Features

Stay Cozy: 5 best places to visit during winter

Channel your inner Queen Elsa or Jack Frost!

Photo by Jason Briscoe

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Winter is here. From December to March, the Northern Hemisphere faces the coldest time of the year. For some people, winter is hellish. It’s brutally cold, bulky outfits make it hard to move; landscapes feel robbed of colors, and the sun barely shows itself.

However, some people enjoy the freezing season — especially those who live in tropical countries wanting to experience snow at least once in their lifetime. It’s also a time where people get closer and warmer. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy winter, here are the top places to go.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is Finland’s capital. Many people visit the country to embark on a Nordic tour and see the northern lights. Little do they know, there’s a chance to see the famed northern lights in the country’s capital, especially in February and March from 9 PM until 1 AM.

Aside from spending long nights outdoors, Helsinki is a beautiful place to go sightseeing during winter. Make sure to visit Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki Museum, Helsinki Central Library and walk around Sibelius Park and Esplanade Park. If you’re in for some coffee, visit Fazer Café and Café Regatta.

Don’t forget to visit a sauna — one of the top things to do in the city — to get a real feel of Helsinki. Drop by the Allas Sea Pool.

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel

Radisson Blu Plaza is a historical hotel near Helsinki Central Station with a Finnish-designed interior making you feel like you’re in a set from an early 1900’s movie! Book here.


Quebec, Canada

People flock to Quebec to visit Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Who wouldn’t want to? Old Quebec is a remnant of history; a piece of life from centuries ago, immortalized through design and architecture. However, Quebec has its charms that make people explore more of its secrets and wonders.

When in town, make sure to walk along Terrasse Dufferin and bask in a spectacular view of Saint-Lawrence river. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also visit Plaines d’Abraham and do some skiing and skating. Don’t forget to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate from La Maison Smith.

Lastly, Quebec has events you shouldn’t miss if you’re in town for winter. There’s a German Christmas Market in December and Carnaval de Québec in February.

Where to stay: L’appartement GLOBETROTTER

L’appartement is a spacious and bright BnB with a private roof terrace, located in Saint-Roch district. Stay here.


Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo is popular as it is one of the snowiest cities in the world. It’s also a vibrant city — even in winter — as it presents a lot of activities for every tourist. Go ahead and embrace your inner child: play in the snow, adme ice sculptures, and ride snowmobiles, especially during the Sapporo Snow Festival.

If you love beer, you probably know Sapporo as a beer brand — another reason to visit the city. Sapporo has been brewing beers since the late 1800s and people come to the Sapporo Beer Museum for beer tasting. Beer fan or not, Sapporo in winter is a beautiful place to visit in groups. Who’s in for long nights drinking beer with your friends and/or with fellow travelers?

Don’t forget to book an onsen for a warm and relaxed trip!

Where to stay: Sapporo Station BnB

Sapporo Station BnB is a charming, tatami-styled, budget-friendly BnB located next to a subway station. Stay here.


Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is a wonderful destination during winter. There are a lot of things to do both indoors and outdoors that it’s impossible not to love this city even in cold.

For those willing to brave the cold, stroll around Gyeongbokgung Palace, ice skate at Seoul Plaza and Yeoui Ice Park, eat winter street food like tteokbokki (rice cakes with spicy red chili paste), hotteok (Korean pancakes with nuts and honey), and gyeran bbang (steamed bread with egg), and of course, experience snow everywhere!

For indoor dwellers, visit quirky and themed cafés or warm up with some hot cup of tea from teahouses in Insadong.

Where to stay: Hanok Guesthouse Mon Oncle a Seoul

A Hanok is a traditional Korean house popular among tourists. Hanok Guesthouse Mon Oncle a Seoul is well-loved by travelers due to its great location and remarkable sunset views. Book here.


New York City, United States of America

Popular all-year-round, New York unravels a different personality and charm during winter. It’s a winter wonderland for most people, hosting larger-than-life celebrations and making everything big and loud.

When you’re in the city for Christmas, make sure to rock on some coats and scarves while ice-skating with a date or someone special in Rockefeller Center or at Wollman Rink. Take a stroll along Hudson’s Warren Street and through Central Park.

Other than that, New York hosts a lot of tradition and events during winter like the New Year’s Eve ball drop, Lunar New Year parade, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, New York Fashion Week, and NYC Broadway Week.

Where to stay: Walker Hotels Tribeca

Walker Hotels Tribeca is an artistic and aesthetically-pleasing hotel situated at a great location that will help you get anywhere around New York. Book here.


Stay Cozy is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we feature travel destinations with guides on things to do, sights to see and a highlight on the places we can book in advance to show that technology makes planning your trips easier.

Camera Shootouts

Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE (2020): Camera shootout

Battle of the small phones

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Pixel 4a iPhone SE

Now that we have the Pixel 4a in our hands, it’s time for another smackdown! Priced at US$ 349, we tested it against Apple’s US$ 399 iPhone SE that packs the powerful A13 Bionic Chip. With two compact phones sporting single rear cameras, which one will shoot better?

Make sure to jot down your answers, as the results of this blind test will be at the end of this article. As usual, photos were labeled, resized, and collaged (this time) for you to load the images faster. No post-processing nor any color adjustments were done in any of the photos. So, let’s begin!

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Results

Pixel 4a: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5A, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9A, 10A, 11A, 12B, 13A, 14A, 15B, 16B, 17A, 18B

iPhone SE: 1B, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5B, 6A, 7A, 8A, 9B, 10B, 11B, 12A, 13B, 14B, 15A, 16A, 17B, 18A

If you observe closely, the iPhone SE produced warmer yet vibrant photos and well-lit, wider portraits. During daylight, it provides more details while it gets pretty noisy in lowlight.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 4a captured cooler photos. Portrait-wise, it has better focus compared to the iPhone SE despite the cropping. But this affordable phone shines better with its HDR and Night Sight, doing a great job in lowlight!

At the end of the day, both phones took photos that are rich in colors and manageable highlights. They also have decent backlit shots and creamy depth-of-field which might appease smartphone photography enthusiasts. For US$ 399, we already have an impressive camera performance. There are no losers here.

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 4a: Head to Head

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Unfiltered

My Internet service provider sucks and I can’t do anything about it

Is this what living in a third-world country is about?

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It’s 2020 — a year that many people were looking forward to. To some, it’s another year to chase after their goals and dreams. While for others, it’s merely the start of a new decade.

In the technology industry, 2020 was supposed to be a culmination of the innovation we’ve had for years, bringing the future to the present. Technology should’ve been ripe enough to usher us into a truly digital age.

Frankly, we’re already living in the so-called digital age. We have gadgets and technology focused on communication and connectivity, aiming to improve people’s lives. The most recent development is the 5G connectivity taking over some parts of the world.

Yet even with the promise of bringing technology closer to people, I still can’t feel it.

The struggle of being in a third-world country

I live in a third-world country, where having a good, stable Internet connection is a privilege. In the Philippines, the major telecommunication companies and some smartphone brands have been aggressively pushing for it this year, dividing most people regarding its arrival.

Some techies and geeks rave about the hopes of having the future right in the palm of their hands. But most people — distressed customers like me — are wondering why there is so much emphasis on innovation, yet there are no solutions to most problems consumers currently face.

While I cover stories about new technology and occasionally try it out before it finds its way to more people, my heart never goes too giddy at the sight of new tech. Instead, I look for the functionality, purpose — how can it help the average consumers e.g. my family, friends, colleagues, and people who are just constantly trying to keep up with new technology.

That was what lingered on my mind when people discussed 5G connectivity. “How could you keep on blabbering about the next generation, when we haven’t experienced the proper service we deserve?” or so I thought.

All my angst are channeled to a certain Internet service provider I’ve been subscribed to. I’m just not getting my money’s worth. Whether it was a DSL connection from a few years ago or a recently-installed Fibr connection, they never fail to disappoint.

Living life with the Internet

I’m not alone in my frustrations. I know that thousands of people out there have similar complaints. Imagine paying for a 15Mbps connection, but only getting around to 2-3Mbps. It’s been this way since March 2020 despite our numerous attempts to have the problem rectified. That’s six months of having sluggish connection while paying the same amount. On top of the speed issue, I experienced multiple disconnections and loss of dial tone.

When the pandemic struck, everyone was reliant on proper Internet speed yet the limited number of players proved to be difficult to handle millions of subscribers just from the nation’s capital. We stayed at home, alienated, and struggled with the so-called new normal. In the wake of the devastating situation we were thrust into, my life went on even with the disruptive issues I encountered with my Internet service provider.

I lost count of how many virtual meetings were interrupted because of my sudden disconnection. I can’t exactly remember how many times I’ve wanted to call my bank regarding my finances and purchases. Moreover, I stopped tracking the amount of money I spend on mobile data to keep me connected and to continue my life — whether it’s working remotely, ordering food, and staying alive by not going out.

What irks me the most is my ISP’s customer service. They have been harder to reach, given the limited personnel caused by the coronavirus health crisis that’s taking so long to be addressed. The last ticket I created with their customer service representative took more than two weeks to get the repair service I requested.

We’re all glorifying the remote working setup as the future of productivity and distance learning as the future of education, yet we continuously forget how difficult it is to handle when Internet access isn’t the same for everyone.

We’ve been dependent on the Internet and online services, to keep us safe and continue our lives in this pandemic. Yet somehow, the company I trusted my money, livelihood, and perhaps my life too, doesn’t give the service I rightfully deserve.

Exhausting options, on the brink of giving up

Maybe you’re wondering, “Why don’t you just switch providers?” That’s easy to say when you have options. Believe me, I’ve tried. I considered three more providers, only to find out my area isn’t serviceable.

I’m nearly giving up on the mere fact that this hopeless situation won’t improve. I’ve been exhausting all possible options, using prepaid services to connect to the Internet so I can resume my life and work. But it’s taking a toll on my financial, emotional, and mental health.

What’s the point of paying an enormous amount for a service that’s considerably trash? When the sudden disconnection causes you to become agitated when it disrupted your work? We’re all glorifying the remote working setup as the future of productivity and distance learning as the future of education, yet we continuously forget how difficult it is to handle when Internet access isn’t the same for everyone.

I’ve tried looking for answers, too, given my inquisitive nature. When I had a conversation with a friend — an engineer who worked on the project of bringing 5G in the Philippines — I learned the difficulties of setting up towers in different areas, and mostly had to do with red tape. Limited towers mean there will be limited connection. In case you didn’t know, it’s what the 5G connectivity is trying to solve: bringing access to places that 4G connectivity is having a difficult time reaching.

Despite having the knowledge about how it works, I’m still disgruntled. At the end of the day, I’m just a consumer. All I want is to get the service I paid for, sans souci. I’m certain a lot of people feel the same way. This collective frustration forced the Philippine government to break the duopoly and let another player enter.

Frankly, I’m even more skeptical. When most players are struggling with the infrastructure needed, how is another player going to help? It might just bring more disappointment. But that’s something we can all worry about more in the future.

For now, I just need my Internet service provider to become competent in handling after-sales, customer service, and being true to what they advertise. Because I’m already resigning to my fate that being in a third-world country means you won’t get the service you deserve, and you can’t hold anyone else — private entities or the government — accountable. (Unless you’re a pretty celebrity with four million followers.)

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Automotive

4 techie ways the Ford Ranger Raptor conquers the road

Tough but comfortable

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Have you ever wondered what type of technology lies underneath your car’s hood? Cars today are no longer just the mechanical machines of the last decade. Now, every car is packed with as much technology as our smartphones. From a complex infotainment system to an accurate terrain management system, you can look forward to more than horsepower or suspension. In the new Ford Ranger Raptor, you’ll find these tough features and more.

Here are the top technology features you’ll love in Ford Ranger Raptor.

We don’t need roads

As mentioned, the Ford Ranger Raptor sports an incredibly adaptable Terrain Management System. The feature comes with six pre-set driving modes, pushing out performance in any type of driving situation.

First, of course, you have the Normal mode, maximizing output from the 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel engine. By itself, the powertrain can deliver up to 213ps of horsepower and 500Nm of torque. Complementing this dynamic duo is a whopping 10-speed automatic transmission system.

Besides the ubiquitous pre-set, the Ranger Raptor also has Sport mode, Rock mode, Mud/Sand mode, Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, and a Baja mode for sand dunes. Regardless of which mode you prefer, the pickup truck’s race-bred suspension can endure anything with 2.5-inch Fox shocks and 33-inch all-terrain tires. It’s a perfect off-road vehicle.

A couch on the road

Technology isn’t just about gizmos and gadgets. Even a car seat’s engineering is a marvel of today’s technology. At the front, drivers and passengers will sit comfortably on body-contoured sport seats. The seats — as well as the steering wheel, the soft top instrument panel, and the shifter — were wrapped snugly with unique Raptor stitching. You’ll feel like you’re sitting on your living room couch.

Speaking of living room, both front and back passengers can keep their road (or off-road) trip entertaining with Sync 3, a capable infotainment system with voice-activated controls.

Safety first, always

This time around, Ford has added much more safety features than ever before. Besides the standard slew of car safety features, the Ranger Raptor also has a new Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection. When you’re on a road, the pickup truck can keep you safe and sound with an automatic Lane Keeping System. It also comes with LED headlamps and a high mount USB port.

What’s more, Ford packed in all of these at no extra cost to the customer, making the pickup truck a perfect bang for your buck.

Premium care for a premium customer

Besides what they packed in their new pickup truck, Ford has built a new Ford Premium Care service for Ford Ranger Raptor customers. The new aftersales service comes with a whole host of convenient perks and necessities.

First of all, Ford upped the vehicle’s warranty by two years. Instead of the standard three-year warranty out of the factory, the Ranger Raptor’s warranty lasts for five years (or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first).

For maintenance, Ford will service the new pickup truck for up to five years (or 50,000 kilometers, whichever comes first). The scheduled service plan covers all parts and labor needed for preventive maintenance service.

Finally, the Ranger Raptor expands Ford’s Emergency Roadside Assistance service to five years, a big upgrade from the standard three-year service in the past. With the service, customers can get 24/7 assistance in the event of a vehicle breakdown. The service comes with free towing and minor onsite repairs like battery boosting, refueling, or a change of tires.

All three come at no extra cost to the customer. You’ll be paying the same price for more features.

Without a doubt, the new Ford Ranger Raptor is built Ford tough. Besides the comfortable type of ride that you’ve already come to expect from Ford, the new pickup truck comes packed with new comfort and safety features for a worry-free drive. It’s a tough monster built for anything and anywhere.

For more details visit the Ford Philippines website.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Ford Philippines

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