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“Cool”Phablet aka Note 3

Coolpad Note 3When I bought my Samsung Note 3 Neo and  I wrote how it was a phablet light on the wallet and good on performance…Now it’s not even a year old 5.5 inch smartphones with octa-core processors and 3GB RAM and 13 MP camera can be found for under 10K. My nephew has been using a Coolpad Note 3 for 3 months now and I have played around with it a few times and have been receiving continuous commentary on it…So before I comment on it’s pros and cons, here is a quick run down on the specs ..

  • 5.5″ IPS display with 1280 x 720 resolution (Scratch resistant)
  • Size : 151 x 77 x 9.3 mm
  • Mediatek MT6753 1.3Ghz CortexTM-A53 Octa-core Processor / 3 GB RAM / 1G Internal Memory
  • Coolpad UI 6.0 (based on Android 5.1)
  • 13 MP Back camera with Flash / 5 MP front camera
  • 2G/3G/4G support with dual sim
  • Bluetooth / Wifi / Fingerprint Sensor
  • 3000 mAh Battery / MicroSD card slot

Pros :

  • Even though its a 720p display the screen clarity and brightness is good
  • Even though it’s plastic the construction is solid and is slim enough to hold properly.
  • The phone’s performance is fast for all the normal tasks and even graphic heavy games plays ok
  • The Cool UI has still a app drawer (I prefer the app drawer) but has still got great customization with themes, timed on/off, memory manager etc.
  • The fingerprint sensor works well and can be used along with gestures to unlock & open specific apps
  • The 13 MP camera performs good in well lit conditions
  • The battery comes for 2 days in medium usage
  • A major update solved the heating problems and some minor bugs

Cons

  • Sometimes caller can’t hear the speaker’s voice which can be solved by restarting the phone
  • Wifi connectivity is not stable sometimes.

So at a price of 8,999/- INR (135 USD) it’s a great deal. But there are other phablet’s and smartphones in this range making it a tough competition… Lenovo K3 Note, Redmi Note 3, Asus Zenfone 2 to name a few….

HP15 – Affordable Notebook

HP15 - AF114AUI was in search of a laptop for my home use with the pre-requisites being  a big screen, powerful enough for browsing, some photo editing, coding and multimedia with preloaded Windows in the 25K INR rang. After going through lots of options from HP, Acer, Lenovo, Dell – I was able to get a good deal on HP 15 – AF114au (a flipkart exclusive model) for 22K. So starting with the specs in a nutshell,

  • AMD A-8 Quad core processor @ 2.2 GHz (2 MB Cache)
  • 4 GB DDR3 RAM (upgradeable upto 8 GB)
  • 1 TB HD / DVDR-W / Bluetooth / Wifi / SD Card reader / 3 x USB 3.0
  • 15.6″ WLED SCreen (1366 x 768 pixels)
  • Webcam / DTS sound with 2 speakers

So as you can see it’s not a Intel based processor but from what I’ve used so far like browsing multiple tabs in Chrome, coding, image editing software, videos all played without much hitches and at this price point looks like a good performer with the notebook not getting hot when performing these tasks. There was minimal preloaded bloatware which I was able to un-install. The HP assistant utility is a nice piece of software giving a centralized location to see & update drives, lookup warranty information , trouble shooting and creating recovery media (as there is no DVD media provided for Windows 10).

The 2 speaker sound is not very loud but good for listening for 1 person sitting in front of the laptop. I used CPU-Z to study the specs and the thing is it didn’t show how many memory slots are there so whether a additional 4 GB can be installed is a mystery so far for me….The screen is bright enough and the color saturation is ok but at 720 pixel resolution the text are not very sharp but once again at this price its very acceptable.(as most people won’t be able to see much pixelation) All in all a good value for money laptop in the under 25K INR range.

Neo in Lollipop Land…

Note 3 Neo lollipopSo after long anticipation the Note 3 Neo has been upgraded to Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) {Yes – in they year of Mashmallow Android 6.0}. Android upgrade process is a big debatable topic so no use getting into it and very few companies do it on time except for Nexus, Android One, Moto and some top end phones from other manufacturers. Samsung support page didn’t mention the arrival date of the update so I was relying on message boards and forums for that (I keep the auto check option for software update switched off). So 3 days back I got the news that 5.1.1 has started seeding for India and once I checked for the update I was notified its a 895 MB update OTA. After a couple of hours downloading and some 5-10 minutes of the actual upgrade process my Note 3 Neo booted up in Lolipop land. Material design, card based multi-tasking windows and faster / smoother operation (supposed to be..)

First of all the icons of the Samsung TouchWiz UI looks slightly different, bigger but more better looking now than the KitKt days. the whole theme of the layout follows default Android lollipop look with flat colors and the touchwiz UI has white backgrounds rather than the dark black theme. Some preloaded bloatware seems to have been taken out but new ones have taken their place. A theme manager is sadly missing when some other samsung phone with Android lollipop preloaded has those.

So having used it for a couple of days now the battery life seems to be holding up as before (which gives me 1.5 – 2 days) and the overall functioning seems to be good without any major flaws. Sometimes when unlocking the screen the phone seems to be slow and stutter to come to life, and after closing all the apps and clearing the RAM it seems to run fine again. If you face bigger problems try wiping your cache partition by booting in the recovery mode.

Note: The OTA update process keeps all the data intact but to be safe it’s better to back-up data using Kies.

Windows 10 upgrade headaches…

For those who have already successfully installed Windows 10 on your computers this might not be not interesting to read but for those who reserved for the Windows 10 upgrade and are still waiting and for those who got the error shown in the screenshot below might find my incident a useful read…

windows 10 upgrade error

First for those who successfully reserved for the free Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7 / 8.1

If you still seeing the Get Windows 10 app icon and clicking on it just tell you have successfully reserved for the upgrade, try running the Windows update manually to force check whether Windows 10 update has come for your computer. And if that doesn’t work out, you can try downloading the Windows 10 media creation tool and then use that to download the Windows 10 upgrade version most suited to you and then burn a DVD or a bootable USB drive to upgrade from Windows 7 / 8.1. With this DVD / USB drive one can only do a FREE upgrade let’s say from Windows 8.1 Home to Windows 10 Home (32 bit) so please check the existing version and 32/64 bit needed of your existing windows installation. This DVD / USB drive can be used to entirely format and do a fresh install of Windows 10 but your existing Windows key won’t work to activate this version and you will need to buy a new key to activate Windows 10. This I found out the hard way when I was not able to upgrade using the DVD…

And for those who are stuck with the error 0xc1900101 – 0x20004…

And if you are stuck with the exact same error as shown in the screenshot above, then I found from another article on the web (sorry couldn’t find the link now but very thankful for them) that the Hard disk partition should not be dynamic as Windows 10 can’t upgrade if the system partition is dynamic. Only a Basic partition can be used to upgrade to Windows 10. And they suggested Partition Wizard to convert a dynamic disk to basic. And this was just a single click and hassle free operation with a single restart of the system. No data was harmed and the conversion was over in a matter of minutes. Then when I ran the DVD to upgrade Windows 10 this time it ran without a hitch and I was able to successfully install Windows 10 on my laptop. Even though my laptop, a Dell Vostro 3450 is not supposed to be eligible for Windows 10 update as per the Dell support site and this was the reason given by Microsoft support when I complained that the upgrade process failed multiple times. All the system drivers are working and my external peripheral drives like printer, portable HD are working without a hitch. It’s been almost 20 days now so far it has been a stable and good experience with Windows 10….