Google WiFi Comes to Singapore

Google WiFi is now available in Singapore. These round hockey puck-like objects allow you to blanket your home in WiFi and forever bid poor signal strength goodbye. Running on the latest mesh technology, you no longer need bulky and frankly, ugly home routers anymore. Google WiFi will be available through a partnership with StarHub.

Alex King, Product Manager Google WiFi shared key product highlights and how to set it up. Google WiFi looks really easy to use, everything can be configured through an Apple or Android phone, and once done, allows you to administer your home network directly from the app. You don’t even need to be at home to enable / disable WiFi and administer your network. There are some handy features that Google has introduced which you may want to check out. For example, through the app, you can manage kids’ screen time by pausing Wi-Fi to their devices at bedtime, during dinnertime, or whenever appropriate.

With the Google Wifi app, you can also see which devices are connected to your network and how much bandwidth they’re using. Streaming your favourite scene from Descendants of the Sun on your TV? Give it more bandwidth and a faster connection by selecting it as a “Priority Device”. Now you can sit back and enjoy that episode uninterrupted by other devices in your home.

Google shared that Google WiFi will constantly optimise your WiFi signal. It will be able to automatically transition your device between the Google Wifi system points, keeping you connected to the point with the strongest signal so you avoid dead spots or delays. This feature will also be able to select and use the least congested WiFi channel in realtime.

Afraid that it will look out of place? Here’s some possibilities from Google on setting up Google WiFi

Living Room or Study
Why not the kitchen?

Features that Impress

Mesh coverage

A 3 pc Google WiFi is estimated to cover up to large homes of 3000-4500 sq feet. You no longer need to worry about weak WiFi signals, or poor network throughput if you use repeaters.

Automatic Updates

The Google WiFi will receive and automatically install latest updates from Google. There’s no need to log in to flash the firmware which is the common approach for yester-year routers. In a way, this allows you to grab the latest features without the need to do anything.

Guest Network

Google WiFi allows you to setup an alternate guest network easily. Now, other routers may have similar guest network features, but Google WiFi stands out with the ability to selectively share your private network devices to the guest network. Devices like your Chromecast, or your NAS can be accessed easily by your guests without compromising on security.

Specifications

  • Connectivity
    • AC1200 2×2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi
    • Expandable mesh Wi-Fi
    • Simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz / 5GHz) supporting IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
    • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
    • LAN / WAN configurable
  • Security
    • WPA2-PSK
    • Automatic security updates
  • Memory
    • 512MB RAM
    • 4GB eMMC
  • Processor
    • Quad-core ARM CPU
    • 710 MHz
  • Power
    • 15W power adapter
    • Approx 9W
  • Dimensions & Weight
    • 4.1 in dia
    • 2.7 in H
    • 12.0 oz (340.0 g)

Google Wifi in stores on 31 August

Starting 31 August, customers in Singapore will be able to buy a three-pack Google Wifi bundle at $15 per month over 24 months when they sign up for or renew selected StarHub Broadband or Hubbing all-in-one plans.

Interested to know more? Check out my series of unboxing pictures here.

Google Pixel & Pixel XL is out! (Bye Nexus)

The rumor has been proven true – the Google Nexus line is officially dead. Yep, bye Nexus, as Google just introduced two Google Pixel smartphone, namely the Pixel & Pixel XL (a href = “http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2016/10/05/the-pixel-smartphone-is-actually-made-by-htc-not-google/#6aa1a1d54ac9″>made by HTC).

Specification of Pixel & Pixel XL

  • 5-inch Full HD / 5.5-inch Quad-HD AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB/128GB storage
  • 12.3-megapixel camera with f/2.0, 1.55um pixels
  • 8-megapixel-front-facing camera
  • 3.5mm headphone jack (Rejoice my friends!)
  • 2,770 mAh / 3,450 mAh
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with new Pixel Launcher, Google Assistant and Google Magic
  • Google Daydream (VR)

Unlike last year Nexus 5X v 6P where there is a significant difference between the specification (eg. Snapdragon 808 v Snapdragon 810). The Pixel line has similar specification so you are able to get the same amount of power regardless of which model you chose. An interesting thing to note is that both Pixel & Pixel XL are smaller than previously Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P in term of screen size, which should be more suitable for one hand usage.

The Pixel comes in three colour – Quite Black, Really Blue & Very Silver (Yes it’s not a hoax).
The end of Nexus line also means the end of affordable stock Google devices, the 32GB Pixel costs US$649 and goes up to US$869 for the XL with 128GB.

With the HTC struggle to bring in HTC 10 into local market for months, we are highly doubtful that Pixel will be available in local market in near future.

HP Chromebook 13 Now Available

The new HP Chromebook 13 is quite exciting. It may not come to Singapore soon, so you would have to explore other means of purchasing it from the US. Features include a similar to Apple Macbook build compatibility. Dimensions are similar too at 0.5 inches thin, and 2.8 lbs or 1.27 kg. It also comes with a Core M level processor, 13.3″ FHD IPS, (and a 3200 x 1800 option!), 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage.

For anyone who uses a browser and web apps for the majority of their work, the base US$499 configuration should be plenty. The main draw would be the good looks. It has very similar dimensions to the 13-inch MacBook Air. Port connectivity is also decent, with two USB-C, one full-size USB, and an audio jack. There’s also a MicroSD slot. HP and Google are claiming the laptop gets 11 hours of juice per charge.

Google for Entrepreneurs Day in Singapore 2014

As part of the third year running Google for Entrepreneurs Week, Google in-conjunction with NUS Enterprise organised a Google for Entrepreneur Day event on 17 October. This year’s event was held at Blk71, a vibrant ecosystem of Singapore-based startups, and saw Adam Koch and Tony Chan, developer advocates sharing the latest on Android, covering the latest Android updates, Material Design, Cloud Platform and Android Wear.

On the new Nexus devices, we all know by now that the Nexus 6 has received flak for the high pricing and the larger than most dimensions. Adam did share a little on Google’s rationale behind the Nexus device, which was to serve as a reference for the ecosystem as they develop their Android system release. The Nexus 6 is the first Nexus device that encroached to the phablet territory which undoubtedly has grown popular over the years. Android One is the Google’s latest budget phone but may not be coming to Singapore anytime soon. It is currently selling in India, and the next target markets would be nearby southeast Asia countries soon, such as Indonesia and Philippines. As part of Google’s direct phone lineup, you would be able to get fast software updates to the latest android version.

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Google Budget Nexus – Coming Soon?

According to Chinese website MTK, Google has plans to introduce a lower-cost Nexus smartphone that could cost US$100. This would be a similar processor used in Xiaomi and has Hugo Barra done enough for Google to deem XiaoMi as a potential competitor?

To achieve this, Google is said to utilize MediaTek processors which are generally cheaper than its Qualcomm Snapdragon and NVIDIA Tegra counterparts.

If this is true, this should effectively push down the cost of budget phones like the Moto G and also see increased offerings from LG, Samsung, Sony and the likes who would likely adopt the low cost processor for their budget phones too.

The second key point would also be finally increased support for MediaTek processors which generally had stagnated at 4.2 support due to lack of driver and kernel. It would indirectly benefit Xiaomi users who could possibly upgrade their OS to 4.4 KitKat which would benefit low tier phones more thanks to less resource consumption. One possibility would be for Google to use the MediaTek latest, MT6595, a 4G LTE octa-core smartphone chipset, the first 4G MediaTek chip. And if they can price it at US$100, it would be a significant attack against the other budget phone manufacturers.

If it materialises, the phone would also not be in Singapore any time soon, and based on our past experiences in buying Nexus, the easiest way is through a concierge service. Do note LTE bands would be limited and we may have to go for UK or Japan sets instead. Although Starhub users probably wouldn’t need the 4G support.

Starhub Restarts Chromebook Acer C720 Promotion Again

Starhub has restarted the Chromebook Acer C720 offer again for subscribers to the Cable/Fibre 100mbps plan at $39.90 in April 2014. The Acer C720 Chromebook is a 11.6 lightweight laptop suitable for on-the-go computing. The recommended retail price for the Acer C720 in Singapore is at $469.

Starhub Chromebook C720 Deal – April 2014

StarHub subscribers who sign up for the 100Mbps cable / fibre home broadband plan for two years at $39.90 a month will be able to get the C720 for free. The previous offer in December 2013 allowed users who sign up for the more affordable 25Mbps cable home broadband plan for two years at $24.90 a month were able to get the C720 with a $5 monthly top-up. Currently, whether this is available or not is still unknown. I might be tempted to go for the cheaper option personally as fibre configuration for my house would be just too messy.
starhub chromebook-acer-c720

The C720 is a pretty good laptop. Online reviews have indicated that this is one of the better performing Chromebooks, thanks to the Intel Haswell processor + the SSD installed. Thank to the SSD, along with the lightweight Chrome OS lets the C720 boot in an estimated 8 seconds. So you get a similar Macbook air wannabe, with good battery performance, overall decent computing, at a fraction of the price, or for free thanks to Starhub. Despite the small space of 16GB, it is still more than sufficient for typical ChromeOS use. If you need more storage, you could pop in a SD card as well. Lastly, Google has also thrown in additional 100GB of cloud storage with Google Drive. This would be valid for two years. Acer had discontinued the 4GB ram model, but 2GB ram should still suffice for general web surfing. For more power users, thansk to the Intel chipset, the Acer C720 is also capable of booting up Linux, or an Ubuntu derivative, in the form of Chrubuntu. Here are the instructions on how to install Linux on the Acer C720.

If you do not want the Chromebook, you can probably sell it for $250 on Hardwarezone.

This brings down the effective price of the $39.90 contract to approximately $29.48, which is a great price to pay for a 100Mbps broadband contract.

The price delta from the Singapore Acer C720 RRP is due to the fact that the model is only sold for US$199 in US. Once again, there is significant mark up for laptops in Singapore. It’s also actually pretty easy to buy the Chromebook from USA as well, as it can be shipped directly from US through Amazon. This however only applies to the Acer Chromebook C720 32gb SSD model, which retails at approx US$229. It’s one of the few laptops with Free Amazon Global Shipping to Singapore. While you are paying US$30 more for the 32gb model, it is still a great deal as more space never hurts.

Seems like Amazon has also allowed free shipping to Singapore (fssg) for the Acer Chromebook C720 16gb model, which retails at $199. I think I might still pay $30 more for the additional storage since I intend to dual boot with Linux anyway, but both models are a great bargain!