We all know that Apple launched iPad Pro last year to compete with Microsoft Surface tablet that could do pretty much all personal computer functions (spreadsheet, emails, presentation slides etc.) sans the bulkiness of a traditional laptop. Yup, personal computer is now up against tablet PC as the latter is now designed to replace desktop / laptop to suit current mobile lifestyle.

Even before iPad Pro was launched, I have been bringing my iPad around to attend discussions and meetings in the office. Microsoft integration with iOS has brought so much convenience in my life because it allows me to remote my desktop from my iPad, sync my notes on MS OneNote and still get the work done.

So you can see that I am a heavy user of iPad simply because it's much more mobile than a laptop. The only difference from a laptop is, iPad doesn't come with a keyboard. The on-screen keyboard is not really favourable because it takes up the already small screen space on the iPad mini.

So to maximise my productivity when I use my iPad mini to take down meeting notes or amend spreadsheets, I invested in iPad casing that comes together with a keyboard. There's not much options of keyboard cases for iPad mini to choose from compared to the other iPad models, but I managed to get these models and tried them out.

1. Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini (Logitech)

Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini from Logitech

Logitech needs no introduction since is a household name for computer peripherals including tablet computer. I can see why. True to its name, the keyboard folio is ultra thin and weighs slightly above 10oz. 

Retailing at slightly more than RM300, the keyboard folio comes in limited colour - black, grey or turquoise/white (however, I noted that the newer version comes in black, purple and grey). Like all other keyboards, it connects with the iPad via Bluetooth. It's easy to pair the keyboard with my iPad and once connected, it stays connected until the keyboard juice runs out. It also has an auto-wake / auto-sleep function to preserve the battery's life. Opening the case will wake the iPad mini and the keyboard is ready to be used instantaneously.

The case outer layer has a velvety feel to it and at a glance, it's easy to mistaken it for a boring ol' paper notebook cover (if not for its vivid turquoise colour). When you flip it open, the keyboard has only one viewing angle while typing. You can however flip the keyboard to the back if you want to transform the iPad back to its tablet form. Just switch off the keyboard and you are ready to go.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini

In terms of function, it is effortless to type on the keyboard and doesn't require me to exert strong pressure to type. It also includes iOS short-cut keys for copy, paste, undo, volume adjustment and more, which are very convenient and time-saving. Furthermore, the layout closely resembles the QWERTY keyboard and doesn't feel cramped at all despite its small size.

The keyboard layout

After recharging the keyboard for the first time, the battery can lasts up to 3 months. The keyboard will inform you when it needs recharging by yellow blinking light on the right, above. Since the keyboard sync with the iPad using bluetooth adapter, I expected that the iPad will drain its battery faster, but thankfully, the keyboard's bluetooth hardly affected the iPad battery usage. 

The battery can last for months after recharged

Over the one year of using the keyboard, I found Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio user-friendly, and thought that I will get to use the keyboard for many years to come. Sadly, my daughter dropped the keyboard case and this happened:

The low-profile clip that keep the corners of the iPad firmly fastened to the frame broke when my daughter dropped my iPad

The problem with this keyboard is finally revealed - the low-profile clips turned out to be not sturdy and once dropped, the clip can break and render the folio case useless! After it broke, I could no longer fasten my iPad mini to the case. Some of the keys are also not functioning and renders the keyboard useless... *heartbroken*

I had no choice but to search for a more durable keyboard case for my iPad mini since I depends heavily on the keyboard.

So the search brought me to:

2. ZAGG Cover with Blacklit Keyboard for iPad Mini

Since now my criteria is a hardy keyboard case, I opted for the clamshell keyboard model which look sturdier than Logitech Ultrathin Folio Keyboard case. Price-wise, it is slightly more expensive than the former (retailing at RM399), but it is one of the thinnest keyboards available which is what I have in mind.

At one glance, the keyboard layout seems quite packed - the keys are arranged in 6 rows unlike Logitech's 5 rows. However, after a while, I got used to the layout and only got annoyed with the small numeric '1' key (due to its irregular size compared to the rest of the numeric keys) since I always hit number '2' thinking it is number '1'.

Here's what I like about ZAGG keyboard:

1. The clamshell design makes it look and feel like using a good ol' laptop sans the mouse. Other people often get impressed when they look at it and some even thought I had a mini laptop!


It turns my iPad mini into a mini laptop

2. The leather-textured cover feels sturdy and offers maximum protection to the iPad. As the case entire frame holds the iPad in, the will take a horrendous drop to break the entire case! No more worries about broken clip.

iPad slips inside the frame and the entire case hold the iPad in its place

The case outer layer is sturdy and the leather-like texture offers good grip

3. I can use the keyboard even in low-light environment, thanks to its backlit function. I can select different backlit colour which I find comfortable for my eyesight - from neon blue, neon pink, neon green, red and yellow.

How the keyboard looks like

4. The battery is also long-lasting just like Logitech's keyboard. Once fully-charged, the keyboard can lasts for 3 months before it needs to be re-charged. I can check the battery status by holding down 'CMD' + 'ALT' (with the battery sign) keys. Green light means the battery is still full.

The power switch is on the lower side

Just like the Logitech keyboard, ZAGG keyboard also includes short-cut keys which are very helpful.

Now, the down side which I find is major annoyance and wish ZAGG will look into it (in descending order):

1. The keyboard constantly loses connection with the iPad if it goes to sleep for more than 5 minutes. Even when I hit the any keys repeatedly just as the manual suggested, the keyboard won't automatically connect. Eventually, I will have to go to Setting and 'disconnect' the keyboard, and then re-connect the Bluetooth before I can use the keyboard again.


It's really tiresome to keep connecting the keyboard to the iPad every time the iPad goes to sleep

2. Since using the keyboard, I find my iPad battery drains faster. I mean, A LOT faster. Imagine, after recharging the iPad battery, I will find that the battery will be down up to 50% 2 hours later. Even when I don't use the keyboard but leave both Bluetooth connections of the iPad and the keyboard 'ON'.

3. The viewing angle is just at 135 degrees just like a laptop. If I want to scribble on the iPad screen or show some data to another person, I have to take it off the case. In other words, I can't fold the keyboard backwards to use my iPad as a tablet.

Nevertheless, I hope this keyboard will last a lot longer than the Logitech Ultrathin Folio Keyboard case. There are pros and cons to both keyboards but I find that I prefer the Logitech keyboard better unless ZAGG is able to rectify the major problems with the Bluetooth connection issue.

If anyone else has experience with other models / brands of keyboard case for iPad mini, do share your experience in the 'Comments' column.
Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers and (ahem) Fathers who are playing the role of a mother for whatever reasons!

Being a mother is... indescribable. There are days when your heart just want to burst because it can't contain all the love in the world you feel towards your children. But there are also days when you cry on your own, thinking - what have I got myself into?

Seriously, motherhood is complicated. At least for me. From not wanting to breed, to needing to breed desperately to actually breeding (sorry if it sounds crude to you guys). That is how I describe my motherhood journey.

The lights of my life

Here are snippets of my thoughts on motherhood from the first year of marriage till I become a mom.


2006, December 15 - we got married.

Truth be told, I wasn't into my marriage wholeheartedly because I believed at 24 years old, I was too young to be carrying the responsibilities as a wife. What more to be a mother? So I told people - lay it off. I'm still trying to learn my rope and get my head wrapped around the idea of being married, so don't talk about kids yet!!

Those days when there were only two of us, we spent our weekends going on picnic dates


2007 (early of the year) - Still not ready for baby...

Along the way, I'm sure we will bring this marriage to the next level - having our own children. I like babies. I adore them that I want to pick up every babies that I met. I'm sure having my own one day would be a terrific experience. But I want to have one when I feel I am ready and matured enough to handle that tantamount experience.
For the moment, please don't check on my fertility rate and let us enjoy being lazy couple who like to wake up late and go off to wherever we want. Port Dickson as a start.


Baby?

2007 (end of the year) - toying with the idea...

Akhir-akhir ini, kami selalu berbincang soal yang serius. Soal anak.Atau sebenarnya. Aku selalu berbincang soal yang serius. Nama bakal anak. Malam semalam, lepas membaca bedtime story book (katalog IKEA!), kami berbual-bual sebelum berguling2 mendodoikan mata. Topik yang sama dibincangkan.


The idea is planted. Yet the heart is not too sure. After all, we were barely one year into our marriage. By this stage, I was mulling over the thought lightly.

2008 (middle of the year) - ok, let's do it!

A few weeks ago, Suami Terchenta & I decided that we should definitely start a project together, and that is called the 'Baby #1 Project'. We have different opinions to the objective of the project though - Suami Terchenta couldn't wait to pass on his gene and I couldn't stand to go back home for Raya without 'the good news' as everyone in our families refer to it.

I guess after 1 and a half year of being together, we finally decided that our relationship is stable enough to bring a child into the love equation. Only... it wasn't as easy as we thought it was! Maybe I shouldn't be arrogant in the first place, telling other people that making babies can be put off until we want to. The truth is - although we want a baby now, it's not just up to us to decide his/her arrival. So we sought professional help and went on fertility treatment for our first attempt. 


We decided to bring a baby into our life journey

2008 (pregnant with first baby) - Yeay, pregnant at last!

This year, I still cook. Only most of the time, they are instant, pop-in-the-kuali and voila! Instant nasi goreng for breaking of fast. I have never been so thankful to instant food industry. Maggi, you're a marriage life saver! Of course, I still have to chop up veggies or poultry or anything to flavor the instant nasi goreng, but I can do that while sitting down and watching my favourite sinetron, 'Soleha'. The nasi goreng frying is then done by my Mr Yummylicious Hubby. Me? You can't expect me to slave over the kuali with a back-ache from carrying this grapefruit-sized baby!

Despite the fragile condition of my planned pregnancy, I was super excited of the prospect of having my own kid. Surprising, isn't it? I truly soaked up in the experience, asam craving and all. Maklumlah, first pregnancy. Memang mengada-ngada sikit.


2008 (12 weeks later) - ... but we lost the baby.

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks after I came back from the hospital without the baby. I am doing better now. I stopped having urges to stuff something in my mouth because I felt empty inside. I stopped crying on my pillow at night. And I stopped dreaming about babies every night - I only dream of babies occasionally. I am coming to terms with our loss.

Even years later, I still remember the pain of losing my firstborn. It was like a dream crushed, like having a gaping hole in my heart and I carried the pain for months to come until the day I held Khayla in my arms. 


Thinking of you, my little angel.

2009 - still no baby. I became obsessed with the idea of being pregnant.

Still, life moves on. Still. Something is bugging me at the back of my mind.
Still the little one is not coming. He who was to be the ultimate birthday gift to Suami Terchenta this month, or so I thought 9 months ago.
Be at peace, my son.


2010 (early of the year) - ... to the point I got depressed when people asked how come we are still not pregnant?

Kalau anak tu buat dalam oven Panasonic kami, dah lama kami buat ok. Tapi zuriat itu datangnya dari Allah maka haruslah bersabar dan berdoa dgn kami supaya dapat anak kembar (erk. Apakah??)

So we decided to keep our minds occupied so we don't have to think about baby anymore and get all depressed. We signed up for MBA together. Then I contracted chicken pox for the first time ever in my life, lost my weight and boom! I was expecting without knowing it!

Days before I was down with chicken pox after visiting a hotspring resort

2010 (end of year) - and then we found ourselves with the rainbow baby.

Thirdly, ini ialah official announcement. Tahun ini juga, kami sangat produktif. Dalam keterujaan nak sambung study, tup-tup dapat tau. Akhirnya, En Suami akan bergelar seorang ayah. At first, rasa nak baling test kit dalam mangkuk toilet dan flush. Bukan sebab tak suka, tapi sebab tak percaya. Tapi, percubaan kali kedua dengan test kit yang lebih mahal akhirnya meng 'convince' kan kami untuk berjumpa doktor dan 'confirm'. Syukur alhamdulillah, rezeki itu datang jugak. Tak payah buat treatment. Tak payah gi jumpa specialist. Ini dinamakan kuasa Tuhan.

This time around, the pregnancy was kept a secret and the whole time, it felt like riding a roller-coaster with specific instructions not to make a sound throughout the ride! One moment our joy of carrying a viable pregnancy escalated high enough to reach the sky, but suddenly I found myself bleeding and our emotions plunged down at horrifying speed and we constantly found ourselves bracing for impact of hearing the news that the baby didn't make it. Phew. Pregnancy is a roller-coaster ride of emotions, I kid you not.

Just as the caption says - 2010 marks a turn towards the better.

2010 (3 days before our girl Khayla arrived) - saying goodbye to couplehood, bracing myself for motherhood.

I know this may sound weird considering that we are over the moon about this pregnancy, but I know I shall miss the world of two-some.
No more before sleep cuddles.
No more on the spur of the moment dates.
No more fancy-schmancy trips.
BUT.
I know that there is no way we will trade this chance with all that.

The morning before we gave up couplehood and embraced parenthood

2010, December 15 - A mom at last!

Terima kasih ya Allah, sebab mengurniakan anak secantik dan sebaik dia :)


She is our rainbow baby.
The subsequent journey is filled with joy (going on outing with my baby to watching her sleep), guilt  (of scolding them to leaving them for the sake of finishing up my studies) and weariness of being a mother to the point where I went into hiding from my children.

Yet, I know I can't bear to lose them for they have stolen my heart from the day they were conceived. They became my rock, my world and my everything, despite everything that I had to go through for them (c-sec, diabetes and getting induced among others).

Without them, I would never know the depth of my love, nor would I know true strength as only a mother knows. 

Happy Mother's Day, Carneyz. It's been a wonderful journey into motherhood so far :)

Salam. Kali ni aku nak review pasal baby room @ KLIA khas buat ibubapa yang ada anak kecik di luar sana.

Setiap kali nak travel dengan anak2 kecik ni, macam-macam cobaan yang terpaksa dilalui, betul tak? Kalau kena naik flight awal pagi, nak kejutkan anak-anak, salin baju dieorang, buat susu dieorang dah satu hal. Belum lagi kalau tak sempat mandi tu, pampers pulak dah penuh / basah nak cari tempat untuk salin baju / salin pampers. Yang anak melalak nak menyusu atau tak cukup tido pun satu lagi hakikat yang kena tanggung. Sudahnya, ramai parents yang tak sanggup la hai travel dengan anak-anak kecik.

So, bila kena travel jugak, bersyukur lah bila airport tu ada sediakan bilik khas untuk anak-anak kecik. Segala macam kemudahan ada. Cuma nak buat susu formula je belum lagi disediakan di sini.

Meh aku bawakkan korang bilik bayi @ KLIA. Dalam bilik ni ada sinki tempat nak mandikan anak-anak kecik atau bersihkan badan dieorang lepas berak / kencing. Kalau anak2 yang nak menumpang baring-baring sambil menyusu atau tidur sementara tunggu flight, katil baby pun ada disediakan.


Bilik menyusukan bayi

Ada dua area sinki untuk basuh botol / mandikan anak / etc.

Tempat tukar lampin baby

Sabun tangan dan paper towel je  disediakan, so korang pandai2 la bawak tuala dan sabun mandi sendiri

Parents kena supervise anak-anak kecik dalam bilik ni
Buat anak-anak yang dah potty-train pulak, ada bilik air yang kids-friendly kat dalam bilik ni. Sebabnya, dia tak perlu takut terjatuh dalam toilet bila ada toilet seat yang kecik sesuai untuk kanak-kanak. Anak lelaki pulak ada tempat khas untuk dieorang jugak.


Suasana bilik ni selesa dan comel, siap dengan kertas dinding yang menarik untuk bagi keselesaan yang lebih kepada pengguna. Sofa yang selesa pun disediakan untuk parents / adik-beradik yang menunggu. Cuma, disebabkan bilik breastfeeding tu just ditutup dengan tirai, pasti kurang selesa kalau ada lebih dari seorang pengguna yang nak guna bilik ni. Especially kalau ada kanak-kanak yang nakal yang tarik tirai masa ibu tengah breastfeed. Better la korang pakai jugak nursing cover kalau ada orang lain yang sama-sama guna bilik ni.

Aku selalu jugak guna bilik ni kalau travel dengan anak-anak sebab biasanya bila nak sampai awal di airport kami tak mandikan anak-anak di rumah. So sampai di sini, lepas check in barang (kalau ada), terus la singgah di sini untuk siapkan dieorang. Bezanya, dulu ada air panas untuk anak-anak mandi, tapi sejak kebelakangan ni aku perasan tak de air panas pulak.



Lastly, bilik baby ni terletak di departure level, kat area tengah2 (berdekatan dengan tandas lelaki & wanita). Ada dua bilik bayi ni kalau tak silap. So convenient la sebab tak perlu nak turun naik tingkat, lepas settle urusan terus pergi ke departure area.

Kalau compare dengan KLIA2, aku rasa better lagi kemudahan dalam bilik bayi di KLIA. Next time Insya Allah aku akan review KLIA2 baby room supaya korang boleh bandingkan sendiri kedua-dua baby room ni. 
Of particular late, work has been quite demanding and it was time for me to rejuvenate my mind and body away from the normal routine. What better way for me to do so than to whisk myself and my two little ones to a 5-star hotel in the middle of a metropolitan city?

This month, the hotel of choice is Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Although Seri Pacific is more associated to a business hotel, its location which is very close to an up and coming shopping mall (Putra Mall) combined with a very affordable rate makes it very attractive to me.

To get to the hotel is very easy via public transport. The girls were in the mood to travel by train all the way from KLIA2 and it was just a one interchange at Masjid Jamek Putra LRT before we reached PWTC STAR LRT station. Then it was just a few minutes walk and we made it to the hotel in good shape.

For below RM300, I managed to secure Club Double Room for a one-night stay via Booking.com, truly a good bargain for a prestigious hotel. The room comes with access to the exclusive Club Lounge and other privileges such as free WiFi, late check-out, welcoming fruits, free flow of coffee/tea/soft drinks and snacks, free ironing service and breakfast at Club Lounge.

Service at the check-in counter was rather lukewarm. The staff merely handed me the access card with no explanations on the services available for guests booking a Club room and did not even share the information on the whereabouts of the Club Lounge. The service I received here paled in comparison to the service at Shangri-La, where I also stayed at their Club room and was attended to with utmost care and thoughtful gesture by the staff there. It was such a shame because Seri Pacific is a lovely hotel, and the amenities are no less.

Still, I refused to let that small flaw dampen my holiday mood. After settling the payment, we made our way to our room on the 26th floor.

I was greeted by an elegantly decorated 32 square metres space done in white, beige and grey colors with a touch of red from the carpet. Polished wooden floor lends a grandeur to the room, combined with the right amount of use of clear glass partition, separating the room and the bathroom. Natural lighting from the floor to ceiling window makes the room appear spacious and warm. 


Hello, holiday. Love the warm and cosy ambience in this room.

The room is appointed with double beds, a chic reading chair, a working table with ergonomic swivel chair for the business travellers who wish to work from the comfort of their room, a 42-inch TV hung from the wall alongside other modern day comforts such as a rain shower, a bathtub, coffee-making facilities and so on. I fell into instant liking on the room decor for its successful incorporation of modern yet elegant design.

The double bed is spacious but a bit firm to my liking

Worthy to highlight is its ingenious use of space to 'hide' certain amenities that do not fit the overall decor of the room. You can find the minibar and coffee making facilities cleverly stowed in the wall cabinet behind the work area, and the iron and ironing board across the bed nearest to the window. A discreet label that could easily be mistaken with a panel on the wall allows you to locate the minibar and the ironing station, but not without first wondering whether the hotel forgot to make these amenities available!


Great attention to details to the room aesthetic
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View of the hallway.

A marble working table fit for business executive

The bathtub and the shower areas are in separate cubicle so two guests can get ready at the same time

The toiletries are something that you can find in any ordinary hotel

The bathtub is spacious and equipped with hot and cold water. A hand-held shower is also provided


Amenities in the cupboard

The minibar is stocked with soft drinks and beer and some selection of snacks are available for sale

As it was raining in the afternoon, we were not in a rush to head over to the shopping mall just across the street. Rather, we headed to the Club Lounge to spend a quiet time enjoying the sights of KL from the height of 30 floors above the street. Unlike the description of free flow of drinks and snacks available at Club Lounge, we arrived to find afternoon tea almost finished (yet there was hardly anybody around). We were around for some time before the staff greeted and served us drinks. In the end, we left feeling unimpressed by the Club Lounge.


The Club Lounge overlooking KL city centre

When it comes to breakfast, Seri Pacific Hotel did not disappoint. The hotel offers a decent selection of Continental and local breakfast dishes such as the popular egg station and pastries station, to the normal Malaysian breakfast of nasi lemak, rice porridge with condiments and mee rebus. My little ones enjoyed their breakfast of cereal and pancakes with maple syrup, while I started with porridge and ended with omelette, sausage, baked beans and grilled tomato.

Still, despite a few hiccups in its service, Seri Pacific Hotel is certainly worth the money spent if you are looking for a stay-cation in a city. There is no doubt that if ever I felt like staying in a 5-star hotel while paying for a 4-star rate, I will repeat this experience again. Perhaps to sample its spa service, who knows?

Verdict: 8/10