Thursday, 12 March 2015

iPega PG9021 Bluetooth Classic Gamepad Review

READ ME: This review is targeted for Android users. This controller can be used for iOS, since I don't plan on using this on my iPad, my review will be based on my experience with an Android. Also, you can look at other reviews, that using this controller on iOS isn't all that good anyway.

THE BACKSTORY (Skip to ACTUAL REVIEW if not interested):

As a PC gamer, the keyboard and mouse is a staple, and simply an extension of my upper extremities. Nothing compares to the precision and almost second nature controls of a keyboard and mouse for me. That being said, there are some games that I find that it does need a proper gamepad to play with.

Such games include emulators and of course the notorious Dark Souls, that if you can play it with the keyboard and mouse and be just as good, you probably don't have a soul... no pun intended. Well, maybe just a little bit.

Thus, I was in the market for a good gamepad that I can use with my PC. Gamepads from Razer, etc, are off my radar because such gamepads are, in my opinion, overpriced. I was looking at PS3 Bluetooth Controllers or Xbox 360 Wireless or Wired Controllers for the PC, they are way cheaper, well built controllers, and basically does what it's supposed to do. So I don't need to buy an expensive gamepad just for the name.

But for some strange reason, even if I had the money to buy either the PS3 or Xbox 360 controller that would work with my PC, I have always put it off.

Then come October of last year, when I got my ASUS Zenfone 5, I knew I would want some emulators on it so I can play, let's say, Pokemon, on the go; just like it was meant to be played, on a handheld. However, as with everyone that is a gamer and owns a tablet or a smartphone, they know the on-screen display takes up most of the screen revenue and let's face it, without the proper tactile sensation of real buttons, the controls are wonky at best.

And as a consumer that would rather buy one item that can be used multiple times, in multiple ways, or across multiple platforms, I had to buy a controller that I can use with my PC and my smartphone.

At first, I was really inclined to using an Xbox 360 controller or an alternative with the same shape and button layout; don't get me wrong, I still believe the Playstation controller form factor is perfect. Probably the simplest, well thought of, but really, the best controller form factor out there. But I wanted a change, and I wanted the Xbox controller form factor.

Sadly, the wireless controller for the Xbox 360 runs on RF and not on bluetooth. Smartphones usually don't use RF anymore and use bluetooth. So there was a huge strike against the the Xbox controller. All the more with the wired Xbox controller, where I need to use my OTG cable to connect it with my smartphone. Yet another strike, this time on the wired variant.

With the RF controller, you can also use it with your smartphone, but like the wired one, you need to connect the RF receiver to your smartphone with an OTG cable.

In fact, if you're still interested, or if you already own an Xbox 360 wireless or wired controller and want to connect it with your smartphone or tablet, you can look at this.


Why are these strikes, even if technically I can make them work? Well, if I'm using my smartphone, and gaming while I am on the go, portability is a must, and having wires, apart from my earphones and possibly short microusb cables charging my phone vis power bank, dangling isn't what I will call "mobile gaming", and certainly defeats the purpose of gaming with my smartphone.

So, as much as I wanted an Xbox controller, I had to say no.

Next up on my list is the PS3 wireless controller. Now this is bluetooth that can run on both my PC and smartphone. And it is with the form factor I deem perfect. So what's stopped me from purchasing it? You know what? I really didn't know what stopped me! Something, like a thorn on my side, stopped me from getting it. It was strange.

I had it all planned out, buy this PS3 controller, get a bluetooth dongle for my PC, and pair it with both my PC and smartphone to play games that need a controller. It was perfect! In fact I even found this!


A GameKlip Universal CaseMount, that mounts your smartphone to your PS3 controller; I mean sure, it has 3M double sided tape on the back in order for your smartphone to mount on it, but you have to buy a silicon case or the like as to not have your actual case be mounted on the GameKlip forever... But this ain't cheap! For a piece of plastic, it ain't cheap!

But even if it wasn't cheap, I would have still gotten it in order to have that mobile gaming. Though, like I said, I didn't know what was stopping me at that time to but these.

It was like the Heavens were telling me "Son, there is something out there, much better, and bang for the buck than this... Patience, son... Patience". And so like my love life, I stayed patient.

However, unlike my love life, patience paid off while waiting. As I was looking for bluetooth controllers for smartphones, I stumbled into the likes of Steel Series and MOGA, but they were expensive, and they didn't look to have a comfortable form factor. Because, even if these controllers were made specifically for mobile devices, I know, it being a bluetooth controller, I can still use this on a PC and I need a good form factor for gaming on either my PC or smartphone.

So the search continued. I found some that had a good form factor, but let us take into account that I live in the Philippines, and not all gadgets are available here; so browsing the local online store, I found, I consider, the Holy Grail of bluetooth controllers.

THE ACTUAL REVIEW:


Front... obviously

Back... I am insulting your intelligence

Here she is!
As you can see, it is shaped as an Xbox 360 controller, and yes it is bluetooth, so it will work with my smartphone and with my PC with a bluetooth dongle. The only deviation from the real Xbox 360 controller is of course the clip for your mobile device and the media buttons on the right side of the controller as you can see as greyish/silvery buttons on the pictures above.

What comes in the box is, of course, the controller itself, a micro USB cable, and an instruction manual. Just the essentials. The way it should be really.

Build quality, well, it is light, and really, really "plastic-ky", but I guess that is all controllers anyways, but the light weight kinda gives the feeling of cheap build quality. That being said, it is quite sturdy, except for the clip part where you mount your smartphone, it feels it may give way someday, but for the price, I guess it is easy to replace the whole unit without feeling that you've lost a lot of money.

The instructions on how to pair this with your smartphone come in your standard Chinese company's poor English, but you can figure it out somehow. I recommend not downloading the game center app they are saying, all you have to do is turn on your controller, hold down X and then press the Home button, to go into gamepad mode, turn on your smartphone's Bluetooth, search for the gamepad, and pair. YOU ARE GOOD TO GO.

This controller is fully functional in the emulators I have tried for my Android phone; NES, SNES, GBC, GBA, N64, PS1 emulators (I won't give all the names of the emulators I have; just go to the Play Store, I am confident, whichever apk you get, will work with this controller...). Games like GTA3 and GTA Vice City supports this out of the box (with a slight hiccup in Vice City. Read below), and acts like it should on the console versions of these games.

EarthBound!

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time!!! I will make a separate post on how to run N64 games on ASUS Zenfone 5 or any other Android device... It took awhile for this to run right


Both analog sticks and all buttons work the way they should, and have no input lag at all. The D-Pad is a lot left to be desired; it is flimsy and, well, it just doesn't feel good. For those rare instances where I used the D-Pad, I do get frustrated by its poor build quality. The media buttons that are found on the right side of the controller is also fully functional; from left to right, the media button layout is Volume Down, Back Track, Play/Pause, Forward Track, and Volume Up. In some emulators, or using the Game Keyboard APK, you can also remap these buttons for extra control.

All the games I've played, and emulators I've ran, the controller had no problems whatsoever; but of course, there is always an exception, strangely, GTA Vice City, the left and right trigger buttons don't respond as fluidly as one would want. I have to press either one several times before the game actually responds. This is not the fault of the controller, because apart from Vice City, this controller works like a true champ.

Portability is quite high, even if it is a full sized Xbox 360 controller clone, it is very, VERY, lightweight, and having to put this in your bag, won't be a bother.

My new "Everyday Carry" devices: Clockwise from top left: ASUS Zenfone 5, Romoss Solo5 Powerbank, HUWEI Pocket WiFi, and iPega PG-9021 Controller. I will make a separate post for my complete Everyday Carry

Battery life is also high, it lasts obviously longer than my phone, at one point, I gamed 2 whole days and still didn't get low batt on this controller. Coupled with my dual output Romoss Solo 5 power bank, I can game for long road trips, or long plane rides, for future vacations.

To summarize, this short review, but long back story post, I HIGHLY recommend this controller to any Android gamer. The fact that it works great, battery life is long enough, shaped as a comfy Xbox 360 controller, has a clip for your device, and works with your PC (chances are, if you are an Android gamer, you are a PC gamer), what more can you ask for from a controller that is cheap?

Go. Get it. NOW.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Blog on the Go: Duty-mode; Sick-mode



As the title says, I am braving this battered and bruised body of mine to duty, in spite of body malaise, headache, cough, and slight intermittent fever.

Sense of duty? Lazy to go home? More of the latter, that's why I stayed behind.

As of this writing, I am 10 hours away from being free. I just hope my fever won't relapse the remainder of my duty...

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Romoss Solo 5 10,000mAh Power Bank Review

Charging my ASUS Zenfone 5 with my Romoss Solo 5 10,000mAh Power Bank
I have been on the market for a powerbank ever since I bought my ASUS Zenfone 5 last October 2014, because, even though the Zenfone 5 has a slightly higher capacity battery life (2110mAh) compared to, let's say an iPhone 5s (1560mAh), it still drains a good deal within the day, especially that I am still a Senior Medical Intern in the hospital where I call up the Residents in the department that I am currently rotating in, search online for some answers the Consultants would ask me, or when the going gets tough and I need a little break, I would play some emulators on my phone.

At first, I would just find a free socket in the hospital and charge my phone, but everyone knows, that finding a free socket is like finding a needle in a hay stack. To a point where I even thought of buying an extension cord that had multiple sockets and name it "iShare" to share the sockets for charging. And that's where the real problem comes to play.

Charging is obviously a long process; and being a Senior Medical Intern, I am up and about, and can't stay behind in one place too long, thus if I really need to charge my phone in one place, I have to leave it behind to accomplish some tasks in the hospital, risking my phone getting stolen, missing messages and calls. Not good indeed.

So, I knew I needed a powerbank. But I didn't want jsut any powerbank, I wanted something that looks professional, clean, compact enough to be placed in my pocket, able to charge my devices while I am also charging the power bank itself, and have the USB ports on the top/bottom ends as to not hinder me placing it in my pocket while charging my devices.

At first, I saw Logan from TekSyndicate and Jerry AKA Barnacules (look for both of them at YouTube) use Vivis Knight V3 13,000mAH power bank, but living here in the Philippines, I haven't stumbled upon such a sleek looking power bank. Thus, I had to search for an alternative.

Vivis Knight v3 13,000mAh


Most power banks, sorry to say, that I have seen here, which I will name and show pictures of just a few, looked like a toy; not professional looking, or doesn't fit any of the parameters I sought after.

Millerton Power Banks

Mi Power Banks


Then, I found Romoss.

Romoss Solo 5 10,000mAh Power Bank


From left to right: Micro USB for charging the power bank; power button;
LED indicators (each light represents 25% of battery life); and Dual USB output (top 2.1 A and bottom 1 A)

It was a love at first sight for me when I laid my eyes on the Romoss Solo 5 10,000mAh power bank; it was white, just like my ASUS Zenfone 5; it was clean and professional looking, no odd shapes or the like; it had dual USB charging outputs, on top mounted; it can charge my devices while the power bank itself was charging; and being 10,000mAh, for PHP 1,000, I can't go wrong.

Sure the have been 30,000mAh knock offs, but something like a power bank, buying cheaper, higher capacity knock offs, won't assure me of a long life span, and potentially being a bomb in my pocket. Better to be safe, buying a little more expensive, longer lasting, lower capacity one, than gamble on a knock off.

At this point of writing this review of sorts, I have had it for 3 weeks now. I decided to postpone this review so I can have real world tests, while I was still rotating in the Department of Psychiatry in Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and give my honest opinion on it, instead of writing a review at the peak of my euphoria; yes, I am always too psyched about getting a new gadget that it blinds me while reviewing products.

Upon purchasing this product in the mall, my Zenfone 5 was around 5% of battery life left, so I was fortunate and happy to have opened the box and found the power bank still has juice in it for me to charge my phone immediately after purchasing it. So I had my first real world test in the mall, charging on the go, while looking for my friends so we can have dinner together. It charged my phone to full battery ~30-45mins, I found my friends, had dinner, and to my surprise, still had over 75% of juice left in my power bank (as indicated by the 4 LEDs after charging my phone; of course, even if the 4 LED signify 100%, I have already charged my phone to full, hence it is not 100% full, and also not less than 75% full. Math.)

After dinner, we went back to our rooms in PMA, right next to the mall, and just for a few chuckles, I had one of those octopus/squid/tentacle cord thingies (simply a USB split to lightning, micro USB, and a proprietary Samsung connector) to see if it can charge a multitude of devices at once. It did!

Surely it will charge them slower than normal, because the outputs will be split equally to the number of devices charging in that one USB output, it is just nice to know, it can work.

Still didn't charge my power bank upon going to Veterans the next day for my 8am-5pm shift, I charged both my pocket WiFi and phone during that period and was surprised to see by the end of my shift, I still had around 25-50% left in the power bank. Remember, this is uncharged upon purchase, this is still the juice left upon opening the box.

I would usually tell all my friends to fully discharge any device before charging them, and if charging, they must fully charge it to 100%, and not interrupt it in the middle of charging (of course, this can't always be followed, but at least try enough times to avoid doing otherwise). I had to break my rule, still having between 25-50% left in the power bank I decided to charge it up.

I had around 5 more days in Manila, and wanted to see how it will go for the rest of my stay in Manila, with a fully charged one.

Get your pen, papers, and calculators ready children! We have a pop quiz in math!

NOW! Remember my phone has a 2,100mAh battery, and the Romoss Solo 5 is around 10,000mAh capacity. So I should have at least been able to charge my phone up to 4 times and still have 1,600mAh for emergency charging or have it used for charging my pocket WiFi a number of times. And I usually charge my phone once a day depending on its usage. Well, it did just that alright, it charged my phone for 5 days (the last charge, I got to charge my phone up to 75%), next thing I knew, I was home here in Pampanga, charging my drained power bank that I charged 5 days prior.

Very impressed.

It did what it said it would do.

One thing I was worried about was that if my phone was 100%, the power bank would notice that, and stop charging immediately; this would of course, make my phone, that is still plugged in the power bank, start to drain, and I was worried that if it goes to 99%, the power bank would power on again. Hence, and endless cycle of charging and discharging, fluctuating between 100% and 99%. Others would say "Why not just unplug it when it's 100%", sure, but I will not always look at my phone charging every so often when I am busy even if it just in my pocket.

Thankfully, this device doesn't power back on when it is asleep. You have to push the power button to wake it up and charge.

Most power banks I hear, automatically searches for devices that may be plugged in, so you need not power it on; it will charge automatically as soon as you plug the device in. For me, this is bad, because what I mentioned above, the fluctuations in charging and discharging, plus, the power bank is still technically awake, searching for possible connected devices, this drains the power bank's charge as well.

So, I like still having to push a button once my power bank goes to sleep; this saves battery charge on the power bank itself. Good job Romoss!

Like I mentioned earlier, you can charge 2 devices thanks to the dual output (and more if you have the splitter USB things), and it didn't have a slower charge on my devices, seeing as the dual output have their own power output (2.1 A and 1A, respectively).

Charging the power bank when fully drained does take a while, probably around 4-6 hours; it becomes slower to charge the power bank when I am simultaneously charging the power bank and have my phone connected to one of the outputs. In fact, my phone was also charging slower in that regard. Understandable since the USB AC Adapter usually are 5V, 1.35A, so it is split when I am simultaneously charging.

The power bank has significant weight to it, but not so heavy that it is a hassle to bring around with you in your pocket. I say you can bring this in your pocket, but looking at the above dimensions, not all pockets would accommodate this obviously. I have no qualms, because I have a white coat that I need to wear for work, and it has large pockets for whatever a doctor would need.

Build quality is amazing! Mostly metallic, with some portions being plastic. Sure, with the weight it has, if you drop it, it will dent, but I believe it will still work.

As a summary, I love this power bank. It looks professional and clean, it does what it says it would do, and it is built well. I would recommend this brand to anyone! In fact, I got 3 of my friends to buy the exact same power bank, and I will continue to persuade any of my friends who are looking for a power bank to buy from Romoss.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this!