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76: Run Through Underwear

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Winboard GT-M8 2.0, an Electric Penny Board [Review]

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?

Design

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.

Winboard GT-M8 2.0

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.

Not so great

Remote

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!

Hub motors can be great

Features

  • 28” wooden deck
  • Dual rear hub motors (2x 700W)
  • 25-28 kph (15-17 mph)
  • 12-18 km (7.5-11 miles)
  • Elevation of 25-30%
  • Rechargeable in 2h

Performance

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.

Reliability

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!

Conclusion

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.


Varmilo Electrostatic Capacitive Mechanical Keyboard (VA108M) Review

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!

Design

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.

Varmilo Electrocapacitive Keyswitches

Types of Keyswitches

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.

Varmilo Electrocapacitive Keyswitches

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.

Varmilo EC Switches vs. Traditional Ones

Features

  • Contactless design
  • Stable actuation
  • Longer lifespan
  • n-key rollover
  • Reduced noise level

Varmilo’s First House Made Keyswitch

Performance

I’m currently rocking the Varmilo VA108M 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.

Conclusion

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


75: Verglas

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Juiced Board Dual 2018 Beta Review

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.

Design

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!

Juiced Board 2018 Beta

Features

  • 40% more torque
  • Quieter hub motors
  • Gentle acceleration curves
  • All of the great things from the original Juiced Board

Performance

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!

Performance on the streetsRide App on iOS

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.

Pretty fly for a Beta!

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!

Conclusion

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!


74: Sober Sierra

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.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Stargate 3DS Flashcard Review

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.

Design

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.

Features

  • Plug and play
  • Firmware pre-installed
  • Upgradable firmware
  • Compatible with 3DS and DS games
  • Emulator support for NES and SNES coming soon
  • exFAT and FAT32 support (when final firmware is released)

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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!


Innovelis TotalMount Deluxe for AirPort Extreme [Review]

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.

Design

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.

Total Mount from Below

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.

With Monoprice Cable Management

Features

  • Made of plastic
  • Space for cable passthrough
  • Fan is not obstructed

Conclusion

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!


Bookbook CaddySack by Twelve South [Review]

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!

Cookbook CaddySack

Design

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.

CaddySack, before

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!

CaddySack, after

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!

Features

  • Compact carrier for MacBook Charger, cables and adapters
  • Velcro and elastic bands
  • Quality fabric and leather

Conclusion

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!


71: Do We Need Side Mirrors?

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


70: It's Like Popcorn

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)

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses, Still Time to Get Tickets!

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.

Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses

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!


69: First Dibs on Review

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Samsung Takes Shots at Apple in Commercial

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.


Glif Full Set Review

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!

Design

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.

Glif Full Kit Contents

Features

  • Glif with 2 tripod mount
  • Solid cherry wood hand grip
  • Paracord wrist strap
  • Fit iPhone SE to iPhone 7 Plus with thick case

Performance

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!

Conclusion

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.


Eero Pro Wi-Fi Mesh Network Review

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.

Design

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.

Features

  • Tri-band WiFi radios, simultaneous 2.4GHz, 5.2GHz, and 5.8GHz wireless
  • Dual auto-sensing Gigabit ports for WAN and/or LAN connectivity
  • No nightlight

Performance

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.

eero Pro-Wifi System

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.

1) Wireless Scenario

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 Office 50 32 32 23 25
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.

eero Pro Unit

2) Wired-Assisted Scenario

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 Office 23 25 25 0%
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.

Security

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!

Conclusion

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!


Animoji Video Clip, the Start of a New Trend!

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!


iFixIt Does an iPhone X Teardown!

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! ;)

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


iMac Pro Makes First Appearance at Final Cup Pro X Creative Summit

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.

New Features

  • HEVC support; for all those nice iOS 11 captured videos
  • 360˚ video support; for all those nice GoPro rigs and Samsung 360˚ cam footage
  • New colour wheels to help make adjustments

Here are a few images of the iMac Pro.


Star Wars Speeder in NYC [Jesse + Casey]

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!

Making Of

 

Behind the Scenes

 


66: Rage Post

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

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Autonomous SmartDesk 2 Review

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.

Design

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”.

Autonomous SmartDesk 2 in Black

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.

4-preset Control Panel

Features

  • 3 designs, 5 colours, 3 platform colours
  • two types of motorized system
  • Home Edition: 220lbs lifting capacity, 1-inch/second
  • Business Edition: 300 lbs lifting capacity, 2.3 inch/second
  • 30-inch deep desk allows for roomy setup

Installation

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.

Under the Desk

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!

Black Frame

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.

Sitting or Standing?

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.

Standing Mode

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!

Sitting Mode

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.

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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!

SmartDesk 3

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!

 


FA VO Ruled Notebook Review

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.

Design

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.

FA VO Ruled 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.

FA VO Ruled Notebook

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.

Macro Dotted Line

Features

  • 100% recycled materials
  • Material includes byproduct of olive, coffee and almond
  • Made from sustainable processes and certified companies
  • 100 GSM paper, 300 GSM cover
  • Opens flat
  • 4 colours
  • Blank, ruled, and now dotted

FA VO Ruled Notebook Lines

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!

Conclusion

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!


A Pencil for the iPhone. Was Steve Really Understood?

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!


Sonos One, the Open-Minded Solution to Music and Smart Assistants

Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-05 08:42

Sonos released the news of its new products, a Play:1 with an embedded assistant. The name is the Sonos One, but where were expecting all of this. What were not expecting is the change of tone the company took regarding integrations and other types of streaming technology.

Were were used to Sonos having to parter with companies and offer an integration, but yesterday they announced AirPlay 2 support. Something many were hoping for years, but Sonos never quite delivered on that. Probably because AirPlay was not compatible with multi-room audio, something that Sonos pioneered years ago. But fear not, it’s coming in 2018 and the best part is that it’s coming to all of the their products, new and existing! This is one of the strong suit of Sonos, they always deliver on their promise by updating existing product and even those that were sold many years ago. Almost no Sonos is left untouched!

Then, the voice assistant thing. We were expecting it, but Sonos went full on by even giving you the choice of the assistant! First off, it’s delivered with Amazon’s Alexa and next year, it will add Google Assistant! This makes it the first smart speaker system to integrate two competitive technologies! When I said they were more open ;)

The Sonos One will be available October 24th, but you can already pre-order it for 199$ (249$CA).


Apple TV 4K Teardown Reveals a Huge Fan

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-26 08:13

After much deliberation and false confirmations, iFixIt allows us to peak inside the new Apple TV 4K. And we do find a new component that did not exist before. We lost the USB-C port that was very useful to side load apps and configuration file to hop on the beta train. We gained a big fan that, according to reviews, does not make any noise at all. So much that people “confirmed” that it was fan-less.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Winboard GT-M8 2.0 Unboxing

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-24 17:39

I had lots of fun making this videos my second unboxing, the first one was the Nespresso Essenza Mini coffee machine. This was however my first skateboard unboxing.

The GT-M8 2.0 is the second generation of small (28” in length; just like a Penny Nickel board) electric skateboard powered by two hub motors of 700W each. The theoretical specs of the board is 25-28 kph for a total of 12-18 km in a single charge. The total weight of the board is 5.8 kg so it’s easy to take with you in the bus.

The GT-M8 in the sun

I’m used to carry a Penny Nickel and ride it to work, that a total of 8.6km per day, so I’ll be trading it for the GT-M8 and see how it behaves. After a quick 10 minutes tryout I’ve had lots of fun so this will be an interesting test!


Nespresso Essenza Mini Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-24 11:02

For many coffee aficionados, the Nespresso brand is the way to go for a quick shot of good tasting coffee with minimal hassle. So much so that for the first time ever the world coffee consumption was lower than the previous year. All thanks to coffee pods wasting less coffee, even if we see new coffee shop pop everywhere all the time.

There are many Nespresso machines of all kinds, and even some that are quite compact like the Citiz. However, sometimes you don’t have the space for a small machine like the Citiz, well, Nespresso came out with a brand new machine that is even smaller! It basically takes about half the space of a toaster.

Design

The Essenza Mini comes in two shapes, the smallest of which I got to test for a few weeks. The other one is kind of a cone shape and requires a bit more real estate on your kitchen counter.

Nespresso Essenza Mini

Taking cues from the very successful Citiz, the machine hides the water reservoir in the back. You can’t swivel it to the side like the Nespresso U though. The drip tray and capsule container are in the front as usual; you basically just pull the whole black plastic part to take it out.

The lever mechanism is front centre on the top and allows you for a quick open and close gesture. There are no milk foaming machine, this machine is the simplest Nespresso expression. In terms of sound, the extraction mechanism has to reach a pressure of 19 bars before releasing the water into the pod, therefore you can expect a fair amount of noise. However, it’s not as noisy as a coffee grinder and if you ever used one of the earlier Nespresso machines, this one does a lot less noise than these machines.

Essenza Mini’s Reservoir

Features

  • 19 bar pressure
  • Compatible with classic cups (NOT VertuoLine)
  • 2 cup sizes (espresso, lungo)
  • Customizable cup sizes
  • Eco mode of 9 min or 30 min
  • Dome machine: available in red, white or lime
  • Rectangular machine: available in black, pure white or intense gray

Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine

Performance

The setup is as simple as it ever was with a Nespresso machine. Clean the water reservoir and make a few lungos to clean up the inside of the machine. Refill the water reservoir and off you go!

Simple Lever Mechanism

The mechanism is working exactly like the other machines I got to test over the years. Namely, the Nespresso Pixie, the Nespresso Citiz and the Nespresso U (articles in French). What really changes from these machines is the design and how much space it really needs on your counter.

 

Espresso and lungo are as always, tasty and evenly pulled. This is one of the strong suit of the Nespresso line of machines, they are consistent like an atomic clock, extracting an espresso shot the exact same way as each and every time. I do not know of a faster way to get a great double espresso in the morning that is as tasteful, make zero mess and now with more power efficient machines, an eco-mode that turns off the water heater after 9 minutes.

Drip Tray

Compared to other cup systems, like the Keurig machines, I greatly prefer Nespresso over Keurig as the K-Cups are always very bland in taste and when they taste stronger, they have a huge plastic taste that is simply awful. I’ve tried many machines, even a Bosch one, a company that I highly respect for their engineering. This simply tells me that the system is made to taste like this, sadly.

In terms of capacity, you can use 5 or 6 cups before the cup tray gets full and the reservoir is good for about 4 lungo coffees. After that, it needs to be refilled.

So slim!

Conclusion

The Nespressp Essenza Mini is the smallest, yet it retains all of the great features of bigger Nespresso machines and, most important of all, the taste! I love how the machine fits nicely right next to my Baratza Virtuoso coffee grinder and chef’s knife block. All that fits on a counter of exactly 14”!

The Nespresso Essenza Mini is only 149$ (179 $CA) and available now on the Nespresso website as well as Amazon. You have two designs and six colours to choose from to match the machine with your other kitchen appliances. I strongly recommend any Nespresso machine, but this one being so small and so modern has taken the number one spot in my list of best Nespresso machines! Of course, if you’re planning to do latte art, this is not the machine to get. Take a look at Breville’s Creatista machines, they are compact too but include a steam wand to let you foam your milk yourself and do those great cappuccinos!


Austin Mann on the iPhone 8 Plus for Pro Photographers

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-22 08:13

After Austin’s amazing trip to see gorillas using the iPhone 7 Plus (and the Glif!) last year, I was kind of expecting something amazing for this year too. He was able to do so much great shots and videos that I’m sure Apple PR would have loved to see him do something else this year.

Well, he did! He went on a trip to India and took thousands of photos and hundreds of portraits. He had an unreleased iPhone 8 Plus and really digged deep inside the new features. Apart from a few negatives comments, his portraiture really is amazing and it’s crazy to think that a camera in my pocket can do all this!

The slow-sync flash is often forgottent but will greatly help and all of the options the Camera now has makes us both think Apple might start adding more pro features for greater control!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Elago W4 Stand, the iMac  Watch Dock

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-21 12:55

After releasing the great looking W3 Stand for the  Watch, and the M4 Stand for your iPhone, it’s only natural that Elago does something for the iMac. And they did it with the W4 Stand, a transparent blue dock that holds your  Watch.

So what better moment than now to do custom images that fills the  Watch screen and looks basically amazing on the bright  Watch display inside this cute little dock! Let me know if you want these files :P

Compared to the M4 Stand where the design was similar but not as close, this time around the design is much better and a lot more inline with the iMac from 1998’s design. The official name is a bit weird, Elago calls it the Apple Watch Vintage 1988 Stand… which must be an error since the iMac was released August 15 1998.

Elago W4 Stand for  Watch

If you are looking for a nice vintage looking dock for your  Watch, the Elago W4 stand is such a nice-looking solution that is both practical and nice looking!

Elago W4 Stand for  Watch (iMac)
Elago W3 Stand for  Watch (Macintosh)
Elago M4 Stand for iPhone (Lisa)


Elago M4 Stand, the Apple Lisa iPhone Stand

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-21 12:50

Elago released a Macintosh stand for the  Watch and it gathered lots of reactions, so why not do the same with other devices? Well, this time around Elago used another dear device of the Apple community. The Apple Lisa.

The Elago M4 is a direct wink to an old classic Apple computer of past decades and instead of being for the Apple Watch, this time it’s for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s or iPhone 7. You basically insert your phone from the right side.

I had to cheat as I did not have any iPhone 6s on hand for my pictures so I used a Google Pixel… not the most compatible device, as it’s a bit tighter, but it nonetheless works. If you have an iPhone of the above mentionned models, you should have a good experience though :) The dock is made of the same quality rubber material and keeps a similar look to the Lisa.

Apple Lisa

If I could make this better, I would strongly suggest to be closer to the Lisa look with the dual floppy disk reader on the side and make the “screen” part smaller to only cover half of the width. This way it would be much closer to what the device actually looked like!

Elago started to distribute its products on Amazon.ca, so you should be able to get them more easily!

Elago M4 Stand
Elago W3 (the original Macintosh dock)


62: Cluster of Pixels

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-20 15:55

This week we discuss the iOS 11 GM leak, the Equifax leak and give our predictions for the September event

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


eero Mesh Network 2nd Generation Review

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.

Design

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.

eero 2nd Generation Box

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.

Very Nice Packaging

Features

eero main unit

  • Tri-band WiFI radios with 2.4GHz, 5.2GHz and 5.8GHz
  • 2x2 MU-MIMO beamforming antennaes configuration
  • Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/aceero Beacon units
  • Dual-band WiFi radios with 2.4GHz and 5GHz
  • 2x2 MU-MIMO beamforming antennaes configuration
  • Bluetooth 4.2 LE for fast setup
  • Nightlight
  • 700 MHz quad-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash storage

Setup and Onboarding

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!

Location is Optimization

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.

eero second generation

Performance

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).

Poor placement

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 Office 50 32 32 18 23
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.

Proper Placement

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!

Reliability

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.

Conclusion

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.


Add the Notch to All YouTube Videos

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Tesla to Unveil its Semi Truck on October 26th

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!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


September 2017 iPhone Event Impressions

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!

Steve Jobs Theatre

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.

Apple Watch Serie 3

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!

Apple TV 4K

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.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

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.

iPhone X (ten)

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 and Stuff

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.