Tag Archives: Purchases

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.

My Worst Purchases-Bose QC 35 II

Continuing with my series, the next entry in the list is the Bose QC 35 II headphones, which I regretted buying.

Bose QC 35 II
The Bose QC 35 II, stellar headphones

Don’t get me wrong, the Bose QC 35 II are great headphones, with stellar sound quality and impressive noise cancellation. I just realised after buying them that I am not a “wearing huge headphones in public” kind of guy.

A bit of history, my earphones of choice used to be the Bose Soundsport Wireless, which I happily used for a few years, but lost during my last trip to Xiamen, China. I was quite devastated and for some time, considered buying the same earphones again, but couldn’t find them anywhere in Xiamen. I almost bought Apple Airpods from the Xiamen Apple store, but somehow controlled myself because of the poor audio quality.

After returning to India, I saw the Bose QC 35 II on sale at half price and I had wanted to dip my toes into Noise cancellation, so bought it.

The sound quality & the noise cancellation blew me away (Sony MX3 performs even better they say, but I was a Bose purist then). However, after the first few days of use, the novelty began to wear off. I would feel awkward walking in public with them around my ears, sitting at my desk in office. Having phone calls on them looked even more awkward so I started regretting my decision very soon.

On top of that, Apple soon launched the Airpods Pro, which had everything I wanted in the original Airpods and I was done with the QC 35 IIs.

I eventually sold them to a couple of illiterate Gym Bros via OLX at almost the same price I bought them for, so the regret didn’t last for long.

My Worst Purchases-Honda Activa

So, I was “studying” in my first year of engineering (around the year 2002) in Nagpur and living with 2 of my seniors in a rented apartment. For those not familiar with Nagpur, public transportation was almost non-existent at that time and 95% of the people rode 2-wheelers (Motorcycles, Scooters & Mopeds), remaining 5% had cars.

I had nothing of my own and soon started to feel the heat of wanting to go everywhere but not being able to go anywhere.

I wanted to buy a bike, but the aforementioned jealous roommates didn’t want me to have one, so brainwashed my father into buying me a Honda Activa. I was desperate for anything, so didn’t argue much and greedily accepted it.

The Activa is by no means a bad scooter and it is quite handy for middle age men/women looking for a quick trip to the nearby stores or for kids who are just learning to ride. For a college freshman however, it was the social equivalent of walking around college with “dork” written on the back of his head in Bold letters.

As if the social ridicule wasn’t enough, the scooter was also not suited for a hormone ridden teenager riding around town “trying” to show off and competing with motorcycles. Inherently unstable, it caused me to have numerous accidents within the first few months itself.

Eventually, it was either continuing to ride the monstrosity or drop out of college, so I chose the former and sold it before it had completed one year.

It took 2/3 years, the manliest bike available in India at that time and a year away from college for people to forget I had one.

My Best Purchases-O2 XPhone II

This is first of a series where I reminisce about my best purchases and purchases I regret to this date.

I will start with something positive, my second smartphone. The O2 XPhone II, 9th in a long list of phones I have used over the years. Although I did have an N-Gage QD before this, it was barely a smartphone, severely crippled by software.

The O2 XPhone II

The software on the O2 XPhone II was phenomenal. Instead of writing all about it again, I will just link to my original review.

Unfortunately, not all good things last and its joystick broke after a while and was eventually stolen.

This is one of those purchases that changed my life.