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Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-07 12:35
Last year I reviewed the Arlo Ultra, the top of the line 4K security camera from Arlo. I had a great experience with it. However it had poor battery life and is a very, very expensive product. The Arlo Pro 3 is the latest generation of a 2K resolution camera. I’m hoping that the lower resolution and newer hardware would help in regards to battery life.
The Arlo Pro 3 I have on hand is the two-camera kit with a base station kit; therefore I’m hoping to get most of the most important features from the Arlo Ultra like Vehicle and People detection, night mode and spotlight.
If you compare the Arlo Ultra with the Arlo Pro 3, the only changes are 4K to 2K, 180˚ to 160˚, no wind reduction but it has echo cancellation and record footage to a USB drive instead of microSD. The only different setting I could find is the operating temperature, 60˚C for the Ultra and 45˚C for the Pro 3. Maybe make sure not to place it close to a dark coloured wall in direct sunlight?
The Pro 3 looks very similar to the Ultra, it’s a black camera module with detachable batteries that you slide inside a glossy white plastic shell. The unit is installed on a very strong magnetic base that swivels around to get the perfect angle. The charging cable is attached with a magnetic cable that reminds me of the Apple MagSafe.
The body is very nicely design and I really love the way they engineered the slide in mechanism. Normally aiming down, the camera has very few seems exposed therefore the gasket is enough to really make this work under the rain and under the snow. Given the impressive performance of the Arlo Pro with our Canadian winter, reusing the same design makes lots of sense!
The SmartHub is very similar to the one I have with the Arlo Ultra, with the small difference that it takes a USB key (or drive) to store the video instead of a microSD card. Here is one tip I have for you, place the SmartHub as close as the camera as possible since they exchange data over their own private Wi-Fi network and not through your home Wi-Fi network. I thought the Smarthub should be closer to my router, but in the end I installed it close to the Arlo Pro and used a wired connection to my local network. This was the most reliable way to get all this working.
Given that this is an Arlo product, it comes with great design and the mobile application is quite simple to use. You simply tap the Add device button and add either a Base Station or a Camera and follow the easy few steps.
You will also see the device get any firmware update required so they run on their very latest feature set and bug fixes. Once you are done with both cameras and the Base Station, you are now ready to install your cameras inside or outside of your home.
The first thing you should do is place the cameras where you want them to capture movement. If the Arlo Ultra is any indication, the camera will trigger and record any movement, even outside the Activity Zone you define. Therefore, set them up in a way where you don’t have constant movement in front of them. I have mine pointing to the front of my house where cars and pedestrians are passing by. Due to a bug with the Arlo Ultra software, I was able to discover that I have over 1,200 events per day… More on this in a separate post.
In the box you have two different adapters, one which works with a very strong magnet and can offer lots of great angles when attached to a wall, and one which is fixed on a peg and can also be tightening with a bit larger angle. Sadly, there are not two of each type. So if the magnet one was your preferred attachment, you only get one in the box.
Same goes with the magnetic charging cable, you also only have one in the box and it’s quite short. For charging purpose, either you remove the camera from its base and bring it inside, or you buy an extension USB cable like I did to attach it while leaving the camera in its position.
Once you have tried both ways of installing your Arlo Pro 3 cameras, you can always look up extra-long power cables on Amazon so you never need to recharge your cameras, or lookup extra magnetic wall mounts. There are even solar panels so you can install your cameras a bit further from your house and have them self-charge with the power of the sun!
Now that your cameras are installed, I would place the Base Station relatively close to them. You see, one thing I discovered with testing the Arlo Ultra is that the Base Station creates a local encrypted Wi-Fi network shared with the Cameras. So even if your home Wi-Fi network is strong and the Base Station wired to your home network, far away cameras might not be able to reach the Base Station and stream the video.
For example, my Arlo Ultra is installed on top of my home entrance which is close to the living room. I installed the Base Station inside my TV cabinet with an Ethernet cable. This way, I have a strong signal between the Base and the camera. You should do the same if possible.
The Arlo Pro 3 comes with a free 3-month trial of Arlo Smart, the service that allows you to receive Smart Notifications for detected events that contains People, Vehicle, Animal, Audio Alerts and Other Motions. There is even a recent Package detection that allows you to know when a package was delivered to your porch. All these alerts can be configured by camera. For example, a camera in your garage might not need to alert you of packages and a camera in your backyard might not need to check for Vehicles… :) And finally, Call a Friend is a way for your system to call a friend when an event was detected.
The way recent updates of the Arlo firmware for the Base Station work is that any Smart Notifications events are recorded in the Cloud Storage and can be filtered or retrieved easily. They are recorded in HD. When you plug in a USB drive in the Arlo Pro 3 Base Station, you can have a rolling recording of all events. Every single movement is recorded to the local storage (not just identified People, Vehicle or other). This is why I have a 128GB microSD car in my Arlo Ultra. The Arlo Pro Base Station does not support microSD, but has a simple USB port for a USB drive (stick or hard drive or your choice). Something like a short SanDisk Ultra Flair 128GB could be a good choice, or if you want the absolute smallest the SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB is an even better choice. Both are USB 3.0 and offer enough speed to read and write without any worries, I would stick to known reputable brands though since the local recording is kind of your “master” recording of all events. If you ever need to refer back to something that happened and if it was not identified correctly with the smart features, at least you have the recordings.
The way the Arlo app allows you to set up local recording is like I said earlier with a rolling recording, meaning that it will fill up to about 90% capacity and then start deleting the oldest videos to save new ones. This is where the size of your storage will impact the number of days of recordings it will keep. The larger the better, especially if you leave for vacations over many weeks.
When an event is triggered, you can load up the live feed and using the microphone button speak to the person that stands in front of the camera. This is useful for friends, neighbors or even the delivery guy to leave more instructions.
Here are a few recording samples to show you want the Arlo Pro 3 are capable of. For each recording sample, I will list some of the settings and positions so that you know what to expect. One thing that I noticed is that both the cloud video and the locally stored video are 1440p whereas for the Arlo Ultra, only the locally stored videos were 4K.
During the day, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 4.4MB (H.265)
During the day, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 3.8MB (H.265)
During dusk, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 3.8MB (H.265)
During the night, recorded as a People detection using the infrared night vision.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 5.4MB (H.265)
As you can see from the above videos and features, the Arlo Pro 3 seems to be a better balanced product than the Arlo Ultra given that the video are sufficiently detailed and processing HD video is less resource intensive than processing 4K. I noticed that the battery life was better with the Arlo Pro 3 versus the Ultra and if you don’t want to charge your batteries too often.
This is doubly important if your camera is pointing in an angle where lots of movement is occurring. With the Ultra I had trouble lasting more than a few days, but I feel the Pro 3 would last more time than this as with my constant passing in front of the camera for most of the day, the battery was still at 92%.
Overall, the experience was great all the way from setup to recording movement and identifying what the camera saw. I used to have issues over the last year but working relentlessly with the Arlo Support, we were able to get through these issues with notifications and Person recognition. Just in time for me to test the Arlo Pro 3! Happy to report that all these nice paid features are working great!
The trial for the cloud services is only 3 months for the Arlo Pro 3 which is a bummer as it was 1 year with the Arlo Ultra. I would love to see this extend or have a promotional pricing for the first paid year.
The Arlo products are expensive, they have always been expensive, but they do offer great features and they work reliably. If you can afford them, you will not be disappointed by them. Personally, I still rock my Arlo Ultra and completely rely on it to see what’s happening in front of my house, every single day!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-13 11:50
I’ve been wondering something for quite some time. Are the AirPods clones out there any good? I mean, do they feel and work as well as the original? For about 1/3 of the price even if they are not as good, could they be a viable alternative?
I’ve got two pairs of FruityPod on hand, a blueberry and in black and I can tell you all about them! I have them for a few months, and I was debating if I should write an article or not given that there is not much to talk about.. but in all transparency, I think I should warn you and review them.
The come in this little cardboard box, a box that does not look bad at all. It does feel a bit cheap and everything is moving around in it. Once out of the box, you have some paperwork a short charging cable and the FruityPod themselves. Wrapped in a very Apple-like fashion.
Once the wrapping is out… OMG no. The feel in hand is very, very bad. They are super light, and not light as in “ooh look at this slick, light product”, but light as in Dollar store cheap plastic light. The texture is soft and that is probably the best thing about these physically. The closing mechanism feels very low quality and it feels like it can break at any time. The sound they make when you close the case is tiny and not very reassuring like the original AirPods.
Same goes for the pods themselves, once out of the box they look like the real deal as in their photos and marketing material they look 100% identical, but once you compare them with the original they are close but not at the same time. They too are very light, they feel like a bad quality toy.
There is so many things wrong with this, I’m not even joking… Let’s go over the first-use experience, and then I’ll go over the various features. I mean, I don’t like to 💩 on a product, but this is interesting you will see.
Given that I have AirPods and know all there is to know about them, I figured I should be able to use the FruityPod, pair them and use them without the manual, right? Well, kind of.
Opening the case you, sometimes, have the native AirPods UI peaking out of the bottom of your iPhone. I say sometimes, because it really is not reliable and most often than not does not show up. If by a miracle, you get it to show up, then you can pair the FruityPod. But even the, you might get an error connecting, or if you are lucky only one of the FruityPod will connect. There are very specific pairing steps detailed on their website.
You put them in your ears and the black pair I had only spoken to me in Chinese and the blueberry one in English. There is a way to change the language before pairing them. Then about 10 minutes later, they were both in English.. OK, I don’t mind that much, but I do find it weird.
Let’s then start playing some music. Know that I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but I have tried systems worth 10s of thousands of dollars and crazy expensive headphones and in all cases I could notice a significant difference from more affordable products. I’m also a musician and have somewhat of a good ear to grasp all of the dynamic range of good music reproduction. The FruityPod are not better than a 2$ pair of earphones from DealExtreme!
Around 2007 or 2008 I got some fake in-ear earphones that looked like the Apple ones from DealExtreme, they were called
For iPod Noise Isolation Earbuds NORREBO and cost exactly 2.00 USD. They looked like the real thing from a distance, but the quality was not there at all. Here’s a review from iLounge about the official ones.
Why do I digress? Well, because once I started playing music with the FruityPod, the music sounded tiny and exactly like the 2$ earphones I got from DX! No bass, all the frequencies are muddied together and frankly the sound is garbage. I listened to Rage Against the Machine, Deftones and a few Dream Theater songs that I know by heart and boy, were my ears in for a treat. And not a good treat. I hated the experience.
If you need another example to really understand the bad quality of the drivers, imagine those cheap Dell laptops from the 2000s with their awful speaker array, and put them inside your ears. No dynamic range, and just a poor and awful sound.
Now let’s go over the various tech specs of the FruityPod to complete our well-rounded review of this product.
We already covered the first one, they are not high definition by any stretch of the imagination, and there is absolutely no noise cancellation. They probably mean that you will hear noise from them, as the sound reproduction is so bad that it is noise, and that this noise will cover noise from around you, then yes, this noise will cancel other noises. But it will not actively remove the noise around you like Bose, Sony or Apple do with their various products. As for passive noise cancellation, they are not sealing your air canal so they cannot claim to do passive noise cancellation either. I’m really at a loss here…
Frankly, I did not want to have those in my ears for that many hours… it was that bad. I think the promise of around 3h is slightly exaggerated from the use my kids made of them. It’s more around the 2h mark or slightly above.
Yes, they do have one. How does it sound? Well, have a listen and you will ~see~ hear it!
The bass is way too high on the FruityPod and the quality overall not very good. The AirPods first generation is known not to be that great with their microphones, but the FruityPod are even worst.
For this bit I will refer you to Wikipedia on the IP Code page. IP means Ingress Protection and the first number is the protection against a foreign object like dust or an ant, or even a finger. The X means they have no data. OK, then the second number means water resistance. They say 6, which means
Powerful water jetswith a test that does
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm (0.49 in)) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Fair, I guess the case can protect itself and the pods, but from the build and assembly quality, I would not even want to try it. Forget about forgetting them in the washing machine, this is sudden death for them for sure.
So I haven’t tested them myself, but I’m not confident about them…
This is the single good thing about these, their soft rubber texture is actually very soft to the touch and they do not attract fingerprints. It’s a minor issue you will say, but it’s the most truthful claim they also make.
So the FruityPod are not a good replacement for AirPods, in fact, they are just looking alike but they have zero common features that work as well. They promise good pairing, good sound, good looks and more, but all they can do it look good in product shots. Not even in person, in your hands.
I was not expecting a product as good as the 1st generation AirPods, but I was expecting a product that is worth this price, about 1/3 of the AirPods, therefore about 1/3 as good. These are about 1/10 as good and I would not spend more than 10-15$ on them. With Free Shipping.
I hate the sound reproduction, even the packaged Apple earphones are 100 times better in terms of quality. Stay away from them, I do not recommend them at all, not even for kids, save their little ears and allow them to ear all of the frequencies of music in a much better pair!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-08 09:33
In a software update, AirThings will release a new feature for the Wave Mini around the world. Mold Risk Indication will allow you to know overtime if you are at risk of developing mold because of your higher than wanted humidity levels.
The sensors in all of the Airthings products include an hygrometer and provides accurate humidity levels. Airthings is now pushing this further by analyzing the trends in your home with regards to the humidity levels and report a risk factor. They don’t have an actual mold detector, but they use all the data they are gathering to identify risk.
With the health effects of growing mold like asthma, and the absolute bizarre thing of needing to have a big problem first before you can actually diagnose it, having a preemptive strike against mold like this is a first!
Data Scientist from Airthings has developed the Mold Risk Indicator that goes from 1 to 10, 1 being good and 10 being a big problem. It takes a couple of days for the Wave Mini to go through the proper data and calculation, but after that you should get a good indication of what is the situation at your house. Placement is key here, so you need to make sure you place the Wave Mini close to where there might be problems like a window, close to the floor or behind furniture, etc.
It even works with the Airthings Hub to track the air quality remotely for the cabin or shed without the need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. And with automation and a smart plug like the WeMo Mini Smart plug, you can quickly have a dehumidifier running when humidity reaches a certain level.
With the Wave Plus I recently reviewed, the offer from Airthings keeps getting better! I hope this feature comes to the other device like the Wave Plus as I have two of them!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-07 10:52
After testing a few of the new generation of smaller size SSD like the Rocket Nano and the Tuff Nano, I was wondering if I could get even more performance out of a stick of NVMe SSD using an external enclosure. After all, the Thunderbolt 3 architecture should, in theory, allow for 40Gbits of bandwidth. This is 5 GB/s of theoretical transfer rate.
I contacted my good friends at Sabrent and got to test the Rocket Q, one of their faster NVMe 2280 SSD, a little stick that can be used inside their Tool-Free enclosure which I really loved the design, or inside any other enclosure of your choosing.
This is one area where the SSD drives are way faster than any enclosure can keep up. Therefore, I’ve been trying to get one that is much faster than the Rocket Q, and sadly, failed to find one. I did find one that is good, but not as fast as I would hope it would be.
There is not much to say about an NVMe SSD stick, it’s a small piece of PCB with memory chips on it. It stores data. Period. ;)
NVMe comes in various sizes, this one happens to be the M.2 2280 one which is the most common, and also one of the smallest. Perfect for small external devices like enclosures.
It took a long time for me to put this drive through its paces. I’ve tested a few external enclosures including Sabrent’s own Tool-free enclosure, but sadly it seems the market is not ready for such tremendous power.
There are a few enclosures on Amazon that are rated to surpass 2 GB/s, but they don’t really advertise their maximum theoretical speed. Often they just take a Western Digital or Samsung NVMe drive and provide these numbers. Nonetheless, here are a few drives to consider:
Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 M.2 2280 NVMe Enclosure - 2800 MB/s read
Yottamaster Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2700+ MB/s read, 1500+ MB/s write
Orico Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2,300 MB/s read, 2,100 MB/s write
Fledging Shell Thunder Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2,900 MB/s read, 2,500 MB/s write
As you can see, these reported speeds are all over the place. All of these are supporting Thunderbolt 3 with 40 Gbit/s, but none of them seem to go over 3 GB/s when the maximum speed should be around 5 GB/s. So I ended up selecting the Fledging Shell Thunder for this review because it seemed to be the most rounded one with the fastest read speed and a very fast write speed.
You have to know that the Sabrent Rocket Q is rated for speeds of 3,200 MB/s (read) and 2,900 MB/s (write) and none of the above reach the speeds of the Rocket Q sadly.
Installing the Rocket Q inside the enclosure is not a challenge at all, just 4 simple screws and a stick of thermal pad. That is really all there is to it. The Sabrent Tool-less enclosure is faster, but unless you are going through SSDs like crazy 4 screws is not such a hard process either.
Here I would have loved to be able to reach the full potential of the Rocket Q, however, sadly it is not possible with the current Thunderbolt 3 enclosures on the market. The Fledging officially supports 2,900 MB/ in read and 2,500 MB/s in write as its top speed. Here are the numbers I got going through the various benchmarking software.
I have also moved very large files in one single stream in order to trigger the SLC cache limit. The SLC cache limit is a superfast cache that is used to offer the best performance and then when the transfer is completed, it is offloaded to slower memory banks. Often time this limit is between 20 GB and 70 GB, this is why I did two tests. Moving a file of 90 GB and moving another file of 120 GB.
In both situations, I did not hit any limit at all! Granted, I did not reach the SSD’s maximum speed, but I still nonetheless made a very large transfer that would have filled the cache if there is, was one. ~In a perfect world, I would move a full 2 TB of data like this, but I never saw someone actually do this… It would be an interesting test, though!~ Scroll down a bit to the next section! ;)
As you can see from the above file transfer, recorded with iStat Menu, it kept its maximum transfer speed of roughly 2.1 GB/s constant. There was a very slight dip, but nothing to phone home about. This tells us that the full (or a significant portion) of the memory banks are of the very fast kind. In real life scenarios, even for backup purposes, you should have no trouble getting the maximum speed of this drive without any slow downs!
My job is to push my hardware to the limits, so I generated an empty file (random ones and zeros) of 1TB. If there is an SLC cache on the Sabrent Q, we will surely find out! I used the same process as above, writing the file to the SSD installed in the Fledging enclosure. Just look at this beauty:
Quite impressive! As you can see from the graph, apart from a very small hiccup in the first few seconds, the Rocket Q sustained 2.1GB/s of file transfer speed for the whole transfer! We can safely say that the Rocket Q does not have any SLC cache, and the complete space on the SSD is made up of superfast memory chips!
Not being the first product of Sabrent I’m testing, I was under the impression that it would be quite fast and indeed, fast it is! The advertised speeds are not only for the first X gigabytes, they are reached for as long as a file is being transferred and this is marvellous for those of you out there moving large number of files. Bet it for backup purpose, or do read and write your 4K (and even 8K) video edits directly on the Sabrent Q SSD!
If for some reason, speeds of 3GB/s are not enough for you, Sabrent recently released a new product, the Rocket Q4 which comes with or without a heat sink, allowing it to reach speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s in reads and 4,400 MB/s in writes. You do need a PCIe Gen4 compatible motherboard, but like Sulu would say… OH MY! This is truly impressive speeds!
The Rocket Q is a very nice balance of power and affordability that offer performances usually reserved to much pricier products and if you register the product quickly, you get a 5-year extended warranty! I highly recommend the Rocket Q and if you end up getting the new Rocket Q4 let me know, I would love to know what you think!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-17 09:20
Sometimes you ask yourself questions about your surroundings. You read stuff online and you wonder about the air quality in your home. However, after a cursory search on Amazon, you realize they are lots of devices out there and they all mention weird acronyms that mean nothing to you. They must be good at what they do, but before using them you need to understand what they report and how to act on that information.
This is where a solution like the Wave Plus from Airthings comes to the rescue. This round piece of plastic houses many little sensors to do what other devices do, report numbers on the various pollutants of your indoor air. But it does so much more than this. It not only reports very accurate numbers, but it also provided graphs to see how your air quality varies with hours, days, weeks and even months. For each type of pollutant, Airthings provides ample documentation that is easy to read and helps you quickly learn about the effects of pollutants and gases inside your home.
And for the developers amongst you, they even go a step further… More about this later.
Compared to the vast majority of air quality monitors out there, Airthings has one of the nicest, most minimalist design out there. After all, it’s designed in Norway and for once, not assembled in China but in Tunisia!
The unit is quite simple, no buttons whatsoever, only a single motion detector so that if you pass your hand in front of the unit, a LED ring lights up and gives you a red, yellow or green alert. This tells you without looking at numbers the air quality measured by the unit. The unit has a magnetic backplate so if you want to install it on the wall, you can use the provided screw and do so with the backplate. The unit then magnetically attached itself to the plate. This way you can easily take it out to change the batteries.
The batteries should normally last you between 1 and 1.5 years. And if you use some of the Eneloop Pro batteries, you might be able to push this even further!
In 2020, you must have an app. This is plainly simple, you need to be able to take a look at the numbers from your phone and if possible have some kind of history. Even more with an air quality monitor, you need to be able to see trends, averages, and act on that information.
Airthings does provide a mobile app which you need to use to set up the Wave Plus. Once you got through the wizard and have your new Wave Plus setup, it needs 7 days to breathe and provide accurate readings. From the specifications, it seems this is because of the VOCs and CO2 sensors, they need time to set and provide accurate numbers.
After the 7 days are passed, you can now refer to the numbers and start changing your behaviour.
The app shows you your list of devices and the battery level of each of them. The main page of a device gives you a clear view of all six measurements. They even have a little circle that shows up yellow or red to point to the measurement that is concerning.
If you tap one of the measurements, you are greeted with the average value based on the timeframe selected below (48h, week, month or year). Swipping allows you go move between measurements.
Talking about the measurements, the Wave Plus provided 6 measurements. This makes the Wave Plus one of the products on the market with the most measurements. And the only one with a radon detector.
The complete list includes radon, total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), CO2, humidity, temperature and air pressure.
The impressive thing here is the radon detection, usually you need to get some of those little black pucks, leave them be for 6 to 12 months and then send then to a laboratory for analysis. Using the Wave Plus you have an accurate reading with ~10% after 7 days and ~5% after two months. Here again if you want the most accurate numbers, you need more than a few days, but given that radon-level changes not only with airflow but also seasons and behaviour (like having the windows opened during summer and closed during winter), you should refer to this number on the long run.
The only sensor missing from this impressive list would be the PM10 and PM2.5. Particulate Matter of a 10 microns or less, or 2.5 microns or less is not being measured by the Wave Plus. This pollutant can be breathed and it can travel deep inside your lungs and cause all kinds of irritation, trigger allergies and asthma in certain individuals. Think of this as small dust particles travelling in the air. The PM10 is what causes the beige/brown haze you often in photos from China or India. Although less present here, there are days when the outside number rises to levels that requires you to think about it.
I do wish the next generation of the Wave Plus incorporate a PM10 and PM2.5 sensor, as with it, and the other existing sensor, it would cover 100% of what most of the air quality monitors can monitor.
As with many things in my life, I have an episode where my partner had trouble breathing during the lockdown. We never were at home for such an extended period of time and this caused her to start having trouble breathing.
We have central air and even an air exchanger, but never really got numbers from the air quality in our home. Our home is almost 10 years old and was built using the Novoclimat standard, a government approved guideline that makes sure houses are better insulated than usual and thus have basically no unwanted air leaks. This is great for saving on heating and cooling bills, but it has the adverse effect that if we don’t actively circulate the air, it stays stale and significantly drop in quality.
In the past, we used to put the central AC on during 30˚C and plus days, but rarely the air exchanger. Or if we did, we wanted to cool the house as quickly as possible so we set it to recirculate the air. This is a very bad idea, as all of the VOCs and the CO2, and even the radon, stays inside and moves around.
This was during summer. During winter, we also did not have such a great track record either. We, of course, being in Québec with our -30˚C, have to heat our house. Which we do at or around 22˚C during the winter, and have the air exchanger running on auto with around 35-40% relative humidity. This is good, but we often time do not set the air exchanger to circulate air from the outside. Can’t wait to see how bad we are once winter invites itself…
Now that I have a Wave Plus, I can get accurate numbers and act on them to correct the situation. Having the AC running without the air exchanger basically raised the CO2 and TVOCs levels very high, in the yellow section after about one hour and if left to its own device with us 5 in the house, it rapidly reaches the red zone. Turning on the air exchanger fixes the problems and brings back all the levels to green. Phew!
You know what also fixes all the problems? Opening the windows! Especially on a windy day, you can quickly get your air cleaned by opening the windows for a few minutes. All the levels with drops significantly.
Radon is one of the worst air pollutants out there. It’s odourless, does not seem to harm anyone until it’s too late. And the end result of living in an area with too much radon can be lung cancer. So yes, you need to look into this. Seriously.
Airthings provides anonymized information regarding all of the Wave Plus devices out there and gathers the results on a Radon Map. This can quickly tell you if others have low or high levels of radon in their houses and if you should take a closer look at this. A friend of mine (👋 Angelo!) lives in a High Risk area and got his house tested. I live in a Medium Risk area and thanks to the Wave Plus I can see that my levels (at least for now) are quite low. Having poor ventilation raises the numbers and even when measured on the second floor of my house, the number also rises. This means that the radon can easily circulate even to the bedrooms with the AC ON, but without proper air exchange practices.
I have also set up those little black pucks to do long-term (6-12 month evaluation) and I’ll post back the results which I’ll be able to compare with what the Airthings reports in 6-9 months.
The mobile app gives you a great glimpse at the current situation and offers some graphs to see the last 48h, weeks or months. But if you like to see graphs and data, head over to the Airthings dashboard!
This thing is AMAZING! Just look at these graphs, you can see the data captured by the Wave Plus over the last few months.
This is great to see how the numbers fluctuate, but I wished we could add events which would add a vertical line to the graphs. For example, “opened windows”, or “turn on AC” because I don’t always remember what happened before a spike or a drop. You can frantically refresh the app 30 minutes or 1 hour after you did such event, but I would love to see how my actions affect the air quality in a more interactive way.
Using Bluetooth 5.0 allows the Wave Plus to communicate with your phone and using Wi-Fi, it can communicate with the remote server to upload data. The Mobile App however, requires you to be on the same home network to refresh the data. If you want to retrieve the data from outside your home, you will need to purchase the Airthings Hub.
You can also add cool automation when pairing your Airthings Wave Plus with Alexa, Google Assistant or leverage IFTTT to get alerts. Or even better, pair this with a WeMo Smart Plug and you can even start a fan, dehumidifier or other device to automatically take care of risky levels without raising from your couch! :) You can even use any Philips Hue product to get a visual, and colourful, notification when the specified level has risen.
Very cool stuff!
Airthings is sharing lots of code on their Github page. You can even set up a Raspberry Pi to regularly download the numbers from your Wave device. They have reader code for the Wave Mini, the Wave and the Wave Plus; as well as a Grafana exporter.
I will be sure to play with the waveplus-reader to extract the data. I could even probably build my own dashboard and add support for events… 🤔
After testing the Airthings Wave Plus for many, many weeks, I can say with confidence that this device is very, very impressive! It offers a glimpse into an area of your life that you did not know could have such an impact on your well-being. Airthings provides in-app documentation to help you understand each of the metric, their impact and how to help with fixing a problematic situation.
The app is intuitive to use and offer nice graphs with your present and past numbers, but on the online dashboard is where all the juicy details are gathered. You can consult much more precise graphs and historical data. Given that the numbers are recorded every 5 minutes, you have ample data to learn about your situation.
I only wish that the Wave Plus would have a PM10 and PM2.5 sensor to really offer all of the sensors currently available on the market in its competitors. The Wave Plus does have the radon detection which is something quite unique, but in order to really know about allergens, dust and other things that can affect my air quality I would need to get another sensor.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-29 08:59
My initial plan was to use this little enclosure with a cool Sabrent Rocket Q NVMe SSD drive I got, and don’t get me wrong it works, however, the drive is faster than the enclosure so therefore things can be much faster! I’ll try to find another drive that can actually reach the promised speeds of 2,800MB/s that the Rocket Q can achieve!
But if you have another NVMe SSD that is a bit less powerful than this, the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool-Free Enclosure is a great little piece of engineering!
The enclosure is made of 100% aluminum, which means that it is actually using itself to dissipate the head generated by high-speed transfers. You simply open the enclosure by turning a little tab 90˚ and the bottom plate pops off. You slide in your NVMe SSD of 2280 size (or less, it also works with 2230, 2242, 2260), remove the plastic peel from the heat pad, and close it back with the back plate.
Your SSD is now ready to be used with the provided Thunderbolt 3 cable, but bear in mind that the hardware inside the case is NOT Thunderbolt 3 optimized, it’s actually USB 3.2 and it can “only” do 10 Gbps of sustained top speeds.
In the box, you also have a USB-A cable provide since the enclosure is retro compatible with USB 3.1 and 3.0.
There you go, you have a nice-looking sandblasted aluminum that fits in your pocket. It’s not as small as the Sabrent Rocket Nano we recently tested, but it’s using the same design principles.
To leverage the speeds offered by the quick USB 3.2 interface, you do not need a compatible drive, one that can accommodate over 1,000 MB/s otherwise, you will feel very constrained! I’ve got this great little, itsy-bitsy drive called the Rocket Q from Sabrent. They promise speeds of up to 2,900 MB/s in writing and 3,200 MB/s in reading. Definitely way more than what is expected of the enclosure!
Mounting the enclosure and going through testing was a breeze and there were no disconnection errors during the whole process of trying multiple times, all of the software below. Let’s go over the different applications and their results.
As you can see from the above screenshots, DiskMark reported read and write speeds of 974 MB/s and 962 MB/s, both very close the theoretical maximum speeds of the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool Free Enclosure.
Moving on to ATTO Disk Benchmark, we got a bit faster here with 1,010 MB/s and 1,040 MB/s respectively in read and write speeds. This is pretty on par with the manufacturer’s promise.
What does this tell us? Well, if you have an NVMe SSD around that can do 1,000 MB/s or more, the Sabrent USB 3.2 enclosures is a great partner in crime! It will allow you to reach those speeds without any problems!
If you are looking for a solid solution that will allow you to reach the famous 1 GB/s in read and write speeds, the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool Free Enclosure is the drive to get since it does reach those numbers without any problems. And if you are swapping drives, its tool-free design is such a fun process to go through, and super quick too! The whole enclosure will allow you to dissipate the large amount of heat that the NVMe chips releases, it does become hot to the touch, almost burning, but rarely will you be moving terabytes of data in one single session. In regular use it should only become warm to the touch, and not hot.
Now that I have a crazy fast Sabrent Rocket Q in my hands, I need to push the envelope even further and find another enclosure that will allow me to reach the 2.8 GB/s and 3.2 GB/s write and read speeds that this tiny but mighty drive can do! I’ll report soon!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-19 12:27
The world of wireless earbuds has dramatically changed over the last two years with not only the usual big guys like Sennheiser releasing interesting new products, but also other consumer product companies like Apple, Samsung, Google and Jabra. Jabra has a long history of various businesses and chat headsets, but they have also released a few models of wireless earbuds.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t have nothing to envy towards other high-end headset, their design is quite impressive. The case has a very nice rounded shape and fits nicely in your pockets. The two earbuds are held with magnets, as is the case cover. It also makes a satisfying click when shut close! But what users were complaining the most about got fixed in this revision, it now charges via USB-C!
The 75t also comes with three size tips to really be comfortable to your very own ears. Talking about ears, they are not what I would describe as small once installed, but there are definitely smaller than lots of what is out there.
They are offered in a few colours including Navy, Copper Black, Grey, Sienna and Mint.
The tips are not what I would consider the most comfortable tips out there. There are OK, but I’ve seen better. In the past I’ve had great success with the foam tips from Comply and I see they are already offering them in three sizes for the Elite line. If you like the 75t but feel the fit could be better, have a look at the Comply!
The very first thing I wanted to test is the sound quality. This is often times what is mostly lacking some earbuds on the market. They too often have a ton of great features at the expense of sound quality. Given that these are earbuds, sound quality for me is of upmost importance! Comparing them with other buds and even full-size headsets like the Sennheiser Momentum 3, they are surprising!
The sound quality is very good and flat by default, which is what you want with earbuds that come with a customizable EQ. You can then go to the Jabra app, do updates if there are some, and customize the sound to your liking. I prefer to add just a bit of bass and some highs. Then the sound was perfect to my ears! I have yet to try the AirPods Pro but compared to regular AirPods and other earbuds I tried in the past, their quality is very good especially since they are not wired and have to go through wireless protocols.
As for the fit, well this is something very personal. Some people can’t stand in-ear earbuds, some can’t even stand the regular iPod and iPhone style earbuds. For me, they do fit nicely in my ears and the three different size tips are good to find the perfect fit. For me, medium is where I need to be.
Coming from AirPods, I did need to get re-used to in-ear earbuds. I rocked for a very long-time the Microsoft Zune Premium earbuds (review in French) for years and even upgraded them with Comply foam tips at one point. But after years of Bose QC35, Sennheiser Momentum 1 and Momentum 3 headsets, and AirPods, I did need to get re-acquainted with in-ear audio devices.
Once properly installed, you do need to learn how to fit them right and once you do, you forget they are even there! They are comfortable and offer a good seal to passively block outside noise.
Their battery life is great with around 7.5h of autonomy in the buds themselves, and a total of 28h if you include the case. One great thing I miss with my AirPods is the fast charging. If often happen I will forget to charge the case and realize, I have but a mere 20% left on the AirPods… The Jabra 75t can quick charge your buds for 15 minutes and get over 1h of listening time. But the best thing is the USB-C port! One more device going to USB-C is so great!
I don’t know why people are not talking more about this?!? This is the single, best, incredible feature of the Jabra 75t! You can pair them with up to 8 devices, which by itself is incredible. But the amazing thing is how you can switch between those devices. It’s almost seamless!
I’m not counting Spotify here because the app itself has that feature built-in, so let’s have the use case of Youtube. A video is playing on my Mac and I want to switch to my Overcast app on my iPhone. I pause the video on the Mac and hit play on the iPhone. The audio is now coming out of the iPhone! No need to fiddle with the active device like with AirPods! No bad connection, nothing!
IT JUST WORKS (GREAT)!
I should probably do a long-time review of the AirPods to explain my woes with them… but suffice it to say that I do spend most of my day switching devices. And if that process can be improved, believe me it has to with AirPods, the Jabra team really are going strong here with their painless switching between devices. It’s really like the 75t knows where audio is coming out and it automatically switches to that for you.
The Jabra 75t have both active noise cancellation as well as transparent hearing which they call HearThrough. With just a click on the left earbud, you can go from noise cancellation to transparent earing. The noise cancellation is actually very good because, first of all, you benefit from in-ear passive noise cancellation since the 75t are placed inside your ear canal. Then, on top of this, you add technology that cancels the noise you get a great result!
The HearThrough works well, but I always find this mode to have too much background noise. I mean, I know it uses the microphone to pickup ambient noise, but the background “shhhhh” is a bit too much for me. Perhaps it could be toned down a bit. As for other sounds, like if someone speaks with you, it does sound reasonable natural.
This is a very recent addition to the Jabra 75t. It offers a personalized test to check which frequencies you can hear and from that little test, customize the EQ for your specific earing. The MySound features plays short tones of varied frequencies and when you hear it, you tap a button. You do this about 25 times and repeat for the other ear. Once completed, it builds a personalized EQ just for you.
Does it work? Yes, it does! I played Pull Me Under from Dream Theater, a song I probably listened to over 500 times over the course of my life, and on audio devices ranging from 2$ earbuds to full stereo worth north of 30,000$. Suffice to say, I know the ins and out of this song and I’m very sensitive to its varied frequencies. After applying the MySound profile, the sound not only sounded more rounded, but it also sounded less metal tin-y in the highs.
Weirdly, it kind of “fixed” the audio and made it so much better! I mean it’s the intended behaviour, but I was not expecting to see such a difference. I tried turning it OFF and reran the test a second time, I see a very noticeable difference! GN Group, the parent company of Jabra knows a ton about hearing aids, and it shows when you have something like this added to the latest firmware of great wireless earbuds.
After rocking these for a few weeks, I must say that I am more impressed that I thought I would be. The welcome surprise was the way to toggle between devices, something even the great Apple can’t get to work reliably with their “single device at a time” AirPods. The constant updates to both the mobile app and the firmware of the Jabra Elite 75t make them an impressive little product to rock. And with major new features, that actually increase the sound reproduction capabilities like the MySound feature that was recently released, rarely can you say that your audio product just got better for your own ears!
If in-ear earphones like the Jabra Elite 75t fit your ears, you should definitely get them as they are one serious contender for this year, and often more affordable than the competition!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-11 12:12
If there is one thing I really love, it’s the innovation brought by a cool piece of tech, but it also needs to come with a slick design and genuinely fix a problem. This is no easy task to accomplish! Often, we have great gizmos that do fix a problem, but the design is absent, or it tries to fix a problem we don’t have.
Unlimited, yes that Unlimited from the partnership with Loaded, from which I tested their incredible electric longboard last year, now has another Kickstarter in the works. This time, they are tackling the e-bike conversion problem!
Instead of proposing straight up an e-bike, they also do but it’s beside the point, they are offering a solution to electrify your bike. You add a battery, replace the front wheel and use their pedal sensor to automatically transform your bike into an e-bike with pedal assist!
There is even an optional accessory to add a screen and display your speed, distance and battery level. And if you’re in the US, there is another optional accessory, a throttle trigger that can replace the human pedalling on the bike.
What about specs then?
|Battery Range||35km (22mi)||80km (50mi)||80km (50mi)|
|Max Power||750W (US) 250W (EU)||750W (US) 250W (EU)||750W (US) 250W (EU)|
|Top Speed||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU|
|Air Travel||Compliant||Not Compliant||Not Compliant|
Not bad, heh?
I like that you have a choice of the capacity of the battery and some optional accessories. This way you can get just what you need and not more.
The design of replacing your front wheel with a wheel with the motor is great! Easy to swap and by using the water bottle holes it should be super quick to install. The 35kph is great and if that can be sustained for close to 80km it would be awesome indeed.
This is a valid question and I can see this upgrade being useful for different types of cyclist. Somebody that wants to get to work with their bike but do not want to get there all sweaty could benefit from the pedal assist of this ebike conversion kit. Someone that is not necessarily at the top of their physical statue might benefit from this to enjoy longer rides outside which could then help in making their life a lot more enjoyable.
And pedal assist does not mean you need to turn it on all the time, you can turn the pedal backwards and the sensor will register the change of mode.
I really love the minimalism of this idea, the design looks great and I can’t wait to try it on to test how well the idea came into reality!
You can still get in on the IndieGogo campaign!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-11 09:59
2020 seems like a year where we will finally be able to carry the full power of Thunderbolt 3 in the palm of our hands! Last year, we got a few small very quick SSDs, but 2020 seems the power keeps increasing as much as their footprint seems to be diminishing!
A few months ago, I tested the CalDigit Tuff Nano external SSD with promises of doing a crazy speed of 1050 MB/s in both read and write! I remember that not too long ago, I was excited about “only” 300 MB/s! The drive was fairly small, with a rubber protection.
But today, I have something even smaller. Its footprint not only fits in your hand, you can actually close your fist around it! 😱 The Rocket Nano by Sabrent is an m2 SSD wrapped in a 100% aluminum case that promises 1000 MB/s of both read and write speeds!
This little guy is quite impressive to look at. The box seems make it seem like it’s way bigger, so when you actually open it and see how tiny the external SSD is, you blink and can’t believe it!
The enclosure is made of aluminum and act as a heat sink for those long transfer sessions when hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes are moved on and off the drive. It comes with both a Thunderbolt 3 cable (USB-C ends of course) and a USB-C to USB-A cable to maximize compatibility in these evolving times where the USB connectors are changing.
Now, how big is the Rocket Nano? It’s only slightly larger than a USB thumb drive. Its length is basically the width of a SATA SSD drive. It’s half the width of an AirPods case, and only about 1 cm longer. Here are a couple of shots of it next to everyday items so you can get an idea of its size.
Having extra storage is often an expensive upgrade when buying a laptop. Going from 1TB to 2TB with the latest MacBook Pro 16-inch, costs 400$. For 100$ less, you can get a 2TB Rocket Nano! (pricing in May 2020). If you don’t need to have that storage inside your computer at all times, the Rocket Nano is a great way to save a ton of money! And if you need it with you? Well, hide it in your iPod Nano jean’s pocket and it will always be with you where you go!
Of course, the very first thing I did was to run a bunch of benchmarks to see how well this little speed demon behaves! For reference, I was testing the 1TB model in grey.
Using the regular disk benchmarking software, I got speeds on or around that 1,000 MB/s. ATTO Disk Benchmark reported 1,020 MB/s in both read and write, AJA System Test Lite said 963 MB/s in read and 968 MB/s in write and Black Magic Disk Speed Test returned 907 and 915 in read and write speed respectively.
Most of the tools are reporting the advertised speed and that is amazing. Using it as an external SSD at these speeds do not feel like an external SSD at all!
The last test I wanted to make was a long-running transfer of just above 100 GB. Why you might ask? Often times, manufacturers will use a fast SLC cache of various sizes to allow for the maximum top speed for what they think is under the average transfer size. This way, they can save on cost as this fast SLC cache is way more expensive and would triple of not quadruple their costs.
To test this fast SLC cache you need to transfer files that are larger than its size, and note if you see a drop in transfer speed. For this, I’m using the excellent iStat Menu with the SSD option ON while looking at the graphic.
As you can see from the graphic above, I’ve done three separate transfers, separated by about 1 minute. You clearly see that there is a drop of about 40% after a little while. Looking the macOS file transfer window this happens around the 26 GB mark. Therefore, we can safely assume that there is probably a 26 GB fast SLC cache that gets filled and then the speed drops from around 950 MB/s to 500 MB/s according to iStat Menu.
This SLC Cache can be of any size from a few gigabytes to over 100 GB on more expensive desktop SSD drives. The Rocket Nano has a decent size cache that is around the average size on the market and it beats a few drives out there with smaller caches.
But what does it mean in reality? In a typical day-to-day utilization, you should not see any meaningful speed degradations unless you move over 100s of gigabytes regularly. Opening a photo library or even doing a 4K edit directly on the drive will not slow down since you don’t work off ALL of the data at once. I personally rarely move over 50 GB of files in one single transfer, therefore instead of being around 50s for the complete file transfer, it will be about 70s. Not a very meaningful difference.
With all the above benchmarking and large file transfer, you might wonder how the aluminum case behaved? Well, it really did its job wonderfully. Knowing that these little memory boards can get so hot, you can’t touch them, I have happy to see that the worst temperature I got was offered multiple 100 GB transfer and it was 51˚C. Certainly hot to the touch, but not enough to burn you. And after regular sized copies, it was around 40˚C in continuous use.
The case/heatsink does a very good job, as knowing how hot SSDs can get, it sure was hot to the touch, but not enough to burn, and it came down quickly after that to only feel warm!
The Sabrent Rocket Nano is a tiny little drive that has performance of competitors 3 and 4 times its size. It’s so small that it can fit comfortably behind your laptop, in your jeans pockets, even in the smaller pocket!
With sustained performance of 1000 MB/s, it’s just like having another internal SSD Drive. I see absolutely no difference running Final Cut Pro or Photos on it. The only time when you might not benefit from its full potential is if you transfer over 26 GB of files in one single stream. These times, you will see about half the speed due to an SLC Cache of about 26 GB.
All in all, I strongly recommend the Rocket Nano for someone looking to extend the total capacity of their computer. The speed is great and does not allow to see much difference in everyday use, even with professional tools. It does not run hot and with both a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C on both ends) and a USB-C to USB-A cable, you can use it literally anywhere! As long as the computer is fast enough to drive the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface! Nowadays, it’s the computer that risks not being fast enough!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-28 08:32
I never thought we would see the day where CleanMyMac X, the best all-in-one maintenance and optimization suite, would be available on the Mac App Store. Apple has been very clear about how application should request access to drives and ressources, but most of all, the restrictions that came with the Mac App Store were even worst.
To a point where even code editors could not live on the MAS because they would not be able to read all the files on the disk. Apple defined the entitlements that applications must request, however, since the introduction of this sytem not all of the possible entitlements were available. And sadly up to this day, everything that is possible for a notarized Mac app is not possible to be done in its Mac App Store version.
MacPaw judged that what is now available is enough and they are launch an almost complete version of CleanMyMac X on the Mac App Store today!
The main difference between the MAS version and the MacPaw Store version is the notable absence of the Photo Junk, Maintenance, Updater and Shredder modules. There is currently no way for MacPaw to have these modules work with the current state of the Mac App Store. There are also a few limitations to other modules like the Smart Scan that comes without the Speed module, replaced by the Large & Old Files. The System Junk can’t access Xcode simulators, System Log Files, System Cache Files, Language Files and Deleted Users. The Trash Bins, Privacy, Optimization, Uninstaller and some fonctionnality of the CleanMyMac X menu are also limited.
All in all, you still get most of the features for an App that lives in the Mac App Store, that does not require you to share your payment information and will be showed with your other subscriptions.
Talking about subscription, did you know that there are three ways to get CleanMyMac X? You can buy a one-time copy or an annual subscription on the MacPaw Store, an annual subscrption on the Mac App Store or an annual or monthly subscription through SetApp. Phew!
But which version should you get?? That’s a good question!
MacPaw Store Version
One-time purchase, or annual subscription
For 1 Mac
Cool rebates (returning customers, upgrade discount, competitor discount and more)
Mac App Store Version
Annual subscription only
Available on all your Apple ID devices
Appears on your MAS subscription invoice
Monthly, or annual subscription
Access to 160+ other Mac Apps
So from this information, you might want to try to get the best price for you. If you already own another Mac Paw product you should head over to the MacPaw store, you might be able to get either a cheaper upgrade or returning customer price. However, if you have multiple Macs and no other MacPaw licenses, the Mac App Store version would be “pay once and run everywhere” so this might be better for you. And finally, if you already have a SetApp subscription, you already own CleanMyMac X!
I really like CleanMyMac X and I think I should review it soon!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-22 14:18
There are a lot of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C in the market and they usually look like a thick slab of aluminum powered by a large power brick. They are ideal for your home office or office, but that’s where you will set them and you will never travel with them.
That a pity and often time, on the go, I have the same needs as when I’m at home. I need to connect devices to my USB-C port MacBook Pro but there are no good portable docks and I don’t like bringing a complete kit of dongles when I work outside…
The StayGo USB-C Dock by Twelve South is a solution to both at home and on the go, get it? StayGo? So let’s see if this hub really fulfills the promise of being a good home dock and a good on-the-go dock and as I’m a geek for numbers, let’s run a few benchmarks with it!
The StayGo is a small size dock that still offers great connectivity for the size but it’s special power is how I how they decided to manage power. Instead of using a super thick power brick, they are reusing the power brick that comes with your MacBook Pro and offers 85W of passthrough power. And the cable to plug it into your Mac is hidden inside the dock! So when you are going out, you simply take the dock with you and you don’t need to think about the cable or have a weird dangling cable that’s in the way.
The whole dock acts as a heat sink for the heat generated through its use and it’s one of the only, if not the only one, with both a microSD and SD card reader. Three USB-A 3.0 for your fast external storage and one of them gives out 7.5W for charging your phone. The HDMI shoots out 4K video at 30Hz and the Ethernet jack is a Gigabit port that can do 1,000Mbps.
But where this little shines, is that it comes with one right angle USB-C cable for the desk and it can even store a short USB-C cable inside itself for use on the go! So you just grab the StayGo and run! No need for extra cables!
The matte black design is great and it feels amazing in the hand! Great design, great looks!
Let’s first talk about the power performance of the StayGo. From the marketing document, Twelve South says it’s offering a passthrough of 85W for charging a MacBook Pro. This is very good as it closely matches what the 2018 and before MacBook Pro 15” were requiring. The new 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro requires 96W so you might not be able to run it to its fullest speed without seeing a few percentage points drop. For a compact dock like this, it’s not bad at all and a good compromise. Worst case, when you leave your computer to eat or make coffee, it will regain the lost points.
When I plugged the MacBook Pro charger, it displays 86W of charging current (for an 87W charger). And when I plug it in through the StayGo, I have 72W displayed in the System Information. The way it works is that the 85W are passed through, but the StayGo needs 15W to function, so you are left with about 70-72W of charging power to your laptop.
As for external drive performance, I hooked up my CalDigit Tuff Nano (buy it now), a disk that can do 974 MB/s and 792 MB/s in read and write speeds to one of the regular USB3 port of the StayGo. I got 419 MB/s and 57 MB/s in read and write speeds, but then when I used the powered port, the one that can provide 7.5W Fast Charging, I got 421 MB/s and 327 MB/s in read and write speeds. So if you need speed with an external SSD, make sure you use the powered port as it’s much faster than the other ones. However, it’s nowhere near as fast as a Thunderbolt 3 port which can basically double the bandwidth speed. Remember that the USB-3 ports are the 9 Gbps type, a lot slower than the 40Gbps of a Thunderbolt 3 port.
As for the microSD and SD card ports, yes you have both so you don’t need to carry an extra microSD to SD card adapter, they are the UHS-I type that can do about 104 MB/s. With a Kingston SD card rated for 90 MB/s and 80 MB/s, I was able to reach 67 MB/s and 62 MB/s, not quite the maximum power of the card but close.
Given all of these performance numbers, it’s clear to me that the StayGo does not try to be the fastest or more powerful dock, after all it does not require a huge power brick as does the other big boys like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock or the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The StayGo is also not the same price, and all of its specs are detailed on the website for full transparency.
The StayGo is a marvel of design giving how much it packs in such a simple case. It’s the fastest, nor is it trying to be it. It’s a “good to great” performer that has the smarts to be very useful on the go or on your desk. It offers the possible and flexibility to be all you need on the go, no need for those damn dongles and at the same time, it can be the dock for the office where you have Ethernet, an external monitor and a few external disks. This is where it shines, it is more flexible than any other small docks on the market, and it still can offer great performance to be able to resume work on the go without any need of dongles.
If you need the superpower of a Thunderbolt 3 dock, then either you wait to be home and use all the dongles your MacBook Pro needs, or you acquire the OWC or Elgato docks. Note that instead of being 99 $US these models from the two companies are about 300 $US.
Overall, the StayGo does what no other docks do well, be practical both on the go and at home, while giving enough ports, power and performance to be well rounded for most of the setups out there, even professionals on the go!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-19 13:40
This is not a product category that I often review, but after realizing how many cotton swabs we go through in a year, I decided to look for a solution. And one that I could talk about here for you to discover.
I present you the LastSwab, a silicon tipped reusable swab that allows you to simply clean it after use and stop wasting and polluting the ocean with disposable cotton swabs. As it is the case with many of these great ideas, it started with a Kickstarter that raises 706,811 US$ to revolutionize the way we clean our ears and how we do makeup!
The LastSwab comes in two flavours at the moment, the Basic rounded tip cotton swabs with little bumps to catch the ear wax, and a makeup version, called Beauty, that is slick and has more of a pointy tip, more flexible and softer.
Both versions have a very flexible core to prevent you from putting too much pressure in your ear and thus helps prevent injuries. To help with storage and to keep it clean while not in use, they come in a nice carrying case that feels more like a œuvre d’art display than anything else!
And did I mention they in many, many colours? Seven different colours for the basic model and six colours for the beauty model!
We are a family of five so we consume lots of cotton swabs, I was looking forward to a good replacement so I asked to test both the Basic and Beauty versions. I’ve got two teenage girls and a wife so I figured I should probably have them test the Beauty model!
I have been the one mainly using the Basic model and after having it for a few weeks I really like it! The first thing you realize is that the LastSwab has a grippier feeling than cotton swab that can grab all of that ear wax! You let warm water flow on the tip and a quick rub removes it all.
The tip is very comfortable and I like the little scratching it does to my inner ear! If you ever have an ear itch, the LastSwab is great for that too! The main difference between a cotton swab and the LastSwab is the effectiveness of removing every last bit of ear wax. You see the LastSwab leaves a film in your ear canal, keeping the natural protection ear wax provides without the grossness of it. Cotton swabs removes everything and can even easily be irritating your ear canal if you rub it too hard. At first I thought I did not “feel” as clean, but after multiple weeks, it is not the case. You feel as good as with a regular cotton swab.
As for the Beauty version of the LastSwab, the girls in my household actually were not using cotton swabs for their makeup, but the corner of a foam sponge to do some medium precision application. Moving to the LastSwab was actually a revelation for them and they have already asked me to get them one each! The great thing with the LastSwab is that they are flexible enough to be comfortable, but stiff enough to allow for ease of control when applying makeup. The other end being rounder offers another tool that is easy to use, clean and re-use.
And given that the tips are made of silicone, you can easily clean them, dry them and try again where a sponge could easily be ruined after a single use (or require drying time after cleaning it).
The idea of a reusable swab is very interesting, especially if you tend to use multiple ones. The numbers add up rapidly and if you start thinking about where those end up, it’s not very long before you start feeling awful and try to look for a solution. The team behind the LastSwab has created a very interesting product that is both effective and very well designed. It works great and is easy to cleanup under hot water. I would go as far as say it does a better job than the cotton swabs because it does not try to clean your ear canals out of all their ear wax. It leaves a very thin layer that can do its job, you know, protecting your ear canal from infections and other bad things.
Both are really like by my family and they have voiced their interest in each having one with their own colour! Sadly, I don’t see a Family Pack of LastSwab Basic or Beauty… (hey LastSwab, make a family pack!)
Overall, I really like the product, and I strongly recommend it for anyone that cleans their ears! This makes a lot of you so you know what you need to do!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-06 10:56
A few months ago, I reviewed the original AirFly from Twelve South and had such a great experience that I was wondering if they could do something more, like add more to the product to make it even better. I’m happy to report that we now have the Twelve South AirFly family of products with the original AirFly, the USB-C, the Duo and the Pro!
To put it simple, the Classic is the one I reviewed with one pair of headphones and 8 hours of battery life. The Duo supports two headphones and has 20+ hours of battery life. The USB-C swaps the 3.5mm jack for a USB-C port and the Pro has a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve! This is the little guy I reviewed!
The AirFly Pro is kind of the AirFly Classic which means it connects to any 3.5mm port, often called the AUX port on stereo and gym equipment to allow a non-Bluetooth capable device to broadcast its audio over Bluetooth.
It comes in a very small and now rounded and slightly longer and thicker but narrower than the Classic. You really feel the quality of the parts here and it does come with a carrying case and cables including a cap for the 3.5mm cord.
The Pro has three major changes from the Classic, first off the battery life goes from 8 hours to 16 hours, and you can charge it via USB-C. The second is that you can pair two headphones to it so you can share the movie in a plane or the audio while exercising with a loved one.
And finally, what I think really makes this the audio panacea, it can act both as a Bluetooth transmitter for use in a plane or with a Nintendo Switch or as a Bluetooth receiver for uses when you want to send audio to the AirFly. You could send your Spotify music from your phone to your car or visit a friend’s house and send your own playlist to their home stereo and be the DJ for the night!
The AirFly comes with a simple booklet to get this setup, it’s not the most intuitive setup thanks to the different audio devices and their different ways to put them into pairing mode. The AirFly Pro tried to make this as simple as possible with only one main button, a reset button and a Rx/Tx switch to toggle between receiving and transmitting audio.
I did need to do a few tried to get both my AirPods and the Sennheiser Momentum 3 properly paired. But once it was done it really works like a charm, turn the AirFly Pro on and turn your audio devices ON and bingo!
Sound quality is perfect, even with the phone in my pocket with the AirFly Pro, I did not have interference troubles or anything like this. The range is not what I would call amazing if I start to go to another floor but given the use case at hand of being close to the device it does not really matter.
Overall the experience is great and I really like what they did with the new models which is better for people with a different need while keeping the cost down. You should use this page to decide on which of the AirFly family member is the best for your specific need. I know that I will continue to use the AirFly Classic with my Nintendo Switch since it’s a bit thinner and the Pro will be ideal for in-flight entertainment as the transmitter and in the car as the receiver since my 2011 car does not have great Bluetooth audio hardware.
For use with the Nintendo Switch, I kind of wish we could have a Light version that can fit very closely to the Switch as a thin layer behind the console. The Pro works great but dangling kind of feels weird. I’ll probably add some Velcro behind it so it stops bumbling around.
Once again, Twelve South made a bang with what I think is more than what could be expected and every single product of the family is a great addition to anyone’s gadget pouch! Highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-04 12:33
With all of the remote worker jobs that are popping everywhere from LinkedIn to Medium with a bunch of tips and tricks and best practices to empower remote workers. One constant is found across all of these articles is the use of video for coworkers to both build a sense of friendship as well as foster better communication. You can use your laptop’s 720p camera but that camera and microphone looks and sound very bad.
This is where Logitech comes in the picture with the Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam, a camera that can show your face in 4K as well as offer front-facing quality microphone. This camera is often used in conference room because it offers a wide-angle view and its microphone can pick up sound in a much better way than what a TV or laptop can.
The Brio Ultra HD Pro comes in the shape of an attachment you can easily add to the top of your laptop or desktop display. It is installed on a double hinge system that allows you have it rest securely on the display while at the same time allow you to adjust the vertical angle to be perfect for your actual position.
Once you have installed it and plugged it in via USB, the webcam just works. No driver needed, no other software needs to be installed, it just appears in any software that has access to your webcams.
Coming with the Brio, you also have a small flap that you can install on top of your camera to hide the lens. It flips down and covers the camera so if you are worried about hackers gaining access to your camera, at the very least you can hide yourself with this optional attachment. The camera also has a small pouch for travelling with it and at the same time to clean up the front glass of the product.
Being glass, this allows for a much better light transmission and visual quality, but also attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Thankfully, the pouch does a good job of cleaning it and once you actually set up your camera, you can basically forget it and never touch it again.
The installation could not be simpler, connect the super long USB-C cable and you’re done! But if you want to jump in the settings, you can download the Camera Setting application and change the viewing angle, zoom levels and a few more details.
The camera is capable of running at 4K 30fps and 1080 60fps so you can use it to stream through OBS or Xsplit while you are streaming your favourite game! It will be well adapted for such activity thanks to its HDR capture and better sensor.
I’m used to two very similar cameras in my day-to-day remote work. The first one is the MacBook Pro (2017) webcam capable of 720p with a tiny, tiny sensor. And the second one is the Apple Thunderbolt Display (2011), also capable of only 720p. Both have very crappy image quality and very crappy microphone quality.
So using the Brio Pro is such a nicer experience, without even considering the sharpness and the higher resolution, just the quality of the sensor and the light that can be captured is incredible. You have a much better image with a ton more light. Your face is well lit and there is no dark zone in the picture.
Let’s go over a few examples of video recorded with all three devices, the MacBook Pro, the Thunderbolt Display and the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam.
As you can see the quality is night and day compared to other “regular” webcams. Plus with the free Logitech Camera Setting app, you can adjust many of the parameters to even better the image you are capturing. The way the camera is installed on your desktop display really makes it in the perfect angle.
As you can see, you can also change the cropping when in both Standard and Widescreen view as well as change exposure, focus, brightness and more. But out of the box, the camera is good enough to correctly expose you.
The Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam from Logitech is a great addition, not only for remote workers that want to step up their game with regards to the video quality they project to their peers or for the streamer that wants to increase the quality of his setup without the need for expensive pro hardware. This webcam allows for a much better video quality, resolution and with its HDR capabilities, it offers a well-rounded image quality and allows for a ton of light to be caught by the sensor.
The result is a close to professional quality that will undoubtedly help in all of your interactions with your colleagues or to get you new subs on YouTube, Twitch or Mixer because in that small corner of the screen you should get all of the quality you can get to really look great! Plus the camera will match the 60fps of your gaming recording and thus make your image comfortable to the eye of your watchers!
I highly recommend the Brio Ultra HD Pro for anybody using some kind of camera for communication, you will simply love it!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-22 11:31
After 2 incredibly successful iteration of its MX Master Mouse, Logitech came back with another version. But how can they make this incredible, already close to perfect mice even better? I mean, I love my MX Master 2 and I would not trade it in for another mouse for nothing in the world… And, from a tech reviewer’s point of view, what could even make this new version more interesting than the previous one?
I mean, it probably has a few new features, but could Logitech really make this mouse even better??
If you have used a MX Master or MX Master 2, you already know the shape of the mouse and the overall feel, you played with it in the past. However, what you have not experienced is the incredible upgrade they put in this revision. Every single thing on this mouse feels premium in a what that I did not anticipate could be done.
The MX Master 2 was great, but now, we have more metal parts, more precise mechanism with a very BMW feel to them and it is an incredible feeling when you first start using it!
The new MagSpeed Electromagnetic scrolling wheels can scroll to incredible speeds but never does it feel cheap. It’s more precise, it’s metal construction is weighted and it’s super quiet. All things I did not think was possible, yet it’s in my hand as I type these words!
The side wheel is also made of metal and have the same feel to it. All the buttons are slightly different, giving out a stiffer yet more refined click when you press them. The mode shift allows you to change the mode of the scroll wheel like in the past, from what they call the Ratchet mode (the “tick-tick-tick” mode I call it) and the Free-Spin mode when it spins just like an electric skateboard!
You still get the side scroll wheel, two side buttons, two main buttons and the thumb button as previously available. But the MX Master 3 now has a few new tricks up its sleeve.
As mentioned above the experience is quite impressive and it does not look like it when you just read the words on the browser. The feel, resistance when needed and quality of the comments feels like using a luxurious car knob.
You really need to experience it to really know what we are talking about !
The technology called Flow is not new this year, it was released last year with the MX Master 2S and it allows you to control multiple computers with the same Logitech mouse and keyboard. You exit the screen just like you would do with a dual monitor setup to reach the second monitor and automatically the second computer captures your cursor as if you switched mice.
The Gesture button is a new take on how you can customize actions for each of your app. This is the thumb button that is horizontal just under your thumb. When kept pressed it awaits your command, which is a movement going forward, backward or sideways. Each direction can be mapped to an action in your apps. For example, you could map one to the undo and redo action in Photoshop.
Plus you can also assign these actions to the side buttons and horizontal scroll wheel as you can with the mode switching button.
Really, this mouse is customization heaven!
It also comes with a USB-C port! No more fiddling to connect it! It has a Quick Charge feature where one minute of charging gives you 3 hours of use! And it even last 70 days on a full charge!
The MX Master 2S was an incredible mouse that I did not think could be made that much better. Logitech took the challenge head first and impressively past all expectations! The MX Master 3 hardware is better on all fronts, the customization is incredible, it even has a new sensor and finally uses USB-C with a 1-minute quick charge for 3 hours!
What else can I say other than, run and buy this incredible mouse! You will not regret it!!!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 14:18
I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.
After testing a first office chair model, Nightingale offered me to try another very different model, a model with a more modern look. At first glance they are right, this model offers a special combination of fabric, leather and mesh. But there are many other differences.
First of all, let’s talk about the model number. The chair is called IC2 7300, WH means “white” and D means adding an optional headrest. So the model tested is knowned as IC2 7300D WH.
In comparison with the CXO 6200D the 7300 IC2 is less impressive (in terms of size and weight) and we see it as soon as the box comes out of the truck. It is much lighter and the reason is mainly the use of plastic instead of metal on several components. Rest assured, none of these components have poor build quality, it is not a barter where we can be losers.
The IC2 7300WH uses a main axis made of shiny metal as well as the five branches for the wheels. The width of the branches ratio versus chair height is slightly smaller than the CXO and it’s probably not a bad thing if you don’t like getting your legs on the castors. The seat can be covered with leather or fabric and the back rest with elastic mesh (named Ablex) or leather, all choosable options according to your taste.
The assembly is the first step you take with the chair and it can even be done without instructions. A single page explains how to attach the headrest and other than that it comes fully assembled (the central axis included!).
This chair offers a wide variety of adjustments. The first one is obviously the height, but a very nice feature is a rocking mode resistor that can be adjusted infinitely. By turning a knob, it increases the resistance until your weight can not tilt the chair. Nightingale calls this the Galileo mechanism. We can also adjust the seat depth by making it move from the front to the back …
An adjustable lumbar support in the X and Y axes, from top to bottom and from rear to front is included. The arm rests are adjustable according to the width direction, forward / backward, up / down and left / right. They call this 4D adjustment. Finally, if you have opted for a headrest, it can be adjusted up and down and rotate on its axis to provide the best angle to your head and adjust when you balance yourself back on the chair with the Gallileo feature.
All theses adjustments make the IC2, a very comfortable and very customizable chair. Being more configurable than other models, you also have the famous memory foam that I loved so much about CXO 6200, the back rest can be made of Ablex mesh or leather. The final price of the IC2 can vary greatly depending on your selections.
We instantly see the same build quality as other products from Nightingale, the chair is a good balance between strength and weight to be stable without being ridiculously heavy. Even adjusting the headrest has improved in comparison with the CXO 6200. It is more difficult to move and it’s a very good thing, once adjusted it keeps its position.
The back rest is significantly narrower than I imagined. This is not a problem for many people, but I prefer a larger back rest to properly support my shoulders. Especially when I rock the chair backwards. The armrests are very convenient, because in addition to the 3 axes, we can remove them or bring them closer to the seat. Also, they can drop much lower, enough to get under the desk. Very handy when a kid has to use the office!
The seat of the chair tested was covered in leather, a good quality leather well assembled and firmly molded to the shape of the seat. This seat has a concave shape, like a bucket type seat, very comfortable upright, but as I often place a leg under theother, this becomes very uncomfortable. This chair is not suitable for fans of a (bad) position.
Again Nightingale offers a high quality product that, considering its options, is more configurable and therefore more affordable than many other models. We loved its feature set and its very customizable nature, more than many other more expensive chairs. The back rest, lumbar support and the headrest are virtually perfect. The seat is also perfect for an upright position, but not for someone who crosses his legs.
The big news is the tilting mecanism and I must say it is something I really appreciate during an intense debugging session where stretching this way allows to take a step back and kill a persistent bug.
As tested, this model is also very design and will easily fit in any office. Just be sure to try the chair in the store to be sure that you will be comfortable with the various positions you take when you get home.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 10:20
I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.
For the freelancer or the office worker that have a generous boss, finding a comfortable and ergonomic chair is quite an adventure. I have found a specific model that brings together all the interesting ergonomic adjustments and a few special features. It’s already been a few weeks that I’m testing the ergonomic Nightingale CXO 6200D chair.
As soon as you get your chair, you’ll see that a bit of assembly is required. Don’t be scared, we are far from the IKEA pamphlet, here we only have a single page for the chair and a small page for the headrest. Once all is unpacked, all you have to do is position the piston on the legs platform, cover with the plastic cap and finally drop the chair on top of the piston. Everything fits perfectly into place and not screws are needed.
As for the headrest, all you need to do is screw it on the back of the chair and cover the screws with a little plastic cover. The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes, but be sure to get some help if you have trouble lifting the chair. It’s quite heavy since most of its construction is made of metal!
The CXO 6200D is a different model from the CXO 6200. The “D” in the model means it has the headrest option added to the base model. The chair itself offer more than 10 adjustments to perfectly fit your body. This is great, but the CXO 6200D also has a few other tricks in its sleeve and some of them really make this product stand out of the crowd.
First of all, the backrest is made of elastic fabric. This gives you a great air flow for these long programming summer days! The other feature that makes the CXO 6200D really stand out of other similar products is its memory foam seating! Not a cheap memory foam that will completely collapse under your weight like some other products on the market, I’m talking about a memory foam here that offers comfort and support at the same time!
Once everything is installed, now comes the moment to change all the adjustments and adapt it to your test. But before talking about all of the adjustments, I want to talk about the seat rest. This might seem silly, but being someone that can work hours without standing up, I need to change my seating position regularly, and the one I prefer (yes, I know it’s totally wrong to do so) is when I cross my legs so that one of my calve rests below my thigh.
With the CXO I have quickly realized that the memory foam seat rest offers a great support and really shapes to your bottom and thighs. After a few seconds, we totally forget about it and we really feel as if we were sitting on a cloud! Also, the memory foam is quite thick and it’s rounded shape in the front is also very comfortable to the back of your knees.
Let’s start with the classic, the pneumatic piston that adjusts the vertical height according to your height. Placed at the right of the chair, it’s very easy to reach and the adjustment is well balanced. We can also adjust the seat rest position from front to back to get closer to the back of your knees and offer a complete support all along your thighs. The way it works is exactly like in your car! I love it!
The back rest is usually kept in a up straight position, but if you prefer you can unlock it to give you an almost lied down position. A control is located to the left of the chair and can lock or unlock at the precise angle you prefer. To accompany this adjustment, there is also a turning knob that can adjust the resistance of the movement. The more your turn it clockwise, the harder you need to lie down to actually move the back rest down.
One of the peculiar features of the CXO 6200 is the way the chair reacts when you lie down on the back rest. This is not a dumb movement, the back rest movement is synchronized with the seat rest so that they all slightly adjust to keep a comfortable position and keep your feet on the ground.
The lumbar support is also very customizable, not only can you move it up or down like many ergonomic chairs, you can also move it forward and backward to augment or diminish the intensity of the support. Extra points to Nightingale because of the included memory foam on it!
The arm rests are also highly configurable as it’s most of the time the part that needs more flexibility on ergonomic chairs, but not on the CXO. We can adjust the height of the arm rests, the lateral spaces to accommodate larger individuals, we can make them pivot left or right and even slide from the back to the front and vice versa. You will find an ideal setup, no questions about it!
On the reviewed model, the CXO 6200D, the optional head rest was included. You can adjust the height of the head rest to fit your height using a ratchet-like mechanism. This means that from the lowest position you can click your way up step by step but cannot go lower until you reached the last position. This is also the same mechanism for the lumbar support height adjustment. Both the lumbar support and head rest have the same memory foam as the seat rest. A little extra that adds a lot of comfort to all these parts!
Once assembled and installed in my office, I have started the adjustment process. Everything as mostly done without consulting the included instructions since all the adjustment knobs and levers are easy to access and intuitive. I have then consulted the documentation to be sure everything was properly setup. Since that initial setup more than 2 weeks ago, I have only very slightly adjusted the lumbar and head rest support.
I’m always attracted to the memory foam products and I will even replace my mattress with one made up of this material in the future. I was, however, concerned about the density of the foam selected not being high enough to offer a real support. Once seated on it, however, you only need a few seconds for the memory foam to adjust and the “cushion under your bottom” feeling disappears. The ultimate comfort!
And since the head rest has the same material, it really is relaxing to throw yourself on the back and lie down to think of the best way to squash those bugs!
Thanks to the mesh back support, your back stays cool even during those hot humid days. On the downside, I had issues adjusting the head rest since it was moving up too quickly and I kept missing the height adjustment I as looking for. I had to start over a few times to “aim” better and finally get the position I was looking for.
If you are looking for a great quality product that will totally adapt itself to you, look no further! The CXO 6200D offers enough adjustment settings to enable you to take a very comfortable position. The use of memory foam adds a lot tot he comfort, something I had never experienced. We completely forget that we are sitting on an office chair! I would have made the ratchet mechanism easier to use and “aim” to the wanted position. I keep having to reset and try again multiple times to get it right. Available in more than 10 colors, leather and fabric, and backed by a lifetime limited warranty the CXO 6200D will be the best tool in your work toolbox as well as a great ally to let go some steam on your computer!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 20:00
With all of those new phones and headphones that are compatible with wireless charging, we start to have more and more choices on the market. mophie known for their battery pack had to jump on the charging train. This is why they have worked a few charging pucks for your house. One of the, the Wireless Charging Pad has a few quirks that make it stand out of the crowd.
The Wireless Charging Pad is available in either black or white and it has a very low profile design. It is made of different types of plastic and really looks good! It can fit any types of room and will not scream at you “technology” like some futuristic looking gizmo can often do. It does not stand out and I think for a utility like gadgets this is perfect.
You rest your phone on it and it charges. It does so quicker than with most other chargers too!
The performance side of things of a wireless charger basically comes down to how fast can the charger charge your device. In the case of the Mophie Wireless Charging Pad, it does so with 7.5W of power using the latest Qi-compatible hardware. This means that you can charge your phone 50% faster than what the included 5W charger allows.
Given that for a long time wireless charging was not very efficient, this 7.5W charging is a very good thing. It means that most of the energy is transferred to the device and not all of it is lost as heat.
It also allows you to charge through a 3mm case on your iPhone. As long as it’s not a battery or a metal case, it should be good for most of the cases on the market. It also works with the 2nd generation AirPods case and the AirPods Pro too. Given that it is compatible with the Qi standard, any compatible Android handset will work too.
If you have not tried wireless charging, you quickly get addicted to it. You probably already have the reflex of letting your phone rest on your desk, now with a good wireless charger it can gain a few percentage points quickly and those periods where you leave your phone resting would mean that it would get charged. On a normal day it might not matter that much, but that day when you go out with friends and you are a 96% and they are at 20% will make a huge difference! This is one very convenient habit to gain!
The current wireless charging technology is still not as efficient as wired charging, thus the charging pad becomes hot after charging for a few minutes. It’s not scolding hot, but it’s definitely very hot. I’ve seen worst in the past, so I am sure we getting towards a more efficient future but we are still not there.
If you are looking for an alternative, we previously reviewed the mophie Charge Stream Pad+ that can provide 10W of fast charging for compatible devices.
If you are on the lookout for a powerful yet stylish wireless charger, the Wireless Charging Pad by Mophie is one of the best out there. It charges your phone more efficiently than other alternatives and does so with more power than most charger, which means your phone is charged up much faster.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 15:00
CalDigit is making a great lineup of storage products, which includes a tiny rubberized external SSD, the Tuff Nano, for which I already have professed my love for. But what happens if you need a bigger hard drive than what the Tuff Nano offers? Well, CalDigit offers the AV Pro 2, a versatile external hard drive with extra ports and power for charging your laptop!
The AV Pro 2 is a slick aluminum external drive dock that comes with your choice of storage. It can be placed horizontally or vertically in a small transparent plastic holder and offers extra connectivity that a simple external drive does not.
The AV Pro 2 is powered from a wall outlet and provides 30W of power to charge your laptop. Not enough to replace an outlet for the latest MacBook Pro, since these require 90W and more, but enough to charge it while idle or while doing light usage.
The single Thunderbolt 3 cable that goes from the AV Pro 2 to your laptop carries data and power. You also have an extra slim USB-3 port and two old fashion USB-A ports for USB drives or memory card reader. They can also charge other devices like your iPhone with a 7.5W charge.
CalDigit is known to make very Mac centric products and this one is no different. It comes with software to easily mount or unmount drives and even works with the Apple SuperDrive.
The tested model includes a Hitachi 4TB hard drive. This does not allow me to fully test the performance of the AV Pro 2 since the Hitachi has a lowered maximum speed than what the CalDigit AV Pro is capable of. The SSD version of the AV Pro 2 has a maximum advertised speed of 430MB/s.
As you can see from the gallery, I’m only able to reach about 145MB/s in read and write depending on the tool used. For photo editing and backup purposes, this is enough but if you are editing 4K video, you should consider the SSD version.
If you already have an SSD lying around, you should check out the enclosure only version which only costs 54$. This way you could get the best bang for your bucks.
There are ways to make the AV Pro 2 even better, and I really hope CalDigit is taking notes here. ;) Cranking up the power to 100W would be ideal given that the new 16” MacBook Pro has a 96W power requirements (61W for the 13” MacBook Pro). This way you could work, and render computational heavy tasks all day without a hitch!
The data interface being limited to 430MB/s should be upgraded to allow full Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s performance and thus reach theoretical speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s! The most popular SSD NVMe stick on Amazon is the Samsung 970 EVO SSD 1TB which only costs 168$ and can do 3,500 MB/s read and 2,500 MB/s read. Given the incredible speed at which this SSD stick can run I can only dream of installing one in the next AV Pro and benefit from the awesome speed Thunderbolt 3 can provide!
It’s good that the AV Pro 2 presents itself as a dock, and I really like the extra port, but since we are now in 2020, there should also be at least one extra USB-C port (ideally two) and an SD card reader. I’m currently running an Elago Thunderbolt 3 Dock at work and the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock at home, only the one from OWC has an SD card reader and I use it constantly. Perhaps this is more for someone like me, but I think the SD card reader would be a nice bonus!
Having a sort of two in one where you have an external storage and dock all-in-one is a very good idea and I really love the design of the AV Pro 2. However, if you only need storage this is not the best use of your money. You would have much better performance out of the Tuff Nano by CalDigit with its 1,055MB/s speeds. But if you need a solution to charge your Mac laptop, increase your storage and have a dedicated space to plug in your memory card reader, or USB sticks, then the AV Pro 2 is the dream device that can fit all of your needs! Also, it looks great in all its aluminum glory! Just make sure you wisely choose speed or space with regards to your specific needs.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-14 12:59
If you missed my written review you can read the whole piece right here. And I just added a video version of the review. Now you can do as the kids say these days and hit Like and Subscribe on YouTube!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-23 11:36
One of the best esk8 of 2019 are now slashing their prices. Have a look at the X1 and X1 Pro with or without the Riot pack!
Head over to my review of the Exway X1 while you’re thinking about buying an Exway X1 or even X1 Pro. They are all on sale, just make sure to double-check the price and use the coupon
EXWAY50 on checkout to get a 50$ off the advertised price!
Looking at these, getting an X1 Pro with Riot pack for only 699$ is an incredible value! You get the longer rage of 16 miles and a kickass belt system!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-10 12:00
Are you breaking Lightning cables all the time? I have three kids so yes, we are breaking cables. The feel more like consumables now that I think of it 🤔. There is a solution to this, and not one that is just functional, it also looks damn sexy! Nomad makes great leather products, but they also made killer cables. The latest line of Kevlar reinforced offers an intricate design as well as a great looking, almost matte black everything!
The Lightning Cable with Kevlar (3m) is the model I tested. It’s also offered in USB-C to Lightning, with either 1.5m or 3m and as the Universal Cable; a cable with Lightning, USB-C and micro-USB on one end.
This cable has a very peculiar construction. It’s not only wrapped in Kevlar, but it also has Kevlar in the central code, a thin but super-resistant line of Kevlar in the middle that make sure it can withstand being pulled and wrapped around things for years!
The cable being solid is great, but if you’re like me you know that the connector is usually where cable breaks, splits or completely gets destroyed! This is why Nomad chose to use metal alloy connectors attached to a thick rubber part that allows it to bend slightly, but it’s also strong enough to absorb lots of force. This tells me that it will resist over time and not flake out like very flexible versions of other Lightning cables.
I’ve only had this cable for a few weeks, but I did try to abuse it by pulling on it hard, flexing it, playing tug-of-war with a bear… Ok, maybe that last bit is not true but I did play rough with it. Still works like a charm!
Giving regular everyday wear, I am sure this cable will stand the test of time. The only culprit I can see is the Lightning connector that could eventually either go bad as those PINs can be abused since they are not meant to withstand as much abuse as Kevlar!
However, in all my years of using a Lightning cable, I never got a PIN go wrong, but I had many cables break near the plastic connector, so in reality it might not even be an issue.
The Lightning Cable with Kevlar by Nomad is one good-looking cable with its dark colours and with its awesome construction with Kevlar in its core and its braided exterior, this cable will be here in many years! I have no problem imagining this cable still going strong, even after years of abuse by my kids!
As a bonus, it also looks great in a car! With the leather and the dark vinyl of a car, this can go very well with this cable!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-09 11:39
How do you mix a great design case with a shiny plastic product like the AirPods? You could wrap them in silicone, but what if you are looking for a more premium material like leather? You could probably find a cheapo case something on the Internet, but what if you were actually looking for a quality leather product?
Made of genuine, vegetable-tanned leather, the Rugged Case for AirPods comes in two pieces that fit perfectly on your AirPods case. No glue, just precision design allows these parts to hold on very tightly to your case.
If you have the 2nd generation AirPods with the Wireless Charging case, they even included a small hole to see the LED when charging them. The case has a wrap around matte plastic bumper where the logo is situated. It goes from plastic to leather in a very seamless fashion.
And yes, it smells great! A truly good smell of leather like other high quality leather products! It’s not every day that I smell my AirPods, but today with the Rugged Case on, they do smell incredible!
Opening up the package is great! You have that feeling of opening the box of a quality product. And if you’re like me, you take a good sniff of that fresh leather! After all, I tasted the Nintendo Switch cartridge with the repulsive taste so kids don’t swallow the carts, for science.
The Rugged Case comes in two parts, both of which you install on your AirPods case. The right way please, not like me 🤦🏻♂️. Once I got them installed correctly, you really have to jam it hard since the tolerances are so minimal, but once you got it in place, thankfully, it won’t budge! They feel great!
The case closing gesture does sound differently, less “plasticy” and more bassy, I really like that change of pitch! In hand they do not feel that much bigger, and the leather does not affect its ability to open or close. The hinge mechanism is unhindered by the leather and the port is well exposed so that most if not all Lightning cables can be plugged in.
The leather is supposed to age well, becoming more matte, giving it more of a rugged look, hence the product name! I really like that! It should take 100 days, so I’ll report back in 3 months!
If you are looking for a great Christmas gift for a loved one, or just for yourself, the Rugged AirPods Case by Nomad is a must buy! Not only do you get quality Horween leather, but it will age beautifully, it has been designed to fit perfectly with your case and it’s not that thick for your pockets!
I highly recommend this to people that want a better-looking AirPods case to add character and style to their Everyday Carry!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-06 12:48
The AeroPress, this small portable coffee maker that is loved so much that it is often used as a comparison when making or tasting coffees. They even have a competition every year to crown the best coffee recipe using an AeroPress.
It is loved by many, yours truly included, and is often brought in travels because all you need is grinder coffee and hot water. This way no matter if you are on a remote beach or the highest summit, you can brew and awesome cup of coffee!
The AeroPress Go is a new model that is even smaller, but it has been redesigned to include all the accessories in one tightly closed AeroPress with a big red rubber cap. We are all up for redesigns to make the products we love better but how better is it really?
The first thing you see is the size of the new Go, it’s much shorter but retains the same diameter. It’s also less wide on the plunger side. Still keeping its hollow structure the biggest change is that you can now store away everything in there and cover it all with a rubber cap.
The scoop has changed slightly, but the biggest change is the stirrer, is now foldable and has more of a L shape. This allows it actually fit inside the hollow plunger part. There is also a new paper filter holder that can hold about 20 filters, or the great Able Brewing metal filters and a few more paper ones.
The cap is a big flexible rubber cap that can be easily washed. It also serves as a shock absorber if you are clumsy like me and drop things all the time!
All the parts are Made in the USA! This is something very uncommon nowadays and I’m happy AeroPress decided to do this!
As you can see from the above video, the AeroPress Go is much smaller than the regular version, but it can brew good amounts of coffee still. You can do espresso-style or American-style coffee by adding a bit of hot water to the extracted coffee. The techniques are the same, be the regular way or the inverted way, they both work properly. You can still use a mug or the provided container.
Cleaning is as simple as before, but where the Go really shines is when you pack it away. Its smaller footprint and new design really allows you to throw it in your bag. It not only is easier not to forget part of the kit, since it gets stored easily in one single unit, but it makes the same coffee, coffee lovers enjoy!
The AeroPress Go is a must-have! A product that any coffee drinker should have, not only for travelling, but also for everyday drinking! It does an amazing job at extracting all of the good taste of freshly grinded coffee beans. It’s basically just a joy to use, clean, and it’s always ready for more.
You should really look into pre-ordering the AeroPress Go! I’m keeping mine close to my vest for everyday coffees and for travels!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-29 12:50
Even if your Mac has 1TB or even 2TB, you will eventually need more storage. Sadly, you can’t simply swap out the hard drives like in the good old days of the black MacBook; checkout this sick video from 512px after you read this review! You can attach an external hard drive, but chances are you won’t get much faster than 100 MB/s, so forget about manipulating your photo library or even editing videos. You need something fast, you need something almost as fast as the internal SSD of your MacBook Pro!
CalDigit just released the Tuff Nano, a compact shockproof NVMe SSD drive that can reach new highs in terms of transfer speed. So much so that it should not feel “external” at all!
The Tuff Nano is as if the smaller sibling of the Tuff external drive got exposed to gamma rays and because the Incredible Tuff. It’s about the size of a credit card and comes with a rubber bumper that absorbs shocks. It’s also rated IP67 and is using a USB 3.2 Gen2 interface to get the fastest speed possible thanks to its built-in NVMe solid-state architecture.
But unlike other external rubber adorned drives, this one is no slouch. According to CalDigit, it can reach 1055 MB/s, yes, + 1GB per second of file transfer speed! 🤯
It comes in a hard plastic case, very useful for storing it away in a shelf and two very short USB cables. The first one is USB-C on both ends, and Thunderbolt 3 compatible, and the other is USB-C to USB-A.
The SSD mounts very quickly to macOS, but that’s clearly not why you are coming here :) Just before I jump into the performance, I must say that I dropped it a couple of times. I’m so clumsy, sometimes I’m wondering if I don’t have toes in the place of fingers… It survived the drops, yes multiple of them. Not a scratch.
I like the protection, but without it, it also looks very slick!
Alright, alright, I’ll talk about the performance! So my trustworthy old pal QuickBench is part of the casualties of moving to macOS Catalina, the guys and girls behind it abandoned it years ago and sadly, it had to die. If I could have a second Tuff Nano, I could have booted of a version of Mojave on it… 🤔 CalDigit, did you read that? 😜
I used three different software to test the speed of the Tuff Nano, AJA System Test, BlackMagic DiskSpeed Test and ATTO Disk Benchmark.
AJA reports top speeds of 968 MB/s read and 730 MB/s write, both quite fast and barely under the advertised top speed of the manufacturer.
Here, with BlackMagic DiskSpeed Test we get slightly slower results than the previous test with 918 MB/s read and 696 MB/s write. Still very impressive.
And finally, ATTO DiskBenchmark reports the fastest results of the bunch with 1,020 MB/s read and 774 MB/s write. We crossed ~Warp 10~ the Gigabit limit! This is the first external storage device I test that surpassed the 1,000 MB/s! Very impressive! 👏
The little, but immensely powerful, Tuff Nano from CalDigit really is a speed demon, wrapped in a soft candy-coloured shell that can prevent loss of data if dropped. But the greatest thing about this little drive is that I tested it while as the source of all my files for a Final Cut Pro project, and I could not see any difference compared to my MacBook Pro internal SSD. It was as fast and as responsive as the MacBook Pro.
This means that you can basically extend your non-expandable MacBook Pro storage in a form factor that is so compact that it fits in your jeans pocket. The model test is the 512GB and I’m sure I read a 1TB model was coming out eventually, but I might have dreamt it. CalDigit, please bring out a 1TB model! This would be incredible for large video editing projects!
Fast, sturdy, versatile and colourful, what else could go as perfectly with a Macintosh?
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-22 13:05
When writing articles, there is one single tool that saves your ass, every, single, time. This tools a good corrector, but one that does not simply correct typing errors. It needs to go deeper and understand the meaning of what you typed! For me, this tool is Antidote and has been for over a decade!
Almost every year, you see an update to the software suite and every year I’m looking forward to see what new ideas the team at Druide Informatique has thought of! This year is a big year, Antidote 10 is their latest release with a ton of new features.
It is not the first year they offer the option to purchase a bilingual version of Antidote, but thankfully they do and for people like me that write both in English and in French, this is a real treat!
Dark Mode is probably the most apparent feature out of the box, but believe me this is not the only one that is new. Just have a look at this page for the complete list.
Faster performance that is felt all around the app is the second one that pops to mind. New words, bigger and better dictionaries, even a new antonym dictionary in English and a ton more smarts makes this version a must-have.
It can now detect distant duplicate words and offer better explanation and examples on how to fix sentence structure. You are asked a few more questions when setting up the software which will help its engine better tailing the correction to you personally.
I’ve been using this software for a bit over a month and tested it on both French and English articles I wrote. Not only is it substantially faster, I really find the explanation of the errors more useful than in previous versions. Apart from the quick typos I often make, it highlights certain structures that do not seem wrong on a first read but could really get better. This is where the power of Antidote comes in.
It’s capable of finding complex structures and provides an explanation and example that are most useful! Finally, when you are done correcting, the Copy and Close button saves me from typing a keyboard shortcut and closing the app. Subtle, but oh so useful!
I’m not often looking into the various dictionaries, but as usual, they are increasing in size and the offer is getting ridiculously great!
If you compare a text you wrote in Word and then pass it through Antidote, you will get so many more things to fix! Not necessarily a red squiggly line, which means an error, but mostly you’ll get orange squiggly lines. These mean you need to pay attention to how you said things. It’s really worth it if you are serious about your writing.
Once again, Druide Informatique put out an impressive product that is forever getting better, smarter and now faster. I cannot find a single problem with the app and I am lucky to have it. As I said in the introduction, you must purchase such a product if you are serious about your writing be it in French or in English. Antidote 10 is the product to get and has been for the last decade.
I strongly hope you will check it out, totally worth its price! Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, in either English, French or Both languages; as full price product or as upgrade, you really have the choice! You can even start with one language, and add a module for the other language later.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-22 11:11
Finding the perfect silicone case for your iPhone is not an easy task. There are many of them out there but few are of great quality. Here is one other to consider for your next purchase, the elago Cushion case is made of flexible TPU that promises to absorb the shocks while at the same time add a dash of colour to your iPhone.
Made of a single piece of what they call Robust TPU, the Cushion Case protects your iPhone by surrounding it with a “thicker than a slim case” protection. Easy to put on and remove, I put it through its paces for the last couple of weeks.
It does protect against drops, as I’m a clumsy human and drop my phone often. Not from 5-6’ but often from 3’ or less. It stuble quite a few times, and there is not a single scratch on my iPhone 7 Plus.
The case is grippier than the phone, which is a good thing. At first it was too grippy, but over time it changed a bit and lost a bit of its grippyness. That’s a good thing because with some pants it was harder to slip the phone in or out. Now it’s much better.
Available for multiple phone models, the Cushion Case is an interesting alternative to Apple’s silicone case. I recommend it and invite you to look at it.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-18 12:21
After multiple years and multiple pairs of noise-cancelling headphones, I’m happy to see that Sennheiser is still working hard on this type of product! After testing the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2 in 2016, I was impressed by the choice of materials, the sound quality and the noise cancellation it offered. Remember that in 2016, you mostly only had the Bose QC35 that did active noise cancellation and the Momentum were like a breath of fresh air since they had a much better sound quality and also offered noise cancelling. Best of both worlds!
Sennheiser recently launched the Momentum 3, their third foray into the world of impressive audio reproduction, noise cancellation and now with a hint of smart assistant sprinkled on top.
Keeping with tradition the Momentum 3 are still adorned of leather on both the ear cups and the head band. They still offer the same type of metal band slider for adjusting the position of the ear cup and their curly cable that connect both ear cups through the head band.
The tested model was the black one, this time around we only have a single colour to choose from. The black leather, matte black plastic and the brushed aluminum make this a killer combo to look at! One feature that I really love, and most people will think it’s useless, the L and R are actually printed inside the ear cup in big letter so it’s very easy to know how to put the headset on the right way.
The Momentum 3 comes in a nice fabric case for storage and protection, and it comes with a 3.5m audio cable and one USB-C to USB-C cable. There is also a USB-C to USB-A adapter for when you do not have a USB-C port to plug into. You’re all set with older tech and newer tech out of the box!
Before we jump into the sound performance and active noise cancellation, there are a few tricks up the Momentum 3 sleeves that warrant a look. The headset is stored away inside it’s own little case and when you unfold them, they automatically turn on. There is no ON/OFF button, just this gesture is enough.
And just like AirPods, when you set them on your head, they resume playing! You heard right, when you put them around your neck or remove them from your head they pause the music and resume when they are back on your ears. It’s not just an angle thing, they really are looking for some pressure that tells them they are on your head. Very smart!
And when you are done, and you fold them back on them, they turn off to save battery life. Speaking of battery life, Sennheiser advertises 17 hours of listening time and I can vouch for that. It sure does seem longer than this since they are constantly closing when you store them away. I mainly use them in my commute and they can last a good two weeks if I don’t use them during the day or night. It’s very impressive.
The right ear cup has all of the controls, which means you can play/pause, increase and decrease volume and now trigger the smart assistant of your phone with a dedicated button. The other 3-way switch there allows you to toggle between noise cancelling, transparent listening or simply passive with all features turned off is located at the top.
I have some trouble moving my finger to locate which button is the play/pause button since they are so thin, I kind of wished they were bigger. The 3-way button is great, though, I can easily hit that and switch the modes.
Since the headset automatically restarts what was playing on your mobile device, I almost never use the side buttons. Just like AirPods, it resumes and pauses when you put them on or off. It’s a very pleasant experience!
When we are using a Sennheiser product, the main feature we are expecting is great audio quality and the Momentum 3 do not fall short of this. Once again, we have great balanced audio that is both clear and has just enough bass so that you feel it appropriately in a bass heavy song. Now, these are not Beats headphones, so you will not have an unbalanced sound with too much bass. I would compare the sound EQ to the Sony MDR7506 with a higher bass and treble response, and a good amount of extra presence. The music feels richer and more engulfing.
To my ears this is far better than the Bose QuietComfort line of products and also, better than the Sony line of noise-cancelling headphones. The Momentum 3 does not disappoint in terms of audio reproduction!
The active noise cancelling has been put through its paces in the subway, bus, walking next to traffic and even next to construction workers. I stopped and listened to my music while the construction workers were making all kinds of noise, some shorts like bangs, others more constant and in all situations they were almost completely gone! Where the Sennheiser algorithm is best is when there is constant humming. I’ve tried them with low pitch and high pitch humming and in all situations, the sound was completely gone. This was very impressive.
The side effect of all that noise cancellation is that I rarely have to increase my volume over 50-60% to be bathed in awesome music!
I’m not a big fan of the transparent listening, as I’m wearing headphones only when I really want to exit reality and lose myself in music, podcast or a great movie. However, when I did try it on the street I was able to be aware of my surroundings. The sound was very balanced so that I could hear the outside world but not too much such that I wanted to turn it off or lower the “outside world volume”. The few times I had to try it, it was better than I expected and also better than other headsets I tried in the past.
As it is the case with most of our devices nowadays, there is a mobile app with quite a few options. The Smart Control app by Sennheiser allows you to pair your device to your phone and set a few key settings. Among them is the level of the noise cancellation. Not everyone finds the same level of noise cancellation comfortable; therefore you can hop into this app and change it to the ideal level.
Same thing goes for the transparent hearing level that you can also configure in the same way. Finally, an EQ allows you to personalize how the headphone sounds to your ears. Love more bass, just raise the lower frequencies. There are also a few other settings that you should at least visit once. You can for example, stop the music when you turn transparent hearing ON and disable Smart Pause when you remove the headset. Not sure why you would like to do so, but to each their own!
Once again Sennheiser is offering an impressive headset with an amazing quality both in the design and material used, as in the feature set it offers. One of the best audio quality paired with a super effective noise cancellation technology, transparent listening and a complete set of user-configurable options that leaves some other headset crying for more. The Momentum 3 headset is worthy of its name and it takes what the Momentum and Momentum 2 offered to an all-new level by pushing the envelope even further.
I sincerely can’t find much wrong with this headset. It’s comfortable, it’s audio performance is top and it’s packed with features that you normally find sprinkled on competitor headsets but this time, one headset has them all. I remember being shocked at the quality of the Momentum 2 and I’m happy to report that if you liked them, you will love the latest Momentum 3 headset! I can’t say enough good things about this product, and if you are looking for the perfect marriage of audio performance and noise cancellation, don’t look any further!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-13 17:57
It was expected for a long time, but it finally appeared out of the mist. The new MacBook Pro 16-inch is now amongst us! 🛎️
At 8:30 this morning, a bunch of content dropped from tech reviewers that got their hands on it last Tuesday. After a full day and a half, we have overviews, interviews and lots of information!
The MacBook Pro 16-inch is 80% faster than its predecessor, has a lot more options so each professional can customize this machine to better suit their needs. Lots of RAM or lots of space, or why not the best GPU acceleration, you can pick and choose and now for the first time, you get 2, 3 or 4 different options.
MKBHD was one of the first to drop his video overview with a few sick shots as usual. Very impressive.
On the podcast side of things, we got an ATP episode with Marco since he got a review unit and went to the press briefings. As a hater of the butterfly keyboard he’s so happy we now have a scissor switch system again!
We also got an episode of Upgrade with an interview with Shruti Haldea, Apple’s MacBook Pro product manager. Great insights into the MacBook Pro.
And finally, Jonathan Morrison interviewed Phil Schiller about the new MacBook Pro and even went as far as to record his own voice during the interview on the MacBook Pro. He’s also preparing a review with a singer that recorded a song on the MacBook Pro microphones. Crazy!
There is more content, but I think this covers the recent announcement :)
The MacBook Pro starts at 2,399$, same price as before, but double the drive space with new CPUs and most importantly a new cooling system to make sure the CPUs runs at their peak performance, all the time!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-12 11:42
After trying many boards with various quality of parts, it’s very refreshing to see a collaboration between brands with a great reputation and an engineering company that has a powerful motor and battery kit to offer. Unlimited Engineering partnered with Loaded to offer a few kits that include a Loaded board, Paris tucks and even Orangatang wheels!
This is our review of the Unlimited x Loaded Tesseract Race Complete, a dual motor, dual battery that can go faster and offer a crazy acceleration matched by few boards on the market!
The board I was provided for review is a Basalt Tesseract, a W-shape longboard made of solid, quality wood. This is one of the best boards I have seen and its quality is very refreshing compared to cheaper boards with a no-name part. Attached to this board, you have a nice set of Paris V3 180mm trucks, yes, both trucks are actually skateboarding trucks. No cheap copy here.
The wheels are Orangatang Caguamas in 85mm and 80A durometer in the front, and actual Orangatang Happy Thane PU in the back around the hub motors. First time I’ve seen actual Orangatang PU on an electric skateboard. Even the bearings are Loaded Jehu bearings!
Basically, this board has 100% legit skateboarding parts. Then, you add the dual motors and dual battery made by Unlimited Engineering, a powerful kit of motors that can reach speeds of 42 kph and a range of 21 km. With that power, you can also climb a 20% incline hill.
One of the first things people usually want to know is how fast can this thing go. Not that it’s a safe thing to do to always go fast, but often times, you do get a nice flat stretch of street and it’s cool to push it to the max!
The advertised speed is 42kph, but while I was writing this review, an update was pushed a limited the speed to 37 kph until further notice. I did the update unknowingly while I was ramping up my comfort on the board and thus I never got to experience that 42kph.
Out of the limited 37kph I was able to reach 35kph on the remote and 39.8kph on the RideApp. Just a tiny little bit slower than the Exway (40.6kph) but much faster than the 30-32kph on the Boosted Mini X.
I was just hoping the update would be available before the snow got here so I could test this sweet 42kph… The app even says the custom mode is up to 50kph… so there is much more power to be given at a later date.
The advertised range for this dual battery, dual motor model is 21km and given that I’ve mostly ridden in either Pro or Custom mode, I only travelled about 11km in the end of the fall season. That’s a little less than when it was the end of summer where I could easily do 12-13km in the Pro mode.
Moving down to the Eco mode, or Beginner mode, I can see myself reaching 21km easily… but when you are used to speed… it’s hard to go back down. To me the board, fully charged in summer is good to get to work and back, I did so a couple of times and I had about 20% left on the board after a total of about 11km travelled.
Note that once you get into the 20s you do get some battery sag and you won’t be able to ride as fast as when the board is fully charged. It’s surprisingly still going faster than I was expected in those lower percentage digits.
This is where things get very interested. It’s rare that you get so many quality components on an electric longboard. We start with a stiff but large, and comfortable deck, the Loaded Basalt Tesseract. This is a bit bigger than my ideal size, but I really like the quality of the deck!
Then, we got some sick Orangatang Caguamas in their orange hue. With a size of 85mm and 80A durometer, these were wheels I wanted to try out for a very long time. And I understand the reactions of people when they started to use them on their electric skateboards! These are amazing wheels, they have a nice contact surface, a smooth durometer that allows to absorb lots of the road bumps and at 85mm we have a good balance between speed and torque.
The board comes with a few rising pads that also helps a bit. Overall, the board is a lot more comfortable than what I was expecting given the weight and the thickness of the Loaded Tesseract.
You could perhaps add thicker or mushier shock pads or go even larger in terms of wheel size to help with the bumps. Or change the board to be a Loaded Vanguard just like the first two Boosted Boards.
At first I did not think I would love the remote because of its size and shape, but once it’s actually in your hand it’s quite good. It has a nice screen to show your battery level for both the remote and the board, as well as the mode you are in. In the video above, you can see the screen refresh rate seems weird, but with your eyes you don’t see this, it’s perfectly fine.
The remote has two extra features that are quite useful, cruise control and boost. The cruise control works as expected, it allows you to release the throttle and has the board continues on its merry way. I don’t really like cruise control so I did not use it much apart from testing it to see if it works as advertised.
The boost feature is quite cool, it allows you to get a quick acceleration jolt just like when you use a mushroom in Mario Kart! It has a great acceleration but it’s not too jarring, I really like it! The sad thing is that it does not work in the Pro or Custom modes if they are already at the top speed. The reasoning is that it allows you to accelerate just like the Pro mode for a few seconds. If you are already in Pro mode with the top speed, then you cannot go faster. Still very useful for when riding in Eco mode and you want a big boost!
This is very easy with this board as 90% of it is just regular skateboarding parts. The front trucks, wheels, bushings and bearing are all legit regular parts and in the back you have regular trucks, bearings and bushings. The only part that is non-standard is the motor and the Orangatang Happy Tang PU sleeves. But the way you attach a motor is exactly the same as if it was a regular skateboard wheel.
The battery units are self-contained and don’t need any maintenance, the only thing you might need to look into once in a while is the motors themselves, one of my motors probably came a bit loose and turned around the trucks axle putting tension on the cable and ripping the cable rubber a bit. This is because the motor itself is attached only by the bearings to the trucks. If you look at other esk8s, you see that they often time have a peg or a non-circular shaped truck to make sure the motors are well seated and don’t move.
The Unlimited x Loaded Race complete kit is an amazing board with an amazing set of components. Some will say that this board is very expensive and they would not be wrong. When the Boosted Stealth is 1,599$ and you look at what you get in terms of a Tesseract Race Complete kit at the same price, it’s actually more than what the Boosted Stealth is. Better speed, better range, less maintenance and almost all the components are skateboarding parts.
Of course, if you compare it with the Exway X1 Pro at 1,150$ it sure is more expensive, but you get to choose your board, get some renowned quality components and close performance if Unlimited releases the update to bring back the speed to the maximum the board can achieve.
I would also look into this if you already have a longboard and you wish to reuse it, as you can save 150$ and only have to bring your board and your trucks. Or you can always change the board later to a longer or shorter model for a season. Given that the price of Loaded decks are around 150$, you kind of get free trucks, wheels and bearings if you get the complete kit. Good value for that 150$!
The partnership between Unlimited Engineering and Loaded made an awesome board that is more interesting than many boards out there. Albeit on the more expensive side of things, you do get an amazing package that should last you a very long time! I highly recommend this electric longboard!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-12 08:33
This will probably be the shortest review ever. The LGS108 is an unmanaged 8-port desktop switch that is basically plug and forget. There exists also a 5-port version (LGS105) and a 16-port version (LGS116) and a 24-port (LGS124) that look and function exactly the same way.
If you need a PoE+ version, Power over Ethernet for when you need power at the other end like for a security camera, you have even more choices.
Classic Linksys look with the blue and gray design, very square and serious. But given that this is a thing you do not manage nor think about, the solid squared metallic design is perfect.
You do not need to showcase this switch but if you do they do look nice.
The switch behaves exactly like any other appliance in your house. You plug it, and you literally forget it. It’s super stable, rock solid and offers the best performance one can get from an unmanaged switch.
The LED tells you instantly if something is connected and transmitting from the other end of the cable. This is very useful to test your network. The LED also lights up amber if the connection is not a gigabit one. For example, I have older hardware that is just 100Mbits, well they show up as amber.
If you are looking for a solid, metal build, switch that is powerful and offers a real great performance and peace of mind, the Linkssys 8-port Business Gigabit Switch is the one to get. Or the 5-port version or a 16-port version. You have ample choices here :)
I personally have 4 of these little switches in their 5 and 8 port configuration and my network has never been as stable!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-11-08 12:59
After unboxing the Unlimited x Loaded Race kit hooked on a Basalt Tesseract, I’ve had to drive it around the south shore of Montreal and in the city of Montreal with all the cracks and nice, how can I put this politely, vertically curved pavement…
Above you will find a long video review of the board where I go over the performance, ride comfort, mobile app, possible customization and overall experience. At 14:33 it might seem long, but I really wanted to go into the details of this board and include a ton of video footage of different parts of the board and lots of riding clips.
Overall, this is a very impressive board and I really would love you to watch the above video review and leave me a comment on YouTube if you have any question!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-10-29 12:22
After trying multiple electric skateboards of various flavours, I was very curious to see an actual partnership between Unlimited Engineering and Loaded Boards to strap a cool electric system to a quality longboards with 100% legit skateboarding parts made by trusted brands!
This is the unboxing of the Unlimited x Loaded Race Complete as well as an overview of the different parts of the board!
The board is made of only quality know brand parts, which is pretty rare in the esk8 world. The Race model I am reviewing is the dual battery and dual motor version which can go up to 42 km/h and for a range of 21 km.
The particular thing here is not only is the board a Loaded Tesseract, but the trucks are Paris Trucks, the bearings are Loaded and the wheels are Orangatang Caguamas! Including the PU around the hub motors! Very impressive!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-10-17 12:32
Anyone who ever had AirPods knows that one of the worst things about them is the little grains of metal that stick to the inside of the case where the case cover closes. There are numerous techniques you can employ to clean your AirPods. Even after trying all of them, I still had some dark matter residue in there.
Once again, Elago has come up with a cool solution to an everyday problem. The AirPods Dust Guards are very thin pieces of metal that sticks using the existing magnets in your AirPods case and prevents that magnetic grime from getting attached to your AirPods case!
The Dust Guards come in pack of two if you ever rip one out since they are fragile because of their thinness. You simply try to align them inside your AirPods case and off you go. The whole process takes a minute to do and is very simple. You do need good dexterity and a good eye to get them aligned properly.
Once installed, you basically forget about them. You clean the shiny plastic with similar alcohol base solution you would use to clean your phone or your AirPods case. They prevent the accumulation of grime inside the plastic that gets smashed there when the closing of the case occurs.
They are non-permanent and you will most probably often slightly pull on them when you clean the case. Just be a bit more alert to this and you won’t have problems. I’ve had mine on there for many weeks and did a few cleanup sessions without any problems.
I think the metal looks great inside the AirPods case but most of all they really fulfill their role of keeping the inside cleaner. You have one less surface, arguably the worst one, to clean and this is a great thing!
Elago offers two versions of the Dust Guards, one for the original AirPods and one for the 2nd Generation AirPods and as you might be expecting, they come in multiple colours like Gold, Rose Gold and my favourite Matte Space Grey!
If you are concerned with keeping your AirPods clean, the Elago AirPods Dust Guard are the accessory to get, together with a nice rubber case. This is exactly the kind of product I was looking for after not being able to clean my AirPods case completely.
They are simple to install, a bit fragile and thankfully does not impact the case closing mechanism. They do take some space but it’s very negligible. Overall, a great addition to anyone’s AirPods case!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-10-17 11:18
For many the AirPods fit perfectly in our ears, but for some of us it is not the case. Being too tight is the kind of situation where your ear can adapt but of your ear canal is too wide, what can you do? Elago has the solution with the AirPods Secure Fit Covers, a kit of super-thin rubber covers that adds a tiny bit of material around the earbuds to allow a tighter fit.
They come in this very minimalist package with only the two different colour sets, small plastic bags in their cardboard box. Everything is recyclable and the instructions are available online in the form of an installation video.
There is not much to them, they are exactly that, it’s a small piece of rubber that you wrap around the tip of the AirPods. The insulation is quite simple and could be done in a few seconds if you have good dexterity.
Once installed, and placed in my ears I could immediately feel that they were just slightly larger. For someone like me that did not have any problems with the AirPods, the added thickness was very bearable and I can see when your ears are just slightly too large these could come in very handy. The texture is very comfortable and does not slip and the most important of all they fit in the case without any problems.
In the box you have white and gray units to fit to your taste. I noticed that the white ones tend to catch a little bit more of the yellowing from your ear wax than the grey ones.
All in all the Elago Secure Fit Covers are high on my recommendation list or anyone who has small problems with the way the AirPods fit in their ears. If your ears are already too small skip those, but if you were looking for just a small bit of material to give the AirPods a tighter fit, then the Secure Fit from Elago might be perfect for you!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-09-19 09:35
Roku just released updated versions of their streaming devices with the Roku Premiere that provides 4K HDR video out to your television and better Wi-Fi, all this for only 49$CA.
If you are looking for something as good but with HD resolution, take a peek at the Roku Express that sells for only 39$CA. It comes with a nice remote and all the cables you need right in the box. Plus you can now use the Private Listening through your mobile or even Voice Search also through the app.
And finally, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is a great solution for when you are on the go at the hotel or at relative houses, you can quickly plug it in the HDMI port and get your content super easily. For 89$CA, this baby has the nice 4K HDR image and a long-range wireless receiver. It also has the remote with the microphone embedded so you can do quick voice search through the remote. It’s also ideal for wall-mounted TVs since it basically takes no room around your television.
Here’s the pitch:
No subscriptions, fees or logins are required to access hundreds of free movies, TV shows and documentaries, with a selection of box office hits and TV shows featured every month.
This sounds great :D You have access to a ton of content, for free! Here’s a list that compiles some of these examples:
All in all, these are solid products with incredible prices so if you were looking to get your hands on a Roku streaming product now it is the perfect time to do so!