Smartifying my room (part 1)

As you know, my room is my sanctuary. I can go to great lengths to decorate my room to my liking. A personal and safe space where I can hang out and be alone. So it is no surprise that I invest quite a bit on a PC desktop set-up, starting with my gaming PC, followed by a nice looking borderless PC monitor from Dell. After that I did a Ikea hack and bought a kitchen tabletop and placed above 2 gray shelves to make a DIY desktop.

This near year, in 2018, my goal is to smartify my room, that is, to install smart lighting such as the Nanoleaf Aurora panels (12 of them) and the Lifx LED bulbs. Oh did I mentioned that I got a brand new 49 inch Sony 4K TV?


The TV

The TV came in when I finally had the time to shift my bed 90 degrees away from the windows to make way for a one-seater sofa. Opposite the sofa, where my PC desktop is currently at, there is just enough space for a 4K TV. I bought the Sony X800E, 49 inches with HDR capabilities at Courts. I had a great deal. It was initially selling at S$1490, way below the recommended retail price (since, my guess is that they were clearing stock to make way for the 2018 models recently announced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas) S$1499 seemed reasonable enough for me as I always knew that Sony TVs are usually priced at a premium over their competitors. I expressed my interest in making a purchase when suddenly, the salesman who was attending to needs mentioned that there was an opened box of the same model that I wanted.

What happened was that another buyer initially bought that TV but bought the wrong size and couldn’t fit into their TV console. So they were forced to return the TV and bought a smaller one instead. Having been opened, Courts had no choice but to sell it at a lower price point. It was going for only S$1299. That piqued my interest. I drilled him further about the reason for the return and to ascertain whether he was telling the truth. He seemed truthful enough and I was pretty convinced of his story. At the end of the day, I thought to myself; It was only opened and returned within the same day, the plastic sheets and wraps were still largely intact. It wasn’t even turned on before they realised the TV they bought couldn’t fit into the wall mounted TV console. It was a great deal, nevermind it was only opened for a day. I took it immediately, brought back home and tested the TV. It was perfectly fine. S$200 cheaper just like that.

The Lighting

I decided to go for two kinds of lighting from two different companies. The Aurora LED panels from Nanoleaf,  that can showcase 16 million colours and smart bulbs from LIFX, also LED that is capable of showing 16 million colours.


The Nanoleaf Aurora is fantastic. It exceeded my expectations when it comes to the level of brightness these panels can emit, and the vibrancy of the colours that these panels can display. Installation was a breeze. Just use the tracing paper given to you in the packaging to plan your layout and start connecting the panels together and stick it to the wall one by one. One thing I learned about installing these panels is that a little bit of planning goes a long way. By patiently installing each panel properly and ensuring that they stick to the walls will result in a satisfying piece of art in which you can manipulate the light using your smartphone. I have had hours of fun coming up with various lighting themes, moods and colours for various occasions that may be needed. The app is seamless to your and pretty intuitive. However, pairing the panels with your phone by telling it to connect to the home network can be a pain in the ass. More on that later.


The bulbs came a couple of days later. The bulbs were meant for my spotlight fixtures on the opposite wall to my PC desktop. It can hold 3 GU10 bulbs. These bulbs are meant for spotlight effect that gives directional light to the room. Again, the colours were vibrant and accurate and although each bulb isn’t as bright as I thought it could be, having three of them light up white or different white temperatures, can be quite bright. Pairing was much more difficult than the Nanoleaf Aurora panels. I will discuss connectivity issues later in another post.




The Roccat Sova Gaming Lapboard

So now that I have my gaming rig set up and running, you may not realise that I am actually playing on a 42 inch full HD LCD TV. I have a couch in the room, in addition to the TV. I used the TV to play games on the PS4. Consoles and TVs go together, but what about PC gaming rigs and TVs?  Its a common set up. More common that you think. However, there has never been an elegant solution with regards to using a keyboard and mouse on a couch for living room gaming (in my case, its in my room).


Introducing the Roccat Sova Gaming Lapboard. I preordered the Roccat Sova about a month ago and it started shipping sometime in the third week of August. It arrived just in time,  a couple of days after I finished building my rig. I still had to wait a couple of days though and while waiting, I had to use a spare keyboard and mouse to install Windows 10 and update all relevant drivers. When the lapboard arrived, the first thing I noticed was how huge the package was. The Roccat Sova is essentially a ten-keyless keyboard built into a plastic frame with a wrist rest and a built-in mousepad. Essentially, this lapboard is built such that the whole thing rests on your lap, so that you can play video games on the couch. Anyone who preordered the Roccat Sova were given a Rovvat Kova mouse for free, which is a sweet deal, considering that the whole lapboard setup is not cheap to begin with. This sweet combo immediately sets you up for couch gaming without additional purchases to complete the set up.

So far I am loving it. I never thought that gaming lapboards would work. The Roccat Sova doesnt feel heavy at all, yet not too light as to skimp on plastic. Despite weighing more that 3 kilograms, its size spreads the weight around so it doesnt feel too heavy on your lap. It has 4 cushions underneath the gaming lapboard for your lap to rest on, making it comfortable for long gaming sessions. You can even remove the cushions and underneath those slots, you can remove the the wrist rest and mousepad with a simple push, since it is stuck to the gaming lapboard with magnets. You can even replace it with other designs, which I assume Roccat would release in the near future for customisations options. The ability to remove the wrist rest and mouse pad allows you to clean your lapboard easily.

There are other gaming lapboards out there. Razer released its own gaming lapboard called the Razer Turret. It has a smaller profile than the Roccat Sova. However initial reviews indicated that the mouse pad area is a little too small for gaming and that the keyboard uses chiclet style keys on their keyboard. Furthermore, it doesnt come with a wrist rest and makes long gaming sessions a little uncomfortable.

Corsair also released their own gaming lapboard, aptly named the Corsair Lapdog. It is similar to Roccat Sova in terms of layout, but it doesnt feature a wrist rest. While corsair allows you to switch keyboards within the gaming lapboard frame, it can only accommodate Corsairs keyboards and only certain models within their gaming keyboard line-up. Switching the keyboard is great for those who wishes to upgrade to a better keyboard like mechanical keyboards, something Roccat Sova cannot do. You are stuck with the keyboard given on your gaming lapboard. Roccat Sova does come with two flavours, one featuring the normal membrane keys, and the other with a more premium mechanical keys. So potential buyers must decide carefully on which they wish to purchase, with the mechanical keys commanding a higher price.

Another drawback from Corsair Lapdog is that it requires a power cable connected to a power outlet to power the usb hub and keyboard. This additional cable required to power the keyboard can be cumbersome. Roccat Sova does not need additional power cables, but it does require two USB slots to power the keyboard and any additional peripherals connected to the USB hub (it has two USB ports), like a wired mouse or USB headphones. The two USB connectors are split at the end of the cable and they both must be plugged to your CPU.

Roccat Sova comes with a four meter USB cable that is of ample length for a typical living room set up, allowing you to easily connect it to your CPU half a room away. The cable is also unique in that it features easy break-away cables, featuring a 5-pin female connector on one end and USB connector on the other end. Should someone accidentally trip on the cables, rest assured that neither your keyboard nor your CPU will come flying across the room, since the break-away cables will easily and obviously break away.

One thing I hope Roccat Sova would provide in the future is the ability to purchase replacements for the cushions that comes underneath the lapboard. While it is comfortable, I doubt its longevity, especially, when coming from someone who lives in warm tropical Singapore, you can get sweaty on your lap after intense periods of gaming and I am not sure if the cushion could handle stresses such as heat, humidity and human sweat. But for now, it seems to be holding up. Unless you are playing games with your air-conditioner switched on all the time, then you might want to be mindful about this potential cushion degradation after using the lapboard for a couple of years.

I had never had any ergonomic problems with using the Roccat Sova and gaming on my couch. The wrist rest is essential and thankfully it is built that wrist rest in mind. The mouse pad area is huge, more than enough surface area to game on. In fact, as I am typing this entry, I am using my Roccat Sova to type, and the keyboard is as comfortable as most keyboards should be.

This is perhaps the first lapboard ever released to truly usher in the era of couch gaming. Aspiring PC gamers who wish to game on their glorious full HD or even 4K TVs in their living room is now made possible with the Roccat Sova.


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Last week I successfully convinced my dad to get a new TV in the living room. We were in the process of doing some spring cleaning for the upcoming Hari Raya. We were trying to tidy the living room space, especially the TV console, where the wires all around were beginning to be an eyesore. At the same time we also changed our internet service provider to MyRepublic, and they gave us this monstrously looking router (The Asus RT AC-88U, which I love it to death) as part of the subscription package deal. So as we were tidying up all the wires and tucking it out of sight, I thought to myself, why don’t we simply get a new TV and get a totally clean, new look for the living room?

At that point of time, I was in the process of looking to replace my ageing TV in my bedroom. I had the 32 inch HD Ready TV from Panasonic. It still works, but its a little bit clunky and bulky for an LCD TV and I have always wanted to get a Full HD TV counterpart. I had been eyeing this 40 inch Full HD TV from Sony for quite a while (the 700 series). Recently Sony had a summer sale going on and it was selling for S$650. It was a good deal at that point of time. So when the idea struck in me to try and find a way to convince my dad to get a new TV, I offered to buy the current one in the living room for $400. It was an LG – a brand that I adore, that churns out TVs of reputable quality and technical excellence – 47 inch Full HD TV. At first, I was hesitant. I did not want a second hand TV, but after careful consideration, I agreed to take it. My dad was also hesitant in getting a new TV. He did not want to fork out  money to get a new one when the old was still working perfectly fine. In the end, the $400 was attractive enough for my dad as a way to offset the overall cost of the new TV.   On further inspection, I discovered that the current TV in the living was just under 5 years old. So while it has been used quite heavily over the years, it still functions perfectly. And at 47 inch, it was bigger than the Sony model I had been eyeing for quite a while. In fact, I barely had the sufficient length to fit on my mini console tv placed in my bedroom. It was quite large, larger than I would have liked, but for $400, it was a good deal. I cleaned the TV thoroughly, and in no time, it looked just like new.

After agreeing to ‘buy’ the TV that was sitting in the living room, I quickly yanked out my laptop and started researching on the best TV money can buy based on my dad’s budget and our needs. Our TV console had a size restriction, and that had to be taken into account as well. I did a quick measurement on the biggest TV we could fit, and it turned out to be no more than a 50-inch TV. 50 inches was in fact more than sufficient, my family had no problems with that.

Next was the brand. It had to be an LG TV. When it comes to TV brands, I am very partial towards LG. LG TVs are known to be of good quality. They are the leading company in LCD and OLED screen manufacturing technology. Dell computer monitors use LG panels. Apple’s iMac uses LG panels. Their 4K OLED screens garnered rave reviews, producing some of the best looking screens out there on the market. In short, LG panel manufacturing oozes technical excellence. I immediately zoomed in on LG. I remembered reading somewhere that LG recently refreshed its entire 4K TV models for 2016. Also, all of their 4K TV models support HDR in one way or another (HDR capable TV are currently hard to parse and differentiate, especially when there are several standards currently competing for dominance, and with so many technical TV jargons out there, it just further confuses an average consumer). But for LG, it was easy. their refreshed models are all HDR certified and employed WebOS 3.0, making their TVs really smart. Their TVs are also Netflix certified TVs, meaning that you could get maximum enjoyment off watching Netflix from any of the LG’s 4K TVs.

We chose the 650 series from LG, one of their entry level models, and one of the few new 4K TV models that has sizes of less than 50 inches. In the end we settled on the 49 inch UH650T 4K TV with HDR. Standard retail price was S$1650. We went to Gain City’s new showroom at Sungei Kadut. They were selling for $1500, cash and carry. Offsetting my offer of $400 for the second hand TV, and my dad only had to pay $1100. $1100 for an LG, 49inch 4K TV with HDR, 2016 model? That is an absolute steal. You must be wondering; there must be a catch, a little known technical spec that is essential in 4K TVs what is absent in this model but they just won’t tell you. Well I can tell you, that while there are some shortcomings to this model, overall, for the price that it is selling, this is the best 4K HDR TV money can buy.

So let’s talk about it’s strength. As I mentioned, LG’s new lineup of 2016 4K TV offers HDR across the board. Colour gamut of its panels are wide with Colour Prime technology and supports HEVC encoding at 4K 60P 10bit right off the bat. It has WebOS 3.0, a new smart TV interface that is both fast and responsive. Apps are limited at the moment, but the added bonus is that the new LG 4K TVs are Netflix certified, meaning you can ensure that you are watching TV shows and movies from Netflix the way Netflix wants you to (if that is your thing). IO wise, it offers 3 HDMI 2.0A, 2 USB 2.0 and the Magic Remote (which I will talk about later).

LG has two types of 4K TVs, the LCD models and OLED models. The OLED models are considered the signature models, and costs tens of thousands of dollars. Comparing apples to apples, we should only be comparing the UH650T LCD TV with its LCD TV brethren. OLED is a whole new ballgame. LCD panels can never match the colour contrast and deep black levels OLED can offer. So let’s leave OLED out for the time being. LG offers 4 different 4K LCD TV models. The 650T, 770T 850T and the 950T. Upon studying the specs – apart from the size offerings, you realise that there are very little technical differences between them, with 2 notable exceptions which, I feel is quite crucial. They are also key weaknesses in the UH650T models. Firstly, is lack of Dolby Vision support and secondly, lack of Local Dimming.

There are two leading HDR standard currently out there on the market that is being advertised in 4K HDR capable TVs. For most TV brands, whether it is Samsung, Sony, Panasonic etc, they would only support one or the other, rarely both. The two standards are HDR10 and Dolby Vision. LG  4K HDR TVs are unique, in that they decided to provide support for both. Dolby Vision is more important for the upcoming 4K UHD Blu-ray standard, while HDR10 usually applies to 4K HDR streaming content services like Amazon Video streaming services, Netflix and in the near future, Youtube. Those streaming services employ the HEVC encoding standard for all 4K content, which, fortunately LG 4K TVs natively support.

So back to the question: What is the catch at making the UH650T models so cheap? UH650T only supports HDR10, but not both. That is the catch. While it is a HDR capable TV, it can natively support HDR10 standard. Future investments in a UHD Blu-ray player that features Dolby Vision HDR technology, the UH650T may not be able to showcase videos it all its HDR glory. Will LG update the TV via firmware to support Dolby Vision? Time will tell. But as part of market segmentation, it makes sense somewhat, to leave this capability behind in their entry level models. Personally, I don’t find the lack of Dolby Vision support a deal breaker. UHD Blu-ray players and movies haven’t reached market mainstream yet, and it is only in 2016, that UHD Blu-ray players are currently on the market. So in essence, you don’t really feel the loss, yet.

The second more crucial shortcoming found in the UH650T models is the lack of Local Dimming. Local Dimming provides per pixel light dimming controls on its LCD panels. With pixel size dimming controls, black looks black as light is switch off at certain regions depending on the picture being shown on the panel. This fine control of light increases the overall brightness and contrast range LCD can offer. LCD, traditionally requires a backlight, and the UH650T still employs edge-lit back technology. So while the panels can produce magnificent colours due to its wide colour gamut (very important in HDR capable TVs), in terms of brightness and contrast, this is where the UH650T fell remarkably short. Despite the fact that UH650T supports HDR, but full dynamic range that HDR can offer is muted. With this in mind, to fully appreciate HDR in UH650T TVs, you will probably need to watch TV in the dark. Local Dimming technology is quite expensive to deploy, because you need to put a whole array of LED white light behind the LCD panel, which naturally increases cost. So to exclude from the entry level model, is justified. But still it would have been a really really great TV for the price that is going for, if it offered Local Dimming just as the rest of the models do.

There are many other differences between the UH650T models and the higher end counterparts, but personally, I feel that these differences are minuscule and at the end of the day do not affect the quality of the TV panels much to notice. If you are willing to spend the extra cash, by all means, go ahead and get a bigger and higher end model. The extra features are well justified for the price that it is currently selling. Which ever model you get, you are still getting a great quality TV from LG.

So now that I have mentioned it’s strengths and weaknesses of the TV and my justification in getting the model, how does it perform? What is the picture quality like? Does the 4K panel really lived up to its name? Does the TV upscale FullHD content to 4K resolution accurately?

I have got a lot of say about the visual quality of the TV. But for now this is my first impression: Holy SheeeeT!

I mean. really, holy shit!

Let’s me begin by talking about the visual quality of 4K content. The only readily available 4K content for me right now are from Netflix and Youtube. Netflix has a number of stellar in-house TV show productions such as House of Cards, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Orange is the New Black just to name a few. They are also available in 4K. I loaded up a couple of episodes and I was floored by the picture quality. Everything looks so clear and colourful! My TV is connected to the router by an ethernet cable, and while 4K content requires at least a sustained 25mbps connection, I had no problem streaming the entire show in 4K. The difference is quite substantial. The LG panel is amazing. Colours pop, everything looks sharp, and you can discern individual pores from a person’s face. It’s crazy! I have seen the beauty of 4K panel displays while looking at demo units in stores, but having it in my own home is surreal. I have never been so absorbed by the quality of the picture than the actual story that goes on in a TV show. I sometimes watch the show just for the sake of admiring the picture quality itself.

Colour and contrast improvements were more evident when I streamed Marco Polo season 1. The show not only featured 4K, but also in HDR. The TV was able to correctly identify that I was streaming 4K HDR content, (which is good news, meaning that it can natively display content in HDR) and very soon, the TV settings changed to allow HDR content to show as intended. Unfortunately, I did not see much a difference between HDR and non HDR content. Like I mentioned, before, the TV’s lack of Local Dimming doesn’t particularly show the TV display’s full potential when it comes to playing HDR. Perhaps, if I watch the show in the dark, I might be able to tell the difference. I did note however, that colours were more prominent, and that shades of grey or the regions between dark and light were more subtle, eliminating colour banding altogether. This makes certain scenes and its associated colours stand out a little bit more than usual.

But despite all these improvements to the picture quality as a result of increase resolution to 4K, the one aspect that I’m most impressed by this TV and LG TVs in general is their 4K upscaling technology. Although I have nothing to compare against with, but the LG 4K upscaling technology built into the TV is one of the best I have ever seen. After witnessing what the 4K upscaler TV technology has come a long way. 1080p content (be it downloaded from torrent, or played through a blu-ray disc, was shown with near 4K clarity. I was blown away, especially when I played back 1080p content downloaded from the net. Most of the time, you will see compression issues, like inaccurate colour representations in certain scenes in a video clip. This is especially evident in dark areas, or scenes. Blacks, don’t really show up as blacks but pixellated greys, and colour banding is evident. This is very prominent if the video bit rate is low despite the fact that it is encoded in 1080p. But when played on the new LG 4K TV, it disappears. Like magic, the colour is vibrant and accurate, and it was as if, the TV ‘cleaned’ up the image, increasing the visual quality of the content in real time. Most of time, my eyes were fooled thinking that I was watching a downloaded movie, or TV show in 4K, when the actual content is only at 1080p. Sure, some blemishes are apparent, and images aren’t as sharp, but it is a vast improvements to other TV I have seen so far. After all, the quality of the source matters a lot. If you have a movie downloaded from the net that is encoded from a blu-ray source, at 1080p with high bitrate, then you can be assured that the TV will show the picture in near 4K quality.

Playing blu-ray discs on a blu-ray player is even better. I loaded up Star Trek, Darkness Within, and Avatar, and I swear I thought I was watching the movie in 4K. The 4K upscaling technology is that good. Having such a technology breathes new life to my blu-ray collection. I feel so much at eased now that I know for a fact that blu-rays aren’t that outdated yet and with a good TV with a good 4K upscaling technology, you will be guaranteed to make the best use of your current blu-ray collection.

It is highly unlikely that I would personally invest in the next generation 4K UHD Blu-ray player. We seldom buy blu-ray discs to keep and collect and current UHD Blu-ray discs are expensive now that it is recently out on the market. The demand for such medium hasn’t gone mainstream yet.

So after raving and ranting about the new LG TV, am I happy with my dad’s purchase? Mostly. I have not encountered a most cost effective TV that has most of the features a 4K HDR can offer. And for that price with the features listed, it is perfect for my family’s needs. 4K is terrific. It is the future of TV. Despite the lack of content, I am very sure, that more are on the way. Give it a couple more years and you will see 4K content proliferating widely. While I can’t comment on HDR just yet, since my TV can’t really reach its full potential (due to lack of key features like local dimming), I think HDR is the next step forward in enhancing the contrasts and colour reproduction on an already high resolution display. Having a sharp image shown on your TV is worthless if you can get colour reproduction accurate and brightness levels that would truly make pictures pop.

For the budget conscious who wants a good quality 4K TV with HDR, this is the TV to get.

Vera Farmiga



I don’t usually write profiles of actors or actresses on my blog and it might be the first of many to come. First up, I want to talk about Vera Farmiga.

Vera Farmiga is currently starring as Norman Louise Bates in Bates Motel. Now in its fourth season, the story is actually a prequel to the popular classic horror movie “Psycho” written by Alfred Hitchcock.

I was somewhat familiar with Vera’s acting roles in The Conjuring (and the sequel out soon in June). She also played a role that I remember quite well in “Source Code” as Captain Colleen Goodwin. She mainly appeared on a digital screen talking to Jake Gyllenhaal who is the main protagonist. Other than that, I have no memory of her acting in any other movie, at least not that I can remember (she does have a long acting career). Both of those movies, didn’t really showcase her full talent. Not until I watched Bates Motel.

Despite being just a TV show, her acting skills are top notch. This is the first time I actually watch her acting out her full spectrum of talents on TV. She screams, she laughs, she cries,  she gets crazy sometimes during the show and it’s a marvel to watch her perform all those difficult scenes. I have never seen a more intense actress acting out her role for a TV series. I can’t really put proper words to describe her absolutely marvellous acting skills she has for the show. You must simply watch it to really understand how talented she can be, and the unforgiving demands her role is, that she had to portray week after week.

One month with Netflix

My first free month with Netflix is almost up. So what have I watched and how reliable is the streaming service so far?

So far I have watched (or binged watched) How to Get Away with Murder, Making a Murderer, Jessica Jones, dabbled in Hemlock Grove, and currently trying to get up to speed with the latest season of Bates Motel.

Having watched my fair share or TV shows that I could possibly watch with whatever spare time I have within the month, I am quite pleased with the experience so far.

How I watch Netflix.

As you know, you can watch Netflix almost anywhere on almost any smart devices that are connected to the internet. Computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, smart TVs. You choose. For me, I use the Netflix app for the PS4 and watch all my Netflix shows on TV in my room using the PS4. For the living room, I use Google Chromecast to Google Cast my shows I select from my smartphone to the big TV. I don’t watch shows on my tablet, computer or smartphone.

How is the streaming quality like?

It’s actually pretty good. Probably because I am on a fiber broadband connection, so streaming full HD streams (up to two simultaneous and I have tested on numerous occasions) is no sweat. Upon initial buffering (which doesn’t take more than 5 seconds), you do see somewhat degraded picture quality, but it quickly upgrades to full HD quality once the connection is stable (usually within a minute). Throughout the 30 days I have used Netflix, I did not experience any slow loads, intermittent interruptions, downtime, or degraded picture quality while watching. The reliability of the streams is as good as watching TV off the cable network or terrestrial satellite TV. There are several instances where I just totally forgot that I am watching TV shows on Netflix. And with no ads, it’s just heavenly and makes binge watching all the more sweeter.

And I love the fact that it continues streaming the next episode once the previous one rolls its end credits. And I also love the fact that it keeps track on where you left off, so that you can continue without a hitch at a later time. Closed captioning is godsend but you can switch it off if it is too distracting.

Essentially, everything about Netflix in terms of account creation, UI navigation and streaming are flawless.

An example of what the Netflix main page looks like.

How are the TV and movie offerings like? 

They are somewhat lacking in my opinion. There is very little to no local TV and movie content offerings at the moment. Movies are somewhat old and limited, although there are some good classics available in the library. TV offerings are a little better (in terms of quality, not quantity). The Netflix Originals series are available which a number of them are actually pretty darn good, like Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Narcos. Other notable shows available include Breaking Bad, Penny Dreadful, Bates Motel and some other older shows like Suits, Under the Dome and Spartacus.

Essentially there is nothing to rave about in terms of TV and movie offerings, but there are some good ones worth binging.

netflix ui
I am in the middle of watching Bates Motel. Loving every episode.

I am still hopeful that they will continue to improve their content offering in the near future. Netflix has invested heavily in the more original productions that would make viewers of all demographics happy and will continue to do so in the near future. In fact, the entire season of Daredevil season two will be out on March 18. That at least gives me a reason to maintain my subscription for the time being. And I haven’t really touched any of the movie offerings which I will do so when I have no TV shows left to binge on.

Google Chromecast (A quick impression)


On impulse, over the weekend, I bought the Google Chromecast. Not the new generation that was just announced about a week ago, but the little dongle that has been on the market for quite some time. Initially, I never really thought much about Chromecast, or its ability to make any TV with a spare HDMI slot transform into a truly smart TV. After all, its only main function is to push or handoff contents, be it music, or video or just about any other digital content to your TV. Using any smart devices at hand, either a tablet or smartphone, you can use that as your remote and push any supported content to your TV so long as the app in question supports it. A simple concept, but one that I underestimated its usefulness.

Now, after spending an afternoon with it and some of its various smartphone and tablet apps supporting chromecast, I must say, it is easily one of the best 65 bucks spend on a gadget. Coupled with Infuse app by Firecore, I can now push any video content from my WD MyCloud to my TV in a visually pleasing interface from either my smartphone or tablet. It is seamless, easy to use and mostly glitch free. And when I mention glitch free, it is true that it isn’t perfect, but far better than any other solutions out there in terms of costs.

The video streams smoothly to my TV with occasional stuttering and short pauses indicating buffering. I think this is due to certain video formats being handled by Chromecast. I am speculating here, but I think, that certain video formats are simply too demanding to be transmitted over wi-fi, due to its bandwidth demands. One thing I find strange though is that on newer devices such as the iPhone 6, the stuttering almost doesn’t occur when videos are being casted from it. But switching to an older model, like the iPhone 5, stuttering happens now and then. I am not sure if the devices capabilities are directly affecting the streaming quality, or if there are on-the-fly transcoding happening in the phone that the phone just couldn’t keep up when certain videos formats calls for on-the-fly transcoding. I am still quite hazy as to how Chromecast actually works in terms of where contenting is being push around and finally to the TV. It seems like battery drains noticeably when I used the app in the phone to push video streams to Chromecast dongle.

It is a minor gripe that happens only to small subset of video formats. Most of the time, it played fine, and I am happy with it. Video looks crisps, and the framerate being displayed on tv is of a much higher framerate. You can really tell the difference in the streaming quality that Chromecast is pushing to your TV.  It performs admirably.

I write a more detailed update when I have more time using it in the coming weeks. For now, allow me to enjoy my new gadget for the rest of the weekend.

Man-crush on Aidan


Ok, I am a huge fan of Being Human, the US version. I can’t stop thinking about it after watching the last few episodes leading up to the finale next week in their latest season. For those who are not familiar with the series, it is basically about how a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost tries to live normally like humans in a house. But things don’t usually turn out normal. The story twists and turns and there is more to it in the world of werewolves, vampires and ghosts than merely about these three persons living together. In essence, their lives are intertwined closely, yes they must navigate through a minefield and achieve lots of sacrifices to achieve what they want: A normal life.

I have to confess; I have a man-crush on Aidan. Not only is he good looking, but deep inside him, he has a genuine heart. I mean, yeah sure he is a vampire without a beating heart. He kills, and gets violent sometimes. But those are human flaws amplified by their vampire instincts. despite being immortal, he has human problems as well. You see, the thing I like about the show, is that you get to see their vulnerabilities as a human despite being whether they are werewolves or vampires. And believe me, werewolves and vampire do not mix. They hate each other. But somehow seeing both of them as friends, Josh and Aidan is truly heartwarming. Despite their vulnerabilities that you see in them, their flaws, there is one thing I love them so much. It is their unwavering friendship. The lengths each other go through to save each other from trouble. The sacrifices they made for each other in order to forge some form of brotherhood despite what others say about werewolves and vampires being a taboo mixing around.

In the last few episodes, I really got to see Aidan sacrificing so much for his friends. Willing to help and risk his own lives so that others may hopefully lead a normal life. He is truly a hero, of course he is not real, only in the show, but he inspires me sometimes to really reach out for once a helping hand for that friend in need. That’s why I have a man-crush Aidan.