A few thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

galaxy-s9-family-shot-950x317Recently I decided to cancel my current mobile phone plan with Telekom and give one of the other carriers a try. In the end I settled for O2. With the new plan I also got a new phone and after some serious research I finally settled on the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. I have been using this smartphone a couple of days now and let me share my thoughts so far.

This phone is extremely beautiful. In my opinion photos just don’t do it justice. From the photos I’ve seen it looks really bland, especially compared to the Huawei P20 Pro, which was the other phone I was considering. But in person it’s just gorgeous. The back (which is glass) is a bad fingerprint magnet, but that’s only a minor quibble, especially since I’ll put it into a case ASAP anyway.

What immediately blew me away was the screen. I am sure no one will disagree when I say that Samsung builds the best displays, period. The AMOLED display of the S9 Plus has vibrant colors, the blackest black I’ve ever seen on a smartphone display and the resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels means that everything is extremely crisp. The CPU is an octa-core processor with 4 cores running at 2.7 GHz and the remaining four running at a lower 1.8 GHz). I am pretty sure that the S9 Plus is the fastest smartphone I ever owned and I’ve never noticed any slowdowns while using it. Everything responds very fast and 3D games run very smooth. From specs alone the S9 Plus should be among the most powerful smartphones around, but there are a lot of small details which make it stand out – at least in my opinion.

The curved display which Samsung has used in several phones now is a huge improvement over the phone displays I have used in the past. It looks great and there’s almost no bezel. The stereo speakers are of pretty high quality and, boy, they are loud! You can even create personalized sound profiles that improve the sound quite a bit by analyzing your hearing and then modifying the sound output accordingly.

I was positively surprised about the new software Samsung uses. Because of TouchWiz I have avoided Samsung phones for a long time, but the new Samsung Experience isn’t too shabby. The only drawback is that it is a bit overwhelming with thousands of settings you can tweak and things you can customize. The launcher included works fine out of the box, but I eventually replaced it by a modified Pixel 2 launcher. Edge panels and edge lighting are cool, but the first is sometimes kinda annoying and the latter didn’t really work for me. After playing around with the options for two hours or so I gave up. I hope Samsung will get this working eventually.

From what I’ve experienced so far, the 3500 mAh battery lasts about a day, perhaps even more if you don’t play around with your phone all day. Fast-charging works like a charm, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to try wireless charging yet. I was expecting the display to be a major battery drain, but it seems AMOLED displays really don’t use that much power.

I was also positively surprised when I realized that my provider sent me the dual-SIM version of the phone. At the moment I am using the SIM card from my old carrier in slot 1 and the one from my new carrier in slot 2. The phone actually allows me to pick a SIM card for calls, texts and mobile data, so I am using my old carrier for calls (until my phone number has been moved to the new carrier) and the new carrier for mobile data. I won’t use the feature in the long run, but I am pretty sure it’s quite handy for some people.

The accessories you get with the phone are not too shabby either. An AKG in-ear headset, a charger, a USB-mini to USB-C adapter, and a USB OTG adapter, and a SIM key are included in the box. Normally I immediately toss the included headsets, but this one is actually pretty good. The sound quality is probably not good enough for a true audiophile, but I think it sounds great.

Oh, I forgot to mention the cameras. The S9 Plus has three cameras. Two on the back and one on the front. The back cameras have 12 MP and the pictures they take are quite impressive (at least to me). There are still a lot of features I haven’t tried though, like Slow-Motion video, or just regular video in general. The S9 Plus can record full 4K videos in 60 fps, which is more than I ever needed. Zwinkerndes Smiley The front camera is great for selfies and has 8 MP resolution. It can also be used to unlock the phone by face and iris detection which works great. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the back, below the cameras which can also be used to unlock the device. I included a snapshot of my cat below.

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There’s so much more I could tell you about the device, but I think this should suffice for now. Overall I am extremely happy with the S9 Plus. It still bothers me a bit that I couldn’t get Edge lighting to work, but it’s nothing I will lose sleep about. If you are looking for a high-end smartphone you should definitely consider the S9 Plus.

Why should you get a PS3 in 2017?

Just last week I bought a used Sony Playstation 3 on eBay. Some of you might be wondering why I got this video game console now, when the new generation has already been available for quite some time now. There are a couple of reasons.

The main reason is that the PS3 is much more affordable now than it was years ago. You can easily buy a used one for less than 100€ including controllers and perhaps even a few games. And even though it’s already about a decade old, a lot of games still look great.

The PS3 has had a slew of exclusive titles you were always interested in, but because you never got one, you weren’t able to play them? Now’s your chance! Especially the highly popular PS3-exclusives are now available for a couple of Euros. I got games like Heavy Rain, The Last of Us, etc. for under 5€ each. In general used games are extremely cheap. The PS3 is still new enough and it sold extremely well during its lifetime, so that the games are not extremely rare. Chances are good that you can get a handful of games for the price of one new PS4 game. This might eventually change in the coming years, so now it’s a great time to start collecting PS3 games.

I especially like that the PS3 is easily upgraded. Yesterday I replaced the 80GB hard drive by a 1 TB one and the whole process took me less than half an hour (including formatting and installing the latest software update). And if you don’t own a BluRay player yet, a PS3 gets even more interesting compared to other consoles of its generation.

As a plus you also get a console which plays all your venerable Playstation 1 games. Yes, every PS3 is PS1 compatible, even though they dropped PS2 compatibilty eventually.

Currently the PS3 is still somewhat supported by Sony. You can still get system updates from their website (even though this update is a couple of years old) and there are still many PS3 titles available in the Playstation Store. But of course we don’t know how long this support will last. So starting your collection now seems quite reasonable.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Please share your comments below!

 

Ok Google, please stop messing with my call quality

Some of you might have had the same issue I had. When talking on my smartphone I could unterstand the person I had called perfectly, but everything they got was a garbled mess. Sometimes hanging up and calling again helped. But if it worked it was only a temporary fix. I found out that this was a common issue on the Oneplus One phone I own, but people with other Android phones have encountered the same issue. As it turned out the Google Search voice recognition is the culprit, especially if you have the “Ok Google” feature enabled. Since I didn’t use that feature that often, I just turned it off and lo and behold the call quality was crystal clear – for both sides.

You may now ask, how do I disable this feature? Since I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, here’s a great step-by-step tutorial. By the way, does anyone know if Cortana causes the same issues on certain Android phones including the Oneplus One? If not, I might give it a try.

How I easily fixed my Senseo machine

Zwei-Tassen-Padhalter-SenseoSometimes things can be much easier than you think. Recently I noticed that my Senseo coffee machine started having issues. The coffee was not as hot as it used too and I also had the impression that the cups weren’t as full as they should be. At first I descaled the machine. This didn’t work. In fact things even got worse. The next time I tried to brew coffee, there was almost no water coming out of the machine and the noises it made were horrifying! I already saw myself having to buy a new coffee machine again. But there was a pretty easy solution to the problem.

The coffee pod (or pad as they are known in some languages) holder has a small sieve in it that tends to clog. Over time coffee residues and hard water deposits clog the sieve, so less and less water comes through. For some reason it never occured to me to regularly clean the pod holder. But after realizing that it was probably the culprit, I used descaling agent and boiling hot water to thoroughly clean the pod holder. Lo and behold, after that procedure my coffee maker worked as if it was new!

If you own a Senseo machine yourself, make sure you regularly clean the pod holders. I am sure a lot of Senseo owners threw their fully working machines into the trash just because these nastly little sieves in the pod holders were clogged.

The best headphones you can get for 25€

Recently I looked for a replacement for my current headphones which I am using on my OnePlus One. I mostly use a low-priced Sennheiser headset which has pretty good sound, but lacks a microphone and a remote control. While looking for alternatives I read about Amazon’s Premium Headset. I have bought Amazon-branded products before and usually the quality is great while the price is low, so I gave it a chance.

The headphones remind me a lot of the current iPhone headphones. The shape of the earbuds is almost identical and they sound and fit great (at least for me). They don’t close the ear canal completely, so it’s a great alternative for people who don’t like in-ears. Of course the sound quality can not be compared to something like the Ultimate Ears TripleFi, but they are at least on par with my Sennheiser headphones (which were in the same price range as the Amazon ones).

What I really like is that the lower part of the cord (below the remote control) is flat and doesn’t tangle when you carry the headphones in a pocket. You can also attach the earbuds to each other magnetically, which helps to further reduce any tangling.

The remote control has volume control and a button which allows you to pick up incoming calls or play/pause music. A double-press jumps to the next song on the playlist. It should work well with any Android phone, but I’ve read reviews that the remote doesn’t play well with Apple products. Since I don’t own any recent iPhones or iPads I can’t confirm this, but if you own an Apple product, you should do some further research. I haven’t been able to test the microphone yet, but from what I’ve read on the internet the quality should be fine.

All things considered the Amazon Premium headphones are the best headphones you can buy in that price range. The cord is genius and is a welcome change from the tangled mess you usually have to deal with. Sound quality is great and the earbuds have a great fit. If you’re looking for some new headphones you should definitly check them out!

Some thoughts on the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD

A while back I was looking for affordable Windows 8.1 tablets when I stumbled upon the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD. While I was pretty happy with my 10″ Android tablet there were numerous occasions when I really wished I had a Windows notebook. But on the other hand I wasn’t really interested in getting a full-blown notebook. But a 10″ Windows tablet with a proper keyboard seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

After doing some research I found out everything I ever wanted to know about the Aspire’s strengths and weaknesses. One of its strengths is definitely its 1920×1200 display which looks extremely sharp and has vibrant colors. Its biggest weakness is the detachable keyboard. While the keyboard itself is ok, the trackpad is definitely not that great. But since you can plugin a mouse or just use the touchscreen, this is luckily not that much of a problem after all.

Usually you pay about €430 for the 64 GB version, but I got one from Amazon Warehouse Deals for about €210. I just had to get it! Since then I have used it almost daily and several times I was impressed how well it ran. Of course you can’t play modern games on it, but some of the older games I got on GoG.com ran fine. The Aspire Switch 10 also runs the latest Microsoft Office without any issues. Full-HD videos are no problem as well. I played videos on Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. For the latter I used the Windows app, which is actually pretty nice. The tablet also has a micro-HDMI output which allows me to connect it to my TV.

One of the first things I tried when I got this tablet was Steam In-Home-Streaming. To my surprise it worked extremely well. Before I got the Aspire Switch I considered getting a Steamlink to be able to play games in my living room, but the tablet seems to be a viable alternative. So what do I use the tablet for? Basically I use it for everything I used my Android tablet for: Listening to music, browsing the web, watching movies on Youtube and Netflix, reading PDFs, listening to audiobooks, and some gaming. By the way, the quality of the speakers is pretty good for a tablet.

If you are now tempted to get one yourself, I have a few pieces of advice:

  1. Make sure you do some research. Perhaps there’s another device more suited for your needs. For me having a Full-HD display was very important, but you may be happy with a 1280×800 one.
  2. Get the 64 GB version. And even then you should considering getting a MicroSD card to add even more memory. Windows 8.1 takes up a lot of memory, and the Aspire Switch comes with a pre-installed version of Office 365, so there’s not that much space left for your programs and data.
  3. Get a nice case and perhaps a few accessories. Since the keyboard has only one USB slot (and there’s only one micro-USB slot on the tablet) you should consider a USB hub. I also recommend getting a micro-HDMI-to-HDMI cable if you want to connect the tablet to your TV. And an external HDD never hurts. 😉

Overall I didn’t regret buying the Acer Aspire Switch 10 FHD – not even for a second. It’s a pretty cool device for a good price (if you don’t pay full price, like me). If you have any questions, feel free to post them below!