Currently Tinkering: HOOQ (Updated April 21, 2015)

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Update: HOOQ has replied directly in regards to my review. I have listed the items they are currently working on below. I do look forward to the future of HOOQ. We can’t wait to watch more new and old shows and movies. We have not updated our review since the current state of HOOQ is still the same. But we will update the review once we get more updates. Thanks.

I subscribed to HOOQ recently, because I really want to see TV and movies on demand locally in the Philippines. I have a feeling that the Philippine market is desperate for this type of service, if not, I am.

My initial impressions were, that signing up was pretty easy enough. But you do have to have a Globe number, preferably postpaid, but I think prepaid should work just fine too. You’ll need to subscribe through your Globe mobile number. You should get an email confirmation and a text verification code. Once you get that, you should be able to get in quickly. I just had problems with the site a bit, since it was using Silverlight (some kind of Flash counterpart made by Microsoft). I had to use IE to get it working properly.

I was excited to see that once you are logged it, you are immediately greeted with a bunch of shows. What I noticed is that the selection was very limited. Rather than me getting excited to see the shows, I got disappointed. This is not On-Demand TV, but an archive of semi-old shows, and some of them are not even updated.

hooq2 First, I tried to look for shows that started at least a year ago, like Marvel Agents of SHIELD. That didn’t show up. I look up some more. Okay, why not a movie, why not Hunger Games, that was a little more older. That didn’t show up either. I check out Chuck, it did show up, but 2 seasons only? The show lasted for 5.

Okay, I realized the site is not for the currently updated. Okay, I consider watching some older stuff. Why not the classic Alf, nope. Fringe? 2 seasons only out of 5. Rescue 911? nope, not available too. They do have Harry Potter Deathly Hallows 2, but the other Harry Potter movies are not available.

While looking through the movie list, I was surprised to see local movies. Why should I be surprised? I have no idea, I just have very little interest with local movies I suppose. But what bothered me is that the movies and TV  shows are mostly made by GMA Network, a rival of ABS-CBN. Because of that, HOOQ is showing that it seems like a one sided beast, just as the TV network rivalry that we have have locally. (ABS-CBN vs GMA, or Kapamiliya vs Kapuso). I really hate that. I hate network rivalries and actors exclusive to a specific network. So, if you are interested in watching movies or TV shows from the other network, HOOQ is not for you.

Another thing I noticed was, there were a number of Bollywood movies, Korean and Japanese movies. I think there are some Chinese movies too. I find that interesting, but I want to filter them out. Apparently, there is a terrible filter system. There were very few options. To really discover what you want, you really have to use search bar and hope you get the movie you search for.

In regards to video playback, okay, I tried watching something. I loaded up Ghostbusters. The video is okay,  in general, Remember, this is streaming video. It starts up pretty quick, but the video quality is so much worse than watching a video in YouTube. it seems like the video is designed for old crt TV sets. So, on a computer monitor or an HD ready TV, it’s a pain to watch the video, but if you just want to watch something on your spare time, it’s fine. But if you are looking for a great movie or TV experience, this is not it. They do have options for Closed Caption (subtitles), but I have not seen any of their English videos use this feature.

So, international movies and TV shows, the list is fine, not outstanding. There are some old, some new. But that’s the problem, “some”. I was disappointed because regardless of how old or new I was looking for, most of what I wanted to watch is not there. I was actually fine with the idea of this being an archive of old shows, but even that was a disappointment.

There is supposed to be a mobile app to watch HOOQ other than using a web browser. But I did have problems downloading the iPad app since my account is US based, and the app only can be downloaded if you are using an Asian account. Why am I using a US account? Because I can’t find a way to buy apps using an Asian account, while it’s easier for me to get an US iTunes prepaid card.

The website feels like a trap, because you really have no way to see if HOOQ’s web service will offer you TV or movie shows that you want when you first sign up in which you have to pay. It’s only when you sign up you discover if this service is something that you want to pay for. Considering it’s about PhP200 a month, There is no free trial period too. I presume a service like will at least offer a 30 day free trial service before you even pay anything. I don’t think it’s worth it at this time. I do hope that they improve their service soon, but without current shows or even classic ones that I am interested in, this is not their time.

Update: Peter from HOOQ sent me a reply in regards to things that they are working on.

  • On silver light, yes, we are aware of this. It’s a real pain right now and we are working to make it better
  • ABS v GMA: Actually, we are proud partners of both ABS and GMA. We are always looking to improve our catalog from both, so we note your feedback
  • WRT hollywood movies and TV, we have put a lot of time and energy into building a catalog for people who love stories and great content. We already have the largest catalog of any premium service in Asia. Having said that, we are not finished yet (in fact we are just getting started!). So, stay tuned for some exciting additions in the coming weeks and months ahead. In fact, you will get new stuff every month and we look forward to telling you about it.

Thanks Peter, now I do look forward for the future of HOOQ.

You can check out their site here.

Currently Watching: Pompeii (2014)

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Stay away from this movie! I’m serious.

I was curious to see it, I was fascinated with its history. I’ve seen documentaries on how people got burned and transformed into human statues, and how the location got preserved. Of course, I got interested to see how they can make a movie out of it. Then suddenly, when the movie started, I worried because I saw the name Paul W.S. Anderson. Yup, it’ the person who directed the Resident Evil movie series. I admit that the Resident Evil movies has it’s moments, but not enough to warrant that much movies.

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The cast listing was actually impressive. Having talents like Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: The Dark World), Jared Harris (Fringe, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Keifer Sutherland (24 series, Dark City) . I mean, these are impressive actors. How can you go wrong with it?

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Watching the movie, it feels like the actors are just doing the scenes for the money. There is no heart to it. There was nothing impressive with the acting, the story feels shallow, and it feels like they just made the script like they just watched a documentary and that’s it. No deep research whatsoever to make the movie feel real. I was so bothered in just a few minutes in that they called the coachman as “driver” which bothered me so much because the word is not in the proper use. It just killed my interest in the movie for me. With all the budget that they had for the CGI, they just didn’t take the time to make the actors feel natural or research a simple word. It just feels like they just saw the script and said… yeah sure, lets do it, why not.

So, obviously, I don’t like the movie. It’s not even a movie I’d kill my time with.

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Currently Playing: Shovel Knight (PC)

Would you believe me that the screenshot above is actually a game just recently released. The game is called Shovel Knight. I took some time to play Shovel Knight since I hear it’s very similar to playing classic old NES games. Some games just really try to replicate classic 8bit graphics and show it off in a new game. Even look at the game Flappy Bird, the graphics look 8bit the movement doesn’t feel like it comes from the 80s or 90s. This one on the other hand has been very careful with every single part of the game. The animation, the sound, the gameplay itself feels like it’s from that era. The only dead giveaway with this game is that there is an autosave feature once you finish a level or get an upgrade. But you can’t save anytime inbetween.

There is a story in the game, Shovel Knight used to fight with Shield Knight. But one day while fighting, Shield Knight was lost. It’s not explained if she dies or if she just vanished. Shovel Knight tried to live a simple life, but when the Enchantress came with her Knights, Shovel Knight had to save his land. That’s pretty much it. It’s that simple. Once in a while, after finishing a level, Shovel Knight dreams of saving Shield Knight, and the more you get through this, the harder it gets later on since you have to fight hordes of enemies at the same time.

The game reminds me of several games, but right now, the games that do stand out is Super Mario Brothers, Megaman/Rockman, Legend of Zelda 2 and Castlevania. I’m pretty sure that there are other games that were an inspiration for this modern take.

There is also a town, this is where you can get upgrades and talk to ingame characters. You really have to talk to them since other than they can talk to you and give you details, they really are interesting characters themselves the more you talk to them. They will talk more every time you finish a level. They will show more character, give you upgrades or even give you tips. Some of them will even give a dance number which you really can’t skip through.

The game levels themselves are very similar to playing Megaman or even Castlevania. There are secret passage ways, the map is generally linear, but you may find interesting paths. You’d really want to get back to some of the levels since they have secrets that can only be opened once you have a certain item or upgrade.

Controls are not complicated at all. It’s best if you have a gamepad, but you should be fine with a keyboard. You can easily modify the controls to your liking. The buttons are so few, that their diagram for the controls is a classic NES/Famicom controller. In other words, its just the directional pad, pause, options, attack and jump. It’s so simple that you can get into the game pretty easily. They didn’t even give you instructions how to play the game, you just get it. If you don’t know how to do it, you’ll learn how to do it eventually. The more you play, the more you get better in the game. The only time that they’ll give an instruction is when you get an item that uses magic or for fishing. And if you’ve played classic NES games, it should be pretty easy to understand.

Another thing that reminds me of newer gameplay is that there is a little grinding involved, but it’s not that bad. It reminds me of playing Megaman 7, where I can go back to older levels to gain some power ups before going into the final battle.

Stage selection is very similar to Super Mario Brothers 3 where you are shown a map and is given access to areas that you can go back anytime. The map unlocks more areas once you have defeated some bosses. Also, level selection is not completely linear, you have an option on which ones you want to start off and end at.

Overall, it a great game. Even without the 8 bit graphics, it’s challenging enough to frustrate you a bit, but not impossible. I really enjoy the game so far, and I can’t wait to go back for more. It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a game like this.

The game should be out on PC, WiiU and 3DS.

Currently Tinkering: Adonit Jot Touch

Adonit Jot TouchAbout 3 weeks ago, I was able to get myself an Adonit Jot Touch. I apparently got my unit at half the price at Digital Walker (originally priced at PhP4,400). I presume this is because the latest version is coming out soon. Anyway, I really needed a proper stylus so I can draw faster for projects I work on. Here’s my take on the stylus.
 

Currently Playing: Galaxy on Fire 2 HD (iPad Mini)

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You are in space, you have mysteriously time traveled a few years into the future and the galaxy you know is almost unrecognizable. Welcome to Galaxy on Fire 2. It’s been years since I’ve played a space sim, and since I’m enjoying a lot playing iPad games recently, this game is a welcome sight. Considering the game is completely free, let’s see if it’s worth your time to download.

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Currently Tinkering: Waze (with Smart Telecom)

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Smart and Sun just added a new feature specifically for Waze.

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Currently Tinkering: Cherry Mobile Flare 2X

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I replaced my phone to the latest “Quad-Core ng Bayan”. Here are my thoughts about the new Cherry Mobile Flare 2x.

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Currently Watching: Django Unchained

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Django Unchained is a simple story about a man who wants to save his wife. The premise is very simple, but all the things that happens inbetween is what makes it a fun movie. (more…)

Currently Playing: Real Racing 3 (iPad Mini)

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Think of Gran Turismo, simplified and mobile device… and get this, it’s free. (more…)

Currently Playing:Dungeon Village

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One of the first games I tried on the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2 is Dungeon Village from Kairosoft. They were the ones who made a game I also liked called GameDev Story which I enjoyed a lot. I got the game from Google Play for around less than P11 from the Google sale a few weeks back. Dungeon Village is a town building strategy game, but with role playing game elements.

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