Thursday, October 6, 2011

RC supplier review - Hobbyking

I am kind of new to the RC plane hobby, I have had RC cars when I was a kid and then more recently I had a brief and very expensive foray into RC helicopters.
A couple of months ago I decided to try RC planes, I got a simulator from eBay and after about 10 hours sim time I went out with my first plane, any I'm digressing now this is a supplier review.

After looking around and various suppliers and having a disastrous transaction with wheelspin models I found Hobbyking, I was very happy with their prices and they had a European warehouse based in Germany.

I was getting excited about the German warehouse, so I clicked on the "DE Warehouse" icon then searched for the plane I was after the "Bixler" (otherwise known as the skysurfer) and found it, I was surprised to see EMS shipping form Germany but never the less placed my order, only to be advised that my item was a JIT item, I was a bit confused so I searched some forums, JIT items are items located in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere in China, they are then shipped to another warehouse in China then shipped out to the customer!

It takes between 3-5 days to get from the JIT warehouse to the front end warehouse then about 5 days to put the order in another box to ship, after that it usually takes 3 days to arrive in the UK.

So after 11 days my express order that I thought was coming from Germany finally turned up :-)

I was very happy with the plane! It really fly's nicely and is a great first plane, see my review on youtube.

I went on to order a few more items including a G-OSD(review) and a Video TX kit(review), this is where things start to get a lot worse, I had the same problem again with the appalling  delay in shipping an order on their premium shipping level, but once the items arrived I found more problems, the G-OSD only works for 3-5 mins before crashing and although an excellent item the Video TX is 3 times heavier than listed.

I contacted Hobbyking's customer service about the faulty G-OSD unit, they advised me I would have to send the item back via recorded delivery at my cost and I would only receive the item cost back if they found a fault. The return cost would be about what I would get back if the item was refunded so it wasn't worth the hassle.

Hobbyking is a good site, however when buying bear in mind that ANY problems and you will have to send the item back at YOUR cost! and nothing will arrive quickly, even if you use express shipping!

I managed to send an email prior to writing this blog post to the Managing director of Hobbyking, Anthony Hand, this got passed on to the Product manager Ben Everton and the Customer Services Manager Leason.

Ben was really quick to get back to me to get details on the problems I mentioned, the G-OSD and the Video TX kit. the Video TX kit has been rectified already which is fantastic and he has contacted the manufacturer to get to the bottom of the problems.

Shortly after I received a mail from Leason the CS manager asking for details about the problems I have had with my previous orders, I have advised Leason and I am awaiting a reply,

24 hours still no reply from the CS manager, though from the tone of their message I don't think they were really that bothered, well time will tell.

Typical about 10 mins after my update the CS manager emailed me back, however nothing worth discussing really just a lot of excuses. See below the email below :-

"Hi Steve,
I have look into your order and I am happy to clarify with you the order process of your purchases. I am quite sure that after this clarification, you will have a much better understand on the order process. We understand that when a customer purchase an item from us, they would want to get their hands on them ASAP. So we strive to target our warehouse staffs to have the orders dispatch from our warehouse within 48 hours. Please understand that sometimes warehouse do suffer from backlogs due to high volume of orders/holidays, we cannot always achieve this target.
However, during peak time, we do have staffs working around the clock to process the thousands of orders we may have. To avoid confusion, we clearly state this on our FAQ page:
Orders are packed and posted from 9am-5pm, Monday to Saturday. The time in Hong Kong right now is: 4:59:36 PM
Provided your products are in stock & we are not experiencing unusually high order volumes, the package will be sent within 48hrs except for weekends.
It happens so that your order 32xxxxx was placed on the China National Day. Where the China warehouse had a 5 days holiday. This along with an additional day off due to a Typhoon 8 was the major reason of why the order was not process in the normal transit time as we target. At the moment your order is being pick. The JIT item has left the China warehouse which should arrive to HK in 1-2 days. As we have a backlog of orders from the holiday break, your patience and understanding of this delay will be much appreciated. We do and we will work hard to have your order ship out ASAP. I will have a customer service to help follow up on your order. and get you an updated status. Our system will send you a dispatch email once the order has been posted."

More details to follow as I have them

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S not iPhone 5!

With the recent departure of the face of Apple, Steve Jobs, and the appointment of Tim Cook I was expecting a lot of effort to have gone in to the iPhone and ios 5.0 to try to disprove the claims that jobs leaving will end Apple's dominance.

Myself along with many of those attending the "lets talk about iPhone" conference were astounded that the new iPhone 4S was not much of an improvement over the iPhone 4, it reminds me of the launch of the iPad 2, a lot of hype for what essentially didn't amount to much.

Although I don't really consider myself an Apple fanboy, I am definitely an advocate for iProducts! however I wont be rushing out to get the new iPhone, after chatting with my colleagues I haven't heard one good thing said about the 4S, the word I hear most often is "Disappointed" I will be surprised if the pre order "sells-out" like the iPhone 4 did.

Differences between iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S

                                                                                iPhone 4                              iPhone 4S
Processor                                                                      A4                                 Dual core A5
Siri (voice recognition)                                                   No                                        Yes
Camera                                                                        5Mp                                      8Mp
Video                                                                      720p 30fps                           1080p 30fps
Video stabilisation                                                          No                                        Yes
Talktime                                                                    7 hours                                    8 hours
Standby time                                                            300 hours                               200 hours

I don't think you will notice the dual core A5 chips benefits unless you use your iPhone for gaming, its disappointing to see Siri not supported on the iPhone 4 once its upgraded to ios 5.0 but its not a huge deal.

Anyone that's really into cameras will tell you it's not all about Megapixels! however the 1080p capabilities are nice but I doubt the video stabilisation will be the envy of iPhone 4 users.

One thing that surprised me was the standby time, it looks like the iPhone 4S has taken a backwards step, only offering 2/3 of the iPhone 4!

All in all a real let down and not a very good start for Tim's first solo launch.