Posts tagged Review


iPhone 4s review for use in New Zealand


Despite my earlier thoughts, I did buy an iPhone 4s in Sydney last Friday.  (My iPhone 4s pre-review is here)

So, after almost a solid week using it, here are my cut to the chase, black and white, observations:

What’s it like? FAST (and awesome).
What’s Siri like to use? Entertaining (see Siri quotes here), and super useful even with the limitations of no location search outside the US. Speech recognition is AMAZING!  Very intelligent.  This is no standard dictate only app, it’s very smart.  Things like What’s the weather like and What’s the weather forecast in Wellington tomorrow all work seamlessly.  Oh, and yes, you can dictate to it too (which is handy when driving).
Other stuff? Well iOS5 rocks – love iMessage integration of text and data messaging. iCloud will take smartphone convenience to the next level for many users (especially the ones that don’t back up!)
Camera This is a point and shoot camera killer.I am not that interested in 8 vs 5MP, but the speed of focus, and between shot time (under a second) and the fast lens (this means it lets more light in, so brighter pics) is SUCH a pleasant surprise.  Add in iCloud integration, and I take a pic, and 10 seconds later it’s on my home PC and also my iPad (as soon as I am in Wifi range that is).If I was CEO of Canon et al, I’d be worried. (Just like Hallmark cards should be)
Should I get one if I have an iPhone 4? Well, probably you don’t NEED one.  But do you WANT one?
Actually, upgrade to iOS5 1st, then decide if Siri+camera+speed is what you are after.
Should I get one if I have a 3Gs or earlier? Or don’t have an iPhone? If you want a smart phone, IMHO, the iPhone 4s is the best on the planet as of today’s date.
 NZ issues
  • We can’t buy them yet (even from Apple).
  • Siri will work, but not with location based stuff (yet).
  • It’s BLOODY expensive (relative to other countries that offer large carrier subsidies).
iOS5 Just like lots of the cool stuff about the iPhone 4 was iOS4, iOS5 rocks.   In my view it’s the most significant upgrade since they added multi-tasking.    Ironically the issue for many when upgrade the iOS is things like oh, I lost my music coz my PC crashed last year or My app settings got lost coz I forgot to back them up, and the ONE thing that will stop that from happening again is the very OS they are upgrading it to.  iOS5 + iCloud allows for truly PC-less backups/OS upgrades etc.
More on back ups etc To show you how cool iCloud/iOS5 is, my friend in Sydney had already migrated to iCloud on his iPhone 4, and upgraded that to iOS5.  On Saturday he goes into a store, gets an iPhone 4s, tethers to my iPhone (ie on WiFi) and withing 60 minutes has ALL his apps (in folders), settings, contacts, the WORKS on his phone.  No PC, no iTunes, nothing, just a WiFi connection and a “yes, please download my stuff” clicked once.  Apple are onto a winner here.   My acid test is could I give it to my mum to use, and the answer is yes, it’s that simple.
What don’t I like? Minor gripe is despite same basic form factor (shape and size) as the iPhone 4, the side controls (mute switch and volume controls) are are few mm lower than on the iPhone 4.  This means buying a new case OR putting up with every so slightly mis-aligned holes.  Not a major, but annoying.  FYI, all others line up (camera, dock,headphones etc)

Some observations on buying one:

  • It was SUPER easy.  Apple know how to make stuff work, including retail sales.
  • It was SUPER quick – 15 minutes queue @ 1.30pm on Friday 14th October (the 1st day of sale) for the Sydney main store on George St
  • Staff very helpful
  • Apple staff rock!

Black and White Version: The 4s is an awesome phone.  Like the iPad 1>2 upgrade it is more incremental, but Siri and the camera are super nice additions, and the speed is REALLY amazing.  iOS5 + iCloud ROCKS!

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ipad 2

iPad 2 Pre-Review


Here it is: my black and white, cut to the chase pre-review of the iPad 2.

I call it a pre-review since I have played with one several times (various Apple stores), I don’t own one yet.

I will give a full review when I do.

In the meantime, here’s the B&W pre-review:

Whats good about it The same stuff as made the first gen IPad great – user interface, battery life, etc.  (Read this line again, it’s important).
What’s improved Speed, low res camera x 2.  Oh, and it’s thinner.
What’s missing Everything that’s missing from the first gen iPad (assuming you thought it was missing in the first place that is), except for a camera
Should I upgrade from the 1st gen iPad? Probably not.  But then again you probably shouldn’t do lots of things.
Is it better than the 1st gen iPad Yes.  For sure
Is it the best tablet on the market Yep (in my opinion).
How does it FEEL? VERY fast, and light (I know it’s not much lighter, but thin makes if feel light).
What else? The iPad smart cover is SOOOO cool.   And no, it doesn’t work with the 1st gen iPad.
Tell me more Ummm, no.  This is the black and white version.  Read some online iPad 2 review, like this one

Btw, I ordered one.  Did it online, coz while the queues in San Fran were down to 4 hours (ie get up at 5am, and get one at 9am) by the time I left there a few weeks ago, it was still easier for me to click some buttons and then have a full warranty in my home country.  I’ll sell my iPad 1 for maybe half what I paid for the iPad 2, so all in all costs me $600 to upgrade.

Black and White Version: iPad 2 is faster, and thinner, and sexier.  A step up, but an evolution, not a revolution.

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Golf-R – review 2 weeks in


Here’s my updated Golf-R review (now that I own one)

I got the car two weeks ago, but waiting until I had 1,500km or so on the clock, under a variety of conditions and roads, so I could comment in some depth.

Firstly, let’s cut to the chase: This is ONE AWESOME CAR! The gear box rocks, the performance and handling is confidence inspiring, and the production quality is top class.  Car is very well appointed with extras, and things like iPod integration (for music) and iPhone integration (for phone) is very usable.

I suggest you read my 1st review of the Golf-R in New Zealand if you haven’t already done so. It has lots of commentary on it, as well as a comparison with the Scirocco-R.

Also some other useful links in case you want more info:

In this post I am going to make some specific further comments on:

  • The DSG gear box
  • The whole value proposition of this car, and how the competition lines up
  • Why I bought one (which may help to answer the question is it the car for you?)
  • The extras on the car (the ones you get, and the ones you pay for)
  • The bad – surely there must be some?

Before I start, the Golf-R has recently been named by TopGear UK as the hotest hatch for 2010. Not a bad wee award to win!  It also wins the somewhat less prestigious, but IMO far more important award of the 2011 best car in the world (according to me). I’ll explain why below.


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NZ map

iPad – XT, Vodafone and 2Degrees comparision


Well the iPad is out in NZ now (although the Apple NZ site still shows Notify Me at the top right for where the Order Now button should be as spotted 1st by Lance Wiggs).  Anyway, in addition to this meaning that I now won’t get swamped by people when I pull the iPad out in public, it does mean many of the NZ telcos have also released micro sims and also iPad data plans.  So here’s the round up.

iPad summary for New Zealand across telcos

For each item, any clear winner is marked in green, with any clear last place network marked in red (blue is for hyperlinks, so ignore that colour!)


XT (Telecom)


3G network

Next week

(only have coverage in 50% of NZ)

Coverage Map

Yes, full

Coverage Map

Yes, but not 3G in all of NZ for the iPad1

Coverage Map

Micro Sims

Available now Available now Available now

Data Plans


$6 for 50MB2

2Degrees iPad Data plans here

500MB – $29.95 (1GB is $59.90)

2GB – $59.95 (4GB is $89.90)

4GB – $79.95 (8GB is $109.90)

XT Pre-Pay Data Plans here See note 3

250MB – $20

3GB – $50

Vodafone iPad Data Plans here See note 4

Data Plans


Not yet available

500MB – $29.95

2GB – $49.95/$59.95

4GB – $69.95/79.95

XT Contract Data Plans here See note 5

No idea.  Some other voda plans MAY work, but remember some plans are “add ons” only (meaning is has to be added onto an existing Phone Plan, no a stand alone data plan.

Price of Micro Sim

Free to swap, or $20 with $20 credit.

Prepaid $29.95 / Postpaid $19.95 (free on open term 500MB plan)

Free according to the web site (but $6.95 postage)

Data charges special conditions

30 Days Expiry on pre-pay

Charges full amount each month when used at all.

PREPAY: 30 Day expiry for pre-pay.  Offers special 10c/MB until hit cap, and also $29.95 in a month to double data

CONTRACT: Can do the “double up” for $29.95 (see note 5)

30 Days Expiry on Pre-Pay

Charges full amount each month when used at all.

  1. See this post for why XT is full 3G for the iPad (and iPhone 3Gs/3G) where as Vodafone is not.  Or check for yourself by comparing coverage on XT with coverage on Vodafone and coverage on 2Degrees or this speed test between XT and Voda on an iPad in NZ
  2. 2Degrees data all expires 30 days after purchase.  50c/MB over 50MB.
  3. XT pre-pay charges 10c per MB capped at rate you set (e.g. if on 2GB then capped at $59.95)  Then for a further $29.95 your data doubles (so 2GB goes to 4) and then its 10c/MB after that.  These “double up” rates are show in brackets in the table above.  All XT rates are the same as other mobile devices.  A reminder some plans on XT are add ons only, meaning they can only be added onto an existing phone plan (i.e. not for data only devices like the iPad)
  4. For Vodafone, these are special iPad only plans.  In theory one might be able to use any of Vodafone’s data plans, but their web site implies that these are the only plans avail, so I am listing these only.  Remember, like XT, some plans are add ons only, meaning they can only be added onto an existing phone plan (i.e. not for data only devices like the iPad)
  5. XT rates for 2GB and 4GB contract are reduced by $10 if Home/Business broadband plan.  The table above shows this.  Also they offer the same “$29.95 for to double data for the month” as they do with Pre-Pay.

My recommendations on plans (updated 26th July 2010)

For light users:

  • The 29.95 XT pre-pay plan is best.
  • If you only use 20MB, that’s 10cx20 = $2, if you use 100MB, that’s $10, and so on up to 295MB (anything between 295MB and 500MB is $29.95).

For heavy users:

  • The XT 2GB plan (on pre-pay or contract, whatever is easier for you).   The double up to 4GB for a further $29.95 makes this plan very flexible (and good value).     Same apples to the 4GB plan – but I would be hard pressed to use 4GB, let alone 8GB, on an iPad.
  • If you insist on Vodafone and are only in the major metros most of the time, their 3GB for $50 plan is quite good, but know that Vodafone does NOT have a 3G network in all of NZ, and that even where it does XT is heaps faster most of the time.

UPDATE 27th July 2010:

Check out my new iPad pricing graphs for data here – it shows all the cross over points right up to 10GB or all pre-pay plans.

Other useful related links

Black and White Version: XT is still the way to go for the iPad (better coverage, and better conditions on plans) but at least there is a choice of three carriers now.

Update 26th July 2010: Made some corrections in line comments below – thanks Reuben! Removed some XT casual plans, and updated notes on XT and Voda.

Updated 29th July 2010: Updated 2Degrees info on micro-sim availability and pricing.

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iPhone 4 review in New Zealand


Well lets be upfront here, this is a PRE-review of the new Apple iPhone since I don’t yet have one.  Anyone claiming a review in NZ is kinda misleading unless they have actually USED one.  After all part of what makes Apple products so great is their user interface and how they actually WORK and feel (not just look).

But here are some important observations for Kiwis (and I guess anyone else who’s interested):


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SeatBelt holder Scirocco-R

Golf-R and Scirocco-R review and comparision in New Zealand


Yes I have finally done it – test drove the new 2010 Scirocco-R and Golf-R back to back.  Here is my detailed review and commentary, plus information about stuff no other reviewer has mentioned (but I think any owner would want to know).

I did this on Saturday 15th May 2010 in Auckland, courtesy of Giltrap Prestige on New North Road.  The weather was a combination of overcast, and rain (ranging from light showers to very heavy downpour).  This means that at one stage part of the roads were VERY flooded, and plenty of variety to test the cars   Oh, before I start I would have to say the sales staff were very helpful, and knowledgeable too.

UPDATE Feb 2011: I now own a Golf-R – my updated review can be found here (but read this post 1st!)

Anyway, here’s what I will be covering in my review:

  1. My overall impressions of each car, trying to focus on what other reviews don’t tell you (but you might wanna know)
  2. The differences between each car
  3. How they stack up against the competition and the whole value thing


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Volkswagen Scirocco-R (pre) review


UPDATE: I have now written a full review of the Golf-R and Scirocco-R. (Follow the link)

To be upfront, I haven’t driven it yet, but I am TRYING to, and as soon as I have I test driven the Scirocco-R will post a review here.  But I do have the full Scirocco-R specs in pdf format for the NZ model, something I can’t seam to find on the VW Web Site for the Scirocco.

Unfortunately in NZ there was only one demonstrator, and it was sold.  There is a Press car that will start its tour around NZ in the next week or so, and that will be free mid-June apparently, but that’s too late in my view.  So I will keep working away!

I also want to do a back to back test drive of the Golf-R (my initial review here), as, like me, many will consider both cars.

One thing I have noticed, and I will comment on this in my full review, is that the specs for the car vary significantly from country to country, especially with what is an extra and what’s included.  Case and point: In the UK DCC (adaptive chassis control) is standard*, in NZ it’s an extra ($1,750 me thinks). In the UK tyre flat warming system is std, here its extra (but only $125).  The NZ web site isn’t too good either, since it doesn’t list the Scirocco-R, (click here for NZ specs though).  But it’s not all one sided, I think parking assist is included in NZ and not the UK.  All will be revealed in my review/test drive.

* Dont ask me why,  but yes Adaptive Chassis Control is abbreviated to DCC (D for Dynamic Chassis Control) in the Golf-R and Scirocco-R spec sheet in NZ.  I think this is coz it comes from the older Adaptive Chassis Control used in some VWs, but I could be wrong.

In the meantime here are some useful reviews that I have found (I have omitted most of the reviews that are just re-hashes of VW’s Scirocco-R press release, which in itself is useful at least for specs, but full NZ Scirocco-R specs are here)

UPDATE (15 April 2010): I have found the Scirocco-R NZ specs pdf on the VW NZ web site, so have changed my links to connect to this file.  I still cant find how to get to it from their main page though, and the Volkswagen NZ Scirocco page still only lists the GTI as the top model.

Update: 6 May 2010: I am due to test drive a Scirocco-R and Golf-R back to back on 15 May 2010.  So my review is just over a week away now

Black and White Version: Full test drive and review of the Scirocco-R is coming.  In the meantime specs here (for NZ)

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