Bought a TCL Internet TV

Wendy and I have been watching small screen TV for a long time. We have been talking about it since we moved in our new home in 2001. Interestingly enough, we are never too materialism to buy big TV, big car, or big nice bags. The current 29” TV worked pretty good for us for a long time. These days, we just started to think about it: isn’t it nice to have a bigger TV?

Story: My “Old” Car

Talking about my tendency to stay as low-cost as possible, I thought about my friend Elliot Ng’s kind joke about my 5-year old Fiat car:

In China, famous Chinese blogger Wang Jianshuo is definitely not poor. Why? He has a car. However, Wang Jianshuo is not rich either. Why? Just look at his car (yes, I’m just teasing him, he’s a down to earth kind of guy).

Yes. Look at my car – at the current price, it is still a little bit cheaper than a Shanghai car plate.

Back to the TV Story

Back to the TV story, Wendy and I feel that we should treat ourselves a little bit better after both of us working hard for 10 years. We deserve a little bit better TV, especially a 52” LCD TV set cost less than 10K RMB (1500 USD). We thought about 46” initially and found the price gap between 46” and 52” is not obvious. We went to Yongle Applicant Shopping Center in Cloud Nine Shopping Center at Zhongshan Park area, and placed the order. I am expecting the TV set to be delivered tomorrow.

Impressive Internet TV

We initially thought about Sony, but I just realized that in the home entertainment segment, big foreign brands like Sony, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung do not have too much competitive advantage. Actually, local brands offer much better price and functions.

I was a happy customer of Konka before, and this time, I choose TCL because their very impressive Internet TV.

TCL Internet TV – MiTV

I know this idea will raise many concerns from my readers, and my purchase of this TV set can be contraversial. The Internet TV actually has a P2P Movie Player embedded. You just need to plug the network cable into the back of the TV set, and you see a huge list – thousands of, if not tens of thousands of DVD titles. You click on the title, and it plays immediately. Most of the newly released TV are in HD format – very nice to a big screen.

The back-end engine is PPStream, a P2P network for people to see real time TV programs, and DVDs. Via PPS and its head-to-head competitor PPLive, you can basically watch anything that is digital – free. Let me show you a sample page. You can watch the 1600 American DVD titles.

Copyright? Well, Can We Change a Topic?

Yes. The content is pirated, or it is not licensed. This product raised many discussion and criticism within China also, and there are companies suing TCL for this product, but as of today, all the major TV manufactures in China is shipping this type of Internet TV (free HD DVD TV) and is 1/4 of all LCD TV Set. It is increasing at 300% per month according to some reports. Millions of Internet TV are sold out to families like us.

What is the impact of this wave of Internet TV to the TV set industry, to the movie industry, and to the culture of this country? We need to wait and see.

The Chinese Way

After seeing the impressive MP4 Player, the Internet TV impressed me again not just by “pirating DVDs”, but also by some nice technology.

When we checked out Sony Bravia TV with Internet cable, they offer a dream of all devices supporting DLNA protocol, so TV can talk with PC, and mobile phone, and it only support MPEG format.

The Chinese Internet TV does not take that “protocol” and “agreement” approach. They just can ready any share folder on the same hub, and play all kinds of possible media, from WMV(720P), MPEG2/4(720P), RMVB, H.264, WMV, MPEG1/2/4, RM, AVI, ASF, VOB, MKV, FLV, DIVX. They support all kinds of subtitle format like SUB, SRT,SMI. They support all type of audio format: MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV, and of cause almost all possible image format.

They of cause support USB stick, or hard disk via USB, and all kinds of interesting way of sharing storage in China.

It is just like the Chinese society: don’t rely on others – everything you just do it yourselves, and provide a great user experience.

I will write a thorough review when we get the TV set few days later.

What is your first impression of such product?

P.S. There are some screen shots in this news article.

A Good Video Camcorder

I have postponed it for a long time – I really need a good video camera to take videos for Yifan. We are not using the pretty early model of flip. What do you recommend me to buy?

My current choices are either a Sony HDR something, or a Flip UltraHD. I want to make the decision quick, and getting back with a good camera to record the precious life we have with Yifan.


Robert Scoble thinks Flip MinoHD is the best.

TechCrunch guys thinks Flip is bad: The Flip v. My Cheap Canon Camera: Flip Loses Across The Board

7 Years of Blogging

Today marks the completion of my 7 years of blogging, and this entry is the first one in my eight years since I started blog on Sept 11, 2002. In the last 2557 days, I wrote 2498 entries on this blog, leaving just 59 days blank.

There is nothing to celebrate, since I am in the worst mood after Yifan was hurt yesterday. Obviously compared to the pain of the families of 911 victims, it is nothing, and every time I mark anniversary of my blog, I should have showed respect to the people who lost their loved ones in that disaster.

What happened to me in the last 7 years?

  • I turned myself from an engineer in Microsoft to an entry level entrepreneur.
  • Wendy and I got married and lived happily together since then.
  • Yifan joined us – what a great addition to the family (sorry, Yifan. I should not have allowed you to be hurt).
  • I traveled a lot – and recorded most of my travel on this little blog.
  • I thought a lot about the future of China, and I complained a lot, I suggested a lot, and I recorded a lot about this country.
  • I saw the change happened in Shanghai. I recorded many of the positive changes, and also noted the bad side from time to time.
  • I experienced SARS, H1N1, and other types of spread out of the diseases.
  • I completed many projects in the last few years in Microsoft when I have both the energy/idea and time to do it.
  • I met many new friends in the last few years, and that newly defined the boundary of my world.
  • I chased many things that is interesting to me, and learnt new things all the time.
  • I grew from 25 years old to 32 years old.
  • I witnessed the fall of Internet and the booming
  • I recorded my happiness, my exciting journey, my milestones in business and family, and sadness, frustration, and confusion.

I am actually not in the mood to write a lengthy post, but as a tradition, I think I should write something on anniversary of blogging.

Yifan’s Head was Hurt

Sept 10 is a bad day. Bad day!

Yifan fell over, and hurt his head at 8:00 this morning. We sent him to hospital and have doctor sutured the wound. My heart was completely broken. The wound was about 1cm long on Yifan’s forehead, and took 5 surgical sewing.

This is the toughest day for me in the recent years. I worry so much that there will be a scar left on Yifan’s head. We tried everything we can to avoid that. But nothing is really that helpful after it happened.

Although I read a lot about happiness (and sadness), the theories just cannot help myself out from the deep pain. I complained myself not to take care of Yifan better to avoid it (Ayi brought Yifan out, and he fell – why I didn’t go with them?). I asked the question why it happens to Yifan. I wake up from deep thoughts in meetings wondering whether it happened or not.

For the first time, I realized that it is completely a different thing of hurting myself, and see my son hurt. The later is much more painful than doing it to myself.

I know it is not that a big deal – many people told me that it is so common to little boys, but I just cannot accept it. It is so painful to see the scar on the Yifan’s head – what a lovely, perfect boy. I saw him arriving to this world with my own eyes. What a perfect gift but I didn’t protect him well.

Yifan, I am sorry.

PubSubHubbub is Interesting

Was away from tech for a long time.

Noticed Brad’s new protocol PubSubHubbub.

I told Wendy the name of this protocol. She, as I expected, was quite amused by the pronounciation of the name – pub – sub – hub – bub.

It is used for real-time publishing. I have asked Jim to do some research on it. Althoguh there are not too many people using this protocol yet, I would see the protential of this interesting idea.

P.S. The meaning:

Pub = publisher

Sub = Subscriber

Hub = hub

bub = … but what does bub mean?

The Movie Up

Went to Kodak Super Cinema at Metro City with parents today to see Disney and Pixar’s new 3D movie – Up. Very good movie! The cinema delivers 3D effects, which is good.

It is another proof that a good movie does not necessarily mean “exciting” or “new”, it is all about old human feeling of love (and sometimes fear or hate) – the humanity.

Recommend people to go to cinema and see it.


P.S. Wendy and Yifan got back to Wendy’s hometown Everyday I talk with Wendy over phone to get update from the little guy – Yifan. Happy to hear any news from him. In the Up movie, the scene I remembered most was about the blue car and red car counting game between Russell, and his father. That type of boring game and boring time are the most unforgettable time between family members.

Technology and Fairness

I read an article about Craigslist and found a particular opinion very interesting. Here is the quote:

Universal search subverts craigslist’s mission to enable local, face-to-face transactions; it increases the risk of scams and can be exploited to snatch up bargains, giving technically sophisticated users an advantage over casual browsers

How interesting. Many Internet and new tech application tried hard to make things easier and more convenient for people, but in a marketplace like craigslist, that convenience and ability to “snatch up bargains” is not necessarily a good thing. By giving the power to a small group of people actually hurt other people.

Hospital Reservation System

We had a Shanghai Medical Card (issued by a public service platform, and by paying a small annual fee, you can make hospital reservation online. It is extremely convenient for us, because it is so hard to make a reservation at the hospital gate (I talked about the long lines in this article Hospital is Badly Needed). When we make the reservation with a click of mouse to directly go to the Zhongshan Hospital nurse station to pick up our number, and by pass the lines to directly see a doctor, many others asked me where I got the ticket, and I taught them to use the website. I didn’t think too much about it when I enjoyed the “benefit of high-tech”, and wondered why other patient would rather spend 8 hours to wait in line instead of going online.

Inspired by the craigslist’s approach and seeing the long line myself, I now feel happy that Shanghai has forced the online reservation system to discontinue its service. It is not about application of new technology, it is about fairness in this society.

How Technology can Solve Social Problems

I am not anti-technology and anti-Internet person (look at my professional life!), but we can either let technology solve the root cause of the problem or just make a workaround to create unfairness.

In the hospital example, the key problem is the high demand for doctors vs the very limited supply of resources. If technology can solve this problem (more efficient patient handling, and diagnostic), that is great. When this is still the biggest problem, and it is getting worse, to allow some people like myself who can use Internet and know the trick to make reservation does not make sense.

Many people complained about there is no online train ticket reservation system. I believe it is partly because of this reason. When there is more supply than demand (there are just few days in the year), that makes a great sense (just like the airline industry). However, in times like Spring Festival, how can it be allowed for someone to make reservation online with 5 minutes to snatch those tickets, while millions of others waited in the train station days and nights but still cannot get a ticket?

Money and Fairness

We just talked about technology. Money is the other factor that can brake the fairness.

If a person has the money to afford a Rolex watch, it is OK, since that is part of the fairness of this market economy. It does not revoke other people’s right to buy a cheap watch.

In the race for the same social resources, like education, and healthcare, if someone can pay more money to get to the SAME hospital or the SAME school, that breaks the fairness. Again, in this case, I don’t think there is any problem if someone can AFFORD a private school, or private clinic, since their money helps to DEVELOP social resources, not SNATCHING from other people’s hand.

What do you think?

Ten Characteristics of Great Companies

Feld posted an article about Ten Characteristics of Great Companies. Nice article. Among the ten, if you ask me to pick three, here it is:

3) Great companies make lots of money but leave even more money on the table for their users and partners.

4) Great companies don’t look elsewhere for ideas. They develop their ideas internally and are copied by others.

6) Great companies are led by entrepreneurs who own a meaningful piece of the business. As such, they make decisions based on long term business needs and objectives not short term goals.

There are some hard lessons on this to run great company.

Is This H1N1 Flu?

More and more people got flu these days. I have so many people around me to have flu: one after another in office, and about half already got flu. one colleague has 4 out of 5 people in the family to get flu. Yifan get flu, and is still coughing. I am not feeling good this morning but better this afternoon.

Most of the people visited hospital and confirmed it is not H1N1 Flu, including Yifan, but I just started to suspect why the flu got spread out so quickly? I never experienced flu infection as strong, and as fast as this.

I even started to guess whether the flu is actually H1N1 Flu, but it just proven not to be that harmful in China, so the hospital doesn’t report it as H1N1? Or, I hope, it is just an coincident.

Free Wireless in Starbucks Shanghai

I am sitting in Starbucks after talking with my friends. From mid of this year, Starbucks started to offer free wireless service partnering with China Mobile. (news)

Although only 80% of 120 Starbucks stores in Shanghai now provide the service, the most visited Starbucks stores have that access:

– Grand Gateway Store I

– Grand Gateway Store II

– Metro City Store

– Huashan Greenland Store.

It is not completely free. You need to have a mobile phone (not sure whether it has to be China Mobile mobile phone) to access it. You need to enter your phone number after you connect to CMCC-Starbucks wireless network, then the user name and password is SMSed to you via mobile phone. Then you can access the service on your laptop.

Very nice service!

I am happy that although Starbucks is relatively late to provide this service comparing to other players, they provided a pretty decent service by partnering with China Mobile. Other players like Coffee Bean and Tea Leaves provide the same service long time ago using their own managed Wireless hub, but the service was not stable.

I am Dreaming about Visiting India

Just had nice dinner of my Indian friend Pranay and Jiby. We spent two days together, when they visited us in our office.

Over dinner, we talked about a lot of politics, and shared about the change in China and India. It is interesting to see how the current Chinese system of a powerful central government can do whatever they want to do, and sacrificing individual rights for growth, and in India to sacrifice development for democracy. I do not agree on the general perception in India that China grows just because of one strong power. Will talk about it later.

At last, I suggested them to use Metro Line #1 to transit to Metro Line #2 at People’s Square and then transit to Maglev train to the Pudong Airport tomorrow morning. It is obvious that the Maglev part is a good suggestion, but transiting at People’s Square may not be as impressive for my India friends, who are used to the train station at Mumbai!

I am also impressed by the high house price (both rent and purchase) in Mumbai. I started to worry about my travel expense there.

MP4 is Cheap

I am not a big fan of MP4, or movie or music, but today, Wendy surprised me with some good hi-tech toys – the MP4 players that have been popular in the market for several years in China.

Our favorite is a MP4 player with many functions – Mahdi. It has 4GB of storage (many has much bigger than this), and can play HD MP4, display pictures, play music and record sound. The screen is very big – like two typical mobile phone combined (I mean the size of two phone, not their screen). The price is 299 RMB (40 USD). It is not bad at all.

With the cost of LCD and chip/processing going down, you can easily spend several hundred RMB to get a pretty decent player.

The usability is terrible, compared to iPhone or iPod, but on the function side, comparable!

The next big question is, when the Chinese manufacturer start to work on the design and software to leverage the cheap hardware.

Hospital is Badly Needed

Yifan got fever from Saturday. Not a very big deal – just the typical fever because of getting cold. However, I took the chance to get to a world that I haven’t touched too much before.

Yifan started to be hot at round 5:00 AM in the morning. Wendy and I got up and sent him to Huashan Hospital. When we approached the hospital, we saw about 100-200 people lining up already. It is obvious that they have been there for a while. They waited just to get a “number” to see an expert doctor. The big gap of healthcare resources and people’s demand for such services is obvious. Among the hundred people, there are 10-20 agents greeted us and asked if we need to “buy” a “number”. They make a profit by getting tickets from either inside the hospital or wake up earlier to line up.

Huashan Hospital does not accept children, so we drove to another hospital – Ruijin Hospital. It is the same there – 100 people lined up at 5:00 AM. I am sure many of them need to go there to line up the second day because of the scarcity of the “numbers”.