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Colourful pixels on the latest tech
Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-19 15:40
This week we discuss classic consoles, classic scores, leaks on leaked memo and a 32-bit world!
Sega will soon join the fun with a retro Sega Genesis and we have a funny stituation where à leaker leaks a memo about employees leaking Apple information to the press.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-17 12:16
After many months of waiting, a few leaks later, we finally have the new version of the Boosted Board! And the best thing is that it does not come alone! Boosted announced a total of four new boards this morning, two mini boards and two full size boards.
The Boosted Mini S is a composite board that includes two motors on a short form factor of 29.5-inch while being able to still give a punch. Top speed is rated at 18 mph (29 kph) and the range is set to 7 miles.
If you need more from this board, you can get the Boosted Mini X with a slightly faster top speed of 20 mph (32kph) and what looks like an extended battery allowing for 14 miles of range (22.5km). The small boards have a U shape board to allow for greater manoeuvrability and a new specifically designed set of 3 speeds.
If you prefer the longboard-style board made of bamboo, you now have the choice of two new versions. The Boosted Plus is what looks the most as the V2 design, but according to information on Boosted’s website, it’s completely rethought. You get a new composite deck that’s partly made of wood, but also other materials like polymer sidewalls, a high-density foam for vibration dampening and fibre glass. The looks are similar to the Loaded Vanguard board, but the board really is fully re-engineered.
You can still get that sweet 14 miles extended battery that comes standard in the new Plus as well as the 4 speed remote we all love for a 22 mph (35.5kph) top speed. The Boosted Stealth is not only an all-black version, with black wheels, but it’s also slightly faster at 24mph (38.6kph) and also has the 14 miles range.
Prices are as follows:
Also, you can still order the V2 Dual+ XR for 1399$, most probably for a limited time until the run out of units.
I’m looking forward to seeing the new boards in real life, this level of quality and the new lower price will make it for steep competition. That new shorter board really is something I was wishing for ease of transport around when I do my commute.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-03 21:50
Even though the HomePod is still not available in Canada, we were able to get our hands on it thanks to Tyler who took a trip south fo the border. He got the white HomePod and after trying it for a little while, he repackaged it in the original box and sent it my way to try it out.
Here’s our review after a few weeks of testing the first smart speaker from Apple, the HomePod!
This should not come as a surprise to any of you, the design of the HomePod is great! Pictures and videos do not do it justice, the HomePod is covered by a meshed fabric, but it’s not like if you stretch a piece of fabric on a cylinder, it’s actually a 3D foam thing made of mesh. The closest I can think of in terms of comparison, is a complex 3D piece of 3D printed foam sponge made of thin lines with lots of ventilated space.
It’s soft to the touch and quite spongy when you press on it. Not sure about the cleanliness after some time if you keep it close to your sink or kitchen, so I would most probably install it in a living room area or far from splashes of water food or spices. The cable is also fabric coated, although it is not spongy this time around.
And finally, the underside is made of silicone; something you need to be careful with as we learned recently that it can absorb the oil of oiled finished woods. Simple solution, get a nice cork coaster and you are good to go!
The top of the HomePod has a tactile screen that has only two purposes, display the Siri animation when it’s interacting with you and offer tactile targets for play/pause and volume up and down. That’s it!
Being coined by many as an audiophile’s smart speaker, it’s simply fair to go over its audio reproduction capabilities and it’s smarts. Let’s keep out of this review the still unreleased features that are AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing.
Before jumping into what I think of the audio reproduction of this smart speaker, I must confess that I never considered myself an audiophile. However, in the last few months I’ve been told by many that I’m able to distinguish audible differences between tracks (or podcast tracks) that others don’t. I was always sensible to good sound and always considered myself a careful listener that really tries hard to understand how songs are mixed and how each song “feels”. But it seems that I could actually be an involuntary audiophile…
As many did before me and many will after me, I started with a varied set of songs that I know and love from many decades of listening. I know these songs and have listened to them on many different devices going from the 2$ earbuds all the way to a friend’s 35,000$ audiophile sound system. These songs includes One by Metallica, Master of Puppets by Metallica, Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine, Pull me Under by Dream Theater, Metropolis Pt.1 by Dream Theater and many more.
The HomePod uses its iPhone CPU smarts to process the audio in real time and decides how it should sound by changing what instruments or vocals should be front and centre and what should fade out in the background. After many hours of listening, the decision it takes is not always the best one. Some songs actually sound incredible and you could easily think of the HomePod as an audiophile product. However, in the vast majority of the songs, it actually remixes everything very poorly.
Two easy examples, People of the Sun by Rage and Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai (both regular and remastered) are two songs where the bass is very present right from the start. And for some reason, the HomePod thinks that it’s not that important, messing up the complete balance of the song.
The worst part is that it can also be incredible and room filling in a way that no other speakers can. That’s really the worst. You just know it can be so good, but it’s not most of the time.
The HomePod leverages Siri and in order for it to work to its full extent you need to set your iPhone and the HomePod to the same region and language. I had my phone set to English (Canada) and Siri kept asking me to change it or else she could not help me with most of my requests.
This tells me that somehow, many types of requests go through the iPhone (or Siri on the iPhone). It might just be a temporary measure and once the HomePod is really released in other countries it might change. Asking for specific songs by artists is really a hit or miss, and most of the time, a miss. For example, asking for Killing Me Softly by The Fugees brings out a cover version by a band that has a super long name and does not include the word “Fugees”. But when asking to play the best songs from the Fugees, the first one is Killing Me Softly.
It’s a pity that for some reason it decides to play something totally off from the request and at the same time knows that the requested song is in the most popular songs of the band. Other times, it does not understand at all what I’m requesting and starts to play a totally random and not always similar sounding song. Kids trying to interact with Siri is even worst as my kids almost never get it to play the song they want.
The microphone array does make a difference in that it can hear you from afar and still process the request. I’m guessing that the hardware side of it is not to blame as it’s a bad from 2 feet as it is from 20 feet with my back facing the HomePod.
As for smart interactions with intents, there are only 3 intents that are compatible with the HomePod; Messaging, List and Notes. I was surprised at how well it worked when asking the smart cylinder to add a TODO item to my Things 3 app. It works very well and the response even said it added it to my Inbox for future sorting if need be. You can’t initiate a call with the HomePod, only transfer a call to it from your iPhone’s speaker menu. The sound gets much better for the other person once you do so.
It’s no surprise that people are curious about how it behaves compared to the speakers by Sonos. I happen to have a Play:1 in my dining room/living room that has been recently optimized using TruePlay, the room optimization feature of Sonos to calibrate the sound to its environment.
The Play:1 with a flat EQ sounds better to me than the HomePod in terms of audio reproduction fidelity. And since I can adjust its EQ to my liking, I find the sound to be predictable and reliable to the original content. It does not fill the room the same way as the HomePod does. By moving away from the direct line of sight of the Play:1 the sound changes and is less present. This is the strong suit of the HomePod, its circular array of speakers and vertical bass subwoofer makes it perfectly the same at all angles.
If you are an audiophile, this product is definitely not for you. You know your music and how it should sound and the HomePod will hurt like a sore thumb each time you stumble across a song that is messed up by the HomePod. Which will be more often than not. However, if you are a regular person that does not have any audiophile requirements or do not care that much about high fidelity to the original recording, the HomePod is for you.
Let’s just hope that the Siri team makes it better understand requests as even for Apple Music subscribers, the success rate of it finding the right song when requesting a very specific song by a very specific artist is, once again, mostly misses. There are still lots to be fixed with the HomePod, more intents should be added, Siri must get better, the audio processing must become reliable and children must also be understood better.
And, as listed in the intro, there is still no AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing as promised when the HomePod was announced. So if you are on the fence with the HomePod, because one or many of its lacking feature is bugging you, you should wait for it to resolve one or many of them. Otherwise, you can go right ahead, to the US, UK or Australia to get one as you will most likely like the product.
What about Sonos? Well, Sonos went as far as offering two Sonos One’s for the price of one HomePod when it launched in the US. The One is the Play:1 size speaker with Alexa built-in (and Google Home coming later this year). Which, for the price is a much better offering than the HomePod since you can do a stereo pair and really fill any room with a better sound thanks to the stereo pairing and placement of two speakers. Sprinkle on top the Trueplay feature that really makes the sound perfect for the room, and the openness of more than 50 music services, I really think that a duo of Sonos One speakers is a much better proposition!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-29 12:20
This week we discuss moving walls in an ad, Apple and its MicroLED revolution, a fired/not fired exec and a few funky rumours!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-27 20:13
We were expecting a new product from Moment, however, I was not even dreaming that they would release an anamorphic lense! This new Filmaker Collection is a great idea and pushes professional iPhone movie making to a new level!
The collection contains a real anamorphic lense that includes great natural lens flares for this great movie look. An iPhone X battery photo case that can charge your iPhone as well as allow to install Moment lenses on it. A filter mount for Moment lenses so you can screw on standard 62mm filters like a polariser, a neutral density filter or any other kind of artistic filters! And finally, a set of counterweights so you can properly install your devices on one of those super popular gimbals!
All the devices are now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, so take a look, I really look forward to review these products!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-10 10:39
One of the ways to fix echo in a home recording is to plaster your walls with fabric, or sound panels. But when this is not practical or possible, you can leverage a simpler non-permanent solution. A vocal booth is mostly achieving the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.
The VRI-30 comes as a foldable sound panel that is thick enough to absorb echo in most rooms, and makes for a cleaner sound. The attachment is working fine for when you have a vertical condenser microphone and the included slidable bracket helps in that regard.
In my case, I have a straight classical Shure Beta 87a microphone so I could not use the same boom arm for the VRI and the microphone. I ended up zip tying it to the arm and used the second part aiming downward. This was tied microphone could be adjusted to be as close as the panel as possible and offered all of the benefits from it.
I tested this VRI-30, which is considered the “small” configuration, in my office room where I am suffering from lots of echo. I ended up testing three configurations.
The first one is from a sitting position on my main desk back to the wall and close to it. The second one is from a stand-up desk in what I consider an alcove, in the same office. There is a part of the ceiling that is closer and makes up for a nice little corner close to both the ceiling and the wall. And finally, sitting in the middle of the room where the echo is the worst.
As explained above, I jerry-rigged my own solution as I was not equipped with the proper type of shock mount to have an easy installation. Nonetheless, I could still work my way with this vocal booth and get it to work as well as it could.
Ideally, you must place the mic inside the foam section so that the microphone is surrounded by foam. It’s easier for a condenser mic like the Heil PR40, but it still works for Shure shape microphone.
!! (use of headphones is strongly recommended!) !!
This first test is from the first 1/3 of the width of the room, with a sitting position. In front of me I have my Thunderbolt Display. This is my regular sitting desk where I work most of the times and recorded the most episodes of our podcast.
Without Vocal Booth
With Vocal Booth
For this test, I’m standing up facing the wall in what I explained as the alcove above.
Without Vocal Booth
With Vocal Booth
And the last test is simply standing up in the middle of the room where the echo is the worst since there is nothing blocking the sound and it can freely bounce around.
Without Vocal Booth
With Vocal Booth
As you can hear from the above tests, the LyxPro VRI-30 makes a huge difference! If you are recording voice overs or simply podcasting, I highly recommend this product. The only downside of using the VRI-30 is the actual size of the thing and the placement not being very flexible.
For example, while recording our podcast RGBA.fm, it was basically in the way of my monitor so either I don’t look at the show notes, or I put it on the side and keep turning my head every time I want to say something to the microphone. Not the best situation. If the vocal booth was installed on some kind of tripod ball head, I could easily mount it upside down or on its side and be able to see the screen. Without changing the vocal booth itself, LyxPro could easily add accessories in the box to offer a much better adaptability of their product!
Otherwise, if you are looking for an effective way to block echo and isolate your voice, this type of vocal booth is ideal, you should really look into it or its siblings of various sizes!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 12:30
This Griffin battery is not something that can be considered exciting. It does not have many features, does not have any embedded charger or cables, and it does not offer enough power to charge a MacBook Pro. But this battery is just the type of lifesaver that you most definitely need in your suitcase or backpack.
The Griffin Reserve Power Bank (18,200 mAh) is a large battery that is compact enough to easily fit in most of your bags. It’s impressive that more than 18 Ah fits in such a compact plastic case.
This battery is ideal if you have a phone or a tablet to charge. It does not come with any of the newer super fast charging technologies, but for a regular Android phone or iPhone, at 2.4A it still chargers as fast as the 12W iPad charger brick.
I tried to charge a Nintendo Switch and while playing it’s not providing enough power to keep it alive, the battery % still drops down almost as fast. But I was still able to charge it overnight. I was not able to fully charge it twice, the second time it stopped at around 40% but the battery was also used to charge a GoPro Hero 6 camera.
The Griffin Reserve Power is by no means the fastest or strongest battery, but it’s a reliable buddy that I was happy to have in my bag when I required an extra juice for my phone or tablet. It holds a charge for a long time and can almost be charged and forgotten for a few months.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 08:07
This new ad is very beautiful and kind of reminds me of the essence of the Apple ads from the iPod days. Spike Jonze does a wonderful job of transforming the world around the actress dancer.
Rare are ads I woudl qualify as must see. This one, however falls exactly in that category.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 07:49
This week we discuss the HomePod reviews, the leaked iPhone boot loader and the threat of non-native apps!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-31 20:39
This week we cover the HomePod initial reception, discuss the new iOS 11.3 announcement, a few rumours and some nasty privacy obliterating tactics.
Very fun episode this week! Enjoy!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-31 12:45
The world of inter-connectivity is large and full of half measures and lives on top of a mountain of dongles. But what if you’re fed up with all that? What solution lies out there that can help you get ahead of the game with performance and functionality? A single product to rule them all, a product to allow you to use all of the lost connectivity from the new MacBook Pro redesign of 2016 and 2017?
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is exactly what you could consider a solution to all of your adapters, dongles and missing port problems! This new Thunderbolt 3 equipped dock allows you to bring back Ethernet, USB 3.1, DisplayPort and even Firewire 800 back to your MacBook Pro! The Dock comes with its own power adapter so it can even deliver enough power to charge your device while plowing through an SD card full of 4K videos and displaying 5K content on an external monitor!
Following the design aesthetics of modern Macs, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in two colour schemes, Silver and Space Grey to match your most recent MacBook Pro. It also sports a nice dark plastic top to add a very distinguished look to your desk!
As it was the case with the previous generation Thunderbolt 2 Dock, OWC added ports to two sides of the dock. This time, however, the other side with ports is the front. So in the front you have some of the most useful ports that requires regular plugging and unplugging. You have a high-powered USB-A 3.1, a headphone/line out 3.5mm jack and a SDXC card reader. This last one is the one I’m using the most!
On the back you have four USB-A 3.1, one SPDIF, a Firewire 800 and an Ethernet jack. There are then two USB-C ports but really you only have one left as one is needed to plug the dock into your computer. And finally a mini DisplayPort to allow for an external display. This port is NOT a Thunderbolt 2 port and does not allow you to daisy chain other Thunderbolt 2 devices or use it for file transfer, its for display purposes only.
I wanted to hold on for a long time to this dock before giving my final say as I had great experience with docks the first couple of days but overtime I realized that the reliability was simply inexistent. I’m happy to report that the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock does not suffer like these unreliable docks. I’ve had hard drives installed on it both on USB-A and USB-C ports and they did not disconnect not once.
Same thing for the Ethernet, I was able to keep a constant connection to my home office switch while the Dock was kept ON and plugged. I would take my laptop away and back, and always find myself with a waiting Ethernet connection ready to be used.
With a modern Mac, a typical scenario would be to have an external screen and accessories like external drives, perhaps even a USB audio interface, all hooked to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Then, when you hook your computer to the dock you should get access to all devices. This part is easy, where usually devices have problems is when you remove and reconnect your computer many times over the course of many weeks. Overtime, many docks will have issues with the network connection or a USB drive will not mount. This is harder to test as you need to use the Dock in your daily setup and put it through a stress test over a long period of time. So, as you might have guessed, I did just that.
After a few months, I’m happy to report that not a single hard drive failed to connect and the network connection is still stable and strong. I only plug the USB-C cable in my MacBook Pro from the OWC Dock and my Thunderbolt Display in another USB-C port. I even moved all of the peripheral from my Thunderbolt Display to the OWC Dock so I could ask it to do as much as possible. I even tested having an SD card plugged in over time, and not a single disconnection or issue happened.
The number of ports is impressive and allows you to add a lot of connectivity in a scenario that weirdly reminds me of those pesky Dell Dockstations for Latitude laptops from my Windows days. You only need to plug in a single USB-C cable and everything is instantly available to your MacBook Pro. Very useful for professionals that have a complete setup and do not want to tag along half a dozen adapters and dongles.
Given how stable the connection is with all the peripherals plugged it, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock allows me to really only connect a cable to get access to it all. And best of all, once all is plugged, I can really forget it, as I know, it will keep a reliable connection to the mounted drives and the network. Something that is not easy to achieve in a world of varied external devices.
The design of the dock is amazing and fits perfectly the new colours of MacBook Pro to really be a good desk companion for your setup. The options are great and allow for a good range of connectivity, I only wished it would allow for one or two Thunderbolt 2 ports as I still have a few devices that are using this technology and I don’t feel like adding dongles to the OWC Dock. There is a single mini DisplayPort that can be confused for a Thunderbolt 2 as they use the same connector but it’s really only meant for display purposes.
Overall, I strongly recommend the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. I’ve been a user of the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock and Thunderbolt Dock 2 for years and out of them all, the OWC dock is the one I prefer with its sleeker design and most of all rock-solid reliability!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-30 10:49
The documentary by the guys behind 8-bit Generation has been rewritten and some new footage was filmed. Not sure why the first try failed, they pulled the campaign before the end, but this one looks even more interesting.
With great names like Wozniak, Makkula, Hertzfeld and Sculley, there is bound to be a great insight into some of the toughest decisions made in the history of Apple. Previously named Firing Steve Jobs, the documentary will revolve around the time Steve was fired from Apple.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-16 09:12
This week we discuss the mess that is the CPU vulnerabilities, a new modern video codec, the iMac Pro gets a teardown and we review the new Varmilo electrocapacitive keyswitch keyboard!
Great discussion on the recent processor design vulnerability fiasco, we will circle back on the subject soon I’m sure of it!
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-15 12:12
There are large electric skateboards, actually most of them are longboards, so what models exists when you are looking for a smaller, easier to transport board? Winboard, makers of electric skateboards offer such a model with the GT-M8 2.0, a rigid deck short skateboard with a battery and some mean in-hub motors.
The company is not at their first product and they are launching at least 2-3 per summer. This GT-M8 2.0 is their latest board, so how does it perform?
The 28” deck is made of wood with an integrated battery, therefore it’s much thicker than other boards with an apparent battery casing below the deck. At 28” it’s only 1” longer than a Penny Nickel , something unusually take with me on my daily commute.
This board is powered by two hub motors of 700W each and a battery of 158.4Wh. The battery is hidden under a plate hold in place by a couple of screws. Around this battery you have the charging port and an ON/OFF push button. No USB ports and nothing else.
On the top you have grip tape and the shape is wider in the front than in the back. The board weighs 5.8 kg (12.8 lbs) so it’s easy enough to carry with you on the bus or subway.
Very similar in design to the Boosted Board remote, you have the same buttons plus one switch to turn it on and one switch to put the board in reverse. Not sure why you would like to do this…
The dead man switch is present but does nothing, it only works with board equipped with lights and turns them ON or OFF. Sadly the quality of the remote is not one of its strong suits, it feels flimsy and that plastic and metal rattling when you release the throttle at once feels like it’s going to shatter in your hands…
Turning it on and connection with the board is quick and I did not encounter any problems or disconnection. There is, however, a small delay, perhaps 300ms when you put the throttle quickly forward. This delay seems lower once you are already moving so it’s not such a big problem most of the time. Just get use to it before driving in traffic!
I like to test boards for a few days to get the hang of them, see how they behave in the wild world. Just by looking at the specs I was really hoping to get a powerful board that could come close to a Boosted Board, or Juiced Board and even have a better range than a Boosted Board. I was in for a deception.
The first charge has to be 3h to fully fill the batteries according to Winboard. So I did exactly that. I took the board in my daily commute which is from my house to the bus stop and from the downtown bus stop to my workplace. It’s a total of 3.6km to and back, so for this board I was expecting to be doing at least 12km so in theory I could do two days on a charge! I was very hopeful as the board does not have multiple modes so the numbers should match real life?
I was able to get to work, that’s the first 3.6km, and then when I wanted to come back home I managed to continue straight to the community mailbox and when I want to turn around the block, the board died on me. So this is about 7.4km with basically no carving and a very flat path all along. No need to say how surprised I was to only achieve 62% of the promised range (that’s taking into account the lower number!)
The second performance metric, the speed. Using the great Ride app, I was able to achieve a max speed of 25.6 kph (15.9 mph) on a slight inclination. That exact same spot allows me to reach 39.7 kph (24.7 mph) with the Boosted Board V2 Dual (not Plus). The promised 25-28 kph was reached!
The cold weather affected the battery life and shortened its range by at least 50%. It required a full charge to get from home to work or vice versa.
One of the features of such a product is the reliability. This aspect of the product was what felt like the worst item to check off the list. Twice the logic board broke down and had to be replaced. When powering it on, all of the LEDs on both the board itself and the remote were lit as they should but the wheels would not turn. Replacing the board fixed the issue, but this type of scenario should not happen.
It’s not water damage, nor physical shock that broke the board. The only thing that happened is that I tried to run the board down to 0% and perhaps some undercharge scenario happened and something fried the board. The manufacturer does not know and I tried to be helpful and sent back both of the boards for them to investigate.
Another problem I experienced is linked to the choice of ON/OFF button. It’s a push button where you set it ON by pushing on it and “clicking” into place. I was riding one day and rode over a crack. The very same crack I run over every day both with a Penny Board and other electric skateboards. The board instantanly shut off. I manually stop and take a look to investigate, the button got moved back to the OFF position because of the crack… Thankfully I’m used to ride at these speeds and I’m pretty good at emergency stopping. But once again, this should not happen!
All in all, the idea behind the board is great but the execution is lacking. It is short and should be great to ride, however, it’s not comfortable due to the hard 1.5” thickness of the board, and its promised range is nowhere near what the board can do in real life. The top speed is in the range promised so at least this is good, but you do need a fair length of road to reach it.
If only the board would not break down, twice, it would have been a OK product. I cannot recommend a board that is designed in a way that all of the electronics are exposed, broke down and turn itself OFF while riding over a crack. Often times, skaters will say that a product was not made by people that do skateboard and I must agree that the Winboard GT-M8 2.0 is a mix or parts made by an engineer that never rode a skateboard for more than a few minutes. Just look at what Meepo does with a product costing half the price of the GT-M8 and offering such a great experience!
It is indeed possible to make a great product with low cost parts, the Winboard products are just not it.
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-12 13:14
In the world of keyboards, mechanical keyboards have been with us for many decades and have received lots of love in the last couple of years thanks to new players introducing innovative design, new layouts and most of all a crazy amount of key-cap customization.
Varmilo, a very well-known maker of great mechanical keyboards using the Cherry Corporation key switches has pushed the technology one step further and decided to develop and release their own type of mechanical key switches. The Electrostatic Capacitive (EC) key switch is a contactless system that has all of the benefits of the regular mechanical switches without any of the disadvantages!
This new keyswitch is exclusive to Varmilo and instead of requiring a physical contact to trigger a keypress, it uses a capacitance level to allow for a wide range of “trigger” point. Since there is no physical contact, there are many advantages that come from that. Longer life and stable feel over time are only the beginning. In theory, Varmilo could come up with dozens of variations of keyswitches.
Faster response is what gamers are looking for and since the new EC switches do not need to touch a contact to trigger an event, they are much faster and the key trigger is calculated in under 5ms. Also if you ever spill a drink on your keyboard, there are no contact pads that can be clogged or sticky. Simple drying would be sufficient and it will not affect the react time of the key switches.
All this is possible without affecting the feeling of typing. You keep the great mechanical keybord feeling without some of the downsides of classical key switches. The rubber domes in the Topre EC switches is dampening the sound whereas the Varmilo EC switches are “naturally” dampened without the need of a dome.
At the moment, Varmilo is offering the keyswitches as the Sakura Pink switches and plans to release soon a Greenery and Rose switch. The Sakura Pink is close to the feeling of a Cherry MX Red, the Greenery will be close to the Cherry MX Blue and finally the Rose switch will be between the Cherry MX Red and Black. Therefore, slightly harder to press than the Red but not as much as the Black.
Also, if you did not saw it from the pictures, the top of the steam is cross shaped to be compatible with Cherry MX designed keycaps so you are free to reuse your own keycaps or buy some that are inexpensive as opposed to the Topre ones.
I’m currently rocking the Varmilo MA104C equipped with the Sakura Pink keyswitches and stock PBT keycaps. This is a full-width 104 keys keybaord and I’m currently writing this review exclusively on this keyboard. The feeling is great!
I’m usually leaning towards Cherry MX Red or Black and my last keyboard was a Leopold FC660M with Cherry MX Black. Overtime I realized that Black is a bit to stiff for me so the Sakura Pink is a refreshing change. By comparison to the Cherry MX Red, the Sakura Pink has slightly less resistance and you can easily touch type on the key for a close to silence use.
You can add O-rings to dampen the sound a little bit more, but if you’re like me, you actually like the sound that the keyswitch makes and you rock them naked. I’m bottoming out gently and I do not feel any fatigue from long session of typing. In terms of layout I prefer the 80% layout as I rarely use the NumPad, but for the sake of this review it’s only a minor annoyance to have my mouse further than where I’m used to.
One thing to note, since the distance to trigger a key press is very small on the Sakura Pink, 1.8 mm, you could add O-rings and really minimize the travel to gain in terms of speed and comfort. I will try it and see what’s the difference between three types of O-rings.
What Varmilo is achieving here is refreshing. We only had a few key switches for too long, and I’m including the clones here that are actually Cherry MX-like, but this time the change is new enough that it will make a difference. It’s better in all the ways possible without introducing new problems or limitations. Feeling is great, customization is possible and not more expensive than before and finally, the new key switch types coming soon will offer a good selection to cover most needs.
Now, I wish I have something those key switches inside a VA68M instead of this long 104-key version… :P
Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-04 08:53
This week we discuss the iPhone battery saga, the open sourced Lisa OS, what will become of iOS and macOS and Tyler makes a purchase you won’t believe your eyes.
After a long Christmas break, we are back on the podcast! Fun discussion on the whole battery curfeful that spanned the last couple of weeks and Tyler make a complete review of his latest purchase (psst. it’s an iPhone X!) I finally posted my Juiced Board review video for the 2018 Beta version!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-31 15:55
I had loads of fun with this one. The Juiced Board that I reviewed last June is getting an update for 2018. The new version is faster, stronger and early quieter! I was lucky enough to ride it on the very last days before we got that usual winter snowstorm weather.
Note that this is a Beta 2018 prototype and will most likely change in the coming months before the final version is ready!
Editor’s Note This is a Beta prototype version therefore no scores will be given as it has incomplete or unfinished features.
The design is to the naked eye, exactly the same. Longboard style with some flex and a nice battery compartment. The difference is in the battery and on-board computer. This board has now 40% more torque, meaning that it accelerates much faster and can reach higher speeds. While the polyurethane is the same, 83mm 85A, smooth and shock absorbing for those awful Montreal streets, the hub motors are unchanged (all the magic happens in the on-board computer). The allow for that better torque and they also are almost silent! Well, as you can see in the video above, they are not silenced on a table, but when riding in the street they really make less noise than the wheels riding the pavement!
I was not able to ride this board for super long, basically the guys from Juiced got back to their Alberta HQ and had already gotten a bad snowfall. So they asked me if I wanted to take it for a spin until the snow hits Montreal. I sure did!
I rode the board daily for a week and then got that damn snow. :( I was able to reach 34.7 km/h on a straight street. About 5 km/h more than the 29.9 km/h I got last June! I will take these 5 kph anytime! Also, the stronger torque allows you to reach that top speed quicker and that’s the best new feature!
While riding the Boosted Board, I loved the instant acceleration the board gave me and I never really got something like this on a hub motor powered skateboard. However, we are now very close with the new 2018 prototype Juiced Board Dual!
The outside temperature was between -10˚C and -2˚C so I was not able to really test the range of the board since cold weather really kills batteries. I was still surprised to be able to go to work from my house, a 4.4 km ride (2.73 miles), and still have the board’s LED blink green. Which means between 50% and 100% of capacity. I did not have enough time to ride it without recharging during the day so I can’t tell if I would have gotten a 8.8 km range, more or less.
The new acceleration curves are better suited for beginners or to limit your speed in more crowded areas like campuses. My son that never rode a skateboard was able to get by quite well on the Turtle Mode set to Low. The acceleration was gentle enough not to throw him out of the board and the top speed is also limited so he does not get hurt.
When you gain confidence, you can move on to the next speed mode and, in my opinion, get the real fun out of the Juiced Board!
The fast charging in just above 60 minutes, the quality deck and the overall amazing experience are still there and I really enjoyed the few days with the Juiced Board Dual 2018 Beta. I just wished for a gray Christmas so I could ride it a few more weeks, this did not happen. I know it’s selfish :P
As things are, this new prototype could really well be a final product. I really hope the team at Juiced have accessories lined up for this year. A larger battery would be amazing as well as waterproof bearings since the board itself is waterproof!
Expect another review once the final version comes out later this year (no official date yet). For a 799$ electric longboard, all this performance is quite impressive and I can foresee a great future for these boards!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-22 09:07
This week we discuss one more iOS vulnerability, Amazon Video on the Apple, the best apps and game of 2017, shazaming songs and we review the Winboard GT-M8, give out first impressions on the Koowheel D3M 2nd Generation and the 2018 Juiced Board.
I was lucky enought to get my hands on a prototype Juiced Board with updates specs. Really looking forward to what Matti and the team has in store for 2018, the board is great and even better now and it’s only a prototype.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-14 16:25
It’s been many years since I used a flashcard, but this new Stargate 3DS product is exactly what I was looking for. It’s main selling point is its plug and play feature and for parents like me that do not want to understand ROM signature, patching and all of the sorts of crazy things you need to understand for other flashcards, it seems perfect!
We do not condone piracy, only download ROMs of games you own and follow your local laws related to ROMs.
The Stargate 3DS takes the shape of a 3DS cartridge and has three extra features accessible from its side. A microSD port compatible with microSD cards up to 128GB, a micro-USB port to flash the firmware of the cart and a set of two rocking buttons. The microSD card slod is not spring loaded but allows for an easy removal and insertion of the card. The two buttons are quite small, but at least the left one is more accessible for big fingers like me.
Since my Stargate 3DS is a pre-order unit, it does not have the final firmware installed so I cannot benefit from the exFAT filesystem therefore I’m limited to games under 2GB. Most of the recent 3DS games are over 2GB, but not many of the DS games reaches that limit. The exFAT support should be avaible in time for the launch according to the manufacturer.
All you have to do is download a .zip file from the Stargate website, unzip it and copy its content to your microSD card. Add .3ds ROMs and you are done!
Once booted, your 3DS will show the first game on the card. You can then press the buttons to move from game to game as if you were pulling out the card and swaping it for another game. Once you reach the end of the list, it circles back to the first one.
In order to play DS games, you need to press both buttons at the same time. Then you’ll see the Alex Rider game which in reality is the Stargate 3DS system itself. Launch it and there you’ll see the list of files on your card. You can then launch one of the DS game and enjoy it! The manufacturer seems commited to this device and I’m sure this workflow will get better over time. Perhaps even listing the games like the do with the 3DS roms.
I was not able to test the emulation of NES or SNES games, out of the box, my pre-release version of the Stargate does not support them. I know we will eventually be able to install emulators, so that’s most probably when the whole thing will be available.
For parents like me that do not want to carry multiple games when going on road trips the Stargate 3DS is a great solution. The last three times I took a road trip with my DS and 3DS, I lost a game so this is really the kind of lifehack that help you greatly! The setup is super simple and game changing is a charm!
I strongly suggest players of multiple games to look into playing the games they own on a Stargate 3DS, it makes for efficient, compact travelling and if you are like me and loose cartridges constantly, the Stargate pays for itself!
New features coming up, compatible with the latest Nintendo 3DS firmware upgrades, and emulation support to bring the NES and SNES games you own with you, it’s the best 3DS flashcard game I ever saw!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-11 13:00
The Airport Extreme is a great router, it’s not the fastest on the marker but for a condo or single-level houses it can be awesome. Especially since it’s one of the only routers I was able to test that is actually exactly like a utility. It’s like you’re running water, it just works!
But what happens when you want to hide it from view? How can you install it out of your viewing angle? Innovelis has exactly the solution for you with its TotalMount Deluxe for Airport Extreme, a support that can be attached to a wall or behind a panel.
The TotalMount Deluxe is completely made of plastic so it will not affect the range or dispersion of your precious Wi-Fi wavelengths. It accepts the Airport Extreme latest generation, that’s 2013 more precisely, with 802.11 ac. You simply slide it in and there’s a gap behind it so you can pass through the wires below or above it.
Remember the fan at the bottom? Well, the mount does not block it. Actually the bottom of the Airport Extreme is fully accessible and it lets the airflow roam freely. In my setup, I went a step further by purchasing a universal shotgun connector extension cable that plugs in the 8-shape connect of the Airport Extreme and I used Monoprice’s cable management kit to let the Ethernet cables and power cable run along the top of the wall.
I strongly recommend the TotalMount Deluxe if like me, you need to set your AirPort Extreme in a place out of sight and, more importantly, floating in the air so nobody knocks it over! In my situation I wanted to set it so it would far from any metal, so away from the NAS and switch and away from the water heater.
Innovelis also makes a mount for the Apple TV so you can be sure I will be buying this shortly to pair with my new Vizio P65-C1 4K TV!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-06 16:40
With the release of the latest MacBooks and the new USB-C port, the only type of port on those computers, professionals and consumers now need an extensive set of dongles to be able to work with these new computers. I’ve seen people carry them in a big Ziploc back, other simply throw them in the backpack and hunt for 10 minutes when they need to find one. Both are not very elegant… What if there was a way to sort the dongles, cables, adapters and more in a nice-looking package?
Enters the Bookbook CaddySack, a leather adorned organizer adorned with real leather, fabric and a bunch of straps, pouches and holders for all of your organizing needs!
If you saw what the Bookbook case look like for a MacBook, an iPad or an iPhone, then you have a good idea of the idea behind the CaddySack. But this time around it’s for your dongles! This compact version keeps the great look but adds Velcro and elastic bands to keep your arsenal tidy and easy to look through.
You can easily fit more than 15 items in there if you have the need to carry them all with you, or if you simply want to store them in an easy to reach location. If you end up using it to store your power brick, then you might not be able to fit as many but nonetheless, you can store a lot in there!
There is even a nice meshed pouch for smaller items, like the 30-pin to USB adapters or the very cheapest items in an Apple Store, the MagSafe to MagSafe 2 adapter! Even the bulky VGA to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter finds a nice place to rest!
I have recently gotten a MacBook Pro 2017 and for it, nothing better than the Bookbook CaddySack, I finally have a nice place to store all of my accessories and just with my daily jobby-job, I know I need to use at least 3 or 4 adapters. This means that it’s more than welcome in my life full of dongles! It sure beats the Ziploc and when I’m not travelling, it even has a place on my desk when I can set it on display and when I need to storm out of the house, I know that if I take my laptop and my CaddySack, I will not be missing a single cable!
I highly recommend the Bookbook CaddySack for any owner of a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The quality, looks and versatility is simply put, amazing!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-23 16:11
This week we discuss the HomePod delay, the Telsa Semi and Roadster 2.0, the high accuracy of the Watch sensors and the implication of a robot ninja that’s doing backflips!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-17 19:43
This week we discuss the FaceID hack, Pay for iMessage, Star Wars’s new series of films and speed listening to podcasts (as you should —Alex)
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-17 13:01
The show, which hires local orchestra musicians to play the great songs of our youth is going around for one last time. The showrunner confirmed this year is the last one. But don’t worry, there is still time to watch the show and there are still many dates available!
Glancing at the schedule, there are dates in Chigago, Spain, Germany, Canada, Ireland up until the finale that takes place in Salt Lake City.
I was lucky to be invited the first and second year when the show debuted and this is an experience to remember! The first year was mostly covering the early Zelda games, but the second one was focusing more on the newer generation with lots of focus on Wind Waker. I do not know what this year is about, I’m guessing it’s going to cover the most recent games with a great deal of Breath of the Wild!
There is still time, but don’t wait too long as I looked at a few venues and lots of seats are already taken! Head over to the schedule page and hit your local representation!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-10 15:37
This week we discuss the iPhone X PR push, the internals of the said iPhone and we try to guess where FaceID will be added next!
Apple took a different approach this year with exclusivity for new and upcoming Youtubers. This did not please everyone.
We also have a good discussion about where FaceID will come next and Tyler went on an obligatory pilgrimage to the Apple Store to test the iPhone X!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-10 13:19
Not always great, this time Samsung made a good looking video. Not that I agree with all that is mentionned there but at least it’s made with taste.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-10 12:53
I have to admit, I’m quite late for this review. I’ve been a long-time backer of Studio Neat’s products ever since the original Glif and it’s only fitting that I review the new Glif Full Set kit I backed on Kickstarter.
This time around the Glif is much more than a simple phone holder, it’s back with a new design, equipped with two tripod mounts, a wooden handle and even a nice wrist strap. But what really makes this product interesting is all of the capabilities it now offers you!
Before the new Glif, you had to attach your Glif to some kind of camera frame with a few tripod mounts to be able to transform your phone into a real rig. Now the Glif has two tripod mounts to extent its capabilities and they sure help to make your life lighter!
The Glif itself now has a nice mechanism that does two things. First it locks your phone in place, and then it applies a well-calibrated pressure so that the locked phone is also tightened in place. This way the phone is super solid and will not fall from its support.
The hand grip is made of a solid piece of cherry wood, with a piece of cork and tripod screw to accept the Glif on one side and on the other side you can install the wrist strap. That strap is made of a great quality of para cord looped in a leather piece with a rubber faster. This allows it to be quickly adjusted to your wrist and offer a safer way to shoot with your iPhone.
The very first use of the Glif Full Kit is easily understood to be simply shooting video with a much more stable hand than with a naked phone. But when you start to think about it, you can add a microphone and up your audio game, you can also add a light with a LED panel. With the tripod screw standard almost anything is possible!
The quality of the Glif is great and the attention to detail is impressive. The Glif itself is both quick to install and release but also the way the mechanism is working slightly tighten the Glif around the phone to get that perfect shake it like a Polaroid picture move and keep the phone securely in place.
The top and side tripod screw mount allows you to add accessories and this is exactly what I was looking for! I needed a way to use my phone for recording videos and the handle is the very first step with a secured lanyard in case I drop it. And then to get the video game up a notch, I recently got a Rode microphone. But attaching took many tires. I ordered 3-4 components from Amazon and then Studio Neat’s Dan Provost pointed me to a small cold shoe accessories that comes with a screw and is a low profile. I use it to attach the Rode mic to the top and I still have a second shoe for future expandability.
I will write a post on all of the different accessories I use for capturing great video!
If you’re looking for a great quality system to hook your iPhone to a tripod or simply a great wooden grip. The Glif is the smartest and most efficient system I have seen for holding a phone and I was even highly recommended the Glif years ago but now they made an even bigger step that allows you to radically shake your handle and the phone is as sticky as Spider-man on a brick wall!
You can get the Glif by itself or the full kit which I recommend. The handle is a great addition and I really like that it’s even made by hand by the guys behind Studio Neat.
This is one of the few products that gets a perfect grade from me.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-05 10:16
The eero mesh network system is offered in two main varieties, the 2nd generation Eero which we reviewed not too long ago, and the eero Pro Wi-Fi system. This second system consists of three “main hubs” instead of a single main hub and two Beacons. This system is recommended for larger, or longer houses with 5+ bedrooms or if there is an Ethernet wire accessible.
This will be a short review as almost everything about the setup and looks have already been discussed at length in my 2nd Generation eero system review.
Same box design as the other system, well thought of and using quality materials. Each unit is hiding its USB-C based power cable. Also included in the box is one Ethernet cable of an interesting thickness. Larger and sturdier than what we normally see included in router boxes.
All three units are identical, they all have a USB-C port and two Ethernet ports. This means that you have to think where this little device is going to be resting. Also, it is possible to use your Ethernet wired network to power the eero units and rely less on a wireless backbone.
To really give you accurate numbers I’m going to use the same technique as before, this means to connect to my Synology DS1515+, a network attached storage unit connected directly to the main node. This allows me to test the transfer speed to a device that is capable of bursting a few hundred megabytes per second.
Since these devices have an Ethernet port, I’m going to do two test scenarios. The first is to leverage only the wireless capabilities of the eero Pro and do the usual benchmarks. The second scenario will be using an extra wired eero unit to see if this changes the performance of the network.
After testing the eero system in a wireless fashion, here’s the results compared to other mesh networks and the 2nd Generation eero kit.
|Location||AirPort Extreme||Linksys Velop||TP-Link Deco M5||eero 2nd Gen||eero Pro|
|Basement Living Room||70||48||52||27||49|
|Main Floor Kitchen||15||28||15||27||25|
|2nd Floor Masters Bedroom||9||18||23||22||26|
|2nd Floor Bedroom 2||6||18||25||20||22|
The performance is much more stable and faster than the regular eero system, especially when you have a direct line of sight to the first eero unit, the laptop can choose to connect to the second node instead and not suffer from performance reduction.
I can reach close to 50 MB/s and the rest of the house is reaching the 25 MB/s, a very strong number only rivalled by the TP-Link Deco M5. After having the network set for a few weeks, I once again did not have a single reliability issue requiring a reboot of any kind. Just like it’s small brother, the eero Pro Wi-Fi kit is super stable and fast.
Since each of the eero units have two Ethernet ports, we can help them by wiring them to the home Ethernet network and thus all network traffic is accelerated. Now, I was wondering how much effect this will have. It’s by no means required and you can simply use the eero units as wireless units.
So I plugged one of the units on the main floor of my house with an Ethernet cable. The 2nd floor unit does not have any Ethernet jack in proximity so I’m assuming the best performance will be mostly located on the main floor of the house but there might be a slight increase on the second floor too.
|Location||eero 2nd Gen||eero Pro||eero Pro Wired||Change|
|Basement Living Room||27||49||56||+14%|
|Main Floor Kitchen||27||25||42||+68%|
|2nd Floor Masters Bedroom||22||26||25||-3%|
|2nd Floor Bedroom 2||20||22||29||+32%|
As you can see from these numbers, the performance increase is substantial on the levels where the wired unit is located. It also has a slight increase when you are directly below or above the wired unit. This seems to indicate that the eero systems prefer a wired node opposed to a non-wired node, a smart performance choice that tries to offer the best performance possible.
Remember the KRACK Wi-Fi WPA2 hack that was discovered not too long ago? Well, I mentioned on our podcast that you should check your router manufacturer for a firmware update. Well, it so happens that eero has regular updates and about one monthly automatic update. An update that happens overnight when your network traffic is at its lowest. The eero team developed a fix in just a few days and were able to patch 100% of the eero networks in under a week! I think this is the fastest and really the safest network out there! Kudos to eero for this great deployment!
The regular eero Wi-Fi system was already great and the eero Pro Wi-Fi system is even better. If you are craving for faster transfer speed either because your Internet provider offers you 200Mbits and above speeds, the eero Pro is the system to go. It’s not the fastest on a direct line of sight, other routers like the Airport Extreme can be faster, but on a multi-level house the eero Pro system is unmatched in great speeds and most of all, reliability!
Never once did I have to restart my network because of some glitch, and we even had a few thunderstorms that are known to affect routers in my house. If you have a wired house, then you are in for an even better experience since the eero Pro will leverage as much as possible the wired nodes over wireless ones. You also get a speed increase that goes from 14% to 68%, which is really awesome!
I strongly recommend the eero system for anyone who really wants to treat their home network as a utility. You set it and forget it and, as Apple famously said, it just works!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-03 20:14
The guys from Airplane Mode have did the very first Animoji music video! It’s the start of a new trend and I really like it!
Bravo Dan Wiskus, you did it first and very well!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-11-03 09:48
iFixt just posted their teardown of the iPhone X. It’s always interesting to look inside devices and I was looking for to what’s inside the X as it’s such a revolutionary phone!
The battery comes in as a dual-cell module to better use the L-shaped space left from an new sandwich main board! Apple managed to shrink the PCB size to 70% of what it was in the 7 generation. But once you unfold the sandwich, the board size is now 135% the size of the iPhone 8 Plus! A very impressive feat of engineering!
A bonus that comes with the great design is the biometric module does not have to be replaced when you crack the screen. Therefore your FaceID tech stays paired to the same phone. Sadly, for the back side glass panel you have to take apart every component to be able to reattached the chassis to a new glass back and reinstall all of the components.
So kids, break the front and not the back! ;)
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-30 21:03
This is a rare event, an announced but unreleased Apple product was shown at a creative event. Rarely does an unreleased Apple is shown out of Apple’s keynotes. The iMac Pro was present on display at the Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit in all its glory. Together with the beats, we learned that the next version of Final Cut Pro will be number 10.4 and add a few, but important new features.
Here are a few images of the iMac Pro.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-30 14:31
When I saw Casey with a Stormtrooper costume I was sure it was going to be a Speeder chase, especially since Jesse is so down with the Super 73 electric bicycle from Lithium Cycles.
This is still a great video though and I love the attention to details! There is also more!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-21 20:50
This week we discuss Twitter’s updates, the wild iPhone X, the Pixel 2 and Sonos events and the not-so-universal Universal Serial Bus
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-20 13:12
Standing desks in modern offices are the new craze and the market know it. This is why you can find some that goes for 100$ all the way to the multiple of thousands. But the real trick is to guess how much you need to put in to really get the maximum value out of your investment. If I would tell you that there is a company that designed a solid system while keeping the price affordable and give you options?
Autonomous, makers of the SmartDesk, ErgoChair and ErgoStool have released this year the second generation of their popular sit stand desk. This time, you have an even better system and many more options to really fit your need and your design preferences.
The SmartDesk 2 is powered by one or two linear actuators (motors) to make sure the desk raises quickly without any wobble. The desk itself comes in a variety of colours as well as three distinct designs. There is the Classic, a 53”x30” rounded rectangle, the Ergonomic of the same size but with a cutout and the business edition exclusive Classic with a width of 70” instead of 53”.
The difference between the Business and Home Editions is mainly that the business edition has two motors as opposed to one for the Home Edition. This makes the process of rising and lowering the desk much faster. In terms of choices of colours, you can now choose between the white, black or grey finish platforms and black, white, walnut, bamboo and light oak for the surface material. Not all colours and design are available together, refer to the SmartDesk Customization section to make sure your dream desk can come to reality.
The panel is located on the front with 4 presets, up and down buttons and the Memory button used to record your favourite position. These are push buttons and they feel sturdy and controls the whole system quite rapidly. You also have to wire holes on the back side that allows for cables to pass through if you need to. I’m more of the type to gather the cables behind the monitor and actually hide those holes with either a lamp or a plastic plant.
As you might guess, the first step is assembling the desk on its platform. You will be receiving two boxes when you order your desk as each component is shipped in their own separate boxes. After an ordering mixup, I ended up with two desks, one black and one white. So I figured I should assemble both on the black platform to show you more pictures and experiment more the assembly procedure.
Both legs are held together on an adjustable rail so if you ever want a custom-top desk, you are more than welcome to install your platform on it! Autonomous even has a DIY kit for that exact reason if you already have a top desk that you want to continue using. All you need to do is assemble the legs and rail, and then fix the rubber pads in the 8 holes and start twisting that screwdriver. I do not recommend an electrical drill as you want it to be tight but not too much or you’ll lose some of the rubber vibration isolation. The whole process should take you less than 20 minutes with the hardest task being to align everything perfectly. I started with the black desk and then when I moved to the white one, I did it in less than 10 minutes with no instructions. Very easy process!
Included in the box is a bunch of cable tighteners with a sticker side. You are welcome to use those, however, after a few weeks, they tend to lose their grippyness. I suggest to either use tie wraps around the rail in the centre section, there is a gap that is perfect for this, or buy 3M cable hooks that have a better chance of sticking up for a longer period. Autonomous also sells a cable tray that measures 35” wide and allows you to install all the cabling there with the powerbar of your choosing. If you are not 100% certain of your setup or if you’re like me and have an always evolving setup, I strongly encourage you to get the 19$ cable tray!
If you end up preferring the sticker way, make sure to clean the underside of the desk before sticking your cable organization gizmos as there was a fine dust on both desks I unwrapped.
As a sit stand desk, you can go from one position to the other in less than 10 seconds; at least between my two favourite positions it takes 9 seconds. I was very new to that whole standing desk trend having only used a colleague’s setup for about one hour. I was very curious to see if I could stand up most of the day or even all day. I was very happy to see that I could do such thing very easily and only having soared heels at the end of the day. Therefore, I strongly recommend one of those anti-fatigue mattress if you can. It will make the whole day bearable.
Over the weeks, I had no trouble standing all day long when at my computer, taking only short break to go out and get food or sit at the kitchen to eat. Ideally follow guides available online to get the proper height position for you and you will only benefit from the experience! After all, sitting all day is considered the new smoking!
Given the depth of the desk, it’s easy to go from the standing position to a sitting one and have space to spare for all of your accessories and peripherals. Also, the depth of the desk allows you to get the perfect distance to your monitor for comfort purposes or even get one of those nice arm mount to hold your monitor in the air.
The main function of a standing desk is to allow you to work in a standing position. But more importantly is the effectiveness the desk can take you to this position. The first feature is speed and the second is precision. I reviewed the Business Edition, therefore it rises at a speed of 2.3 inches/sec and in a very stable fashion. While moving a coffee or filled glass is in no danger to spill, the desk is super stable and that’s including a heavy Thunderbolt Display, an aluminum Elevation Stand and à bunch of other accessories. Since it did not slow down or showed sign of resistance I would be more than confident with a two or even three monitor setup. It’s rated at 300 lbs so it can take a lot of gear!
The second aspects, the precision, is when you need a slight adjustment because you removed your shoes or added an anti-fatigue mat. I’m happy to report that you can very slightly hold the UP or DOWN button and get that .2 or .3 inch adjustment to get the perfect height.
After rocking this desk for many weeks, I can now strongly recommend it not only because it’s affordable but most of all because of its quality that you normally see in other standing desk over 1,000$! The installation is super simple and can be done in less than 20 minutes, and the colour choices lets you customize the desk to your liking. The performance is great and the motors are powerful enough for that dream multi-monitor setup!
You even have options to get a longer, ergonomic, or more affordable version if you prefer. The DIY kit really shines if you have an existing desk or know of an artisanal piece of wood that would look great without the need to overlook a standing desk. If you are looking to gain from the benefits of working standing up, the SmartDesk 2 is the desk you need as your partner in crime!
During my time with the SmartDesk 2, Autonomous released the SmartDesk 3, the exact same desk but with an embedded tablet computer that track a bunch of things for you like your water consumption, the time you spend sitting and more. This is a very interesting idea and I’m sure many will like an all-around solution like it.
Here’s the video if you are curious!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-20 10:20
The team behind FA VO has taken on a challenge to make great notebooks with an impressive attention to details. They have already released a few notebooks with either blank paper or ruled paper in four different colours and now they’re on Kickstarter trying to raise awareness of their products for a dotted version of their nice notebooks.
There were kind enough to send me one of their ruled notebooks in the Olive colour for me to look at the result of their great work.
One of the most important details is that their notebooks are made from 100% recycled material, but that is just the building stone of their products. As explained above, they have given a lot of thoughts to the actual design and choices that make their notebook.
They choose 100 GSM paper to allow for a thick enough but not too much paper to allow ink to properly attach itself to the pages. The notebook also opens flat and that’s very useful if you don’t want the left side of the book to spring back into a closed position. Easier to write on, much more practical.
Where I think it really shows that they put in even more attention to details than required, is when you look at the lines themselves. If you have the notebook in your hands, you will see something weird with the lines themselves, but I could not point my finger to it. So I took out my macro lens and that’s when I realized what was going on! The lines are dotted in a squiggly fashion! This allows the lines be present and visible and at the same time it allows them to kind of dissolve in the background leaving attention to what you are actually writing in the notebook.
As you might have guessed, the colours are not the ones they selected by mistake. They are chosen from the byproducts actually used in the fabrication of the notebooks. Olive, coffee and almond byproducts are used in their respective colour cover!
The notebook feels great, and I highly recommend it. The shape is bigger than the smaller notebooks, but not too big and still allow for ample place to write and sketch. The mission of FA VO to make highly designed notebooks out of exclusively recycled materials is one I can really see myself back. It’s designed in London and made in Portugal, so it still has minimal travel and less impact on the environment.
If the ruled version is of indication, the dotted version on Kickstarter is going to be a great success and it’s really worth it that you take a look at these notebooks!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-13 08:23
According to The Korea Herald (via The Investor), Apple’s engineer are working on integrating Pencil support into the iPhone as early as 2019. Instead of using a electromagnetic resonance pencil like the Samsung Galaxy Note, it would be a “supercapacitor stylus type”, something much cheaper to manufacture as it does not require extra hardware in the screen.
And I can see all of the articles about Steve Jobs being wrong that Apple will backtrack and ship a stylus for the iPhone. You could not be more wrong!
That famous skit Steve did on stage about companies doing it wrong with the stylus is not that having a stylus is a problem, the problem is requiring a stylus to be able to use the phone! Remember that when the iPhone was announced, you either had buttons or a stylus to hit those tiny, tiny UI elements. The iPhone chooses to use your fingers and make the UI consequent with this decision.
In 2019 if Apple releases a stylus for the iPhone, it will not be because the UI will drastically change and require a stylus. It will be just like the iPad, the stylus is an optional tool that many will like to use but it will not be at all required. Therefore the headline reading that Apple backtracks and will be launching a stylus is pure click bait.
Just ask anyone using an iPad Pro and a stylus, it’s very useful and allows for an enhanced experience for executing certain tasks, but I doubt a single individual would like the interaction to be Pencil-only.
Calm down, and enjoy new and advanced features enabled by the Pencil support!