#2123| google pixel 2xl vs samsung note8

Hi guys,

In November this year I got my paws on the Google Pixel2XL at the Singapore launch event and wanted to see how it would match up against my existing phone, the Samsung Note8. I told the Google real-human assistant (you know, as opposed to the artificial intelligence system they have) this, and he let out a low whistle.

“That’s a tough battle,” he said.

It’s true. The Note8 is widely considered to be the best Android phone available to man, but now that Google has released the Pixel, they’re basically neck to neck. Both phones are already considered very powerful, and it’s really the nitty gritty details that give either one an edge over the other. Now, I’m no tech wizard although I do super love geeking out over gadgets, so I can’t give you solid commentary on the intricacies of the specs in either phone. But I am an intensive phone user, and one who obsessively customizes and tweaks her phones to get the best possible user experience out of it, and it is based on that that I am now presenting to you: ANDROID WARS!!!!!! GOOGLE VS SAMSUNG.


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I was seeded media sets for both the Google and the Samsung. I am not being paid for any content created relating to either phones, nor do I earn a commission on sales or anything remotely like that. If you want to know why I switched from being a full on Apple user to Android, I’ll be blogging about that in a separate post.

We also did a comparison of the Apple iPhone X, Google Pixel 2XL, and Samsung Note8 on Hype Hunt’s latest episode – which you can watch here:

But because we’re limited by screen time and also cos it’s a lifestyle and not tech show, we covered more day-to-day features on the show. This post will be a bit more about the in-depth user experience.

Google VS Samsung: the basic stuff

Right out of the box, both phones operate Android but different versions of it. The Samsung Note8 runs Android 7.1.1, affectionately known as Nougat. And the Google Pixel runs the Android 8 – the new Oreo system.

Because Google’s Pixel is native to the software it runs on (Google owns Android, FYI), the Pixel is likely to get updates before anyone else in the future, and it’s also probably going to run more smoothly with these updates. There’s no news yet of the Note8 getting the Oreo, and because Samsung is third party to the Google Android OS, it still has a layer of what’s called the ‘samsung skin’ on the phone. This means that the Note8 will be marginally slower than the Pixel because commands from the Android system will go through the Samsung skin first before you see it. In reality, this hasnt made a huge difference for me. My Note8 doesnt lag, and neither does my Pixel2XL. I also dont really see a huge difference between the two versions of Android, but i think this is more a FOMO situation than anything else cos some people are bound to just want the latest version of the OS.

At the moment though, I actually prefer the older version of the OS that my Samsung Note8 runs because it’s more customisable, especially with regards to widget control. This is because of the Samsung skin that runs on top of the Google Android OS, but it’s also why the Note8 is a bit slower than the Pixel.

The Google Pixel2XL comes with free original quality Google Photo storage until 2020. This is pretty cool cos as far as I can tell, google photos is the default storage album for the Pixel phones. So everything you take is automatically uploaded to the cloud unless you disable it, and the phone has the option of freeing up storage space on the device itself by deleting images that are already backed up to your Google Photos. This might make you panic, the idea of photos just deleting themselves, but its ok cos its all stored in full res on your Google Photos which you can access any time on your phone as long as you have internet connection! This is an extremely cool function because I am all too familiar with that “YOUR PHONE IS OUT OF STORAGE SPACE” pop up and that’s just never going to happen again with the Pixel!

The Samsung Note8 does not come with free anything as far as I can tell, but I dont think the unlimited original quality google photos is a dealbreaker for the Pixel vs Note8 because actually, all phones can download the google photos app and get free unlimited high quality cloud storage. I’ve been using this app since my iphone days and this is actually super. Basically the minute you get wifi, the phone starts uploading photos that youve taken or downloaded on your phone to the Google photos cloud linked to your gmail account. Anything under 16mp is fine, anything above that gets compressed to 16mp. Which honestly is enough for most people unless youre a professional photographer, cos 16mp is pretty generous for a photo anyway. It’s just that with the Pixel, you can keep your pictures in original quality lor.

The Samsung Note8 also comes with two sim card slots so you can run two numbers at the same time, whereas the Google Pixel2XL only comes with one. Again, this is not a dealbreaker, unless you travel a lot to one other specific country for work. Like say, if you live in Singapore but work in Malaysia, then the dual-sim would be invaluable because you can run your SG and work number in the same phone instead of switching to and fro especially when you need to authorize banking transactions or whatever with your OTP.

Google VS Samsung: physcial looks

Both phones are pretty big, with the Samsung being a wee bit longer. No real difference lah cos big is just big. But once you turn it on, the difference kicks in because Samsung has a bigger screen, so you get more real estate on your device.

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The two phones side by side: Display Off

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The two phones side by side: Display On

The most noticeable difference from the front is that the Samsung Note8 has a slightly curved screen that tapers off at the edges, a design aspect ported over from the Samsung Galaxy S series. This gives it a really nice, classy look. The Google Pixel 2XL has a glossy screen too, which is very pretty, but for all intents and purposes it’s just a straightforward and nice looking screen. Both phones have Always On Display functionality, which means that you can tell the time without waking up the phone. The Pixel’s AOD is cooler by a margin because it has auto music recognition, so if you’re in a mall or cafe and there’s music playing in the background, the Pixel will auto-detect it and display the song currently playing in your vicinity. It’s basically like Shazam, for those of you familiar with the service, except it detects the song playing automatically in the background.

The Samsung Note8 is a fingerprint magnet through and through. It picks up fingerprints more easily than the Google Pixel2XL, and while i dont understand exactly why, I can just honestly say that it’s a noticeable difference when both phones are sleeping. This really bothered me at first, and now I’ve just come to accept it as is. I’m going to get a matte screen protector for it so hopefully it stops picking up fingerprints then.

Speaking of fingerprint magnets – the back of the phones also differ quite a bit. I think this is just a minor point because most people will buy a case anyway, but the Samsung Note8 has a really glossy (and thus, fingerprinty) backing, whereas the Google has a nice matte metal back panel. I have no idea why Samsung makes phones with glossy backs and smudgy fronts because literally everyone I know will pick a matte option if they have half a chance to. I definitely prefer the matte feel of the Google Pixel2XL’s back, but then again, this isnt really a big deal once you put cases on both phones. And as far as I know, both phones come with cases out of the box.

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Comparing the back of both phones

Oh, and one last thing. Fingerprint related also. The fingerprint scanner on the Google Pixel2XL is perfectly placed. I really hated using the iphone fingerprint scanner because I found it irritating (the new iPhone X has done away with that though, I heard), and the Samsung Note8 fingerprint scanner is just pure awkward. It’s too high up, it’s on the same panel as the camera (and so you end up touching the camera lens instead quite a bit), and it’s basically a very strange position to have a fingerprint scanner. You can bypass this if you use the iris scanner or passcode instead, but it’s just annoying if youre already used to unlocking your phone with a fingerprint.

Google VS Samsung: onscreen looks

When you power on the phones, the first thing that comes to mind is that the Google Pixel is cuter. The time stamp uses a thicker font, which makes it look more adorable, and the Pixel’s app icons are brightly colored little circles that reflect the spirit of the quad-colored google logo.

The Samsung Note8 is a bit more grown up. I’m using a theme that I found in the inbuilt Samsung theme store, and I adore it because I’ve tweaked my phone screen to show me exactly what I want in the way I want it. As a result, my entire display is more muted, with more jewel tones and less bright pop colors. This is mainly because I have tweaked the phone extensively, but it’s worth noting that while you can do all this on the Samsung Note8 right off the bat, you need a third party launcher on the Google Pixel to change or edit the theme, which is kind of troublesome. I’ve used third party theme launchers before (I used a Sony XPeria, very briefly, 2 years ago) and I hated it because it was just so cumbersome and it slows the phone down. So if you dont want to figure out the mechanics of using a third party launcher, you’re stuck with the original Google skin that the phone comes with.

It actually really annoys me that I cant customize the way the Pixel looks, but to be fair, the original Pixel configuration is pretty gorgeous from day one of use. It comes with a live wallpaper enabled, and mine is an aerial view of a sea washing up against a cliffy beach. The waves move too, they’re perpetually crashing against the beach, and the overall effect is really nice. The same live wallpaper is also available on the Note8, but somehow i think its more optimised for the Pixel cos the movement and colors seem more vivid there.

Google VS Samsung: camera and pictures

Both phones have killer cameras. I initially thought the Samsung was a definite win, but after using both phones for about two weeks, I think they’re basically on par.

Both cameras are really good, impressive markers of how far technology has come. The Google Pixel2XL operates on a single lens, whereas the Samsung Note8 has 2 lenses. Google is trying to prove, i think, that you can get great photos without needing two lenses, and they do quite a good job of that with their Portrait mode. The portrait mode on the Google is also available for the front facing lens, which is nice if you want professional looking selfies. The Note8 only has portrait mode for the back camera, but it is the only camera (of the current 3 flagships – Google, Apple, and Samsung) that allows you to toggle the intensity of the portrait mode, so you can decide how bokeh you want the photos to be.

As a result of its single-lens configuration, the Google photos look a bit more digitized. I actually have to edit the photos to soften them a bit, otherwise it’s too sharp and looks unnatural in certain lighting conditions. The colors on the Google are also more true to real life, so they look a bit colder. But then again, some argue that colors on the iphone and Samsung are artificially saturated. So it depends on what floats your boat. Either way, you’re probably going to edit a picture before posting it, which brings me to my next point – the native photo editing capabilities within the Google Photos folder on the Pixel is fantastic. It’s actually pretty impressive for a native editor. Here are some examples of the photos on both phones:



Photos with the back cam:


These photos are all unedited. But once you put in editing, both phones produce fantastic photos lah. I think the act of comparing the cameras is really just an exercise in how amazing technology is now. I’ve shot entire blogposts on purely the Samsung Note 8 camera – look at these amazing low light photos in this Mexican restaurant we went to in Melbourne! I don’t have blogposts that are fully shot on the Google Pixel yet cos I just got it not too long ago, but the Pixel camera is honestly also damn good, like I’m super impressed every single time I use it. I’m going to just put some of my favourite photos from both phones here.. these are edited using various apps on the phones:


My birthday party this year, shot on the Note8 back cam


Selfie at St Kildas using the Note 8 front camera

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Other photos using the Note 8 back camera


Selfie at a cafe using the Google Pixel 2XL front camera


Photos indoors using the Google Pixel 2XL back camera

PS. This all refers to photos – the video taking capability on the Samsung Note8 is a clear win – you can see us test the two phones and their video functions in our latest Hype Hunt episode. This may not be a big concern for most people because not everyone uses their phones to take video – but it’s important to me because I film and edit my #Jemmainajiffy videos on my phone.

Google VS Samsung: Audio and Music

EARPHONE JACK: Google 0, Samsung 1
SPEAKERS: Google 2, Samsung 1

I have mixed feelings about this. The earphone jack actually doesn’t matter to me because I’ve been using wireless earphones for a long time, I hate wires. I use the cordless Samsung Icon GearX buds with the Note8, but when I was on my iPhone, I used the wireless Sudio Sweden Vasa Blas. So the earphone jack thing actually doesn’t matter to me, although I know it might to some people.

I really don’t know how to feel about the speakers. I think both phones leave a lot to be desired in terms of how they’ve designed the audio experience. Firstly, I think in terms of speakers, Google has got the right idea there, installing front facing dual stereo speakers on the top and bottom of the phone. Samsung only has one speaker on the Note8, and it’s placed at the bottom right of the phone, which is an incredibly awkward place for a speaker because when you’re using your phone chances are your finger will block the speaker and muffle the audio. Between this speaker and the fingerprint placement thing, I think Samsung really needs to find whoever is making these decisions and shake some sense into him, because both of these are really major design flaws.

But then when the music actually starts playing, the sound output on the Samsung is significantly better than the Google. I’m really not a tech expert so I don’t know what the industry term for this is, besides saying the same song just sounds better played on the Samsung than the Google.

So.. the conclusion is you would not be buying either phone for their audio experience.

This is no longer an issue if you listen to your music with headphones on or whatever, but it’s noticeable to me because I listen to podcasts in the morning while I’m getting ready, and I don’t plug in because I want to be able to move around and choose clothes etc etc. So podcasts are always broadcasted off my phone in the mornings. And also, like I mentioned before, I like to watch Netflix videos while conditioning my hair, and obviously I won’t have earphones in while in the shower, so yeah, there are just some situations where I’ll be using the phone speakers instead of wireless earphones, and those are the situations in which the output experience matters.

Props to the Pixel, however, for putting in a lot of effort into designing the music experience of their phone. For example, like mentioned before, when your pixel picks up music playing somewhere in the vicinity, it auto-identifies the song information and puts it on the Always On Display, which is a cool feature especially for Shazam lovers. And when you use the Pixel to play music off Spotify or something, the entire screen changes to the album art, which is pretty nice.

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The Google Pixel 2XL plays with music lovers pretty well.. for anything except the actual music playback

If only the Pixel had better audio output quality. Sigh!

Google Vs Samsung: Assistants

I must say that getting into the AI functions of my phones is a relatively recent thing – I tried Siri briefly when I was using the iPhone, found it totally unusable, and quickly forgot all about it.

But ever since getting on Android, I started fiddling with the AI features on both the Samsung and Google again. Google uses Google Assistant, and Samsung uses Bixby. I’m just going to say, straight up, that there is absolutely no competition here. Google wins hands down.

The Google Pixel 2XL has fantastic, fantastic google assistant capability – it activates either by voice (saying “ok google” wakes the phone up”) or by squeezing the phone. This is so random and cute that I just adore the weirdness of the whole thing. What a time to be alive – you can pick up your phone and squeeze it and it will wake up and ask you what you need! This must be what married life is like.

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Super cool! Nothing happens when you squeeze the top half – it only activates when you squeeze the bits that i put the wiggly line next to

The voice recognition on the Google Pixel 2XL is AMAZING. It can recognize what youre saying relatively easily, it’s able to discern the intention of your statement pretty easily (so I can say “ok google take me home” and it maps me home), and it is incredibly quick. Singlish recognition is coming to Google Assistant soon too, which is an added plus, though not a dealbreaker. All in all, I think the Google Assistant function is integral to your phone usage – I use it nonstop when I’m holding on to the Pixel.

The Samsung has Bixby, which can also be voice-activated (say “hi bixby” to wake it up) or physcially activated with a dedicated Bixby button. Bixby is developed by Samsung, and it doesn’t have the same advantages as Google of having, well, the largest search engine and artificial intelligence database in the world. So when you bear in mind that Bixby is still a baby, it makes sense that it’s just not as good as the Google Assistant. It does have some pretty promising features – I programmed some quick commands into it, which basically means I link stacked commands to a certain series of keywords. (EG. I say “Hi Bixby Goodnight” and it turns off wifi, turns off bluetooth, turns on blue lighting filter, sets my alarm for the next day, clears all my notifications, and optimises my phone battery in the background)

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Dedicated Bixby button – but the Samsung Note8 also supports Google Assistant if you prefer that

In theory, this is fantastic. But the voice recognition capabiliy of the Samsung is just not as good as the Google. Bixby often doesnt understand my speech, which I’m a bit offended at because I’ve been using it for like a month already. And it also randomly wakes up sometimes for no good reason without me activating it. I dont think this is simply a Bixby problem – I think it might be Samsung’s internal voice recognition software, because I also have Google assistant downloaded on my Note8 and it doesnt recognize my speech as accurately as the Google Pixel. Google Assistant on the Note8 is still better than Bixby on the Note8, but yeah, its just not as accurate.

Overall, Bixby and Google Assistant both have different capabilities (Bixby’s stackable quick commands are honestly genius) and in an ideal world, using both on the Note8 would really render the Note8 a powerhouse. But Samsung really needs to work on its voice recognition technology, because that is such a crucial part of the AI experience. So yes, for now, Google wins.

Google Vs Samsung: hardware

Both phones are water-resistant, so you can take them into the pool or the beach without worry. Personally, I load Netflix shows on them and prop it up in the bathroom so I can watch new episodes of shows while conditioning my hair, which is a half-hour affair.

Battery is pretty good on both, especially when you tweak the power saving modes on the Note8. They can comfortably go a full day on a single charge in my experience, though the Pixel has overall longer battery life.

But the Samsung’s main advantage is its stylus. Honestly, incorporating a stylus into the Note series is a brilliant move. Firstly, it differentiates the Note so distinctly from every other phone out there, that if youre dependent on the stylus, you’re never even going to consider moving to another phone system.

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The SPen is the Star of the Note 8

Secondly, it is a damned good stylus. It’s made by Wacom, which is what, like, every serious digital artist in the world uses. It’s pressure sensitive, which means your handwriting on the Note is personalised and pretty, but beyond that, it also means that you can sign off on documents while on the go, which is a huge thing for freelancers like me. The Note8 comes with Office suites, so if clients send me contracts, I can easily endorse them and send them back without having to look for a printer/scanner. This is amazing. I cannot emphasize this enough.

The stylus is also waterproof and made to play well with the Samsung screen. This has two main functions, the more obscure of the two being if youre trying to take a photo underwater, you can use the stylus to do this, because sometimes screens dont recognize your finger underwater. The second, and more relevant function, is that when you use the stylus to take notes, you can lean your wrist on the Samsung screen while writing/jotting notes down using their native Samsung Notes app. This is amazing. You have no idea. I have been using this nonstop at press conferences to jot down important notes and points that I later incorporate into my articles, and its not only more intuitive to use a pen-like stylus, it also looks more professional because i dont look like I might be texting when the speaker is talking? I assume this is the same for office meetings or school lectures.

And lastly – if you’re into doodling, this is also pretty great. I use the stylus every single day for drawing on images, especially on my instagram posts or instagram stories. It just makes for more personalised content, and I personally love doodling, so it made total sense. It also complements the big screen very well, because you have a lot of real estate to doodle on! Every single doodled photo in this post was doodled on using the Note8 Stylus.

The stylus slides right into the Note8 and clicks into place so youre not likely to misplace it – it sends an alert to your Note8 if you move too far from the stylus to remind you not to leave it behind. Pretty impressive!


This is an incredibly close fight because both phones are fantastic and I find myself perpetually amazed that we are living in an age where phones are able to be so powerful: they’re basically tiny computers by now. COLOR ME IMPRESSED Is what I am saying. But if youre looking to definitively buy one of the two, telling you both are great isnt going to help much. So I re-looked at the functions and features on both phones, and I narrowed it down to basically one criteria..

The deciding factor is AI vs hardware. Everything else is so excellent on both phones that this is really the main differentiation point of the two phones. If you foresee yourself relying on Google Assistant, the Google Pixel2XL will give you an integrated, smooth experience with the AI. If you love the idea of having a waterproof stylus that can quickly mark up documents and essentially act as an extra arm for you, then the Samsung Note8 might just be your best bet. So ask yourself this question, and you’ll find your decision a lot clearer.

Ultimately, both phones are stellar and I’m pretty sure youre going to love whichever one you finally go with. The real winner here, is the consumer. Keep competing, all you phone makers. I am here for it.


#2117 | Getting my first Chromebook!

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Hey guys,

So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but in November, I finally stopped dithering, went out and bought myelf a chromebook.

This came as a surprise to most people – I have a perfectly fine macbook pro (old, but trusty) and I work off a second hand iMac in my office (bought off carousel for $400, can you believe it?). But I wanted something portable and functionable enough that I could use for travel – I’m always on the go, and more often than not I’m out of the country at least once a month. I don’t always need a laptop on these trips, but I do get a bit nervous whenever I dont have it cos I’m afraid something urgent will crop up, so I end up lugging it along out of habit anyway. And half the time, it ends up being deadweight, because I either dont use it, or use it just once on the trip. Of course, a simple solution would just be not to bring anything – but the occasion has popped up more than once where I needed to rush some edits, or do some writing, and I’ve always been glad in those instances to have broguht my MBP with me.

My travel set up is hectic, because I usually have my laptop, DSLR, and an extra lens if I’m headed on a big trip. All things that I obviously will not put in my check in baggage, so I’m always lugging around at least 3kg of electronic weight around with me in my carry-on backpack, in addition to other miscellaneous plane things. I knew I wanted to streamline this because not only is it cumbersome, it’s also not great for my back. And all signs seemed to be pointing to getting a portable work machine that would serve my basic needs while on the go to complement my more fully fleshed out work set up back home.

Ever since my chromebook appeared in my instagram posts, multiple people have written to me asking me to do a review of the chromebook. I’m not a tech expert, so if you want to know the super technical specs stuff, please do your own reserach. But from a user’s experience? Sure. Here we go:

Chromebooks – what?

Chromebooks are basically computers that run on the google chrome OS. It is not a brand, it is a type of device – like a phone, a tablet, or a computer. My particular chromebook is made by HP (it’s the HP Chromebook 11 g5), but you could get one from Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etcetera. Their defining characteristics are usually that they’re cheap, and that they run on the Google OS. Beyond that, each chromebook differs.

Chromebooks – why?

Like I said, I wanted a work machine for travel. I considered getting a tablet, but I quickly realised that Im a traditionalist and I need a keyboard. The tablet + keyboard combo would add up to too much money for my liking, so that was out. My boyfriend pointed out that I could have upgraded my current 4 year old macbookpro to the latest one which is way lighter, and so reduce the number of devices I would need to own in total. But my MBP is chugging along fine, and the new macbooks start at a ridiculous 1,900 to 2,000SGD, which I refuse to pay unless my current MBP dies completely.

That left netbooks and chromebooks. They’re both cheap options – netbooks are tiny laptops that usually run Windows 10, and chromebooks are tiny laptops that run the Google OS. Most retail for 500SGD or under. They’re also smaller and lighter, thus fulfilling the portability requirement for me. I debated for very long between the two, but finally went with the chromebook.

Chromebooks – why I decided to get it and how I decided which model was right for me

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My matte black chromebook! You can identify chromebooks by the little google logo at the top corner

What I got was the HP Chromebook 11 G5. I bought it from the HP store at Marina Square Singapore for $449, and it came with a one year warranty, the charging cable, and a free squishy sleeve.

Deciding on this was a matter of sitting down and writing out what I wanted vs what I needed, what I would realistically use it for (which begs the question: what I was willing to compromise on), and what was available to the Singapore market.

What I wanted
Portability (weight)
Portability (size/dimension)
A good keyboard
Good battery life
Touchscreen option
A nice screen?
Something cheap (<$500) Something that doesnt lag too much Something that looked nice

All of the above I would have liked, but I know that at $500 which I refused to budge on, compromises would have to be made. So I narrowed it down. Portability was key – weight was more important to me than size, although preferably I hoped to find a sweet spot between the two). I had to have a good keyboard because I would be using it mainly to write. I tried one of those super thin keyboards before and hated it, I need a solid keyboard that’s evenly spaced and with good key travel (kind of like the amount of depression you get when you press the keys). Everything else was just a wish list. So this is what my list of needs looked like after considering the above:

Something light
Good keyboard

Everything else I reasoned, would be a bonus, but I wouldn’t die without. And I knew for $500, I couldnt expect something that would blow my mind – but that’s ok. I just needed something that worked for my purposes. Everything else would be fluff and glitter dust.

What I would use it for

Narrowing down that above list of requirements came with truly knowing exactly what I was in the market for. People can get overboard when buying new things, and I’m like that too. I want everything! I want a sexy looking laptop that weighs next to nothing and has three USB ports and an SD card reader and solid wifi connection and a screen that will blow my mind, and preferably this dream laptop costs nothing!!

But that’s unrealistic. To narrow down what you truly need vs what you want, ask yourself what you are using it for. For me, I needed something to 1. Blog on 2. Reply emails 3. Possibly book tickets for things when I’m travelling.

So that’s like, a glorified blogging machine. Ok. If I can watch Netflix on it on the go, great, that’s a bonus. But I don’t need a fantastic screen or something that’s got a hardcore enough processor to edit photos on. I can do that on my phone. I just need something small that I can write on. Ok. Great. That simplified things a lot for me. So if youre thinking of getting one, ask yourself what youre going to be using it for, then work backwards from there!

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Working off my Chromebook on my lap on a plane ride. It’s very light, so it balances quite easily.

What was available at my desired price point and for my needs?

For under five hundred bucks, honestly, my options were a B grade tablet, a netbook, or a chromebook.

I needed a keyboard, so a tablet was out.

That left netbooks and chromebooks. I was more inclined towards a chromebook because my girlfriend Kate from New York uses one (they’re pretty rare in SG) and she swears by it, and also because it was new to me and thus exciting. But the netbook seemed safer because the Windows OS is something more familiar, and it has all the things you would traditionally see in a computer – Microsoft office, offline apps, etc. Whereas the chromebook would only run things off Google and the Chrome app store, and its utility was mostly reliant on the availability of a solid internet connection.

So I went on various tech websites to read reviews of specific net vs chromebook models, but it wasnt helpful because the verdict was like, everything had pros and cons and HELLO? Dont tell me that. Just tell me which is better. But nothing gave me that answer. Then I went on tech forums (mostly useless, too much technical jargon) and finally, to reddit. Reddit, the place I go when I wanna hear conspiracy theories about the meaning of the latet Black Mirror episode. But it turned out to be a pretty good thing because the support for chromebooks on various Reddit threads was nearly unanimous.

I realised quickly while browsing threads that I didnt need the windows OS – it was just a more familiar, safe option. Also, windows netbooks tend to be slower, because the hardware developers pay rights to Microsoft to run Windows, so the leftover money invested into the hardware is less. Whereas Google and Chrome is free, so the cost of the chromebook mainly goes towards making a solid book. Then they have profit markups from there.

Lastly, and specific to me: I use a Mac and macbook as my main computers, and I have two phones (work and personal, 2 numbers), one iPhone and one Android. The one thing that would unify everything was the google platform. It seemed unnecessarily complicated to add a Windows OS to the mix, and now I had a solid reason to move most of my work to the cloud. Now, I can edit my documents in Google Drive on any one of my computers, then pick up my phone and add notes if I think of anything extra on the go. It was all about streamlining my workflow, and the Google OS made the most sense for this.

The purchase of most chromebooks will also come with 100GB free Google Drive storage, valid for 2 years. This is really a great bonus!!! It’s obviously to encourage you to store things in the cloud instead of on the device itself, which, yknw, im totally fine with.

Availability in the Singapore market

Chromebooks are not popular in Singapore – I think many people are not willing to move to something that’s so web-based and away from a familar platform, and brands may not think it’s worth it to bring an entire line in? Most great chromebooks arent actually brought to Singapore, and I didnt want to ship something so expensive from the States because I’m paranoid and also cos sorting the warranty out would be a pain. I had my eyes on the Acer R11 and Asus C201, both of which arent available here. So from the existing options I picked the HP. It was between this and an Asus model, but I went to both stores and tried them out several times, and the HP has a truly great keyboard which is crucial for me. It also looks slightly more chic, coming in a nice matte black. So the HP it was!

Chromebooks – My experience so far

I’ve had the chromebook for a week now, and I’ve used it pretty frequently in that time. Obviously, my review might change after six months or one year of use, but here’s my take for now.

The HP Chromebook 11 G5 has a truly, truly amazing keyboard. Typing is so comfortable on this that it is an immediate win for me. And it is so light (just over 1kg) and small (smaller than A4) that I have no problems slipping it in my tote bag when I travel, and sliding it out to pick up work on an existing document on the go. In fact, this blogpost was entirely typed out on a car ride from Pakbara Jetty Terminal to the Hat Yai city center.

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The keyboard is matte, has good key travel, and is decently spaced out so typing for long periods doesn’t cramp your hand.

The battery life is sick. Way better than my Macbook – because it doesnt have to do as many things as my mac, and so it doesnt have all the battery consuming applications of a macbook. The advertised battery life is 12 hours, but I usually get about 8-10 out of it, depending on whether I’m working off the internet or not. Either way, I have never had to bring a charger out with me, as my chromebook lasts and lasts and lasts.

Because of the improvements made by Google to it’s offline drive support, I can create and edit documents offline, which becomes immediately synced to the online server once I connect to wifi. Then when I pick it up again from either my Mac or back again from the chromebook, I just copy-paste the contents to my wordpress composer and finalise the draft before posting it. When I work offline, it just autosaves a draft every five seconds or something, so I’m never worried that my work will be lost halfway.

The offline G drive support wasnt available as recently as 2 years ago, and without it I definitely wouldnt have gotten the chromebook because i want to be able to work offline. The offline capability means I only really need the internet to back it up to the cloud server – before Google added offline functionality, chromebooks were useless without internet. This was also was a good signal to me because it indicates that as long as Google keeps updating and improving its services, my chromebook will benefit from it, be it one or five years from now, as long as the hardware doesnt die on me.

For those of you who still want to use MS Word to craft documents, they do have that available as an application. It’s slightly stripped down from the full desktop version IMHO, but still workable. Google owns Android, and in a recent move, they’ve allowed newer chromebooks to access the Android Play store. This means chromebooks with a touchscreen can play games now.. But it’s not something I need or want to do. I downloaded the apps for MS Word, Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, and Multi Messenger (a multi platform app that lets you chat with whatsapp, FB messener, and Telegram all within the same tabbed app), and that’s all that I need right now. I’m trying to keep my Chromebook free of things that i dont need, because I want to keep the expereince as straightforward as possible and I am conscious of the fact that too many apps will slow it down. So far, it’s been pretty smooth.

And lastly, my chromebook is so fast. Start up time is almost immediate, it springs into action once I open it, and it hasnt given me any lags so far yet. This is also because I take care not to run too many applications at a go or have like more than 10 tabs open, as I know that might slow it down, but so far user experience has been smooth.

Things that I dont like about the chromebook so far are minor physcial things – my HP chromebook’s keyboard, while amazing for typing, doesnt have a backlight. So if I’m working in the dark, I cant see what I’m typing. But I’m so used to keyboards that I can type without looking at the keys, so thats fine. It’s just a minor inconvenience and also something that’s a bit jarring when you first notice it.

My monitor’s hinge is limited to slightly over 90 degrees, and I would have liked the option to push the screen back a bit more so if I work in some positions it makes the screen more comfortable to look at. But this is something that only comes up when I’m working while in cars/planes, and it’s also solvable by adjusting my seating position.

The trackpad is pretty mediocre, it’s not bad, but after coming from using a macbookpro for almost six years, it sure is a noticeable difference. Still, none of these things bother me in the long run because I just smirk at the fact that the whole computer only cost me 450$ ho ho.

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Chromebook relative to human

Chromebooks – Is it right for you?

For those of you who wrote me asking about the chromebook, I know youre scanning through this post thinking so is it a good buy or not!?

Well, that depends ultimately on you. Different people have different needs, and all I can do is give you an honest recount of my experience. I will say that it will never be my primary laptop purely because I need apps like Pages/Word for writing, and when I’m in full on work mode, I have like seven hundred things running at once. But for travel? It’s perfect. The Chromebook makes an excellent secondary laptop, and it’s been a joy so far.

Some of you who wrote to me want to use it as a primary laptop for school. I dont know if I would recommend this because school sometimes requires groupwork and I dont know students these days are ok to work entirely off Hangouts and Google Docs? Again, be sure you know what exactly you want to do with your new computer and if this can be done within the limitations of the chromebook. Heavy video / photo editing and gaming, for example, is a no go. But if youre using this mainly to take notes and do web-based work, I think it’s a pretty good deal.

And if you’re a working professional looking for something light, productive, and power efficient? You won’t be disappointed with a chromebook, I think, not when offline functionality for Google has been so improved and when there’s wifi hotspots nearly everywhere in the city anyway.

The bottom line is, it’s a $450 machine that’s very value for money, does what it’s supposed to do, and this model in particular looks pretty neat while doing so. In other words, yes, Baymax, I am satisfied with my care.


#1316| Healing Touch Singapore Review – Oiling up paid, earned and owned media.

Currently listening to:Red, White and Doze mix tape by The Jane Doze

Hey Guys,

I want to talk a bit about this fantastic spa I went to yesterday which had amazing masseuses and a really well executed media plan which is honestly pretty kick ass impressive for a spa.

So for some reason, I was having the worst upper back/neckache yesterday. My headache was also so terribly pounding that my colleagues described me as Depressed Looking, Terrible, and Please Go Home. Yup. Just what every girl wants to hear.

My headache was so bad though, that I didnt just want to sleep it off because I’d wake up with backache still there- so Mavis and I googled Great Massage Places in Raffles and this popped up:

A paid ad, for Healing Touch Singapore.

For those of you unfamiliar, how paid google ads work is, you do market analysis for certain targeted keywords, and then execute media buys and integrated SEO (Search Engine Optimized) copy into your website. Understandably, there will probably be more than one company vying for the same keywords (ie. imagine Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Spinellis spamming money to buy the top search result for keywords “MOST AMAZING COFFEE EVER“) so Google does some algorithm mumbojambo and you appear on the top paid ads for a certain percentage of the search results. This is classified under Paid Media in Advertising Speak- referring to any ad space you buy. This includes Facebook ads, banner ads, blah blah blah.

So they managed to rank top on page 1 of Google’s search for Great Massage Places in Raffles, which was pretty impressive i thought. This despite the fact that after clicking through, none of their outlets were, in fact, in Raffles. They have one in Upper Thomson, River Valley, and Tampines, which was the one I went to.

I read through their website, which had reasonably compelling copy and the prices really did seem reasonable. The thing that sealed it for me though, was their Facebook page recommendations left by, i don’t know, a million customers?

All discretely glowing reviews! I couldnt understand it. How miraculous were these massages that all their customers took the trouble to go on Facebook to leave them a nice review??? I booked my massage immediately.

Booking done via calling/online booking. It was pretty seamless and fuss free, which was nice esp since i was having a headache and didnt want to deal with Press One for English, Two for Chinese, Three for Malay.. you get what i mean. As another side note, in Ad Speak this falls under Owned Media- any thing or channel you own, like websites, Facebook pages, twitter handles, so on and so forth.

The Tampines branch was conveniently located within a few steps of the MRT, on the fifth floor of the CPF building. From the time i stepped in till i left, the staff and masseuses were polite, soft spoken, and could do wicked things with their hands. I chose their signature Asian Fusion Massage,which is an oil based stress relieving full body massage, and at this one point in time the lady literally got on all fours on top of my back and started cracking the hell out of it. The point being i felt absolutely amazing after the whole thing, and even more impressively- noone asked me to sign up for a package even once. UNHEARD OF.

Of course, they don’t ask you to sign up probably because they know they’re so good you’ll be back soon…

Still, I didnt understand how it could get so many positive reviews on Facebook. I mean, I checked in on foursquare and tweeted about it (received a BUNCH of enthusiastic replies from previous customers, they obviously have a cult like following), and I would probably have made a passing mention on Facebook or my blog, but go to their Facebook page and leave a paragraph? Really?

Then this morning I received this:

it all makes sense now

At first i was wondering how they got my email, and then i realized- The online booking system. So devious! And then, the follow up incentivized call to action.. so quietly effective because potential customers (ie. me) would be won over by the barrage of positive reviews!

This is where the last bit comes in- I very superficially explained Owned and Paid media earlier on, but the last one is basically the dream of every marketer and brand: Earned Media. Earned media is the “snowball effect”, “word of mouth“, or as everyone loves to call it, “viral” effect of any advertising campaign. Most brands are fantastic at paid and owned media, but earned media is always a tough nut to crack. I think Healing Touch did a pretty neat job of integrating paid and earned media to achieve their desired results: not case study level, but pretty noteworthy nonetheless.

And of course, their massages are to die for, so that helps.

Healing Touch
Website | Facebook page
199 Upper Thomson Road (next to Long House food center)
5 Tank Road #01-01 (Opposite Liang Court)
Tampines CPF Building #05-10 (beside Tampines MRT)


#1308| The Socialite Camera (and yes, win yourself one.)

Currently listening to:we found love by coldplay
status:feet sliced bloody PEK CEK LA

Hi guys!

Boy, do we have a lot to talk about. A whole bunch of stuff has happened over the past few days. But before that:

Sick of me posting up examples of great advertisements and campaigns yet? Maybe you’d rather be a banker or doctor or lawyer and honestly don’t want to see any more advertising campaigns? Well, too bad. By nature of my job i see them everyday and they’re too amazing not to share.

Another awesome ad campaign sent out via round robin email in the office.

Highlights from the Cannes Lions 2012: Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell’s “Invisible Drive”, an entry for the Cannes Lions Environmental Design, Exhibition and Live Events category. So amazing.

And effective, too:

The YouTube video was watched more than 10m times. It received 60,000 ‘likes’, 14,000 comments and 21,000 users selected it as their favourite. Our documentary was ranked as no.1 in the ‘Viral-Video-Charts’, beating superstars such as ‘Akon’ and ‘Pitbull’. During the campaign the search terms ‘F-Cell’ and ‘Invisible Mercedes’ enjoyed a disproportionate increase. Several international newspapers, TV and radio stations spread our story. However, not only them: our target audience turned into brand ambassadors, too. Overall, the campaign gained over 450m media impressions around the globe, helping to increase the awareness of Mercedes-Benz F-Cell technology by 43%.

– Excerpt from the Cannes Lions website

For those of you who don’t know, the Cannes Lions is the world’s biggest annual awards show and festival for professionals in the creative communications industry. Christel is currently in the land of longchamps now for the festival too! Somehow i need to get my ass there within the next three to five years… i might spontaneously combust just looking at all the ads i wish i’d crafted though.

Besides that.. I have also rediscovered my extreme lack of will and determination in my money saving plan. In other words, nothing new.

I do not need a new bag, I told myself. I do not need a new bag i do not need a new bag… I bought three pairs of Steve Maddens.

Gorgeous, aren’t they? I know, i know. I should be contrite with guilt. But there’s no point lying, because i’m really not. Im actually really pleased with myself.

Many thanks to Bex who helped me get a discount on the shoes!!! For the rest of you, the Robinsons Expo sale is ongoing till Sunday 🙂 I went back and got another two pairs of shoes yesterday, one dark brown leather ankle bootie heel from the UK and another pair of patent cream flats that look a little bit like XiaoQi’s Tory Burches except they do not cost 900 dollars.

The black glitter stilettos from madden pictured above are a bitch to wear though. I wore them today and though the sole was incredibly comfortable, I’d forgotten to account for the glitter edges which were rough and pretty much sliced my ankles bloody. I ended up making off with Pearlyn(my colleague)’s slippers after work because my ankles were gory, like horror movie SAW-worthy gory.

Are you relatively frustrated at the lack of How To Win A Camera As Per PROMISED From Your Blogpost Title yet?

Sorry guys, I’m being deliberately annoying. The thing is, Sony just passed me their new Cybershot WX100 camera to play with earlier this week. (Rather, I got it from Waggener Edstrom, their PR firm) I googled it and i came across this description which i thought suited the camera perfectly: the Socialite camera

Look at how tiny it is! It’s smaller than my phone!

There are DSLRs, and then there are Semipros, and then there are compact cameras. When i was making my decision last January on which camera to buy, the reason why i bypassed the semipro stage and went straight to my DSLR from the fujitsu compact i was using at the time was because i thought i would end up with a dslr anyway and it didnt make sense to splurge 6 or 700 dollars on a semipro and lust after a dslr for two years before upgrading it. Also, semipros are kind of big. At least the one i had my eye on, the Olympus PEN, is.

Well I’ve never regretted it, and I’m still wildly in love with my DSLR, but the one thing i’m not so hot on is the bulkiness of the entire package. It kind of restricts the bags i carry to large totes, which i do like, except i buy all these evening clutches and they just sit around sadly in a corner with noone using them.

The Sony Socialite aims to remedy that- its currently the smallest and apparently the best on the market of its genre, very ‘handbag sized’ as evinced by the photo above.

As a side note, i’m very taken by the words ‘handbag sized’ these days. Like, a ‘handbag sized’ novel i can pop into my clutch and read on the train to work.

I brought it out last night and today, so here are some photos for your perusal. Obviously not DSLR quality, but rather decent for a compact i think.

Dad’s birthday dinner at Sushi Tei
Happy birthday Daddy! 🙂

See, there’s this background defocus mode which imitates the effect given by prime lenses on the DSLR.

Anyone hitting sushi tei anytime soon should definitely try their black sesame ice cream. it’s awesome. And also, nostalgia in the form of frozen strawberries, the kind they used to have at Mosburger!

Also, a meeting this afternoon on this exciting but not very difficult to guess project Andrea and I are working on. We headed to Food For Thought- i’ve never been there, and i am VERY IMPRESSED by the wild berry pancakes that i ordered. I can’t say the same for Andrea- all she ate was fungi ie. her side dish of mushrooms.

Looks good, doesn’t it. You know what else looks good?

The Ridiculously Photogenic Andrea.


And the not so photogenic me. Here I’m demonstrating the (also amazing) camera on the nokia lumia 900, which i will do a review on (really) soon (i promise).

Who we had our meeting with. Have you guessed what our project is yet? I’m leaving it at that for now because there is nothing more annoying than someone who starts but doesn’t finish a thought.

We’re testing out the ‘smile shutter’ function on the Socialite- i know, I’m “late to the party” as Miko so elegantly put it. The smile shutter function has been around for awhile, on Sony cameras. I LOVE THIS SMILE SHUTTER FUNCTION. Let me explain.

For non sony users, the smile shutter is a function that basically triggers a shot on the premise of a smile. You don’t have to press any buttons, just grin at the camera and the shot fires. This is particularly useful for group shots- can you imagine? Instead of rushing to fit everyone in the frame before the timer goes off, just tell everyone to frown until you’re picture ready then all smile at once!

The image of this happening in my head is just cracking me up, i tell you.

But what i really like about this, is the smile meter that pops up. When you frown (see above, pic 1), the smile meter drops all the way to a zero. It’s hilarious. Okay, only i found it hilarious. But it’s pretty funny, i think.

Also, the camera picture quality is conspicuously better in the daytime, as with most cameras. Here, a shot of the people i work with in indoor lighting

Miko and Fanaa


I was gushing about the smile shutter function to one of my clients during this meeting we had earlier on (insert miko’s late to the party comment here) and these were some of the shots the camera fired while on smile shutter mode.


if you want this camera but are a broke and struggling student like me, Sony is giving away the Socialite via two competitions:

1. the #moreinless twitter contest

what you need:
a. a twitter account
b. stellar secondary one english paper two summary skills

You need to justify why you deserve to walk away with the Cyber-shot WX100 in as few characters as possible via Twitter. It’s a concept that is really relevant to their product, because they’re trying to show how less is more. I would probably like this contest more if i weren’t so bemused by the fact that i actually did propose something like this to another client (different industry though) of mine, but it’s still pending and if we do it now everyone’s going to think we copied Sony. Maybe next time..

The contest is ongoing, from now till July 2nd. They’re giving away one camera per week, so go try your luck!

2. More Zoom in Less Room contest- Guess and Win

what you need
a. LEGENDARY Draw Something-esque skills

Sony’s releasing five zoomed in pictures each week, and you have to guess what the original picture is of. Four cameras are up for grabs in the contest which spans over four weeks, and the first contestant to correctly submit all five entries each week will win a Cyber-shot WX100.

The contest is only starting on the 10th of July, and runs for approx a month till 6th August. You can access the competition here on the 10th, but meanwhile it’s a pretty sick microsite detailing different aspects of the camera which makes me wish i were a web designer.

That’s a total of 7-8 cameras Sony’s giving out over this and next month, so do go try your luck! It’s really a sweet camera- though it’s early days yet, given how i just got it. Really great timing though, i was dreading lugging the dslr around for Seniors camp and this year’s Freshman Orientation Camp. (I’m a senior attached to the Klaus OG, SIGN UP NOW)

Oooh, and one last thing. It looks like Twitter is down, and for the first time the fail whale isn’t anywhere to be seen! It is also probably a statement on how exciting all our lives are that this absence of a fail whale is capable of producing this much buzz in our lives.

PS. (Yes I’m well aware that my post is rather incoherent today but give the girl a break, i’ve been working late nights and my ankles are bleeding. that didnt make sense either, did it? See what i mean.)


#1307| Social Touching (?)

Currently listening to:nothing
status:a little bit zoned.

Hi Guys

this above is the view i look at everyday while walking out of the office.
i have a theory about this view.

I think its intentionally built to look pretty so when you work late you can’t help but feel rather mesmerized into a state of happy calm looking at this. This also distracts you from realizing that you were working late.

It’s ingenious.
I think its a very plausible theory.

Anyway. After work today i went to get my nails done with Pearlyn because i am a superficial being who takes comfort in trivialities and small luxuries, okay. For some reason every time people ask me where are you going and i say oh to get my nails done they roll their eyes at me or give me a oh-you-child look. I don’t roll my eyes at you when you yabber on about the new chainsaw upgrade in L4D, do i? There you go.

Base is hot pink with the french tips done in Designer.. De Better!, my current favorite nail polish color from OPI’s muppet collection.

Today while doing my nails i wondered what it is that makes people who are normally so averse to being touched, willingly flop their hands into that of a strangers. If you describe it out of context it sounds strange, it really does. A lady picks up your rather flaccid hand and massages it, touches your fingers individually and paints them.

And then there are things like salons, and massage parlors.

People plopping down wrapped in only a towel to be poked and rubbed and prodded all over by a virtual stranger, or sitting in a cushy chair and handing over one’s head to a hairdresser to run his/her fingers through your hair.

I think what i am saying is
It’s just awkward
I need to focus my thoughts on things that make more sense and not things like social touching ew

oh yes
lastly, yet another advertisement i wish i’d thought of first