Archive for January, 2015

Jill Valentine

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Chris Redfield

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Microsoft had plenty to announce this week – Windows 10, Windows 10 for phone, Project Spartan, and the pleasantly surprising HoloLens. It’s an exciting time for all Windows users.

But those are aimed for the future. What’s the plan for today? After all, despite hanging on to a huge chunk in the desktop stage, the landscape is admittedly becoming more focused on mobile. Despite a good offering, Microsoft hasn’t managed to break through significantly in the mobile space.

The leading problem that Microsoft has to overcome before it could gain any ground is itself. Microsoft is Microsoft’s biggest problem. Its reputation has been so tarnished by its past mistakes and questionable behavior that it completely undermines the good that it does today. Mention Microsoft to almost anyone and the best reaction you can get is indifference.

Compound that with the company’s inability to market itself and its technology, and you find yourself a company that is inching ever further on consumers’ minds and wallets.

Microsoft seems to have solid products on the pipeline, but it needs immediate actions to repair the blemishes that mire its consumer face lest those technologies suffer the same fate as Windows 8.1.

And that would be a crying shame.

I’ve been a long-time Globe user. From my lowly hand-me-down Ericsson unit more than a decade ago, I’ve stuck with this network provider. I’ve witnessed how they introduced GPRS, which was free for the longest time until they became so greedy as to charge 15 centavos per kilobyte of data. I experienced my load being siphoned away by miscreants, exploiting the load-sharing facility, making it appear that I transferred the credits to some unknown number myself. Globe never acknowledged that it was a problem on their side, but I did receive a refund after fighting with customer service for over an hour over the service line, and then only after about a month after the incident.

I did try Smart’s offerings once or twice in the early days, but from where I stand, I see Smart as more profit-focused (read: the hell with customers, we got their money already anyway), at least during those early years.

Fast forward to today. I’m still using Globe. I’m on prepaid. Since getting my Lumia 1520, I’ve been subscribing monthly to their “unlimited” data plan – SUPERSURF 999. It’s enough for my casual needs, to stay connected on the go. Browsing speed is all right, I suppose, peaking at 300 kb/s last time I tried downloading something on the go.

Coverage is good for most of the places I frequent. We have a separate 3-mbps subscription (upgraded from 1 mbps) at the apartment so it’s okay that I don’t get good reception inside. I basically just need to have good connections at work and at my parents’ house for the occasional weekends I come home. Signal at work is perfect, maybe owing to the fact that the place is run by the same owners of Globe. But at my folks’ place, spotty doesn’t even begin to describe it. There’d be signal one moment and then it would be gone for hours, even if I go outside, walk along the nearby high-way.

Back in August, the signal is at least usable most of the time. Speed was sufficient for regular browsing, even with 3 to 4 users tethered to my phone.

The problem is that the gadgets and phones tethered would update their apps at times in the background. Globe, ever on guard with their BS Fair Usage Policy, would immediately alert me that I’ve used so much data for the day and proceed to throttle my connection until the next day.

Then came the opportunity to use Smart’s offering. At the office, we were given Smart postpaid accounts that come with a 500-MB data plan. Which is fine until you realize that there is little to be desired with Smart’s signal at the office, or most places I go to for that matter. I had the handset with me when we went to Batangas in December. At the South Luzon Expressway, the signal was intermittent. It would show that 3G was available, but as soon as I try to use any app that connects to the internet, the signal disappeared. Contrast to the experience with Globe, the signal only got weak once during the whole trip, and even then, not for very long.

Disappointed, I bought a cheap, dumb phone to use with the POS Smart sim. At least the phone can still be used for calling and short-messaging.

The saving grace of Smart is when I went home one weekend and tried the data service there. Lo and behold, the data signal was consistent to at least 3G. Globe by this time is unusable most of the time as even the call signal is barely even there.

This prompted me to buy a Smart prepaid sim in time for the Christmas holidays. I loaded it with enough credits to register to Smart’s UNLISURF promo for a month.

The good thing about it is that it seems Smart’s unlimited promo is truly unlimited. On occasion, data usage for a day would jack up to more than a gigabyte just for app updates alone. I used it to update my PS3, PSVita and Nintendo 3DS, for Windows update, and a lot of phone app updates. It never complained that I’ve been using too much data and I never saw speed throttled during those two weeks. I left the phone at home so they can continue to use it and just today, I saw that the usage has been up to 23+ GB since activating the promo. I doubt Globe would let me use even a quarter of that amount in a month.

If your area has a good Smart signal, by all means go with their plan. I’m stuck with Globe’s offering but I’ll be keeping an eye out for when Smart’s signal becomes better at least at the workplace, and then it’s bye-bye Globe for good!

Update:

Signal strength is not a good indication. It seems to me that Smart has its network oversaturated in the big city. Even when the phone registers strong data signals, it’s still either flat-out unable to connect or if it does, it’s as slow as 90’s era dial-up. My hope of completely dropping Globe won’t be happening anytime soon I’m afraid.

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