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Colourful pixels on the latest tech
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 16:07
After many years of waiting, the grand daddy of mesh network is finally available in Canada and, you have guessed it, I had to take it for a spin since I’m kind of on a roll here with consumer mesh networks after reviewing the Linksys Velop, the TP-Link Deco M5 and a bunch more routers.
The eero system is now at its second generation and builds on all they learned over the last few years with the very first consumer mesh network. This time around they are offering two types of kits. The first one contains a eero unit and two Beacons, and the second kit contains 3 eero units for Pro-level performance. I currently have the 1 eero + 2 Beacons kit installed.
The design is very similar to the first generation eero and even to the Deco M5. A rounded square with a USB-C port for power and 2 Ethernet jacks goes close to your modem and by pluging your local Ethernet cable in there you allow it to have access to the Internet.
The Beacons are what allows eero to extend the base network to other parts of the house. These smaller units do not require cable and include the electrical outlet prongs on their back. You simply plug them on your wall outlet and that’s it! It even comes with a 10 lumens nightlight that gives out a gentle glow if you happen to install them in a hall or in a corner that can benefit from some late evening lighting. If not, you simply turn it off in the app.
All that is nicely packaged in an Apple-esque box with a great design. I love tha the packaging is minimalistic and shows you exactly what’s inside the box.
eero main unit
As you can see from the specs, it still packs in quite a punch of power with the quad-core processor. But what we really want to know is two main points. First, how easy and reliable is the eero and, secondly, how fast is it really? To be fair to all of the contestants, I’ve used, once again, the same installation schema with the main unit in the basement in the machine room next to the cable modem, the first Beacon on the main floor close to one side of the house and the second Beacon on the second floor at the opposite side of the house. Up until now I though this was the ideal setup. More on this later.
The first thing you need to do is launch the mobile app on your phone. The setup process, just like on the Velop and on the Deco M5, will use Bluetooth to quickly pair each new nodes with the eero system. You are presented with a super simple and very clean configuration wizard that takes you by the hand to setup your network. Here’s a few shots that sadly does not give them justice as all of the screens are slightly animated with accent colors. This has to be the most beautiful wizard I had the opportunity to look at. Both the Velop and the Deco M5 have very nice UI, but eero raised them a few bars!
Setup was fast, actually much faster than the competition by detecting eero Beacons in 1-3 seconds instead of the 10-20 required by the other mesh systems. Then, the step where they are added to the main system was also much faster. All in all, I did not feel like I was waiting. Even the booting of the Beacons, until the LED flashes, is something that takes not much more than 20-30 seconds. Overall the complete setup took less than 5 minutes. Then I had a firmware update to do and over the last two weeks two more of those. eero cranks out update regularly as I can see, this is a good thing!
During the setup process, eero takes a second to explain to you where to install your Beacons for optimal performance. I was sure that by using a Z shape setup where nodes are at opposite sides of the house would be the ideal scenario. It appears that I was completly wrong about this. eero suggests, for multi-stories houses like mine, to use an “I” shape setup. Where all the beacons are centered in the house vertically on each level. This gives you a radius that is supposed to cover the whole floor.
Given that I did not use this type of setup, I’m going to do two important tests here. The first one will be using the same locations for the components as I did with previous mesh systems and the second test will use a repositionned placement as suggested by the eero app onboarding.
Once again, I’m using iPerf between a MacBook Pro 13” (Mid 2015) and a Synology DS1515+ NAS with four Ethernet ports to test the transfer speed over the WiFi network. As I did before, I will be testing it from the basement living room, basement office, main floor kitchen, second floor master bedroom and second floor bedroom. The following numbers are in Megabytes per second (MB/sec).
I learned that I was not setting up my mesh networks properly. :( During the setup, the eero iOS app setup assistant informed me about ideal location for the type of house I have and I realized that by setting the nodes near the center of my house, as opposed to each end, the performance would be better. Here’s the usual table of speed with the poor placement and better placement.
|Router/Location||AirPort Extreme||Linksys Velop||TP-Link Deco M5||eero 2nd Gen||eero 2nd Gen Optimized|
|Basement Living Room||70||48||52||19||27|
|Main Floor Kitchen||15||28||15||20||27|
|2nd Floor Masters Bedroom||9||18||23||22||22|
|2nd Floor Bedroom 2||6||18||25||11||20|
When I first setup the Beacons with the poor placement, I was very surprised to see these numbers. I did many runs of tests, and tried to understand why I was not getting better speeds. From all the chatter online, I was expecting the eero system to be as fast as my Airport Extreme, but from every corner of my house.
I was sincerly expecting much faster speeds, especially since my home connection to the Internet is 200/30 which allows me to reach 25 MB/s on download speeds; and I often reach 28 MB/s. Something I can’t achieve everywhere in my house with the eero system when using the same location as I did with the other mesh network systems, the fastest speed being 22 MB/s on the master’s bedroom. Whis is conviently placed one room away from a Beacon and directly above another one.
However, once I setup the two Beacons at the recommended location, centered on each floor instead of in the corners, I had much better speeds! Up to 82% faster on the 2nd floor and an average of 47% faster is indeed much better! Keep this in the back of your head when you setup a mesh network in a multi-stories house. Center is the key!
Granted, not everybody has a 25 MB/s home Internet plan so these speeds might not be required for you. Nonetheless, it’s better to be optimized than not!
Regarding the second major point I listed earlier, the reliability, this is where most of the routers I tested failed. I often have problems when using the routers for longer periods than what my reviews usually allow me to. Over a few weeks, you normally do not have much problems with routers, but once you start considering them as a utility, they need to work 100% of the time. If not, the wife and kids will quickly jump on your back for having a poor networked houshold!
I do consider my network to be more complicated than average. I have a network that includes anywhere from 15 to 25 devices connected at all time. Three network switches always ON, about 10-14 wired devices and almost as many smart gadgets, tablets, computers, iPhones and more wirelessly connected. So reliability for me is of prime importance.
Up until now, the most reliable router was the Airport Extreme. It only require a reboot once every 7-9 months, something I never was able to achieve with other routers. Some even required me to reboot the router 2, even 3 times a week when many devices started to loose a connection to the Internet.
I’ve only been rocking the eero 2nd generation for just over three weeks and I did not have a single node disconnect or device loosing connection. I applied a single firmware update and never rebooted the device. Something that makes me thing that reliability is amongst the best out there. I still can’t say if it’s up to the Airport Extreme’s reliability but it sure looks like it’s aiming to be.
The setup process is amazingly simple, super fast and frankly great looking. I can say with confidence that the eero 2nd Generation is the simplest and fastest to configure mesh network out there. Even when you need to customize your network and have over 20 devices on it like me. Adding Beacons is a real charm and takes less than a minute, much faster than other mesh networks. And the app even goes the extra mile to make sure you position your nodes correctly (I was not), to extract the best performance out of them.
With speeds of 20 to 27 MB/s, the eero system does not replace wired Ethernet but allows you to leverage 200Mbits Internet connection properly. But what it lacks in supreme velocity, it makes up in reliability. Never once did I need to reboot a Beacon or the eero main unit. And if you really want to squeeze all the performance out your eero, check out their Pro Wi-Fi system that includes three eeros main units (tri-bands each, instead of dual-band like the Beacons). I would be very curious to see how much faster a Pro system is compared to the Home system. :)
Overall, the eero 2nd Generation is now on the top of my list in terms of reliability, flexibility and general performance. Extra points for making me realize I could better place the Beacons, while the competition only checked if the signal was strong enough for them to communicate. The price is also a bit high, but in the range of the Linksys Velop and other similar products. Nonetheless, for the same price I strongly recommend the eero system for anyone that has reliability or deadzones in their house.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-14 10:31
After every Apple Event there are jokes going around, this year it’s no exception and one of them is the Notch. You can now add the Notch to all YouTube video using this Chrome extension! 🤣
Minutepeople is now offering a Chrome extension that “Brings the magic of the iPhone X’s new display to YouTube”… Fun!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-14 09:01
After teasing us for many years with the Master Plan and Master Plan Pt.2, Elon Musk is teasing us once again with the unveiling of the semi truck made by Tesla. This will happen in Hawthorne, California on October 26th.
Should we start taking bets on how much it will cost and how much it will safe companies every year? I bet it’s alot!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-13 12:26
Now that the dust has settled on all of the iPhone event announcement, I thought I would share my thoughts on all of it. As I explained earlier this week, I was afraid too many secrets were leaked and sadly I was right. Sure we did get new information that was missing from the leaks, most of all the story behind each product and many of the details of the software side. However, the ten pole features were all known in advance and accounted for.
This could have been the best keynote in years as it was packed with new technologies, new techniques, new UX paradigms, but sadly we knew a lot in advance. This really sucks for the people that worked on this as the crowd reaction was not as intense as it should have been. I really hope Apple will have this tied down from now on, it’s so much more fun when we know nothing or almost nothing!
The first product presented was the theatre itself where everything was happening. Custom designed and built following Apple’s strict guideline, it seems to be a marvellous place with luxurious leather seats, and even power outlets embedded in the seats row. There is also a circular elevator enclosed in a glass wall. The walls, the staircase, everything was thought of meticulously and it shows. I really love the design of the place and I’m assuming the sound is also very good in the main room.
The conference started with a very emotional video of the theatre with a voiceover of Steve. Tim was quite emotional when speaking the first few sentences; and so was I.
This was mostly what was expected, a new Apple Watch with a circle of colour on the crown. Most probably the exact same size as previous generation with newer chips, faster processors, and LTE. Finally, the Watch can be used without the tether and by itself. I’m betting this will result in a much better experience if it handles its own notification by itself.
New features are coming to check up if you have a possible heart condition and you can now only buy the new Series 3 with or without LTE and the Series 1 watch. No more Series 2. Carriers already started offering plans in the US with a 10$ plan to add the Watch LTE to your existing plan, with Verizon waving off the cost for the first three months.
The Watch is substantially better with LTE and, of course, we got new watch bands! One that is very intriguing is the Nylon loop. A mix between the Milanese loop and the Nylon bands. It’s called the Sport Loop and it looks great!
As expected the Apple TV is now capable of handling 4K. More powerful and looking exactly the same, the Apple TV got its long-awaited update. Sadly, it’s once again more expensive than it ever was. The 1080p Apple TV is already hard to justify in terms of price, now the new 4K one is 179$, 30$ more than the other one priced at 149$.
Both Apple TVs now have a white circle around the Menu button. Nothing regarding the Siri Remote if it was made better in any way. It’s still all a mystery. I’m going 4K this year and will most probably get one as it would not make sense not to have it when you invest so much money in a great 4K display.
In terms of content we can expect Netflix and Amazon to come with great 4K content and the good news for those who already paid for HD iTunes movies, some (most?) will come with a free 4K version.
Order it on the 15th, ships on the 22nd.
Basically, similar design as the 7 and 7 Plus with the addition of a glass back reinforced by steel (now I want to see drop tests and smash tests…). The devices are also more powerful with the new A11 Bionic chip with 6 cores. They say a 70% improvement.
First iPhone with Apple’s own GPU with a 3-core design and optimized for Metal 2 and machine learning app. The camera gets a new 12 MP camera, still optically stabilized. The 8 Plus camera is also optically stabilized, that’s a new one.
One of the cool software features is the Portrait Lighting that can adjust the lighting in real time when you take portrait photos. It does not just blur the background, it lights up the face like a studio or gives it highlights. The video capture now does 4K at 60 fps and 1080p is now at 240 fps. Of course, the Bionic chip is optimized for AR games and apps!
Wireless charging thanks to a Qi integration is coming to both iPhones. Apple decided to use the standard instead of making its own so IKEA furniture and other already available charging mats will be compatible as long as they follow the Qi standard. Touch ID is still there, Bluetooth is now updated to 5.0 and the iPhones are available in 64 GB and 256GB configurations for 699$ and 849$ for the iPhone 8 and 799$ and 949$ for the iPhone 8 Plus. You will be able to order them on September 15th and deliveries starts on September 22nd.
Overall, this feels a lot more like an iPhone 7s than an iPhone 8 to my eyes. But the naming scheme is somewhat complicated now. More on this later.
This was the One more thing of the show. The thing that Tim said will be the next iPhone for the following decade. This new iPhone is exactly as the rumours pointed out. So much so that we already have cases on the market for it and it’s not even out yet!
So, first of the name. Apple wanted to make a statement with this one and they choose 10 as its name. This makes us jump over 9, just like Windows. And really messes up the naming scheme for next few years. People were thinking of the iPhone X as just another phone thus the Pro moniker was mostly expected to be used. Apple’s story on the X is that it’s a new line of iPhones and should be considered something apart. Probably it’s one that will start a new lineage of iPhones so starting next year, you might only have the iPhone name back, as it should. I could see an iPhone SE and iPhone X-based line of phones or two sizes of an iPhone X. But that’s for the next 12 months of rumours and talks. Let’s get into the iPhone X.
Full frontal glass, 5.8-inch diagonal of pleasure. The notch is there including all of the Face ID sensors and front camera. That camera gains a new 7 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and even, thanks to the depth sensor for Face ID, the Portrait Mode!
The Face ID technology is the one that is the most intriguing as it leverages a system that illuminates your face using infrared and 30,000 dots to identify your face. Apple said that Touch ID had 1 chance out of 50,000 that it could be tricked, well Face ID has 1 chance out of 1,000,000. So mathematically much more secure and yes, it works with a hat, with a scarf and glasses. Not sure about sunglasses, this is something to be tested! It also learns as your face changes when, for example, you grow a beard.
Home Button can now RIP. Instead you rise to wake your phone, you see the lock screen and when you swipe up it uses Face ID to authenticate. It’s seamless and super fast. Really impressive. I can’t wait to try it with twins. :P
The new display is using an OLED panel with True Tone technology, HDR that is Dolby Vision and HDR10 compliant. This should make it an amazing display with a much better battery life. Apple says it has 2 extra hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 7. This one is hard to put into words as there is not a definitive number that defines battery life on an iPhone. Many different numbers for different activities are hard to compare, but given that it’s sporting an OLED screen there are many electrons saved in the process so we are bound to have better overall power consumption. That screen with a black background will be bonkers for saving energy. I can see the resurgence of black icons everywhere. ;) Also, there is a Quick Charge mode where you get to 80% in 30 minutes. That’s impressive and I look forward to see all the details!
The iPhone X wil be 999$ for the 64GB model and 1,149$ for the 256GB version. Ordering happens on the October 27th and delivery stars on November 3rd.
Animojis is nice but will quickly pass as a fad, kind of like the “Sent with laser” which nobody does anymore, or the heartbeat or drawings on the Apple Watch. Cool tech demo, but not more than this.
The Airpods, still hard to get in many Apple Stores, are getting a new Qi compatible case. That’s cool :)
Overall, this was a solid event overcast by too many reliable leaks from Apple itself. I loved the event and I really love the iPhone X but that secrecy thing must be enforced so that these events really feel surprising and astonishing! The only problem I see is the higher price for everything, even iPad Pros just got a 50$ increase this morning. I understand the investors wanting more money, but I think at 999$ it’s too much for a phone, especially since many will like to change it every year.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-11 07:57
We have iPhone rumours and we have iPhone leaks, we always had those. But even after working hard on fixing company leaks, this year is going to be the worst one of them. We know about the hardware, we know about many software features, more than usual, and all this makes me sad.
I love a good show. That’s why I’m glued to my seat at every event since the iPod mini was unveiled. I loved the showmanship of Steve Jobs and I love the way Tim Cook and company deliver a great, not just a good, a great announcement going through features and more than once react with a “Ooooh!” followed very closely with a “Aaaah!”. I’m afraid this year will be down as the one with the most leaks and I’m not talking about just the manufacturing side of things. We got an Homepod firmware that did not cleanse from all the internal secret stuff. We even got an iOS GM leak with all the whiz-bang including the wallpapers (which are marvellous by the way).
Of course early in the summer we started to see prototype details emerge, like the Touch ID moving to the back, the Lock button being wider, an all glass back panel and then the Notch. We are now 99% sure on the design, even the mockup devices usually used for in-store display look pretty accurate to me. The only real thing we do not know is if Touch ID will be present or replaced by Face ID. I honestly think that it’s embedded in the display and that’s why we haven’t heard from it in the rumour mill for a while.
The Homepod firmware release was a fiasco. Something that can easily be fixed so I don’t think we will be seeing this happen soon. An Apple employee pushed the un-cleansed firmware to the public servers, probably with good intentions, to be able to quickly test the build process or other deployment related tasks. But sadly, there are people scanning all possible filename (since they used a very strict format this is achievable) and then one morning POP! There was firmware for the Homepod!
We learned a lot of information here, a lot from the software side of things and even more with many icons, GIFs and other types of visual file that tells use how the
iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone Pro will look like.
This is still unconfirmed but according to birdies from John Gruber and a report from Leo Kellon for the BBC, a rogue employee leaked the URLs of the iOS 11 GM to the press. This time the URLs, even though they were still on the public server, had an unguessable name (random characters were used) to hide them script running smarty pants and to make sure the accidental leak of the Homepod does not repeat itself. Sadly, an employee leaked the information to 9to5mac and to MacRumors directly.
With this leak, we learned a great deal about the new Apple Watch with LTE (still uses dots for the signal?!), the new A-series CPU will have 6 cores, it will most probably use USB-C as the end of its cable and most probably Lightning for the iPhone port. The new Portrait Lighting feature will allow the dual-camera system to be even more creative with Portrait shots. Face ID is the official name of the face-recognition feature of iOS 11, the iPhone will sport a TruTone display, we will have animated Emojis and even Animojis which is a special kind of talking emoji that delivers your spoken message by mimicking your facial expression, eyes and mouth movements.
We also learned about the camera capturing 4K at 60 fps and the option to use either HEVC or MP4 as the codec for the captured sequence. And finally, the Airpods will get a new revision.
There will be a show. One taking place inside the Steve Jobs theatre, a brand new product by itself that Apple will undoubtedly present and explain. We also got a leak from an opened window where we could see rows of leather seats, with power and network connectors so that journalists do not need to create 150 Wi-Fi networks in the room and mess with the presenter’s demo.
The show must go on, but it’s a real pity that we got to learn so much before the show. Before the iOS 11 GM leak we knew already a lot but many things, especially regarding software, was still left to be discovered. Now we even know about new hardware that would otherwise go unnoticed and software features with such a level of detail that we could basically imagine the presenter’s slides.
It’s easy for use to say double-down on secrecy, but I think it’s mostly a problem with processes. It should not be possible for a single employee to leak files on public servers and it should not be possible to do so before the release date. Apple must really double down on its processes and make sure no leaks could happen. Imagine where we would be if only the few manufacturer’s leak were known. Tomorrow would have been such an amazing show filled with so many surprises, people would be screaming as if it was a single device!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-07 19:34
This week we discuss Sonos’ smart speaker, 8K television, 4K Apple and review the Google Home and LG G6.
The Google Home is nowhere perfect but has tremendous potential and the LG G6 2:1 screen ratio is very interesting and can even give us a glimpse into what the iPhone Pro could look like.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-05 17:20
Bigger screens have already been linked to higher productivity. This was true when we moved from 15” to 17 and even 27”, but can this trend continues into even larger screens and can a change in the screen ratio make an impact just like the one on the LG G6?
This is the bet that LG took with its widescreen series of screens. They have been at it for many years and have offered a diverse array of screens to cover all the different segments on the market. The 34UM88 is LG’s version of a wide, straight, high-resolution screen that is packed with almost all of the features of recent displays.
It’s not a gaming monitor per se with a 144Hz refresh rate, but more of an office, designer or developer’s desktop display.
As you might have guessed by now, the 34UM88 is a 34-inch widescreen monitor. Instead of the regular 16:9 screen ratio we are used to, LG has gone the route to a wider monitor instead of a multiple display setup. The ratio is 21:9, and it has a resolution of 3440x1440, this is very important as other models might now have the same pixel density.
Many screen only have 1080 lines instead of 1440, which is not enough to be considered a high quality panel, in my opinion. When there is only 1080, there is some fuzziness to the display that simply disappears once you go higher resolution. Now, I know this is not as pixel dense as a 5K display, but without going as far as 5K is this 3440x1440 is the way to go!
The display is set on a large semicircle foot that can be easily adjusted vertically and tilted back and fort. I think the best way to demonstrate this is with a GIF. Here you go!
All of the controls are located in the front centre below the monitor so you do not see buttons or unnecessary lights. Good placement and the user interface is actually not that bad to use. Of course I would not spend my days in it, but you can easily change the volume and the input with a single motion on the tiny joystick.
In terms of inputs, well there are lots of them. And the great thing is that you have many different types. Two HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort input and even a USB 3.0 hub is integrated so you can plus your devices directly in your monitor and only have one USB 3.0 cable to plug in. And there are even two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports!
The first thing I said when I got the screen installed on its foot is, WOW! That 34-inch real estate is no joke! You have an amazingly wide screen that offers you more space than you ever needed! It’s like somebody added an extra 5-6 inches to the side of my 27” Thunderbolt display!
The initial setup and configuration went very smoothly thanks to the nub to navigate the menus. Once I was ready to use it, I took it for a spin for many weeks. And I can safely say that it’s great, but you need to know what you are getting into!
More screen space seems always to be a good thing, but I came to realize that my desk is not suited for such a big monitor. My desk is only 24-inch deep and because of that, the screen is too close to me. After long session of working, I started to feel pain in my neck and shoulders since I kept on looking left and right during the day and since the monitor is so close to me, my head was actually travelling too much.
I recommend a desk that is at the very least 30-inch deep, or install the screen on a swivel arm that can push it further that its resting position on the desk. This way your neck won’t work as much.
Once you actually start to use this widescreen format, you kind of wished you had it since forever! The extra space totally replaces the need for a second monitor for me and I will keep this in mind when shopping for my next monitor! The 34UM88 has the “good” resolution as explained above, where you have the same density as regular high resolution monitors like a Thunderbolt display but you gain an extra few inches on each side.
I do not recommend other wide 21:9 monitors that have a 1080p resolution or 1280p as you will definitely see the pixels and have fuzziness to them. This is not the case with this 3440x1440 display! The pixels are not noticeable unless you come very close to it and the 10-bit colour rendition makes this display accurate when working with graphical tools and well rounded for everyday office use. No weird contrast here, simply something balanced and easy on the eye.
The screen can be tilted and raised easily, but I still wished it was a bit stiffer as the screen easily wobbles on its foot and this can be irritating when you have a standing desk and raise your monitor.
After a couple of weeks of using the LG 34UM88 display, I’m totally sold on the design esthetics of a widescreen 21:9 ratio display! The added surface makes for a better than a two monitor set up and you can even “fake” it with the Screen Split 2.0 technology where your monitor is recognized as multiple monitors and have a virtual separation in the middle. Personally, I prefer to have my windows close to the centre and only glance at information on the side, but if two very close monitors are your thing this technology allows it.
Once again, LG surpasses the competition with a great display panel with a high resolution, great colour depth and techniques perfect for the gamer, the graphic designer and the everyday office. If only the foot could be more stable and all of our desks deeper (or have a swivel arm), this would be a perfect monitor for everyone! Consider this display when you will upgrade your office, as it has a lot to offer!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-31 07:26
There have been many new electric skateboard this year, many of them came and go and some were even simply scams. This is why I did not report on many new startups and wait until I can get my hands on their product to cover them on the blog. Riptide still has not sent me a board, but I’m confident that this one will go through. Simply because I’ve seen Eric, the founder, on a couple different venues and reviews start to appear. And also, ShredLights is the company he founded not too long ago to offer great quality lights for electric skateboards.
The Riptide R1 is a shorter than most electric skateboard that is powered by a dual belt drive system similar to what Boosted and Evolve have. However, the motors are facing inwards therefore the board can have a kickstail! Something that is simply not present on longboards, but even on shorter boards you very rarely find a kicktail. Being a skateboarder, I totally appreciate the gesture of adding this key part of the skateboard to the Riptide R1!
The board promises two models, one base model and the Elite model with ABEC 11 FlyWheels and ShredLights. The larger wheels offer slightly higher speeds and range and most importantly being larger they handle cracks more efficiently. Both models comes with nice handles built into the board to help with carrying it around. A much needed feature!
The R1 has a top speed of 18 MPH and 7 miles range; the R1 Elite has 20 MPH and 8 miles range. And as things go these days, the board takes a few hours to recharge, 3.5h to be precise, but they also offer a fast charger that does it in 90 minutes. The deck measures 31” long so it’s slightly longer than a Penny Nickel and fits the cruiser or mini-cruiser category and is the smallest size you can get and still get to keep the stability of longer boards and fun of shorter ones.
If Riptide can deliver on their promise, this might well be the sweet spot! You can currently back them on Indiegogo where their early bird prices are still available for 499$. The R1 Elite is available at 629$ and a fast charger is only 49$.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-29 17:58
You probably had this situation come up during your travels. You have your iPhone, a GoPro camera or any other kind of valuables hidden in a bag under two or three towels and when you finally decide to go into the water, you keep on turning back looking at your stuff to make sure nobody is trying to steal it. You are there to enjoy yourself, but keep having this constant stress and self inflicted reminder to double check your stuff, from the ocean or pool, and when you get back to your chair. AquaVault has a solution for this situation and a pretty damn good one too!
The FlexSafe is a purpose-made pouch that can hold your valuables and attach itself to a chair, fence, stroller or even bicycle with a 3-digit lock. This way you can store away your stuff in a waterproof, slash proof and theft proof container that can give you the peace of mind you need to really enjoy the time in the water!
The FlexSafe is made of a material that is slashing proof, meaning that a thief cannot easily slash its way through the bag. Also, there are other layers of important materials like an RFID blocking material so that thieves are not able to scan your wallet cards as well as a more rigid material so it can protect your stuff from bumps and bruises.
The main compartment is closed by a thick zipper that folds back on itself when you lock the FlexSafe. This makes sure that once in a close position, you cannot simply unzip the pouch. The locking mechanism is strong and sturdy and accepts a 3-digit number code so you can easily and quickly lock and unlock it. The interior is basically empty, it’s a big pouch with no dividers. I have large hands and I could easily fit 2 and 1/2 close fists in there so there’s ample room for keys, keycards, wallets, iPhones and a GoPro HERO 5 camera. Basically, everything I had on my last trip 2 weeks ago!
On the exterior you have a bunch of rubber hooks and mesh pouches if you have other non-valuables like swimming goggles, a pencil or other nick-nacks you need to have around. On the bottom of the FlexSafe you have a hole to help it dry if ever water was to get in. And finally, there’s a loop to attach it to your belt so you always have it ready for action.
As I explained earlier, I was on a trip and I wished I had this exact product as I did have an iPhone and a GoPro with me at almost all times during the week. There were long chairs that would have been perfect for the FlexSafe! The main pouch flap that wraps around a chair, bike frame or stroller is wide enough to fit on almost any tube-shaped object. Even wardrobe poles do the trick, just make sure you can’t just remove the pole and take the FlexSafe out!
The thickness and strength of the FlexSafe are impressive and I feel reassured that it can hold my valuables safe. The added loops and mesh pouches are great for other random stuff with low value and I like that it has a handle for carrying it.
The only thing I could see updated or made better is the numbered wheels for the locking mechanism. They only go down, you cannot turn them on the opposite direction and they should be bigger or gripper. I often missed my number by one and have to do a full circle again to get it right. Nothing major here, just something I could see better. I’m wondering if the bigger size FlexSafe+ has a larger keypad…
Overall the FlexSafe is a product I strongly recommend as I’ve spent the last two decades worrying about my iPhone hidden in a back under towels. Thankfully, I was never the victim of theft but I easily could have been. With the FlexSafe I know my valuable will be safe!
The FlexSafe and FlexSafe+ are currently on Kickstarter and you have a few more days to back the project. It’s already funded so you know that you’ll be getting your reward when they are ready to ship. They have also been featured on SharkTank and accepted an offer from one of the investors. I would strongly suggest you check out the FlexSafe+ as it also comes with a motion alarm that emits a 110 dB alarm if moved. Perfect for your bike or even your electric skateboard when recharging at the local coffee shop!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-29 13:10
This was one of the strongest points of the original iPhone campaign and I’m glad it’s back for the revival of the iPad with iOS 11. The iPhone 2G was something new that nobody ever saw so how would Apple show us the benefit of changing that aging Motorola RAZR with an iPhone? Well, just by showing us how to do stuff with it!
This campaign was strong and very effective. It helped us understand the core features of the new product as well as give us something to try once we get our hands on one! After many years, naysayers will say that the OS should be intuitive enough that you do not need these videos. I do not agree.
iOS often adds non-intuitive features with minimal visual feedback and discovery is very hard, or often happen by accident. By going back to the roots, something I really think is overdue, will really help adoptions of these new features. It’s also easier to mentally learn by seeing the feature.
Here are the videos!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-23 19:25
The year 2017 is the year of the slim bezel and wider screen for sure. We got the LG G6 as the first device on the forefront of this new screen ration wave. We also have the rumours of the iPhone 8 or iPhone Pro with the same kind of facade design, the HTC U11 and even the Galaxy Note 8.
This is a very interesting change as since the move to a 16:9 ratio and HD (or +) resolution, nothing major changed on the look of the screens. They got better, of course, but the ratio was kept the same since 2012. The LG G6 has a screen ratio of 18:9, or 2:1 if you’re following, and a diagonal of 5.7”.
That screen also has a screen to body ratio of 80%, making the front of the device almost exclusively screen. But at 5.7”, you do have lots of screen real estate without compromising on the handling of the phone. It fits so well in my hand, it’s almost like a regular iPhone but it also keeps the same screen superficies of a big iPhone Plus.
This alone is a very interesting design change and could be the best idea since high density screens! Just by leaving the 16:9 ratio behind, you can get something very interesting in terms of ergonomics without compromising on screen real estate!
The only downside is the return of the black bars. Remember when we had the new iPhone 5 and apps took months if not more than one year to update and see those black bars go away? Well, now they’re back but forever. Just load up a YouTube video and you’ll see what I mean on each side of the video. One of the major uses I do of a smartphone is watching videos and let me tell you, I was not happy to see those bars again. Games are also affected by this behaviour sadly. Regular applications that leverage the auto-scaling feature of Android are not affected as a table view is simply longer with more content to fill up the screen.
The very first boot up of the LG G6 is fast and very gentle to the eye. At this moment normally I’m quick to remove the launcher and manufacturer apps. I still find it weird but ended up keeping the LG launcher nonetheless. For me this is a big plus!
A few more words on the display. It’s powered by an AMOLED panel and even has the Dolby Vision stamp of approval. You guessed right, this means that this screen is HDR10 compliant just like your brand new 4K television. An advancement that is very welcome as we must not stop innovation, but on a small screen like this the deepest blacks and brighter colours are visible but not world changing. One last thing on the display, since it’s an IPS display it’s not compatible with Google’s Daydream headset.
The phone is also water resistant, something that is welcomed for anyone that is as clumsy as me. The IP68 rating makes it resistant to accidental dip in water, but only for fresh water so the sea and the pool does not count. Make sure that if gets in one of those that you clean it up with fresh water as soon as possible.
Overall the LG G6 is a great phone, great looks and an innovative screen with a different screen ratio is refreshing. If the larger size phones like Pixel XL or the iPhone 7 Plus is too large for you, but you crave for a bigger screen without the bigger form factor, the LG G6 is the way to go! As an Android device it’s in my top list and if you can get it a decent price, it’s very recommended. Now if you think of going from a Pixel XL to the G6, you might be surprised by some of the design quirks between the two that can actually be irritating like the button fingerprint sensor. Nothing you can’t get over but it will be weird in the beginning.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-23 15:19
Finally, we have the very first home assistant in Canada. Amazon still has not crossed the border and Siri is only getting a limited release in December, which does not include Canada, so this leaves us with the Google Home. But Google also had a surprise in stock for us. The Google Home comes with a French Canadian voice profile so us Quebecers can be understood much better. It also comes with all the bells and whistles our neighbours to the south have. Is the Google Home a product ready for the masses or is it still for highly involved tech nerds like us?
This one is a bit contentious. Either you love the design or you could not care less and prefer something that does not pop out like the Amazon Echo. But there is also another aspect to consider, the functionality of the design. The Google Home is similar to some air fresheners with a rounded base with a general conic shape with the top cut in an angle. That angled part hosts colour LEDs to give feedback to its users. When using the trigger word, OK Google, it wakes up and give you feedback that it’s listening to you. And then after you say you inquiry, it circles around “thinking” for a response.
It’s also a touch screen so you can circle around the top with your finger following the LED pattern to increase or decrease the volume. You can also tap to Play or Pause. It serves a useful purpose to quickly pass by it and do basic actions. There is also a microphone mute button on the back for those times when either you are listening to podcast and do not want the trigger word to be heard by the Home or when you are extra cautious about being overheard by the cloud.
As a curious geek, I had to see what was inside so thankfully the bottom part can be removed quite easily and magnets make sure it gets reattached rapidly and in the proper position. It’s fun to see those many speakers all around the device.
The setup process is very simple and the on boarding gives you examples of queries you can speak to get you started. I strongly suggest you ask away anything you might think as it really can be much more powerful than you can think. Many queries, humanly constructed, that I thought of were well understood by the Google Home.
The one thing that bugged me the most is when the Home seemed to listen to me and using the same intonation I used to trigger it, it would fail silently. Often it would fail with a response that it could not do what I asked or answer my question, but those times where it failed silently I felt very irritated as if I was speaking to a human that did not want to answer me. Weird feeling.
I would prefer at the very least a message that the Home did not understand me.
In terms of performance for the types of queries you would type into a Google Search, the Home is very impressive. It almost always gets it right and always with impressive accuracy. When controlling Internet of Things devices, it is a bit more cumbersome as I have tried it with WeMo devices and I had to mention the exact name to get it to react. Once I got down the exact query I had to voice, it was working very well and much faster than I anticipated. Not instant, but closer to 1.25-ish seconds after it understood the command.
This is where the Home could learn more tricks and have more devices compatible. This is an area where it can grow and given the multilingual capabilities of the Google Home it has a worldwide advantage over the competition.
My final impression of the time I spent with the Google Home is very positive and shows a device with a ton of potential. Would I recommend it to anyone? No, I would not. If you are technical and willing to receive silent errors and get misunderstand a lot, you could try it. However, due to the fact that it’s not reliable enough at understanding kids and many forms of queries, I would not recommend it for everyone. If you are an early adopter willing to compromise, feel free to buy one as it will no doubt evolve and get so much better with time!
I really like where Google is going with the Google Home and until the Amazon Echo is released in Canada, the Google Home is the one I strongly recommend if you’re fine with its limitation. Amazon has a good deal more compatible features and web service and in general it can be much more versatile for geeks like us. But until it’s released in Canada, i can only recommend the Google Home.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-21 12:38
If you are a fan of the serie Legend of Zelda, this is a must see event. I personnally heard the concert twice and I’m thinking of going again. It’s that great! Also, it never is the same concert every year. The first time I went, it was mostly the older games and the second time mostly the most recent ones. I really loved it more the first time as it touched my inner child and filled me with fond memories of the 8 and 16-bit era.
If you would like to know more about the two shows I attended to, here are the post I did on Blogue de Geek, in French.
This year is the last one of the tour. Make you you check the schedule and attend, it’s really a great show that will be missed by many fans of the franchise.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-20 17:53
Remember Google Wave or Digsby, what about Del.icio.us and Fring? Product Graveyard is a place of rememberance of apps and services of the past, why they were sunsetted and great living alternatives.
All nicely packaged with informative details, Product Graveyard is a fun walk through memory lane and you event have the Net Promoter Score if suggested replacement. The NPS score is an industry standard way for users to rate the software they use. Higher means better!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-07 11:10
This week we discuss new USB standard and it’s implications, new Tesla Model 3 release, the new (rumored) 4K Apple TV with iTunes 4K episodes and old iPods are now sunsetted. They had it coming for a while being classified as “accessories” for a while in the Apple Stores…
RIP little iPods
Permalink - Posted on 2017-08-06 11:05
It’s known that a few products really shine on Kickstarter and other platforms of crowd funding, and in the backpack or bag categories very few reach the same level of the Everyday Backpack. A total of 26,359 backers invested almost 6.6M$ in the Everyday Backpack, Tote and Sling. I saw this campaign go by and reach unprecedented levels of success. But in the end, once in hands of tech reviews and commuters like me, how well does it fare?
I’ve been carrying the Everyday Backpack in its 30L version, the bigger one, on my back for many weeks. Probably more than I should before I wrote my review, but I really wanted to have a feel for it in various situations. Some days it would be basically empty, other days I would bring my camera with me, some days I would pack it so much I had to play Tetris to fit it all in there. Also, I wanted to give it a run in my commute by bus and by skateboard on my faithful Penny Nickel. In short, I took it everywhere!
If I could put the design of this back into one word, it would be flexible. It’s impressive the number of straps, hidden features and compartments that can be adapted in this bag. Let’s start from the outside. You have a quality and sturdy weatherproof fabric called Kodra. Available in two colours, this fabric is very good. I had a few falls on my skateboard and even scrapped it against a wall once and I still can’t see visible markings on it. Very impressive. On the top and sides, you have a handy handle that allows you to carry the bag.
In terms of straps you have hidden straps everywhere. Let’s start with the chest strap that can be removed if you do not like it. No need to cut anything like other bags! On each side, you have pouches with an elastic and a magnet to keep it closed, and one more hidden strap that allows you to set up your tripod and securely fasten it to the bag. On the bottom, you have yet another magnetically shut pouch where long straps are hidden. These allow you to attach something to your bag, like a short Penny Board, thanks to little loops on each side you can make an “X” with the strap and hold it securely. On the back, you have swivel shoulder straps to adjust to your shoulder size comfortably. And even a space behind the padding to slide the backpack on a suitcase arm for easy carry.
Everywhere you see hooks or clips or parts where straps go through, you have this very thick but light metal part that is much stronger that anything I saw in regular bags. It’s kind of a mix between the design and strength of climbing gear but in a soft carefully designed fashion. Very impressive to aptly mix the two!
This comes to the part of the bag that you will most likely use the most. The main compartment is closed by a magnetic hook on a rubber system that does not only shut particularly nicely but also very tightly on a multi-position “scale”. You can attach it to 4 different positions depending on how full the main compartment really is. This might seem like nothing, but trust me that what you usually see is bags that advertise a certain capacity but does not keep shut when filled. The Everyday Backpack can be closed securely even on the highest setting.
On the inside, you have an accessory pouch accessible through the laptop compartment zipper. In there you can store small devices, cables, batteries, SD cards or other things in a soft fabric section. Right next to it you have the padded laptop section that can accommodate laptops up to 16” in size. The cool thing here is that there is actually two compartments, one for smaller size, ideal for a 13” MacBook Pro and one ideal for a 15” MacBook Pro that can be used at the same time. Also, the 13” fits snugly in there and does not actually reach the bottom of the back. This means that the pouch is making it suspend in the air and allows you to drop the bag on its bottom without being scared of breaking your 13” laptop. As for the 15” there is a gap below its pouch and the ground so it’s not hitting the ground directly but could be more exposed to a hard drop. This does not mean that the laptop is in a precarious position, there is sufficient padding to protect it. Trust me I fell on my side from my skateboard and all the content of the bag was still in perfect shape!
Inside the main compartment is where most of the valuables will be stored. Being a camera bag, this means that it has well-designed separators that can be used to house your lenses and cameras on different levels but also folded as “walls” on a same level. This allows you to store lenses horizontally and vertically for maximum flexibility. The Velcro part is actually micro-Velcro hooks that are less prone to catch dust but still offer a better than regular Velcro grip. Each little adjustable flap is also filled with a shock-absorbing material to protect your gear.
The gear is accessible through the main pouch but once you have it all laid out, you will need to use one of the side pockets to access your gear. These side pockets also contains more compartments that hide more space for accessories, books, cellphones, etc. And it’s hidden behind a zipper fabric to keep it all nice and tidy.
What about theft? You must have heard from people getting their gear stolen because it’s more easily accessible from more openings. Well, Peak Design thought of this and included anti-theft straps on the zipper so that you can loop it around yet another loop so that nobody can access your gear without tampering with the zipper. This makes it harder so thieves will look elsewhere for easier targets.
Now that I went through the bag in about 1,200 words, what did I think of it?
Like I said in the intro, I used it to lug around big things like a skateboard helmet still in its box, a complete kit of Google gear including a Pixel phone, a Google Home and a Daydream VR kit, all in their respective original boxes with room for an extra external battery. It’s amazing that you can fit as much stuff in this. But the magic happens when you actually strap it on your shoulders. It actually feels great even when it’s empty or completely filled.
The chest strap and the hidden waist strap make sure you get it all very stable. Even on a skateboard, you can tighten the shoulder straps and get this backpack tighter so it does impact your balance too much. I even wore it for many hours straight and I must say that it was very comfortable.
The organization is very customizable and if you have one dSLR with 2 or 3 lenses, you will have lots of places for more gear. You can even fit two cameras and multiple lenses, so yes, there it lots of places.
Looking at the website the Everyday Backpack the 20L version is 259$ and the 30L is 289$. Not cheap, but considering you’re getting a backpack that can work for you every day of the year and be flexible enough to be a faithful sidekick on all types of situations, it’s really like buying multiple bags at once. Or buying a single bag instead of 2 or 3. The only challenge now is to choose between the 20 or 30L format. If you are large like me, the 30L does not look humongous on your back and you can fit more in it, however, if you are smaller, the 20L will still give you all the nice things in a format that fits better with your body shape.
I strongly recommend that you look into this bag for your next purchase, as I was really not expecting that many nice ideas when I watched the video. I mean, it looked nice but it also works amazingly well too! I really adore products that are well designed AND full functional objects. Highly, highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 12:52
This is really the end of an era. The iPod Classic was already gone, but today it’s the day the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano are retirered. They have already been relocated to the accessories part of the Apple Store and their table real-estate shrunk rapidly since the introduction of the Plus size iPhone and the aapl Watch.
Remember these little guys, they were the reason why Apple is still among us today!
And to aleviate your pain, Apple doubled the capacity of the iPad touch for the same price. 199$ now gets you 32GB and 299$ gets you a 128GB.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 09:43
This week we discuss new retro consoles like the Ataribox and the Nintendo 64 Classic, a new Transmit app is released and a pair of yellow glasses in the Gunnar Intercept. We also review the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 HD Dock and pleas, please, do not force quit your iOS apps all the time!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 16:20
We are starting to see more and more USB-C devices, we already reviewed the Griffin Breaksafe a USB-C magnetic cable. We now have one of the first USB-C compatible docks which lets you connect all your peripherals into the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock and pass all the data through a single Thunderbolt 3 cable back to your Macbook Pro. On top of all that, the single cable provides enough power to charge your laptop at the same time.
The overall design of Belkin dock is minimal and nice. The shade of silver is not quite the same as Apple hardware but it’s pretty close. The Thunderbolt 3 cable that comes with the dock is very nice. The power brick is a little big but considering the amount of power this dock provides it’s understandable. With most of the ports at the back of the dock it makes for a very tidy setup which means you can leave the dock on your desk. It doesn’t look out of place at all with the rest of your computer hardware.
The dock features a bunch of ports in the back and two easier to access ports in the front. The back includes one gigabit ethernet, a headphone jack, two USB-A 3.0, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), one DisplayPort and one power connection. The front includes a USB-A 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a status LED that turns green from amber to indicate that a device is plugged and sharing. The dock is only compatible with the USB-C Macbook Pro, the USB-C Macbook is not compatible unfortunately.
The dock delivers sufficient power to charge a 15-inch 2016 Macbook Pro. The dock provides 85W of power, the adapter that comes with the laptop is a 87W. The real performance comes with the update to Thunderbolt 3 which provides a 40 Gbps data transfer rate. This is double the rate of Thunderbolt 2, which isn’t considered slow event though it was released in 2013. You can daisy chain up to 5 Thunderbolt devices from the dock. With full use of all the ports the dock lets you collect up to 8 devices all connected to your laptop using a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Belkin dock can output two 4K video streams using the DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3.
The Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock makes life a lot easier if you have an elaborate setup with many peripheral connected to your laptop. One downside is the lack of Thunderbolt 2 ports or the single Thunderbolt 3 port considering the second one is always connected to the laptop. All in all this is a must have a device to ease the transition to USB-C only laptops.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-21 18:22
As you can guess, the number of screens in our lives never stops to increase. Where we only had a big cathode ray TV two decades ago, we now have a phone, a table a watch, a computer and even a kitchen smart assistant. All those things have one thing in common, the screen. This LCD casting blue light to your retinas, all day long, and even late at night. This has tremendous effects on people’s lives, so much that the latest research says that it breaks your circadian rhythm thus preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Dry eyes and eye fatigue and headaches are the most frequent symptoms.
Electronic device manufacturers started to include technologies to reduce those effects. Apple introduced NightShift to reduce the amount of blue light emitted, and f.lux has been trying the same thing for the better part of the last decade. Gunnar is trying something different. They developed a proprietary lens technology that block 65% of the blue light and offers this lens in a wide variety of eyewear. Prescription or not, you have more than 20 different styles to choose from.
I got the Intercept glasses with the amber lenses right here. Here’s what I think of them.
The frame is made of very light plastique and feels like you’re wearing almost nothing. The lenses are the yellow tinted ones, the ones that block 65% of the blue light. They also make a clear version that block 10% of the blue light and 100% of UV light.
You can basically wear the transparent one all day like you would with regular glasses. Also, Gunnar offers prescription versions so you can completely replace your existing pair of glasses.
I wore these glasses at work during long stretches of work facing a blue screen with NightShift disabled. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from strong symptoms, but I often feel eyesores and light headaches. When wearing the Gunnar glasses, I found them to be very effective and they left my eyes perfectly fine after long days in front of a monitor.
Since NightShift has been released on macOS, it automatically kicks in for me later in the day. However, I spend most of the day and not the night in front of my computer. Therefore, it’s not really useful for me. You could, of course, activate NightShift all day, but even then, I found the Gunnar glasses more effective. Everything seems to be sharper and better focused. I do not know if it’s a placebo effect, or if it’s really the light transmission that is tuned to remove the strain from your eyes as Gunnar says.
Nonetheless, the feeling is comfortable and prolonged use is very comfortable.
If you are in front a computer like me, you should really think of using something to protect your eyes and make that whole working on a computer thing more comfortable. I wished the Clear version were blocking the same 65% of blue light as the Amber lens though. I really love the design of many of the glasses, but the Intercept in Amber is my favorite, and I could really see me wear those in clear everyday if they were as efficient as the amber ones.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 17:53
After posting filling for a new visual trademark, representing a long lost controller from the Nintendo 64, we can only assume that the next console from Nintendo will be the Nintendo 64 Classic!
The only two other non-text filings were for the NES Classic and the SNES Classic, so this kinda confirms the rumour!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 17:21
When looking for a good macro lens that is compatible with the full-frame Sony E-Mount there are not that many possibilities. Sony is now offering two models, the first one released being the FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens. This lens is a prime lens that sports a few nice features that make it a great product. Here’s how it behaves in the real world!
The 90mm is quite large and heavy, actually more than I was expecting. This is not necessarily a problem as when you shoot macro subjects you need to be very stable and the weight really helps. At 602g (1.32lbs), it can carry the title of being sufficiently heavy. On it aside you have a few buttons and selection switches that try to make your life easier.
The first switch is there to minimize the focus travel and give you a focused image quicker. It has three positions, infinity-0.5m, 0.5m-0.28m or Full. That last setting is covering the whole focus range but will hunt more for the focus on large apertures. The two other modes are limiting the focus hunting by shortening the distance it travels. Just make sure you think of the relative distance of the subject. The lens has a magnification ratio of 1:1, or 1x if you prefer. You won’t be able to zoom in on bug eyes but you can nonetheless do bug shots! As you will see later on, you can get close enough for many nice setup.
The other switch is the optical stabilization which has two positions, ON or OFF. Very useful when composing the shot! If you want to switch from AF to MF, you have this nice push/pull ring on the lens. Not everyone likes this, but for a macro lens it really comes in useful when the lens does not stop hunting.
I really love what this lens is capable of and from a pure specs perspective is very good. When using it in real life though, I did have some issues with it. Not with the image quality or sharpness, but rather with the general use of it. The focus distance selector is there for a good reason, the 90mm is way slower to focus than I was expecting. Compared to my Sony 24-70mm f/4, it’s much slower.
This should not be a problem for portraits but when you’re trying to get as close as possible to your subject and do a macro shot, it’s going to hunt a lot. Selecting either close macro or wider shot really helps though. Also, the wider the aperture the tougher it gets for the lens to properly focus.
As you can see from the following photos, the macro capture is very good, just make sure you have ample lights, this helps a lot!
If you were expecting super mega macros, well, this is not the lens for you. It’s magnification ratio is 1:1 so you can get up close and see the details of your subject but don’t expect to get those bug eye shots fit in the frame. You will be able to get the insect by probably only most of its body.
The Sony FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS (SEL90M28G) is a great sense and for a few years the only real full-frame option from Sony. Nowadays, we also have a 50mm f/2.8 that has since been released. If you do not care for cropped images, there is also a 30mm f/3.5 that could be considered.
The quality of the 90mm is great and it’s a great companion for your Sony full frame camera. I strongly recommend it but know that it’s not as fast as you might be expecting to focus. This is no major problem as you can select the distance and you eventually get used to this limitation. Just don’t use it for action scenes as you might be able to quickly capture the still you’re looking for.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 11:58
Seven years after the first release of Transmit 4, our well-loved and widely-used macOS file transfer app, we sat down with an incredibly exhaustive list of ideas, and — this’ll sound like I’m exaggerating but I’m mostly sure I’m not — we did it all.
I insta bought Transmit having a need for a good FTP software and now that it’s also supporting Rackspace Cloud Files, where we host our images on this site, I did not need more reasons to buy it!
Plus, for a week, you can get it at 35$ instead of 45$. So, what are you waiting for?
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 10:52
It took many months, but Tangerine finally released the debit card support for its debit card. We were one of the first to get the credit cards support for Apple Pay, but for some reason Tangerine is one of the last bank to add debit card support.
Being one of their loyal customer, I’m more than happy to finally see this happen!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-19 15:13
We partnered with an incredibly talented local photographer Kim Graham, who has called Charleston home for most of her life. According to Kim (and we couldn’t agree more) the Lowcountry has a charm unlike anywhere else. With its glorious sunrises and ocean breezes, the smells of jasmine and pluff mud, and the historic homes on cobblestone streets - Charleston is truly one-of-a-kind.
From the look of it all, I couldn’t agree more!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-05 13:20
As it’s often the case, technology tries to hook itself onto vintage or old electronic devices. The turntable is not one to be ignored as audio geeks often requests this type of enhancement. A turntable that allows you to listen to vinyl records and at the same time digitize them is a great idea and it’s exactly what IonAudio did with the Max LP.
The turntable itself has retro look using a wood grain looking finish, a set of speakers and the regular turntable gear that we all know and love. On the back, there is something extra thought. Together with the two RCA outputs, there’s a USB port that allows you to connect it to your computer.
The record platter is protected by a thick plastic casing that also keeps dust out of the platter and in the end out of your records too.
The setup is very simple, all you have to do is install the transparent cover and plug it in. Then it’s only a matter of setting a vinyl record and listening to it. The stereo speakers are working as expected but they are not very high quality. They do not do a good enough job to actually fill the room and make it an enjoyable listening experience.
Once you plug in headphones though the experience changes completely! Using a good pair of Sony MDR-7506 studio monitors the experience gets so much better it’s night and day compared to the embedded speakers. The sound reproduction is rich and really gets the experience to another level.
Then, there is the USB port… Thankfully, it does not require any drivers whatsoever on a Mac. Just plug it in and it acts as an external microphone. I was able to use my faithful Audio Hijack to record the audio easily and even do a version with all the cracks and pops removed. Easy as pie!
If you are looking for a simple and affordable solution that looks great and most of all can help you preserve valuable vinyl records, the Max LP is a great sidekick to do just that. The embedded speakers are not great but the 1/4 jack really gives you a better experience and the driverless setup on a Mac is the cherry on top! Highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-05 12:16
How many times did you want to plug in your phone and realize that your USB charger is missing in action? Or how many times did you wish the night light would not steal one of the sockets, so much that when you need it the most is the night that you actually see it lying on the floor… Well, SnapPower wanted to tackle both of these problems.
They first made the GuideLight, a LED powered nightlight that is embedded in the outlet cover. You hear right, the 10¢ cover that you have all over your house can be swapped in mere seconds for a version that include a light-sensing nightlight.
And for the iPhone charging, SnapPower offers the USB Charger cover that also goes on top of existing power outlets to add a 1A USB port.
The GuideLight is like its name explains, a nightlight that is triggered when the sun sets. It has a small sensor so that it only triggers when really needed. Given that this LED is small yet powerful enough to light a passageway, it does not cost more than a few cents per year of actual power.
The USB Charger is a bit bulkier thanks to the USB port placed on the top (or bottom if you install it reversed) cover. It installs the very same way and gives you a 5V 1A USB power that is the equivalent of your iPhone bundled charger.
Well, this section will be short! You basically need a flathead screwdriver and need to remove the outlet cover plate. Then you simply install the GuideLight or the USB Charger as a regular cover plate. The smart thing at work here are the two prongs that actually make contact with the outlet’s + and - screws. This way the power is also routed through both of the types of cover plates.
That’s really all there is to it. Just make sure you select the proper type of plate design, Duplex (two holes) or Decor (rectangular hole) and you’re good to go!
The GuideLight is actually powerful enough for any situations and sometimes it would be too powerful if you have it in line of sight to your bedroom. SnapPower fixed this with their new SwitchLight that actually has a selector with variable intensity.
It has been installed for a few months and it really is the type of thing you set and forget. Regarding the USB Charger, I had to install it upside down so that the USB port faced the right side of the counter. But once again, it’s very easy to install and does properly charge an iPhone with its 1A power. You might be hoping for a 2A if the USB Charger is close to where you use your iPad. 1A will still charge your iPad but only very slowly.
I would have loved to have two 1A ports or at the very least one 1A and one 2.4A ports for more powerful devices.
All in all, these SnapPower GuideLight and USB Charger are great addition to any house and require no skills to install since it only lives on the outside of the outlet. If you are in need of a hallway light, really check out the GuideLight and the USB Charger is an affordable way to add a USB port to your wall outlet without the need to call the electrician.
Both highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-04 19:10
This week we discuss Chris Lattner’s exit of Tesla, the Scott Forstall interview, we review a Magic Bridge and warn listeners about fake electric skateboards campaign.
It’s a good thing to have choice in terms of electric skateboards and longboard, but some scammers are also coming out of the woodwork and try to squeeze money from crowdsourcing users. This is very sad.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-04 13:08
The SNES Classic or SNES Mini is coming out September 29th, but stores all over the web are starting to enable their product page for the small console. Here are a few places where you can buy or even pre-order it.
This page will be updated often so come back often and bookmark it so you can quickly open all tabs when looking for stock!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-02 18:00
Not too long ago, a security developer received a call from the IRS saying that there was an error in total calculation and that he owned the IRS over 8,000$. However, this was a phone call from India and there were lots of spoken mistake… It was a scam.
Our developer got fed up from people trying to scam him and decided to fire back at them. So he wrote a program that calls them back 28 times per second to flood their lines and voicemail at once. This way they can’t scam other where their phone network is overloaded. Brilliant, simnply brilliant!
The scammer changed number so he looks online for the new one and starts his process once again! As one might say, fight fire with fire! He’s now running this program regularly and since he’s using the Twillo service there are costs associated with this endavour so he opened up a Patreon account to leverage fees to make this run, eventually, non-stop!
I hope he then goes after the “you won a cruise to the Bahamas” company after this one…
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-30 21:50
2017 is really the year of the mesh networking releases with the likes of Google, Linksys and now TP-Link with a mesh network offering. Of course we had to take is for a spin, here’s what we think about it!
The Deco is a system that includes three or more of these satellites routers that can be added and placed strategically so that your whole house is covered with Wi-Fi. The branding of the Deco even says so: Paint your house in Wi-Fi! Most of the other contenders in this space have chosen a column style shape whereas TP-Link has chosen the “puck” design. At first I was sceptical about this choice given that more space between antennae is normally what makes an array of antennae work well.
In the box, a box that offers an amazing unboxing experience; sadly I’m not yet equipped for video reviews but that might change soon! As soon as you remove the outside sleeve you start an unboxing experience that is very similar to what Apple offers us. The different units are disc shape with a subtle raised portion. It really looks good on any type of furniture. On the back of the devices you have the USB-C port that acts as an A/C port and two Ethernet ports. But really all you need is a single port for the unit close to your router.
Included is, of course, three power bricks for the 3-unit version and a single Ethernet cable. You have all you need to get started easily.
The very first step is to get your mobile phone out and load the app from your App Store of choice. You are then taken to a step-by-step flow that allows you to configure the first node of your whole house wi-fi system. As you can see from the following screenshots, it’s as simple as stand close to the plugged-in units (for Bluetooth to work its magic) and do a bunch of Next taps.
You are then taken to the main screen where you can do a speed test of your network and not your device. This is an important point as your proximity to these nodes will impact the overall performance of your connection.
You can then add more nodes. I decided to add the two remaining nodes at the very same place as I did with the Linksys Velop system. One in the “machine room”, one in the dining room and one in the master bedroom. The setup was close to perfect except for the master bedroom where it would complain that it’s too far from the second node. It’s basically just above it and 2-3m away from it. I tried a second time and it registered. It probably needed to optimize the network a bit more to accommodate that last node.
There is no back-channel band on the Deco as there is with the Velop so in order to maximize performance, and if possible, you need to plug each of them in the wall. In this scenario they use the wires to move data from the device to the Internet. I would strongly suggest you do so to benefit from the best performance possible. Since most of the users will not have multiple Ethernet jacks in their homes, I’m not using this feature in the performance assessment coming right up.
As it becomes custom, I’m now placing the different units at the exact same place as with my previous tests as well as use the very same setup with my NAS capable of outputting over 1000Mbps of real-life transfer rates. Well above the real-life performance of any wireless devices on the market.
I have also kept the same test area as in previous tests so that you can get a feel for the real-life performance of the router units.
I currently have a network attached storage that is using link aggregation to merge the power of 4 Ethernet ports and offer unprecedented connected power. I will post something about this in the future. Sufficient to say that this network storage can be fast, over 300 MB/s fast so it makes a good test subject for speeds since it’s next to the main Velop node and wired to it using a Smart Linksys switch.
I’m using iPerf to test the speed over the Wi-Fi network. The NAS being the “server” in the scenario and a 2015 MacBook Pro being the client. I’m also testing from various locations in my home.
This covers the whole house and can give a good test bed for performance of wireless products. Since it’s the only house I have access to, I cannot say what will happen to multi-generation housings that are not necessarily high but instead very long. I think the Velop system might be even better suited for these kinds of configurations from what I can see from the testing below.
The following results are using MB/second as the unit.
|Router/Location||AirPort Extreme||Linksys Velop||TP-Link Deco M5|
|Basement Living Room||70||48||52|
|Main Floor Kitchen||15||28||15|
|2nd Floor Masters Bedroom||9||18||23|
|2nd Floor Bedroom 2||6||18||25|
As you can see from the above results, the Deco M5 are actually surprisingly better in certain scenarios! Faster than the Linksys Velop in almost all scenarios and sometimes even by a good margin. Still not as fast as a dedicated AC router like the AirPort Extreme in close quarters, but as soon as you change floor level you get 2.5 to 12x better speeds! Even when I was on the top level, the theoretical speed got lowered but the experience was not visibly affected. Websites and YouTube loaded as fast as when I was in close proximity to the initial node.
And remember that you can use the wired connection to use it as the back-channel band (connection upstream to the Internet if you prefer). Even if you don’t have it for all nodes, one or two could really help!
Once again, appearances are nothing, the puck design of the Deco M5 by TP-Link is better than the cylinder design of much powerful Linksys Velop. The Deco are super easy to setup, as much that any non-tech person could do it very easily with no problem whatsoever. The added security is a plus that can mean a lot for many and you have great parental controls as well as many advanced features that allow the more techie to personalize the setup. Just keep in mind that most of the Wi-Fi settings are handled by the Deco itself.
Overall the Deco, its surprising performance and its ease of use make it the top recommendation I can make for a large (vertically or horizontally) house. If you have Ethernet jacks close to the units, expect even better performances! All this comes at a price though, but there are sometimes sales that are quite interesting. The base price at the moment is $US 299 and $CA 449.
At this moment, Massdrop has the Deco M5 kit for just 199 $US!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-29 16:52
The introduction of USB-C ports on the new Macbook and Macbook Pro from Apple has brought lots of discussion. The laptops lost a bunch of ports but one port that often goes overlooked is the old MagSafe 2 charging port. Griffin is out to fix that problem with the BreakSafe Power Cable, a magnetic USB-C charging cable.
The finish and materials are high quality. The cable is flexible and feels solid. Both the cable connector and the magnetic connector feature a nice chamfered edge a la iPhone 5. The magnets are strong and line up easily, the magnet will always break loose before the USB-C connector comes out. The magnetic connector sticks out from the laptop a little too much for my liking, especially if you want to carry your computer around in a sleeve or backpack. I’m always a little scared or breaking the connector inside the USB-C port while I commute. The magnet connection is great when running around the office to attend meetings.
At first I found it strange that the BreakSafe only allowed connection on one side. The cable cannot physically be attached if the cable and quick disconnect magnetic connector doesn’t line up on the right side. Turns out, it’s a safety feature that assures the cable’s polarity is consistent with both the device and the power adapter. The cable connector also has markings to help you identify the correct way to attach the connector and the quick disconnect magnetic connectors. All static electrical charges are dissipated since the ground pin is always the first conductive elements that touch when the connector and the cable are joining.
The BreakSafe carries up to 60 watts which is enough to charge the 13-inch Macbook Pro at the normal rate given the power adapter provided with the laptop is 61 watts. The 15-inch Macbook Pro, however, comes with an 87-watt adapter meaning you might see slower fill up speeds. Both the Macbook and the Google Pixel will not see any time difference in charging times since the adapters output less than 60 watts.
It you miss your old MagSafe connector than this a definitely a great alternative. The price is a little steep at 9 considering the Apple charging cable is 9. This will save your laptop from falls so I guess you can see it as a much cheaper alternative to Apple Care. The LED indicators that would turn from orange to green when the laptop was fully charged is the only feature missing from this product.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-28 08:02
After the immense success that was the Nintendo NES Classic, Nintendo officially announced the SNES Classic Edition! This time again we have a compact HDMI console with a bunch of pre-installed games but Nintendo learned its lesson on some of the finer details this time around!
The SNES Classic is a two player console that looks identical to the 90s console but much smaller. Nintendo included two controllers in the box this time so no more hunting for third-party to fill the gap. Also, it appears the controller cord are living room size and not a scaled down version like they were on the NES Classic. There will be a total of 20+1 games, 20 will be unlocked from the start but you will need to either beat or succeed at a Star Fox challenge to unlock the never released before Star Fox 2!
Here’s the full list of games:
The console will debut on September 29th for 80$.
On a more technical side I’m pretty happy to see Nintendo go though the extra work to emulate the SuperFX chip for Star Fox and also the DSP chip in Mega Man X. For someone that has been following the emulation scene for more that 20 years, and hoping for a SNES Classic since, this is great news and perhaps mean a “perfect” emulator written by Nintendo? I can wait to side load roms on that little machine!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-28 07:35
Sometimes the most appreciated thing is the simplest. This is what I think pushed Studio Neat to create the Panobook, a simple yet very elegant and highly practical notebook that is of a widescreen shape. Perfectly fits between you and your keyboard in landscape mode or to the side of your keyboard in portrait mode.
As things goes with Tom and Dan, the two men product Studio that Studio Neat is, you can expect a refined product with very specific material as a design that is practical but is not in your face. The high quality paper has a dot grid that can be easily disregarded as well as three iPhone size rectangles for those that are doing app design and a few guides to easily locate the center point. All of these are super helpful yet light enough that they don’t distract you from your work.
The Panobook is currently on Kickstarter with the goal reached in only 2.5 hours! You can get one Panobook for 20$ and three for 55$. As you might have guessed, I insta-backed this product from Studio Neat (once again), I’m backer #12. I was really looking for something like a Moleskine but of better quality and I really never could find the perfect size for it. I really think that the Panobook will be perfectly sized for me.
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-22 12:50
There were many accessories released over the years that can help you with the ergonomics of your desk. Wrist rests are one type, we even had a keyboard riser in the past that was quite the opposite of ergonomic. But what if you are a proud user of a Magic Trackpad 2 and a Magic Keyboard? The newer models do not have the round battery compartment so they can’t fit old solutions to keep them still.
The Magic Bridge is a simple plastic holder that allows you to snap in your Keyboard and trackpad. There is also a gray sliding component that allows you to set the Magic Keyboard to the left or to the right. Lefties will be pleased!
Once installed, both devices are firmly set on your desk and they will not move!
The setup process could not be simpler. Choose if you want the Trackpad to your left or your right, slide the hold to the correct side. Drop in your Magic Keyboard with an angle, same for the Magic Trackpad and bingo! You’re all set!
The charging ports are accessible so you do not need to take either device out of the Magic Bridge. And the same goes for the ON/OFF switches. Being made of plastic, there are no more interferences so they should work as they do without it from the same distance if you need to take your keyboard to the couch.
The rubber pads below the Magic make sure that it’s stable and does not move on your desk.
I really love the look that the Magic Bridge gives us. A clean, straight setup and the best thing is that when moving your hand to the Magic Trackpad 2, it does not push it around. Clean and highly practical is the best combo for a killer looking (and efficient) desk!
Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-22 11:19
This week we discuss new laws for cellphone carriers in Canada, fake followers (ours and Trump’s) and review both the new iPad 10.5” and the Juiced Board!