The Air New Zealand Auckland International Lounge was revamped and opened up again in 2015. Last week I had the opportunity to try out this lounge before my flight to Guangzhou, China, transiting in Hong Kong, travelling on an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200. I have to say the flight wasn't a very comfortable one but that is a completely different story. Air New Zealand kindly provided me with a complimentary pass to the Air NZ International Lounge.
Due to some difficulties while checking in, I got to the lounge at around 9:30pm, with my flight due to depart at 11:50pm. There were still quite a lot of passengers in the lounge when I arrived, but moving down to the back of the lounge revealed plenty more seating space. The International Lounge definitely has a lot more space than the Auckland Domestic Lounge I was in a few months back but that doesn't come as a surprise.
After settling into my preferred seating with the Australian Open tennis playing on the TV in front, I decided it was time for some pre-dinner drinks. Yes it was now just before 10pm and I still haven't had dinner yet. The lounge has a few long bar tables filled with self-service drinks and throughout the evening I sampled quite a few beers starting out with this Japanese (Australian) beer, Kirin. The drinks table consists of a fizzy drink machine, a self-serve coffee machine, a hot/cold/sparkling water tap, a couple of Keri juice bottles and two separate bar fridges under the table for alcoholic beverages. During the time I was in the lounge, there seemed to be never-ending staff maintaining the drinks table. I thought this was really good etiquette, and explains why the table was in immaculate condition with drinks and clean glasses never running out. The right machine in the picture above is an ice maker.
I had managed to grab a couple of plates of hot food quickly, before they were taken away signalling the end of the dinner service at 10pm. The hot food consisted of basmati rice/ beef, brocolli and black bean/ sweetcorn, beans and pepper/ and creamy garlic potatoes. Two of the four hot foods mentioned here were the exact same as in the domestic lounge so this suggests that they don't tend to have much variety or choice in their hot food section. I thought the basmati rice was nicely cooked to perfection and this went well with the beef, brocolli and black bean. As well as the hot food section, they would normally have a chef that cooks 'on demand' and when asking one of the staff, the chef cooked noodles tonight. Unfortunately I was too late to get to the lounge and the chef was already done for the night.
The cold food and snacks consisted of a variety of small wraps and sandwiches, muffins and scones, and a desert section. The sandwiches were a bit dry and I thought they could've added a bit more sauce in them. Fresh fruit and a big bowl of mixed fruit was also on offer. Everything (especially the deserts) were really exquisitely done. I also forgot to mention that there is an entree section, tonight consisting of pumpkin soup, croutons and ciabatta bread with spread.
The lounge itself is virtually split up into many different sections. When you walk in to the lounge, you are greeted with the main seating area which is open plan to the buffet section. A room to the left consists of the kids' play area and adjacent to it is the entertainment room filled with a huge flat screen TV. Each person gets to sit in their own extra-large comfy couch which is placed in rows just like in a cinema.
Further down the back of the lounge, there is more seating including some lie flat couches for a quick snooze. As much as I wanted to give them a try, after having a fair bit of food and drink, there was no time for a lie-down on those couches. Instead I opted to go for a quick shower before my long flight to Hong Kong.
The shower rooms are located near the entrance of the lounge and there are about 8 shower rooms in total. They were very spacious and will easily accommodate large tall people with ease. There are fresh towels wrapped in plastic bags and even has a hairdryer for your convenience.
By this time the final boarding call had just been announced for passengers in the lounge flying on the Hong Kong flight, so I again quickly ordered a Hot Chocolate from the barista and rushed out to catch my flight. I seem to leave boarding to the very last minute just like when I was in the domestic lounge, possibly because I just can't seem to get enough of the lounge! Nevertheless, the Air New Zealand Auckland International Lounge is quite a comfortable lounge preparing passengers for long-haul flights. Although I arrived a bit late, I was still able to try out the hot food from the dinner menu. I thought it could do with a bit more variety as it was basically the same food I had a few months back in the Auckland domestic lounge.
The next lounge I will be trying out is the Hong Kong Premium Plaza Lounge when I head back to Auckland via Hong Kong later on this month. I should be able to get around 11 hours in the lounge this time as that is how long the layover is in between.
For more information on the Air New Zealand Auckland International Lounge please visit: https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/international-lounge-information#auckland
Last week I flew down to Christchurch for a much-deserved holiday, and thanks to Air New Zealand I was also able to relax in their Auckland domestic lounge before my one hour and 20 minute flight down South. Upon passing security and heading towards the arrows pointing to the Lounge on the billboards above me, I would've walked straight past the entrance to the lounge if it hadn't been for people already standing in a queue and my curiosity. There were no signage to tell me that this was the Air NZ Domestic Lounge, but perhaps because I don't get the chance to travel often, the more frequent flyers would know immediately that the lounge was here.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 8PM so I arrived at the lounge around 6PM - dinner time. This meant that it was very busy and lots of people were already at the lounge when I entered. I almost thought that there would be no seats left, as there was no space to skip a seat between you and the next passenger on the chairs/sofas. Eventually I found a seat all the way at the back (close to the kids' play room) where I could see partly out onto the tarmac. Because watching planes idling and going by is the best view, even according to @sbiddle!
By then I was pretty hungry so I left my bags there (like everyone else did too) and headed straight for the buffet, after checking out the toilets. Toilets weren't huge, but were good enough. At first there seemed to be a lot of snacks like scones, rolls, salad, soup, cookies and fruit. "Where's the meat stuff at?" was what I was thinking. Headed over to the other side and there were four hot casserole dishes with Italian Chicken, Creamy Garlic Potatoes (which weren't very creamy), Pumpkin and Sweetcorn, Beans and Peppers. I wasn't much into the Sweetcorn, Beans and Peppers, so I stuck with the Italian Chicken and Creamy Garlic Potatoes for most of the evening along with the light snacks option at the buffet. I reckon they could've done with a bit more choice on the hot food, but nevertheless I was satisfied with my meals. It wasn't until an hour later that they brought out some extra finger food such as the Seasoned Meatballs and Chicken Nibbles with hummus and pesto sauce as a dip.
Oh did I mention that they have free WiFi in the lounge too? Of course they have WiFi! And most of the frequent flyers will probably know that they change their password every month or so too! There's also a small section near the entrance of the lounge with PC, printing and phone facilities for patrons to use. The PCs used there were Chromebooks.
Next up was the drinks. There are heaps of drinks ranging from unlimited beer, wine, fizzy, and multiple coffee and tea stations throughout the lounge. On top of the multiple DIY tea and coffee stations, they even have a in-house barrister that can make your coffee/hot chocolate to your liking! Air New Zealand have three ways in which you can order your hot drink: 1. By talking directly to the barrister; 2. Ordering through their iPad directly at the station; or 3. Ordering directly from the Air NZ mobile app. It will give you a range of options from having your beverage in a takeaway cup through to whether you want trim milk, soy milk or regular milk in your beverage. I ordered my hot chocolate through the iPad device on the counter.
Now you're probably waiting for me to talk about the alcoholic section of the lounge. There is a large see-through fridge with most of the classic beers, ciders and wines to choose from. Some of you may remember me asking if I chose the right type of beer on Twitter too! It wasn't met with a lot of positivity! I clearly would not be the best person to talk to for recommending alcoholic drinks!
Can someone please tell me if this is a good beer choice? :P pic.twitter.com/LZ4N9GnYfX— Matthew Chan (@matthewc1465) September 27, 2016
Within the space of two and a half hours I had tried three different beer types, and even taking with me on the flight down South a Cider to try later on! Beers seem to be too bitter for my liking!
At this point (just after 7PM) I received a notification on my phone saying that my flight had been delayed for half an hour. 'Great' I thought as it meant more time in the lounge!
After another round at the buffet (think this was my 5th round?!) and soaking up the last bit of sunlight for the day, I decided to head for the showers. For an hour and a half flight, feeling refreshed probably doesn't make a big difference, but if you're going long-haul a shower will certainly get your head refreshed for the long flight ahead. Especially if you're flying cattle class! The shower room was nice and spacious and all the towels were neatly placed and wrapped in a thin plastic wrap for freshness. There were Antipodes-branded shampoo and gel and I thought the water from the shower head could be a bit stronger. It takes longer to rinse your hair if the water isn't strong enough!
By this time boarding was called and I decided to grab a last hot drink before I left. Luckily the gate was right outside the lounge so I did not have to run to get to the gate! In fact, by the time I left the lounge, the queue was just after the lounge entrance. I had made it on time!
Overall I had a positive lounge experience at the Air New Zealand Auckland Domestic Lounge despite the lounge being a bit busy. I did overhear a staff mumbling and grumbling to another staff member saying that they were really tired and wanted to go home! I couldn't blame her after how busy the lounge got with lots of dirty plates stacked on a trolley collected by the staff members! Speaking of a busy lounge, I also overheard some passengers saying that the regional lounge on the other side may have had some better food and it being less busy. I didn't head over there so I couldn't be too sure.
I can't wait to try out Air New Zealand's relatively new refurbished International lounge in January 2017 when I head on my overseas trip!
For more information on the Auckland Domestic Lounge, please visit: https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/domestic-lounge-directory
The cars that we review can range from sports cars such as the Mazda MX5, to big trucks such as the Ford Everest or Toyota Hilux. They are all from the current years, if not newer!
I also like to network with people on new cars, so if you wanna talk about new cars, find out more about a car we've reviewed, you can find me on my social media channels or you can email me and I'd love to have a chat! Got a car you want us to review? Flick me an email too and we'll see what we can do!
We've also set up a new category for vehicle reviews on our site which you can find over at: http://nztechblog.net/category/VehicleReviews/
I thought I had left plenty of time beforehand to leave home and head for the airport in our shared shuttle service, but somehow my mind must have been completely blank when I booked the shuttle service for 6:30AM as we were stuck in traffic for an hour and a half! I then had to rush through check-in and security, and when I finally arrived at the entrance of the Emperor Lounge, there was only 30 minutes left before boarding, and that was leaving it to the last minute!
Upon entering the lounge there was no one at reception, but somewhere, someone must have been watching because a lady suddenly came rushing out of what must have been the kitchen, to come and ask for our booking and to greet us in. She took me around the place showing me where things were. She also kindly reminded me that I needed to be at the boarding gate in 30 minutes.
Since I only now had 25 minutes left, I went round and took a couple of pictures for this review first, then settled on a couple of breakfast muffin sandwiches, some scrambled egg which tasted a bit cold and a bit like century egg, and some nice pancakes! I only found out afterwards that there were made-to-order paninis!
There was some bottled soya milk, and some cold muffins in the chilled section as well.
Snacks/nibbles, croissants, cereals, toast and toaster were also on the same table.
On a separate bar table, which was almost half as long as the food table consisted of cold drinks and wine. And of course, a coffee machine was provided!
Food aside, the lounge itself has a lot of seating. This includes a separate open section beside the food table that had proper tables and chairs to sit on, and the rest were comfy lounge chairs and sofas. On the other side was mainly chairs and another coffee machine and bar fridge for drinks was also there.
A TV screen in the lounge also mirrored the departure information.
Unfortunately, by this time, time was almost up and it was time to board my flight. A quick trip to the toilet and shower facilities and they looked pretty decent for a lounge! It was clean and if you wanted a "shower pack" you had to go to reception to get one.
Complimentary Wi-Fi was also provided.
Al in all, it was my first lounge experience ever and I must say, I'm not sure if I can go on a long-distance flight without going to a lounge to relax in and wind down for the flight again! It was a pleasant experience, and if there was one thing that I think the lounge should improve on is for a slightly more variety of hot food (even though it was a breakfast service most likely).
For more information on the Emperor Lounge, please visit: http://www.aucklandairport.co.nz/AirportInformation/International-terminal/Emperor-Lounge.aspx
Lewis Road Creamery's Chocolate Milk is made between a combination of Lewis Road Creamery's own Pure Whole Milk + Whittaker's 5 Roll Refined Creamy Milk Chocolate. Upon drinking this product, it really does feel like you're in heaven! It does not taste like Milo; It does not taste like Cadbury's Hot (cold) chocolate! When you drink this product, you feel as if this is the real chocolate milk!
This chocolate milk is very rich and creamy, and will leave your mouth longing for water once you've drunk 3/4 of a bottle already. However, it is not rich to the point like coffee. That, gives "rich" a completely new meaning.
These Chocolate Milk bottles come in 300mL and 750mL and the bottles look pretty nice too!
Anyway, you may be one of the lucky ones to get your hands on one of these liquids, or you may not have been so lucky yet. All I can tell you is to keep persisting to try and get your hands on some! You won't believe how good it tastes until you try some!
You can also try making your own by combining the two products together: Lewis Road Creamery Pure Whole Milk + Whittaker's Creamy Milk Chocolate = Lewis Road Creamery Fresh Chocolate Milk!
Lewis Road Creamery Fresh Chocolate Milk - Setting Standards for Chocolate Milk since 2014!
But if you are interested you can win by clicking here!
Disclosure: Beats by Dre sponsored this giveaway, but in no means was the review biased. The opinions were still 100% mine!
In an email from the Messenger team, they say that they will be retiring the existing Messenger service globally on the 15th March 2013, except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available (Don't ask why because I don't know either..), and they will be combining all the features of Messenger into Skype! So after the 15th March switch over to Skype and continue chatting to your friends and family! And best of all you can use your Microsoft Account (which is the same as your Messenger ID) to sign in to Skype! All your contacts will be merged in with your Skype contacts so none of your companions will be lost!
You'll still be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and/or tablet.
Here are just a few of the great features that you can use with Skype:
- Instant message, video call and call phones from your PC, Mac, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android mobile, Kindle Fire and other supported devices
- Sharing your screen with friends and family
- Video call and instant message with your Facebook friends
- Group video call with up to ten friends at once (But you will need a Skype Premium subscription) ("Aww Man!")
- And that's just the start - there's so much more to explore on Skype
What's happening between now and 15th March?
What's happening after 15th March?
Can I update to Skype on my mobile?Yes! Skype is available on iPhone, Android and soon on Windows Phone 8. We encourage you to download the latest Skype app on your mobile and then uninstall Messenger. You will be able to sign in to Skype on your iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 8 mobile apps with your Microsoft Account over the next few weeks. If you use another phone with Messenger on it, it will continue to work for a while.
Read more at: NZ TechBlog
Follow me on Twitter: @matthewc1465
Yes, Google is kinda "late" into the gift card scene as Apple introduced their system back in 2010, allowing users to buy apps for their friends as presents, and RIM provided Blackberry users with the option to purchase apps for friends as gifts, and send them over its Blackberry Messenger service.
These Google Play gift cards look to be released on August 26 (But we still don't know about if it will launch with New Zealand on its list or will it come at a later date for us Kiwis) from a memo acquired by Android Police at a Target store (These stores are US based and are like The Warehouse here in NZ).
If you've always been wanting to buy gift cards to purchase your favorite apps in Google Play, or that you've been waiting for these to easily allow you to buy apps for your friends, you only have about one week or more to wait! (Assuming that the cards will also be released on the day after!)
We will start off by looking at the specs of this bad-boy!
- 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- 3G Network: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
- Dimensions: 146.9 x 83 . 9.7 mm
- Weight: 178 g
- Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
- 800 x 1280 pixels, 5.3 inches (~285 ppi pixel density)
- Corning Gorilla Glass
- TouchWiz UI v4.0
- MicroSD Card slot, up to 32GB, 2GB included
- Internal Storage: 16/32GB
- 1GB RAM
- Data: GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA (3G)
- Connectivity: WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP - EDR
- Camera (Primary): 8MP, 3264x2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash ; Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization
- Video: 1080p@24~30fps
- Camera (Secondary): 2MP
- Processor: 1.4GHz dual-coreARM Cortex-A9
- GPU: Mali-400MP
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
- Adobe Flash 10.1, HTML5
- Radio: Stereo FM radio with RDS
- GPS: A-GPS support and GLONASS
- S-Pen: S-Memo, S-Calender, S-Choice
- Standard battery: Li-Ion 2500mAh
- Comes with Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread
This bad-boy is powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. Swiping around screens are very zippy, although I have to say sometimes it does make the occasional 'lag'. Zooming in web pages are also very fast and zippy. It has 1GB of RAM so you can do more tasks on it simultaneously.
The Mali-400MP is used on the Note to power it's graphics processor. Playing intensive games (eg: Modern Combat 3, Asphalt 4 etc) on the Note gives a very pleasing feeling. The quality of the display is very clear and very crisp. Although when I was playing Modern Combat 3, level 5 lags till it stops moving and I have to restart the whole device. I have seen a lot of the other players have also commented that they have had this issue as well and it seems like it is a 'software' issue.
The Note is equipped with a 8 megapixel camera with flash and includes all the basic functions like auto-focus and image stabilization. The Note is also capable of taking panorama photos with ease. You would not say that this phablet has 'zero shutter lag', but the picture quality was a bit better compared with the Galaxy S3 that does have 'zero shutter lag.' It may take a second but the Note photos were just a titsy-bitsy crisper than the S3. The Note has 8 Shooting modes: Single shot, Smile shot, Beauty shot, Panorama, Share shot, Action shot and Cartoon shot. You are also able to adjust the settings manually like the ISO or Metering settings. You have the options of: Outdoor visibility, Anti-Shake (Although I don't see why anyone would not want this), Auto contrast and Blink detection. You can set the 'phablet' to have 'GPS tag' on, so it records the location information when you take a photo.
It also has a 2 megapixel secondary front-facing camera. The quality on this is a big laggy compared to the S3, but it still does the job well. It is not 1080p nor is it 720p.
The Note is capable of shooting videos in 1080p high-definition resolution. Please also not that it does not allow you to use the zoom-in feature when shooting in Full-HD. But, the videos I have taken are very crisp and 'high-definition' as you would expect from it. You can view my 1080P recording sample on my Youtube page (Link will be up soon). The colours are all deep and rich! An excellent smartphone for shooting Full HD videos with the 5.3in screen! Plus did I mention it is very portable? (Some of you may argue about this!!)
The device currently ships with 2.3.6 Gingerbread Android OS and TouchWiz 4.0. Although I would've expected Ice Cream Sandwich to come out by now in New Zealand, it still hasn't! I am getting a bit frustrated (and I know most of you are also...) that Android 4.0 has not been released in NZ yet! Grrrrrr!! Samsung!!
Most people buy this phone because of its size... AND because of its digitized S-Pen. And I have to say, lovers shall love! [haters shall hate]! The first thing I did on my Note was to take out the S-Pen and open S-Memo and write on it. The S-Pen has a small button on it to 'capture' images off the screen. It takes a 'photo' of the screen you are on and will let you annotate it in S-Memo. I do have to say that the pen does lag behind you while trying to write. It is not that noticeable, but if you are extremely fussy about detail, then it may get annoying. People have said that this should be less noticeable in the Ice Cream Sandwich update. This pen is made by Wacom, and is a specially digitized pen designed especially for the Galaxy Note. So this means that it will not work on any other devices including capacitive devices like the Galaxy S3. (There is a special C-Pen made by Samsung to work on the S3)
I have to say the battery life for this bad-boy is okay. With 2500mAh of battery, it should last you about a full day with normal usage. I have maxed my Note out and it runs out of battery before getting home sometimes. I have 3G on for the whole day, background applications running, music playing during trips etc.
Otherwise, you should be able to use your Note for the duration of the day for average users. The battery mAh may be big, but remember the screen size will contribute to the running out of battery life.
To conclude this review the Galaxy Note is a great device for multimedia users and business users (As it has a big screen for business use and a S-Pen). The screen size is huge, but may just fit your pocket and/or your hand. The dual-core processor is fast and zippy, but there is always room for improvement. The S-Pen is a great addition to the Note as you can use it to note-take or is great for photographers as you can annotate images on-the-spot. Camera has great quality but there is the occasional lag and video camera has exceptional quality. With 1080P recording, you could record a 'movie' on here! (not).
I would recommend the Galaxy Note... but the Galaxy Note 2 may be announced at the end of this month!