Category Archives: Gadgets

My Best Purchases-Nuphy Air75v2

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Nuphy Air75v2 mechanical keyboard which has completely overhauled my typing experience.

The story is that I was looking for a keyboard for my iPad, leaning towards the Magic Keyboard. But it seemed too expensive for what it was offering. Simultaneously, I had some allowance to spend from my office on ergonomic peripherals. One day, both these things clicked together and I decided to buy a wireless mechanical keyboard.

I tried a Keychron keyboard but didn’t like it much because the key travel was too deep and the colours pretty drab. Eventually, Ashish suggested Nuphy via a proxy and I decided to buy the Air75v2.

Nuphy Air75v2 at office
Nuphy Air75v2 at office

It turned out to be one of the best purchases ever. I never knew typing could be such a pleasurable experience, but now it is.

The keys are solid, the travel is not too deep and the feedback is just amazing. I love typing on it so much, I even took up extra documentation at work. I have the wisteria keys which don’t have an audible click but do have a noticeable thump.

iPad with Nuphy Air75v2
iPad with Nuphy Air75v2

It can pair to up to 4 devices and switch between them using a key combo.

The backlight is fancy but I mostly have it turned off. The keyboard runs QMK firmware and supports VIA, but the customisations are quite technical to set up and use and I just don’t bother.

I just wish that instead of a switch to toggle between Windows and Mac modes, it could auto detect like Logitech keyboards do.

My Thailand EV experience

In Thailand, I see EV everywhere. I had even been on a few EV Taxis. But, before, this, I had never driven an EV before, in Thailand or elsewhere. My association with EVs started and ended with this article I researched 14 years ago.

This week, we had many holidays, so we decided to take a day-trip to a nearby beach. Opening the car rental app, I was surprised to see that the cheapest car for that day was an EV. Normally I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but the deal was too good to pass up. So I went ahead and booked it, an Ora Good Cat.

The first few hours after booking were a bit stressful. I had never driven an EV before, much less a rental. So I started researching everything about how to drive an EV in Thailand.

First, I made a list of EV charging providers in Thailand.

The below providers do not allow expats to register at all, because a Thai ID number and verification is necessary.

The below providers allow registration of expats without the need for a Thai ID number.

These providers all have helpful apps which let you locate a charging station on a map.

Using this app, I also found out that there are different charging standards and sockets.

Ora Good cat charging connector
Ora Good cat charging connector

I found out that the Good Cat accepts an AC Type 2 connector (Up to 11KW) and a DC CCS connector (Up to 64KW).

Using this information, I was able to locate charging stations near the beach, on the highway while coming back and near the rental agency to charge it before returning.

Having completed my research, now it was time to finally drive an EV in Thailand!

The Car

The first impression of the car is that it is actually much bigger than it looks. It is the size of a Suzuki Swift or Hyundai i20. The rental came fully loaded – Apple Wireless CarPlay, wireless charging, Sunroof, partial autonomous driving assist.

Ora Good Cat Front Console
Ora Good Cat Front Console

The CarPlay display is big (and wide). Apple Maps can even detect that the car is an EV and overlays EV charging stations all over the map. Apparently it can even take range information from the car and warn you if you are too far from the nearest charging station, but I didn’t dare test that out.

Anyways, this is not a car review, so I will now focus on the EV aspects of the drive.

The Drive

The first thing that comes to mind when driving an EV for the first time is – power. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I had driven high-end ICE cars and this low-end EV blows them out of the water. The torque is instantaneous, linear and never-ending. If the cheapest EV feels like this, what do the premium EVs feel like?

Overtaking on highways is a breeze. Just a tap of the accelerator and the car races ahead, pushing you back in its seats. I pushed the car up to 180kmph and it still felt like it had more torque left.

However, all this was marred by range anxiety. I couldn’t help but notice the range indicator all the way to the beach, counting down kms as we drove. Am sure seasoned EV drivers have trained themselves to not notice these things too much, but it was always on my mind. I even felt guilty playing music – will it discharge the battery even faster? The biggest power draw (after driving), though, is the AC. It easily takes away 20-30% of the promised range.

While on the way to the beach, we stopped at a gas station to pick up some coffee. There was an EV charger there so I decided to top up for 10 minutes. Unfortunately the charger was out of service. Bad sign.


We reached the beach exhausting 60% battery with 40% left. I immediately went to the charging station I had decided on in advance. Fortunately, there was an empty slot. Charging the car was easy. I had already downloaded the EA Anywhere app and a quick scan of the QR code opened up the door on the side with the charging cable. The app guided me through the rest of the process and I was up charging in no time.

This was a 40KW DC charger so I went from 40% to 95% in less than an hour. There are faster DC chargers available as well (I couldn’t find one near the beach) but most other chargers are AC and much slower.

Ora Good cat charging
Ora Good Cat charging

Technically I could have left my car to charge and gone to the beach (the app would have notified me when charging was finished), but I was afraid someone would disconnect the charger so I hung around. Later I found out the charger gets locked while charging and cannot be removed without stopping manually from the app. There’s also an overtime fee if you don’t disconnect the charger within 5 minutes of finishing charging.

Fast charging an EV is a dramatic affair. The EV’s cooling system is on full blast, the charger is blowing wind like a hurricane. An MG4 in the next bay overheated twice and stopped charging.

While returning, I was more frugal with performance and drove steadily at 90. I needed to return the car with at least 40% charge, so I was a little anxious, still. I even switched off the AC for the last few kms when the charge dropped below 50%. Luckily, I was able to return the car with 46% battery left.

Overall, driving an EV was both fun and stressful. I have never driven anything quite like it. However, the stress is too much for someone like me who already suffers from anxiety. But I am sure the second time will be easier than the first.

My Worst Purchases-Dyson TP03 Air Purifier

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is Dyson TP03 Air purifier.

Dyson TP03
Dyson TP03

It was the day after Diwali 2019 in Gurgaon. Because we Indians cannot celebrate festivals without polluting at least 1 element of nature, the AQI was 1999. I already had air purifiers (Different makes) in all the bedrooms, but it was getting difficult to breathe so we decided to get one for the living room.

We had had a very good experience with the Xiaomi 2S, so we decided to get another one for the living room. Headed out to Ambience Mall (I miss you so much) and went straight to the Xiaomi store. We had already decided what to buy, so I asked the sales guy to bill one for us. Instead, he laughed at us and said “Stock hi nahi hai to kaha se du”. (We don’t have stock where do I give it from?). Angry at his rudeness, we decided to get the Dyson TP03 (Also known as Dyson Pure Cool Link) instead. Surely, compared to the Xiaomi (₹7999) the Dyson (₹29999) would surely be much better? How wrong we were.

Here’re my views after using it for >1 year

+ Is Stylish, looks nice in the living room
+ Setup is easy and app is very nice
+ App can show historical AQI data
– Can only show AQI on a scale from 1-10 (Both the tiny display & the app). No other details
– Is noisy
– Doesn’t really purify very well or fast. On most days, it couldn’t keep up with outside air leaking in
– Since it throws air straight at the user rather than up in the air, in winters it becomes uncomfortable

At the end of the day, I think the company’s Air Multiplier technology is not really suitable for air purifiers. Basically, if the fan draws “X” amount of air from the pedestal (and via the HEPA filter), it draws 15*X amount of air from the back of the air multiplier which doesn’t pass the filter at all. So at any point of time, only 6.66% of air thrown by the purifier is clean/has passed through the filter, compared to 100% for traditional purifiers.

All of this results in a lot of air flow in the (already very cold) room but very little purification. My impression of all this is that Dyson has over-engineered its purifiers for the simple purpose of purifying air. I feel terribly guilty for not buying 2 Xiaomi purifiers for the same price as this and still have cash left over.

I Love Optical Disc Drives

For as long as I remember, I have loved and have been fascinated by Optical Disc Drives. There’s something about the spinning disc, the red laser and the up/down pulsating & sideways shifting of the lens that I love.

Below is my story with Optical Disc Drives.

Audio/Video CD Era

My first Optical Disc Drive was a Sony Portable CD player like this.

My First Optical Disc Drive
Sony Discman

It read Audio CDs at a measly 1X speed and had no error correction cache. This meant if I shook the player too hard, the audio skipped. Still, coming from a cassette walkman, the audio quality was mind blowing. There was also something calming and therapeutic looking at the spinning disc through the little window while pristine sound entered my ears through the earphones. One of my first audio CDs was Disney’s Modern Classics which I bought from Jwala Heri market.

My second CD Player was an Aiwa music system with 3 CD changer and VCD capabilities.

Aiwa 3CD changer, PC: Puget Sound Estate Auctions

It was amazing to watch the CD changer tray come out and the system change the CDs from the top translucent window. You could also copy CDs to cassettes to play in the car later. I remember watching all the Rocky movies on it without having to switch from Disc 1 to Disc 2 manually.

I remember switching to an AIWA portable CD player when I went off to college. Compared to the Sony, it read discs at a blazing 3X speed and had an error correction cache. This meant that shakes were not a problem anymore.

My second Optical Disc Drive
Aiwa CD Player, PC: Amazon

I would quite often listen to CDs with the top door open, overriding the detection switch with some rolled up paper. It was fascinating to see the CD spin at high speed, the player cache the audio and then the spinning stop. All the while the audio continued to play. I would also stop the spinning CD on purpose using my finger to test the caching.

Computer Era

When I got my first computer, it came with a Samsung 48x CD drive.

Samsung 48X Max, PC: Telecommander

The first CD I put into this was the shitty soundtrack of this shitty movie (I don’t remember why). It was fascinating to see the green LED on front flash as the CD was being read. I wanted to copy the tracks to my hard drive, so I went into explorer, copied the (1 byte) .cda files to my desktop and was amazed that it was all done within a second. Later I found out this wasn’t the correct way to copy audio CDs and you actually had to “rip” them.

During this time I also found out that there was a second “audio” cable from the CD players to the sound card. Although you could bypass this using software which played Audio CDs digitally. I also got into a habit of disposing off old CDs by throwing them at the ceiling fan and watching them shatter into hundreds of pieces.

All my friends had the fancy Creative CD drive, though. This drive was notorious for having a very high failure rate. When my Samsung drive died, my father had it replaced with the “AudioExcel” version of the drive which was more reliable. It came with many buttons on the front and a remote control. Especially fun was the “Turbo” button which toggled the drive between 36X and 52X speeds.

Creative Infra 52X (Not AudioExcel), PC: Baber

Eventually, I moved on to Combo drives (DVD reader and CD writer), DVD writers and then the cloud/streaming era but my fascination for Optical Disc Drives never faded.

I still have an external HP DVD writer but nothing to plug it into.

Mixed Feelings about the Apple Watch

I have been using an Apple Watch for a few years now. I got my first Apple Watch (Series 4, aluminium) in 2018 but gave it to the wife after using it for a few months because of the abysmal battery life & I didn’t like how it looked. Got one again in 2020 (Series 4, Stainless Steel) and have mixed feelings about it

Apple watch with Blue braided solo loop, PC: iPhone in Canada

What I like about the Apple Watch

  1. The integration with the rest of apple’s ecosystem is amazing. Everything “just works”. Setup and use are both pain free, like every Apple product.
  2. The cellular functionality is awesome. I leave my phone at home when walking the dog or going for a run. Can take/receive calls if needed and stream music. It is also impressive how so many carriers support it.
  3. The “Activity” app and the concept of closing the 3 rings is very good. Much better than tracking steps only.
  4. Walkie-Talkie is a fun & useful feature. I use it with the wife’s watch very often. The related feature of “intercom” to send messages home is also useful.
  5. Apps are very useful. Some apps even have full functional parity with their phone counterparts, although I don’t use many apps on the watch.
  6. Heart Rate tracking is one of the best in the business. Once I even got alerted when I was high and my heart-rate went up while I was still.
  7. The glass (on the stainless steel version) is very durable. Not a single scratch in a year.
  8. The Solo braided loops are the most comfortable & convenient watch straps I have ever used.
  9. Amazing obsolescence. Apart from new sensors, you would be hard pressed to find a difference between different generations of watches. Each generation gets OS updates for at least 3/4 years.
High Heart Rate at Rest
High Heart Rate at Rest

What I don’t like about it

  1. The battery life is abysmal. I can’t even go away for a night without worrying about the watch dying. Once I even had to charge it between 2 connecting flights.
  2. I don’t like how it looks. To me, it looks quite like a burn blister on the skin. I much preferred the Withings smart watches in this regard. They were just beautiful.
  3. Every new app installed on the phone gets notifications enabled by default on the watch. Can sometimes be annoying.

My watch is now almost 3 generations old already and I plan to get the 2021 model when it is out. If nothing else, I hope it has a better battery life than the current ones.

My Best Purchases-HP 3545 AIO

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the HP 3545 Printer/Scanner which is one of the best purchases (and the most useful) I ever made.

HP 3545
HP 3545 AIO, PC: HP

I ordered this from Amazon around December 2015 after my last inkjet died. It cost me only ₹5200 which is definitely a bargain for something this useful.

The device comes with WiFi connectivity. Not just WiFi direct between phones and the device, but it can join an actual 802.11 WiFi network & stay connected to the internet. The task of joining the printer to the WiFi network is a bit laborious using the tiny display and limited controls, but is a one time job. Once it is connected to WiFi, it is very easy to access from any device (Windows, Fagdroid or Apple) on the same network. The best part is, this is the first printer I have used that requires no drivers or apps on any device; everything is native.

It prints coloured pages reasonably fast, scans photos and documents up to 1200dpi and borderless coloured photos on glossy paper up to 6×4 inches. If you’re not on the same network, you can even print things remotely using the HP app, as long as this printer has Internet access.

This is probably the most useful thing I have ever bought. From school homework to bureaucratic paperwork; I couldn’t imagine my life without this.

I miss my PSP

And I hate the fact that there’s no true sequel. No, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t count, because the type of games that were available on a PSP and the types of games available on a switch have no comparison.

Sony Playstation Portable. PC: Wikipedia
Sony PSP. PC: Wikipedia

I bought the PSP in 2008 as a gift for my 23rd birthday from Palika Bazaar, during a trip to Delhi. It was the second gaming device that I owned, after the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. It was the PSP-3000 with homebrew OS, capable of running pirated games from ISO files stored on the Memory Stick Pro II Duo. It could output the display to a TV at 720p, too.

Unlike the Gameboy Advance (& currently the Switch), the PSP had serious games, directly ported from the PS2 and PS3 versions. It could play multiple versions of Need for Speed, there were a few flight simulator games and it also had most Grand Theft Auto games.

I remember playing PS exclusives like Patapon & Flow. I also remember returning home from my night shift job at Aricent and playing Resistance: Retribution for 30 minutes everyday, before going to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. My friend KK used it to play God of War on my PSP at work.

Eventually my wife lost it.

The games on the Switch (which is portrayed as the successor to the PSP) belong to a different category. Insanely fun to play, but not serious console games like PSP. Especially, without a single GTA title, I refuse to accept the Switch as a PSP successor and buy it.

I think the demise of PSP type of devices stems from the shift of portable gaming towards cellphones. Why invest in a portable gaming console when you have a powerful processor and chipset right in your phone? Somehow, I can’t bring myself to gaming on my phone.

I hope Sony one day releases a successor to the PSP, or at least a cloud gaming service which has Sony exclusive titles.

My Worst Purchases-Airtel Internet TV

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is Airtel Internet TV DTH set top box.

Airtel Internet TV Set Top Box
Airtel Internet TV Set Top Box

I used to have a regular Airtel DTH connection at my place; the non-smart ones where the Set Top Box connects to an external satellite dish antenna and you watch TV. One day the set top box straight up and died so I contacted Airtel for a replacement. They told me that they have an offer where if I pay a years’ worth of subscription fee at once, they will upgrade me to the new Airtel Internet TV set top box. The set top box was supposed to combine the best of DTH TV viewing and App based streaming along with:

  • 1G Ethernet and WiFi connectivity
  • 4K output with 4K Netflix capability (Along with Prime, Hotstar etc.)
  • Voice activated remote with touch sensitive surface
  • Internet enabled programme guide
  • DVR capabilities with storage on external USB devices

I bought it mostly for 4K Netflix capabilities. I was sceptical about getting it because it ran Android TV (Fagdroid), but decided to keep an open mind and give it a try.

It would be safe to say that this was the worst product (across all categories) I ever bought in my life & realised it the same day. Android TV (Fagdroid) is the worst OS ever to power any gadget in the world, period. Some of the complaints that I faced (On day 1) were:

  • Slow as fuck interface (Even with things like quad-core Qualcomm processor etc.). I blame this part entirely on the Android TV (Fagdroid) OS. Even changing channels took 2-3 seconds.
  • Apps crashing all the time. Even the TV app which showed content from satellite crashed regularly with no apparent triggers.
  • The smart Bluetooth remote control froze from time-to-time. The only way to recover it was to remove the batteries and insert them back again.
  • Doing a factory reset was not a straight forward job. After the reset, half of the channels would disappear and would require going into settings and entering some satellite related parameters manually.
  • Advertisements showing up randomly on the UI & also a perpetual, huge Airtel Logo on the corner of the screen
  • Software updates would fix some issues and introduce others.

After tolerating this for a few months, I had had enough & even with 8/9 months of subscription remaining, I threw it in the trash. When I asked Airtel to move me back to the old (non-smart) set top box, they told me that was no longer possible. Eventually, this brought to an end the era of DTH in my house forever & I moved to streaming services permanently; also cementing my resolve to never buy anything Android (Fagdroid) powered ever again.

My Worst Purchases-Microsoft Lumia 950XL

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, which was my 29th phone.

Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival
Microsoft Lumia 950XL, Dead on Arrival

I was super-excited to buy this phone since the day it was announced by Microsoft. In the months leading up to the actual launch, I used to send my family members to the Microsoft Store at Ambience mall every Sunday (one-by-one) to ask about the phone’s launch date. I even had a Google search alert setup which sent me emails as soon as any news article were published about this phone. Although this phone was great on paper (Great hardware, huge display, excellent camera), this phone was my 7th Windows Phone overall and by the time this phone launched, Windows 10 Mobile was all but dead.

I remember the day this phone launched; I had just started a new job that week. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and went to Ambience mall to buy it (For ₹55,000; of course, I had pre-booked the phone months ago). The store employees told I was the first person in North India to get my hands on this phone. At that time I thought I was special. In hindsight, it is clear now, I was one of the few fools in North India to buy a Windows Mobile (at the tail end of 2015).

Within months, Microsoft announced the death of Windows 10 for mobiles. Within weeks after that, app developers abandoned the platform. There was still a small community online of loyal fans but we were more and more reliant on 3rd party apps for basic services. Uber, specifically, was a huge pain point. There was no easy way to search for destinations, you had to zoom out on the map, zoom in to where you thought you wanted to go and mark the location manually.

I also remember claiming some of the phone’s cost from my company (There was a company BYOD policy) and my manager laughing at me that I spent such a huge amount for such a phone.

Slowly and painfully, over the next year, the number of useable 1st party apps dwindled to almost zero and I eventually made the jump to Apple’s (Walled) Garden putting an end to my Lumia misery. If I could do things over, I should have bought an iPhone for the same amount and prevented myself from a year of misery.

My Best Purchases-Bellroy Hide & Seek

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bellroy Hide & Seek billfold, which is definitely one of the best purchases I ever made.

For years, I carried a generic wallet, till I saw an advertisement for the Bellroy Hide & Seek on some website. Even though I never click on advertisements, I had been unhappy with my wallet (especially the thickness) for sometime, so I was intrigued. I chose the charcoal grey colour on their website and bought the “Hi” model.

Even though this is one of the most expensive wallets I ever bought (more so because of the import duty I paid), it is well worth the price. The design is clever, the materials are top notch and the craftsmanship is beyond compare. Although I don’t have photos to compare anymore, the new Bellroy with the same amount of cards and cash inside was less than one third the thickness of my old wallet; compared side-by-side.

The photos above show the state of the wallet after more than 3 years of heavy use. The leather has aged well, the fabric is intact & not a single stitch is out of place or frayed.

Bellroy Hide & Seek
So thin!

The photo above shows the thickness (<1.5cm) of the wallet with the following items in it-

  • 6x Average plastic credit sized cards (in different compartments)
  • 3x Laminated paper documents
  • 7x Paper currency bills

On top of all this, there’s also RFID protection to prevent unauthorised or accidental use of NFC enabled cards. The only thing missing in this wallet is a pouch to store coins, but I have modified my habits to not keep coins anymore.

Overall, I am very pleased with this purchase. When this wallet does become unusable (not for a decade at least, I am sure), my next wallet will definitely be a Bellroy, too.