Friday, March 29, 2013

Beware of dishonest cheap power bank claimed to have high mAh capacity

One of the key issue of mobile phones, particularly smartphones, is that they are power hungry causing their battery doesn't last long. As a result, mobile power bank comes into the market as portable external power source to supplement the internal battery of the mobile phone or mobile device.

While most of the modern mobile devices nowadays are using Li-Polymer battery (鋰聚合物電池) as their power source, a lot of mobile power banks are using the cylindrical or prismatic Li-Ion battery (鋰離子電池).

The major problem or hazard of Li-Ion battery and Li-Polymer battery is that, they will overheat when charged for long time. There is an overcharge prevention IC on its circuit board to cut off the charging when the battery is fully charged. If the IC is malfunctioned, the battery might caught fire or explode when overcharged. (Note: the original article mentioned Li-Polymer will not explode due to overcharge, which I think is not true.)

Another disadvantage of Li-Ion battery is their lifespan will greatly reduced if they are operating in high temperature of 45°C and above. Li-Polymer battery, on the other hand, has higher endurance to high temperature, and can still operate over 4 hours in 85°C without much problem.

Nowadays, you can find a lot of power banks claimed to have charge capacity as high as 12000mAh, 18000mAh, 20000mAh, or even higher, selling at the Internet stores. If they are unbranded and selling at a very cheap price, you need to be alerted before placing your order.

The shorter power bank in the picture above consists of 4 Li-Ion 18650 batteries, while the longer one consists of 6 Li-Ion 18650 batteries. The size of the cylindrical Li-Ion battery in used is 18.25x65mm, and their manufacturing part number is normally in the form of XXX18650-XX.

The quality of Li-Ion battery differs.

Branded made-in-Japan (eg. Sanyo, Panasonic) one normally has capacity of at least 3100mAh, and comes with 1 year warranty. They have higher price too and won't be chosen to make the cheap power bank selling in the Internet stores.

Branded made-in-Korea (eg. Samsung) one is quite reliable too. Part number could be ICR18650-30A, ICR18650-28A, ICR18650-26F, ICR18650-26D, ICR18650-24E, ICR18650-24F, ICE18650-22F, etc. 30F means capacity is 3000mAh, 22F means capacity is 2200mAh, and so on.

Samsung OEM made-in-China Li-Ion battery has 4 grades. The highest A01 grade normally reserved for Samsung own use, while A02, A03 and A04 are made available for customers. Part number could be ICR18650-20, ICR18650-22, ICR18650-24, ICR18650-26, etc. If a power bank claimed to use Samsung batteries, the batteries inside are probably the A02~A04 type.

Certain unbranded made-in-china battery were found to have only 1600-1800mAh but also put in the 18650 code and claimed to have 3000mAh. The cheap power banks probably are using this kind of Li-Ion battery.

For the power bank with 12000mAh capacity above, its capacity is calculated like this:

3000mAh x 4 = 12000mAh

However, if the real capacity of the batteries inside is only 2200mAh, you can only get 2200mAh x 4 = 8800mAh.

For the power bank with 18000mAh capacity above, its capacity is calculated like this:

3000mAh x 6 = 18000mAh

However, if the real capacity of the batteries inside is only 2200mAh, you can only get 2200mAh x 6 = 13200mAh.

Beside the possible short-change in real capacity, since the size of the Li-Ion batteries are the same, some dishonest power bank might even use recycled batteries!

The picture above is said to be taken from a newly purchased cheap power bank, opened up for inspection. Note that the colour of the 6 Li-Ion batteries are all different, which is very unlikely if they are manufactured from the same batch.

Also note that the soldering point is rusted and shows sign of multiple re-soldering. There is also leftover glue on the surface.

Worse still, what if the cheap dishonest power bank does not have a properly functioning overcharge / over-discharge circuit?

And even more ridiculous case, you probably get only a single Li-Ion battery with 2 bags of sand.

So, better be cautious when you buy power bank either from Internet or shop, especially when the product is unbranded and the price is cheap.

Note: The above article is excerpted and translated from its original source posted in Chinese by a Taiwanese called 曾家辉 in his Facebook page. The photos above are taken from his original article.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Malaysia Interbank GIRO money transfer cost to reduce to 10 sen, cheque will be charged processing fee on top of stamp duty

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) plans to encourage paperless electronic money transfer by greatly reduce the charge of Interbank GIRO (IBG) money transfer with Internet banking or mobile banking, and at the same time greatly increase the cost of cheque transaction by charging processing fee on top of the existing stamp duty of each cheque issued out by the consumer.

Effective 2 May 2013, bank charge for IBG transaction performed online via internet banking or mobile banking will be reduced to RM0.10 only, compared to the current rate of between RM1-RM4.

On the other hand, from April 2014 onwards, the a processing fee of RM0.50 per cheque transaction will be charged, on top of the existing RM0.15 stamp duty, making the transaction per cheque to cost RM0.65. The processing fee will gradually increase to the level of RM3 in the future.

Note that before 2010, outstation cheques were charged RM0.50 by the bank for clearing. That charge was waived since the implementation of Cheque Truncation and Cheque Conversion System (CTCS) in Malaysia. Now it seems that the RM0.50 cost will be added back in the form of processing fee, and this time, is regardless the cheque is local or outstation.

It is a good news for online banking users to be able to transfer money electronically at a much lower cost in the near future.

However, as far as we know, transferring of money via online banking is capped to RM5,000 per day or so. Unless the banks revise this limit, it will bring inconvenient to us. In certain occasions, writing cheque is still the more preferred way, especially when the amount of money is large, such as buying a car, buying a house, paying lawyer fee, etc.

It is also a more common practice for companies to make payment in cheques.

I hope that BNM will really think through carefully before enforcing the "discouraging mechanism" of using cheque in order to get people to use electronic money transfer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DAYANG (5141) share price hit new historical high again

Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd (DAYANG, 5141), an oil & gas company specilized in offshore topside maintenance services (TMS), offshore hook-up and comissioning (HUC) services, etc. is considered to be one of the largest offshore platform services providers in Malaysia.

Just like most other East Malaysia companies listed in KLSE, most of the time DAYANG remained undetected from the radar screen of most investors. It gained attention since Q4 2012, especially after announcing a superb quarterly report on 19 November 2012 with single quarter EPS of 7.52 sen, and its share price hitting historical record one after another from then onwards.

DAYANG share price hit RM2.72 on 21 January 2013 with high volume of 5.07 million shares transacted. After that, its share price dropped gradually to as low as RM2.34 on 25 February 2013, probably due to the sell down from Lembaga Tabung Haji.

It announced a poorer quarterly result on 26 February 2013 with lower revenue, but net profit is not affected too badly due to higher margin. A 5 sen tax-exempt dividend was announced, going to ex on 15 March 2013. Its share price moved up again, testing the previous high of RM2.72 on 3 March and 6 March 2013. Then, its price corrected to RM2.6x before regained momentum and hit its new record high of RM2.98 today morning and closed at RM2.85 at high volume of 6.58 million shares transacted.

Its intraday chart for 12 March 2013 is as below:

DAYANG is an associate company of Naim Holdings Bhd (NAIM, 5073) and the financial performance of NAIM is currently pretty much depends on its 33.6% holdings of DAYANG. NAIM share price rose 10 sen from RM2.23 to RM2.33 today (12 March 2013).

DAYANG is financially healthy with strong cash position  of about RM300 million. It recently acquired about 26.1% shares of its new associate company Perdana Petroleum Bhd (PERDANA, 7108). PERDANA and PERDANA-WA prices also rose in tandem with DAYANG and NAIM today (12 March 2013).

PERDANA was not doing well financially before DAYANG's acquisition, and is currently on its way making a turnaround. Recently, it disposed 7 old vessels with average age of approximately 30 years to PT Ninda Pratama Vriesindo from Indonesia, for a total consideration of US$3.45m. This move is expected to save about RM10-12 million annually in maintenance cost for PERDANA, and is viewed as an important move in its financial restructuring exercise.

DAYANG is teaming up with PERDANA to bid for a contract potentially worth RM3 billion from Shell, involving the Pan Malaysia Umbrella HUC project. Both DAYANG and Petra Energy Bhd (PENERGY, 5133) are shortlisted and the contract is predicted to be announced soon. Interestingly, PENERGY is an associate company of PERDANA, as PERDANA holds about 29.6% shares in PENERGY.

DAYANG has outstanding contracts worth some RM1.2 billion that could keep it busy until 2016.

The oil and gas activities in Malaysia is very active now. In 2012, Petronas has made  22 domestic discoveries, signed 9 Production Sharing Contract (PSC) agreements, awarded more contracts for marginal field Risk Service Contract (RSC), etc.

Today (12 March 2013), Lundin Petroleum, a Swedish-based independent oil and gas explorer, announced that it found more oil trapped in sand offshore Pahang, Malaysia after drilling in Block PM308A, as an extension to its discovery of oil sands in the same area in 2011.

Malaysia's deepwater reserves potential is estimated to be 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE), and only 3 BBOE have been discovered so far, leaving  another 7 BBOE yet to be discovered.

All these new oil and gas development in the region are expected to bring benefit and money to the Malaysian O&G companies. This is the catalyst that will bring analysts' attention to O&G counters in KLSE.

DAYANG is currently covered by HwangDBS, OSK, Public Bank, HLG, RHB, BIMB, etc. All are making "buy" call. HwangDBS and HLG both set its target price to RM3.36 as of today.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for sharing of point of view only. It is not an advice or recommendation to buy or sell any of the mentioned stock counters. You should do your own homework before trading in Bursa Malaysia.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 traditional suite (retail box) no longer allow installation in more than 1 PC

Microsoft has just launched their Office 2013 suite, which is generally available in 2 different formats:

  • the cloud-based Office 365 chargeable in yearly subscription basis, one subscription entitled to installation in 5 devices regardless PC, laptop, tablet or Mac.
  • the traditional Office 2013 as Full Packaged Product (FPP - retail box) or Electronic Software Delivery (ESD - Internet download), paid once in a life time for the license.
The previous version of MS Office 2010 FPP products allow installation in multiple computers:
  • MS Office Home and Student 2010 - up to 3 computers within the same household
  • MS Office Home and Business 2010 - 1 computer and 1 laptop (mobile device) used by the same user
  • MS Office Professional 2010 - 1 computer and 1 laptop (mobile device) used by the same user 
However, the new MS Office 2013, regardless Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013 or Office Professional 2013, is only licensed for 1 user and 1 computer only.

Beside this, the previous license agreement for MS Office 2010 retail products is transferable from one computer to another. You can uninstall the legitimate copy of MS Office 2010 from one computer, and use its license key to install and activate a new copy of MS Office 2010 in another computer, not more than one time every 90 days. You can also make a one-time transfer of ownership of the software and license to another user (i.e. sell or give it to another person).

The new MS Office 2013 was initially non-transferable, meaning once it is installed and activated in one computer, no other computer can use the same license, regardless the original is uninstalled or scrapped or not. This include situation when you want to shift from old or damaged computer to a new computer.

Anyhow, due to numerous protest by the users, there is news that Microsoft has just changed their policy to also allow MS Office 2013 to be transferable now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Charging battery over the air - wireless charging (a.k.a. inductive charging)

Remember that it was just a few years back when the industry players of devices carrying a rechargeable battery (e.g. mobile phone, bluetooth headset, GPS, digital camera, digital camcorder, digital voice recorder, ... etc.) unified their charging interface to use USB or mini-USB or micro-USB, so that we no longer need to carry charging adapter and charging cable for each and every of the devices, as they can now share a common charging adapter and common USB charging cable.

That move has also made possible for car or furniture to provide USB port featuring charging capability to our mobile devices, and the invention of portable power bank.

What's next?

I think the next move for the industry players is to do away the charging cable and embrace the wireless charging (a.k.a. inductive charging) technology.

Wireless charging involves transmission of power contactlessly (over the air) from the charging base station (transmitter) to the receiver using electromagnetic field. In fact, this charging technology has been used in Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush since the early 90s.

Nowadays, there are already several mobile phones such as Nokia Lumia 820/920, Google Nexus 4 and HTC Droid DNA for Verizon support wireless charging with the Qi standard, and there is rumour for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S IV to join the bandwagon too.

Imagine what will happen to our live in the near future when the wireless charging technology is more widespread:
  • The home theatre system surround speakers can be truly wireless, without the need of power cable.
  • The iRobot or other similar robotic cleaners can be recharged over the air and need to returning to its base station when battery power is low.
  • Workstation or table top can be the charging station for our mobile devices (including laptop). When we put our mobile devices on top, they are automatically recharged.
  • Restaurant, hotel and other places can offer "hotspot" charging service in the same way they are offering Wifi service now.
  • Hybrid or electrical car can be charged when parked at the garage or parking area with the charging base station on the floor.
And possibly, the following scenario could happen in the future too:
  • When one mobile device (such as a phone) is having low power, it can borrow the power from another mobile device (such as another phone, or a GPS, or a "wireless powerbank") by wireless transmission.
  • More home appliance become wireless (kettle, blender, TV, ...) and the amount of  power socket needed in our house/office/building can be substantially reduced.

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