Friday, December 19, 2014

My Belkin B2E027 4-port 2.4A full rate USB power charger

With more and more mobile devices and gadgets at home, which commonly use Type A USB for battery recharging, I've bought a Belkin B2E027 4-port USB power charger to charge up to 4 devices at the same time.

This Belkin USB power charger doesn't come cheap, but it is not as expensive as it listed price which you can notice in the photo above. I bought it for RM88.

So, what's the different of this 4-port USB charger from other cheaper alternatives, other than the Belkin brand which is a symbol of reliability?

Firstly, all the 4 USB charging ports support fast charging up to 2.4 Amperes each at full rate. Therefore, all of them are equally capable to charge tablets, iPad, and other devices that need 2 Amperes charging which won't charge on the normal 1 Ampere USB charging port.

Secondly, it comes with a $2500 Connected Equipment Warranty from Belkin.

Thirdly, it is attached with a 6 feet long power cable. The advantage is, it can be place at a nice location some distance away from the wall socket. The disadvantage is, you might find the cable too long to keep, especially when you are on the way bringing it with you from one place to another.

However, its size of about 5x4 square inches is quite big and takes up some space on the table.

See it in action below, when one of the ports is in used...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Travel tips to New Zealand (South Island)

I have just completed a family vacation to South Island of New Zealand. Here are some travel tips that I would like to share with you, if you are going to travel to New Zealand too.


  • Even though I went there during near summer time, the weather most of the time is cold with temperature around 5-15 degree Celsius. You will experience cool breeze at places near the seaside or large lakeside. Therefore, warm jacket in your luggage is a must regardless which month you travel there.
  • The customs check at Christchurch airport is pretty strict. If they suspect you to bring in or bring out forbidden items in your bag, your bag will be quarantined for thorough checking. That will cost you quite a lot of time. Forbidden items include any liquid in your hand carry bag.

Tourist information:
  • Remember to collect a free copy of Arrival Magazine at the arrival hall of the international airport. You can find some coupons which is able to save you some activity cost in New Zealand.
  • In every major town and popular attractions, you will probably find the New Zealand visitor information center called i-Site. You can ask for information, make booking, and get free maps and tourist booklet there. The toilet at i-Site is also available for your use (the toilet in petrol stations, restaurants, shops, ... only open to their customer only, if made available)
  • Check for tickets at BookMe website for the attractions you plan to visit. You might be able to get discount price as high as 99% (in other words, pay only 1% for the ticket price).

Mobile telephony and Internet service:
  • Free WiFi is available at Christchurch airport. Need a simple web-based registration before use.
  • I purchased a Spark prepaid value pack SIM card at the price of $29 that come with 150 minutes talk time, 500MB data plan and unlimited SMS. The coverage is good, even got one or two bars of signal deep inside Mt Cook Hooker Valley. I always get the availability of Spark WiFi (free for Spark users, with daily quota of 1GB) at YHA various hostels, on top of the free WiFi provided by YHA.

On the road:
  • The best way to travel around is to rent a car. There are a few car rental companies near Christchurch Airport. You will need a valid driving license issued in your country. You won't encounter any traffic jam in New Zealand South Island, and there are a lot of road signboards along the way.
  • If you plan to rent a camper van, beware that it would be more difficult for you to find parking place. Besides, camper van can only park overnight at designated areas, normally located near major attractions.
  • If you plan to rent a car, a GPS navigator with most recent New Zealand maps will be very useful. The mobile Internet data plan there is expensive for high quota usage. I would advise you to bring a Garmin GPS with you instead of using online map and navigation apps in your smartphone.
  • The speed limit in town area is normally 50km/h only. The speed limit on highway is 100km/h. The highway speed limit that cross certain small towns is 80km/h.
  • There are kilometres of unpaved road in farm areas. If you want to avoid going into such route, set your GPS avoidance accordingly.
  • New Zealand drivers are generally courteous. Always follow the speed limit, obey the traffic light, give way to pedestrians at zebra crossing. 
  • I didn't see any highway toll in New Zealand South Island.
  • Passenger cars in New Zealand normally filled with RON-91 petrol. RON-95 is considered premium petrol in New Zealand. I didn't see any RON-97 or RON-99 pump there.

  • Most roadside parking is free, but has a maximum parking time from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Certain parking places in Christchurch need to be paid by feeding the machine nearby and display the parking ticket.
  • Parking at shopping mall such as Countdown also has maximum parking time.
  • Do not park exceeding the maximum time. You might get fined, and need to pay the penalty at the town council.

  • If you are looking for cheap accommodation with free WiFi internet facility, YHA hostel could be a good option. They are equipped with shared kitchen that have the necessary cooking utensils, dishes and glasses, coin operated washing machine and clothes dryer.
  • There are quite a lot of motels in New Zealand. Make your booking early while there is still vacancy available. Note that not all of them come with free WiFi and laundry facility. You need to find out the availability before confirming your booking.
  • If you want a motel that provide free shuttle service to pick you up from Christchurch airport to the motel during arrival, and from motel to Christchurch airport upon departure, and the pick-up time can be any time (even at midnight), try to look for Airport Gateway Motor Lodge.

  • The prices you see in New Zealand are inclusive 15% GST.
  •  If you want to buy honey or chocolates, the price in small town could be cheaper than the price in airport's duty free shops.
  • Don't forget there are discount coupons in Arrival Magazine, and Internet booking discount for certain activities at BookMe website.

Credit card:
  • Credit card can be used at most of the places.
  • Certain place will impost additional charge if you pay with credit card rather than cash.
  • The credit card security measure in New Zealand seems to be very loose. Sometimes the shop doesn't even need your signature. Internet transaction also not making use of the 3 digit validation code at the back of your card.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Applying for ETA online to travel to Australia

I am going to travel to Australia, and I need a visa to enter into the continent. The fastest and easiest way is to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online.

The ETA provides authorization for visitors holding a valid passport from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, Japan, Korea, USA or Canada to travel to and enter Australia.

The ETA is valid for 1 year from the date of application, or until the expiry date of your passport, whichever earlier. With an ETA, you will be able to have multiple entries to Australia until its expiry date. for each entry, you can stay in Australia for a period of up to 3 months.

The service charge to apply for an Australia ETA is AUD$20 payable online with credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, or JCB) when making the application. If your ETA is rejected for any reason, this service charge is non-refundable.

You need to be located outside Australia when making an ETA application. You need to provide your personal detail, contact detail and an email address to receive the letter of confirmation. If you are travelling with your family members staying in the same house, you might find it a bit cumbersome as you need to apply ETA for each of them, and need to repeatedly enter the same contact information (address, phone numbers, etc.)  during each of the ETA applications.

I received the email confirmation almost instantly after making the online credit card payment.

For each of the ETA applications, you will be given a reference number, enabling you to check for the ETA status and expiry date in the same website.

Click here to go to the Australia ETA application and checking website.

Conditions apply to the Australia ETA:
  • Working is not allowed.
  • Taking short term study course is allowed, but you must not study for more than 3 months.
  • You must be free from tuberculosis.
  • You must not have any criminal convictions.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.