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Colourful pixels on the latest tech
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-30 11:53
When the AirPods were released, some tech pundits were freaking out because regular EarPods were falling off their ears and it was a certainty that the AirPods were going to fall out the same way. It was revealed to them that they are much better set in your ears than they expected, therefore there was no need to panic for the majority of users doing normal stuff.
But what if you are not one of the lucky ones that have perfect ear canals for AirPods? What if you are actually the perfect user for AirPods? Well, you need to turn yourself to elago for a potential solution in the elago AirPods EarPads!
A set of « hooks » that wrap around the AirPods and a little hook that fits inside your ear cartilage. It allows to lock in the AirPod inside your ear and even if you move fast and normally have loose AirPods they will not fall.
The whole thing is made of silicone, a very soft silicone that feels comfortable. It’s very flexible thus adapts to your ears. For a perfect fit you actually have two sets in the box of different sizes.
I even tried to push the product even further by cutting the hooks and hope to have them fit inside the case. This is one thing that many users are looking for; a thin rubberized envelop that would allow to slightly increase the size and tighten the fit in your ear canal. At the same time, you won’t the AirPods to fit inside the case with that thin rubber rise envelope. Sadly the elago AirPods EarPads with the hooks cut do not fit in the case. Therefore you need to remove them each time you want to charge AirPods, this is their main disadvantage.
If you are someone for which the AirPods do not fit I strongly encourage you to look at the elago AirPods EarPads as a way to make the AirPods even better for you. If they already fit well there is no reason for you to look at this product. The design is very good and the quality on par, perfect for people with ears that do not accept AirPods naturally. You have to give it to elago to provide a product for almost every use cases in the wild.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-17 11:53
It’s not every day that a company comes up with the will to shake down a market. I remember when Vizio came out with their first local dimming HDTV at half the price of the competition. This was very impressive and it did rock the world of HDTV buyers everywhere. Today, they are still at it, but another contented entered the arena with the will to take down Vizio from its prestigious position.
TCL launched 4K television with HDR10, local dimming, Dolby Sound and Dolby Vision and many more features found in modern Vizio televisions that until recently sold for around 2,399$CA. I know this because I bought one of these last year. The new lineup of TCL is quite rich in terms of features and very affordable, but the one we need to focus on today is the 6-Series 55-incher. More precisely, the 55R617 model to be accurate.
The 6-Series 55-inch TCL Roku television is great looking. Right out of the box, I really like the slim bezels and the feet. Design-wise it’s really in the same category as the other major players out there, apart from a slight detail. Panel quality. You know this plastic film they put on shiny plastic panels to protect them? Well, when I removed it from this TV set, I had to be extra careful not to pull too hard or the panels would come off the television.
Assembly of the feet is very easy and requires only a Phillips screwdriver and the four screws. One thing I love about this TV and so often gets forgotten, a metal back. The top half portion of the TV is metal covered in a thin plastic panel allowing me to stick my Apple TV remove to the back of it using magnets. Yes, I still and using the Elago R1 Intelli Case for Apple TV Remote. Actually, I have two now; one for each Apple TV in the house.
The colour choice made by TCL is great and unobtrusive, overall I really dig this TV’s design!
There are two major components at play here, the TCL hardware and the Roku software. They need to work well in tandem for the overall experience to work. This means the hardware must be powerful enough to run the Roku OS and all of the nice 4K content its apps allow as well as the software needs to allow a sufficient amount of customization to really get the TV experience viewers are looking for.
On the Roku OS side of things, I’m happy to report that this TV is powerful enough to quickly drive the Roku OS; as quick as the most expensive Roku box out there basically. After that, of course, we need to try some 4K content to really get a hang of how it behaves with different sources.
Starting with Youtube and the nerd stats option turned on. I managed to get 4K60p content from all of the 4K videos I wanted to look at. However, trying to navigate around the video timeline is very buggy and jittery. To a point where it really struggles to keep up if you need to skip ahead more than once or twice. Even just moving from one UI button to the next lagged a lot. The Youtube TV app should really be fixed in that regard.
Moving on to Netflix. This time, I was not able to find any 4K badges on 4K content that streams in 4K on my Apple TV. Not sure if it’s a limitation, bug or something else. But the most I seemed to be able to get out of it is HD. I tried both Wi-Fi and Ethernet and that did not make a different. The Roku OS reports a great connection in both occurrences. One weird thing I noticed is the UI is very pixelated, kind of if the UI is in 720p and stretched to 4K. Also, all of the movies I tried to play got stuck at 25%.
For the record, I have the 4K plan on my account and it works flawlessly on my Apple TV (up next!)
I tried to use an Apple TV 4K with the Roku, basically turning the Roku into a dumb TV and it worked flawlessly. HDMI-CEC turns the TV ON when I hit the Siri Remote, it auto selects the right input and the Apple TV reports 4K60p and Dolby Vision are ON and working perfectly. This time around, I can get 4K content on both Netflix and Youtube without a hitch. There is definitely something wrong with the built in Roku Netflix app.
The Roku OS has a nice set of features allowing you to fully customize the display by adjusting its colours and behaviours up to your liking. One thing you lose when you have a low-cost panel like this is colour accuracy between units therefore you should try to use something like a Spyder 5 colorimeter to get accurate colours. For the other settings, Rtings put up a great calibration article that, as usual, is greatly detailed and helps quickly get the most out of your Roku 6-Series TV. Thankfully, out of the box, you don’t have much to change to get the best image on this specific television.
The only connector lacking is the number of HDMI ports. The 6-Series only has 3 and I would love to have 4 or 5. I understand that most people buying this TV might have one or two devices only, but it’s not my case. I have many devices and video games consoles and 5 HDMI ports is a good number. The cool thing though with the TCL 6-Series is that there are no “better, best good” kind of ports. All ports are created equal and if you enable gaming mode, the latency is actually very low and identical on all ports!
You do have an SPDIF digital out and that is good, as many low-cost TVs don’t have one of those. It’s required if you want to use a Sonos Play:bar, especially if you don’t want to “waste” the HDMI-ARC port for that soundbar. Another port that is almost extinct is the antenna port allowing you to consume over-the-air content.
And finally, there is a 3.5mm jack in the back so you can plug in many headphones for a wireless experience!
The 6-Series TCL TVs have 120 contrast control zones on the 65-inch model and 96 on the 55-inch model. This helps a lot to get great contrast from the panel. It also has 120Hz Clear Motion Index refresh rate and a few more settings in the options to allow to get 24p, 30p or 60p content appear the way you like it on the display.
Compared to my Vizio P-Series, I really don’t see any different in terms of panel rendition, colours or contrast. TCL really did an amazing job for such an affordable television! I tried the television in a very bright living room and even with the light of the day, the television was able to be bright enough to showcase all of the great colours the Dolby Vision HDR can produce! And I was not even at maximum brightness!
When you set up the television, you are asked to connect it to the Internet, a normal move since this TCL television is powered by Roku OS and needs a connection to show you content. But what if you want to use it as a dumb panel? And use another media box hooked to it? Then you would be tempted to disable the Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. You can do it, but prepared to be annoyed!
The front circle, and only button physical button on the television, is surrounded by a blue LED. This LED is used to provide feedback to the user when certain problems arise. But in the case of the user removing the Wi-Fi password and unplugging a network cable, this circle will blink twice then pause, and do it again until the end of time.
There is no way to have it not blink in your face constantly. This is a very sad situation, as I know, lots of people that are looking for a good panel in 2019 where they won’t use the smart features of it.
The sound quality sent from the TV is OK but not impressive. It can get loud enough to hear what actors are saying, but if you are looking for that great T-Rex trembling in Jurassic Park, you can forget about it! The bass is not very present therefore, all of the low thumping and trembling will be, well, absent. Get yourself a nice speaker bar and hook it via the optical out of the HDMI-ARC port on the back instead!
The remote is very similar to what you had with the latest Roku boxes. A good-sized, rounded remote that is comfortable to use and has nice shortcut keys to help you start those favourite services of yours! I do find the selection peculiar though. Netflix, that’s a given, but Deezer and TuneIn on a television is a weird choice since both are music services. Especially given that the television’s speaker do an OK job for movies, but a very bad one for music since they are lacking in the lower frequencies.
The last one is CBS All Access, a good contender, but fairly new in Canada. It launched in the US in 2014 but only last April in Canada, just in time for the new Star Trek Discovery television series. I’m guessing they are paying big bucks to be placed in this spotlight.
You can also control the volume from the side buttons. This remote looks almost identical to the one that came with the Roku Ultra with the only exception that it does not have a 3.5mm port for headphones. For private listening, you need to go through your mobile device.
The app has lots of interesting function and is worth installing to explore some of them. The private listening feature is very good and since a recent update to Roku OS you can have up to four people listening at the same time!
You can use the keyboard to search or your voice and almost all of the settings are accessible through the app. And by that I mean settings like picture calibration which are rarely seen outside the TV itself. This is a big plus for some quick adjustments.
You must be wondering how such a great TV with Roku OS built-in, a value of easily 100$ or more on top of what a regular TV can now cost under 1,000$ for a 55-inch? Well, this is explained by ACR.
Automatic Content Recognition. Your television can know what you are watching and this data is very valuable for data brokers. Thankfully, you can disable the feature in the options, but it’s ON by default. This way, manufacturers like Vizio or TCL can make extra money on an industry that usually has a 6% profit margin and at the same time lower the cost of the television for consumers.
I do not use the smart feature of my Vizio TV, therefore it does not have access to my Wi-Fi and it’s perfectly fine like this. For this TCL, however, since it has Roku OS you need to provide it with a connection or else most of the Roku OS features won’t be available.
The 6-Series TCL television is of tremendous value and I highly recommend it. For the price it’s very hard to beat what TCL and Roku put together. The panel is great and the HDR content looks amazing! It could benefit from stronger plastic panels, either a fixed Youtube app or a stronger CPU because the timeline actions cause major slowdowns in 4K and 2 extra HDMI ports. Otherwise, the port selection is incredible with low latency on every post when Game Mode is ON, no “better” HDMI port, they are all created equals.
The Roku OS adds a very nice touch to an otherwise great piece of hardware. And almost all of what I tried work perfectly as expected! If you are looking for the absolute best picture, follow the guides only to calibrate the feature but try to get a colorimeter to get the actual colours right. Panels are not calibrated identically in the plant.
The remote is a great remote, I always liked the Roku remote. The choice of the channels is not the one I would have made but this is something you cannot change. At the very least there’s a Netflix button and your favourite channels are always one click away when you hit Home on the remote.
Overall, 2019 is off with a great start with this amazing product! I can only imagine where they will be taking this product in te future!
I write these reviews for geeks like me, the great guy or gal that will be purchasing this product so they know the type of experience this product provides. This section is aimed at the manufacturer and lists a number of enhancements of fixes that would greatly benefit the product. Think of it as a TL;DR for just the things to fix.
There is a definite problem with the Youtube Channel or the processing of the stream that really drives down the quality of the experience in 4K content. Also, the Netflix Channel does not seem to be either using high quality assets or it’s running at a lower resolution for some reason; it’s very pixelated. Also, streams have a hard time starting; I did not manage to get a stream passed the 25% mark and all of the shows normally available in 4K do not have the 4K badge, only an HD badge. I have the latest version of the Roku OS, I restarted the television many times and used both wired and wireless connections.
Considering the 4K content is still hard to come by, I would strongly suggest to invest time in either fixing (or helping Netflix fix) the app so offer high resolution assets and fix that loading issue I’m having. For the Youtube Channel I really hope it’s not a performance bottleneck and just a bug in the channel code.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-07 11:28
PUBG just got released on PS4, and I got this sweet press kit! Let’s go through it with a knife!
This great press kit contains, of course, a download code for the game and nice extra including a pin and a coin! Hit that play button to see it in its full 4K glory!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-03 13:04
An alternative to the expensive Apple leather cases for the iPhone Plus size, the Jisoncase Leather Cases are interesting. They offer a quality leather case that is well moulded for the iPhone devices, but more than that. What happens after some time?
One of the things you consider when looking at leather products is the patina, the look it has after it is used and shows normal wear. I personally love how leather transforms over time and I’m happy to report that my red Jisoncase case is good looking after a few months of use. The black version I was provided looks like new!
The case itself is well fitted on an iPhone 7 Plus and looks great. The texture is also very good and holds well in my hands. The volume buttons are not perfect, they have a slight angle on the red case, but seem fine on the black case. Of course, they are always going to be harder to press at first and over time will become more flexible. This exact thing happened to me with the red case, the one I use most, the buttons are a lot softer now, but still misaligned.
Overall the Jisoncase are good products, not perfect, but still very good for about 23$US. Nothing beats the original Apple cases, but for this you need to pay a premium. Now, it’s up to you do compare both and see if you “need” to spend more or if the Jisoncase are good enough!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-02 19:30
We just published our review of the Elago AirPods Silicone Case that should protect your AirPods case from scratches, scuffs and more. But one thing it does not do is protect it from water damage. For this purpose, Elago has another case for this with a surreal name, the Elago Waterproof AirPods Case!
The case is similar to the Silicone Case but adds both a small Lightning port cap and instead of the second part attached to the top lid, we now have a longer main part that unrolls to cover the seam between the two AirPods case parts.
This seems very effective as it’s super tight and I do trust it to prevent water damage. You should use it if you are going to a place near water or if you are often forgetting your AirPods in the washer.
Available in 13 different colours the Waterproof AirPods Case by Elago if you count the versions with the hook; it should be easy to pick up and match your style! I strongly recommend this case if you are like me, very clumsy!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-02 14:20
I have always loved Elevation Labs products and I even help them by backing many of their Kickstarters and even bought some of their slightly blemished products once or twice. So I don’t need to tell you I was very curious about the Elevation Dock 4 when it was released! Over the years, I’ve reviewed the Elevation Dock 2 and the Elevation Stand for Thunderbolt Displays.
This one is not made from a solid block of aluminum, but should still retain what makes a great Elevation product, right? It sure does! You now have a more compact dock with an overmoulded silicone exterior offered in both black and white.
But the real novel thing here is that this is the first MFi certified dock to see the light of day! It comes pre-assembled with a braided Lightning cable and that cable is MFi certified! With previous versions of the Elevation Dock you had to use your own cable (or with the Elevation Dock 3, use the one provided) and wire it thought a smart piece of aluminum. This time around it’s ready to be used out of the box!
You still have the lovely micro-suction pad under the dock with two distinct parts so you have a choice of partial or complete stickiness 🙂 One great thing with the Dock 4 is the adjustability offered by the two stainless steel knobs allowing to fit iPhone with cases up to 3mm thick. The 18° angle is also adjustable and can be locked in with 4° increments for the perfect setup!
As a big fan of the CNC machined aluminum docks, I have to say that I was weary about this design change at first. However, after rocking this dock as my main dock I must say that the added benefits outweigh the loss I felt regarding the design. The ability to adjust the angle and the stickiness are very welcomed. Also, I’m a sucker for a good quality cable and the braided cable both looks good and feels great!
As it goes with most of Elevation Labs products, the micro suction pad is a great addition but this time around it’s even better with the two different surfaces that allows you to have a lighter or stronger hold to your table.
It really comes down to the looks of it since both the Elevation Dock 4 and Elevation Dock 3 are amazing products. The Dock 4 wins in terms of functionalities so much so that I now prefer it over the aluminum Dock 3. Perfect dock if you want something that charges or syncs large files faster! And the MFi certification confirms it’s a well-made product down to the part that usually breaks more, the cable! Strong buy, in my opinion!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-01 17:58
The AirPods have a nice looking shiny plastic case, but this thing will not stay pristine over time. You will see scratches, scuffs, and patches of matte spots on your case if you carry it with you every day of the week. Elago, known for their awesome docks for the Apple Watch with a retro vide, or an even retro-ier vibe, have made a nice perfectly shaped AirPods Silicone Case that cover 98% of its surface leaving only the Lightning port exposed.
The AirPods Silicone Case is made of a single piece of moulded silicone that protects both the case and the case lid, protecting it from scratches and more. The Lightning post is exposed so you can still charge it without having to remove the case.
Surprisingly, even after months of use it still holds very well! The only problem is the little think silicone hinge can get destroyed over time. Mine is almost ripped through after a few months of use.
I have just replaced my AirPods at the Apple Store after about 5 months of use and looking at my old malfunctioning AirPods case, it still holds up very well compared to the new one. I only had it for a few weeks before protecting it with the Elago Silicone Case.
Availble in 8 different colours, including gray, black, white and a bunch of pastel colours, they even offer a wicked Nightglow Blue that, as the name implies, glows in the dark! I strongly recommend the Elago AirPods Silicone Case and if Elago could make the hinge stronger, it would be perfect for long-term use. Just be wary that this hinge might break one day as it is currently offered.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-01-01 17:18
Here’s a quick article for the Belkin Apple Pencil Stand, a very nice, heavy stand to store your first generation Apple Pencil on your desk. This way it won’t be forgotten in a drawer somewhere.
The Belkin Apple Pencil Stand is a nice brushed aluminum rounded block with a rubber centre that receives your Apple Pencil. There’s not much more than this to say. It’s heavy, it’s nice to look at and it’s well made.
The Belkin Apple Pencil Stand is strongly recommended to save your Apple Pencil from the depths of your desk drawer. This way you can regularly plug it in and have it always ready to be used. The Stand does not charge it, but I still recommend it.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-12-25 17:08
Finding a great big camera bag is not that hard, but finding a great small, compact “just perfectly sized” bag is quite a challenge. Sometimes you are only going out for the day and have one camera and one or two lenses only and you don’t need the big backpack. What bag could git the bill? The Lowepro Slingshot 150 AW is a small, compact bag that can accommodate a compact mirrorless like my Sony A7 III with a Zeiss 24-70mm installed, a spare short lens and a flash.
Let’s get over the features of this compact, but very versatile bag.
The Slingshot Edge 150 AW is the smaller of the two sizes of the series. The Edge 250 AW has a single shoulder strap and should be used diagonally across your chest. When you need to take out your camera, you simply slide the bag across to the front and you unzip the U-shaped main compartment. There is your camera exposed and ready to use. If you need to swap lenses or add a flash, simply set the bag on a table or chair and unzip it completely. The internal divisions can be easily moved around thanks to the Velcro system build in most if not all Lowepro bags.
The second compartment is large enough to accommodate a few more accessories, chargers, batteries and more. You open it from the top. And for smaller accessories like a microfibre cloth, or a Lenspen, you have another small front pouch. And finally, if you need to attach a small compact tripod like the Giottos YTL compact tripod. As the name implies, the AW stands for All Weather and this means there is a hidden pouch near the bottom of the bag in the front where you can take out a nice weatherproof nylon cover to protect against the elements.
I’ve been rocking this bag whenever I need to go out for the day and I really loved my experience with it! I’m able to travel light and still have my trusty Sony camera and an extra lane and all the gear I might need during this trip.
I even used this bag exclusively when I travelled to Portugal and the all-weather proofness of the bag was perfect for beach days where I had the camera tucked away to use later. The zipper was good guys that blocked all the sand from getting inside the compartment. And the weather-proof pouch was quite useful at one point when it started to pour outside. Not a single drop on the back itself!
Major thumbs up for the Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW, as this bag really is the summum of compactness but roomy enough to allow you to bring all that you need for your quick or long trips. If you have a dSLR or an extra sense, you might want to check out its big brother the Slingshot Edge 250 AW which is slightly bigger. Both are great bags I highly recommend for any types of photography adventure!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-12-25 15:15
I recently bought a big camera as we call them, a Sony mirrorless camera but that’s not what we are reviewing here. The big camera comes with a decent strap but it doesn’t come close to the Peak Design Slide strap. Peak Design makes excellent products for photography enthusiasts and professionals, the Slide is no exception to that rule.
The Slide is made of high-quality nylon similar to car seat belts. Two quick adjusters are made of metal that feel extremely expensive and high grade. The open and close action of these adjusters feel and work great. The nylon makes it easy to slide on clothing and the grippy side prevents the sliding when the strap is worn around the neck. The straps attach to the camera using the unique Anchor Link system. More on the Anchors in the next section.
Now the main reason I was interested in the Peak Design Slide was the Anchor System. When I’m using the camera around the house, I don’t really need a strap but as soon as I head out I want the camera around my neck. Using the included Sony strap meant threading it through the clips each time. The Slide fixes this problem with the Anchor System, part is left on the camera at all times and you simply snap the strap on each side. The Anchor left on the camera is similar to a bigger shirt button, it doesn’t get in the way when the strap is removed and clipping the strap back on and taking it off is a breeze.
The second valuable feature is the different ways you can use the strap with your camera. The Slide can be used in at least three different ways. The strap comes with a mount that can be attached to the bottom or your camera using the tripod screw, this let’s you use the strap as a sling. The classic anchor points let you use it as a shoulder or neck strap.
The Peak Design Slide is a huge upgrade on almost any straps that come with cameras, it’s definitely a big upgrade on the Sony Alpha strap. The Slide Lite might be a better fit for smaller cameras, it comes with the exact same feature but with a narrower strap. Now that you upgrade your strap have a look at the great Everyday Backpack also made by Peak Design that also makes use of some of the same design element cue as the Slide.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-12-17 12:56
Once again this year, Google is trying to hit the market hard with a new flagship device. The Pixel 3 is available as the regular Pixel and the Pixel XL once again, tries to hold the large full featured top of the line flag. Is this Pixel phone worthy of the flagship title, and is it a good iteration over the old Pixel 2 and worth the 150$ price increases over last year’s phone?
I’ve been rocking the Pixel 3 XL for the last few weeks so let’s check it out!
The Google team in charge of the Pixel 3 hit a home run in my book. They managed to keep the design close to home, while making it cleaner, nicer and still add a touch of fun with the mint green power button. Yes, I have the Clearly White model! The glass back is beautiful to look at and I love the design lines on this device. It does not scream out like the Hydrogen One while at the same time feel refined.
In terms of design esthetics, for me the Pixel 3 XL is a pure joy to look at!
The Pixel 3 XL display is now a large 6.3” AMOLED panel that, for someone using a Plus size iPhone as his day-to-day device, feels perfectly sized. The Pixel 3 XL and my iPhone in his case are eerily similar in terms of footprint. The major difference is the screen that covers a lot more of the front surface.
In terms of colours, this AMOLED display is really nice. The colours are very accurate and I don’t see any blown out greens like I saw in the past on some devices. People mentioned the skewing of some colours when you tilt the device sideways, and yes I can see this, but how often do you look at your screen at an extreme angle? Sometimes I think fanboys only try to find the smallest grain of salt in the cogs…
There is a notch, and seriously you guys need to get over this. I’ve used an iPhone X and I’ve tried a few other devices and that notch situation is so overblown I find it crazy. Yes, the display is not completely covering the top, yes it’s not perfect, but seriously, I think this is a fair compromise especially if it’s designed in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. Embrace the notch, but make it look good. I’m looking at you Essential phone… 🧐
After not even a day, I totally forgot about the notch and ended up really liking the display with this notch. Just like the iPhone X, it’s not aggressive to live with this notch, especially when you consider all the tech they crammed inside this little space.
I really like first party case, but when I saw the announcement about the fabric-covered case I was definitely a skeptic. I was happy to see that they kept the minty green power button. I know many of you will find me weird, but I really, really like this little touch of colour on the side! ☺️
Once I got the Pixel 3 XL case on, I must say I became a convert. I was thinking of getting a rubber case or something like it, but that fabric gives just the right amount of grippyness and looks very, very good! It does not impair the ability to reach the fingerprint sensor on the back and I ended up keeping it on the device at all time!
This is one of the types of gizmos that you think you don’t really need, but… First of all, it’s inductive charging, by itself it’s a very useful feature. Second of all, Google added functionality so that once you “dock” your Pixel 3, it becomes a full fledge Google Home device responding to “OK, Google” queries. Great idea! This basically replaces the Google Mini people were putting on their desk. And finally, it includes 10W charging allowing you to charge your Pixel 3 XL quickly for when you place your phone on your desk for short amount of time.
Bonus idea, I really dig. Google made sure that it can display your best photos as full-screen while charging. It really looks good as a mini wallpaper display!
This charging stand packs in quite a punch. It can charge your phone fast with 10W of power delivery, as opposed to the regular 5W on Qi chargers and 7W with Apple’s fast inductive charging. But when you set your phone on it, you have the choice to enable the Google Assistant mode of the phone where your Pixel 3 actually becomes a full fledge Google Home assistant! It responds to your voice with the classic “OK, Google!”.
The stand is made of high-quality materials and shares the same design esthetics as the Pixel itself. It’s white and looks great just by itself. If you get a Pixel phone, I would strongly suggest you get this also.
Just like some of the HTC phones, the Pixel 3 has the Active Edge technology that allows you to trigger an action by squeezing the phone in your hand. Thankfully you can set the intensity of the squeeze so it does not trigger all the time and so it does not require a Hulk level squeeze to work. Sadly, all it can do is trigger the Google Assistant and when you are receiving a phone call, a squeeze will silence the call. Not bad, but more customization would be welcome.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, a slightly more powerful CPU than the one in the Pixel 2, the Pixel 3 XL is not a slouch. It’s very responsive and the overall experience is great. Some features, especially games, could benefit from a newer CPU like the 850; which is simply an overclocked version of the 845 currently in the Pixel 3. If this was the only change from last year, most of the new camera features would be impossible to use. For that specifically, Google introduced a new Pixel Visual Core chip that supercharges most of the photo-taking capabilities of the Pixel 3.
Be it the HDR+, Top Shot, Portrait Mode and the Night Sight features, all of these would be significantly slower without the Pixel Visual Core helping crunch these calculations! This brings us to what many considered the biggest changes to the Pixel phones this year… the camera!
The actual sensor is not much different from the one in the Pixel 2. Most of the new Pixel 3 features are or will be back ported to the Pixel 2 in the coming months. The more processor intense features will not be back ported because they need the Pixel Visual Core 3 to be able to function in a relatively fast fashion and for some, like the Top Shot feature, it is still MIA.
Let’s take the Night Sight mode, where you take a low light or even nighttime photo and after the magic processing, it’s almost as if it was taken during the day! If you quickly go to Photos after taking the photo, you will see the original version and an overlay marked “Processing…”; then after a few seconds you actually see the processed version. This only takes a few seconds, but I’m sure it would take another 5-10 on the Pixel 2. Compared to the processing done on the iPhone XS, I agree it’s not as intense, but Apple was able to cram the processing right in the viewfinder. Therefore you see the resulting pic even before you click the shutter button. If Google could have more powerful silicone, they could even do the same!
The quality of the images taken by the Pixel 3 XL are quite simply amazing. Sharp and with well-balanced colours, always. It’s a real joy to look at! Quite literally, dSLR level! When working with hard conditions, even without the Night Sight feature, it really gives out superior photos. It does so very fast and even features like the Portrait Mode works great. On the Pixel, this is all software achieved since it only has a single camera lens. The way Google approaches things with its Portrait algorithm has always been one of the best and the Pixel 3 XL gives out amazing results.
From my recordings, the 4K video looks good, but when you have such a powerful photo camera, you are kind of expecting something amazing on the video side. Don’t get me wrong, if you mix the Pixel XL camera with a nice Moment Case and a wide-angle lens, you will be able to take amazing videos. I was just expecting more.
You can record 4K30p and 1080p/120p (60p or 30p). The often preferred 24p is nowhere to be found.
This feature needs to be discussed a bit more. The camera actually takes a bunch of shots and then processes the result to make sure it can leverage the best of all the pictures. It eliminates all of the noise and really makes the image look as if they were taken during the day. It’s not perfect and you can clearly identify those photos as being taken with Night Sight mode ON. However, for the situations where you are missing a small amount of light, it’s really great!
Here’s a bunch of examples taken with the Pixel’s regular camera, then with the Nightsight feature ON and finally with an iPhone 7 Plus.
The camera is great but what’s even better is the second selfie camera that is equipped with a wide-angle glass. This allows you to fit a lot more good people or landscape in your photos. It’s like if you arm became more than twice its current length all of a sudden!
I’m not a big selfie guy, but I can see the appeal and this will be well received by many!
Google is really getting their shit together with separating most of the OS features into single apps, like the laughter or the camera. This way more and more people, even those without an available Android update, can have a close to vanilla experience with Android the way Google intended it to be. And that OS is really good. Coming from an iOS user, this is high praise. I am at a point where I can recommend Android as much as iOS to anyone, it’s solid, stable, feature full and tries novel ideas that are pushing both OSes forward.
The price is, however, the pain point. This Pixel 3 XL tested starts at 899$ for the 64GB model and 999$ for the 128GB model. I complained about the iPhone XS prices and I will complain about the Pixel’s price too. The jump from the iPhone X to iPhone XS does not warrant such a big increase in price and similarly, Google decided to do the same thing with the Pixel and raised the price for no apparent reason. The Pixel 2 XL was 749$ when it came out last year.
Apple started the trend of raising prices and it really seems other manufacturers like Samsung and Google followed suit. Not a good idea, in my opinion. At least, you could get a free Pixel Stand when you pre-ordered the phone so that’s a 79$ consolation prize.
The Pixel 3 XL, is such a great device, I was hoping the price would stay the same so that it could get even more units sold since even the Samsung Galaxy is a 1,099$ phone. The Pixel is cheaper, but being kept at 749$, it would have been quite a hook into Samsung’s jaw!
Overall, the Pixel 3 XL is the definitive Android phone to get this year; at least until now! According to many the Google Pixel 2 camera was still the best camera on a smartphone before the Pixel 3 came out and now, with the new smarts in this camera, the Pixel 3 phones are now even further ahead the competition! I strongly recommend the Pixel 3 XL to anyone looking for a great phone!
The camera and the work the Visual Core chip is doing is quite simply incredible. Just look at the sliders of photos up there for quite impressive examples. Google hit hard with Top Shot, Super Res Zoom and the nice wide selfie camera. All of which have a wide aperture and powered by Google’s custom silicone we achieve results that basically keep it in the Top 1 position on the market!
The performance of this phone is great even if it does not have the best CPU when it got release, but with a full-day battery life and quick charging you will definitely not feel constrained! And Google is behind its product 100% having release multiple great updates since the phone was released. Including one that caused apps to be closed due to a high memory consumption issue when using the camera and its powerful algorithms.
If you are looking for an Android phone this year, this is the phone to get! And if you are curious about Google or would like to switch to Android for a change, you will have a great experience!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-12-05 11:17
When you fall in the amazing world that is mechanical keyboards, it really feels like a breath of fresh air for a kid of the 80s. And if you are too young to have lived in that era, please try a real mechanical keyboard. Once you do, you will fall in love with this hobby!
In the past I’ve tester short keyboards like the Pok3r, the new Sakura switch equipped Varmilo and the Durgod TKL just to name a few. But after having stopped on a keyboard of your preference, you need to dress it. And by that I mean equip this keyboard with options that will eventually lead to your endgame, a term often used to describe an enthusiast keyboard that is in its final form of evolution. One of these evolution is the keycaps set or keyset for the initiated. More than just plastic bits, they really can make an incredible different on the feel and ergonomic of your keyboard. A few months ago, I purchased a great keyset on Massdrop, the Matt3o /dev/tty MT3, a set that reminds of the old IBM PCs of the 80s.
The keyset is great and has a very high profile, aptly named Hi-Profile. The caps are very high quality and looks amazing, however, I was craving for another type of profile, something that is a lower profile. Here comes the classic DSA Granite, also designed by Matt3o too, are made of quality PBT plastic and dye sublimated.
The DSA profile is much shorter than the Hi-Profile but still have a half-dome design that is comfortable to type on. The shape allows you to easily centre your fingers on the keycaps and after a couple weeks on them I find them much more comfy to type on than the Hi-Profile set.
I have installed this keyset on both a Varmilo VA68M V2 as a tenkey-less solution and on the big Sakura equipped Varmilo MA104C. As you can see, they look amaaaazing! Personally I prefer the short-size keyboard to keep my Logitech MX Master mouse close for ergonomic reasons.
If you are looking for a great keyset that will fit with all keyboard design and do not need to wait for a group buy, jump over Pimp My Keyboard to grab a custom DSA Granite kit with all the keys that you need for your specific keyboard!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-28 08:15
Friends of our podcast, Brian and Angelo, just published their latest Double Density podcast episode with a special guest, Casey Liss! The guys did an amazing job of recording this great show with a great discussion on superstition, A-powered Apple computers and the best bagels (#TeamMontreal)!
I personnaly know Angelo and Brian and have been behind the scenes of the production fo this episode and I have to to bow very low at the efforts that was put in place, not only to do a great recording, but also to match the audio of Casey’s track as close as possible to how his voice sounds on ATP (Marco would be proud!)
If you are not a listenener of Double Density, what are you waiting for??
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-23 17:23
This week we discuss security hygiene, or if you prefer best practices. We hoped to cover security related to devices, but it’s already a very packed episode!
Enjoy the episode and take notes if you learn something, the whole episode is a big PSA!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-23 12:03
I’m betting the first thing you realized once you opened your Apple Pencil box is where will you store the replacement tip and the small female adapter? Well, Belkin has a solution for you in the shape of a case, a transport case that is very sturdy that can also, be used as a stand to showcase and have your Pencil ready at all times!
The Case + Stand for Apple Pencil is a storage box made of two half parts that receives your Pencil as well as all the other accessories you might have laying around. They are stored in perfectly shaped containers hidden behind a small door. This way you will not loose the spare tip and it even has a place for an extra cap as, you know, this is probably the most lost part since the invention of small parts!
If you do not need to store and carry your Pencil, you can always close the lid and stab your Pencil on the case. It has a small place where you can set your Pencil vertically so it’s always ready to be used.
The Case + Stand is a great product by Belkin, we can see their mastering of moulding and plastic to appropriately match the Pencil esthetics while at the same time offer useful storage compartments for the small parts of the Pencil.
For storing the Pencil on the go the case is great, and if you need an accessory that can also serve as a stand, this is the one to get! Nice design, nice useful features and a two in one, it’s the perfect match between form and function.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-08 12:21
This is not my first rodeo on an electric skateboard and I’ve come to be quite used to the hub powered world of electric skateboard. When seeing what people were sharing about the Exway X1, I was really wondering if this board was all that mighty and great as the early videos showed it to be…
I’ve been riding an Exway X1 for many weeks now, and after camera troubles, I’m finally able to film and edit my review. If that’s what you like hit the Play button in the hero image and read this through afterwards!
The X1 is a stiff deck electric skateboard that actually includes everything you need INSIDE the board and not under the board like Boosted or Juiced actually does it. Sure, you do lose the flex of the deck, but you also gain waterproof capabilities! The Exway X1 is rated IP55 and can survive puddles, rain and more. The only real downside is that you will need to clean your bearings more often.
The deck also has a nice concave shape that really helps with the overall control of the board when turning corners and carving around obstacles. I felt great on the Boosted Board, and the Exway is as great and it does not have the very nice Loaded deck. One particular component that so often have problems is the trucks. Often times, you will see cheap trucks being used on electric skateboard and in the worst scenarios, they can break and be very dangerous. Exway actually partnered with Seismic, a real skateboarding truck company to make sure they have top quality parts that will not break. Believe me, I’ve put more than 200 km on the Exway in Montreal where we have cracks and potholes that will put lots of strains on trucks when you hit them hard at 40 kph!
The wheels are 80 mm with a durometer of 80A, great wheels for city riding as they absorb lots of the vibrations. The board has also shockpads preinstalled to help with this. The only downside to this diameter of wheels is that the PU around the hub motors is too thin for hard road conditions. After 50 km I already had cracks on them, because 80 mm is not thick enough to absorb vibrations like the front wheels do. Not a single crack on the front wheels, but lots of cracks on the hub motor PU. Thankfully there is a spare set in the box and we can already get 83 mm wheels and 85 mm wheels on the Exway store! This will help greatly!
The remote is very similar to the Boosted Board remote which, in my opinion, is the best remote out there in terms of control. The deadman switch and the wheel are just perfect. The Exway team took notice of this and built a very good quality remote. It does not have a deadman switch, but the wheel is almost as good. I’m also in love with the small screen that can not only display the battery of both the remote and the board at all times (thanks to a recent firmware update) but also show which mode you are on and the speed at which you are going!
This screen is incredibly useful and I don’t know why not more companies integrate such a nice feature in their remote! Finally, the remote has a matte finish that holds very well in hand, sadly it can easily come off. It does not impact the performance, just that it looks a bit more beat up. Personally, I like it a little bit beat up, it shows that it’s been used!
There is only one wheel for speed and one button to turn it ON or OFF, change the mode from 1 to 4, or even set the board to reverse.
The performance of the board is quite simply amazing. If you were not looking, you could basically say that this is a belt-driven system! It’s even more powerful than a Boosted Board! I could not accelerate as fast as a Boosted Board but I could go much faster than a BB v2! But where this product really shines is with every little detail that was carefully thought and rendered into a fully featured board, waterproof and high performance!
In terms of speed, we can very easily know what is your current speed thanks to the speedometer inside the remote and clearly displayed on the screen. The board is rated at 40 km/h and I was able to reach very easily 38-39 kph with all 250 pounds of myself. It also accelerates fast to reach that top speed. This number is corroborated with speed radars in my neighborhood, they report the same speed. To be fair to the Exway X1, I also need to compare this speed with the Ride App, the mobile app that allows you to track your ride. With the Winboard and the Koowheel, I had to use this app since neither of them had any speedometer and at that time I did not have yet the speed radars.
I can reach 43 km/h according to Rideapp! Quite a bit more than the 38 km/h I got with the Koowheel using the speed hack!
As for the range, the manufacturer promises 15 km (10 miles). As with Boosted Boards, and all other boards, it all comes down to the way you ride, how many times you stop and how fast you go. I love speed and I do stop at red light, therefore, my maximum range is not as high as that promised 15 km. I always ride on the 4th speed with all customization options set to 100%. Also, I like to carve. In short, I have two speeds: stoped and full steam ahead.
For my style of riding (and with my weight on the maximum of what’s supported), I can get about 4 to 5 km of range. But if I know I need to go further, I change the remote back to 3rd speed where I have set the acceleration to 80% and 75% maximum speed with a 100% on the breaking for security reasons. This way I can increase my range alot and reach about 8-10 km depending on the road conditions and riding style. If you really want to reach the full 15 km, you might need to go back down to the 2nd speed but for me this is too slow.
I prefer to ride hard and fast and charge once I get at work. Using the charger, you can go from 0 to 100% in 2h. I usually have about 20-30% on the battery left when I get to work so in about 1h and a few minutes I get my board back to 100%. Brand new from this week, you can now get a quick charger that charges at 160% the rate so you can do a 0 to 100% charge in 35 minutes! This way you can stop to get a coffee, take a few sips while reading the news and your board is ready to go once again!
The remote will need a charge every 2.5 weeks for me if I ride the board 5 km in the morning and 5 km in the evening. I would love the vibration to be less intense, if often time give me a scare when I’m concentrated on the traffic around me.
The Exway comes with a concave deck, great Seismic 45˚ trucks and bushings and a very comfortable wheel base. All this adds up to an amazing riding experience. Second to a Boosted Board that uses a flexi Loaded deck. The Exway deck is not flexible as they decided to install the batteries inside the deck to offer a nice waterproof rating. Carving is a pure joy and it really feels like you’re riding a cloud! If the streets are freshly paved!
Acceleration is great, especially when your board is fully charged and breaking is good. It’s not great because I’m a heavy guy and when coming at about 28 km/h I find it lacks breaking power to come a full stop. I nonetheless feel safe riding in traffic in Montreal.
This brings us to the only downside of the Exway, the way the battery management system and battery behave when you reach the 30% mark or lower. At full charge, when I get out of my house the power throughput of the BMS is amazing. I really fly, accelerate super fast and get to that 38 km/h in a few seconds. After riding for a while, when I get close to the office, I’m in the 30% range and I now see that that the acceleration is much slower. It still goes and I can still climb small hills, but you definitely feel it.
Yesterday was an awful day with constant wind at high speed and I got to work in the 10% range, it was still going but very slow. It’s like I was down to the first or second speed at about 16-18 km/h. There’s really no solution to this unless you stop to recharge with that new Quick Charger that can do 100% in 35 minutes.
I remember having the same issue with the Boosted Board v2 but not that strong of an impact though.
This is for city riders a real gift from above! No more riding around puddles or fearing drops of rains. The Exway can resist water splashes with its IP55 rating and I can confirm having ridden it on wet pavement and while it’s raining. It even happened yesterday that I crossed a rain patch on my way home.
It works perfectly and I still feel the bearing are great, not perfect, but great and that’s after riding the board for over 270 km. The only danger really is to yourself as the slick wheels will slip if you turn too fast or if you try to carve. Watch out and wear protective gear!
Given that the design of the board provides protection from the elements, there is not much maintenance to accomplish. You basically have the bearings to clean once in a while and perhaps the grip tape. All the electronics are embedded inside the board and apart from the bearing nothing is exposed.
You might need to change the bushings on the board depending on your weight. They come with 90A durometer bushings and I have just received 98A purple bushings that should allow for a better riding experience. Right now I need to super tight the trucks or else the board wobbles when I go fast. I’ll be sharing a video shortly about the bushing replacement and the maintenance I will do to my Exway board.
Overall the Exway X1 is the best hub motored powered electric skateboard for the masses! With its affordable price of 888$US at the time of writing these words, you get an amazing board designed to be low maintenance, resist water damage and provide sufficient speed for the most demanding customer.
If you are lighter than the 250 lbs I weight, you will even have more fun with faster and longer range than I had! If you can, get the 83 mm or 85 mm wheels and a Quick Charger as believe me, you will not want to stop riding it! The 80 mm PU on the back wheel is too fragile so if you need to ride into the city with awful pavement, you should seriously think about the 83 mm wheels at the very least!
I don’t have any major issues to report that are exclusive to this board and my overall satisfaction is very high. I strongly recommend this board to anyone that is looking for a board that can grow with them if they never rode one in the past. It will offer a great experience once you are used to eSk8s.
I write these reviews for geeks like me, the great guy or gal that will be purchasing this product so they know the type of experience this product provides. This section is aimed at the manufacturer and lists a number of enhancements of fixes that would greatly benefit the product.
To make this board perfect, you should offer it with options for different wheel size when purchasing the board. You just added new 83 mm and 85 mm wheels yesterday so I’m super happy about this as I was going to strongly recommend doing so! The voltage sag is not something you might be able to do much about with the current configuration but it’s something that you should really look into for the 2019 update of this board (or your next Exway X2 board if one is planned!) Perhaps offer replacement bearings as this is really the only part that will eventually need replacement.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-07 12:29
After many weeks on the Exway X1, here is my full review, in video form. If you are looking for words, subscribe to the social accounts, the written review is coming up soon!
TL;DR: It’s amazing, but not perfect! It is faster than a Boosted Board and have lots of unique features. Check out the video for the juicy details!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-11-01 12:28
I’ve been recently invited by TCL to a press event where they were showcasing their latest models of television just in time for their launch in Canada. Starting this month, you can order one (or many!) of their great television sets in the Great North!
For those of you that do not know TCL, I was one of you guys until recently, they have been around for more than 35 years doing everything from electronics to refrigerators and washing machines. They have a great offering that cover most of the vertical of making products and that’s why they’ve been around for so long. Just like LG, they make their own products and panels and that’s how they are able to offer so much performance out of what seems, just by looking at the price, an entry model television.
That’s one of the peculiar things about TCL in 2019. Because of their vertical integration they are able to offer so much more than some of the competition, at such a low price that you end up wondering if it’s a price error in the store!
TCL will be offering three series of television in Canada, the 3-series, 4-series and 6-series. The each have multiple sizes available and cover the whole spectrum of prices from a cheap 32-inch 3-Series for 219$CA all the way to a 65-inch 6-Series for 1249$CA.
The crazy thing for me is the 6-Series, sadly due to logistics problems they were not able to have one to show, but just looking at the specs you can see why this is a very interesting product. Available in 55-inch for 849$ and 65-inch for 1249$, this 4K HDR-enabled display with Dolby Vision support has a great contrast thanks to its 120, yes one hundred and twenty zones, of local dimming. This feature was still only available on very expensive displays from LG and Samsung, and Vizio democratized it over the last few years. And now, you have this same technology in a sub-900$ television!
Thanks to their amazing colour engine, it allows for the full HDR colour spectrum and most of the DCI-P3 scale. Usually, you need a dark room to benefit from these colour technologies, but in this case, TCL has worked on its engine to make these benefits stand out in a room with daylight around!
As detailed above, TCL has been around for many decades and offer different products in different parts of the world. Some of them have Android TV, some have their own Linux-based operating system and for Canada, TCL partnered with Roku to be the exclusive OS behind their three lines of products!
I’ve always loved the work Roku puts behind their technology and the care they put in to keep pushing updates out, even for older products. One example is the latest update, version 8.1, bring the Private Listening feature to the full living room. Before this version, you were limited to have one single device doing the Private Listening dance of streaming the audio of the content being watched to your mobile device. But today, you can do the same thing with multiple devices!
Well, I can’t say since I was not able to review one of their products, yet. But from the good friends over at Rtings, an amazing television review shop in Montreal, they have put it against the Vizio P-Series 2017, that’s my television I reviewed here. And while not being better in all accounts, the 6-Series with its 1249$ price tag is basically as good as the, now 1600$, but not too long ago 2100$ P65-E1 television!
If TCL can pull this off this year, I can only dream of what they will come up with next year and totally take the market by storm!
I really look forward to test the 6-Series in all its 4K HDR glory, even with broad daylight around me!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-10 14:56
This week we discuss the new fall release from Apple, the Aqua Image Library, China’s Big (Biggest?) Hack and we review the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset and the Exway X1 Electric Skateboard!
This is an amazing episode! We talk about the bane of our existence, Siri for me and Touch ID for Tyler while discussing the new iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-06 13:14
There are many great innovations showing up every year in the great world of headphones and audio gear. Some are for enhancing the simplification and usability of a technology, like the AirPods for Bluetooth earbuds or amazing audio quality like the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.
Surround audio or 3D audio is something that requires specialize equipment, XLR connections, a mixer and even a custom audio codec to capture the ambience around you. Now this is changing today with a product that can do all that, without a special codec, it can even be heard on regular headphones and can fit on your ear! The AMBEO Smart Headset by Sennheiser is a pair of in-ear headphones that work connected to your smart device, in this case using the Lightning port of my iPhone, and record 3D audio in your good old Camera app or any other Camera app on iOS.
The AMBEO Smart Headset is a set of earbuds with three size silicone cups that plugs in your ears. They also have some kind of a hook around your ears on which sites multiple microphones to capture the audio around you. They record and mix down the audio in a simple stereo track while keeping the ambiophonic track intact. It is added to the video your Camera app already records and, best of all, it simply needs regular headphones to be listened too!
Attached to the cable, there is a core component that allows the headset to be smart. The brains of the headphones are part of a rectangular piece that hangs midway on the cable. It includes controls to toggle between the different listening modes. You see, you can actually toggle the active noise cancelling OFF, a feature not many headphones offer. The other mode you can set it too is transparent hearing where you can actually hear your surroundings. The microphones pick up the sound around you and mixes it with your music or podcast. Very useful when you need to stay alert.
And finally, there is a mode where the regular mode without active noise cancelling. From a switch on the smart module you can cycle through all of these modes.
It is very surprising to take these out of the box as I was expecting them to be quite bigger than they really are. They fit very well in my ears and are lighter than expected. After coming from years of wireless headsets and AirPods, I do have some difficulty adjusting to the added tug on the cables caused by the smart module. It’s not pulling hard enough that it pulls the earphones out of my ears but it does still weight enough to be noticed.
For me these earphones are mostly aimed at providing great binaural audio and believe me they do! I’ve filmed a couple of scenes in my recent trip to Mexico and made a quick movie to showcase the special gift this headset offers your ears. Headphones required !!!
As you can hear, it is very impressive and allows for a greater depth in your recordings. So much so that I’m thinking of using my phone as a field recorder while my Sony A7 III records the images!
You can’t really get anything simpler, just plug them set the level (regular or lowered specifically for loud environments) and that’s it! Hit record and enjoy !
They do offer a good noise cancelling, but I never found a great ANC system when it comes to earphones. I tested for a while the Momentum Wireless and the Urbanite XL Wireless from Sennheiser, both with great ANC and I loved the result. It might be my ears that are not liking the in-ear and ANC combo so your mileage may vary with this feature.
The AMBEO Smart Headset is a crazy good recording tool! No need for complex setup, mixer or weird codecs, this simple headset offers what many of us tech nerds wanted for quite some time! 3D audio on the go and with no fuss whatsoever!
The 3D effect is great and believable and recording on your phone or with your phone as a field recorder could not be simpler! I’m not in love with the act
Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-01 15:22
Time for another electric skateboard review, well, not quite. This time it’s an unboxing and first impressions! Then, later the full review will come!
The Exway X1 is a recent board that promises belt-driven types of performance, ease of use and quality inside a more affordable package with a bunch of smart features that you will really like!
The Exway X1 is the first board from the guys behind the Exway company and it’s a seriously good first try! You can think of this as mix between a Boosted Board, a Juiced Board and sprinkle on the result some magic dust that adds smart features through a mobile app that does not only show the total range ridden but allows you to customize the behaviour of the board!
The main feature of this hub motor powered board is the fact that the whole thing is IP55 water resistant. This means that almost everything electrical in this board is hidden away. The board itself has a bottom part made of shaped plastic and the waterproof grip tape covers the top of the board for a great seal. The power connector, a usual suspect when water damage normally occurs, is water tight and uses magnetic charging.
The only damage you can get from puddles is rust on your bearings that requires a normal maintenance!
Head over to the included video for my first impressions and expect a full review very soon!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-01 13:18
Rarely have I seen a documentary of an old game or console with this amount of details. Congrats to Gaming Historian for making The Story of Tetris such a complete and interesting documentary!
For any fan of Tetris on the NES be it the legit copy or the unlicensed Tengen version, or the crazy popular Tetris on the Game Boy, you have no idea everything that happened with Tetris over the years! This is a strong recommendation!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-09-04 00:00
Mophie released a wireless charger alongside the new iPhones last fall. It was a Qi wireless charger that worked with the new iPhones and other smartphones. This is the second generation of the Charge Stream Pad, now with a faster 10W maximum output.
The wireless pad is made of a nice rubber material. I never have a case around my phone and I’m not afraid to throw it on there. The non-split coating means it doesn’t move around because of notification vibrations. The puck size charger is big enough for the 8 Plus, no worries about being half on the charger.
The wireless charger comes with a 1.5m micro USB cable which is longer than your average accessory cable and a wall adapter. It would of been a nice opportunity to switch to USB-C given that the average consumer that is using wireless charging might have newer devices like Android phones that use USB-C to charge. One downside of wireless charging or inductive charging is that you can’t really use your phone while it’s charging unless you use it lying flat on the table. The charger is located in the living room and I often fallback to using the lightning cable I have running through my couch. A little LED indicator light is located at the bottom of the charger which is unfortunate for people who want to use the charger on the nightstand. It’s a very faint light but it’s still unnecessary. It’s possible to charge your phone through cases, I’ve only tested with Apple silicone and leather cases.
I can’t talk too much about speed or performance of the charging since it’s not how I use the device. I use it as a resting place for my phone when I’m running around the house or preparing a meal. However, I’ve monitored how much power it’s gained from fast 30 minutes charges. On average the phone gains 10% of battery power. I didn’t turn on airplane mode or anything special I just set my phone on the charger for a couple of minutes while I don’t need it. This might sound weird in the performance section but the speed and ease of using a wireless charger versus a regular cable is something to take in consideration.
I’ve become a big fan on wireless charging despite the incorrect naming of the feature. The convenience of simply setting your phone down on the Charge Stream Pad+ is really underrated in my opinion. Once again as an Apple user I’ve come late to the wireless charging game, I remember saying that it was useless well, I was really wrong. Now let’s see if there is any real downsides of wireless charging on the extended battery life of our phones.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-27 11:40
In the world of high-definition television, the technologies are fighting a deadly war to get the prime spot in your living room. While certain companies like LG are firing at will using expensive OLED, other companies like Vizio are trying to strike a balance with new high-tech features and affordability.
The way Vizio presents its series is on a multiple-tier system. The E-series is economic models, the D-series is usually larger and better TVs still affordable, and the M-series is including some of the great features but still more affordable and finally the P-series is all of the technologies and the most of it without falling in the multi-thousands of dollars.
Think of it as the best price quality balance for enthusiasts that does not want to invest 3,000$ in a new TV but still wants some of the sweet features these TV has. Let’s look at the Vizio P65-E1, the 65” 4K HDR television that does a ton for a great price!
The Vizio TV has always had slim and simple, modern design that does not jump out to you. The P-Serie has a silver frame around the panel, it’s a nice-looking plastic border. However I would have preferred a black contour as sometimes it catches my attention.
There are no screaming lighted logo, thankfully! You do have options to control the LED and when this is lit. To have the best experience I strongly encourage you to shut all of these down to focus on the content you are watching.
The rest of the TV is very simple and all of the ports are well laid with sufficient space between them.
I’ve been running this 4K TV for many months and after trying multiple calibration setups, I think I have the best image I could get it to be. And I must say that this television is amazing! I ran different versions of similar content and the 4K resolution is very noticeable, but most of all the HDR when you are able to find the highest quality content, is really something great to look at!
Certain series like Narcos on Netflix are giving you such a great colour rendition that is unnerving at first. Mind you that this is not the typical overblown and over-saturated demo like you see in show rooms. It’s very noticeable but it does not hurt your eyes or feel alien.
The P65-E1 has smart features and smart apps, but I still find the experience cumbersome and not that great. I guess I’m not the only one as the TV is also a Chromecast receiver, so sending content to it is quite fast and very well embedded in multiple apps. I’m wondering if last year’s model is better with the small tablet. I find the idea interesting.
For me, a television must be as good as it can be for image rendition. The P65-E1 certainly does not reach the level of the LG OLED screens, however, it’s not 3000$ either. For the price of the P65-E1 you can’t really beat it.
I’m mostly using the TV with a 4K Apple TV, which devices allow me to consume local content with Infuse and streaming content, all in a single box, plus all my apps and settings are automatically shared to my regular Apple TV. I can control the TV with the Apple TV remote thanks to the HDMI-CEC tech embedded in the Vizio TV. No need to set it up, it just works!
After proper calibration, the screen is really a marvel to look at. Its black uniformity is excellent and perfect for dark rooms, that is one of the reasons why I set it up in the basement living room! Sadly, the viewing angles are not the best. I have a couch straight in front of it and that is perfect. However the side chair is at around 45° and already shows lots of picture degradation.
One of the ten-pope features of Vizio over the years is the local dimming. This model leverages this perfectly. One easy way to see it in action is when you have the loading throbber of the Vizio menu turning. You see the backlight zones follow it! It’s pretty neat, but thankfully in any other type of UI I encountered I did not see it show that obviously anywhere else.
One thing that I notice when standing close to the picture is that after pausing on a fixed image like a video game menu, and quickly opening the Apple TV (which show a solid Colour screen), i see absolutely no retention of the image. The P65 has a VA LED panel and that is one of the advantages of this technology versus OLED.
You can use the smart features that are built in like Netflix, but after trying them I quickly realized that my Apple TV 4K is much better at playing such content. With the exception of YouTube that is not being played in 4K on the Apple TV to this day.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the advertised features work well, I’m just too demanding to wait for the UI to load and process my actions. I find the slowness that sometimes happens to be too much and prefer the fastest Apple TV.
In my day-to-day setup, the Apple TV is what is driving my media consumption and the Vizio TV is the nice screen that displays it. I also have a Sonos Playbar for fuller and richer sound.
If you are looking for a great affordable but feature packed, modern television, the Vizio P-Serie is an amazing choice! It exceeds my expectations on multiple levels. Just make sure you don’t cheap out on HDMI cable to get the best image out there! The 4K and HDR content is marvellous to look at but only works if you have a full bandwidth cable like the Belkin 48Gbps HDMI with 4K HDR!
The setup, image quality and overall quality of the television set is what got me hooked. Sure you can spend 3,000$ for a better-looking.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-27 10:37
This week we discuss the new MacBook Pro CPU saga and its happy ending, the iPhone 3G and our stories around it and an archive of wallpaper souvenirs!
RGBA – Subscribe!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-26 11:41
No matter what the standing desk, there is one single accessory that you must purchase. The standing desk is a great idea but rare are the individuals that can tolerate standing up for 8 hours straight. After 2 to 4 hours, most workers need to sit down or take another type of break from standing up. This can lead to many hours in a sitting position and not really leveraging the benefits of a standup desk.
Imprint has a solution for this exact problem. The CumulusPRO Series has the Commercial Couture Strata, an anti-fatigue mat that removes the strain of standing up all day with even more nice features.
This particular version in their line of products is considered the higher quality. It has the same foam as other products but with a nicer finish and an adhesive underside.
You can set it and literally forget it as it becomes part of the floor. It stays at its place and does not move by an iota! The colour and texture are interesting and adds to the whole professional and quality look.
The very first day I installed the mat, I figured I might see some slight improvement. But it was much more impressive than I thought! I was able to stand up all day, a whole 8h, without feeling the same fatigue in my calf or ankles.
I still move around and change the position of my feet, but the fatigue is nowhere to be found! It makes a huge difference! If you are the kind of person that still wants or need to sit down, you will probably choose not to stick it on the ground, as the adhesive is very strong. It’s removal, as I have removed it a few times, but it takes an impressive amount of strength to remove it. Also, over time I’m afraid it would actually begin to tear if I pull on it too often.
I always knew anti-fatigue mats were a plus. However I did not think they would be such a big plus and have such an impact on a daily stand-up desk routine.
If you want to achieve a full day standing up, or if you have physical fatigue when standing up for long periods of time, take a serious look at the Imprint line of products and more specifically the CumumusPRO that allows you to benefit from a large and comfortable product with a nice-looking design.
I’ve tried some anti-fatigue mats in the past when I was working in retail, but never a full day straight standing up. I usually moved around quite a lot. Today, I do not recommend a standing desk without a good anti-fatigue mat, such as the Imprint CumulusPRO! High quality, great looks and most importantly, the tool I needed to get through the day standing up without any discomfort!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 11:55
Telus is often launching interesting initiatives and the Baby Health one is very interesting. They are launching an app to track your baby’s growth and development as well as record milestones in his or hers cognitive development.
This project starts with an app. The Telus Baby Health app is available for both iOS and Android. It reminds me of the paper books that parents are filling for the first few years of their child, although in a digital form.
On the free goodies side of things, Telus is partnering with The Baby Box program to send parents a free box! Just follow this link to learn more!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-04 07:07
This week we joined the guys from Double Density to talk geeky subjects, the inception of RGBA, our podcast, and dwelve into what strikes a cord for us on the paranormal.
High five to Brian and Angelo for letting us share the double density platter of their great show!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-27 09:19
Alvaro Pabesio is back at it again this morning with a new iPad Pro 11.9” design which is almost borderless, no notch and all of the tech from the iPhone X!
This new design removes as much as the border around the display as possible, without impacting the hability to hold the device comfortably in your hand. The display has all of the features of the newest iPad Pro and the depth camera of the iPhone X. Plus it works horizontally, as it should!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-20 12:18
This week we discuss sad Macs, quick Shortcuts, a Dark World and top off the conversation with Bluecups and coffee upgrades!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-15 10:56
As always Elago made an extremely elegant stand for the latest product. This new elago HomePod Stand is made, as the name implies, for the HomePod, elago was quick on the draw for this one and the result is great. If only all companies were so reactive to come out with great accessories for new products. I’m looking at you AirPower. 😏
The stand is made to have the HomePod rest on its side. It’s made out of nontoxic silicon to prevent the speaker from slipping. The material is very similar to both Apple Watch stands. We have reviews of both the W3 stand and the W4 stand.
The stand is available in white or black to match both HomePod colours. The white stand matches the white HomePod really well. Anybody that isn’t deep into the sphere won’t realize that’s it’s a third party accessories and as opposed to a genuine product.
Not much to say in this department. The stand doesn’t block the microphones or speakers in any way. I didn’t notice any difference in sound quality because of its orientation. The HomePod also adjust automatically to different positions so technically some changes are made to the output once the speaker is set on its side. Having the speaker on its side also means that the Siri light is now facing in one direction. If the speaker is sitting up high on a bookcase for example, the vertical orientation makes the tappable surface easier to use. However, when the HomePod is set on a lower surface this prevents the 360-degree view of the animation.
If you plan on setting your HomePod up high on a shelve, the elago HomePod Stand is a no brainer. The orientation greatly improves the visibility of the Siri animation and also makes the play/pause volume controls more accessible. This is exactly the kind of neat accessory elago excels at.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-11 13:10
Remember when the HomePod launched in the US, Sonos launched the same day a speaker set that included two Sonos One, their most affordable connected product powered by Alexa and soon Google Assistant.
Well, it seems that this was popular as Sonos is now launching a dozen set of speakers of all kinds from 2 to 5 Sonos Ones to full living room kits with a Playbar, a Sub and Play:1; or even a vinyl player kit with two speakers!
All of these come with a small price rebate that can be used to share the love between friends or get your whole house equipped like never before!
Many of these kits are amazing, just one small caveat though, the vinyl player kits are not coming to Canada, sadly. Sets start at 378$ (instead of 398$) and go up to a full cinema kit for 1,899$ (instead of 2,056$).
Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-11 12:48
After embracing Amazon Alexa and soon Google Assistant in the new Sonos One single speaker, Sonos has already started to refresh its product line with a new contender. The Sonos Beam is a cheaper, fully featured speaker bar for your living room. Measuring only 25.6-inch wide and sold for only 399$, the Beam is a cheaper alternative to the Playbar.
Ships with Alexa pre-installed and ready to be used, this new speaker bar also makes use of the HDMI-ARC connection instead of the optical in as the Play uses. You can use the ARC marked port on your TV as an “output” to send the audio to the speaker bar. Otherwise, you can still use optical as the Beam has a backup optical port and the cable is provided too.
The idea behind the Beam is to allow you to control your television, send content to it and even add the TV to scenes which could trigger many different actions grouped together to really set up your living room into the perfect cinema mode!
The Sonos Beam is available for pre-order now and will ship on July 17th. AirPlay 2 is compatible with it and will come with a software update the same month. Alexa is built-in and Google Assistant will come by the end of the year.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-28 19:13
This week we discuss a peculiar interview with an aluminum fan, a new technique for green aluminum and Apple’s solution against hackers is to do … nothing!
Great discussion on the benefits of the new aluminium from Alcoa, a company from Quebec and Apple. They actually partnered to manufacture it in mass and you can be sure that it’ll come in a future iPhone!
Love what Apple did to circumvent the GrayKey devices!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-23 15:29
One of the greatest mouse on the market recently got a new revision. Just from the looks of it you might not think there is much things new about this new model, but in reality it’s completely new internals and very interesting new software features that makes this mouse new and interesting.
The bulky design of the MX Master 2S allows you to rest your hand on its back. This makes for better ergonomics, especially if you are like me and feel pain when using a low profile mouse like the Magic Mouse. The 2S also retains large glider pads on its underside to slide comfortably on almost any surface.
In terms of buttons, you have the exact same layout as in the previous generation. Click able scroll when and a mode-changing button, both on top. On the side, you have the back and forward button as well as a second scroll wheel and a large thumb button. All of which are fully programmable using the Logitech Options software.
The colour scheme changed a bit from the bronze to different shades of black and gray. A choice I salute as it’s better suited for nicely designed offices.
Before we jump into my experience, I wanted to reiterate how this mouse can be used both as a regular Bluetooth paired device or using the Logitech Unifying dongle. This dongle allows for multiple paired Logitech devices on a single USB adapter. Perfect when you have a keyboard too.
I’ve been using this mouse for the last two months as I wanted to be sure a symptom I had with the previous generation was not happening. When paired using regular Bluetooth the mouse often times locked up when in use. Skipping a few inches of onscreen travel. None of this was happening using the Unify adapter. I’m happy to report that the new MX Master 2S does not suffer from the same issues. Both types of connection are perfectly stable.
The new 2S has a tracking engine of 4,000 dpi compared to 1,000 dpi for the previous MX Master generation. This makes it even more reliable on very new and even surfaces. At work we have brand new desks and when I’m cleaning my desk I often had small imprécisions when draging the mouse quickly. This is also gone.
The last hardware change I would like to discuss is the battery life. They say that it is now sporting a 70 days battery life. I personally was not able to last two full months, but I managed to get a full 6 weeks of use out of the tiny battery. Compared to the MX Master, it’s way longer. However, I don’t really care as the way I set up my desk I always have a microUSB cable on hand ready to be plugged into the mouse. Still if you want to keep a perfectly empty desk, the longer battery life will be an amazing change as you will only need to plug in your mouse once every 6-8 weeks!
This last feature is a very niche feature but I totally understand why some might be mindblown with this one. Flow is a software that runs accros multiple computer on the same network and allows the mouse to move from computer to computer by simply going out of the screen boundaries.
This is not a feature we never saw, I remember using a similar technique in my Windows days, however Logitech pushes this much further with encryption between communicating computers and, what I think is the greatest idea, you keyboard follows in the swap!
This means when you mouse cross between computers, you Logitech keyboard follows it so you really only need a single keyboard and a single mouse for multiple computers! You can also share files by drag and drop accros the other machine! This is really impressive!
When I saw the very first announcement of the MX Master 2S, I was skeptic as if it was just a colour change kind of update. I’m happy to report that every little annoyance has been killed and every single feature is better. And if you need cross computer functionality, Logitech Flow is there to save the day!
I was highly recommending the MX Master to everyone and now I’m strongly recommending the 2S as it’s better on all accounts. There is also the MX Anywhere 2S that got a similar upgrade if you are looking for a more compact and easy to cary mouse.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-30 09:04
Nina Richards made an amazing NeXT inspired case for her Raspberry Pi. This was made possible with a custom 3D model she 3D printed and she used a bunch of components to make the backside very flexible. She even shares the STL files and the full list of parts is available on her website if you want to give it a go yourself!
Bravo, this is great work!