Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review: Bosch Readyy’y 2-in-1 handstick vacuum cleaner

Disclaimer: We were provided with a unit of Bosch Readyy’y 2-in-1 handstick vacuum cleaner for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received. All images and opinions are our own.

It’s always good to read details carefully; this is something I’ve learnt during our search for a handy handheld vacuum cleaner.

The day I received a press release from Bosch, I thought I had found the answer. I saw the words ‘Readyy’y 2in1 cordless HANDstick vacuum cleaner’ and I was sold. I quickly requested for a review set, thinking ‘Brilliant! Now we can clean the car!’

But lo and behold! When I saw the courier man with the ‘cordless handstick vacuum cleaner’, I got a shock. Why is it so big? It was as tall as the kids!

It was only then I realised my mistake. Maybe motherhood made more more careless, or jump to assumptions easily. But, this was a mistake I didn’t regret.

Here’s why. I was searching for a small hold-in-the-hand vacuum cleaner for cleaning the car. But thanks to the little mistake I made, I got myself a vacuum cleaner for both the car and the home.


Oh where oh where is the handheld cleaner?
You see, the Bosch Readyy’y comes with both a handstick vacuum cleaner for floors and other large areas and a detachable battery powered handheld cleaner for smaller areas like the car. It is easy to remove the handheld cleaner, and I like the fact that this compact cleaner fits seamlessly with the tall handstick cleaner.  In fact, it was so seamless, I almost couldn’t tell the difference between the handstick and the handheld.



Yey! No more wires!
Another feature I like about this 2-in-1 device is its ability to operate without wires. The provided wire is there only to charge the replaceable battery in the smaller handheld cleaner. Once fully charged, it can operate both the handheld and bigger handstick cleaner. It sure beats having wires trailing you wherever I go.

Bosch cleaner 6 2


Bye bye backaches
Thanks to the standing Bosch vacuum cleaner,  I don’t have to constantly bend over to pull and neaten the trailing wires, or reach down to operate a very low cleaner (which my current cleaner is), I have fewer backaches due to vacuum cleaner usage. I can tirelessly do my housework without bending up and down, or even cursing under my breath (so the kids don’t hear), when wires get stuck between chair legs. Keeping the cleaner is also rather convenient, as the entire cleaner can be dismantled into three pieces and kept easily into a cupboard. Phew! I thought I had to find a place to keep the tall cleaner.

Bosch cleaner 4 2


Dust away
Because I’m just walking around the house with the Bosch vacuum cleaner, house cleaning is rather effortless now, relaxing even. The cleaner’s nozzle swivels, so it’s easy to reach tight corners. The cleaner also has a pretty good air flow, so it sucks up dust rather fast. However, I cannot comment much about the accumulation of dust on the vacuum filter, as we loaned the product for only two weeks. However, we hear that the filter is made of washable high tech foam that is designed to last for the vacuum cleaner’s entire life span.

Bosch cleaner 5 2

So yeah, I think I had a pretty good time cleaning with the Bosch vacuum cleaner. That’s right. House cleaning has become less taxing on the body.

Bosch table

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Letter to EV: Preparing Mummy for Primary School

Dear darling,

You’ve reached a significant milestone. Over the past few years in your kindergarten, you have blossomed so much, into a cheerful, bubbly little girl who is so endearing to everyone. And now, this month, mummy will be registering you into a primary school.

We’ve been trying to prepare you in little ways for your primary school journey; we know it will be very different and it’s a totally new experience that you will need to adapt to. In fact, you already had a gut feeling that something was different this year, the way your kindergarten teachers were giving you more regular homework, the way mummy and daddy were trying to get you to finish your homework as soon as you returned from school. I know you are unsure and confused and I see the uncertainty in your eyes. You also can’t help feeling excited for the new experience, because many of your friends will probably be going to the same school.

In fact, my dear, this experience is as new for me as it is for you. 

I still remember a tiny little you, holding you for the first time; you fit nicely into my arms. Now you’re so much bigger, it’s harder to carry you on my lap. I love your first smile, I love the way you danced in front of the mirror, I love the way you bravely went on to the school bus on the first day of pre-nursery when school ended, without mummy or daddy (though we were hiding behind the bushes).

Darling, the past years are precious. Time has flown by too fast; you have grown up too fast. 

As I await for the time to register you into primary school, I’m having mixed feelings. I’m happy to see you grow up, to see you move into the next milestone of your life. Yet, I wish time would stop. I wish you can always fit in my arms so I can hold you tight always and hug you. 

At the same time, I’m apprehensive, and scared. I’ve heard all these horror stories about primary school, the level of stress, the number of graded assignments and assessments, and so on and so forth. I want to prepare you for it, but yet I don’t want to over prepare you. I want you to have the spirit of learning, yet I’m worried that we will be overwhelmed by all the assessments and projects that will have to be done. I’m not sure how I can help you to adapt to a totally brand new environment, with longer hours and more academic demands.

Yet, I just know you have the strength in you to adapt to whatever you may face next year. I believe you can do it.

And you know what? Mummy will be on this journey with you. It’s an unknown path before us, but I’m sure, absolutely confident, that if we walk together and support each other, we can face this challenge together. 

You have me darling, and you always in my heart.

Love,
Mummy


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Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: 3 'MAX' reasons to like the Asus ZenFone MAX

I shared my first impressions of the Asus Zenfone MAX here. Like I said then, the phone looks like it’s got heaps of potential, and indeed it has.

Mammoth capability
Imagine, not having to bring an extra power bank to charge your phone once it runs out of juice in the middle of the day. After all, this is a common scenario, especially when we are such heavy users of mobiles these days.

That would be super convenient! Imagine again the lesser weight you have to carry! Ok, it may not be much compared to the kids’ bottles and jackets and wet tissues and so on, but every little bit counts, me thinks. 

And the Asus Zenfone MAX has got this built-in power bank with a 5000mAh power capacity. What this gigantic number means is that the MAX has enough energy to fully charge itself as well as other devices. It’s a fully operating power bank by itself, so no need to bring another extra.

So it’s got great battery power as a power bank. How is its power as a phone? Quite good, as we’ve discovered. We left the MAX on standby mode for just about two weeks, and when we woke it up again, the battery was still three quarters full. So the MAX has lived up to its claim of having up to 38 days of standby time. The 5000mAh lithium polymer battery is also responsible for giving over a day of talk time and web surfing. That means that if you’re an average user, then you’ll only need to charge the phone every two to three days or so, and your phone will seldom run out of juice. Especially useful when the kids keep you so engaged that you forget to charge the phone. Yup, it's happened to me before.

Asus 3

The battery however, is not removable. One can find it just under the removable back panel, where the dual-SIM and microSD card slots are located. Internal storage stands at 16GB, though this can be increased up to 64GB with a microSD card.

Internally, the ZenFone MAX runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM. This combination works decently day to day. However, graphic intensive applications like Angry Birds 2 might cause the phone to warm up a little after some play, resulting in some lag. Just turn off the apps and let the phone cool, and that should do the trick. The only problem with this is if the lag happens while the kids are playing with it (which is generally quite rare in my case, because I limit their screen time); it will be tough to get them to put down the phone without a fight (that's why I limit screen time in the first place).

Amazing camera
Previously, when we reviewed the Zenfone Selfie, its camera impressed us. The same goes for the Zenfone MAX. 

It has a 13 megapixel rear camera with 0.03 second laser auto-focus and a f/2.0 aperture. Its laser beam focuses extremely fast for quite detailed images, especially in settings where the light is more balanced. Now this is quite useful to capture focused pictures of energetic kids. Though there is some noise in images taken in low light, the images are rather satisfactory. There are heaps of shooting modes like manual, low light, HDR, slow motion, time lapse, panorama, and so on to make mobile photography really fun and creative. Hahaha.. I think it will be hilarious to see EV and AA in slow motion or time lapse.

Asus 1

The front camera also features a f/2.0 aperture but stands at 5 megapixel instead. There’s also the additional beautification shooting mode, that first appeared in the Zenfone Selfie. This mode allows you to instantly beautify oneself before taking a selfie, or if you are still not satisfied, then further post editing can be done after the photo is taken. This has been a hit with EV, who always asks for selfie and requests that I add colour (read: lipstick).

The 5.5-inch Zenfone MAX is protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass 4, so it is extremely scratch resistant and durable. This is quite standard these days, so it is good to know that Asus didn’t stinge on this despite the MAX’s affordable price. In fact, according to Asus, the Gorilla Glass is 2.5x stronger and 85% less likely to break in daily use. In other words, it is rather kid proof.

The phone’s screen itself is a 1280x720 HD display that has a 178-degree viewing angle, with a density of 267 pixels per inch that makes images appear clear and detailed.

EXquisite lightweight design
The Zenfone MAX only weighs 202g. That really light, considering that it’s got a monster battery in such a small, slim space that measures just 156mm by 77.5mm and between 5.2 and 10.55mm thick.

Overall, the Zenfone MAX’s design is similar to its other Asus siblings, with the metallic frame and control buttons. Up close, that’s where the differences reside. The power button and volume rocker is on the right side of the phone.

Asus 4

Turn the phone around and the back panel is where the design gets exquisite. We like the embossed leather feel of the phone in Osmium Black. It gives good tactile touch, and makes the whole phone much easier to hold on to. We really do like how it feels and adds to the elegant look already achieved by the screen and the surrounding metal edge.

Asus 2

The Asus Zenfone MAX, available at a price of $249, is a good all rounder. It looks good and performs satisfactorily well, and the key feature that may sway any buyer would be its massive battery. It means you don’t have to go searching for a charger mid-day, plus it comes at an economical price that won’t hurt the pocket.


Disclaimer: We were provided with a unit of Asus Zenfone MAX for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received. All images and opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adventures at the Singapore History Gallery

Straight after our visit to the Treasures of the World exhibition, we headed to the Singapore History Gallery, as requested by EV. From the outside, the Gallery looks quite understated. Little did we expect that there is a wealth of displays that trace Singapore's history from the time it was a fishing village, to the colonial times, to World War 2 and the country's independence.

The whole gallery is free and easy, and visitors can roam from display to display, from room to room, in whichever way they like. What caught EV's attention at the entrance is a gigantic animation showing an ancient map of the Southeast Asian region. The animation showed Singapore's name at that time, and also the important trading posts nearby, such as Palembang and Aceh. Just next to this screen is a mock up of an old fishing village, complete with fishing nets. 

History 1

Just when you thought that was the end, a little doorway led to the next area of the gallery, which depicted how Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore. Here, EV had a close encounter with him, or rather, his portrait.

History 2

A huge part of the gallery is devoted to the colonial times, which also featured the key personalities from those days, such as Tan Tock Seng and Eunos Abdullah. There are also mock ups of opium dens, displays of ceramic pots used during that time, and a feature on secret societies and the people responsible for controlling them. 

History 3

EV met some colonial personalities as well, and had a portrait taken with them.

History 4

There are lots of photos of Singapore during those days, and I took the opportunity to explain to her how life then was different from life today. 

History 5

EV saw some items that were used then, but not now, such as the typewriter.

History 6

After the colonial area, we were transported to the difficult times during the Japanese occupation.

History 7

The actual teak table that was used during the British surrender in 1942 is on display, on loan from a museum in Australian War Memorial. EV was entranced with an animation showing how Japan first conquered Manchuria and then eventually, Malaysia and Singapore. We met our tour guide from the Treasures of the World exhibition, who was with a group of children, and we stole a moment to listen to her explaining about the Sook Ching massacre, when many males were executed by the Japanese.

Then, we moved ahead in time to the period after the world war, when Singapore was on the road to gaining independence. And after that, how the country developed to become the country it is today. EV saw some old technology, like an old TV.

History 8

We entered a mock up of a Housing Board Flat, and it was so nostalgic for me. I had fun explaining to EV how the old stove worked, and how people had to physically carry gas cylinders and put them into the stove itself. 

History 9

One very nice feature is the huge tree with many screens, and a cosy platform underneath. As the screens play images of flowers, birds and animals, it is relaxing to lay back and watch, especially after an eye opening, time travelling adventure through Singapore’s history.

History 10

The Singapore History Gallery is more than meets the eye, a hidden gem that you don’t expect when you first enter it. It is filled with interactive elements, such as animation, voice recordings and videos, effective in engaging with the younger crowd as they trace 700 years of history and who may tend to be more visual and aural inclined. Definitely worth a visit.

Singapore History Gallery
Permanent display
10am – 7pm
Free admission for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

Find out more here.

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