Kindle Oasis two-week impressions

Two weeks ago I bought the 2019 version of Kindle Oasis, Amazon’s flagship kindle. I decided to replace my 2016 Kindle Paperwhite when the battery life of the old device started deteriorating badly. I went all out and bought the Oasis.

The Kindle Oasis is the most expensive electronic book reader in the Kindle lineup. I was initially hesitant to get the flagship model, but in the end decided to give it a try. Upon receiving it, I was pleasantly surprised how slim the package was. This makes sense when it comes to shipping. It is always beneficial to delivery items to consumers in flat boxes to save space.

The first thing that I realised when I held the Kindle Oasis in my hands was how hefty the device feels. It’s really solid, none of the lightweight, plasticky feel that you get in lower end models. The back of the Kindle Oasis is made of aluminium, with a glass screen at the front. All these premium material used in the making of the Kindle Oasis most probably added to the heft and weight that I felt the moment I held it in my hands.

The Kindle Oasis has a thicker side and a thinner side. The thinner side is really slim. It makes the device pretty sexy. However, after using the device for about two weeks now (far surpassing my reading goals so far this year by a whopping 7 books), I can’t say that I am a fan of the unequal thickness of the device. I can understand why they made it such, most likely to make the experience of holding the Kindle a little more ergonomic, but I don’t find that to be the case. To me, it just limits the may ways I could hold my Kindle in a variety of different situations. A uniform back would be my preferred design choice.

What I do like about the Kindle Oasis (and most probably the single biggest factor in choosing the Oasis over the ordinary Paperwhite) is the addition of the physical page turning buttons. Although all Kindle models have touch screen ability, the page turning buttons makes the reading experience so much better for me. There are two page turning buttons, one of turn the page forward and another to turn the page backward. I reverse those buttons as I prefer to turn the page forward using the lower button rather than the higher button. That way, I can hold the kindle at a lower position as compared to having to stretch my fingers just to be able to turn the page using the upper button. All in all, the page buttons are by the far the best feature in the Kindle Oasis.

The Kindle Oasis also features the ability to change the temperature of the backlight to something warmer. I have no strong preference on whether to read in cool or warm light, but having the feature is a welcome addition. In the end, my reading lights are a couple of shades warmer than usual, and over time I tend to find reading on the Kindle Oasis with warmer lights a little more pleasant to the eyes, especially when reading in dark places or at night. The Kindle Oasis also allows readers to set the time to gradually change the colour temperature throughout the day. The Kindle Oasis also features auto-adjust brightness that detects ambient light and changes the intensity of the backlight accordingly. Again, I don’t find this feature particularly useful for me as I am totally fine reading whether in bright or dark environments with a fixed level of backlight brightness. What I do appreciate is that the backlight can be much brighter than the lower Kindle models and that there are more LEDs serving as backlights for a more uniform illumination of the entire screen area.

Apart from the physical buttons feature which I love from the Kindle Oasis, it also features a slightly bigger screen. It’s not much bigger by a wide margin (otherwise holding the device to read would be cumbersome) but enough to display more text horizontally which to me, makes for a slightly better reading experience.

So far, I am really enjoying the device a lot. The solid feel of the device and the physical page turning buttons is a welcome addition which makes my reading experience far more enjoyable. Although one downside is the cost. I just feel that the price could be lower, given that, everything else equal, the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite have the same pixel density and overall, both devices will no doubt give you a good reading experience.

The Dunhill Belgrave backpack: First day use impressions

Today was the first day that I had the opportunity of trying out my latest luxury work bag, the Dunhill Belgrave leather backpack. I collected my back at the Dunhill store in the Paragon shopping mall. I received a call from one of the salesperson in the late afternoon, informing me that the bag (which was put on order due to unavailability) has arrived and was ready for collection. Excited, I immediately headed down after work to collect my back.

I didn’t mention this before but when I arrived home and placed the new backpack and my coach briefcase side-by-side, I only recently realised that the backpack was much larger than the briefcase. I did not expect that. I was expecting the back to be about the same size, or slightly smaller than the briefcase. Anyways, it was a nice bonus to know that I have more space in my backpack than I do with my briefcase.

Today I brought out the backpack to use it for work. One day in, and I am already in love with this backpack. I made a great choice in choosing this backpack. After using it for a day, I greatly admire the quality of the leather chosen to make this bag. It is soft, supple, blemish free, with a nice printed pebble grain on the surfaces of the leather, making it ultra-luxurious. The stitching is impeccable, the hardware, exquisite. I lock and gusset with the Dunhill brand imprint is heavy made of a solid piece of metal. Clicking the lock in place just feels satisfying. This thing screams quality. While the bag is expensive, there is no compromise in quality or the materials used to make this bag. At time, I just can’t stop admiring the bag during work and at home, I sometimes have the urge to just touch the leather and smell it. I am that obsessive when it comes to owning a new backpack, especially a luxury backpack from a brand such as Dunhill.

So what will I do with my Coach briefcase? I will still use it for sure. I will alternate the use of my work bag between the backpack and the briefcase. I still love the Coach briefcase. The leather is still looking great after using it for almost a year. It has not lost its luster after using the bag almost daily for work. With the backpack, I now have more options to either carry my stuff on my back or in my hands. The Coach briefcase will always hold sentimental value to me, as it was bought in New York while on a holiday there last year. In addition, the Coach briefcase was my first luxury all-leather bag that I ever own. After using the briefcase for the past year, I am now convinced that with a little research and investments in a good, quality leather bag can really pay off in spades in terms of longevity, durability, and reliability. All it needs in return from me is the occasional clean and care for the leather in the form of a leather cleaner and moisturizer applied to the bag at least twice a year. That is a fair payment in return for having a good piece of luxury item to take it with me wherever I go.

The Dunhill Belgrave collection leather backpack.

I did it. I freaking did it. After weeks of deliberation, carefully weighing the pros and cons in purchasing a S$2500 leather backpack, triple checking my annual finances and savings goals for 2020, I finally pulled the trigger.

The leather backpack from Dunhill’s Belgrave collection.

Yes, I have officially bought my most expensive backpack yet. The Dunhill Belgrave collection leather backpack.

When I first saw this backpack, it took me a while to get warmed up to it, especially the idea that this backpack cost more than S$2500. Aside from that, this is one of the very few all-leather backpacks that stood out from the rest of I saw from other luxury brands. It took me weeks of careful research and intensive browsing online to see what other brands have on offer. But none really stood out except for this Dunhill backpack. It is simply designed, with no nonsense patterns or loud branding or even frivolous pockets outside the bag to make it more functional at the expense of design. It has the Dunhill brand on the metal push lock, but that’s about it as far as branding goes.

So simple, yet so sophisticated in design.

It was only until I saw the bag and felt the leather that I started to get warmed up to the design and quality of the leather used to make the backpack. When I returned home, I explored further and studied the bag’s design in detail, upon which I realised that the more I looked at it, the more it was calling me out. I was immediately attracted to the backpack. I had the same feeling when I saw the Coach Metropolitan briefcase on the Coach’s website. And I have been using that bag every since I bought it while vacationing in New York last April. Soon, it will be one year since I first started using the briefcase and I love every moment of it. The leather is soft and supple and it still looks just as new when I first bought this. I mentioned before that using a full leather briefcase for the first time made me realise how tough good quality leather can be and how it can potentially serve you for years to come with proper care. I have no doubt that the Dunhill backpack will serve me for years and years to come.

So on Sunday I decided to head to the Dunhill store at Orchard Road (the one and only in Singapore) to check out the bag one more time. As usual, I was the only customer (it has been quiet at Orchard due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak ravaging parts of China) when I entered the store. I requested to have a look at the bag again. I studied the stitching, the overall workmanship and took note of the quality of the leather. At that moment I was 80% sure of getting it. After trying it on and looking at myself in mirror with the bag on my back, I was sold. The size is just perfect, the shape and design, looks extremely sophisticated without being too loud. The Dunhill logo, small, subtle, but for the discerning few, will appreciate that this bag is by Dunhill, a luxury brand from London, with a rich heritage of making luxurious leather products and bespoke men’s suits.

I did not buy the bag just because it was from Dunhill. Before coming across this bag, I had very little knowledge of what the brand is all about. I had absolutely no clue as to the history of the brand. Dunhill was never in my radar when it comes to appreciating luxury goods design. The design of the bag, could have come from anywhere, Ferragamo, Hugo Boss, Prada, LV, it doesn’t matter. It’s the design I was attracted to. And it just so happens that this bag by Dunhill really caught my attention as a slightly more casual backpack for work.

I think this bag will really compliment my current Coach Metropolitan Briefcase. I will now have the choice of weather to carry my things by hand in a briefcase or on my back using the backpack. And I see myself using this bag for many years to come so long as I am employed.

Coronavirus, my two-cents

Also known as COVID-19, its been a little over a month since China announced sweeping restrictions on the movement of people during the Lunar New Year Holiday. Entire provinces are shut down, transport networks on land, sea and air is in shambles and tourism around the world is in the doldrums, especially with travel bans imposed by many countries on China. On the trade and economy front, supply chains from the manufacturing of cars to phones have been disrupted, leading to industry-scale manufacturing issues and shortages of goods.

I live in Singapore and we have seen a slow uptick of people getting infected with the virus. The government is doing its best in containing the outbreak and preventing a wider spread of the virus in to the community. So far the efforts have borne fruit as the infections are largely contained to known clusters that various government agencies painstakingly traced through contact tracing. I really applaud their efforts and despite the virus being out there, overall, I trust in their system deeply in keeping us safe. I feel save overall, even when I am outside and in public places. All of us need to do out part by practising good personal hygiene as a first line of defence for an individual. Let the government and health care workers do the rest in keeping us safe.

The consequences of this disease can be felt and seen. Tourism numbers are down, by a lot. This is evident in my time spent at the Merlion Park while I was taking photos of the place with my new Fujifilm X-Pro 3 a couple of weeks earlier. When you singlehandedly band an entire population (Chinese citizens from China) from entering Singapore, naturally, you will lose a significant portion of tourists into the country. While I was there, it was so quiet. Sure, there are a few tourists here and there. But were there large groups of Chinese tourists with their tour leader walking explore Merlion Park? Were there tour buses parked just outside the park. Not a single one of them were there. It is with my understanding that the Merlion Park is usually riddled with tourists no matter what day of the week. I was there in the afternoon on a Friday, and it was disturbingly quiet. You can almost feel a shift in the air that something has changed. Something has gone terribly wrong and this COVID-19 is the cause of it. With more 75 000 people infected with the virus, most of them in China, dealing with an unknown is always scary, especially with a novel virus like COVID-19.

I went to Orchard Road, a popular shopping belt in Singapore on two weekends, and the atmosphere was different. There were hardly any tourists. The people who were there, were mostly Singaporeans. It was initially difficult to wrap my head around the idea that you hardly see large crowds in Orchard Road on a Weekend. Where have they gone? The different in the number of people in Orchard Road before and after the spread of the virus is palpable. You can feel it. Personally, I feel sorry for those who are working in the retail industry. They must be hit pretty hard as a result of COVID-19. Tourism forms a significant portion of Singapore’s GDP. With one month and counting, the effects are going to get worse as the time goes by. The tourism industry in Singapore and in the rest of the world is bleeding badly. Every day we don’t have tourists for China, is a significant loss for the country, especially those who depend on them for their livelihoods.

No one can predict when this virus will stop spreading and blow over. Personally, I feel that we will be in this conundrum for quite a while, because so long as china reports a significant amount of new infection without their ability to track down where those clusters originate, it will be a difficult call to make as to when the government and lift travel restrictions of Chinese citizen to Singapore. We cannot be complacent as it takes only 1 person to develop an illness, and spread to other people, forming an infectious cluster. Because of nature of the virus, it being highly infectious and its ease of transmissibility between people, There has to be a significant reduction in the number of new infections, or no new infections followed by another 14 days to ensure that it maintains it so, because travel curbs can be lifted.

And now, we are seeing new and worrying trends of significant spread in Korea, Iran, Japan among the local population. If contact tracing is overwhelmed due to a sheer number of new infections in a day, and if they don’t act quickly to contain the spread, then it is essentially fighting a losing battle. Mass quarantine of entire towns, counties and cities will have to be impose in order to truly slow down the spread of the virus.

It’s scary to see how much a dent this virus can put on the world economy, especially if this issue drags on for months into the future. China can only do so much to cushion the impact of the epidemic. Eventually, the rest of the world will be hurt badly. Like a sick man in an ICU, as he stays there longer, first days, then weeks, the body will change. He will start losing weight, then lose muscle mass, followed by mental acuity. This wasting is what the world is experiencing now, where the economy is concerned. We only have so much in reserve, soon, everyone will feel the pinch if this drags on longer than anyone predicted. At this stage, so long as we see local outbreaks of COVID-19 somewhere around the world, the world will never go back to normal anytime soon.

Singapore Airshow 2020

The Singapore Airshow 2020 was the first such airshow that I ever had the chance of attending. The airshow happens once every two years, and the biggest names in the aerospace industry will gather in Singapore along side defence officials representing their home countries. There, they will set up various meetings and make multi-million dollar deals to buy and sell defence related items to the various governments. That’s mainly the purpose of the airshow in Singapore, touted as the biggest event in Asia.

As a sideshow, there are also a lot of military hardware proudly on display, such as helicopters, jet fighters, military airplanes and many more for the trade partners to exhibit as well as the public to enjoy, once the trade event is over.

However, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak happening around the world, (Singapore is not spared) the anticipated event is somewhat muted this time around. A number of companies and trade partners pulled out of the show in the interest of public health and safety and because of that, trade dealings were substantially less. Even the military aircraft that were supposed to be on display were significantly less than past events.

But still, as it was my first time to the show, I had a great time at the Singapore Airshow, gawking at the state-of-the-art fighter jets, military drones, military planes and even a live band performed by the US army. It was still overall, an impressive lineup of military hardware on display for the public to enjoy and take pictures with. Even I couldn’t pass up on the chance to take good shots of those planes and helicopters on my new X-Pro 3. I set my camera to Classic Chrome as my main film simulation mode on that day and stuck with that throughout my shoot. The results turned out fantastic. Despite the grueling hot weather, the skies were mostly clear and blue, great conditions to take photos with stark contrasts.

I thoroughly enjoyed my photo shoot of the event despite the hot weather. I was glad to have chosen Classic Chrome as my main mode of film simulation on that day. Somehow the pictures of the aircrafts that were on display looked stunning. Metals and grays on the surfaces of these fighter jets and planes look stunning against the blue hue of the clear sky. Personally it seems that Classic Chrome seems to be a good film simulation when taking photos of inanimate objects on a bright sunny day.

Although I cannot make direct comparisons, there were definitely less people attending this year’s airshow when previous years due to the Coronavirus outbreak happening around the region. It was a smooth experience getting on the shuttle bus from Expo to the Changi Exhibition center. There were no snaking queues to get on the bus. Even going back to Expo wasn’t difficult either. Sure, there were substantial crowd, but it was not to the point suffocating. I didn’t have much trouble getting my desired shots of the various planes on display without people all around ruining my shots.

Overall, I had a great time. My only complaint would be the hot afternoon weather.

For more pictures, you can click on the link here.

Leather Backpack

Last April, I went to the Coach flagship store in Manhattan. I was thrilled to be able to purchase the Metropolitan Briefcase. I was eyeing that briefcase many months before my highly anticipated trip to New York. It was significantly cheaper to buy Coach leather goods from the USA than it is to buy in Singapore. My bag cost 30% less than what it would have cost me, if I were to buy the same exact bag in Singapore. I was glad that I patiently held off on my purchase in Singapore, counting the days until my vacation to New York would officially begin.

I am still in love with this bag.

Fast forward 10 months, and the Metropolitan Briefcase is still my every day bag that I carry to work. I am still in love with this bag. The leather is rich and supple, made even more supple, now that I have been using this bag daily. The bag has been moulded to a particular shape based on how I used it, evolving into a unique look in addition to my daily work outfit. Essentially, the bag has its own personality and I am loving it.

I am very impressed by its overall craftsmanship that goes into making this bag. I have great respect to the Coach brand. Truly, the leather used is top notch, using refined pebble leather with excellent stitching with no discernible flaws. The bag is able to handle just about anything I throw at it, even in inclement weather. After using a leather bag this long, I finally understood the appeal of carrying a full leather bag such as a messenger, briefcase or backpack. If you have a good quality leather bag, it is pretty much guaranteed, that with proper basic care, the bag is going to last you a very long time. And I can see myself using this bag on a near daily basis for many years to come.

Lately though, I have been eyeing another type of leather bag. This time it is a backpack. I decided to get a backpack not because I am getting tired of using the Coach Metropolitan Briefcase, but because I want variety in how I carry my stuff to work everyday. There were moments where I realised how I wished I could carry my stuff around on both my shoulders rather than gripping with one hand (a briefcase) or slinging the strap over one of my shoulder (a messenger). I had several backpacks over the years that I used previously like the Aer backpack. I still have that backpack in my cupboard and it is still useful for outdoor activities. But for a workbag, I needed something more formal but not too formal. Classy, yet not too pretentious. Imperceptible, and not too loud, and yet be able to showcase to a discernible crowd. Knowing that a good leather bag could potentially serve you well for many years to come, I decided that my next backpack for work purposes would be a good quality leather backpack.

So over several months, I casually explored my options, taking my time to look at a variety of leather backpacks from all sorts of brand names.

It was only recently that one backpack suddenly caught my attention: the Dunhill Belgrave Backpack from their Belgrave collection.

Dunhill leather backpack from the Belgrave collection.

It initially caught my attention, that is true, but I wasn’t thrilled with the price at first. For such a simple looking bag, the price was beyond my budget range. But the longer I looked at it, the longer it was calling out for me. Like the Coach briefcase that I currently own, along side the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 that I recently purchased, these are things that I did not regret buying for one simple fact: It resonated strongly within me. These are the things that I come across that upon looking at it, I knew from deep inside my heart, that I just had to get it. And mind you, this is after the fact that I called for a downtime and to deliberately my purchase, for a couple of weeks, just to make sure that my purchasing decisions were simply not impulse buy that I will regret buying later. I made deliberate, slow decisions before taking the plunge. I used delay tactics, distraction tactics, logical tactics to make my case on whether something (especially big ticket items) was worth buying.

The briefcase, I still love using it till this day. I love the feel of the leather when I brush my fingers across the surface of the bag. The Fujifilm camera, I have been going out on photo shoots every now and then and every snapshot I took and every photo I edit thus far, I enjoyed every moment of it. These were right decisions.

The Dunhill Belgrave Backpack is made of supple small-grain leather and the buckle is engraved using Engine Turn engraving. It comes in black and brown, but I prefer the black. This bag is calling out to me. The price is a stickler. S$2600 for a backpack. That is honestly excessive. But then again, this is Dunhill, a brand from London, with the leather goods made in Italy. I have not applied my delay tactic just yet. If I were to get it, I will probably get it in a couple of weeks time. Delay tactic, distraction tactic, I am going to use all manner to tactics and strategies to not think about the bag for a while and revisit it again in a few weeks to see if my purchasing decision was simply just an impulse buy (just because something looks shiny and new) or this is a genuine buy for me. This is a purchasing decision that cannot be made lightly, because of the huge investments needed just to get a backpack. But it’s calling out for me every single day.

Merlion park in times of coronavirus outbreak

As you know, Singapore is in a midst of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak with over 70 people infected as of today. While the spread of the virus is not as severe or far reaching as that of China, Singapore has imposed travel limitations to anyone coming to Singapore from China. This has terrible consequences to the tourism industry in Singapore.

I was at the Merlion Park one weekend to gauge for myself how severely impacted Singapore is to the effects of the Coronavirus, especially the number of tourists visiting Singapore this part month or so. Because of the travel limitations imposed, there is definitely a significant decrease in tourism arrivals, especially when Chinese tourists make up the bulk of visits to Singapore as a holiday destination.

I took pictures of the Merlion Park with my new X-Pro 3 and noted the drop in the number of visitors in the areas. It was a blessing for me, as I was able to take pictures of the Merlion without much interference. It was overall, a pleasant picture-taking experience. Although I must add, that the Merlion, if it was a real creature, would have been sad to see so few visitors coming to Singapore to take pictures with him in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak.