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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Amazon Kindle 3 Review (Singapore Edition)
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 11:30 PM --- Post#2733575735839657573

Amazon Kindle seems to be such a mysterious device in Singapore that most of the people whom I know of had never heard of it before. I wish to clear up most of the uncertainties in this review and aim to let you understand Amazon Kindle 3 (3G, 6") from a Singaporean's point of view. In view of the burning questions everyone had been asking me, I would unconventionally begin my review with a FAQ.

The Kindle 3. Photo from GadgetVenue.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the Kindle like iPad?
A: Nope, they have different primary purposes, different hardware and different pricing.

Q: What is so special about the Kindle then?
A: It has an E Ink screen instead of LCD. It displays in grey scales and it looks like printed paper.

Q: Why to buy Kindle?
A: There are several retail stores and forumers selling Kindle locally. But it's always cheaper to buy it online, which I will cover later.

Q: But Amazon don't ship to Singapore leh?
A: You use route shipping services like vPost to get it to Singapore.

Q: What is Whispernet?
A: Whispernet (or referred to as a 3G version of Kindle) is a service for your Kindle to access internet on almost all parts of the world that has 3G coverage, with no additional cost like monthly bills or roaming charges at all. The only price you got to pay for Whispernet is the price difference between a Wifi-Only Kindle and a 3G Kindle, which is around S$60.

Q: Can I use Whispernet in Singapore?
A: Yes! You can use it to surf net, and you can use it to purchase books and apps too. That is at least for the Kindle 3 that I owned, I have heard that on older generations of the Kindle, you are not able to do so in Singapore.

Q: How many different kinds of Kindles are there?
A: You can wiki for all the different variants. Generally, I am now reviewing the 3rd generation of Amazon Kindle, unofficially known as Kindle 3. There are, during the time of writing this, five variants of Kindle 3. They are :
Kindle Wifi Only (6" screen)
Kindle Wifi Only with ad support (6" screen)
Kindle Wifi+3G (6" screen)
Kindle Wifi+3G with ad support (6" screen)
Kindle DX (a 9" screen version of those above, Wifi+3G)

Q: What are those ad-supported Kindles?
A: Those are Kindles with a lower pricing but display advertisements when they are in screen saver mode.

E Ink Screen
The Kindle 3 features a 6" E Ink screen of 600x800 pixels. E Ink screen is totally unlike LCD or LED screen (not the same as Pixel Qi LCD either). E Ink screen simulates prints on paper, mimicking the look of how words look like on a printed book. For some people, when they first saw an E Ink screen, they might thought that it is some sort of decorative printed paper of the device's screenshot stuck to the screen for advertising purposes. While E Ink screen does not look 100% like printed paper, it has a very high level of resemblance and inherited a lot of the properties of a traditionally printed page.

E Ink screen, like paper, can be photocopied and scanned normally.

Each pixel of the E Ink screen is made up of a capsule. Inside this capsule contains black and white floating pigments, where the black ones are negatively charged and the white counterpart positive. A plate at the bottom can vary its magnetic polarity to control how much black and white pigments float and thereby controlling the grey shade of the pixel. In a sense it is very similar to a piece of printed paper as both of them are made up of elements of pigments embedded on the surface of the medium, and that they do not produce light (unlike LCD) on their own, you see the contents when ambient light is reflected off the medium into your eyes. Therefore, you will need external light to read on the Kindle just like a paperback book.

I illustrated a diagram to show how E Ink screen works.

Other than the E Ink screen, the Kindle 3 spots a pair of built in speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, volume control, QWERTY keypad, two sets of Next Page and Previous Page buttons, a micro-USB port, rubberised back panel, power slider and supposedly a mic which is not being documented. It runs on ARM11 532MHz Freescale processor, unspecified RAM and 4GB flash storage (3GB user available).

The QWERTY keypad is a bit too big for Asian hands and the lack of number keys is irritating. To enter numbers, you must bring up the Symbols Menu by pressing the "Sym" key, or press Alt + Q to P for number 1 to 0.

The sliding power switch resembles that of a Nintendo DS, which you push and it will slide back on release. It is prone to getting stuck: It was fast and smooth when I got my Kindle 3 and rapidly became "sticky", taking more than 3 seconds to slide back into place. It does not affect the function though, and can be fixed using by sliding a tissue ply with WD40 between the contact area of the swtich and the Kindle body. Some other online sources claim that blowing air through the switch while holding it half way using a compressed air duster can helps too.

Reading Books And Other Contents
The Kindle 3 comes with a micro-USB port for data transfer and charging, which is becoming more popular as a standard IO port for gadgets (shame to Apple). Kindle 3 supports AZW (Kindle's offical format for eBooks), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC, JPEG and some other picture formats. Most of the time you will be dealing with AZW and MOBI files.

All you have to do is to hook up your Kindle via USB and drop your eBook files into the "documents" directory. Or, you can visit the Kindle Store and buy books. All your documents are listed linearly on the home page. There is no other way of categorizing your documents other than creating Collections, which are like folders. Collections cannot be nested. The most recently accessed items are listed on top. The best way to find a book from a huge library is to use the Search function.

JPEG pictures can be viewed by either zipping them up in the "documents" folder, or dropping them into the "pictures" folder, which you have to create yourself. In this way, you can manage mangas and comics easily. It is recommended that you crop and resample the pictures to 600x800 pixels before transferring them to your Kindle. Comics with small words do not display well on Kindle, it helps to convert the pictures into grayscale, sharpen and increase the contrast on a PC first.

PDFs can be opened, but due to the inability for PDF files to alter their page dimensions on the fly, most of the time PDF files would either look too small due to different aspect ratio from the screen or you have to do tiresome pans around the documents. The large 9" Kindle DX is recommended if you think you are dealing with PDFs often. Either way, you can also crop and manually reformat your PDF files using Adobe Acrobat or the like.

While reading, you press the elongated Next Page button to advance a page. Moving the keypad left and right will skip to the next key point (usually the next chapter), while pressing up and down presents a cursor which you can navigate around the text to view the dictionary explanations of the word through a pop up window. You can select text and make notes or share them on Facebook and Twitter. Also, you can listen to music via the built in mp3 player when you read.

There is a dedicated "Aa" button on the keypad, pressing it pops a menu where you can choose among the font sizes, fonts & typefaces, margins, leadings, Text to Speech toggling and screen rotation. There are two unnamed typefaces, one serif and one sans serif. The serif typeface has two fonts to choose from: regular and condensed. There is no automatic screen rotation for Kindle 3, so you got to manually set the rotations if you want it.

Pop up menu for text adjustments.

Whispernet is a service by Amazon to access 3G networks. It will fall back on GPRS or EDGE if 3G is unavailable. It is much like your Singtel/Starhub/M1 mobile broadband plans, but the difference is that Whiserpnet is free. Other than the ~S$60 pricing difference between the Wifi-Only and 3G+Wifi models of Kindle 3 and other additional services related cost, there are no additional charges for using 3G. You can surf the net, browse Kindle Store and use Whispersync on Whispernet for free. Kindle 3 does not support tethering.

For Kindle 3 models with 3G, you will need to select USA as your residing country for Whiserpnet to work, or else it will report that you are not able to access the web due to content restriction. Once done, you should be able to access internet almost anywhere in the world with 3G support. I have tested Whispernet in both Singapore and Malaysia, and most of the time, you will be able to get a high signal strength. If a Wifi network is available and Wifi is enabled, it will use Wifi in lieu of 3G. The transfer speed of Whispernet feels speedy for its intended use, but sometime seems hindered by Kindle's hardware which I will mention later.

Amazon provides each and every Kindle with two email addresses, where you can send documents and pictures to those addresses, where they will be converted to a compatible format for Kindle and delivered right to you. This is a very convenient feature, but do note that one of the email address (eg ahbeng@kindle.com) will send the converted documents via 3G (Whispernet) for a fee of US$0.99 per MB, while the other one (eg ahbeng@free.kindle.com) sends them for free via Wifi only.

You can use Whispersync to synchronize your books, notes and bookmarks among other gadgets that have the Kindle apps. It will also be backed up on Amazon's server.

Remember, remember remember: Set your country to USA.

Experimental Features
MP3 files can be placed inside a "music" folder on the root directory (create one if it does not exist) and the very simple music player can provide you with tunes while you read. It almost does not spot any graphical interface, playing/pausing and skipping tracks are controlled via keyboard shortcuts. There is no playlist or any way to choose which track you want to play directly as well. The lack of features and support make it an almost crippled function of the Kindle.

The other interested feature is the text-to-speech function. Granted, it still sounds very mechanical and supports only English, but reading a book while listening to it creates a new experience. It is especially good for people who cannot speed read (like me), and together with the dictionary, Kindle can be a good English language aid.

Kindle comes with a web browser as well. To be very honest, surfing the net on Kindle is painstaking. Although the internet access is speedy, it is bottled-necked by the slow hardware. With a ARM11 532MHz processor, that should be ample to render most mobile versions of webpages. The way Kindle freezes and crashes when there are lots of images on the page seems to indicate insufficient memory. Not only that, E Ink screen has a very low refresh rate, there are no official numbers but from my naked eye observation, it seems like the screen is capable of refreshing less than five times a second. To add on, ghosting is common on E Ink screen, that is why when turning a page, the screen goes through alternations of all black and white to remove ghosting. This does not happen when you are using the web browser (that would make the low refresh rate problem even worst), and you will see faded imprints of the previous image on screen. Fanciful features like multi-tabs and Flash are not available. Do not even think about viewing videos on your Kindle. Irritatingly, uploading of files are not supported too. File downloads are limited to AZW, PRC, MOBI and TXT only. The overall experience of web browsing feels like a pre-2005 handphone, but still, it is quite alright for Facebook and Wikipedia, when paired with Whispernet, works wonders when you are not in Singapore or do not have data plans.

This is not funny, at all.

Kindle Store
Kindle store is the online app store by Amazon, which allows you to buy apps and ebooks at the comfort of your Kindle. If you are an iPhone fan, you will be disappointed at the severely low number of apps available for Kindle, probably due to its screen and hardware. Unlike web browsing, accessing the Kindle Store is smooth and easy. The straight forward layout and indications speed up the task of searching for a publication you need. You can browse by categories or do a search to find a book you want, you will get detailed information about the book such as the publisher, author, number of pages etc. You can even sample the books and perodicals, if the publisher allows, and a stripped down demo version of the eBook or magazine will be sent to your Kindle via 3G or Wifi. Some eBbooks even allow lending to another Kindle, which after a set number of days, will be inaccessible or deleted from the other device.

The typical Kindle Storefront.

Not everything about the store is perfect though. The search results cannot be sorted in any other ways like by pricing or by publication dates. The One-Click Buy is really one-click: When you browse to an eBook's listing page on the store, the "Buy" button is automatically highlighted. A single click is all you need to purchase the book and get it sent over to you immediately. Although there is a button after purchasing to undo the process, it still warrants me to be extra careful when I am at a book's listing page, especially if I am to lend my Kindle to my friend, as common users are well know to anyhow press buttons. There is no way to disable One-Click Buy in the Kindle Store (but you can for regular purchases in Amazon on a PC). Alternatively, you can add a set of dummy credit card information and address and assign it to your One-Click buy to prevent accidental purchases or simply remove all credit card details, but that proves to be troublesome if you genuinely want to purchase from the store.

Example of a book list page. Note that "Buy" is automatically selected upon entering the page.

Battery Life
Forget about the 2 months battery life claimed by Amazon. My Kindle 3 lasts me around 1 to 2 weeks with some use of wireless (around an hour or two altogether between charges), around one to two hours of reading daily and sometimes playing with the apps. If you leave your wireless on constantly, the battery dies in around three to four days. Note that I never turn off my Kindle at all, I merely let it slip into screen saver/sleep mode after some time of inactivity. E Ink screen supposedly need no power to maintain its display, where power is needed only when the display refreshes.

Still, the battery life of Kindle is amazing.

Buying Kindle 3 in Singapore
Kindle 3 cannot be bought in Singapore local stores at the point of writing. To make matters worst, Amazon do not ship them to Singapore via online purchasing as well. The most straight forward way to get one (other than asking your friend to buy one for you from overseas or flying over to USA yourself) is to use a reroute shipping service like vPost (by SingPost). Basically vPost will give you a USA address and you request Amazon to deliver to that address upon ordering, and then you pay vPost a fee to bring that parcel from USA back to your Singapore home. There are other reroute shipping service providers other than vPost, but I did not use their services to be able to review on them. Some people question the reliability of vPost, but they did deliver the items to me on time as stated on their website.

You might have came across some forumers and local stores selling Kindle 3 but I suspect most of them are not the official dealers. They simply bought the Kindle in similar ways that I described above and sell it to you at a higher pricing. The pricing for Kindle 3 (3G+WiFi) is US$189, which is around S$234. Shipping cost S$25.16 at the time or writing via vPost. That would make your Kindle 3 (3G+WiFi) around S$260. A Kindle 3 Wifi-Only would cost around S$200. These pricings serves as a reference should you decide to buy one locally, and remember to ask the local seller if it is ad-supported or not.

As a kiasu Singaporeans, do look out for discounts. vPost often gives 50% off for first time customers on shipping and Amazon gives free US$25 gift cards at times (I've got one).

Here is the estimated ordering procedure from vPost:

Kindle 3 Accessories
Just like any other gadgets, Kindle 3 comes with a variety of cases and screen protectors.

DO NOT USE A GLOSSY SCREEN PROTECTOR, use a matte one instead, as the original screen is matte (like book paper stocks), there is no reason to use a glossy screen protector on a Kindle. Some people might prefer their screen naked, but I would prefer to put on one since I could barely see any visual difference with and without, and having a screen protector keeps the actual screen away from grease while I munch on chips and read at the same time. You can find one on eBay for less than S$1.

It is a tough choice to choose if you would want a casing for your Kindle or not. The Kindle is merely 0.85cm thick, and adding a case makes it at least 50% thicker. I chose to have a faux leather one on since it looks like a book with leather cover that teases the idea of me bringing a "book" around. It adds some shock and scratch resistance to the Kindle as well.

There is a crazy official casing going on for US$60 that leeches battery from your Kindle to power the a little book light. I bought an additional mini light powered from external battery similar to the one provided by the Kindle's official casing and it was far from ideal: LED light beams are highly concentrated that make it unable to illuminate the screen uniformly, which is irritating especially for geeks who cannot stand LCD bleeding like me (though it is an E Ink screen, I still hate uneven lighting). I would assume the book light on the official casing would give me similar problems. Secondly, I do not wish to waste battery from the Kindle.

I got my faux leather case from eBay for S$7.

For S$260, Kindle 3 is definitely worth the money. As land and HDB flats in Singapore are sacred, I personally do not wish to cut a large portion of my room to store physical books. Kindle 3 solves this problem entirely as it is only 8.5mm thick, that is still slimmer than a usual single paperback. I, as a graphic designer, love the ability to format the typography of my reading materials as and when I like, and I find the offset white background and rich blacks perfect for reading. E Ink screen had proven itself to me to be a much more conducive screen to read on than LCD, with comfort level that matches that of a real paper back. I took a day to get accustomed to reading on Kindle, but after that, it does not feel far from reading an actual book. Although the device has lots of flaws, most of them lie in the additional attributes, where the core features for reading eBooks are solid, and the most important of all, the pricing is reasonable.

"NO!!!! NO TECHNOLOGY CAN REPLACE THE GOOD OLD PAPERBACKS!!!" I heard that plenty of times. I guess that is more of personal preference. To me, a screen than simulates real paper printing coming to life is much more interesting than transparent/holographic screen depicted in movies actualizing. Five or 10 years back, E Ink screen might have been some crazy talk, potential Sci-Fi material or even something that would appear in a retro-futuristic setting, and even as of today, E Ink screen is not even much heard of in Singapore. Although E Ink screen was first developed in 1997, it did not gain popularity till recent years. I am more than willing to embrace such a new and exciting technology. To me, E Ink screen is definitely a good replacement over paperback novels. It cannot quite replace coloured books and magazines, but hey, colour E Ink screen its already on the way! As of today, I am already planning to sell away all my old paperbacks, to make space in my room.

There is an alternative OS for Kindle 3 known as DuoKan. I have yet to try it, but my friend who did claimed that it is even more customizable than original OS. He said that the installation process is snappy and after which, you can dual boot between the two OSes. It seems like 3G is not usable on DuoKan though.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Kluang Trip Via KTM
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 3:58 PM --- Post#4016718108274105409

Me and my relatives decided to jump on the bandwagon to visit the KTM station and take a ride on the train before it closes down. We plan to head to Kluang for a one day trip. However, the trips and experiences were more disappointing than adventurous.

The train station.

A few weeks before my departure, I went online to try to book tickets. I was unable to do so on their handicapped website of poor layout and lack of instructions. I was unable to choose my train cars and therefore could not complete the booking. I gave up and head down to the station itself to buy the tickets. I was later told that only long distant trips could be booked online, but no such instructions were seen on their website.

There was a huge wooden board which stated the train schedules. At the bottom of the signage wrote that tickets could be bought 60 days in advanced. But when I queued up for the ticket, I was rejected and the customer service officer showed me a hand written cardboard which he kept away (not displayed on the counter) previously that reads something along the line that you may only book tickets 24 hours in advanced.

Despite failing Maths, I can tell that if I were to depart the next day at 8am, 24 hours would mean I buy my tickets at 8am the day before. Which is exactly what I did. Again, I was turned away. This time round he kept his handwritten cardboard hidden and told me to buy tickets only on the very same day of departure. Ha. Awesome.

The food area at KTM was, simply put, bad. It had the bad of both sides: Poor hygiene, poor ventilation and they charge high in Sing Dollars. My relatives tried the Nasi Lemak store and it was, as expected, not up to standard. The Ramly burger I tried was pretty well done though, but not as WOW as some ppl sweared by.

The yellow-orange machine is the generator unit of the train. It seems to be independent of the engine. It provides power to the carriages for the air-con, lighting, doors etc.

The operators. They dun seem camera shy.

4D anyone?

The tickets to Kluang costed S$5 and before you enter the platform, your passports were stamped, as usual. Now here comes the interesting part: If you are thinking that the trains are ancient machines that rumble and rock on the way with gorgeous views, steamy engine, chu-chu sounds, magical beasts and cannons like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, you will definitely be disappointed. The air con was stuffy, and you got to bear with it for the entire almost two hours. To make it worst, the air con broke down on the last 30mins of the trip. Granted that maybe the poorly maintained train carriages give them an authentic feeling, the sensation of me sitting in the moving train was no different from my everyday MRT ride. To add on to the similarities between the two, short distant trips are of free sitting, which means people will be sardines inside the train carriages and there is a high chance that you dun get a seat. The good news: There are no reserved seats for elder/pregnant women/disabled/parents with kids.

The joint between carriages. Note the two lobangs on the side of the flooring.

Huge gap in the joint area between carriages. Can see the track ballast through the gap.

What about my beautiful sceneries along way? Unless you consider trees, tall grasses, zinc-roof houses with undies hanging outside, regular roads with vehicles, regular buildings, some cows, trees and tall grasses and more trees and tall grasses as "beautiful sceneries", you might as well just have an eye shut while the train works its way to its destination. Trust me, you get better views riding MRT in Singapore.

The coffee shop at Kluang station

I din't get the chance to try it.

"What happened to the photos of Kluang?". No photos. Simply because there was almost nothing of interest in Kluang near the train station. It was a one day trip and we did not venture far. For breakfast, there was a chicken rice shop which smelled heavenly but the taste was mediocre. Most of my relatives are food lovers, but nothing in sight caught our attention. In fact, there were not much food stores around. We ended up at KFC for lunch, what a pity. There was a froyo store that sells froyo which melted within a minute of scooping out. We visited a few of their shopping malls and some of them were in a worst condition than Katong Mall over at SG.

There HAS TO BE one photo of interest right??? Fine, I hereby present to you the most interested photo I've got during my Kluang trip:

A decomposing dead pig in midst of a canal. I really wonder how it got there.

The return trip was much like before. Book your ticket on the spot and get on the train to get squeezed, just that now, the tix cost RM5 instead. We discovered that you can jolly well board without a tic since there was no checkpoint before board and the ticket-checking officers did not check on anyone snoozing off on board. Even if you do get caught, you can simply exit the train and get back in from another entrance, for you can easily blend into the crowd.

Shot from the mini bridge where you go over to the other side of the tracks.

Familiar scene?

All ready to chiong in for seat. Singaporean spirit.

Before reaching Woodlands, the immigration officers would go down the carriage (one officer per carriage) and inspect your passport. No stamping this time, but he used a red pen and jotted down something on everyone's passport to indicate that you have cleared M'sia customs.

Arrival platform.

Going to Malaysia via KTM is fun for the first time for experience, but I doubt I would go again.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011
Big Skinny World Bifold Wallet with Zippered Pocket Review
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 1:49 AM --- Post#5118684675195731325

The two mandatory items Singaporeans (and perhaps people from other country) bring with them out of home is probably a wallet and handphone. While mobile phones are becoming smaller and lighter, a wallet does not (other than when I spent all the cash inside).

I got to know this brand of wallet Big Skinny that claimed to make ultra thin wallets yet able to contain more than what most leather wallet would. I bought the World Bifold Wallet with Zippered Pocket around five months ago from Big Skinny’s web store. I decided to do the review only five months later simply to give the wallet ample to time to reveal its resistance to wear and tear, so do not be surprised if the wallet in the photos does not look brand new.

Front view.

Inside View.

Back View.

The wallet cost US$25.95 with US$5 shipping cost to Singapore. I got mine at US$15.57 that time during a sale on their web store. Most people could spend S$38 for a leather wallet at OG, but the World Bifold Wallet looks like some cheapskate stuff you can get at pasar malam for S$10 or at most a S$20-ish at Billabong or Ripcurl store, it takes some courage to purchase one to know if it is really worth the money.

Big Skinny claims that their wallets are made from micro fiber material that makes them as durable as leather yet thinner and lighter. Micro fiber is no rocket science in today’s context, but from a common consumer point of view, it seems to be used mainly in athletics's wear and cleaning clothes. Perhaps there are other manufacturers that use micro fiber for wallet as well, but they don’t feature it as explicitly as Big Skinny does.

The wallet is truly thin, with the fabric almost as slim as paper. My Big Skinny wallet with everything in it is still thinner than my former leather wallet with nothing in it. The fabric bends well, meaning to say when closed (with nothing in it) it does not leave a gap near the bending edge like most leather wallet does. Other than that, it’s significantly lighter in weight as well. If you geeks want a value, it measures around 5.2mm in thickness empty. Being thin and light is the main feature of Big Skinny wallet, and no doubt my World Bifold Wallet lived up to its claim.

Empty Big Skinny wallet VS empty leather wallet. Big Skinny is skinnier.

Filled Big Skinny (10 cards, 5 banknotes, some coins) VS empty leather wallet. They are about the same thickness.

The World Bifold Wallet is full of bells and whistles, which are mostly simple enhancements and designs that goes a long way. It comes with six card slots, each one has a generous 8mm excess width after inserting a standard credit card, and you can stuff around four credit card in one slot. Having extra wide slots do not mean the content falls out easily, the insides are laid with a layer of slip proof material, hence you can turn your wallet upside down and give it a shake and most of the time nothing falls out. There is an ID card slot with an oval opening for you to take your ID out easily.

You can stuff a debit card plus a key (showing extra width) nicely into the card slot.

The wallet filled.

There is only one bank note compartment, which is very deep in, you can slot in your Singapore $50 notes in and it fits nicely without its edge coming out. Again there is a layer of anti- slip material to hold the notes in place.

On the insides behind the card slots are two storage slots. Basically they are two large pockets for you to stuff anything your want there. Personally, I use one side to store all my promotional/membership/seldom utilised cards and another side to put some name cards/receipt/notes/tickets etc. These pockets are pretty roomy, you can stuff in quite a lot of junks (which most people tends to) before they are full.

Generous space for the side storage slots.

The back of the wallet houses a zippered coin pouch, which has a flap that expands the compartment upon unzipping. The zip is smooth and durable although the black paint can drop off quite fast. While in the front, there is an oval shaped Big Skinny logo made of rubbery material sewed on it, it is said to aid user grip the wallet out from your pocket as the logo is in the position of your thumb.

The zippered compartment.

The wallet does have respectable durability. After five months of usage, there are no holes, no tears, no moulds, little fraying and the thread stitches are holding on steady. I am considered a rough wallet user, although I don’t do crazy stuff like set my wallet on fire, go swimming with it or dragging it along asphalt concrete, I never took particular care of my wallet. I throw my wallet on my table when I reach home, dumped it into my bag filled with other gadgets, flip it open and close wildly, drop it occasionally onto the floor, squeeze it tight in between my pants and my thigh fats and all sorts of other nonsense. Looking at its condition after five months, I would expect the wallet to easily last for years.

Not quite relevant but the wallet is extremely flexible.

The World Bifold Wallet does suffer from some significant flaws though. The most obvious one would be its aesthetic design. Frankly speaking, it looks like shit. It is probably one of the ugliest wallet for S$38 that I had ever seen. There are no graphical printings on the wallet - it’s just straight all black (or whatever colour you choose to buy). Big Skinny’s logo design isn’t helping with the plain design at all. To top it off, it looks squarish when closed, making me feel somehow uncomfortable about it as most wallets that I had seen are rectangular. The wallet’s appearance makes it look very cheap, where others would easily mistaken it to be some worthless wallet from Bugis Street.

The zippered coin pouch expands too little upon unzipping, my fat fingers are having a hard time digging out the coins I need. Most of the time I resort of pouring everything out, choose what I want and pour everything carefully back in again. It can quite annoying when pressured to pay up in front of a queue. Where the rest of the wallet has its edge folded in then sewed, the expanding joint was not. It results in some fraying of the fabric at that part. Some paint on the pull tab of my wallet drops off too.

Imperfect edges of the expandable joint on the zippered coin pouch.

The micro fiber fabric is prone to creasing too. Often you can see marks from coins and cards imprinted onto the exterior of the wallet. You can see some dings on the fabric surfaces also. The sewing of the wallet is done professionally, but not as professional as some of the other fabric products that I had seen. The sewing is straight but not perfectly straight and untidy double sewing lines and ending stitches could be seen randomly around the wallet.

Excellent sewing but could be even better.

To be picky, the key holder was pretty useless. I tried several keys and most of them simply fell out of the opening easily. It's too floppy to act as an effective bank notes separator too.

The supposed key holder.

Overall, the World Bifold Wallet is one that lives up to its claim of being light and thin. It has lots of user friendly features although it suffers from minor problems with the zippered coin pouch and exterior designs. It would be suitable for geeks, sportsmen, factory workers or anyone who wants his wallet to be made of high-tech razor thin material with the durability of leather, but not for fashionistas or those in suit and gown.

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