Trade-in and get RM 650 cashback!

intel extreme masters

I’ve been watching the Intel Extreme Masters 2013 that was held in Singapore recently. It’s one of the biggest Starcraft 2 (and other electronic sports) tournaments of the year. It got me really interested in playing Starcraft 2 on ladder again but unfortunately, my laptop is too slow to run Heart of the Swarm.

Thus, I have been looking for great deals to get myself a gaming notebook that will run Starcraft 2 so I can play again and I have found it! It’s an awesome deal where you trade-in your old laptop for up to RM 650 cashback! You can choose any of the models below:

trade in

I love the simplicity of this – there are just three HP models for you to choose based on your lifestyle and neeeds. The models available will start from RM 1,349 and the higher end touchscreen model will be yours for RM 1,749 after cashback!

The best thing about this is that they have an Intel Core i5 processor, Windows 8, and an nVIDIA GeForce GT 740M which will allow me to play Starcraft 2, watch all my favorite movies, blog and do video editing! It’s everything I need in a laptop for just RM 1,349 – that’s less than 5 dining-out sessions if you think about it!

iem singapore

The Intel Core i5 processors in the laptops are the new 4th generation chips. That means vastly improved graphics, performance, battery life and security. There’s support for Windows 8 Connected Standby and it’s the biggest improvement to battery life in history, which means that the #1 concern of laptop users is now addressed – you can run your notebook for *a lot longer*!

Also, enhanced security services such as Intel Identity Protection Technology and Intel Anti-Theft Technology, malware detection and vulnerability-resistant BIOS/firmware protection is built in, as multiple safeguards embedded deep into processor hardware. This means you don’t need to worry about using your laptop on public WiFi hotspots. :)

The participating resellers are Thundermatch, SNS and MTCS. After you purchase the three (3) qualifying models – HP Pavilion 14-n060TX (Mineral Black), HP Pavilion 14-n059TX (Silver), HP Pavilion Touchsmart 14-n049TX (Silver) – you just need to login to www.tradeupmypc.com to register for the trade-in program.

how to

Approval will be granted within 3 days and once the claims are approved, you just need to courier your old laptop to the designated recycling center. Once the technician at the recycling center to checks your old laptop and approves the trade-in value, the money will be deposited right into your back account directly so there’s no need for you to run around. The trade-in mechanics makes it very easy and simple for you!

vespa

Plus, you also get the chance to win a Vespa worth RM 12,000 when you purchase the three models listed above! That’ll be the icing on the cake, along with the RM 650 trade-in cashback! You can get more information about the Vespa contest at the Intel Vespa contest website. The Vespa contest ends 31st December 2013. Remember to get to form from the participating resellers or email gentoday@in2ideas.com for more information.

rm650

The trade-in program runs till 31st January 2013. Surf on over to www.tradeupmypc.com to get more information and the list of participating retailers for this awesome RM 650 cashback!

‘Volkswagen On Tour’ comes to Penang

volkswagen us

I caught up with the inaugural ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ brand showcase that took place in Penang last week. We actually went twice coz it was so much fun! Admittedly, the first time was a bit of a short session coz I had to sort out my hotel and other things after I got stuck on the Penang Bridge after running out of gas. Haha!

bicycle popcorn

There is popcorn, test drives, and a play pen for the kids. This all comes at a rather reasonable admission fee – it’s free! Yup, it’s the classic Volkswagen hospitality in action here, which I’ve experienced to my delight on a trip to Germany last year.

polo r wrc
The Polo R WRC that just won the FIA World Rally Championships 2013

Volkswagen On Tour‘ will literally tour the entire nation – there are 13 stops all over Malaysia, so it’ll be coming to a place near you soon! It’s an invitation to everyone for an exclusive brand experience right at your doorstep.

volkswagen tour penang

It’s a lot of fun, I managed to catch the press conference where Ms Petra Schreiber (Director of Marketing & Communications, Volkswagen Malaysia) was holding court and fielding questions from the media.

driving gti simulator

I went back again the next day. I wanted to collect all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that forms a coaster. There are a lot of activities you can do at the ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ roadshow – my favorite being the Golf GTI simulator.

gti simulator

This isn’t something that you can get to see in arcades – the setup is so realistic that your *entire bucket seat* moves and you really get thrown around a bit if you drive into gravel beside the virtual track at high speeds. I know people who set up expensive steering wheel and pedal combos to play racing simulation games at home.

driving simulator

Prepared to be blown away! You’ve never seen anything like this. There are even pistons to move your seat around the 3-screen immersion Golf GTI simulator – you really get the exhilaration of driving on track that I actually flinched when I made a fast and tight corner. :)

gti puzzle

You get a piece of the puzzle that forms a coaster after you experience each station.

popcorn challenge

There is another interesting one called Popcorn Challenge which uses a clean source of energy (namely, you) to power a popcorn machine. A stationary bicycle is hooked up and your kinetic energy from pedaling the bike makes the corn pop.

popcorn

You can have the satisfaction of eating the popcorn that you’ve just made with your own energy after that too!

shout out loud

There is also an interactive station called Shout Out Loud where you can rally four (4) people to speak into each of the microphones at each corner of a model city to light it up. The louder you are, the more intense the blue light becomes.

think blue wall

It’s a brilliant way to showcase their ‘Think Blue.’ philosophy which is all about fuel efficiency and educating the public on carbon emissions for a sustainable future, as well as how Volkswagen is applying it to their award-winning automotive technology for a better tomorrow. Guess which one is the message we wrote?

ISOFIX

There are exhibits where you can familiarize yourself with Volkswagen’s advanced safety technology like their range of child safety seats and ISOFIX (child seat anchor). This would be of interest to parents with small children or people who’re planning to have kids!

kids station

There is a place for kids to learn and play too, which is great for parents with small children. The kids can have age-appropriate fun and learning while you get your own fun and learning in…test driving the latest Volkswagen models!

test drive

It’s the most popular station so remember to sign up early while you wait your turn.

volkswagen test drive

There’s also a ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ photo contest where you can snap a photo of yourself with a complete coaster puzzle.

interactive stations

You can get each piece of the puzzle by going to each of the stations (Popcorn Challenge, Test Drive etc) and after you’ve completed it, the redemption counter will give you a free gift for completing all the stations.

Volkswagen On Tour

You just need to post a photo of yourself with the complete coaster with the #VolkswagenOnTour hastag on either Instagram or Facebook and tag @VolkswagenOnTour or the Volkswagen Malaysia Facebook page respectively (remember to follow the accounts first) and stand a chance to win one of nine prizes, including an extended two week test drive with any of your favorite Volkswagen models!

coaster puzzle

It’s really a lot of fun for the whole family and you get to experience the latest (and eat some popcorn you made with your own energy while you’re at it).

volkswagen tour schedule

We had a blast and we’re looking forward to the Selangor stop of the tour! ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ will be heading to 13 locations nationwide between now till March 2014. Get more details about the stop nearest to you at www.volkswagenontour.com.my.

Betty’s Midwest Kitchen, Dataran Prima

bettys kitchen

I remember going to this pork friendly (or rather unfriendly, if you’re a pig, it really depends on where you stand smirk) establishment way back when it opened. I stayed at Dataran Prima Condominium when I came to KL again in 2008 and this was just around the corner. It generated a lot of buzz when it came out – and I thought it closed down and haven’t been there in years, until last night.

bettys midwest kitchen

It was a rainy night and also a Chinese festival (Winter Solstice) and we decided to go back to see if it’s still open. It was…and business is booming!

bettys aman suria

I mean that literally, we arrived early so we were seated within 5 minutes but there were others waiting on stools while it rained for an hour! It’s the only shoplot that has a security guard to direct and seat people too. Haha!

(He did also help us get into the car by escorting with dual umbrellas)

Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale (RM 18)

dead guy ale

This is a “craft brewed” beer that’s brewed in Oregon, following the Midwest theme. They have a couple of beers from that region (mostly from Rogue Ales) at a reasonable price so I had this maibock with dinner. It’s an import, robust (it’s a bock, not an ale as the name suggests) with all the sediments you’ll expect to find, I liked it.

pigs

Betty’s Midwest Kitchen is known for their porcine menu offerings – I remember their “Dog Food” best, which is fries and pork and cheese all churned together into a melted and delicious mess. This time, we ordered three mains:

Pulled Pork Burger (RM 12)

pulled pork burger

This is another popular offering – a filling main with fried burger buns and pulled pork at a reasonable price. I like the way they fried the buns and the slow-roasted and shredded pork tastes good with their “secret” BBQ sauce.

Baby Back Ribs (RM 32.50)

baby back ribs

This is probably the most expensive item on their menu. It’s grilled pork ribs marinated in their special rub and sauce and grilled to succulent tenderness. That’s the menu description, the reality is a bit of a let down. I remember them having way better ribs than this. The dish we had last night was rather disappointing.

I recommend Racks Bar and Baby Backs in Changkat Bukit Bintang if you’re looking for awesome ribs (wonder if it’s still open?).

Pork Chop with Apples (RM 23)

pork chop apples

Hot off the pan, their pork chops are pan-fried to juicy tenderness and served with their delicious house mash potatoes (love their sauce). There’s two huge chops and the apples naturally goes well with pork – you know the cartoon pig with a *shiny red apple* in its mouth ready to be roasted? :)

I liked this dish, it’s one of their better ones. The entire meal cost RM 94.05 for the both of us. Betty’s Midwest Kitchen charges RM 0.30 for iced water according to their menu but they waived it for us in the bill.

betty us

Overall, the service was decent and the food was good. However, it wasn’t as good as when I ate here years ago. It’s still intensely popular and they enforce a lot of rules (like no seating until entire party is there) so I guess they must still be doing something right. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but it’s just not the awesomeness that I remember it to be.

tong yuen

My dear made me some tong yuen for the Winter Solstice and that’s a wonderful dessert to end the night! <3 Betty’s Midwest Kitchen
Jalan PJU 1/43, Aman Suria,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Durian white coffee, Musang King Tambun biscuits and other oddities

musang king tambun biscuit

This is probably one of the most interesting coffee I’ve ever had. It’s durian coffee and my dear got it for me on our trip to Penang last weekend. I’ve had kopi luwak (civet cat coffee) twice in Indonesia before but this 4-in-1 (the other being powdered durian) instant coffee appeals to me coz I love durians.

durian white coffee

It comes in gold foil packaging and has a wonderful nose. It’s like nothing I’ve ever had. The durian taste and flavor is so intense you can practically taste it. I guess that’s the point, eh? Haha! I can easily drink two cups of this, a wonderful find by my better half.

tau sar pneah

We also got lots of Tambun biscuits (heong pneah) and tau sar pneah for relatives and friends and one of the more interesting finds was one filled with Musang King durians.

musang king biscuits

It comes in a pack of 12 and retails for RM 7.20. This is supposed to be the first ever in Malaysia – Tambun biscuits double filled with Musang King durian pulp. It tastes really good, if you like durians.

white coffee biscuits

There’s also different flavored tau sar pneah (which I guess doesn’t make it tau sar pneah anymore, since “tau sar” translates to red bean). Coffee is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of manufacturers in Penang nowadays, the old school ones made with lard and the newer ones that’s halal to appeal to a broader market.

durian tambun biscuits

We made several trips to buy these and I pronounce them good! It’s been a while since we’ve had these! :)

5 things we ate at hawker stalls in Penang

1. Lorong Selamat Char Kueh Tiaw

lorong selamat

I had wanted my better half to try this, since she’s never had it before. It’s legendary for its 1 hour wait and when we were there the crowds were out in force!

crowd

There were no empty spots on tables and people had to stand in clumps beside diners to wait their turn.

plates queue

I was told that it’ll take longer than 1 hour based on the plates and there’s a rule about having to sit down before you can order. The price now has sky-rocketed to RM 10 per plate too! My dear didn’t want to wait and we went opposite the road to eat…

2. Curry Mee

curry mee

It’s RM 7 per plate and the guy told us he has run out of prawns so I think we paid RM 5. It’s still not too bad, loaded with pig’s coagulated blood and the broth is delicious! I wanted to go to the Lorong Seratus Tahun one but I couldn’t find it.

However, we did manage to find…

3. Sin Kim San banana pancake

banana pancake

I thought this was char kueh kak at first and ordered a plate (RM 6). It turned out that the stall sells banana pancakes.

chinese banana pancake

This was nothing special – just a Chinese interpretation of a pancake with lots of eggs and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. My dear makes *better* banana pancakes.

We did manage to eat CKT at the same place though.

4. Duck Egg Char Kueh Tiaw

I like the one near Pulau Tikus police station but since we’re here, we might as well satisfy the craving for Penang CKT. The duck egg version costs RM 4.50 – half the price of the overrated Lorong Selamat stalls.

duck egg

It was good, but slightly greasy. The prawns were fresh and succulent and there’s a huge helping of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) with it.

We were pretty much full at this point but managed to share a bowl of…

5. Ah Soon Kor Cham Lor

ah soon kor har mee

This is a distinctively Penang dish where you mix Lor Mee with Har Mee. The combination gravy is awesome! Ah Soon Kor is famous for their Har Mee (Prawn Mee) but my dear doesn’t really like it so we ordered the mixture instead.

cham lor

You can see the two different and distinct bases mixing together in the color of the gravy which makes it look like the yin yang symbol (if you squint hard enough ;)). It has lots of interesting goodies like deep fried shrimp and roasted pork belly and I thought it was good. We couldn’t finish it though coz we had so much food.

However, since we didn’t manage to eat the Lorong Selamat CKT I put as #1, here’s a bonus to fulfil the 5 dishes we ate in Penang.

Bonus: New World Ice Kacang Special

new world

I’ve eaten this a lot of times before. I like the tropical fruit mixture compared to the Penang Road cendol. It’s a very popular stall that serves drinks for the New World food court and their flagship costs RM 5.

ice kacang special

There’s atap chee, kidney beans, corn, papaya, bananas and lots of other fruits inside this shaved ice dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

ling hb

It was a good weekend escape to Penang to relax and eat some food. We stayed at Traders Hotel, which cost us RM 800+ (more about that soon – there’s an interesting story behind it) and came back on Sunday rejuvenated.

Scratch that, we actually both caught the flu and fell sick but it’s a good vacation nonetheless! :)

My car ran out of petrol on the Penang Bridge!

out of gas

It happened just slightly after the toll. I felt the car slowly lose power…I had a sinking feeling that something has gone horribly wrong. I managed to cruise from the fast lane (on the right) across 3 lanes to the emergency lane. It felt like driving a car that was just running on momentum alone!

I realized that I had run completely out of gas. The car would not start at all. It just coughs. We had just passed the toll, maybe 500 meters or so and we’re stuck on the Penang Bridge!

stuck penang bridge

We had driven down from KL early in the morning and didn’t take any breaks except for toilet stops. I had stupidly thought that a tank of gas would be enough to get to Penang and I didn’t really look at the gauge so the massive traffic jam before the bridge was the final nail in the coffin.

I called the PLUS Highway emergency number and managed to get them to send a guy to meet us.

refill petrol

It took less than 5 minutes before a fellow on a motorcycle came up to me. He had a bottle of gasoline so he poured the minute amount (less than 500 ml is my guess) into my petrol tank and asked me to start.

I tried the ignition but the car won’t go – it seemed that there’s too little fuel for it to start.

low fuel

My better half intelligently told me to shut off the radio and air conditioning. I managed to start the car – just barely – after that. I know it wouldn’t last long and I’ll need to get to a gas station soon.

The PLUS representative charged me RM 40 for the petrol and after I willingly handed it over, asked for RM 10kang chi” (Hokkien for labor costs) making the total RM 50. What an opportunist!

8684

I didn’t really mind though coz it would have been worse to be stuck for hours on the Penang Bridge. We managed to use the GPS to find a nearby gas station and fill her up.

ron95

The PLUS dude said he’ll trail us. He never did. We were lucky to make it to the station on that little amount of gas. It was a bit of an adventure though, running out of gas. It’s something that we’ll be talking about down the years – “Hey remember the time we drove to Penang and we ran out of gas on the Penang Bridge?”.

It wasn’t the best start to our Penang trip but it sure was funny in hindsight and it’s a memorable start to our weekend holiday! :)

Guide to Throwing the Best Garden Gala Ever

Step 1: Entertainment

garden party people

Upstage all the parties going on at the end of the year by adding in some drama (okay, I’ll stop with the wordplay haha) by setting up your very own mini-theater. It’s really not hard to do – I go to the Singapore Arts Festival every year (my mom and sister lives there) and they have al fresco performances in the middle of the park. You just need some scaffolding and plywood for seats, that adds to the artsy feel too.

mini theatre

I’ll do a smaller scale one in the middle of a large enough private garden that I’ll rent for the day and fly in some entertainment that people would love to see. I’m thinking of the Ishinha group with their signature Jan Jan Opera, they’re really good and offer something MORE.

Step 2: Decorations

You can’t have a garden party without decorations. It’ll be like having a wedding without the bride.

flowers

I’ll pick up some nice flowers from Cameron Highlands and arrange it around the garden so there’s not just lush green grass but a lot of color.

wanaka party
(Image source: Wanaka The Bungalow)

I’ll be nice to have some fairy lights to get things going too!

elephant

…and maybe even an elephant! :D

Step 3: Snacks

You’ll also need some festive themed candy for people to snack on while they’re standing around and chatting.

christmas candy

I’ll go for chocolates instead of hors d’oeuvre coz I want everyone into a festive mood. Otherwise, it’ll just be another generic garden gala. This is my little twist – I love candy and I bought a lot of the Xmas themed ones.

snickers nutcrackers

The manufacturers actually come out with a lot of interesting limited editions during the end of the year! I spent over 4 years in Melbourne where there was a lot of limited edition runs of flavors e.g. White Chocolate Twix for Christmas.

twix tin box

Interesting side fact: There are places like Melbourne where snack manufacturers do their test marketing before deciding to launch a new product. I don’t know how they decide the criteria for a city/town – several places in the US are test beds too but it’s not the ones you think e.g. Los Angeles. It’s the slightly smaller cities with a more cosmopolitan make-up. Neither Singapore nor New York is a test bed. Apparently, you can’t be too big, or too small.

I’ll also have some Christmas crackers for people to pull just coz it’s fun!

Step 4: Dinner

It’ll be nice to cook for all your guests but the logistics behind it would make it too much of a hassle.

christmas turkey

There are plenty of caterers who can do the job just as well at the end of the year. I’m thinking of having a party for 30 so that would be too many to cook for. It’s not like an 8 person dinner party, so I’ll just order some Christmas dinner staples!

Turkey with stuffing is a must, as well as a plethora of side-dishes to make everyone happy and full.

Step 5: Drinks

You need to add something more to get people sociable and in the mood for celebrating the festive season at your garden gala.

made for more

I’ll want people to stay and talk, laugh and bond, after all the entertainment, snacks and dinner. I’ll want something more so here’s to bottles and bottles of Guinness to finish the end of the year with more!

wanaka

The reason behind this guide is because I’m interested in the above contest – Guinness is actually giving away the prize of a Garden Gala for end of the year! It’s a Celebration of More and it’s bound to be the best way to end the year!

garden gala

Yup, you get to win a private party for yourself and 29 of your friends too! This is something you really don’t want to miss. I hate to bandy around the term “once in a lifetime” but this comes really close. I’m going to join but in the spirit of giving, I’m going to invite all my readers if I win! :)

Garden Gala
Start: 12th December (Thursday) 10 am
End: 14th December (Saturday) 10 am

Go join the contest too but remember to invite me and my plus one if *you* win. Haha. The contest ends 14th December so head on over to the Guinness Malaysia Facebook page for more details now!

Sony Xperia Z1™ waterproof review

sony xperia z1 waterproof

You might have heard about this new wonder device. It’s not just a phone, but a high quality digital camera! It has everything except the kitchen sink…which leads us to the next point. Xperia™ Z1 is not just water resistant, it’s waterproof! To illustrate that point, I have submerged it in 6 inches of running water in my (you guessed it) kitchen sink.

xperia z1 waterproof

It still works perfectly and I have sent a joke text to my better half asking her where my phone is. Haha! It’s actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This is achieved by flaps covering the microSIM, microUSB port, microSD card slot. In a smart move by Sony, the headphones jack in the Z1 doesn’t have a flap you need to keep closed. It’s rated at IP 55 and IP58 which means it’s not just waterproof, it’s also dust resistant!

sony xperia z1

Yup, this beautiful smartphone has been called “an almost perfect balance of form and function” by Forbes Magazine. The Xperia Z1 has it all:

20.7 MP camera with BIONZ™ for mobile

xperia z1 camera

The Xperia Z1 is powered by a large 1/2.3” 20.7 MP Exmor RS™ mobile image sensor, Sony’s award winning G Lens (the same kind you’ll find in their conventional compact digicams) and their tried-and-true BIONZ™ for mobile image processing engine.

I bought the Sony Xperia S when it first came out and one of the things I noticed is that the night mode takes a huge toll on the processor, which causes the screen to lag. This doesn’t happen anymore – the Xperia Z1 has its own dedicated processor!

The Xperia Z1 takes awesome photos, and handles the tricky light-and-dark situations well with the HDR mode. It also has four major Social Camera Applications to deliver new experiences and there’s a widget which allows you to put that right on the screen by default.

info eye

Info-Eye™
This is a “visual search” feature that provides related information on landmarks and other items such as books, wine or even groceries simply by capturing them with the camera. It’s like Google and Wikipedia combined, except you don’t type in your search string but take a photo instead!

info eye search results
Info Eye search results using bar code…

info eye search
…and the Image results! It works perfectly!

Social Live
This broadcasts the shots that you take to Facebook and the best thing about it is that you’ll get your friend’s comments right on your camera screen! This is the best in-house app I’ve had the pleasure of using and I’ll write about this in more detail soon – you need to be at an awesome event like a concert or while traveling to get the full impact of what this can do and what it means! :)

Timeshift Burst
My favorite feature by far – the Xperia Z1 takes 61 images in 2 seconds – a second before and after pressing the shutter – so you can scroll back and forth to find the perfect image. This is for all those times you “missed a shot” coz you took out your smartphone too late, it’ll never happen again.

AR Effect
There’s also a range of overlays that automatically detects faces and people and creates pictures using augmented reality app. I’ll dedicate a post to the camera and video features of the device – there’s just too many awesome features to describe in a general review.

ar effect

The Xperia Z1 also can shoot full 1080p HD video with stereo sound!

(and you can take a still image while the video is recording too)

5” Full HD screen

The Xperia Z1 has the latest Sony BRAVIA™ technology optimized for mobile. The beautiful and rich 5” screen uses a Full HD TRILUMINOS™ display which results in vibrant and incredible viewing experience. It’s the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone!

sony xperia z1 screen

You can try it out at any Sony Center and be blown away at the crisp text and wide palate of natural colors. The Z1 also includes X-Reality™ for mobile and ClearAudio+™ for optimized video viewing. These are technologies usually found in their high range LCD TVs!

Software and performance

The Xperia Z1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2 Ghz quad-core CPU and 4G LTE. It’s the first consumer smartphone to come up with this latest and super fast quad-core processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 features a GPU and dual ISP for incredible graphics and 3D performance – you’ll notice this if you play Unreal Engine based games on Android.

xperia z1 screen

Sony has also made changes to the stock version of Android and there’s four toggles in the notifications drop down that’s set to sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, brightness and settings by default. Swiping to the right in the app drawer brings up a menu that allows you to sort apps and also uninstall apps – you no longer have to go to the exact page in Google Play to do that anymore.

The Xperia Z1 also has 4 shortcuts at the main phone screen to reflect Sony’s concept for this phone- WALKMAN™, Album, Movies and PlayStation® Mobile. Yup, it’s an MP3 player, camera, video recorder and gaming device all rolled into one portable smartphone!

It does all those tasks very well too – there is no lag or slowdown of any kind even with intensive widgets on the screen that pulls Facebook and other social media feeds, multiple tabs open on the default browser (Chrome) and it tackles the most graphically intense Unreal Engine games with ease.

The 3000mAh battery performs well too – I can easily use the Xperia Z1 for a full day without having to recharge. That’s largely due to the highly effective Battery STAMINA Mode which uses a lot of useful tricks to preserve battery life. It shuts off certain apps when you’re not actively using them (you can customize this so that your favorite apps will run all the time) and turns off functions you don’t need until you wake up your screen again.

Design and other features

The entire phone has a premium feel to it from the single piece of aluminium (which also acts as an antenna) surrounding the front and back tempered sheet glass. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a long rectangle shape with an impressive build quality.

xperia z1

The On/Off button is now located on the right hand side in the middle instead of top right. All the buttons are placed right and the headphone jack is the lone item on the top which is perfectly situated to prevent snagging or accidental pressing of buttons while listening to an audio book in MP3 (which is what I do more than listen to music).

The speakers produces surprisingly well-defined sound too.

The Xperia Z1 weighs 170 grams which might seem a tad on the heavy side for people not used to it but I’m loving mine – it’s a high quality digital camera, gaming device, and smartphone in a sleek package that gets double takes. It not only looks good, it feels good too – and the fact that it’s also waterproof and shock and dust resistant is just icing on the cake.

xperia z1 unboxing

The Sony Xperia Z1 retails for RM 2,399 and if you purchase it now, you’ll get three months of free unlimited music streaming from Akazoo, a preloaded social media music app. This is valid from October till December 2013. You can also download six (6) movies (offer valid till 31st December) via Xperia Privilege app, which is also preloaded into the device.

There’s a lot more to talk about but this is already way over 1,000 words so I’ll write more on the awesome 20.7 MP digital camera, 1080p Full HD video recording, nifty apps like Social Live and other apps. I’ll also do a special on underwater photography and my annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup. I also have the SmartWatch 2, which is a NFC/Bluetooth watch that can sync via NFC to get Facebook updates and allows you to control your phone remotely from your wrist.

smartwatch2

I love my new toy(s)! :D

Check out the Sony Xperia Z1 experience!

Weekend: Serai Restaurant / Big Bad Wolf Book Sale / Truffled Egg

serai

We were supposed to head to Cherating for a vacation this weekend but the floods made the trip impossible. Thus, I re-booked for another date next year and here’s three (3) things we did instead:

1. Serai @ Empire

serai empire

We were out at Empire Subang and were debating between Ole Ole Bali (her choice) and Four Seasons London (my choice – I’ve actually been to the one in London during my first Europe backpacking trip).

middle eastern medley

However, we saw this restaurant and my better half decided to eat here so I had the Middle Eastern Medley (RM 45). It’s described as Moroccan lamb shank cooked to perfection, served with spiced rice, cucumber raita and their signature Turkish Relish. I’ve always thought Morocco was in Africa but nevetheless, it tasted really good.

pistachio creme brulee

I liked their Pistachio Crème Brulee (RM 15) too! It comes with a scoop of ice cream with nuts at the bottom…

serai us

…and it’s plated for two!

2. Big Bad Wolf Sale 2013

commando

We braved the throngs of people all heading to Mines last night. I saw a couple of nice coffee-table books like a comic called Commando that came out in the 1960’s. I remember buying and reading this in primary school. The pulp comic book sold for RM 1 and I’ll forgo my lunch just to get a couple of copies. The art was realistic and gritty and this 50 year edition had 6 collections with commentary for RM 20.

commando comics

It’s a good deal, especially considering the quality paper it was printed on. I didn’t end up buying it though.

neil gaiman eternals

However, I bought a ton of other books. My dear bought some for herself and the kids too. I mostly went for hardcovers (which would go well on my bookshelf) but I also got this graphic novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s called Eternals, a Marvel property, and rewritten by Gaiman. It’s on the higher priced side at RM 25 but worth it to complete my collection. I’m a fan (of Gaiman, not Marvel) and I collect his works.

big bad wolf sale

The other stuff I bought were stuff like special mission units (SAS, DEVGRU etc) autobiographies, which I’ve been reading a lot lately since No Easy Day by Mark Oven (pseudonym) about the Operation Neptune Spear. The author (real name Matt Bissonnette) was a DEVGRU assaulter who was the second person in and made one of the killing shots to the late (and great? ;)) Mr. bin Laden.

book

I also threw in some sci-fi and the witty novels that are so in vogue nowadays. I like the staff there, they’re really friendly and helpful but the announcer is a bit of an annoying personality, I could constantly hear him over the PA berating people for infractions real and imagined. smirk

3. Truffled egg

truffled egg

I have perfected my truffled egg recipe! It involves using white truffle oil to finish a slow cooked (indirect heat, much like the Poached chicken breast with beetroot and nectarine puree I did) scrambled egg with heavy cream, milk, salt and pepper.

summer truffle breadsticks

It’s best eaten with summer truffle bread sticks. We had this for breakfast on Sunday. The French summer truffle bread sticks retails for over RM 80 per box (!!!). I got it for 80% off coz the use-by date was near though. I love our home cooked Sunday brunches. :)

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