What phone do you use right now?

I have 2 phones I use right now, and surprise neither of them are Apple or Samsung.

  1. Essential Phone (Ocean Depths color)

Previously I was using a Pixel 2 but switched to the Essential because it just looks gorgeous. The bezel-less design, the materials the ceramic/titanium back, its not a very popular phone but it feels unlike any other phone I’ve used. There’s two gripes I have about it: 1) the camera is good but not great, it’s definitely a step below the Pixel 2 and 2) no headphone jack. How many meetings have I had to take on the street while going to work and had to find somewhere quiet all because no headphone jack and all my headphones are wired? I really wish companies would stop doing this. Otherwise, its a great phone. And it comes with 128GB of space standard which is ALOT. As a bonus, this phone costs about $250 on the market right now.

2. Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

This has replaced my iPhone SE as my small phone of choice. This phone (like many of Sony’s products) is so underrated its ridiculous.

  1. it costs less than $400
  2. it has a headphone jack (which Pixel 2 / Essential / iPhone X all lack).
  3. it has expandable microSD storage.
  4. it is IP68 water resistant despite having the headphone jack.
  5. The battery life lasts for 2 days. seriously. A full day on this with regular usage only takes up around 40–50% of battery life
  6. speakers are awesome.. they are so loud they put the iPhone to shame
  7. dual front facing cameras – one regular, one wide angle. Great for those wide angle selfie pics!
  8. you can play PS4 on it remotely using remote play.
  9. it charges with USBC. I know, most phones should these days but still! some still came with microUSB
  10. fingerprint sensor on the power button. So convenient
  11. dedicated camera shutter button

2 great phones, both underrated.


My gadget history

I guess continuing from where I left off at my fashion style, and similar yet different than my semi-annual gadget update posts, I just want to list my main gadgets over the years, the ones I carry and use everyday. I’ll also include vehicles, just for kicks because they are also “gadgets” in a way.

I got my first car in May 2009 when I got my internship at Environment Canada. So because Toronto’s TTC system sucks, I had to buy a car for the commute. I liked small, luxury cars so I eventually ended up with a 2002 Acura RSX, paid $6500 for it, with help of my parents.

Acura RSX

It was a decent car, and I enjoyed driving with the sunroof down, listening to music and cruising a lot. I had it for a little over a year before I sold it in Aug 2010, to help pay for school, at only $3300 (I scratched up the car alot).

My second vehicle that I used from Nov 2012 to Apr 2016 was my 2011 Honda PCX 125 scooter. This was my primary vehicle in San Francisco, and I loved driving around in it. The freedom I had in it was much more than anything I ever experienced from a car.

Honda PCX 125
Honda PCX 125

Bought it for $2500, sold it for $1300 (because again I crashed it and it wasn’t in good shape).

I can also list my parents’ cars since I drove them around before. The first car I remember our family having was an old 1980s Ford Escort, followed by my dad’s 1992 Ford Taurus, and my mom’s 1994 Mercury Topaz. My dad’s Taurus eventually broke down, and my mom’s Mercury was wrecked in a car accident which I was involved in back when I was 12. I was delivering papers back then and my mom went out to drive me and it was a really cold day with a blizzard so the driver t-boned us and fortunately we didn’t suffer any injuries but the car was totaled.

My dad got a new car, the 2000 Ford Taurus station wagon (he likes big vehicles), and my mom got a 2003 Honda Civic (which was new at the time). My dad drove that Taurus for like 15 years up until last year when it stopped working, and my mom’s Civic got totaled by my brother in a car accident in 2011. My brother was not injured fortunately, and my mom replaced it with a new 2011 Honda Civic. My dad just recently got a new 2015 Acura MDX 2 years ago, which was a really good ride. I think our family became more fond of Hondas/Acuras now (my mom had 2 Civics, my dad the MDX and me the RSX and PCX).

My dad's 2015 Acura MDX

2009-2010: 2002 Acura RSX
2012-2016: 2011 Honda PCX 125
2017-: EcoReco Model R

(main) Phones

In 2005 I had my first cellphone (remember, kids didn’t have cellphones that much in those days!). It was a cheap Sanyo flipphone, and I used it sparingly to text or call my friends. In 2007 I upgraded to a Samsung D900 Black Carbon, which was thin, slim, and had a 3.2mp camera. I used that phone from 2007-2010 until I broke the screen.

Samsung D900

Then I had an iPhone 3G from 2010-2011. I got an iPhone 4 after I went to San Francisco in 2011 and used it until it was stolen from me in Apr 2012. Then I upgraded to an iPhone 4S which is still one of my favorite phones, that I would use until Nov 2013, when I upgraded to the iPhone 5S. Because I don’t like big phones, I would stick with the iPhone 5S until Apr 2016, when Apple finally released the iPhone SE. And now the iPhone SE is my main phone. I would also use the Sony Xperia Z3C as my main phone in Korea from Dec 2014 to Aug 2016 when the screen got smashed.

I used the 5S from 2013 to 2016

2005-2007: Sanyo flipphone
2007-2010: Samsung D900
2010-2011: iPhone 3G
2011-2012: iPhone 4
2012-2013: iPhone 4S
2013-2016: iPhone 5S
2014-2016: Sony Xperia Z3C
2016-: iPhone SE
2017: Google Pixel
2017: Kyocera Duraforce Pro
2017: BlackBerry KeyOne
2017: HTC 10

(main) Laptops

In 2003 I had my first laptop, the Dell Inspiron 7500 and it was good for the time even having a dedicated ATI graphics card, although it had heating issues.

Dell Inspiron 7500

When I went to university, I changed to the laptop I would use the most, the Gateway CX2724, which I bought in 2007. It was a convertible tablet, and had a digitizer and pen with it, wayyy before Windows 8 came back. It was running Windows XP tablet edition!

Gateway CX2724

I used this laptop until 2008, when I switched to the Dell Latitude E4200, which was a very small, portable, light (only 2.2lbs!) laptop that was very versatile. I would dock it in the docking station and use it with my monitor at home, and it was easy to carry at school.

Dell E4200

I would use this laptop until Aug 2011, when I got my HP Envy Beats edition. This laptop had dedicated graphics, which I hadn’t had since my first laptop, so I could finally play games on it!

HP Envy Beats

I would use this laptop until I felt that it was rather heavy to carry around all the time, and made me wish I had a notebook like my Dell again. The screen on it also later broke and doesn’t work anymore. That’s when I got my Lenovo Thinkpad X240 in Jan 2014, which then became my main laptop. I also had a Macbook Pro Retina 13 from 2012-2014 that I used mostly for programming or recording.

Lenovo X240

I used this until the screen started malfunctioning around Jun 2016. From then on, I used my work Macbook Pro Retina 15 as my main laptop until I got the Lenovo X1 Yoga to finally have my own personal laptop again. It now remains my main laptop as of Dec 2016.

2003-2007: Dell Inspiron 7500
2007-2008: Gateway CX2724
2008-2011: Dell Latitude E4200
2011-2014: HP Envy Beats 14
2012-2014: Macbook Pro Retina 13
2014-2016: Lenovo Thinkpad X240
2015-2016: Lenovo Thinkpad 14 Yoga
2015-2017: Asus G751
2016-: Lenovo X1 Yoga
2016-: Alienware 15 R3

General Music School/Work

Toronto trip, new job, new videos

Haven’t updated in a month, so here it is. I traveled back to Toronto and Orillia (my hometown) for the first time since Dec 2011. I finally got to visit my friends and family again, which was really nice as I haven’t met my friends especially for a long time. Here are some pictures, including some of the childhood pictures that I drew back then. I’m shocked at how much time I had back then. I’ll never forget my roots, that I came from a poor family in a small rural town in Canada.

My elementary school, Couchiching Heights, Orillia
My elementary school, Couchiching Heights, Orillia
My high school, ODCVI, Orilia
My high school, ODCVI, Orilia
At my alma mater, the University of Toronto
At my alma mater, the University of Toronto
My adorable cat, who is 10 years old now...
My adorable cat, who is 10 years old now…
I drew all the Gundam mobile suits...
I drew all the Gundam mobile suits…
As well as all the DBZ characters...
As well as all the DBZ characters…
As well as all the weapons from every DOS game...
As well as all the weapons from every DOS game…
As well as all the Gundam Wing pilots...
As well as all the Gundam Wing pilots…
As well as all the D&D Dark Sun monsters...
As well as all the D&D Dark Sun monsters…
As well as various superheroes..
As well as various superheroes..
As well as 10 versions of Mew...
As well as 10 versions of Mew…
As well as all the characters from Metal Warriors and One Must Fall 2097
As well as all the characters from Metal Warriors and One Must Fall 2097
As well as all the Digimon..
As well as all the Digimon..
As well as various other monsters..
As well as various other monsters..
As well as all 150 Pokemon...
As well as all 150 Pokemon…
As well as all the DBZ characters AND their transformations
As well as all the DBZ characters AND their transformations

…Yeah I had a lot of time back then as a child. I even created games back then based on this obscure DOS game called Sir Bombalot but basically I would create “pieces” for the game that had different abilities like mimic moves, freeze other pieces, mind control other pieces, move in different patterns, magnetize pieces, explode, etc. It was cool, unfortunately I couldn’t find those pieces that I made as a kid, but I remember doing that.

Future plans

“Only after we lose everything are we free to do anything” – Fight Club

Going to Korea really opened my eyes and changed my life. So much so that I realized that the so called “American Dream” is built all on a life of consumerism. Having a big house, a fancy car, the best gadgets and making a lot of money, that is what is advertised to people. I realized that this is all nonsense. Life is all about experiences, not about making money and consuming. To that end, I’ve been trying hard not to spend any more money on what is not necessary, be a true conservative and rein in my spending. Get rid of all the things that I don’t need. Stay tuned… but my future plans involve renting out my place and moving somewhere else to start over. I need to get away from here. It’s ironic saying this as my dream for many years was to come to California, but now my life has turned a different direction. The next step in my life. It’s better I realize this sooner rather than later.

In other news…
I got a job at Walmart. Yes, the Walmart e-commerce division which manages the website. Having this job means I can finally say that I’ve worked at every level of industry (as my former PEY director once said): Government, Startup, Small company, and Corporation. Getting into a big corporation finally is ironic because I’ve been wanting to find success at this level since my PEY days when my friends all got into IBM and I got rejected. Take that! 5 years later and I’m finally there working for the Fortune #1 company. Can’t get bigger than that. Plus, I get to work remotely, which is awesome for my future plans [hint, hint].

I’ve also got a Korean tutor now. That’s not to say going to Sejong Institute was a bad thing, it is a good place for Korean beginners, but I’m at the point where I really need to work on my conversation skills, listening and speaking, and a personal tutor is the best for that. I feel like it really makes a difference as now I can understand what words Koreans are speaking at a fast pace now, just need to work on the vocabulary part so I can translate it in my head.

I’ve been playing some pretty good Japanese fighting games recently. No not Dead or Alive or Tekken, but ones that focus more on story than fighting. Both BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma and Persona 4 Ultimax are pretty amazing games, both capable fighters but with pretty good stories underneath. They are 2 of the few games that I actually beat. They might be my favorite storyline games since Yakuza 4‘s amazingly twisted storyline and Catherine‘s morally twisted storyline.
I also played Xblaze Code Embryo, my first graphic novel, and it was pretty fun but frustrating when you don’t know why you got a bad ending.

Xblaze Code Embryo, A visual novel
Xblaze Code Embryo, A visual novel

…and I’ve finally switched to Android!! I’ve only used Apple iPhones for 2 reasons: 1) because they are small and compact and 2) because it has a good camera, and now that Apple has switched to larger phones just like Android devices and the cameras for Android devices have gotten better, I’ve finally made the switch.

Sony Xperia Z3C
Sony Xperia Z3C

Yup, I’ve decided NOT to support my beloved Korean companies Samsung and LG this time in favor of the Sony Xperia Z3C because: 1) its got the same footprint as my iPhone5S, 2) 20.7MP camera, 3) waterproof and dustproof, 4) HD audio decoding, 5) microSD slot, 6) 2 day battery life, 7) PS4 remote play
I mean need I say more? This is hands down the best compact Android phone out there right now, better than the Galaxy, LG, HTC One, Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, ZTE, Archos, what have you.
Sony needs to advertise this more. 2+ days of battery life!

As always, I try to be productive all the time to record videos, and I’ve retired my faithful Canon HFM40 that I’ve been using for over 3 years for outdoor recording and music video recording in favor of my iPhone 5S for outdoor recording and the Sony Music Video Recorder for music video recording. Here’s some gadget reviews and music videos I’ve recorded.