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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cheap Tablets are Never Good

Everyone secretly wants an iPad. No matter what people say, they would gladly take and use a free iPad, if given one. Unfortunately for most people, an iPad's price is not reasonable enough. Corporations know this and have taken advantage of this market, thanks to Google's open-source operating system, Android.

A co-worker at work asked me to take a look at her Coby Kyros MID1125 tablet because it won't turn on for her. She told me about how she bought this tablet about two years ago and it worked for about a week then suddenly stopped. She said she contacted Coby to get a replacement, but Coby told her that she'd have to pay $15 and ship it herself to get a replacement. She never went through with it because it wasn't worth it to her. But since meeting me, she felt like maybe I could fix it for her. I agreed and took it home tonight.

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret of mine, but when people come to me with issues with their electronics, I usually first Google (Bing) the device's name, model number and/or name, and the issue I'm experiencing. Unfortunately...there's not a lot of information on this particular tablet model and many more Coby tablets like it. No manuals, and not much other information such as rooting, but lots of people with similar stories like my co-workers'. It's really aggravating, to be honest.

I found a lot of other people who are seeing the same issues with their Coby tablets and them just not turning on. There's a reset button on a lot of these tablets that's supposed to fix issues like this, but it does no good for me or many others seeing these issues. Knowing about Android devices and button combinations, I tried a few button combos as well as long-pressing buttons for 5+ minutes with zero luck. I'm guessing the issue must be hardware-related and my friend said I could open it, so I opened it.

Boy oh boy...by looking at the price tag on these things (not cheap cheap, but cheap for tablets), I wasn't expecting a top of the line processor or other hardware, but mannnnn, this is some straight up garbage! Wires are taped all over the place, with stationary tape, no less, old, sticky glue stuck all over the place and my hands, a battery that's soldered onto the board...just crap on top of crap on top of crap...

Feeling sorry for my friend, I decided that I'd personally see if Coby would make an exception and give her a replacement for free. I was going to raise hell even for a 2 year old device because I think their business standards are pretty crummy. I Bing'd "Coby" and came up with, what appears to be their official website, www.cobyusa.com only to find this:
There's absolutely nothing else on the page except this logo. No links, nothing. And after inspecting the webpage, there's no other designs or links, even hidden in the page. So I did some extra digging.

I came on this news website that had some shocking details for me about the company: http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/coby-electronics-warranties-now-worthless
I suppose that it's not entirely shocking or surprising, but it was pretty disappointing. A company as disgusting as this was allowed to just go away under bankruptcy and leave all of these disappointed customers with broken devices and no hope of any reimbursement or replacement. Another company buys the brand name but doesn't have any obligation to take over the concerns and complaints of the prior company.

Coby isn't the only company out there like this. There are many more companies out there making cheap tablets and poor design and quality isn't the only concern, unfortunately.

Over the past holiday after Thanksgiving came Black Friday and Cyber Monday which are supposed to offer great deals on various products. Many of these products were cheap tablets from makers like Coby and it seemed like each of these stores had their own cheap brand.

News media outlets got wind of the news and spread it like wildfire during the two deal-days. One of the other concerns besides these being poor quality devices is that they also pose security risks. Not to sound discriminatory, but a lot of these cheap tablets are made in China and Chinese electronic devices aren't known to be made well or to be trustworthy in not containing some sort of malicious software like adware that either spams you with advertisements and/or attempts to steal your identity. It's the price you pay for a cheap device. The company feels like they need to make their money back and then some.

The next time I see my co-worker, I'd like to recommend to her, and to anyone else considering these cheap devices: do not purchase these. Save up for a more decent one or choose to safely buy a used device from Craigslist. And if you do buy a cheap device, use it cautiously and don't rely too heavily on it. Use it just for gaming and light web browsing. Do not ever use it to log on to your bank account, to make any purchases of any kind, and I wouldn't even recommend you to log into any e-mail accounts or even social media websites like Facebook.

The cheap tablets were a nice idea to help customers who want an iPad but can't afford the price tag, but the execution is extremely flawed and ends up hurting these people who just wanted a little premium entertainment.

Monday, November 24, 2014

[Review] Far Cry 4 (PS4) (Single Player campaign only)

(I will not be discussing multiplayer and the map editor in this review. This review only discusses the single player campaign of the game.)

A little background before I begin this review, I have played Far Cry 1 and 2 on Xbox 360 and Far Cry 3 on Xbox 360 and PC. I want to get that out there so you guys can understand a little bit more about how I will go about reviewing this. I will be reviewing it based a lot on how it steps up the game on its previous installments more so than how it plays as a game in general.

Also, before I begin, I would love to thank Sony for allowing use PlayStation 4 users to be able to upload gameplay videos and pictures very easily without additional, expensive software/hardware! This is, the first?, console game review that I'll be able to do including pictures and videos from the actual game thanks to software within the PS4 that allows gamers to do so.

Lately, it's sad but game developers and publishers release one solid game and then release a bunch of sequels to that game that should really be released as $30 DLCs, not full length games that they charge users $60 for. When Ubisoft began to unleash trailers and teasers for the newest installment in their Far Cry series, I assumed this would be just another one of those cheap releases to get some extra cash out of gamers hungry for new action. I was wrong and right. Allow me to explain.

In the beginning of the game, I felt like this game was just an expensive DLC for Far Cry 3. There didn't seem to be too many new additions nor anything else except a new map and a few new ways to play in the FC universe. But me, enjoying FC3, continued playing to see what else was in store. My initial perception was absolutely wrong.

Graphics wise, the game does not meet expectations many of us had expected of the title. Being the first title in the Far Cry series on a next gen system, we'd assume it would take advantage of this new hardware; however, sadly, it doesn't seem to be much better than Far Cry 3. Take a look for yourself below.


Now, of course, do keep in mind that there will be a difference depending on the screen that you are viewing this picture on versus how it appears within the game. Also, keep in mind that I am using the PS4 version and that the Xbox One and PC versions may have differences too.

I took this picture in the way that it is to show you how human NPCs (non-playable character), the scenery, and shadows all play together. Unfortunately, it appears that the screenshot did not capture what I had seen on the screen in terms of shadows. As I had seen on the television, the gun had a shadow over half of it and light over the other half to show how detailed the shadows would be. But it seems that the PlayStation 4 was not able to capture this in a screenshot for me. The same is true of the videos I will show you as well. Playing them on the PlayStation 4 as a video versus actually playing the game shows that the quality has been degraded most likely to keep the file size small and allow for as long of a time as it can. I have not found a way to change the quality as I wouldn't mind to take up some space just for the best quality for reviews so please forgive me.

Far Cry 3 did set the record for me, personally, in terms of water texture. In many games, it seems so difficult for developers to capture the true beauty of water. Even in superb games like the Grand Theft Auto series, it seems that they can get everything to look amazing except when it comes to water. Far Cry 3 was the only game to convince me the most that there was actual water in front of me. Far Cry 4 does an even better job at creating lovely water effects.

The quality of the sound with the water also has been done exceptionally well. I noticed the sounds of footprints as I walked from forest into a swampy areas into water. The sounds are extremely accurate when you pay attention to the detail. The squish sounds different with each step taken. One true difference from many other games I've witnessed. The gun physics play nicely as well as did in FC3.

Driving behind the wheel of vehicles feels much better than in FC3. Here are some screenshots and a video detailing two of the vehicles, a truck and dune buggy, and fighting with some of the local scumbags of the Royal Army.








The game's mechanics have been improved when it comes to combat. Players are given many new options to use in addition to the many others that Far Cry has been known for and what Far Cry 3 had introduced to gamers two years ago.

I'd be wrong to not highlight that this game finally allows players to deal damage to enemies from behind the wheel. In the video below, you can see a bit of the action as I fight off some enemies while driving and flying. It was one of the things that I wanted most of FC3 because it just seemed so odd to have never been introduced into the game in the first place.

In the first video, we see the newly introduced vehicle, the helicopter and how it's used.

The helicopter was in all of the previous Far Cry games; however, players were never given the option to fly one until this game showed up. The helicopter seen in Far Cry 3 is seen in this one; however, a smaller helicopter, piloted by one person, seems to be the only available one to players looking to fly across Kyrat. Perhaps we'll see new ones in DLCs? ;)

In addition to using a helicopter, I also demonstrate how a player can fight ground units and also die from the helicopter.



I guess you could call them vehicles, but they're back from Far Cry 3. The parachute and wingsuit make appearances in this game as well.



What I love most about these is that they are available to the player from the start of the game. My, how it was annoying to wait so long to be able to "fly" through the map. Ubisoft finally got it and made it available to players from the start of the game...for a fee, of course. In the game's digital currency. It's not a DLC either, thank God.

Far Cry 4 has your standard vehicles too, of course, as I had mentioned earlier but with two twists. I showed you guys the combat from a helicopter earlier, but now here's a video demonstrating the combat from car to car.


As you guys already saw, the game also uses a new system that allows for "auto-pilot" which is, you guessed right, allowing the player to move from one point on the map to another without having to actually drive themselves. This is good for many reasons. One such is that the map is sometimes so huge that it can literally take you hours to go from one end to another especially if you need to get a vehicle from one point to another. There is fast travel, but it doesn't work if you need to take a vehicle with you. Another reason is that it makes vehicular combat much more easier because now you don't have to be focused on the road. Instead, you can focus your entire attention on the person you're trying to kill! While unrealistic, I have found the auto-pilot function to be quite helpful.

As can be seen in the video, the downside is that auto-pilot, while safe, is slower than what you're used to driving if you drive yourself. It is safer because you can go around corners knowing you won't fly off the road and that it will get you somewhere, but it's not so great for catching up to people, trying to get away from something, or trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

I honestly don't know what to classify this under, but the game has elephants that you can ride (after upgrading one of your skills).


The poor guy was killed shortly after this video was taken :/ Although, fear not! I avenged his death :)

In addition to the combat between humans, there is also combat between humans and animals and animals and animals.

A good game will allow players the opportunity to not only engage in the world before them but to also sometimes take a minute to sit back and watch things unfold on their own. This is why Grand Theft Auto and Watch_Dogs are so entertaining for some players. They enjoy the thrill of exploring a world and seeing what's going on around them. Far Cry 4 has that for gamers.

It's not uncommon to be strolling through the trees and to suddenly hear gunfire in a particular direction. If you have enabled surround sound, your ears will be blown away and you'll know exactly where to go to catch the action that's unfolding on the other side of the map. Often times, you may be called upon to help the rebels fight off guards or some sort of animal or even the cries of a civilian who's being attacked by a wild animal. Helping these people will yield you some points towards the Karma system within the game which I'll dig into in a minute. But first, I wanted to highlight some of the action between humans and animals.

As was the case in Far Cry 3, players are encouraged to hunt prey. However, in FC3, it was more so for the thrill, prize, and to craft usable items for the character. In Far Cry 4, players now hunt for more such as getting bait to hunt other animals. Any animal that is killed and skinned (I believe Demon Fish and other fish are excluded from this) leaves behind skin as well as bait for the player to use.



Unfortunately, if you want to hunt non-carnivorous animals like pigs, it doesn't look like there's any sort of bait to lure them in. Instead, you just have to rely on your old fashioned ways to catch them. I am really puzzled by what I captured in this next video.



In the video below, I have a little bit of fun and use a Light Machine Gun to hunt two of the toughest animals in the game. In the video, you can also see how the world affects the player in attacking him at will and without much notice.



Honestly, there is so much to do in this game and I haven't even covered half of what's going on! I've barely done any of the story but I've taken over much of the map and still have a long way to go. I covered the most important parts that I found most interesting, but there is a lot more that I have yet to do and a lot more that may be more interesting to you.

I'd like to leave you guys with one last video that I'm proud of myself for and that's of me taking down Varshakot without being detected. Along with regular outposts, FC4 introduced players to fortresses which are a bit more complicated to conquer. The game recommends that players only attempt the fortress if they've gone through the campaign, but I wasn't ready for that so I went ahead and tried my luck and did it. I guess it may be helpful to some who are having difficulties not completing it.


Overall, I love the game. I would definitely recommend it to others. In the 13+ hours of playing the game, I've come to see it as more than what I originally thought of it. It's got a lot of new features and new things that make it a much different game than Far Cry 3. I have a difficult time justifying the $60 price because it honestly does feel a bit like a more complicated DLC for Far Cry 3. I suppose that's because this is the same engine with some new additions. The game is good, definitely a favorite for me and one that I'll invest lots of time into.

I apologize for not being able to discuss multiplayer. I don't have any friends that own a PS4 and Far Cry 4 yet so it's kinda difficult to do. I also was unable to discuss the other multiplayer parts and the map editor because I've been focusing all of my time on the single player. The map editor was fun and was something that is a nice edition for console players much like the one included for my Far Cry 1 & 2 disc for the Xbox 360.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanks, Bing

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit hungry with some friends and none of us really wanted to pay for some food cause we're broke (the holiday season coming up, yatta yatta) so we all decided pizza sounded good. I remembered that I could redeem my Bing Rewards points and get some coupons for money at Domino's Pizza and that's exactly what we did.

I had a little over 2,000 points available to be used and since I'm a gold member, I only used 1,900 points which equaled to $20. At the end of everything that we got, I only ended up paying a little more than $2 for tax. We were able to get one large 3 topping pizza, one order of bread sticks, two dipping sauces, and a 2 liter drink. And today, I still had enough left over for 2 $5 gift cards at Burger King!

To be like me and see how this program works, head on over to http://www.bing.com/ and click in the upper right hand corner for Bing Rewards. There, you can sign up for a Facebook and/or Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail/etc. account to get started. In the beginning, getting points becomes quick and fast, but after some time, you accumulate points mostly by just getting online everyday and searching whatever is trending to keep your points and gold membership up. Every 2 searches, you acquire 1 point. Some special searches will yield you 1 point too. Bing also does special giveaways where doing an action like sharing them on Facebook or Twitter will get you 25-200 points.

There are other cool redeemable gifts there as well which can range from other gift cards at popular places like GameStop, Amazon, Sephora, and even the Microsoft Store. You can also enter giveaways for things like Xbox Ones or Nokia smartphones or even use your points to donate to charities.

I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get free stuff every now and then. I mostly use mine for Xbox points or gift cards when I'm a little broke. It works well and is great because you sometimes forget they're there! But take advantage of the system while it's still here because who knows how much longer they'll keep doing this. As I've always said before, remember that this isn't something that will make you rich, just something to add to whatever you have. It may be useful for one of those days you're buying something and don't want to use your money.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dragon Age: Inquisition PC Review - 9.7/10

"What?! Not a perfect score? This is a travesty!" "Well obviously they didn't give the game a perfect score! They don't want to be fanboy/girling!"
These are things people may say about my review and they are... somewhat justified. I'd like to say first off I've only played a few hours of the game. I did not get a review copy so I had to get it at release. To ensure I receive as much traffic and views for this review, I am only able to do so many hours. Also, I have to sleep before work, so stop whining. In any case, I believe the first few hours of a game really defines whether you will like it or not. Suffice it to say, yes I do like this game. What stops it from being perfect? Read below to find out yourself.

The Good:
The game is beautiful of course, though I didn't see much of it. My PC is about average with about 8 gigs of RAM and a video card that is somewhat outdated. What I have seen I can say without a doubt there was a lot of work put into the visuals. Not only in the sense they look pretty but also have a nice finish to them. Unfortunately, on my PC anything with a sort of sheen or glimmer or reflection comes out looking like oil. This isn't a terrible thing until you consider most of the armor and yes even faces. Not only faces but the hairs of every character I've come across makes it look as though they'd taken an oil bath prior to any conversation with me. This strangely doesn't apply to the cut scenes in which all characters look as they should. Another weird thing is colors. Casandra in my game has purple hair but in cut scenes its the normal black. Minor issues that don't really detract from the game. Its one of those games that makes me want to go out and get a new video card.
Combat is excellent. I chose two classes, Rouge and Mage, and both feel completely different while still being easily accessible. Mage does his far away thing while a Rouge can be sneaky melee while at the same time be ranged as well. The fact that you can chose between what to specialize in with certain classes is a definite plus for me, as I can be an archer or a dagger wielder should I choose and can switch at nearly any time. Combat is quick, decisive and easy to navigate while at the same time holding a surprising amount of depth.
The environments are really expansive. I also like the added ability to jump about, which may not seem like much but in terms of getting about it definitely makes things easier. One of the major things that frustrated me in the previous games were those small walls or even fences/gates. Minor nuisances out of combat but in it could mean death as a cheap enemy snipes your team while you struggle to run around.
I know it seems simple, but there's a button that allows you to search for items. Sounds weird, but it is a useful addition that I like. Pressing the V button sends out a ping that tells you items are near. Time was you had to search about. Now, I can easily know whether to look or move on.

The Bad:
The game is buggy. Sure. Just about every game that comes out is somewhat buggy but when it becomes annoying is when it messes with my quests. I tried to talk to a quest giver and POOF, just vanished. I walked around for a bit and they reappeared. Not long after, I took a quest, finished it and went back to the giver. However, I couldn't gain the reward. I decided it was time to go to bed so I saved it and suddenly she decided to acknowledge me. Quests and combat are the bread and butter of RPGs. If you don't have them, then you don't have an RPG in the traditional sense. If these two mechanics are broken, then you might as well not play the game at all. That being said, this problem can always be patched in the future.
If I have one advice for you PC players, its to not use the internet during this. Sounds weird, but trust me. When I first tried to play, it took about ten seconds to log into the network. Alright. Something wrong happened and I had to quit out. When I came back, that log in took a minute and then crashed the game. Isolated incident? I would have thought so too, until it happened three more times. Took a minute, game crashed. When I turned off the internet, suddenly it worked fine. I've been told EA's servers are not the greatest. I think the SimCity debacle can show us all that. Again, this can be patched, but its a scar or a stain on this game for the time being.

The Meh:
Minor nip pick here but its a good one. I was a preorderor (pre-order-er?) so I got all the fancy bits and bobs for my added Deluxe edition. So... pray tell, why is it that when I pick up a cool set of armor and staff, I find a better staff within a few minutes. 2 minutes if I had to be exact. And no, I wasn't in the overworld or didn't just defeat the boss of all bosses. I got into the town before the part in the story where the Inquisition is finally formed at the Chantry. Instead of being a good little player and continuing the story, I started to look around. Then I found just a staff around the cells which had a higher damage. Later, about an hour later, I found a piece of armor to trump my newest fanciest dragon armor. I'm kind of tired of buying optional DLC armor that's not as good as other armor a few seconds later. I know there shouldn't be that much of an advantage over other players but at least give me the incentive to actually want to buy more DLC weapons and armor, maybe?
In Dragon Age: Origins, race and where you came from meant something... unless you were a mage, then off to the same place with you. There was a difference between being a city elf and a dalish, a human noble and... whatever the other option was I didn't really care to find out. In this game you're just... you. I wanted to be a city elf mage (so I could make the Chantry as annoyed as possible, of course) but not only was I forced into being a dalish but I couldn't even get rid of the tattoo on my face. Basically all that separates the dalish from the city elves in terms of visual look is basically a Mike Tyson-esque face tattoo... which I'm not too fond of. Your character always starts out in the same place. No more introductory quest to get you up to speed on who, what and where you are and how you fit into this. Its minor because the game is good and I can tell it wants to tell a cohesive story, so I can let it slide.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a melding of the two previous games. Unfortunately a few details got left off in some of the previous games. Minor things that I wish were back such as being a diverse character in the world. It is an excellent game, one I will continue playing and it is definitely worth the price of admission. It is a love letter to the RPG genre in a whole and definitely both a match for the great games Bioware has made and a testament to their story telling prowess. I look forward to picking apart this game to find out every secret and ending I can.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fantasy Life 3DS Review - 8.5/10

Everyone once in a while I pick up a game and it changes what I think of to be as my worst game ever. A while ago, the newest contender for that title was on this very same system. Its strange when I can have the opposite feeling. A game I never heard of despite it being at full price and I just so happen to be lucky enough to pick it up while browsing the shelves at Best Buy.

The Good:
This game is an RPG. I love RPGs. This game has a crafting system. I'm not too fond of crafting systems, yet this gets me. First off, there are 12 classes in total. What may surprise you is that only four of these classes are for combat, which means 8 are for crafting only. You have a Paladin (sword/shield), Mercenary (greatsword), Hunter (bow) and of course the wizard (magic). What's really novel about this is the fact you never have to kill a monster... kind of. See if you just want to be a crafter, ya you can do that. Of course, some ingredients and other things only come from monsters but these things can be easily bought in one of the shops. I remember a lot of times my mom asking me, "Why are all your video games violent?" Its sort of weird to see a game that can let me play without ever having to take a life. Sure, you can become a hunter or a trader in Skyrim, but ultimately that proves fruitless considering that you will eventually need to go and kill more things and sell their stuff. Can you also make money as a fisherman? A carpenter? A cook or even a tailor in Skyrim? My point is, this game has what so many other RPGs lack: possibility. Of course I'm not going to be just this one thing, I'm going to try everything. But its nice to see that I can try to be something out of the norm. Is it on the same depth as Skyrim? Obviously not. But still, you have to admit you can't remember the last time where killing in an RPG wasn't the main mechanic. Its like Recettear if the main game was more focused on the shop, but you could also go kill monsters if you wanted to. Basically, its nice to see that the nonviolent route is a possible route.
I don't know why but I like this game's art style. Its nothing to write home about but it serves its purpose. Making it look different from other games so it stands out and has a fair amount of options so I'm not just having to choose between only a few options for a character.
Classes all feel different. Of course they have their own gear and everything, but what's really cool is mixing. Unlike most games, you can be every class at once... kind of. The game 'unlocks' certain skills. So now my Alchemist that I started out with now can mine, tailor and chop wood, while I have my choice of what weapons I want to use. I can switch out any weapon at a time by this point which is really nice. Even my favorite game, Dragon's Dogma, didn't even let me do that. On top of it, if I ever want to use a certain skill from another class I can and there's not really any penalty. Of course, each class is better at certain things because each gets a boost when you are that class, so I don't have to feel bad leveling up my intelligence to a high level while being a paladin because that skill adds to my potion making or dexterity for daggers because that also goes into tailoring. So I'm not beating myself over the fact that I chose to raise a certain skill because they all add to one skill or another.

The Meh:
The combat is... serviceable. Its nothing super amazing or even great, it just works. Its like eating a rice cracker when you're hungry. Not anything special, but it fills the place.
I'm not super loving how crafting works. Each time you want to craft something, you play a little minigame... and that's fine, its just not my thing. Its simple and distracting so its not bad and at least I can see and know I've done bad if I fail at this simplistic minigame rather than hoping that it just comes out good.
The story is... passable. I'm not that far through it but I can see when two annoying characters are going to stick around or if the story is going to make any impact. Bravely Default was sort of the same way. I kept clicking through the dialogue just to get back to the game. I really don't care what these magical stones are that fell out of the sky or who keeps talking during these white out screens, just let me get back to crafting.

Perfect? No. Great? Close. Good? Definitely. An interesting game I don't hate myself for picking up which is a good thing. Maybe not at its current price, but if you see it you should definitely give it a go. I'm pleasantly surprised and currently playing it right now. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll become a cook now, or maybe a fisherman.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Here!



I was about as happy as Sid from Toy Story to see that beautiful white package from UPS yesterday.

Indeed, like Sid's "Big One" rocket, the "Big One" iPhone 6+ arrived and I have been extremely enthused with it.

In purchasing an iPhone 6 Plus, I also made a change from Sprint to T-Mobile. I visited a few cities yesterday and the quality of the T-Mobile network truly showed throughout the entire day. The LTE speeds are phenomenal and I lost LTE for a minute but only to find that T-Mobile's "4G" network was available which was just as sufficient for tasks such as YouTube videos with little to no buffering. Unlike the Sprint network which was extremely spotty throughout much of Southern California and embarrassingly slow speeds on 3G, T-Mobile is a breath of fresh air.

Not only the superior data speeds and coverage, but I also noticed a huge difference in my voice call's quality.

Due to the iPhone 6+ as well as new technology provided through T-Mobile, there is a huge difference between it and my iPhone 5 on Sprint in terms of voice quality. The other person on the end of the phone was crystal clear. Although the quality is not as clear as being directly beside someone in person, the call is much more clear. Being on a fast WiFi network also contributed to this great quality; however, while out and about on T-Mobile's network, I also saw [heard] great quality calls there as well.

I waited close to 8 weeks for this device to come to me. Was it worth it? Most definitely.

This is, perhaps, the shortest review I've ever written, not very detailed either, but I just wanted to stop by very quickly and give props to this device and T-Mobile's network. I wanted people to know that the wait is, indeed, worth it especially if switching from a network like Sprint to T-Mobile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

6 Weeks and Counting...

On September 19, 2014, the, perhaps, biggest launch of the year occurred with the Apple iPhone 6 and its larger variant, the 6 Plus. Apple knew that it would be in high demand for two main reasons. One, it introduced a larger screened iPhone that could directly compete with Android fans who've been enjoying larger screens for many years. And two, it is the next true release in the iPhone line whereas the 5S that came out last year was a game-changer for the iPhone in having a Touch-ID sensor as well as a 64-bit processor, but it was still not a true step up from the iPhone 5 that came the year before.

On this day, I went to one of our local malls and while I waited for the mechanics to change my oil, I popped into the nearby T-Mobile store to sign up and hopefully receive my iPhone 6 Plus that I'd been craving for a while.

Much earlier in the day, I had noticed long lines outside of lots of T-Mobile stores as well as other carriers for people waiting to get their hands on one of the few iPhones in stock. It was much later in the day and I assumed that the lines would have died down, but that wasn't the case. The line was filled with at least 15 people before me and I was turned away at first because one of the associates assumed I wanted the iPhone 6 Plus today or never. But I was willing to wait a reasonable time so that I could get a new phone and leave Sprint for a better network.

I signed up, ran my credit, was approved, and told that my wait would take 8 weeks from that date. During that time, I kept checking to see if the time had been cut. On T-Mobile's website on both the iPhone pricing and in their forums by some of their admins, I had been told that the wait was now cut down to 6 weeks for those like me who were waiting for the iPhone 6 Plus 64 GB space grey edition. 6 weeks from my purchase date would have been October 31, 2014 and I, indeed, did wait patiently. I am not able to check my status online as I don't currently have a T-Mobile account, so I was forced to call and ask representatives. On these occasions, they, too, informed me that my phone should be shipped by October 31, 2014. I waited but received nothing on October 31. No e-mail, no phone, nothing. So I called on November 1, 2014 late in the evening to inquire about my order. I was put on hold for 20 minutes and I suspect because many others were also calling about their orders. When I finally got in touch with a representative, she informed me that my order was still in backorder and that she had no other information on my order at the time but anticipated that things should change within 48 hours. I waited the additional 48 hours and called again.

This time, a man answered and asked how he could help. I, again, asked about my order and he informed me that there was no new information and that my phone was still on backorder. He also made a comment, "Gee, I see that you've been calling quite a bit about this order." I simply giggled but deep down I couldn't help but think, "Uh yeah, I ordered this device 6 weeks ago and have seen NOTHING but promises of new dates again and again."

After my phone call, I looked up some forums of others who were waiting for their phones. I even noticed that people had ordered the same exact phone that I did, directly from T-Mobile like I had, on the day AFTER I ordered mine and they already have shipping dates. My order is still in backorder with no shipping date or anything, yet T-Mobile has time to ship other people's devices who ordered AFTER me?? Is that not ridiculous?

So, I sit and continue waiting for this device. I also keep "bugging" T-Mobile with these phone calls because I'm not wanting to receive my new phone and then I've got to pay for another month with Sprint because I didn't cancel in time or I canceled too early and now I have no phone.

So T-Mobile and Apple: what's the true status of my order? Is it coming or not?

Update November 6, 2014:
I called T-Mobile tonight and the representative was much different than one I had previously spoken with.

While the previous rep seemed to be bothered that I called so frequently, this rep was apologetic on behalf of T-Mobile. He informed me that T-Mobile's estimated wait time was 6 weeks and proceeded to count the weeks. Once he had seen that my wait was over 6 weeks, he was shocked and even exclaimed, "Wow." and proceeded to apologize multiple times. I told him that it's fine, it's only a phone, but he disagreed and stated that he was disappointed in his company making a promise they were unable to keep. To show how much he felt for my situation, he offered to pay for my shipping costs and also credited my account with $20 just for being patient.

My thanks go out to the representatives who act in this manner and treat customers with so much respect. Admittedly, I had been thinking of sticking with Sprint for another two years or canceling my order and trying my luck with an Apple Store. Either route would have resulted in loss revenue to T-Mobile and the company owes a lot to people like this who make me, as a customer, feel especially welcomed and considerate of my feelings instead of being defensive for the company.

Update November 8, 2014:
I awoke this morning to find that my credit card had been charged and a T-Mobile e-mail in my inbox telling me that my iPhone 6+ has been shipped.

Actually, I found a little trick for anyone who's waiting...if you check your statements and find that your card has been charged, you might be able to go to UPS' website and check the status of our order. Try this:

1. Go to http://www.ups.com/ Once there, type in some random number in the box for tracking and click "track". I did 12345











2. You will now bring up this screen.











3. Click on the bottom part for "Track by Reference"










4. In the part where it says, "Shipment Reference", type in your T-Mobile number and it may show the status of your order. However, while you receive your "shipping number" before it has been officially given to you, it will probably just tell you something like "A UPS shipping label has been created. Once the shipment arrives at our facility, the tracking status--including the scheduled delivery date--will be updated."

I found this out yesterday before T-Mobile e-mailed me this morning with the shipping number. I used the number they had given me and it too says the same thing as above. However, the e-mail itself says I should receive my phone by Monday, November 10, 2014. I'm wondering if that representative upped me to over-night shipping as well because I was told it usually takes 7-10 days once I get the email.

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