mía / It’s Love by D.O

Vincenz: D.O’s Empathy album, no doubt, is one of the best K-Pop albums out there. Not only does it include an English track, there’s also a Spanish song that truly made me think he knows how to speak the language.

Other than the inclusion of its Korean song counterpart called “It’s Love /다시,사랑이야 (Dashi sarangiya)”, “Si Fueras Mía” gives a different vibe due to the chosen lyrics. These titles are truly worth listening to.


Moodswings In This Order (MITO) by DPR Ian

JP: DPR Ian’s debut EP features DPR Live and CL (former K-pop group 2NE1 leader) in one of the tracks called “No Blueberries.” The album’s central theme is the personification of Ian’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder and other life experiences into a fictional character named Mito.

MITO is an introspective album that combines lyrical and auditory components with engaging visuals. This multidisciplinary approach makes for an utterly immersive album with widely relatable representations.

I Just by Red Velvet

Gab: It’s an old B-Side track from Red Velvet, but with the recently concluded promotions of the now out-of-hiatus SM girl group, they brought it back. It’s a banger for a B-Side, and it’s good music to listen to when you play games at a high level, or maybe that’s just me. Also, ROCKSTAR WENDY!


The Mismatch by The Ringer

Rodneil: NBA off-season is in full swing and with it comes a plethora of player movement. The Mismatch with Kevin O’Connor and Chris Vernon shares pretty sober takes and well-researched analysis on the NBA landscape.

Books to read


Rogue Anthology

Leez: Rogues is an anthology featuring 21 original short stories from various authors. The book has been edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Released in 2014, the book is worth multiple reads and revisits. It’s got sci-fi mystery, historical fiction, epic fantasy, sorcery, comedy, tragedy, and crime stories. Where, rogues, cads, scalawags, con men, thieves, and scoundrels get the spotlight of their enthralling moral obscurity. What’s not to love?

Discourses, Fragments, Handbook (Oxford World’s Classics)

JP: Epictetus was a reek Stoic philosopher who taught philosophy as a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. In a chaotic time like this pandemic, stoicism is a good compass for overcoming challenges and reinforcing mental and emotional strength. This book relays Epictetus’ core principles in a language and manner that’s clear and relatable even to modern readers.

Entertainment

NBA ties up with the Pixel 6 series for the playoffs

Published

on

Do we even need an official launch for the Pixel 6 series at this point? Hours ahead of its slated launch, the Pixel 6 series has revealed almost everything about itself through official releases and extensive leaks. Now, the newsreel has moved to other spotlights. Google has announced that the Pixel 6 series is the first presenting partner for the upcoming NBA playoffs.

Reported by The Athletic, the league officially announced the multiyear marketing and technology deal. With the partnership, the Pixel series will become the official presenting partner of the playoffs, the G League playoffs, and the NBA 2K League All-Star Game. Google had previously tied up for this season’s WNBA playoffs.

The NBA can now use Google Trends and other tools to improve data for both the league and the tech company.

As mentioned, Google has officially scheduled the Pixel 6’s launch for October 19. More than its predecessors, the flagship series will introduce a new smartphone experience for Android users, headed by Google’s first in-house chipset called the Tensor chip. Though the deal is for multiple years, the Pixel 6’s launch is definitely a timely one.

On the other hand, NBA is also celebrating a milestone this season. The upcoming season, which starts later this week, will be the 75th NBA season.

SEE ALSO: NBA 2K22 MyCareer will feel like an ‘open-world’ RPG

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Samsung is shooting a Hollywood film with the Galaxy S21 Ultra

Smartphone-only films are coming

Published

on

Smartphone cameras have brought high-quality photography to a wider audience. It can easily make people feel that they can take professional photos and videos just from their phones. To prove their power, some brands have committed to shooting feature-length films purely using their respective flagships. Samsung, fresh from doing the same last year, has partnered with an actual director to shoot a Hollywood film with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Officially announced in Samsung’s main website, Hollywood director Joe Wright will helm the project. Prior to the upcoming film, Wright also directed other notable titles like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.

The film, titled Princess & Peppernose, is the “the tale of a princess in search of love who defies convention to pursue her own desires.” Adding a bit more to the challenge, Wright is adding puppetry to the film.

Besides Princess & Peppernose, Samsung is also tapping into another filmmaker, Chinese director Sha Mo, to create another film shot purely with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. That film — titled Kids of Paradise — will premiere along side Wright’s film during South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival sometime this month.

This isn’t the first smartphone-only film from Samsung either. Last year, Samsung asked a Korean filmmaker to create a feature-length film using the Galaxy S20 series. With smartphone cameras improving throughout the years, it’s no surprise that smartphone-only films are popping up.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: For Pro Users!

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Xiaomi Mi TV P1: Home cinema for the budget-conscious

A 4K HDR Android TV you can definitely afford

Published

on

By

I don’t want to sound like I’m an ultimate cheapskate, but I guess I kind of belong in that category as I always try and see things on-sale or those lower than their Suggested Retail Pricing.

Way back in May 2021, I was looking for an Android TV within my PhP 20,000 to 25,000 (US$ 400 – US$ 500) budget. Xiaomi’s Mi TV was one of them — the Mi LED TV 4S to be exact. But upon knowing that units bought from China with a global ROM still doesn’t support Netflix, I decided to find another (and might even be a better) alternative.

Several months later, Xiaomi announced the Mi TV P1 series — and finally a follow-up to the Mi TV 4A series almost three years ago.

Even though it’s been a while ever since I purchased that other Android TV with my hard-earned money, I still accepted this review unit to test and know the feats and defeats of the Mi TV P1 as a new Android TV in this vast TV market.

A design so tacky and lacks variety

Just a static long light indicator when it’s powered on

The problem with TV nowadays is that, most of them look similar with their plasticky build. If you’re looking for a premium-looking TV on a tight budget, sorry to break it to you, but the Mi TV P1 is entirely made out of plastic. From its side bezels, chin, and even the legs/stand, they’re all in the same material and a coating that’s oh-so-glossy.

It’s almost as glossy as the protective film it came with

The panel is glossy too. You shouldn’t place this directly parallel to your window or it might bother you when watching content that are less bright or dark.

Chaehyun is the definition of a human being with an angelic voice #김채현_데뷔하자

Even the large window covered with curtains at the left side of our living room wasn’t safe from such distraction.

Not the most unique stand design ever

Not gonna lie, it looked and felt cheap. There’s literally no excuse for it being a “budget” TV. Compared to the Android TV I own at the same price point, it’s still able to have a metallic bottom bezel and aluminum stands without reducing most of the features that the Mi TV P1 possesses.

Attaching these was truly a horrifying experience

Speaking of stand, it took me around ten minutes thinking how to attach both legs. The screw holes were kind of confusing and misleading as well as the form of each leg. Instructions in the user manual about attaching both TV leg stands was vague so I have to research further online. It’s honestly one of my worst experiences of attaching screws to a product.

Sufficient ports and connections

The Mi TV P1 has a Composite In (AV), two USB-A ports, and three HDMI ports — one with eARC support. The 32-inch version has lesser though. Other ports you might be curious to know are Ethernet Port, CI SlotOptical Digital Audio Out, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

For wireless connectivity, the Mi TV P1 has a reliable Wi-Fi connection as it not only supports the 2.4GHz band, but the faster 5GHz band as well. That’s something my other TV doesn’t have.

There’s even the faster and latency-less Bluetooth 5.0 support. And with the bundled 360 Bluetooth remote, I can still turn off the TV even when I’m sitting and eating from the kitchen area or when I need to go to the bathroom without ever pointing at the TV itself.

Not sure if it’s just my muscle memory but the remote of the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 confuses me — and might be the same to some future users.

If you’re a heavy Android user, the default back key of smartphones is placed at the left side rather than the middle. Xiaomi could’ve just switched the button placements. They could’ve even done the same to the “O” (home) button by placing it in the middle instead.

Some button controls would’ve made more sense too if “CC”, “EPG”, “INFO”, and that “dot” weren’t placed there. And if you’re right-handed like I am, pressing the power button requires some reach as it’s placed on the upper left part instead of right.

The power of Android TV

ICYMI, the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 runs Android TV. On paper, it runs a MediaTek 9611 chipset paired with 2GB of memory and 16GB of internal storage. Those are actually enough for running and storing TV-limited Android apps that can be downloaded through the Google Play Store.

While YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video were already installed upon first use, there are also other streaming apps you can download such as iQiyi, WeTV, Viu, Crunchyroll, HBO Go, TED, and more.

As you were already spoiled in the earlier section, the Mi TV P1 supports Google Assistant. This reduces the hassle and sore of typing each letter through the remote’s D-pad when searching content across all apps.

Google Assistant indicator

On the bottom part of that odd bar below the Mi TV P1’s chin, there’s a switch to turn on (or off) the far-field microphones of the TV.

Google Assistant prompt

This enables you to use Google Assistant even when you’re roaming another area in your house. So yeah, no to pointing your mouth to the remote. People with a loud speaking voice will benefit this feature the most.

More power with Chromecast

Too lazy to type? Or you just don’t want to bother your family members when you activate Google Assistant? Well, your other option is to share content from your phone to the TV — and that’s thanks to its built-in Chromecast feature.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android, you shouldn’t worry at all as Chromecast supports both systems.

Other than sharing content from YouTube, you can also share and stream music on a bigger screen as long as Spotify is downloaded on both devices.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Spotify being sus by cutting both Heejin and Olivia Hye out of the screen 🙄

Purely immersive

Nowadays, most Netflix titles and YouTube content come with an ultra-wide 21:9 ratio (or even in a 2.39:1 anamorphic ratio). In layman’s term, those are simply the black bars you see when watching videos in your fullscreen smartphones or standard monitors. But thanks to its slim bezels, watching on the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 felt immersive — especially if you’re watching just several meters away from the TV.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Hong Banjang just being charismatic over Yoon Chigwa #HeadOverHeels

Watching series such as Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha honestly felt more immersive as if I’m sitting along with the characters.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Isa’s visuals pops even more with this vibrant TV

Even STAYC’s Stereotype music video, despite its black bars, still made me enjoy its stunning visuals and cinematography (as well as vocals, musical arrangement, and choreography).

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Speaking of pure, the “Fate” performance from Girls Planet 999 made me cry with its pureness in beauty paired with superiority in choreography

What more if it’s a 16:9 content? Whether it’s in 4K UHD or just Full HD 1080p resolution, your eyes will still enjoy every frame of what you’re watching especially if its displayed in a large screen a la cinema.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

My feels for Tzuyu are definitely not over when watching and listening to #TheFeels

A 4K 16:9 content is more pleasing to look at especially with its sharp and crisp details. TWICE’s The Feels is a testament to that.

If you’re curious about sound quality. It’s double 10W speakers are loud with enough bass and clarity. But don’t expect cinema-grade audio experience even with Dolby Audio and DTS-HD support. But if you’re really into that cinema-grade experience. you still need to get at least a soundbar or invest on a better surround sound system (in which I think budget-conscious users care less about).

Excellent display for a budget TV

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

aespa’s Karina is a living goddess. Periodt. Periodism.

Apart from having an almost edge-to-edge 4K display, the Mi TV P1 also boasts HDR10+ support for displaying picture-perfect content with an even wider range of colors in the spectrum.

This isn’t for everyone but just in case someone wants to know, you can choose between various Color Spaces ranging from Standard and Native, to Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, BenQ’s BT.2020, and ITU-R’s BT.709 color gamut.

If you go and specifically search for 4K HDR content on YouTube, the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 will be able to handle and display that content to you with no frills. That’s something other TVs, monitors, and even smartphones can’t display at all.

To make the display even better, it also has Dolby Vision apart from HDR10+. For this particular instance: Squid Game, which is Netflix’s hottest series right now, shows the Dolby Vision indicator right next to its parental rating info.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Not only does it show better color accuracy and output with HDR10+, this Dolby Vision feature is also able to display better dynamic range with the right amount of contrast, highlights, and shadows.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Loco might just be Yuna’s era

One noticeable aspect of this TV is the inclusion of Motion Smoothing feature out of the box that my other Android TV doesn’t have. It’s honestly a feast for the eyes but probably not everyone’s cup of tea. By default, it’s set to Standard but can be turned off.

Pretty decent for gaming, too

While the Mi TV P1 has only a 60Hz panel, playing on it still felt true-to-life. With the 55-incher that I have, details are still clear and sharp even if my PS4 Slim only supports a maximum display resolution of 1080p. With one port that supports HDMI 2.1 / eARC, people who spent their fortune on a PlayStation 5 (PS5) and are considering a less-expensive smart TV, I’m sure bumping it over 1080p will work.

One thing to keep in mind if you’re a sucker for ultra-smooth and seamless gameplay, the Mi TV P1 doesn’t do its Motion Smoothing magic — at least on the PS4 itself. It doesn’t even work on the console’s UI.

Not a biggie but some might consider that as a buying point. There are also two more limitations that I’ll talk more at the latter part of this review.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

Overall, gaming on the Mi TV P1 is pretty decent for casual and gamers on a limited budget. You get to enjoy its big screen size — which still depends on the model you’ll buy and your distance from the TV.

Another thing, I tested playing games for hours starting with Watch Dogs: Legion, then Gran Turismo, Crash Team Racing, and even several Tekken 7 VS battles but my eyes haven’t strained at all.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

The best part is that, all the games I’ve successfully finished those games thanks to the Mi TV P1’s display superiority.

Some good things have bad sides, too

Aside from rants about its design and remote control, there are other things I’ve encountered during my time with this smart Android TV.

1st: PatchWall isn’t ready for the country yet

While PatchWall was already introduced to Mi TV users in India, Indonesia, and other parts of the globe, it’s unfortunately not ready in the Philippines just yet.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

For those who aren’t familiar, PatchWall is Xiaomi’s special launcher that has a better UI over the stock Android TV experience. But it not being ready for the Philippine market further proves my point that the “Mi” button on the remote control is pretty useless as that one opens up PatchWall.

2nd: HDR isn’t supported for all devices

As ironic as it gets, this 4K HDR TV has some HDR limitations.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

It may not be a huge deal to most but for myself who got accustomed with my own Android TV being able to display HDR even when a PlayStation 4 is hooked up, it’s such a disappointment that the Mi TV P1 doesn’t offer that HDR compatibility to my gaming console. I even tried hooking up the HDMI cable to each HDMI port but to no avail.

3rd: Display settings cannot be accessed on other HDMI devices as well

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

As I was trying to shoot more photos of the TV while using the PS4, I’m was surprised that pressing the “Settings” button doesn’t reveal the Device Preferences sidebar. Not only can I not adjust the brightness and backlight level, I also can’t pick a certain picture mode that might suit the game better. What a total waste.

Is the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re all in for the Mi TV P1’s excellence in image quality and immersiveness without ever minding its lackluster aesthetic and limitations in HDR support and PatchWall, the Mi TV P1 is a TV I can recommend. This product goes well for those who just recently moved to a new home and wants a TV that’s just right for their budget.

Xiaomi Mi TV P1

The good stuff of this Android TV still weigh more than the compromises mentioned. If you can’t wait to have your new TV in this upcoming holiday season, the Xiaomi Mi TV P1 is still a wise buy. Other than this 55-inch model which is priced at PhP 24,990, there are also 32, 43, and 50-inch variants available that retail for PhP 10,990 / PhP 18,990 / PhP 22,990 respectively.

Continue Reading

Trending