Facebook Marketplace launches in Singapore

Facebook MarketplaceSingaporeans have one more channel to buy and sell products online following the launch of Facebook Marketplace.

The new tab appeared on the browser on the desktop today and surprisingly, there were a number of listings, including several from overseas.

With this feature, transactions, including payment and delivery, can be made over the messaging function, akin to Carousell.

Singapore is the third in Asia — after Thailand and India — to have this feature, which was first introduced in the United States in 2016.

Mini but mighty

Google Home Mini.jpgHaving used and enjoyed the Google Home for several months, I was intrigued when the mini version of the smart speaker was announced last October.

As usual, this product, like many others from Google, is not available in our part of the world.

But, thanks to online sites such as eBay and Qoo10.sg, getting one is not impossible but a little costlier, with shipping cost factored in.

I saw the device on offer in a major IT shop in Japan in December but could not buy it because it’s only available for pre-order.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive one as a Christmas present.

The Google Home Mini is similar to its bigger sibling, the Google Home, except for it’s size and quality of speaker.

Powered by Google Assistant, it is easy to set up and use. Volume can be adjusted by tapping the left and right of the speaker cover.

Here are five reasons why I like the Google Home Mini:

  1. Small footprint and size: You can place it practically anywhere — on the table, book shelf, TV console and anywhere convenient.
  2. Easy setup: Just use the Google Home app on the phone to set up. It takes only a minute or two.
  3. Sensitive pickup: The speaker is a great listener and can pick up commands even in almost whisper-mode across the room.
  4. Good sound quality: While the sound is not as rich as the Google Home, the speaker packs quite a punch and can be heard anywhere in an enclosed room.
  5. Great price: It’s less than half the price of its larger sibling and can do similar stuff.

I only have one peeve — a Spotify Premium account is needed to play music. The free version of Spotify will only yield a station playing the requested song — and the song may not even be played!

Verdict: Aside from needing a Spotify Premium account, it’s a lovely device that I’d gladly recommend to those wanting to try out a smart speaker.

You can get it at Google Store or other online sites. Don’t try Amazon as a search for this product only yielded the Amazon equivalent.

Stainless steel for hot and cold drinks

Klean KanteenA water bottle is a water bottle, right? Well, not quite, according to a dear friend of mine who gave me one for Christmas.

The Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle looks simple yet classy. Clad in stainless steel, it comes with a bamboo cap for a more environmentally friendly feel. My friend also bought me a plastic cap to be used when the bottle is filled with hot water, just in case the metallic bamboo cap is too hot to handle.

The stainless steel body comes with a brushed metal finish, giving the bottle a somewhat classic milk bottle look.

With laser engraving, the Klean Kanteen logo cannot be scratched or washed away.

I’ve used the bottle for both hot and cold water and it’s really good. It retains the temperature till the end of the day.

It has now become a constant companion on my trips to the office and elsewhere.

Why I like the Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle:

  1. Stylish look
  2. Good temperature retention of contents
  3. Durable

You may get the Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle at Amazon.

SIA U-turns on charging credit card fees

Singapore Airlines website.JPGJust 24 hours after announcing that it will be charging credit card fees for bookings made for certain classes of tickets in Singapore, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has made a U turn and informed its staff that it will not be doing so.

The reversal comes on the back of criticisms received for the its original decision. A number pointed out that as a full-service carrier, SIA was following in the footsteps of budget carriers.

Some have said that the 1.3 per cent fee, capped at S$50 per passenger, could have been included in the overall ticket price, instead of a separate cost. This way, customers are less likely to kick up a fuss.

It’s not just this move but a number of other announcements that are irking customers. One concerns an additional fee to pre-select seats under the lowest priced Economy tickets.

While it is understandable that SIA is a commercial entity and needs to make money to account to its shareholders, the recent spate of announcements are making flying on the carrier increasingly costly, especially for Economy class customers.

If not handled carefully, the airline may just push them to take other airlines instead. There are plenty of other similar class options available.