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3 months with the Samsung Neo QLED 4K TV

Extended quality time with a superb TV

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I was supposed to only have about two weeks to a month with the Samsung Neo QLED 4K TV. But the heightened restrictions due to the record number of Coronavirus cases in the Philippines extended that duration. Nearly three months in, and I’m now dreading my life without the TV.

We’ve already discussed at length the various features of the Neo QLED 4K TV — the QN85A model to be exact. In this article made in collaboration with Samsung, we detailed how it’s great for practically anything you’d use your TV for. Whether that’s for chill movie nights, binge-watching TV shows, and even next-gen gaming. This TV has it all.

But here, I’ll detail what it’s really like living with the TV for three months, what I love about it, and what I think Samsung can improve on.

The processor makes a world of a difference

Neo QLED

During the time I had the Neo QLED 4K TV with me, we also shot the video for the Samsung Crystal UHD TV. It’s another very good 4K TV offering by Samsung but one that’s a little friendlier to your wallet.

The one thing that jumped out at me is the speed by which I’m able to jump from one app to another, and launch various settings and features so much faster on the Neo QLED 4K TV. Other than the gaming and extra features that I’ll discuss more later on, it’s this very noticeable difference in speed that really hammers home the price gap (Around PhP 70,000/ US$ 1380) between the two.

Of course, there are other factors like the processor, materials used, and all the other extra smart features, but it’s this tiny quality of life addition that I think might be often overlooked when talking about these TVs. It’s also the processor that enables all these other extra features.

Extra feature

Since I’ve already broached on the topic, I figured I might as well discuss one of them here. I’ll jump right ahead to the one extra feature that I found surprisingly fun, if not helpful.

The Samsung Neo QLED 4K TV lets you display images from two different sources at once. It can be any combination of an app, any of the HDMI input sources, and even your smartphone.

Some combinations I’ve used are as follows:

VLIVE + Twitter on my smartphone — Every now and then, my favorite K-Pop idols go live on the VLIVE app. For real-time translations, I rely on the kind-hearted and hard-working KOR-ENG translators on stan Twitter.

PlayStation 5 + YouTube — I once tuned in to a product launch while playing an NBA 2K game. I don’t really need the audio on NBA 2K, especially if it’s just a quick exhibition game. This way, I still got to chill and play while still listening and glancing over the product launch.

Netflix + Analytics app — Some days I just have whatever show running for white noise, and then have Google Analytics show up on the screen so I can monitor the traffic on our website.

Is this burn-in? 

What I found most surprising is the burn-in like effect I experienced after coming from Game Mode. It’s silly to think this is actually burn-in as Neo QLED is fundamentally different from OLED.

But during the earlier weeks I spent with the TV, some elements of the pause screens from NBA 2K21 and Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut were left on-screen even after I was done playing.

Neo QLED

That NBA 2K logo isn’t supposed to show up there

I reached out to Samsung about this but have yet to receive a response. I’ll update the article when they comment on the matter.

That said, the “after-images” didn’t stick though. My solution was to turn off the TV for about 20-30 minutes. Sure enough, that did the trick. I also didn’t encounter this again towards the tail end of my time with the TV.

Speaking of things no longer happening after using the TV for a while, I experienced a few hiccups with Game Mode. Part of the TV being Smart is knowing when you’re playing or not. It knows when the HDMI for your console is active or not and toggles Game Mode on/off accordingly.

Game Mode glitch

During my first few weeks with the TV, there were instances when I would turn-off the PS5 but the Game Mode remained turned on. You have to dig through the settings menu to turn it off which was a bit of an inconvenience. But after a while, this also stopped happening.

In both experiences, it appears as if the TV learned from my usage pattern and adjusted accordingly. It’s one of the things about it that gives me confidence that the Neo QLED 4K TV gets a little better with time.

Other than the aforementioned, Game Mode delivers as advertised. I hit 4K/60fps consistently and gaming was nothing short of an immersive and cinematic experience.

Cinema at home

Perhaps my favorite thing about the TV, and what people mostly want to get out of their TVs, is the absolute cinematic experience. Especially now that cinemas are still closed in the country. The 55-inch TV was my primary movie companion.

Watching movies old and new from the various available apps — Netflix, Apple TV, HBO Go — was nothing short of a treat. Elevating the experience further is the accompanying Q600A Soundbar. If you’re a huge movie and TV buff, I cannot recommend enough to get a soundbar. The high-quality audio helps in bringing over that audio-visual excellence we miss while movie theaters remain closed.

This photo was taken on an iPhone 11 Pro. See the black bars up top, this is a shot of the TV. It looks this good up close.

I just know the watching experience is gonna be drastically different when I switch back over to my old TV that’s screaming to be replaced. This is peak picture quality the way you want to enjoy it. Whether you like watching exactly as the director intended, or if you’re into that super smooth, hyper-realistic setting you usually see when these TVs are on display, there are more than enough settings here to tweak things to your liking.

UI needs a refresh

Neo QLED

The UI isn’t terrible, but it’s due for a redesign.

Functionally, we’re pretty okay with the TizenOS running on Samsung TVs. But it’s due for a visual refresh. For a TV that’s pushing the edge in features, image processing, and panel quality, the UI is starting to feel dated.

Other than the look, Samsung can also work on getting better, faster access to certain settings. I don’t think this will happen any time soon, but I hope they’re able to apply some design principles from ONE UI to the TV to make it look more modern and feel more smooth.

Worth every penny

Samsung Neo QLED

Despite detailing some issues with Game Mode, I am still of the firm belief that the Samsung Neo QLED TV is worth your hard earned cash. Whether you go for 4K or push things further with the 8K model, what you’re getting here is a top-of the-line entertainment hub. One that will last you for years.

I’m already having separation anxiety as I type the last few words on this article. I consume a lot of media, and I’ve never had it delivered to me as good, as crisp, and as heart-thumping, as the Neo QLED TV.

It’s a TV I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking to splurge on a really good home entertainment centerpiece.

Features

6 posh smartphones in shades of purple

Powerful smartphones painted in a powerful color

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Purple smartphones aren’t entirely new, but they’ve certainly stood out from 2021 until the present. What used to be the color of the rich, the powerful, and the high status is now dressed in smartphones to depict an air of elegance, mystique, and a little bit of fun.

Instead of using the bold, vibrant shade of purple, smartphone makers painted their products with a lighthearted and warm color — mostly in shades of lavender.

While these smartphones are looking hot and blazingly attracting so much attention across the Internet and the market, there are plenty of reasons to still wear them even if you hate being part of the trend.

Pay attention to the Purple-colored smartphones

Recently, the Spring/Summer 2022 Fashion Week listed Green and Purple as the perfect colors to wear for the season. These colors are easy on the eyes, especially the lighter and muted tones. They will surely match any outfit, particularly if you’re donning pastel dresses and accessories.

Furthermore, most smartphones coated in unique shades of purple are powerful. Like, literally. These devices are considered flagships in different categories. Even if their successors arrive, it’s a guarantee that you can trust these devices will last with you for over two years and beyond.

Lo and behold! It’s time to pick your poison, err, I mean, Purple.

Samsung Galaxy S21

2021’s earliest flagship came in a stunning Phantom Violet. Lush, playful, yet elegant. The Galaxy S21 might be a year old already, but it’s still one of the best flagship smartphones that you can buy today. In fact, it was the first smartphone we gave a GadgetMatch Seal of Approval — which means you can trust that this smartphone will be with you as long as it can.

iPhone 12

We were surprised when Apple brought out the Purple iPhone 12. Fans are hinting at a new iPhone yet Apple unleashed a new colorway instead. Nevertheless, we revel in how the Purple iPhone added delight during Spring, blooming together with nature, seemingly giving us hope despite the uncertain future.

Moreover, iPhones are guaranteed continuous software updates so you can rest easy knowing that your smartphone won’t give up on you five years later.

Samsung Galaxy A72

Samsung’s headliner for the midrange A-series might be the Galaxy A52, but most people are sleeping on the Galaxy A72, especially in its Awesome Violet colorway.

It continues the solid promise of its predecessor, packing flagship features and essentials at an affordable package that everyday consumers surely enjoy.

OPPO Find N

The OPPO Find N captured our eyes and hearts with its playful colorway and unique foldable experience. It’s compact, durable, tough, and performs well like any other flagship smartphone.

There’s nothing quite like it for now, and it’s definitely a phone you should consider if you’re hopping on the foldable trend. If you can get your hands on it, that is.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G

Though our eyes are fixated on the Cream Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, it’s irresistible to look at if it’s coated in Lavender. The color is bold, vibrant, and eye-catching. The pièce de résistance for anyone who wants to capture attention. A fine accessory for a personality meant to stand out.

And more importantly, it’s just as good as any flagship smartphone out there. It still has the same flagship Samsung experience you’d normally expect, and it certainly delivers — with continuous updates for the next three years or so.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Oops, Samsung did it again. The successor to its Fan Edition phones recently made its advent, and we found ourselves falling in love with the experience of using the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G. It’s great all around, and we’re comfortable calling it one of the best smartphones for most users for now.

It’s an absolute joy to use, and a worthy buy even with new, more advanced phones on the horizon. And more importantly, it’s a sight to behold. That Lavender surely knows how to work its way around different outfits and colors. You won’t regret parading this color.

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Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G: Fiber-like speeds within reach

The solution to Fiber-less homes

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When the world we live in requires us to stay connected and do our work through our preferred machines at the comfort of our homes, having a stable connection isn’t merely a desire anymore.

Sadly, not all homes are granted a fast Internet connection or fiber connectivity. Even I struggled to deal with intermittent connection from a certain Internet Service Provider (ISP). I remember using an extra 5G-capable smartphone as a mobile hotspot as my backup, especially when I was attending virtual conferences, team meetings, and client briefings.

It was costly, severely damaging my wallet in the process of staying connected. More importantly, not everyone is as privileged as I am. I get access to the latest technology and gadgets in the market.

Hope seems lost for most people, but there’s a new solution: the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G.

Design and capabilities

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is designed like the routers you see in the market today. Its build is similar to the Huawei WiFi AX3, especially when the device dons a plain, white colorway across its body.

I got the limited edition unit plastered with a cover design, drawn by award-winning Illustrator Stephanie Bravo-Semilla. The artwork playfully depicts how high-speed connectivity can link families together as they pursue their passions.

The router uses WiFi 6 technology — which guarantees speeds three times faster than the commonly used WiFi 5. It’s also equipped with a 5G NR SA/NSA connection, allowing it to connect to two wireless access technologies. Further, it has a 5G PLUS 2NR Carrier Aggregation, which expands the coverage indoors as well as maintains the connection’s stability.

Right off the bat, you can see how the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is built with six distinct external antennas as well, picking up better signals. It also have 9dBi high-gain antennas that extend the reach and support Gigabyte Ethernet Ports, WPA3 WiFi Security, and WiFi 22 MIMO.

Indicators, ports, buttons

You can find the LED indicators on top, displaying the status of your WiFi, 5G/4G signal, SIM, and System. There’s a pre-installed Smart SIM card that comes with 20GB of open-access data.

When you plug the router into a socket, it will boot up and the 4G signal will flash first unless it recognizes 5G connectivity in your area.

I used it inside my room, which is found in the innermost part of the house. At first, it didn’t pick up a 5G signal. The LED indicator for the 4G signal was on while the router was trying to find 5G.

That’s when I knew I had to place it outside my door. A few seconds later, the indicator for 5G connectivity lit up.

To confirm it, I turned on my mobile data using my 5G-capable smartphone and connected another one to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G. Happy to report that I live in a place where there’s 5G — both my smartphones and the WiFi device are picking up the 5G signal.

At the back, you can find the power port, Ethernet ports, reset button, and WPS button.

GigaLife

When the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G was already up and running, I continued the setup by following the manual — which instructs you to access the web management page. I turned on my laptop, connected to the WiFi, and changed the network settings.

But that’s a grueling process — continuously going back to the web management page — just to check how your account is performing.

Luckily, you can use Smart’s GigaLife app. I like how it instantly reads the mobile number upon using the app. Even if I’m just connected to the WiFi. There was a prompt asking me if I was using a prepaid WiFi SIM.

Frankly, I dislike the hassle of adding and configuring accounts. I find it really convenient that the app easily recognized the account I’m using.

Through GigaLife, you can check your remaining balance, reload, and even monitor your subscriptions. Everything’s just easy when you have things sorted in one place.

Internet Speed for 5G-capable smartphones

I first tested the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G through 5G smartphones that I have. Using the Honor 50 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, I was able to do my everyday activities. Basically, the same stuff I would do had I been connected to my existing WiFi.

I played games without any delays, watched Netflix and other video content without buffering, and scrolled non-stop on social media.

I’ve connected two of my smartphones, my Nintendo Switch Lite, and my laptop. The router can supposedly handle 10 devices all at once. And even with four gadgets connected, not once did I feel any stutter in the Internet connection.

But then again, it really depends on the signal picked up in your area.

For laptops

Nevertheless, the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G gets speeds from 20 to 100Mbps. You can actually do your everyday tasks, including work and school.

My signal gave speeds between 60-70Mbps consistently, more than enough to let me upload and download creative assets for the projects I’m working on.

I’m privileged to have access to PLDT’s Fibr plans with an actual Fiber cable instead of copper lines. When I wasn’t using the 5G network, I get the same speed as I do when connected through the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, albeit higher.

The experience is quite the same — in terms of speed, latency, and maintaining the stability of the connection.

For non-5G smartphones

Over the holidays, my cousin who was studying in the province visited our family for a month. Like most people, she hasn’t switched to a 5G-capable smartphone since 5G connectivity isn’t as prevalent in the province as compared to when you’re in Metro Manila and living in key cities.

There’s a preconceived notion that 5G connectivity can’t be enjoyed by non-5G smartphones, but we beg to differ. While you can’t reach sky-high speeds when you do a speed test, the experience is the same as when you’re connected to a WiFi with Fiber connectivity.

My cousin played Call of Duty: Mobile for hours while connected to the Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G, and she expressed interest in taking it home. Especially with how stable the connection was even if there were my other four gadgets connected to the router.

Should you get one?

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G is the perfect solution for fiber-less homes wanting to have wireless fiber-like connectivity. You just have to remember that it uses a mobile network. The quality and speed of the connection will always depend on your area. Somehow, it’s a  worthy investment for the everyday consumer living in the Philippines.

Students and budget-conscious consumers can monitor their data usage and spending since it’s prepaid WiFi. If you have spare money, it can be a backup plan just in case your Internet connection is interrupted. You won’t have to worry when you’re in the middle of a meeting, a conference, or an online class.

The Smart Bro Home WiFi 5G retails for PhP 15,995. It will be available at the Smart Online Store. For the same price, you can get the Smart Bro 5G Rocket WiFi. It’s perfect for anyone who needs to stay connected while on the go.

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How to get your bumpy fitness journey back on track

Start slowly with a smartwatch

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Redmi Watch 2 Lite

The rise of smartwatches and wearables is revolutionizing healthcare in an entirely new way by allowing us to take charge of our physical and mental well-being right from our wrists.

Anyone can quickly jump-start a fitness routine designed for their level. But if you haven’t kept up with your fitness routine over the past year, I’m not going to blame you. I’ve been hibernating most of the year, too!

The thought of figuring out how to start working out again seemed daunting. But wearing a smartwatch can help shake off the dust. Such is the case when I wore the Redmi Watch 2 Lite — I knew right away it’s time to get back in shape.

Know your fitness level and start slowly

It’s been a while since my last workout, so I remembered to take it easy. Starting off with something as rudimentary as a week of stretching is fine.

I decided to begin my fitness journey with quick runs, yoga, and quality stretching. If you’re unsure where to start, smartwatches usually have workout modes built-in. In my case, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite offered 100 workout modes — from core sports like outdoor running, and even freestyle workout tracking.

It also includes support for GPS, Glonass, as well as Galileo, and BDS satellite systems to improve accuracy in tracking your outdoor runs and rides.

Keeping my heart healthy, unbothered and happy

Before working out, I used to pick a Spotify playlist that’ll last the entire duration. Then, I just head off and skip some rope or run on a treadmill. Or go outdoors when the sun is setting down.

I’d do anything to keep my heart rate up without depleting my strength. It helps with my concentration and focus — something that we need to consider beyond our workouts, too.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite has an optical heart rate sensor that continuously measures heart rate during exercises, or even when you’re lounging around day or night. On the plus side, it helps me track my stress levels and wind down through guided breathing exercises.

Take essential breaks to power through

Hitting your fitness goals as soon as possible might be your main objective for now, but you shouldn’t work out relentlessly. Take breaks. Come back better and stronger.

Throughout my journey, I learned how important sleep is, especially in helping your muscles recover. It actually matters the most during training.

Although sleeping requires far less energy than most daytime activities, I was surprised that it’s still an active period for burning some calories.

Seeing statistics on my wrist about my sleep quality helped me understand recovery better. For in-depth understanding, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite syncs with a dedicated Xiaomi Wear app — which works with any smartphone.

Somehow, I learned more about my sleep stages as well as my heart rate and blood oxygen levels when I’m snoozing, and how they’re an important indicator if your body’s doing well. I realized that my sleep quality can help me determine how much effort I’ll make on my workout the next day.

Stay active, no matter what

Consistency is key. I’m a deep believer that our habits don’t just appear out of nowhere. A significant reason is that things don’t just happen in a split second — time is needed to get stronger, build muscle, and lose fat. Having a visual reminder of my workout streak motivates me to keep going.

This is why I enjoyed the Redmi Watch 2 Lite. It packs a 262mAh battery capacity which, based on my regular usage, lasted me for at least 10 days.

It’s great having a smartwatch with a solid stamina that can accompany you through your fitness journey. You don’t have to spend a lot of time charging your device every now and then, so you can continue being active and staying on track. Hit your goals right!

Ready, #GetFit, and #StartNow!

Imagine having a smartwatch that can certainly get you a week’s worth of time in between charges. For a budget smartwatch, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite certainly impressed me on how it can be a long-lasting companion as I try to get my fitness journey back on track.

It also looks chic and it doesn’t feel cheap, even for a retail price of PhP 2,899. Plus, the screen has a reasonably good quality.

The Redmi Watch 2 Lite comes in various colors such as Ivory, Black, and Blue. Meanwhile, the straps showcase different colors that complement the watch, namely Pink, Olive, and Brown.

Get the Redmi Watch 2 Lite on Xiaomi’s flagship stores in Shopee and Lazada.

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