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Sony Bravia X95G and HT-X8500 Soundbar: Perfect home cinema combo

Netflix and chill like a boss

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Before the start of the 2019 I thought new TVs are mostly overrated. Brands will sell you on improved picture quality, better audio, and all of that, but a lot of it felt moot to me.

Every now and then we’ll see something that’s really eye-catching, but other than that, I didn’t think much of Smart TVs. But then I got to try one and I was impressed with what it had to offer. So when Sony offered one for us to experience one of their new ones, I jumped at the opportunity.

Notice how I said experience? That’s because that’s what this whole month with the Sony Bravia X95G and HT-X8500 soundbar — it’s the ultimate home theater experience.

Ultimate Netflix Experience

I hate to sound too hyperbolic but this TV and soundbar combo is truly a match made in home entertainment heaven. This is especially true if a lot of your entertainment revolves around Netflix.

The Sony Bravia X95G is one of few TVs that is recommended by Netflix. It has a Netflix Calibrated Mode so if you’re hooked on any of Netflix’s Originals, you will experience them the way its creators intended them to be experienced when you watch on this TV.

Even the remote control has a dedicated Netflix button that will take you right to the app. It’s also equipped with a mic so you can tell the remote what you want to watch and more often than not, it’ll get the title right.

Watching a few episodes of Vagabond on this TV was something else. The show has a cinematic level of production and it really comes through while watching on the TV. Female Lead Suzy Bae looks extra gorgeous and some scenes really feel like they’re right there with you in the living room.

Taking it up a notch with the HT-X8500 soundbar

What really rounds this up as one of the best experiences though is when you hook the TV up with the HT-X8500 soundbar. It’s not the “smart” soundbar that most other brands offer these days but that actually works in its favor. It’s literally plug and play.

It also doesn’t have any subwoofers you need to attach to it. Instead it has twin forward facing woofers. This not only gets the job done, but it also saves you some space.

With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the soundbar is able to create this truly wraparound sound. If you dim the lights just right, it truly does feel like your own cinema right at the comfort of your own home.

Connect your consoles neatly

Cables are always messy and the way the Sony Bravia X95G deals with it is by having the cables have a path straight down to its two stands. This helps you come up with a clean setup when you connect whatever console you have at home.

Speaking of which, we connected a PlayStation 4 and the TV’s HDR tech kicked in right away. Right after firing up the PS4, the TV will prompt you to adjust the HDR for the best experience. You only have to do this once but can be adjusted anytime.

If you have more than one console, you need not worry. The TV has four HDMI ports. Three at the bottom and one at the side. It also has three USB ports for whatever you may need them for.

Everything good about Android TV

The Sony Bravia X95G is also an Android TV through and through. This means you get Android on TVs the way Google intended them to be experienced. It’s kind of like a Pixel but it’s TV. And just like the Pixel, this means you get security updates before any other Smart TV.

That said, Android TV still has plenty of room to grow. I would argue that LG’s WebOS and Samsung’s Tizen have come a long way in making sure the TV OS experience is more user-friendly and intuitive.

Not just for movies

Of course, you probably won’t only be watching Netflix on your TV. We don’t have a cable subscription so we can’t tell you how good it translates in this TV. What we do have is YouTube, and even the varying qualities of video uploaded on the platform translates nicely on the TV.

The Sony Bravia X95G is not OLED or QLED which appear to be the leading technologies in the space. It’s a more traditional HDR LED Screen but what really takes the picture quality to another level is Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor.

The chip is able to mimic the high dynamic range and deep blacks of an OLED. At this point, nothing will beat actual OLED but this is about as close as you can get. And it’s pretty darn close.

Just take a look at the photo below. It almost looks like I’m face to face with TWICE’s Momo. The Lord knows how I wish that to be true, but it’s just a TV — one with really amazing tech behind it.

The best home cinema combo

The Sony Bravia X95G starts at PhP 88,899 — that’s for the 55-inch variant. The unit we had was a 75-incher. Meanwhile, the Sony HT-X8500 soundbar costs PhP 22,299.

Together that’s about the cost of the same size OLED or QLED TV but if you get the combo, you already have for yourself what’s easily one of the best home entertainment systems one could ask for.

It’s an incredibly satisfying entertainment experience that would have you Netflix and chilling like a boss.

Features

Smartphone photography 101: Capturing festivities

Keep those memories of celebration and happiness alive

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The crowd, color, food, and impeccable decorations make welcoming the Lunar New Year so much fun and memorable. It only happens once a year, so it’s important to keep those memories of celebration and happiness alive.

Here are some tips from photographers on how you can make the most our of your iPhone during the festivities:

1. Shoot with your phone

Food stylist CR Tan demonstrates how easy it is to shoot a reunion dinner. Even if you have one, you wouldn’t really want to whip out your big camera to capture the fun and action over food. With good lighting, a little bit of styling, and added human element, you can achieve a great photo with an iPhone.

Follow CR Tan on Instagram: @xlbcr

2. Use Night Mode

Not enough light? Don’t let darkness stop you. Photographer Yudhi Aristan uses Night Mode to capture vibrant colors even in low light. Just hold still for a few seconds and see the magic happen.

Follow Yudhi Aristan on Instagram: @aristan89

3. Play with perspectives

Take your time to frame your shot. Photographer Jason Lim suggests playing around with the different lenses your iPhone comes with. The Ultra Wide Angle, Wide Angle, and Telephoto lenses can be used to create eye-catching compositions.

Follow Jason Lim on Instagram: @jsnjnr

Did you capture any photos in welcoming the Chinese New Year? Share them with us in the comments below! 📷

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24 Hours Series

24 Hours in Jakarta

Captured through the awesome camera of the Galaxy A71

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When I hear Indonesia, Bali always comes to mind. Although I’ve never been there, I know it’s a dream destination for many because of its beaches, peaks, parks, temples, and terraces. It’s an escape out of the polluted and crowded cityscape.

Two hours away from Bali is the country’s capital, Jakarta. Its dense city structure further proves that it has been on a massive urban sprawl. Honestly, I had no idea where to go and what to do — but the internet exists for a reason. The only Indo things I’m aware of are mi goreng, nasi goreng, beef rendang, MONAS, Alfa Mart. That’s about it.

I flew all the way to Jakarta for Samsung’s Awesome Live Event with BLACKPINK where they introduced the Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A71. The day after the event, I finally had the phone on hand and tested its “awesome camera”, including the new ultra-wide lens.

Cozy stay

Capturing the hotel view outside was the first thing I did with the phone. Not the best window view I had but the greenery added an ethereal escape against the sharp, tall slabs of concrete.

Going out of the room gives me another view. That large structure is the Tennis Indoor Senayan where Samsung held its live event. It’s also one of the venues of the 18th Asian Games and other K-Pop concerts. Seeing it from afar and up close made me realize how lucky I am.

Before heading out, I tried the hotel’s breakfast buffet. So far, so good. There was enough variety that I enjoyed eating. I spoiled myself by having more than five plates. Here’s a photo of the sweet food, for the wandering souls out there.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII)

I decided to go to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah as it’s located far from the skyline of Jakarta. Despite what the name suggests, this place isn’t “mini”. This museum is just one among the many parks you can see inside the TMII premises.

With limited time, I decided to push through — and I’m glad I did. It made me realize how similar Indonesians and Filipinos are, not just when it comes to appearance but also language. There are Bahasa and Tagalog words that both share the same meaning such as “selamat”, “datuk”, “kolintang”, “pintu”, “balik”, “lima”, “pula”, “kanan”, “anak”, and more. It’s truly fascinating.

These traditional art pieces show how rich and diverse Indonesia’s culture is. Some were hand-drawn, sculpted, weaved, or even painted, like the batik. They even have their own version of puppets called wayang.

After the three-story museum tour, I headed to a mini temple to rest and relax. Those who were caught off-guard by the claustrophobic dim spaces of the museum can enjoy the majestic pond outside.

National Monument (MONAS)

As mentioned earlier, I knew about MONAS. It’s Indonesia’s National Monument — and that’s because the city-building game I’m playing introduced me to it. I downloaded the landmark mod which made me recognize it’s one of Indonesia’s sought-after landmarks.

It’s erected right in the center of Jakarta. According to locals, you can see all of Jakarta if you go up — pretty much like a drone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do that because of the flaming hot weather.

Kota Tua

If you weren’t aware, Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch empire. Batavia was the old-day Jakarta. Thus, the “Old Batavia” they’re calling can be found here in Kota Tua.

What you see above is the Fatahillah Square which is the historical center of the old town. Beside it, there are museums pertaining to wayang, fine arts and ceramics, and even Jakarta’s history. During my visit, they were all closed.

If you are too lazy to walk around, there are these colorful bicycles you can rent.

The establishments here look nothing like modern-day Jakarta. A lot of cities saved much of their history through preservation of old buildings and Kota Tua is no exception.

After strolling for almost half an hour, I had my late lunch. Indonesian cuisine is known to be spicy. I teared up eating authentic mi goreng — its spice level is way too high for comfort. I love eating spicy food as long as they’re tolerable. Thankfully, Thai iced tea I ordered saved my tongue from burning.

I went to the night market early so I witnessed how vendors cooked their food before it got crowded. There are martabak and lumpia stalls although I didn’t get to try them.

The sun was setting so I hurried to see other establishments. There were a lot of shops that offer local kopi and indomie, while other stalls were selling phone cases and designer imitations. I didn’t find any souvenir shops around, although that might be because I was there before most shops opened.

Malls galore

Jakarta’s malls aren’t the biggest but they have exclusive shop offerings, like Plaza Senayan. It was surprising to see a bakery and a popular coffee shop inside the department store. It’s not something I’m used to, and I found it odd considering they were selling all sorts of cosmetic products within the vicinity.

I wasn’t too happy with the food choices at Plaza Senayan so I went to another mall near the hotel called FX Sudirman. I only had a few hours left before I had to leave so might as well enjoy what I can have.

As a Libra, being indecisive is part of my whole being. I roamed around and there were better food choices but I got tired so I chose to eat at an American burger joint instead. The Salted Egg Cheese Burger was good although the salted egg flavor was barely there.

When I went out I was greeted by these roller skaters going back and forth the sidewalk.

3-Star Airport (?)

I was surprised that the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is only a 3-star airport. It’s not as fancy as Singapore’s Changi, but it’s clean, organized, and the architecture is modern and striking. My flight departed at midnight, so you can see how quiet and less crowded it gets off-peak hours.

Unlike other airports that offer 24-hour services, most shops and restaurants after immigration were already closed by the time I got there.

Too little time for a huge city

Moments before boarding the plane, I somehow wished I could’ve stayed longer. It would’ve also been more “awesome” if I met locals around. It’s hard to imagine how I managed to compress what I wanted to see in just 24 hours. It may not be long before they transfer the city capital crown to East Kalimantan in Borneo, so I’m hoping I can come back before that happens with a more well-thought out itinerary.

All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy A71.

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How to make your crush view your Instagram Story

Three easy steps to get that validation

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Catching up with friends entails a discussion about your love life. Being single for a long time, a friend asked if I were dating someone new. I responded gleefully, “no, I’m not dating anyone but I have a new crush I met at an event.”

Giggly about my newfound love interest, my friend advised me how to tease my crush. However, it’ll only work if we’re following each other on Instagram. To see if my friend’s strategy works, we used our own accounts and to my surprise, we succeeded.

While it may yield different results, here are three easy steps you can do to make your crush view your Instagram story.

Step 1: Post a story you want your crush to see

Uploading a story feels like a small window to our lives. Make sure the photo you upload is something that you want your crush to see. It’s like making an impression, and you only have one shot if he/she ever sees your story. I posted my gym photos and pizza stories — something that both my crush and I enjoy.

Step 2: Edit your story settings

Here’s the not-so-tricky part! We’re calling it the hide-unhide strategy. When your story is uploaded, immediately adjust your story settings and hide your story from your crush. Save it, and then change the story settings again to unhide the story. This strategy beats Instagram’s algorithm and pushes your story to one of the first stories he/she can view.

Step 3: Enjoy the validation

As long as you and your crush follow each other on Instagram and regularly use the app, then it’s guaranteed that he/she will view your story. Enjoy the frickin’ validation. I’ve been doing it for almost a month now, and I always giggle whenever I see my crush’s name.

There are times that the strategy won’t push you to the first story he/she can view. For some reason, my friend tried hiding and unhiding her story to me, and she only ended up being second on the queue. Instagram still prioritizes the accounts you engage with the most through reacts and direct messages. However, being at the first five ensures you have a shot at making an impression that lasts.

Now, hurry and make your crush view your story. It won’t be long before Instagram’s algorithm changes again!

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