Monday, May 29, 2017

Malaysia Airlines’ New Booking System: Much improved!

Here’s a quick review of the new Malaysia Airlines booking system.

The old one had a lot of problems and shortcomings. This new one is much welcomed with lots of improvements.

- You can now mix your classes or fare types in one booking. For example, promo fare + flexi fare, or economy on the outbound and business on the inbound. UPDATE: Seems like they've removed the ability to mix cabin classes in one booking.

- You can also book direct check-through tickets and select any combination of flights with different layover times. The old system, you were presented with what MH figured best suited you so sometimes you'd get very short connecting times for a flight from KCH to KUL (1h35m only, you'll miss your connecting flight if the KLIA aerotrain breaks down again or the incoming flight is delayed).

- Seat selections at time of booking are now all FREE! Hooray! Before, you had to pay at time of booking but selection was free if you did a web-check-in before departure.

- Maybank2u payments are currently down so only paypal, cc and cimbclicks are available.

This is a much better system than the old, archaic one. Makes booking tickets a lot easier. Unfortunately, if you like booking tickets with their app, that one's still stuck on the old system.

Their Enrich program will also see some changes in June.

MH1

MH5


MH3

MH4

MH2

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cathay Pacific CX724 KUL-HKG flight review

cathay pacific a330

Wow, I have not updated my blog in such a long time!

Here's my review of Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX724, Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong (Jan 2017). This was my first time flying with Cathay and I was really looking forward to it. This flight took about 3.5 hours.

Flight was serviced by a 5-year old Airbus A330. It was very comfortable flying on this relatively new aircraft, especially since there were many empty seats towards the back of the plane.. Very clean interior,. I liked the blue seats too, which gave the interior a modern, clean and fresh look (I dislike SQ's brown earth tones, which make even their new planes look tired and old). Lavs were also clean.

The IFE features a wide selection of movies and TV Shows, games and other programs. Cathay fully utilizes a touch system on this new plane and therefore, no wired remote is provided. I am not sure how phone calls are made without one, perhaps they have to approach the crew to utilize a special phone?

Meal service began shortly after the seatbelt sign went off beginning with the usual peanuts and drinks. Followed by the main meal. No menu is provided but we were given two choices. No appetizer or salad but meal quality was quite good. Hot beverages were served after the main meal service.

Water is handed out in small bottles and if you need more, just ask one of their friendly FAs.

In the seat pocket were the usual inflight shopping catalogue and related materials, Cathay’s inflight magazine (which was made with recycled paper, good!) and a sick-bag. The magazine wasn’t very interesting, but it did provide useful information. It also contained the month’s IFE program choices.

I tried watching the much-talked about highest grossing anime ever, "Your Name" but could not concentrate and switched it off (I finished watching it on the flight home) and took a nap.

An hour before landing, I woke up to a commotion at the back of the plane. There were about 6 FAs surrounding a lady passenger who apparently had obstructed an FA in discharging her duties. I can't provide any more details as I am not really sure what transpired before that.

Upon arrival, ground staff came to meet her and more commotion ensued. The language barrier was also a factor, I believe. I was surprised that on a Hong Kong bound flight filled with Chinese passengers, very few of the crew spoke Mandarin.

Anyways, the FA whom she supposedly had a run-in with was actually very professional and friendly, always smiling while going about her duties on our side of the cabin. Overall, I found the service quality very good.

cathay pacific a330 IFE
Good selection of programs. No wired-remote is provided and the IFE fully utilizes a touch screen for menu navigation and selection.

cathay pacific a330 peanuts 1
Meal service began shortly after the seat-belt sign was switched off.

cathay pacific a330 KUL HKG meal
I saw a Brahim’s truck loading up the flight while it was in preparation for boarding. Food quality was good and although no menu was provided, passengers were offered two choices along with a selection of drinks, juices and two types of wine.

cathay pacific a330 window view
The flight took about 3.5 hours.

cathay pacific a330 flight map
Approaching Hong Kong international.

cathay pacific a330 seat 
Clean seats.

cathay pacific a330 leg space
Good leg-space.

cathay pacific a330 IFE 2
No wired remote. A USB port is provided but it didn’t work properly (neither did the port in the next seat) so I was not able to charge my phone.

Have you flown with CX before? Did you like your experience?

Next up, my review of the connecting flight to TAO with Cathay Dragon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lenovo K3 Note Review by Sarawak Lens

If you are reading this now, chances are you arrived here by searching for a genuine user review of the new Lenovo K3 Note (K50-t5), correct? This is one of the most sought-after phones in the MYR500-MYR800 price bracket, offering top-notch, flagship-like performance for the low price of only RMB899 (about MYR590, excluding GST).

Well, you have arrived at the right place as I have been using this phone extensively, for more than a week now and have come to know exactly what I like or dislike about it.

So I am going to skip the usual introduction, features and hardware overview (which you can get at countless other sites which offer just that but little in terms of actual user comments/opinions) and jump right into the pros and cons divider into three sections - like, dislike and hate.

LIKE
The cameras are surprisingly very good! Antutu reports that the phone uses an Exmor RS sensor, I do not know if this is true as very little is known about what sensor Lenovo put in there. But judging by the pictures taken with the 13 megapixel main camera (F/2.0 aperture), I’m inclined to believe this. The front cam (probably uses an Omnivision sensor) also produces pretty good photos and will do just fine for taking selfies and video chat. The camera does sometimes struggle to find the right focus and I have had more than one out of focus shot. Camera samples at bottom of review.

The phone comes with Lenovo’s music app which gives you free listens and allows for free downloads of music at 128kbps bit-rate quality. However, note that the phone I have is meant for the Chinese market and therefore, most songs are in Chinese. A search feature is included; however, a big downside is that while the artist library is extensive, a lot of the artists listed do not have many songs available for streaming or downloading. But it’s a nice app for those who like Chinese artists/music.

Both sim slots allow for LTE/4G/3G/2G. However, only one slot will be available in 4G/3G mode at any one time. If you have two LTE or 3G enabled sims in both slots, the other will always be in 2G mode only. It doesn’t matter which as you can assign which sim to enable LTE.

I also considered the Meizu M1 Note but I am happy I did not get that because it does not have a micro-sd slot which the K3 Note does. My phone has 16GB of storage with nearly 5GB taken up by the Android 5.0 OS. Anyone who plays 3D games or store and listen to a lot of music on their phones, or like to snap photos and take movie clips will know that 16GB fill up VERY QUICKLY! Therefore, a micro-sd card slot is a definite must. The phone supports cards up to 32GB in size.

Removable battery! The Meizu M1 Note has a non-removable battery and that too was a deal-breaker for me. I like the option of carrying around a spare battery or the ability to just quickly remove the battery in case the phone jams or hangs.

Phone charges up relatively quickly unless you use a slow charger such as one from an old phone. You should have a full charge in about 2 hours from around 10%.

The phone also supports USB OTG (tested and working well). You can also double tap on the screen to wake it up. I use this feature a lot and am so used to it after a week that when I pick up a regular phone, I try to double tap on the screen too when it turns off.

When you keep the phone it in your pocket, there is a pocket mode which keeps the screen from registering accidental touches or taps. This however, causes the phone to sometimes not register a double tap when you take it out of your pocket or if you are in a dark room. You have to double tap again or sometimes 2-3 more times to wake it up.

DISLIKE
The screen is an IPS screen but does not behave like one. In fact, it has poor viewing angles and behaves like an old LCD-type of screen. Whites on this screen when viewed directly from the top is a little too “cool” for my liking. There is no way to adjust this in settings. When viewed from even a slight angle, the colour tint changes. On my phone, when viewed from the left, it’s warmer and has a red tint. Viewed from the right it looks bluish. But the changes in colour aren’t that bad enough to bother me too much.I think for an IPS screen, the viewing angles should be a lot better. Overall, I rate the screen quality as poor.

The phone comes with no accessories. Mine came with only a stock Lenovo charger (2.0A quick charger) in a plain brown box. Not a big deal really, as I have many earphone sets from previous phones! But something for you to take note.

Phone heats up quickly! If you start downloading an app or song or large game files, you will quickly find the phone becoming rather uncomfortable to hold. I measured temps as high as 42 degrees Celsius on the upper half of the phone. While it isn’t hot enough to fry an egg, it will definitely feel uncomfortable in your hands. Fortunately, the phone also quickly cools down when it returns into idle mode (about 33C to 35C). I did not find the phone to heat up too much playing a 3D game like Dungeon Hunter compared to using 3G data.

There is no option in settings to select the type of network connection you want. You cannot force a 2G or 3G only connection, for example. You need to use a third party app to do this and fortunately, I found a free app simply called “Network” in the google playstore that does this without having to root the phone.

The phone has trouble holding onto a 3G signal. When I was away for the weekend, I brought two phones with me, a cheap Alcatel and my new K3 Note. The Alcatel had no trouble finding a 3G signal and holding onto it while the K3 Note would be in 3G mode for only a minute or two then switch to the stronger 2G signal. This was even though the 3G signal was fairly strong as well. This really annoyed me and at the time, I hadn’t discovered the Network app mentioned above. I ended up placing my sim card in the Alcatel and turned on wifi tethering so I could surf faster on the Lenovo.

VibeUI. Really dislike this iOS-like UI! Installing other launchers caused some problems such as not being able to add widgets to the home screen without settings or something else crashing.

Lenovo’s stock camera app is quite limiting for people who like to tweak their cameras a bit before taking a photo. There is no way to select picture sizes or picture/JPEG file quality. Changing things like ISO and exposure compensation could also have been made a little easier.

One more thing I dislike is how the camera tends to use a lower ISO and slower shutter speed even for scenes which need a faster speed and higher ISO to avoid hand shake such as indoors. There is no manual option to change shutter speed.

HATE
By far the worst problem I have with this phone is the apparent inefficient memory management or possible memory leak. Starting up the phone, I get a good amount of ram free (about 1100+MB or 60% free). Using popular everyday apps such as Firefox or Chrome, Whatsapp and Facebook will quickly cause this free ram to go down to just 10% available! This then results in lag and it terribly spoils the experience. The phone has also jammed (hanged) 3 or 4 times when I first started using it. My K3 Note beats all 2014’s flagships and come in an impressive third after the Samsung Note 4 and Meizu MX4 with 45000+ Antutu points but all that means nothing if there is very bad lag! UPDATE: After updating from 1511 stock rom to newer roms such as 1522, 1524 and currently, 1529 (as of August 2015), the lag issues have disappeared.

Lenovo installs annoying bloat-ware which they made into system apps that you cannot remove without rooting and voiding your warranty. For example, Clean Sweep Master is *&^%$# annoying with its many pop ups and notifications! There’ were also two stock browsers on my phone, UC browser and Baidu browser. Both cannot be removed without rooting.

Viruses and trojan alert! I installed ESET antivirus and it quickly warned that Lenovo’s “User Experience” app was actually a spy program containing a virus/trojan. UC Browser was also reported to contain a virus/trojan!

To get rid of the annoying Clean Sweep Master program and remove the sneaky programs, I had no choice but to root my phone and use System Uninstaller to do the job. The icons still appear after restarting the phone but at least the programs are gone and no more prompts from Clean Sweep asking me to do this and that!

CONCLUSION
It's a nicely made phone, takes nice pictures, has a decent full-HD screen (not so nice viewing angles, though) and is quite fast when you don't have a few apps running. Unfortunately it starts to lag even with just a few regularly used apps up and free ram goes down to just 10%. Should you buy this phone? Perhaps not now. Wait for better roms and if you are located outside China, maybe wait until there is an official version for your country with a localized rom. If you do buy it, hopefully there will be better roms for it in the future. I give this phone a 2/5, if it weren't because of the heat issue and slow-downs/lagging problems, I would give it a 3.5/5.

Camera samples: Click on the photo for larger version.

 
 
 
 

HDR Mode
HDR ON

HDR OFF
 
The cat photo above was taken with the FRONT CAMERA (5.0 megapixels). Selfies are actually quite nice taken with this camera.
 
Panorama mode, unfortunately doesn't work too well.
 

Night shot (it was very dark!)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful new year 2015

Glenorchy Lagoon

Lake Wakatipu

Earlier this year, I was in New Zealand. I have yet to sit down and write about my first and most wonderful trip there. Hope to find time to do so soon. Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One of my favourite things to do…

kerangas_heath_forest

Immediately after graduating from uni, I worked in a multinational company. Each day, I'd be walking through an office filled with computers and buzzing telephones and fax machines. Today, this is my "office", the jungle is where I go to "escape" urban life, it's where I go to relax and at the same time, learn more about the world around us. I love Sarawak, my beautiful home.

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