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100: Your Siri is My Touch ID

Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-10 14:56

This week we discuss the new fall release from Apple, the Aqua Image Library, China’s Big (Biggest?) Hack and we review the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset and the Exway X1 Electric Skateboard!

This is an amazing episode! We talk about the bane of our existence, Siri for me and Touch ID for Tyler while discussing the new iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR.

We go over one of the most impressive hack that comes from China and we review the Exway X1 electric skateboard as well as the Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-06 13:14

There are many great innovations showing up every year in the great world of headphones and audio gear. Some are for enhancing the simplification and usability of a technology, like the AirPods for Bluetooth earbuds or amazing audio quality like the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.

Surround audio or 3D audio is something that requires specialize equipment, XLR connections, a mixer and even a custom audio codec to capture the ambience around you. Now this is changing today with a product that can do all that, without a special codec, it can even be heard on regular headphones and can fit on your ear! The AMBEO Smart Headset by Sennheiser is a pair of in-ear headphones that work connected to your smart device, in this case using the Lightning port of my iPhone, and record 3D audio in your good old Camera app or any other Camera app on iOS.

Design

The AMBEO Smart Headset is a set of earbuds with three size silicone cups that plugs in your ears. They also have some kind of a hook around your ears on which sites multiple microphones to capture the audio around you. They record and mix down the audio in a simple stereo track while keeping the ambiophonic track intact. It is added to the video your Camera app already records and, best of all, it simply needs regular headphones to be listened too!

Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset

Attached to the cable, there is a core component that allows the headset to be smart. The brains of the headphones are part of a rectangular piece that hangs midway on the cable. It includes controls to toggle between the different listening modes. You see, you can actually toggle the active noise cancelling OFF, a feature not many headphones offer. The other mode you can set it too is transparent hearing where you can actually hear your surroundings. The microphones pick up the sound around you and mixes it with your music or podcast. Very useful when you need to stay alert.

Ear Hooks on the AMBEO Smart Headset

And finally, there is a mode where the regular mode without active noise cancelling. From a switch on the smart module you can cycle through all of these modes.

Features

  • Binaural audio recording (3D audio)
  • In-ear earphones with three tip sizes
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Connected through Lightning port, no 3.5mm

Performance

It is very surprising to take these out of the box as I was expecting them to be quite bigger than they really are. They fit very well in my ears and are lighter than expected. After coming from years of wireless headsets and AirPods, I do have some difficulty adjusting to the added tug on the cables caused by the smart module. It’s not pulling hard enough that it pulls the earphones out of my ears but it does still weight enough to be noticed.

For me these earphones are mostly aimed at providing great binaural audio and believe me they do! I’ve filmed a couple of scenes in my recent trip to Mexico and made a quick movie to showcase the special gift this headset offers your ears. Headphones required !!!

 

As you can hear, it is very impressive and allows for a greater depth in your recordings. So much so that I’m thinking of using my phone as a field recorder while my Sony A7 III records the images!

You can’t really get anything simpler, just plug them set the level (regular or lowered specifically for loud environments) and that’s it! Hit record and enjoy !

They do offer a good noise cancelling, but I never found a great ANC system when it comes to earphones. I tested for a while the Momentum Wireless and the Urbanite XL Wireless from Sennheiser, both with great ANC and I loved the result. It might be my ears that are not liking the in-ear and ANC combo so your mileage may vary with this feature.

Conclusion

The AMBEO Smart Headset is a crazy good recording tool! No need for complex setup, mixer or weird codecs, this simple headset offers what many of us tech nerds wanted for quite some time! 3D audio on the go and with no fuss whatsoever!

The 3D effect is great and believable and recording on your phone or with your phone as a field recorder could not be simpler! I’m not in love with the act


Exway X1 Unboxing and First Impressions

Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-01 15:22

Time for another electric skateboard review, well, not quite. This time it’s an unboxing and first impressions! Then, later the full review will come!

The Exway X1 is a recent board that promises belt-driven types of performance, ease of use and quality inside a more affordable package with a bunch of smart features that you will really like!

Exway X1 Electric Longboard

The Exway X1 is the first board from the guys behind the Exway company and it’s a seriously good first try! You can think of this as mix between a Boosted Board, a Juiced Board and sprinkle on the result some magic dust that adds smart features through a mobile app that does not only show the total range ridden but allows you to customize the behaviour of the board!

The main feature of this hub motor powered board is the fact that the whole thing is IP55 water resistant. This means that almost everything electrical in this board is hidden away. The board itself has a bottom part made of shaped plastic and the waterproof grip tape covers the top of the board for a great seal. The power connector, a usual suspect when water damage normally occurs, is water tight and uses magnetic charging.

The only damage you can get from puddles is rust on your bearings that requires a normal maintenance!

Head over to the included video for my first impressions and expect a full review very soon!


The Story of Tetris

Permalink - Posted on 2018-10-01 13:18

Rarely have I seen a documentary of an old game or console with this amount of details. Congrats to Gaming Historian for making The Story of Tetris such a complete and interesting documentary!

For any fan of Tetris on the NES be it the legit copy or the unlicensed Tengen version, or the crazy popular Tetris on the Game Boy, you have no idea everything that happened with Tetris over the years! This is a strong recommendation!


Mophie Charge Stream Pad +

Permalink - Posted on 2018-09-04 00:00

Mophie released a wireless charger alongside the new iPhones last fall. It was a Qi wireless charger that worked with the new iPhones and other smartphones. This is the second generation of the Charge Stream Pad, now with a faster 10W maximum output.

Design

The wireless pad is made of a nice rubber material. I never have a case around my phone and I’m not afraid to throw it on there. The non-split coating means it doesn’t move around because of notification vibrations. The puck size charger is big enough for the 8 Plus, no worries about being half on the charger.

Mophie Stream Pad+

Features

The wireless charger comes with a 1.5m micro USB cable which is longer than your average accessory cable and a wall adapter. It would of been a nice opportunity to switch to USB-C given that the average consumer that is using wireless charging might have newer devices like Android phones that use USB-C to charge. One downside of wireless charging or inductive charging is that you can’t really use your phone while it’s charging unless you use it lying flat on the table. The charger is located in the living room and I often fallback to using the lightning cable I have running through my couch. A little LED indicator light is located at the bottom of the charger which is unfortunate for people who want to use the charger on the nightstand. It’s a very faint light but it’s still unnecessary. It’s possible to charge your phone through cases, I’ve only tested with Apple silicone and leather cases.

Performance

I can’t talk too much about speed or performance of the charging since it’s not how I use the device. I use it as a resting place for my phone when I’m running around the house or preparing a meal. However, I’ve monitored how much power it’s gained from fast 30 minutes charges. On average the phone gains 10% of battery power. I didn’t turn on airplane mode or anything special I just set my phone on the charger for a couple of minutes while I don’t need it. This might sound weird in the performance section but the speed and ease of using a wireless charger versus a regular cable is something to take in consideration.

Conclusion

I’ve become a big fan on wireless charging despite the incorrect naming of the feature. The convenience of simply setting your phone down on the Charge Stream Pad+ is really underrated in my opinion. Once again as an Apple user I’ve come late to the wireless charging game, I remember saying that it was useless well, I was really wrong. Now let’s see if there is any real downsides of wireless charging on the extended battery life of our phones.


Vizio P-Series 2017 Review (P65-E1)

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-27 11:40

In the world of high-definition television, the technologies are fighting a deadly war to get the prime spot in your living room. While certain companies like LG are firing at will using expensive OLED, other companies like Vizio are trying to strike a balance with new high-tech features and affordability.

The way Vizio presents its series is on a multiple-tier system. The E-series is economic models, the D-series is usually larger and better TVs still affordable, and the M-series is including some of the great features but still more affordable and finally the P-series is all of the technologies and the most of it without falling in the multi-thousands of dollars.

Think of it as the best price quality balance for enthusiasts that does not want to invest 3,000$ in a new TV but still wants some of the sweet features these TV has. Let’s look at the Vizio P65-E1, the 65” 4K HDR television that does a ton for a great price!

Design

The Vizio TV has always had slim and simple, modern design that does not jump out to you. The P-Serie has a silver frame around the panel, it’s a nice-looking plastic border. However I would have preferred a black contour as sometimes it catches my attention.

Vizio P65-E1 65-inch

There are no screaming lighted logo, thankfully! You do have options to control the LED and when this is lit. To have the best experience I strongly encourage you to shut all of these down to focus on the content you are watching.

The rest of the TV is very simple and all of the ports are well laid with sufficient space between them.

Vizio P65-E1 65-inch

Features

  • X-LED Pro Panel
  • 65”, 240 Hz refresh rate
  • 4K Ultra HD HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision)
  • Full Array Local Dimming (128 zones)
  • 8-core CPU and GPU Processing Unit
  • 802.11 ac Wireless and Chromecast Embedded

Performance

I’ve been running this 4K TV for many months and after trying multiple calibration setups, I think I have the best image I could get it to be. And I must say that this television is amazing! I ran different versions of similar content and the 4K resolution is very noticeable, but most of all the HDR when you are able to find the highest quality content, is really something great to look at!

Certain series like Narcos on Netflix are giving you such a great colour rendition that is unnerving at first. Mind you that this is not the typical overblown and over-saturated demo like you see in show rooms. It’s very noticeable but it does not hurt your eyes or feel alien.

Vizio P65-E1

The P65-E1 has smart features and smart apps, but I still find the experience cumbersome and not that great. I guess I’m not the only one as the TV is also a Chromecast receiver, so sending content to it is quite fast and very well embedded in multiple apps. I’m wondering if last year’s model is better with the small tablet. I find the idea interesting.

Image Quality

For me, a television must be as good as it can be for image rendition. The P65-E1 certainly does not reach the level of the LG OLED screens, however, it’s not 3000$ either. For the price of the P65-E1 you can’t really beat it.

I’m mostly using the TV with a 4K Apple TV, which devices allow me to consume local content with Infuse and streaming content, all in a single box, plus all my apps and settings are automatically shared to my regular Apple TV. I can control the TV with the Apple TV remote thanks to the HDMI-CEC tech embedded in the Vizio TV. No need to set it up, it just works!

Vizio P65-E1

After proper calibration, the screen is really a marvel to look at. Its black uniformity is excellent and perfect for dark rooms, that is one of the reasons why I set it up in the basement living room! Sadly, the viewing angles are not the best. I have a couch straight in front of it and that is perfect. However the side chair is at around 45° and already shows lots of picture degradation.

One of the ten-pope features of Vizio over the years is the local dimming. This model leverages this perfectly. One easy way to see it in action is when you have the loading throbber of the Vizio menu turning. You see the backlight zones follow it! It’s pretty neat, but thankfully in any other type of UI I encountered I did not see it show that obviously anywhere else.

One thing that I notice when standing close to the picture is that after pausing on a fixed image like a video game menu, and quickly opening the Apple TV (which show a solid Colour screen), i see absolutely no retention of the image. The P65 has a VA LED panel and that is one of the advantages of this technology versus OLED.

Smart or Dumb?

You can use the smart features that are built in like Netflix, but after trying them I quickly realized that my Apple TV 4K is much better at playing such content. With the exception of YouTube that is not being played in 4K on the Apple TV to this day.

Don’t get me wrong, all of the advertised features work well, I’m just too demanding to wait for the UI to load and process my actions. I find the slowness that sometimes happens to be too much and prefer the fastest Apple TV.

In my day-to-day setup, the Apple TV is what is driving my media consumption and the Vizio TV is the nice screen that displays it. I also have a Sonos Playbar for fuller and richer sound.

P65-E1 HDMI Inputs

Conclusion

If you are looking for a great affordable but feature packed, modern television, the Vizio P-Serie is an amazing choice! It exceeds my expectations on multiple levels. Just make sure you don’t cheap out on HDMI cable to get the best image out there! The 4K and HDR content is marvellous to look at but only works if you have a full bandwidth cable like the Belkin 48Gbps HDMI with 4K HDR!

The setup, image quality and overall quality of the television set is what got me hooked. Sure you can spend 3,000$ for a better-looking.


97: Head Fan

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-27 10:37

This week we discuss the new MacBook Pro CPU saga and its happy ending, the iPhone 3G and our stories around it and an archive of wallpaper souvenirs!

RGBA – Subscribe!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Imprint CumulusPRO Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-26 11:41

No matter what the standing desk, there is one single accessory that you must purchase. The standing desk is a great idea but rare are the individuals that can tolerate standing up for 8 hours straight. After 2 to 4 hours, most workers need to sit down or take another type of break from standing up. This can lead to many hours in a sitting position and not really leveraging the benefits of a standup desk.

Imprint has a solution for this exact problem. The CumulusPRO Series has the Commercial Couture Strata, an anti-fatigue mat that removes the strain of standing up all day with even more nice features.

Design

This particular version in their line of products is considered the higher quality. It has the same foam as other products but with a nicer finish and an adhesive underside.

CumulusPRO Commercial Couture Strata

You can set it and literally forget it as it becomes part of the floor. It stays at its place and does not move by an iota! The colour and texture are interesting and adds to the whole professional and quality look.

CumulusPRO Commercial Couture Strata

Features

  • 24” x 36” anti-fatigue mat
  • Slate Gray or Black Jasper
  • Design finish
  • Adhesive underside

Performance

The very first day I installed the mat, I figured I might see some slight improvement. But it was much more impressive than I thought! I was able to stand up all day, a whole 8h, without feeling the same fatigue in my calf or ankles.

I still move around and change the position of my feet, but the fatigue is nowhere to be found! It makes a huge difference! If you are the kind of person that still wants or need to sit down, you will probably choose not to stick it on the ground, as the adhesive is very strong. It’s removal, as I have removed it a few times, but it takes an impressive amount of strength to remove it. Also, over time I’m afraid it would actually begin to tear if I pull on it too often.

Conclusion

I always knew anti-fatigue mats were a plus. However I did not think they would be such a big plus and have such an impact on a daily stand-up desk routine.

If you want to achieve a full day standing up, or if you have physical fatigue when standing up for long periods of time, take a serious look at the Imprint line of products and more specifically the CumumusPRO that allows you to benefit from a large and comfortable product with a nice-looking design.

I’ve tried some anti-fatigue mats in the past when I was working in retail, but never a full day straight standing up. I usually moved around quite a lot. Today, I do not recommend a standing desk without a good anti-fatigue mat, such as the Imprint CumulusPRO! High quality, great looks and most importantly, the tool I needed to get through the day standing up without any discomfort!


Telus Gives a Healthy Start to Parents (with Goodies!)

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-16 11:55

Telus is often launching interesting initiatives and the Baby Health one is very interesting. They are launching an app to track your baby’s growth and development as well as record milestones in his or hers cognitive development.

This project starts with an app. The Telus Baby Health app is available for both iOS and Android. It reminds me of the paper books that parents are filling for the first few years of their child, although in a digital form.

The app is free and it’s packed with lots of features. You also have a bunch of accessories recommendations online a Nest Camera that can act as a baby monitor or even a Smart Thermometer from Nokia!

Baby Box

On the free goodies side of things, Telus is partnering with The Baby Box program to send parents a free box! Just follow this link to learn more!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Double Density #62: Crossover With RGBA

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-04 07:07

This week we joined the guys from Double Density to talk geeky subjects, the inception of RGBA, our podcast, and dwelve into what strikes a cord for us on the paranormal.

High five to Brian and Angelo for letting us share the double density platter of their great show!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


New iPad Pro 11.9 Design Looks Marvelous!

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-27 09:19

Alvaro Pabesio is back at it again this morning with a new iPad Pro 11.9” design which is almost borderless, no notch and all of the tech from the iPhone X!

This new design removes as much as the border around the display as possible, without impacting the hability to hold the device comfortably in your hand. The display has all of the features of the newest iPad Pro and the depth camera of the iPhone X. Plus it works horizontally, as it should!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


93: Clean My Grills

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-20 12:18

This week we discuss sad Macs, quick Shortcuts, a Dark World and top off the conversation with Bluecups and coffee upgrades!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Elago HomePod Silicone Stand Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-15 10:56

As always Elago made an extremely elegant stand for the latest  product. This new elago HomePod Stand is made, as the name implies, for the HomePod, elago was quick on the draw for this one and the result is great. If only all companies were so reactive to come out with great accessories for new products. I’m looking at you AirPower. 😏

Design

The stand is made to have the HomePod rest on its side. It’s made out of nontoxic silicon to prevent the speaker from slipping. The material is very similar to both Apple Watch stands. We have reviews of both the W3 stand and the W4 stand.

elago HomePod Stand

Features

The stand is available in white or black to match both HomePod colours. The white stand matches the white HomePod really well. Anybody that isn’t deep into the  sphere won’t realize that’s it’s a third party accessories and as opposed to a genuine  product.

You can see Siri!

Performance

Not much to say in this department. The stand doesn’t block the microphones or speakers in any way. I didn’t notice any difference in sound quality because of its orientation. The HomePod also adjust automatically to different positions so technically some changes are made to the output once the speaker is set on its side. Having the speaker on its side also means that the Siri light is now facing in one direction. If the speaker is sitting up high on a bookcase for example, the vertical orientation makes the tappable surface easier to use. However, when the HomePod is set on a lower surface this prevents the 360-degree view of the animation.

Nice Stand!

Conclusion

If you plan on setting your HomePod up high on a shelve, the elago HomePod Stand is a no brainer. The orientation greatly improves the visibility of the Siri animation and also makes the play/pause volume controls more accessible. This is exactly the kind of neat accessory elago excels at.


Sonos Releasing Lots of Sets

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-11 13:10

Remember when the HomePod launched in the US, Sonos launched the same day a speaker set that included two Sonos One, their most affordable connected product powered by Alexa and soon Google Assistant.

Well, it seems that this was popular as Sonos is now launching a dozen set of speakers of all kinds from 2 to 5 Sonos Ones to full living room kits with a Playbar, a Sub and Play:1; or even a vinyl player kit with two speakers!

All of these come with a small price rebate that can be used to share the love between friends or get your whole house equipped like never before!

Many of these kits are amazing, just one small caveat though, the vinyl player kits are not coming to Canada, sadly. Sets start at 378$ (instead of 398$) and go up to a full cinema kit for 1,899$ (instead of 2,056$).

Two Sonos One Set - 379$
Four Sonos One Set - 729$
Vinyl Bass Set - 1,899$

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Sonos Releases Beam, a New Connected Speaker Bar

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-11 12:48

After embracing Amazon Alexa and soon Google Assistant in the new Sonos One single speaker, Sonos has already started to refresh its product line with a new contender. The Sonos Beam is a cheaper, fully featured speaker bar for your living room. Measuring only 25.6-inch wide and sold for only 399$, the Beam is a cheaper alternative to the Playbar.

Ships with Alexa pre-installed and ready to be used, this new speaker bar also makes use of the HDMI-ARC connection instead of the optical in as the Play uses. You can use the ARC marked port on your TV as an “output” to send the audio to the speaker bar. Otherwise, you can still use optical as the Beam has a backup optical port and the cable is provided too.

Sonos Beam

The idea behind the Beam is to allow you to control your television, send content to it and even add the TV to scenes which could trigger many different actions grouped together to really set up your living room into the perfect cinema mode!

The Sonos Beam is available for pre-order now and will ship on July 17th. AirPlay 2 is compatible with it and will come with a software update the same month. Alexa is built-in and Google Assistant will come by the end of the year.


90: Rod in Your Pocket

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-28 19:13

This week we discuss a peculiar interview with an aluminum fan, a new technique for green aluminum and Apple’s solution against hackers is to do … nothing!

Great discussion on the benefits of the new aluminium from Alcoa, a company from Quebec and Apple. They actually partnered to manufacture it in mass and you can be sure that it’ll come in a future iPhone!

Love what Apple did to circumvent the GrayKey devices!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Logitech MX Master 2S Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-23 15:29

One of the greatest mouse on the market recently got a new revision. Just from the looks of it you might not think there is much things new about this new model, but in reality it’s completely new internals and very interesting new software features that makes this mouse new and interesting.

The MX Master 2S retains the bulky shape and wise mix of different types of plastic and rubber that made the MX Master and the Performance MX such great peripherals.

Design

The bulky design of the MX Master 2S allows you to rest your hand on its back. This makes for better ergonomics, especially if you are like me and feel pain when using a low profile mouse like the Magic Mouse. The 2S also retains large glider pads on its underside to slide comfortably on almost any surface.

Nice MX Master 2S Box

In terms of buttons, you have the exact same layout as in the previous generation. Click able scroll when and a mode-changing button, both on top. On the side, you have the back and forward button as well as a second scroll wheel and a large thumb button. All of which are fully programmable using the Logitech Options software.

Logitech MX Master 2S

The colour scheme changed a bit from the bronze to different shades of black and gray. A choice I salute as it’s better suited for nicely designed offices.

Features

  • Same loved design
  • Great button configuration choices
  • New 4,000 dpi tracking engine
  • 70 days battery life
  • New Logitech Flow compatible mouse

Nice Profile!

Performance

Before we jump into my experience, I wanted to reiterate how this mouse can be used both as a regular Bluetooth paired device or using the Logitech Unifying dongle. This dongle allows for multiple paired Logitech devices on a single USB adapter. Perfect when you have a keyboard too.

Comfortable Fit

I’ve been using this mouse for the last two months as I wanted to be sure a symptom I had with the previous generation was not happening. When paired using regular Bluetooth the mouse often times locked up when in use. Skipping a few inches of onscreen travel. None of this was happening using the Unify adapter. I’m happy to report that the new MX Master 2S does not suffer from the same issues. Both types of connection are perfectly stable.

The new 2S has a tracking engine of 4,000 dpi compared to 1,000 dpi for the previous MX Master generation. This makes it even more reliable on very new and even surfaces. At work we have brand new desks and when I’m cleaning my desk I often had small imprécisions when draging the mouse quickly. This is also gone.

The last hardware change I would like to discuss is the battery life. They say that it is now sporting a 70 days battery life. I personally was not able to last two full months, but I managed to get a full 6 weeks of use out of the tiny battery. Compared to the MX Master, it’s way longer. However, I don’t really care as the way I set up my desk I always have a microUSB cable on hand ready to be plugged into the mouse. Still if you want to keep a perfectly empty desk, the longer battery life will be an amazing change as you will only need to plug in your mouse once every 6-8 weeks!

It’s underside!

Logitech Flow

This last feature is a very niche feature but I totally understand why some might be mindblown with this one. Flow is a software that runs accros multiple computer on the same network and allows the mouse to move from computer to computer by simply going out of the screen boundaries.

This is not a feature we never saw, I remember using a similar technique in my Windows days, however Logitech pushes this much further with encryption between communicating computers and, what I think is the greatest idea, you keyboard follows in the swap!

This means when you mouse cross between computers, you Logitech keyboard follows it so you really only need a single keyboard and a single mouse for multiple computers! You can also share files by drag and drop accros the other machine! This is really impressive!

Conclusion

When I saw the very first announcement of the MX Master 2S, I was skeptic as if it was just a colour change kind of update. I’m happy to report that every little annoyance has been killed and every single feature is better. And if you need cross computer functionality, Logitech Flow is there to save the day!

I was highly recommending the MX Master to everyone and now I’m strongly recommending the 2S as it’s better on all accounts. There is also the MX Anywhere 2S that got a similar upgrade if you are looking for a more compact and easy to cary mouse.


Amazing NeXT Computer Case for Raspberry Pi!

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-30 09:04

Nina Richards made an amazing NeXT inspired case for her Raspberry Pi. This was made possible with a custom 3D model she 3D printed and she used a bunch of components to make the backside very flexible. She even shares the STL files and the full list of parts is available on her website if you want to give it a go yourself!

Bravo, this is great work!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


RGBA #87: Bought It to Save Money

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-19 15:40

This week we discuss classic consoles, classic scores, leaks on leaked memo and a 32-bit world!

Sega will soon join the fun with a retro Sega Genesis and we have a funny stituation where à leaker leaks a memo about employees leaking Apple information to the press.

Enjoy!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Boosted Launches Four New Boards Including a Mini Version

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-17 12:16

After many months of waiting, a few leaks later, we finally have the new version of the Boosted Board! And the best thing is that it does not come alone! Boosted announced a total of four new boards this morning, two mini boards and two full size boards.

Great New Models

The Boosted Mini S is a composite board that includes two motors on a short form factor of 29.5-inch while being able to still give a punch. Top speed is rated at 18 mph (29 kph) and the range is set to 7 miles.

Boosted Mini S

If you need more from this board, you can get the Boosted Mini X with a slightly faster top speed of 20 mph (32kph) and what looks like an extended battery allowing for 14 miles of range (22.5km). The small boards have a U shape board to allow for greater manoeuvrability and a new specifically designed set of 3 speeds.

Boosted Mini X

If you prefer the longboard-style board made of bamboo, you now have the choice of two new versions. The Boosted Plus is what looks the most as the V2 design, but according to information on Boosted’s website, it’s completely rethought. You get a new composite deck that’s partly made of wood, but also other materials like polymer sidewalls, a high-density foam for vibration dampening and fibre glass. The looks are similar to the Loaded Vanguard board, but the board really is fully re-engineered.

Boosted Plus

You can still get that sweet 14 miles extended battery that comes standard in the new Plus as well as the 4 speed remote we all love for a 22 mph (35.5kph) top speed. The Boosted Stealth is not only an all-black version, with black wheels, but it’s also slightly faster at 24mph (38.6kph) and also has the 14 miles range.

Boosted Stealth

Prices are as follows:

  • Boosted Mini S — 749$
  • Boosted Mini X — 999$
  • Boosted Plus — 1399$
  • Boosted Stealth — 1599$

Also, you can still order the V2 Dual+ XR for 1399$, most probably for a limited time until the run out of units.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new boards in real life, this level of quality and the new lower price will make it for steep competition. That new shorter board really is something I was wishing for ease of transport around when I do my commute.


HomePod Unboxing and Review (With Video!)

Permalink - Posted on 2018-04-03 21:50

Even though the HomePod is still not available in Canada, we were able to get our hands on it thanks to Tyler who took a trip south fo the border. He got the white HomePod and after trying it for a little while, he repackaged it in the original box and sent it my way to try it out.

Here’s our review after a few weeks of testing the first smart speaker from Apple, the HomePod!

Design

This should not come as a surprise to any of you, the design of the HomePod is great! Pictures and videos do not do it justice, the HomePod is covered by a meshed fabric, but it’s not like if you stretch a piece of fabric on a cylinder, it’s actually a 3D foam thing made of mesh. The closest I can think of in terms of comparison, is a complex 3D piece of 3D printed foam sponge made of thin lines with lots of ventilated space.

HomePod on a table

It’s soft to the touch and quite spongy when you press on it. Not sure about the cleanliness after some time if you keep it close to your sink or kitchen, so I would most probably install it in a living room area or far from splashes of water food or spices. The cable is also fabric coated, although it is not spongy this time around.

And finally, the underside is made of silicone; something you need to be careful with as we learned recently that it can absorb the oil of oiled finished woods. Simple solution, get a nice cork coaster and you are good to go!

HomePod on Wood Furniture 😱

The top of the HomePod has a tactile screen that has only two purposes, display the Siri animation when it’s interacting with you and offer tactile targets for play/pause and volume up and down. That’s it!

Features

  • Custom designed array of speakers and microphones
  • Siri integrated
  • Sound signature customized by song
  • Easy pairing with iOS device
  • Many, but not all, of iOS Siri intents

Being coined by many as an audiophile’s smart speaker, it’s simply fair to go over its audio reproduction capabilities and it’s smarts. Let’s keep out of this review the still unreleased features that are AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing.

HomePod’s Underside

Audio Performance

Before jumping into what I think of the audio reproduction of this smart speaker, I must confess that I never considered myself an audiophile. However, in the last few months I’ve been told by many that I’m able to distinguish audible differences between tracks (or podcast tracks) that others don’t. I was always sensible to good sound and always considered myself a careful listener that really tries hard to understand how songs are mixed and how each song “feels”. But it seems that I could actually be an involuntary audiophile…

HomePod vs. Sonos Play:1

As many did before me and many will after me, I started with a varied set of songs that I know and love from many decades of listening. I know these songs and have listened to them on many different devices going from the 2$ earbuds all the way to a friend’s 35,000$ audiophile sound system. These songs includes One by Metallica, Master of Puppets by Metallica, Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine, Pull me Under by Dream Theater, Metropolis Pt.1 by Dream Theater and many more.

The HomePod uses its iPhone CPU smarts to process the audio in real time and decides how it should sound by changing what instruments or vocals should be front and centre and what should fade out in the background. After many hours of listening, the decision it takes is not always the best one. Some songs actually sound incredible and you could easily think of the HomePod as an audiophile product. However, in the vast majority of the songs, it actually remixes everything very poorly.

Two easy examples, People of the Sun by Rage and Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai (both regular and remastered) are two songs where the bass is very present right from the start. And for some reason, the HomePod thinks that it’s not that important, messing up the complete balance of the song.

The worst part is that it can also be incredible and room filling in a way that no other speakers can. That’s really the worst. You just know it can be so good, but it’s not most of the time.

Smarts Performance

The HomePod leverages Siri and in order for it to work to its full extent you need to set your iPhone and the HomePod to the same region and language. I had my phone set to English (Canada) and Siri kept asking me to change it or else she could not help me with most of my requests.

HomePod Acting Cool on Living Room

This tells me that somehow, many types of requests go through the iPhone (or Siri on the iPhone). It might just be a temporary measure and once the HomePod is really released in other countries it might change. Asking for specific songs by artists is really a hit or miss, and most of the time, a miss. For example, asking for Killing Me Softly by The Fugees brings out a cover version by a band that has a super long name and does not include the word “Fugees”. But when asking to play the best songs from the Fugees, the first one is Killing Me Softly.

It’s a pity that for some reason it decides to play something totally off from the request and at the same time knows that the requested song is in the most popular songs of the band. Other times, it does not understand at all what I’m requesting and starts to play a totally random and not always similar sounding song. Kids trying to interact with Siri is even worst as my kids almost never get it to play the song they want.

The microphone array does make a difference in that it can hear you from afar and still process the request. I’m guessing that the hardware side of it is not to blame as it’s a bad from 2 feet as it is from 20 feet with my back facing the HomePod.

As for smart interactions with intents, there are only 3 intents that are compatible with the HomePod; Messaging, List and Notes. I was surprised at how well it worked when asking the smart cylinder to add a TODO item to my Things 3 app. It works very well and the response even said it added it to my Inbox for future sorting if need be. You can’t initiate a call with the HomePod, only transfer a call to it from your iPhone’s speaker menu. The sound gets much better for the other person once you do so.

Addressing the Sonos in the Room

It’s no surprise that people are curious about how it behaves compared to the speakers by Sonos. I happen to have a Play:1 in my dining room/living room that has been recently optimized using TruePlay, the room optimization feature of Sonos to calibrate the sound to its environment.

The Play:1 with a flat EQ sounds better to me than the HomePod in terms of audio reproduction fidelity. And since I can adjust its EQ to my liking, I find the sound to be predictable and reliable to the original content. It does not fill the room the same way as the HomePod does. By moving away from the direct line of sight of the Play:1 the sound changes and is less present. This is the strong suit of the HomePod, its circular array of speakers and vertical bass subwoofer makes it perfectly the same at all angles.

Conclusion

If you are an audiophile, this product is definitely not for you. You know your music and how it should sound and the HomePod will hurt like a sore thumb each time you stumble across a song that is messed up by the HomePod. Which will be more often than not. However, if you are a regular person that does not have any audiophile requirements or do not care that much about high fidelity to the original recording, the HomePod is for you.

Let’s just hope that the Siri team makes it better understand requests as even for Apple Music subscribers, the success rate of it finding the right song when requesting a very specific song by a very specific artist is, once again, mostly misses. There are still lots to be fixed with the HomePod, more intents should be added, Siri must get better, the audio processing must become reliable and children must also be understood better.

And, as listed in the intro, there is still no AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing as promised when the HomePod was announced. So if you are on the fence with the HomePod, because one or many of its lacking feature is bugging you, you should wait for it to resolve one or many of them. Otherwise, you can go right ahead, to the US, UK or Australia to get one as you will most likely like the product.

What about Sonos? Well, Sonos went as far as offering two Sonos One’s for the price of one HomePod when it launched in the US. The One is the Play:1 size speaker with Alexa built-in (and Google Home coming later this year). Which, for the price is a much better offering than the HomePod since you can do a stereo pair and really fill any room with a better sound thanks to the stereo pairing and placement of two speakers. Sprinkle on top the Trueplay feature that really makes the sound perfect for the room, and the openness of more than 50 music services, I really think that a duo of Sonos One speakers is a much better proposition!


84: Memory, Not That Great

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-29 12:20

This week we discuss moving walls in an ad, Apple and its MicroLED revolution, a fired/not fired exec and a few funky rumours!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Moment Launches the Filmaker Collection

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-27 20:13

We were expecting a new product from Moment, however, I was not even dreaming that they would release an anamorphic lense! This new Filmaker Collection is a great idea and pushes professional iPhone movie making to a new level!

The collection contains a real anamorphic lense that includes great natural lens flares for this great movie look. An iPhone X battery photo case that can charge your iPhone as well as allow to install Moment lenses on it. A filter mount for Moment lenses so you can screw on standard 62mm filters like a polariser, a neutral density filter or any other kind of artistic filters! And finally, a set of counterweights so you can properly install your devices on one of those super popular gimbals!

All the devices are now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, so take a look, I really look forward to review these products!

Filmaker Collection


LyxPro VRI-30 Vocal Booth Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-10 10:39

One of the ways to fix echo in a home recording is to plaster your walls with fabric, or sound panels. But when this is not practical or possible, you can leverage a simpler non-permanent solution. A vocal booth is mostly achieving the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.

We are reviewing the LyxPro VRI-30, a vocal booth that can be attached to a boom mic arm, or jerry-rigged to any type of pole behind your microphone.

Design

The VRI-30 comes as a foldable sound panel that is thick enough to absorb echo in most rooms, and makes for a cleaner sound. The attachment is working fine for when you have a vertical condenser microphone and the included slidable bracket helps in that regard.

LyxPro VRI-30 with Shure Beta 87a

In my case, I have a straight classical Shure Beta 87a microphone so I could not use the same boom arm for the VRI and the microphone. I ended up zip tying it to the arm and used the second part aiming downward. This was tied microphone could be adjusted to be as close as the panel as possible and offered all of the benefits from it.

VRI-30 Up Close and Personal

Features

  • Sturdy aluminum frame and sound panel
  • Attaches to boom arm stand
  • Available in multiple configurations
  • Offers great echo reduction

Performance

I tested this VRI-30, which is considered the “small” configuration, in my office room where I am suffering from lots of echo. I ended up testing three configurations.

The first one is from a sitting position on my main desk back to the wall and close to it. The second one is from a stand-up desk in what I consider an alcove, in the same office. There is a part of the ceiling that is closer and makes up for a nice little corner close to both the ceiling and the wall. And finally, sitting in the middle of the room where the echo is the worst.

Setup and Installation

As explained above, I jerry-rigged my own solution as I was not equipped with the proper type of shock mount to have an easy installation. Nonetheless, I could still work my way with this vocal booth and get it to work as well as it could.

Ideally, you must place the mic inside the foam section so that the microphone is surrounded by foam. It’s easier for a condenser mic like the Heil PR40, but it still works for Shure shape microphone.

!! (use of headphones is strongly recommended!) !!

Sitting at the Desk

This first test is from the first 1/3 of the width of the room, with a sitting position. In front of me I have my Thunderbolt Display. This is my regular sitting desk where I work most of the times and recorded the most episodes of our podcast.

Without Vocal Booth

With Vocal Booth

Standing-up at the Desk

For this test, I’m standing up facing the wall in what I explained as the alcove above.

Without Vocal Booth

With Vocal Booth

Standing-up Middle of the Room

And the last test is simply standing up in the middle of the room where the echo is the worst since there is nothing blocking the sound and it can freely bounce around.

Without Vocal Booth

With Vocal Booth

Conclusion

As you can hear from the above tests, the LyxPro VRI-30 makes a huge difference! If you are recording voice overs or simply podcasting, I highly recommend this product. The only downside of using the VRI-30 is the actual size of the thing and the placement not being very flexible.

For example, while recording our podcast RGBA.fm, it was basically in the way of my monitor so either I don’t look at the show notes, or I put it on the side and keep turning my head every time I want to say something to the microphone. Not the best situation. If the vocal booth was installed on some kind of tripod ball head, I could easily mount it upside down or on its side and be able to see the screen. Without changing the vocal booth itself, LyxPro could easily add accessories in the box to offer a much better adaptability of their product!

Otherwise, if you are looking for an effective way to block echo and isolate your voice, this type of vocal booth is ideal, you should really look into it or its siblings of various sizes!


Griffin Reserve Power Bank (18,200 mAh) Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 12:30

This Griffin battery is not something that can be considered exciting. It does not have many features, does not have any embedded charger or cables, and it does not offer enough power to charge a MacBook Pro. But this battery is just the type of lifesaver that you most definitely need in your suitcase or backpack.

The Griffin Reserve Power Bank (18,200 mAh) is a large battery that is compact enough to easily fit in most of your bags. It’s impressive that more than 18 Ah fits in such a compact plastic case.

Griffin Reserve Power

Features

  • USB Charging (12W; 5V @ 2.4A)
  • 7.3x charges for your phone
  • 2.5x charges for a large tablet
  • Power button and status LEDs

Performance

This battery is ideal if you have a phone or a tablet to charge. It does not come with any of the newer super fast charging technologies, but for a regular Android phone or iPhone, at 2.4A it still chargers as fast as the 12W iPad charger brick.

Griffin Reserve Power

I tried to charge a Nintendo Switch and while playing it’s not providing enough power to keep it alive, the battery % still drops down almost as fast. But I was still able to charge it overnight. I was not able to fully charge it twice, the second time it stopped at around 40% but the battery was also used to charge a GoPro Hero 6 camera.

Griffin Battery LED

Conclusion

The Griffin Reserve Power is by no means the fastest or strongest battery, but it’s a reliable buddy that I was happy to have in my bag when I required an extra juice for my phone or tablet. It holds a charge for a long time and can almost be charged and forgotten for a few months.


HomePod Ad Directed by Spike Jonze is Beautiful

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 08:07

This new ad is very beautiful and kind of reminds me of the essence of the Apple ads from the iPod days. Spike Jonze does a wonderful job of transforming the world around the actress dancer.

Rare are ads I woudl qualify as must see. This one, however falls exactly in that category.


80: Not Touching Directly

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-06 07:49

This week we discuss the HomePod reviews, the leaked iPhone boot loader and the threat of non-native apps!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


78: Potatoes and Carrots

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-31 20:39

This week we cover the HomePod initial reception, discuss the new iOS 11.3 announcement, a few rumours and some nasty privacy obliterating tactics.

Very fun episode this week! Enjoy!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-31 12:45

The world of inter-connectivity is large and full of half measures and lives on top of a mountain of dongles. But what if you’re fed up with all that? What solution lies out there that can help you get ahead of the game with performance and functionality? A single product to rule them all, a product to allow you to use all of the lost connectivity from the new MacBook Pro redesign of 2016 and 2017?

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is exactly what you could consider a solution to all of your adapters, dongles and missing port problems! This new Thunderbolt 3 equipped dock allows you to bring back Ethernet, USB 3.1, DisplayPort and even Firewire 800 back to your MacBook Pro! The Dock comes with its own power adapter so it can even deliver enough power to charge your device while plowing through an SD card full of 4K videos and displaying 5K content on an external monitor!

Design

Following the design aesthetics of modern Macs, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in two colour schemes, Silver and Space Grey to match your most recent MacBook Pro. It also sports a nice dark plastic top to add a very distinguished look to your desk!

As it was the case with the previous generation Thunderbolt 2 Dock, OWC added ports to two sides of the dock. This time, however, the other side with ports is the front. So in the front you have some of the most useful ports that requires regular plugging and unplugging. You have a high-powered USB-A 3.1, a headphone/line out 3.5mm jack and a SDXC card reader. This last one is the one I’m using the most!

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock in Space Grey

On the back you have four USB-A 3.1, one SPDIF, a Firewire 800 and an Ethernet jack. There are then two USB-C ports but really you only have one left as one is needed to plug the dock into your computer. And finally a mini DisplayPort to allow for an external display. This port is NOT a Thunderbolt 2 port and does not allow you to daisy chain other Thunderbolt 2 devices or use it for file transfer, its for display purposes only.

From the back

Features

  • 13 ports including USB-C, USB-A, DisplayPort, Ethernet, SD, Firewire and headphone jack
  • Can charge your MacBook Pro
  • Can drive a 5K or two 4K displays
  • Daisy chain up to 6 USB-C devices
  • 2 year warranty

Performance

I wanted to hold on for a long time to this dock before giving my final say as I had great experience with docks the first couple of days but overtime I realized that the reliability was simply inexistent. I’m happy to report that the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock does not suffer like these unreliable docks. I’ve had hard drives installed on it both on USB-A and USB-C ports and they did not disconnect not once.

Doesn’t it look slick?

Same thing for the Ethernet, I was able to keep a constant connection to my home office switch while the Dock was kept ON and plugged. I would take my laptop away and back, and always find myself with a waiting Ethernet connection ready to be used.

With a modern Mac, a typical scenario would be to have an external screen and accessories like external drives, perhaps even a USB audio interface, all hooked to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Then, when you hook your computer to the dock you should get access to all devices. This part is easy, where usually devices have problems is when you remove and reconnect your computer many times over the course of many weeks. Overtime, many docks will have issues with the network connection or a USB drive will not mount. This is harder to test as you need to use the Dock in your daily setup and put it through a stress test over a long period of time. So, as you might have guessed, I did just that.

After a few months, I’m happy to report that not a single hard drive failed to connect and the network connection is still stable and strong. I only plug the USB-C cable in my MacBook Pro from the OWC Dock and my Thunderbolt Display in another USB-C port. I even moved all of the peripheral from my Thunderbolt Display to the OWC Dock so I could ask it to do as much as possible. I even tested having an SD card plugged in over time, and not a single disconnection or issue happened.

Conclusion

The number of ports is impressive and allows you to add a lot of connectivity in a scenario that weirdly reminds me of those pesky Dell Dockstations for Latitude laptops from my Windows days. You only need to plug in a single USB-C cable and everything is instantly available to your MacBook Pro. Very useful for professionals that have a complete setup and do not want to tag along half a dozen adapters and dongles.

Given how stable the connection is with all the peripherals plugged it, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock allows me to really only connect a cable to get access to it all. And best of all, once all is plugged, I can really forget it, as I know, it will keep a reliable connection to the mounted drives and the network. Something that is not easy to achieve in a world of varied external devices.

The design of the dock is amazing and fits perfectly the new colours of MacBook Pro to really be a good desk companion for your setup. The options are great and allow for a good range of connectivity, I only wished it would allow for one or two Thunderbolt 2 ports as I still have a few devices that are using this technology and I don’t feel like adding dongles to the OWC Dock. There is a single mini DisplayPort that can be confused for a Thunderbolt 2 as they use the same connector but it’s really only meant for display purposes.

Overall, I strongly recommend the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. I’ve been a user of the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock and Thunderbolt Dock 2 for years and out of them all, the OWC dock is the one I prefer with its sleeker design and most of all rock-solid reliability!


Steve Jobs' Choice, a Look at the Human Side of Tough Decisions

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-30 10:49

The documentary by the guys behind 8-bit Generation has been rewritten and some new footage was filmed. Not sure why the first try failed, they pulled the campaign before the end, but this one looks even more interesting.

With great names like Wozniak, Makkula, Hertzfeld and Sculley, there is bound to be a great insight into some of the toughest decisions made in the history of Apple. Previously named Firing Steve Jobs, the documentary will revolve around the time Steve was fired from Apple.

Steve Jobs’ Choices


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 (MA104C) 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 MA104C equipped with the Sakura Pink keyswitches and stock PBT keycaps. This is a full-width 104 keys keybaord and I’m currently writing this review exclusively on this keyboard. The feeling is great!

I’m usually leaning towards Cherry MX Red or Black and my last keyboard was a Leopold FC660M with Cherry MX Black. Overtime I realized that Black is a bit to stiff for me so the Sakura Pink is a refreshing change. By comparison to the Cherry MX Red, the Sakura Pink has slightly less resistance and you can easily touch type on the key for a close to silence use.

You can add O-rings to dampen the sound a little bit more, but if you’re like me, you actually like the sound that the keyswitch makes and you rock them naked. I’m bottoming out gently and I do not feel any fatigue from long session of typing. In terms of layout I prefer the 80% layout as I rarely use the NumPad, but for the sake of this review it’s only a minor annoyance to have my mouse further than where I’m used to.

One thing to note, since the distance to trigger a key press is very small on the Sakura Pink, 1.8 mm, you could add O-rings and really minimize the travel to gain in terms of speed and comfort. I will try it and see what’s the difference between three types of O-rings.

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]