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What you need to know about Elon Musk’s Starlink

The much-awaited internet service is coming sooner than later

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Over the last few weeks, reports started pouring in about the possible arrival of Starlink internet service to the Philippines under a partnership between Converge ICT and SpaceX. These reports came after a senator’s meeting with representatives of SpaceX discussing the benefits, possible timeline, and requirements needed from the internet service.

These reports quickly became the talk of the town especially with the frenzy surrounding Starlink. You may have heard it before given the media attention it had received in the past. SpaceX — the company behind Starlink — promised fast network speeds and coverage almost anywhere around the planet with its internet service. There’s so much more to that though, so here are the things you need to know.

What is Starlink?

For those out of the loop, Starlink is a satellite internet service provided by SpaceX. SpaceX is a company founded by Elon Musk that builds next-gen space exploration technologies. The company is also behind the high-profile launches of reusable rockets as well its plans to bring people to Mars.

Starlink works through a constellation of small satellites. These satellites are placed in low to medium Earth orbit, communicating signals through an array of antennas and lasers. They work in tandem with dedicated ground transceivers to receive from and transmit signals to the satellites. In effect, the internet service relies on satellites instead of physical cables to provide an internet connection to consumers.

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The technology behind Starlink is not a novel one, with the first satellite internet service dating back to the 1990s. However, most of these services ultimately failed due to logistical constraints and the prohibitive costs involved in setting things up. Granted, there had been few services that have seen some success but their adoption is few and far between. Reducing latency and lowering costs for consumers remain major challenges to many satellite internet providers.

Wanting to improve the whole situation, SpaceX began product development of Starlink in 2015. By 2018, it began testing its satellites which culminated in the launch of operational ones last 2019. Just last year, the company reached a milestone by launching up to 60 satellites at a time. This 2021, it is setting its sights for the global coverage of the populated world. Ultimately, SpaceX aims to put about 42,000 satellites in orbit in the future.

One goal of Starlink is to provide people in remote areas with a fast and reliable internet connection, which means a lot for developing countries like the Philippines.

How do I sign-up for the service?

Right now, the company is offering a limited beta service in the US and Canada. If you live in areas where the service is available, you can go ahead and sign-up for the service on Starlink’s website. Not all who signed up can avail of the service though since they are limiting their users at the moment on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you’re lucky, you may receive an email containing further instructions.

What does it feel like to use the service?

During its beta phase, Starlink claims speeds of 50 to 150 Mbps. Latency — which is also a crucial factor in internet-related tasks such as gaming and streaming — ranges from 20ms to 40ms. These figures are far from the advertised 1Gbps speed, as well as the advertised latency of 25ms to 35ms.

Still, those figures are fast enough for everyday use, especially when compared to other satellite internet services. Those figures are also close to the actual experiences by people participating in the limited beta service. For its part, Starlink promises continued improvement to network speed, latency, and software.

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At the moment, the cost of signing up for Starlink is much higher than availing of a cable internet connection. The satellite setup kit is reported to cost around US$ 499 (PhP 24,000) while monthly fees start at US$ 99 (PhP 5,000). In comparison, PLDT’s internet plans max out at PhP 6,099 for 300Mbps while Globe’s internet plans max out at PhP 9,499 for 1Gbps.

To get connected, Starlink users must configure their setup kits and download the respective app. Each setup kit consists of the satellite dish, Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and a mounting tripod.

A clear view of the sky is also a prerequisite for a stable connection. As a note, weather disturbances can affect the connection between the user and the satellite infrastructure.

Starlink also requires its setup equipment to be stationary at all times. This is unlike cellular networks, which are designed to be mobile. While it offers a “wireless” connection to the internet, it still is “fixed” in the sense that it requires constant communication between the transceiver (the satellite dish) and the orbiting satellites.

When is it really coming to the Philippines?

Recent reports suggest that Starlink is coming soon to the country, but no definitive timeline has been given. Rumors suggested that the service will arrive later in Q3 2021. The most recent development squash any hopes of imminent arrival though, with Converge ICT stating that the partnership is still “premature”.

During the later weeks of February, however, Filipinos who signed up for Starlink started receiving a reservation email. The reservation fee costs around US$ 99 (approximately PhP 5,000) though it is fully refundable too. The email also details a possible coverage of the whole country by 2022. The exact date, however, remains unclear at the moment.

Likewise, the internet service still has many obstacles towards its widespread adoption in the country. The initial cost for would-be subscribers comes to mind. As mentioned, the approximate cost of Starlink hovers at PhP 24,000 with a monthly fee amounting to PhP 5,000. For that cost, you are getting better speeds with local telco offerings.

Despite its high cost, the promise of a fast and reliable internet connection is tempting especially in far-flung areas. Reaching out to these far-flung areas is a major challenge for all local telcos since the necessary physical infrastructure is non-existent or hard to setup.  Starlink could reach these areas easily, providing internet connection to those willing to shell out money.

Are there any other things that I should know about the service?

Starlink has garnered some concerns as well, with most directed towards its potential to cause light pollution. The potential to contribute to light pollution is a particular concern for astronomers. Apparently, Starlink’s satellites are bright enough to leave a trail of light, “photobombing” shots of the night sky. To this end, SpaceX said that it is already working on a solution to amend the problem.

As Starlink continues to push forward, more and more people are hoping to get aboard with the service. After all, a fast and reliable internet connection is still far from reality for many people living in remote areas. Hopefully, the service would come sooner as this will greatly improve the current situation of the internet in the Philippines.

Hands-On

HONOR X9a 5G Hands-On: Tough and capable

Strong 2023 start for HONOR?

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HONOR X9a

HONOR is determined to make some serious noise in the smartphone space in 2023. In the Philippines, they’re looking to start strong with the release of the HONOR X9a 5G. 

If you follow any tech publications and some influencers and endorsers online, you likely saw the drop test videos the company had literally everyone do. That includes GadgetMatch. 

For what it’s worth, the thing is really tough. During our quick shoot, we dropped it around 3 times on concrete. No major damages suffered. The 0.65mm ‘Deeply Reinforced Glass’ on the display is, for the most part, not just a gimmick. Still, don’t go dropping the phone carelessly if you do decide to get it. 

We’re already talking about the display anyway, so let’s dig into it a little more. 

Pleasant to the eyes

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G sports a 6.67-inch OLED Curved Display. It has a 394 pixels per inch count with a 2400 x 1900 resolution and 800 nits of peak brightness. Marketing materials also tout its 1.07 billion colors and TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light Certification. 

For the most part, the phone is everything it says it is on paper. The curved display affects more how the phone feels on-hand than it does for your eyes. It makes the phone’s profile feel slimmer than it actually is. And it’s not too curved to the point that it distracts from whatever you’re watching. 

Colors also look great. We can confidently say that you’ll have a good time watching videos on the HONOR X9a 5G. Whether that’s one of our YouTube videos, mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, or catching up on your favorite series. 

It also delivers a buttery-smooth feel, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate. 

Familiar look 

HONOR X9a

Going over to how the rest of the phone looks, it gives off a Magic-ish, Mate-ish vibe. The circular camera module on the back plays a huge part in that. We’ll get to the camera details later on. For now, let’s focus on the look. 

One glance and you could mistake it as an HONOR Magic or even a HUAWEI Mate phone. After all, they share a similar design language. 

All the buttons (power and volume) are on the right. 

And at the bottom, you’ll find the SIM Card tray, USB-C port, and speaker-grille. Pretty standard stuff. 

Globally, the phone comes in three colors: Titanium Silver, Emerald Green and Midnight Black. In the Philippines, it appears only the first two colors will be available at launch. 

Overall, it’s your standard slab with a signature look. That camera module is certainly doing a lot to separate it from the pack. 

Capable cameras 

HONOR X9a

Now onto the cameras. Here they are by the numbers: 

  • Main (Wide): 64MP, f/1.8, PDAF
  • Ultrawide: 5MP, f/2.2, 
  • Macro: 2MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Front (wide): 16MP, f/2.5

And since video taking seems to be all the rage these days, you might be pleased to know that both the front and back cameras can take 1080P at 30fps footage. 

Again, these are pretty standard numbers for midrangers. The same is true for the actual output. There’s nothing here that’s mind blowing. But for posting on socials and just capturing stuff on the daily, it’s more than serviceable. 

Take a look at these samples: 

Steady performer

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is powered by the Qualcomm SM6375 Snapdragon 695 5G processor. In the Philippines, it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It also has a massive 5,100mAh battery. Software-wise, it’s running Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12.

In practice, all these components come together to deliver a steady performer of a smartphone. The HONOR X9a 5G is reliable in all the ways that matter. The processor, while not new by 2023 standard, still does what you expect it to do. That is to keep the stuff you need running in the background as needed. 

It also has a decent power efficiency, which, paired with the massive battery, delivers an overall battery life that won’t have you running to the nearest power outlet as the day winds down. 

We didn’t do much gaming on the phone, but given that it’s the same processor that was equipped on mobile gaming-inclined phones in the past, we’re confident it can steadily run plenty of the most-played games on mobile. 

Solid start for HONOR

HONOR X9a

The HONOR X9a 5G is a tough, capable smartphone that’s easy on the eyes. It’s the quintessential midrange smartphone. Everything we’ve come to expect from midrangers is present on this phone while also being extra tough and lasting extra long. 

With this being HONOR’s first offering in 2023 in the Philippines, the company is off to a solid start. 

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Features

New Year resolutions with vivo

Make yours happen

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vivo V25 Pro

A New Year always brings new beginnings. A chance to start-over and put your life on the track you want it to be in. vivo argues that it’s easier to follow through on these new year changes when you have the right device for you. Lo and behold, they put together things to keep mind, to keep you on the right track.

Learn something new and practical

vivo Y35

Since it’s the new year, challenge yourself to learn something new — a skill like computer programming, a hobby like playing a musical instrument, or any practical knowledge such as learning a new language.

Having a reliable device that can give you the ease to learn everything with only a few taps is essential. Like, say, the vivo Y35.

The vivo Y35 supports 44W FastCharge so you wouldn’t have to wait for a long time until your phone is fully charged to resume studying immediately. Plus, its massive 5000mAh battery can help it run for long hours, keeping you immersed in watching tutorial videos, attending online classes or reading how-to articles. It also has a massive 16GB Dynamic RAM and 256GB ROM.

These features can help make learning continuous and with fewer interruptions. 

Start documenting your life

vivo Boracay

Boracay photos Shot on the vivo V25 Pro

It’s all about making and preserving memories. This year, start capturing moments with a greater purpose. While you’re at it, try to take good photos and videos as well.

The vivo V25 Series, which has a 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing camera with extreme night vision, is a great tool to document both day and night moments that you want to keep for the longest time possible. The vivo V25 Series’ up to 50MP Eye autofocus selfie camera can also help you capture the smiles of the people with you during every encounter.

Always go for healthier options

vivo Y22s

Health will always be wealth. It means you should also be more knowledgeable and conscious about your food and drink intake. The Internet offers a lot of information you can refer to for nutritious choices. Do your research, compare and find what’s best and more feasible for you.  

For this, you have the vivo Y22s. It is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor, up to 16GB dynamic RAM and ROM expandable to 1TB. These can assist you with minimal to no lags to get the healthier 2023 done. 

Stay in touch with your loved ones

vivo Y16

You should also remember to allot more time to people who matter. As the new year begins, you should create more memories with your family. Scheduling a video call with them while you’re away from home or constantly checking up on them through messages can make a difference in keeping a strong relationship.

The vivo Y16, which has a wide 6.51-inch Halo FullView display with eye protection mode, can help.

Travel more, in style

vivo Y02S

Traveling this year? Do it in style by getting a smartphone that’ll go with your travel fits.

vivo Y02s and vivo Y02’s2.5D curvature slim frame and lightweight build fit this goal perfectly and would never feel like extra travel baggage. Instead, these vivo smartphones work like additional accessories that will add glam and style.  

New Year with vivo

The new year is better if matched with a vivo smartphone that will aid in accomplishing your resolutions. All smartphones in vivo’s current lineup are available in offline stores nationwide.

Head to the nearest vivo concept store or kiosk to stand a chance to win in Paskong La vivo Loca which runs until January 31, 2023. Follow vivo’s official website and its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for more information.

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Editors' Choice

Best of 2022: Lifestyle Favorites

Which one matches your lifestyle?

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This year, the GadgetMatch team found another set of gizmos that fit perfectly in our lifestyle. These lifestyle favorites proved that technology, when done right, can elevate the way you live.

Travel accessory: instax mini Link 2

The instax mini Link 2 may be a rehash of an already modernized novelty, but it still tops our favorite gizmos that we love to have in our lives.

It can print your favorite moments using your smartphone and even personalize all the film prints. Turn your memories into something tangible!

True wireless earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

The Galaxy Buds2 Pro exhibited an already excellent product refined to be better. It’s now a pair of true wireless earbuds celebrated by fitness enthusiasts, audiophiles, and the everyday consumer.

Styling device: Dyson Airwrap 308c

The Dyson Airwrap has got to be one of the most talked-about hairstyling tools in the market, probably because it can give you quick, pro-blow-out at home and an efficient way to look stylish any way you want it, wherever you are.

Device feature: Apple’s iOS 16 Visual Look Up

Visual Look Up has just got a new trick on its sleeves this year, and we’re certainly lovin’ how useful the feature has been. With iOS 16, the feature lets you select a subject on a photo, cutting it out as if it was done in Photoshop or Canva.

You can copy, share, or save the image, and even make stickers out of it. The possibilities are endless!

App: Disney+

Disney changed the streaming game when it unveiled Disney+ across more countries, allowing access to hundreds of films and TV series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, and more.

It certainly created a buzz, captivating the youth and young-at-hearts as they bonded among classics, modern adaptations, and unique shows.

Gaming accessory: JBL Quantum Stream

There’s a reason why JBL bagged an award for the Quantum Stream, a dual-condenser microphone with a reversible 360-degree stand.

With its proprietary technology that helps bridge crystal-clear communication among callers along with its features that make everything simple and easy, it’s undoubtedly an excellent pick for anyone looking for a microphone.

Form factor: Huawei Mate Xs 2

The Huawei Mate Xs 2, for what it’s worth, showcased how elegantly refined a foldable can be. Thanks to the marriage of engineering, technology, and design, Huawei was able to put up an innovative marvel that isn’t just pleasing to look at, but comfortable enough to use, too.

Home appliance: Dyson V15

For comparison: (L-R) The Dyson Omniglide, V11 Absolute Extra Pro (EU release), and the V15 Detect Absolute.

Dyson has been a champ when it comes to cordless vacuums. With the V15 Detect Absolute, Dyson delved into making the best cordless vacuums into something even better that got a lot of vacuum owners smitten.

It’s complete with technology, ergonomic design, and the right attachments that make cleaning easier.

TV: Samsung The Premiere

You never know if you want a high-end projector until you got one. Samsung’s The Premiere may come with an exorbitant price tag, but the technology it packs makes it one of the best ultra-short-throw projectors you can get in the market right now.

Imagine building your home theater dream. Yes, Samsung The Premiere can make it happen.

Smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch5

The Galaxy Watch5 proves to be the best Android smartwatch yet. It has a better battery life that accompanies athletes, and even fitness enthusiasts, in their quest to improve their bodies and performance.

Add to that is a holistic set of health and fitness features that sync exceptionally within the Samsung ecosystem.

Wellness device: Arcwave Voy

Arcwave Voy offers men a unique technology and mechanism that elevates pleasure using a toy. With an adjustment system that works seamlessly to fit all kinds of penis, an ergonomic design to make it easy to grip and hold, and a compact design that allows it to be stored just anywhere, Arcwave Voy may be the toy to help take care of your sexual health and wellness wherever you go.

Vehicle: Ford Territory

The Ford Territory delivers the right power you’ll need for your short and long drives. It’s filled with creature comforts that keep all riders entertained throughout a trip.

It’s like a gift of adventure to anyone who’ll handle this vehicle as a daily driver.

Speaker: JBL PartyBox Encore Essential

JBL

The JBL PartyBox Encore Essential made every occasion memorable. With a 100-watt speaker, a compact design, and seamless connectivity — it’s not difficult not to love and make the device a part of every moment in your life. Through highs or lows, it’s a worthy companion.

Tablet: HONOR Pad 8

The HONOR Pad 8 is an affordable gateway for students and young professionals looking for a well-rounded tablet that caters to productivity and entertainment. It’s a supersized device packed with multimedia excellence, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Smartphone case: Mujjo

Mujjo continued to top as our favorite smartphone case, thanks to its elegant cases that get refined each year. The Dutch label retains all the best things from its last line of cases while adding nifty improvements to adapt to the latest iPhone design.

It’s simply an accessory that looks and feels gorgeous and lasts enough to accompany your iPhone before your next upgrade.

Color: Bora Purple

2021 was all about the different shades of Green, and 2022 is all about all shades of Purple. With Samsung taking on the posh color as part of its signature shade across all its smartphones and other bespoke devices, we found ourselves falling in love with Bora Purple.

It’s adorable, and majestic, and offers the right amount of sophistication that you can be proud to wear.

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