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Colourful pixels on the latest tech
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!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-09-19 08:58
As it is the case every year, I’m really looking forward to Austin Mann’s review of the new iPhone cameras. This year is as good as it gets, a bit of geekiness, a bit of feelings and in the end a great review of what makes those cameras great and some of their quirks.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-09-07 14:09
With the arrival of the AirPods on the market, I’ve noticed people have started to expect a better user experience with their devices. It should be intuitive and just work. Kind of like all of Apple’s products of old, sadly they have steered away from this for many of their later products. With the AirPods in your hands, you would prefer them to work with everything around you, but often times, all you have is a 3.5mm jack. Be it on the Nintendo Switch, in the plane across the country or even some television sets.
Don’t worry, Twelve South has got you covered! The AirFly is their response to exactly this, a small device that pairs with your AirPods over Bluetooth and connects to a dumb device via a 3.5mm jack. Now, I bet you start to see all of the possibilities opening in your mind!
The AirFly cannot be more minimalist, it’s a small rectangular device, very similar to the shape of the iPod Mini from the early 2000s, but more compact. It has a single button that allows you to pair devices and turn the AirFly ON. There are two ports on its side, one micro-USB to charge it and one 3.5mm jack to plug in the provided cable.
It comes in a small gray microfiber pouch for transport. That’s really all there is :) Simplicity at its best. The only thing I kind of wished was that it would either use Lightning or USB-C as the charging port. I don’t really have other devices that required a micro-USB so it’s an extra cable to tag along during trips. With USB-C being the go to replacement and Apple having even embraced it, it feels more natural over micro-USB.
Setting this up could not be simpler, simply hold the single Airfly button down for 10 seconds until it flashes amber and white, then quickly to the same thing on your AirPods or on your Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones, wait a few seconds and the AirFly button should now be solid white.
You can now plug the 3.5mm cable of the AirFly in any dumb device like your television or the in-flight entertainment system of the airplane.
It works exactly as advertised and really brings out the fun of not having dangling cables during your entertainment. For a Nintendo Switch, I would recommend thin Velcro to attach it behind the console but also still fit in the dock. Otherwise, it’s simply dangling there. In terms of battery life the 8 hours is accurate.
Setting it up was a piece of cake, using it is marvellous, I really have nothing negative to say about the AirFly. On my wish list, there is a USB-C port and cable, as they are simply better in terms of usability and if I push this even further, having no cable at all with induction charging, it would be even better. Just drop the AirFly on a charging mat and you’re fully charged in an hour (or maybe even less since the battery seems to be quite small).
Twelve South once again made an amazing product that I highly recommend. A joy to use, just like the AirPods! It’s not perfect, but very close to be! If only it had USB-C and induction charging this product could not be better!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-09-07 12:14
Coming from the Canon world, I still have a few lens around and recently my local photo rental shop did not have the Sony lens I was looking to buy. Therefore, a Canon EF to Sony E mount adapter would have been nice! Well, thanks for the good folks at Fotodiox I have gotten two of them a few weeks prior!
The Fotodiox Pro Fusion Adapter allows you to connect EF lenses to a Sony camera and still keep the autofocus working! This is great because there are a ton of “dumb” adapters that simply line up the two mounts and allows you to manual focus. The Pro Fusion has some smarts inside it allowing it to work with most lenses.
The design of this adapter is quite simple and fits really well sandwiched between a camera and a lens. The metal is of a very nice quality and the added lens mount hole makes for a good mounting solution for tripods.
There is not much to it other than that!
Even though it says it only supports Canon glass from 2006 and more recent, I had a nifty-fifty from the eighties around. That 50mm f/1.8 MKI as it’s called. It does not have a very nice focus system, it’s noisy and slow, but it actually worked! The phase detection could be turned ON but it’s contrary to the manufacturer suggestions, you might experience problems with certain lenses. If you are looking for the equivalent lens for today, it’s the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, it has a much better focusing system compatible with video but the whole thing is made of plastic.
But in my case it was working very well ! As good as on the Canon Rebel XTi camera I had! I did have some problems with focusing at some point and had to power cycle my Sony A7 III.
Then, I rented a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 with once again a Canon EF mount. This time I had issues the first few seconds of using the lens and adapter, but after a power cycle everything was working nicely. The focus is not perfect, it’s slower than it is on a Canon body but it works very well! I did a full photo shoot of my daughter and her friends in a custom Instagram frame I built.
Even after shutting down the camera, the next time it would work fine. I was told I should disable phase detection to have it work fine, but with or without this enabled, I got the same results. From the documentation, they do mention to use it with more recent lenses, as lenses from many decades ago might not work well. That EF 50mm f/1.8 is the MKI, thus it was released between 1987 and 1990, I thought it would be too old, but it worked perfectly.
The documentation also recommends Canon lenses more than other brands like Sigma and Tamron, so it’s a thing to think about. Here is, in short, the ideal types of lenses you should use with this Fotodiox Fusion EF to Sony adapter:
All I can say is your milage may vary. Like I said earlier, an old Canon lens from 1990 worked fine and a Sigma 35mm also had no troubles. But if all of your gear is recent, this might be a quick and inexpensive way to move from Canon to Sony without the need to re-purchase all of your lenses. Sony lenses are notorious for being expensive, so this is a great solution to this problem!
It is not perfect, not does it work as fast or as well as the Metabones EF to E-Mount (Fifth generation), but it’s not 399$ either. The firmware of the Fotodiox Fusion is not upgradable, so if you are looking for something that can evolve over time, look at the Fusion Plus which is sold for 199$. A bit more expensive, but if you rely on newer features like Eye-AF or AF-C for video shooting, it might be a more adapted product.
Overall, I really liked the experience with the Fotodiox Fusion Adapter Canon EF to Sony E-Mount, it worked better than I was expecting, even with very old lenses. I’m planning to rent a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM in a few months and I will use the Fusion mount for sure. It opens up more possibilities with local rental stores that usually offer more Canon than Sony products.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-07-25 07:48
The market for action camera has gotten much wider over the last couple of years, but rare are the actual real contender to the GoPro king of the hill. But this might change with the addition of the Osmo Action by DJI, famous maker of drones and gimbals.
This time around though, no gimbals, no hardware tricks like the Osmo Pocket, it is an action camera pure and refined!
At first glance you might think that the Osmo Action is but a copy of the GoPro design, but when looking closer at it you realized that DJI stood on shoulders of giants and perfected the recipe.
The shape is very cubic and even comes with a similar snap-on case but every part of it is improved. The snap-on Case does not kill your fingers when you try to open it. It’s much easier to open while at the same time, it’s still as sturdy. It also has little holes where LED lights can shine through. The camera itself is similar in that it has top and side buttons, on top we have the power and record button, and on the side the Quick Setting button that allows so switch between modes or toggle the front screen.
Yes, there is a front screen to that camera!! In my video review displayed at the top of this review, I’ve used the feature considerably to record the review of the camera. It’s a square screen but it makes sure you actually know if you are aiming well at yourself for vlogging or for a friend to double-check your helmet attachment angle.
The two filmmaker things that the Osmo Action does incredibly better than GoPro is with the USB-C adapter to plug-in an external microphone. It’s not a dongle of credit-card size like the G, it’s a short adapter that does not dangle needlessly. The second feature filmmakers will really like is the use of a screw-on glass element that can be swapped for an ND filter or Circular Polarizer without any force. On GoPros you can swap the front element but it’s hard and does not feel like it was actually designed for that purpose. PolarPro are selling a kit of 5 polarizers for the Osmo Action.
The case is compatible with regular GoPro attachments so feel free to reuse all of your current GoPro gear!
I took this little camera for a spin, as you can see in the video up there, I had fun testing its capabilities. Let’s go over the main features of the camera but first what is the general feeling of DJI’s first action camera?
This camera is a charm to use. The touch screen is responsive and I was able to find all of the features I was looking for very quickly. The only one I had to Google was how to activate the front screen. You need to long press the QS (Quick Switch) button, or tap the rear screen with two fingers. You can also use the voice control, but I prefer to actually press buttons, it’s much faster for me.
The front facing screen is a good idea to film yourself, be it for a vlog or just when sing a selfie stick. It can also be useful for a friend to make sure everything is centred or angled perfectly. No more guessing game and I love it! Of course, the screen is square but as long as you centre your subject it’s all good.
There is a weird delay when recording that is only happening when recording. I tried to capture this while recording. It’s probably due to the camera working very hard to capture audio and video and it lets the actual front display with a delay to focus on the real thing, you know, recording high quality content!
This is what I was looking forward to the most! The Osmo Action uses a software approach to image stabilization that looks great on product video and I really wanted to know how good it really is. I must say, it is really as good as on the product shots! When walking it removes almost all of the movement, your body makes and if you were to walk slowly rolling your feet from heel to toe, you could most probably remove all of the movement!
The output recording is still in 4K, therefore, it’s not a feature you can only use in 2.7K as some GoPro forces you to do. You have full 4K resolution and 100Mbits of data to work with. Amazing!
Walking, running, skateboarding they all work great! Even when doing lateral moves, the camera follows and stabilizes the footage. DJI really outdone themselves with this stabilization feature! It’s much better than the GoPro 6 I have at home. I have not tried the GoPro 7 which is the current model.
And what about 60p? Well, good news, you can have RockSteady enabled even with 4k60p footage! Once again, you do not need to choose between high framerate or stabilization!
This is where you have to make a choice, sadly. Either you go with the awesome RockSteady stabilization or you go with the better dynamic range of HDR videos. In a perfect world we would be able to have it all, but for a first version of their action cam, I feel this is not too bad.
HDR videos will have to be stabilized in post or only when you are on a steady playing field. The HDR video do add a bit of depth to the image and the shadows are better defined, while the sky is very blue and not overexposed. You can see my review up the article for video examples. I would not choose HDR over RockSteady, that sweet stabilization is so good! But if you know the camera will be stable, go for the HDR, always!
The 8X Slow Motion feature is great because you Quick Switch to it and record, that’s it. It does all of the heavy lifting internally. The output is an HD file with about 25Mbits at 30fps. You can very easily add it to your timeline with no configuration or basically no configuration. Personally, I still prefer 4k60p to get 2.5X slowed down but preserve the 4K resolution. But if you are capturing very, very fast action, it might be worth it to switch to 8X Slow Motion.
Overall, the DJI Osmo Action is one killer product! It just got on the market and already it was priced more aggressively than the GoPro HERO7 Black with 50$ less at 349$ (469$CA) and it packed in so much feature that it can rival the King of the Hill that GoPro is in the action camera market.
The RockSteady stabilization is so powerful that it really is impressive to see. Everyone I showed footage too was very impressed! Plus you get to have 4K HDR or regular 4K60p if you like to. The 8X Slow Motion is a cool go to feature that is confusion and configuration less that makes an awesome little HD clip with zero hassle.
The camera is incredibly well designed, I love the round threaded filter, the snapping case that does not destroy your nails when you to remove the camera from the case and even the more advanced features like 4K HDR and RockSteady leave you impressed. The microphone situation is good but could be made better but you could always use an external mic with a cheap USB-C adapter so at least you got this going. I strongly suggest you look at the DJI Osmo Action as your next action camera for all the boxes it ticks for a first-generation product, this is impressive!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-07-18 17:33
After two good generations of longboards with a great collaboration with Loaded, for the deck, and with Orangotang, for the wheels, Boosted is now ready to build from what they learned and come up with their own products built from the ground up! Last summer they finally released a replacement for the Boosted Board, a super fast version called the Stealth and finally two compact commuter boards, the Mini S and the Mini X. I’m focusing today on the Boosted Mini X, a compact board with the Extended Range battery!
This is the format that people were waiting for many years. Some with more courage actually moved the Boosted Board v2 (38-inch length) tech under a Loaded Truncated Tesseract (33-inch in length). Although it’s an amazing feat, it’s not for everyone’s to do. Many commuters actually use the bus or metro during their commute and there is a real need for a shorter board that does not become a hassle to take with you.
The Mini X is the answer to that need, I know it is because I also have this exact need!
This time around, Boosted build their own composite deck instead of relying on Loaded. Given the short length of the board and the size of the battery, sadly this deck cannot flex at all. It’s totally rigid and I was afraid that this would become a problem for shock absorption having ridden other boards like the Winboard GT-M8 that was also very rigid. The Boosted Mini X board has a deep dish shape which should really help with handling and agility of the board.
As for the wheels, Boosted once again did their own thing with a brand new PU recipe. Their Lunar 80mm wheels should be smooth enough to absorb some of the road bumps but at the same time, not shred to pieces when riding the hard streets of Montreal.
Finally, the underbelly of the beast has the battery in the front and the electronics right after. You can see that this compact board is actually leveraging almost every single millimetre there is to get. The idea is to squeeze in as much battery as possible to increase the range over the Mini S.
Overall, the Mini X looks amazing! I love the dark colour scheme and I’m happy Boosted tried something different than their signature orange! The design and component choice looks to be of good quality and the whole board feels solid.
Before I jump in, I need to give specifics on the board I got for review. This is a refurbished Mini X. This means that the board was ridden before, it had a few scratches here and there and some of the parts were brand new. I did not have any belt service kit included, only the T-tool, the board and the remote.
After riding about 25km with the board, I started to have belt slippage which is easy to fix, but hard to get perfect. Boosted said to have about 1/2-inch movement on the belt once tighten, but I would prefer they actually sold a tool that separates the motor from the trucks at the exact distance it should be. After fixing this and riding some more, I started to hear a weird noise, turns out that both my motors are shot. I contacted Boosted just like every customer does to test the support and they were fast to respond and after sending them videos they quickly sent me two replacement motors.
They took almost 3 weeks to arrive, thus I had to postpone this review as I had almost no footage of the board for the video review. I finally replaced the motors, which is a real joke to do, really simple and really quick. These boards are well designed!
Let’s go over a couple of key points that should give you a good idea on what the board is and how it behaves. Keep in mind that I’m a 6-feet and 250 lbs (113kg) guy that likes to ride fast!
Some of the comparison will be against the Exway X1 which I’ve mostly ridden over the last two summer seasons. The Exway X1 can do 24 mph (38 kph) as its top speed and has a range of about 6-7 km in real life at the fastest speed.
The very first thing I wanted to try was the Expert mode. I’ve ridden an Exway X1 at 38-40 kph every day and I wanted to see how the 32 kph of the Mini X would feel against the faster Exway. This Mini X maximum speed is a good cruising speed on a straight road and should be sufficient for most riders that are now crazy like me.
I would love a couple of extra MPH just to help with passing bikers since on my commute I use the bike lane and share it with fast riders that go around 32-36kph sometimes. The Boosted Stealth has a 4 mph (6.5 kph) faster speed and I kind of wish the Mini X had it too.
I don’t ride most of my commute at full speed but on the few stretches of straight road not too badly damaged I would have loved to have that sweet 38 kph!
Braking is much better than on any hub motors skateboard I have tried. The motors are powerful and they really help in stopping you quickly. Given my weight, I still need to account for a certain distance before a full stop but what I really like is that the power of the motors allow me to reduce the speed quickly when I need to negotiate traffic, pedestrians or bikers.
This is the part that I was the most afraid of. Given my riding style and my size, I was not sure that the promised 14 miles would be much better than what other boards gave me. The Exway is rated at 10 miles (16km), but at the fastest speed and my commute I can do about 5.5 km and have about 30% left. I can stretch my luck to about 7-8km at most though. Not enough for me to go to work and come back home; so I need to charge at work.
The Mini X is able to get me to work and back and I still have about 30-40% of the battery left, which totals to about 6.84 miles (or 11 km). Not quite the 14 miles, but mind you that this is on Expert mode, I’m heavy and I ride fast and hard. For me, these are great numbers. I can probably double that if I drop in Eco mode if I know I have a long commute ahead.
This is the clear benefit of having belt motors instead of hub motors, their strength is much greater and thus it allows you to accelerate faster. There is definitely lots of power in that little skateboard and it’s really pleasing! I had already tried a Boosted Board v2 in the past and the experience is very reminiscent of it. From a stand still the board accelerates gently for a second and then the real power kicks in so that you are not thrown out.
Once used, this is very easy to ride and I always give it a kick push or two to help with battery life and to get it to its full speed faster.
Given that this is a stiff deck, I had memories of the Winboard GT-M8 v2 with its feeling of riding a 2x4 on wheels. I’m glad the Mini X is not like that! It’s actually much better than I was expecting. It’s not as smooth as a flexi bamboo deck like v3 or the Stealth for sure, but it’s much better than I expected! Remember that I ride in Montreal where cracks and pot holes are everywhere, the Mini X really can take this crazy ride to a much more comfortable level. Plus, once you know how to make this better, it can significantly increase the riding comfort.
I’ve been researching this topic over the 3 weeks I was waiting for the new motors to arrive, and I’m happy to say that there are a few things you can do to make your Boosted Mini X experience even better.
Adding shockpads will make sure the shocks are even more dampened, this is not an incredible difference, but it does make a significant difference if your roads are bad like ours. For 6$ it’s an insta-buy.
The Lunar wheels Boosted made are great but only available in one single size, 80mm. To get a better riding experience, you should consider the Orangatang Caguamas, made of a soft 77a PU, they also have 5mm extra diameter. On the numbers, this should not make much of a difference, but you do get a 6.3% longer circumference, thus adding 1.5 mph to the total speed of 20 mph of the Mini X. This little gain is welcomed, but the overall size of the wheels, that extra 5mm, and the 77a durometer are what makes them absorb even more of the shocks.
Finally, this one is more of a maintenance thing, but I read that the Kevlar clad belts have a longer life expectancy that can go over 1,000 miles. I have not tried that myself, but being heavy and always on Expert mode, I have the feeling my belts are going to be messed up a long time before that. Therefore, this should be an item in your Amazon Wishlist for when they need replacement.
The Boosted Mini X is a great little electric skateboard with enough punch for most and a good enough range to last for a long commute or to and from a shorter one. The quality of the components and the high availability of parts makes this board something that will last and for which you can even customize some parts to allow it to flourish even more for enthusiasts. Shorter board means easier transportation when in a bus or metro and the torque allows a big guy like me to have fun while staying safe with a board that is responsive and fast when sharing the road with bikes and cars.
I really recommend this board to almost everyone, the DIY crew would prefer something even more powerful, but for the regular user, beginner or advanced, this is very high on my list of recommended esk8s! If you ever buy one and end up customizing it, or changing parts of it let me know in the comments as I’m very curious in what ways you make this great board even better!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-07-08 12:20
Over the years I’ve reviewed a bunch of security cameras, but more recently I’ve reviewed the Circle 2 by Logi and the D-Link Homekit camera. Both had their strengths and flaws, and I must say that my preferred still is the Circle 2 for its great ecosystem of accessories. But Arlo, has been working non-stop on making camera after camera, when looking at their website, I counted a total of 7 camera products currently being sold going from the baby monitor all the way to the 4K Ultra camera.
Well, I just so happen to have the single-camera Arlo Ultra for review and I’ve played with it for a couple of weeks. I’ve tried it on a bunch of placements and I tried to mess with the settings like a mad man… you’ll know why in a minute. But first, let’s take a look at the camera itself!
The Arlo Ultra is a very smartly designed camera that consists of the camera internals, a cubic battery and an outer shell. By the press of a button, you can get the internal out of the shell since it’s spring loaded. Then, you can install or remove the battery. There is also a magnetic charging pad below the camera so you can simply bring the camera inside and snap the charging cable to it. No need to take it apart.
On the front, a very wide-angle lens is what you mainly see. On top of it, a very strong light that illuminates when someone passes by the camera. A dual set of microphones and a speaker are also present so you can discuss with your visitor, welcome or not.
The camera comes with a magnetic stand which you can screw to a wall or with the appropriate non included hardware, to cement. This allows you more to change the angle of the camera freely. It’s a very smart idea. You can also purchase other stands on Amazon since it has a standard screw hole on the back. There are flexible mounts, similar to the Gorillapod 5K I just reviewed, and screw-on mounts that can be adjusted and even screwed to trees. All of these are not from Arlo so I cannot say the Arlo Ultra has a vast ecosystem like the Circle 2, but 3rd party sure help to get this little camera mounted anywhere.
Getting a camera setup is no easy thing, expecially when it’s wireless. You must not only make sure to set it up securly, but also that the wireless network of your home reaches it. I’ve get an Eero Pro system and an aluminium isolated house (this helps with heat transmission but also blocks all types of electro magnetic waves) and I have barely good reception when setting it up just above the front door. I would have liked to set it up in the yard, on a tree but I’m not sure I would have enough range to it.
I got myself a mount so that I can attach my camera facing a little downward on the front of my house. It came with a rubber hood and I could quickly srew it in place.
The initial setup is a real joke. You simply connect the Arlo SmartHub and optionally add a microSD card to record the videos to it. Then, you launch the mobile app and follow the steps. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically you setup the Hub, update its firmware, detect the camera by inserting its battery and after a few screens, and more updates you are ready to go. Just know that this is very much hand-holding all the way and it worked perfectly on the first try. Love the graphics and the little animations, it reminds me a bit of the Eero Mesh Network 2nd Generation I tested awhile back.
There is a lot to say in the performance area of things. Let’s first go through the configuration of the camera, there are many, many options, including activity zones. Then we’ll move on to the accuracy, night vision and battery life.
Let’s start with the SmartHub, it has the least number of options, but it does have what it needs. You can setup recording of the videos on the microSD card you plugged into it. You can also select if you would like 4K recordings of the videos and if the camera should rollover old videos, once it’s actually filled. After a few weeks, I’ve only filled about 6 of the 16GB of my memory card.
Note that if you use the Zoom feature where the camera will zoom to people walking by or vehicles, it will record in 1080p only. If you want 4K in all its glory, disable that feature. The rest of the features for the camera itself are related to the picture where we can set the brightness, Auto-HDR, Local 4K streaming, Auto-Zoom and Tracking as well as Low Light management.
The Auto Zoom & Tracking feature is interesting and works mostly as advertised on Arlo’s website, however, the picture quality is much grainier and really not as clear. Remember that from the camera and the mobile app, even if you enable 4K recording, you won’t be able to download it from there, all is happening in HD. You need to load up the microSD card, that’s where the 4K footage is found. Think of it as an archival mode in higher resolution!
One of the features most of us like to setup is the Activity Zones, these allow you to track movement or objects but only in specific zones and ignore the rest of the image. In my above example, I’ve setup the camera in front of my house and I do not care about cars or passersby that do not come onto my driveway or on my lawn. Therefore, I have set up to zones, one called Driveway and one called Lawn. My expectation is that anything happening outside these zones would be ignored. Well, I was very, very right.
The Arlo Ultra only uses these zones to notify you where somebody passes. Like “A vehicle was detected in Driveway”. But it is also triggered when a car passes in the street. I have recorded hundreds of events on my microSD card with the camera facing the street. So much so that I counted over 25 events for just a single hour. And the sad thing is that the battery life suffered, greatly.
You can specify what types of movement triggers a notification. A Person, an Animal or a Vehicule, this smart recognition feature will try its best to guess what things are. It’s very often right, but sometimes confuses things. I got an “animal” for a clip where I could not see anything, perhaps the wind ruffled too many leaves? And a cyclist was considered a cyclist. Most of the time it’s actually funny, but for people it is usually quite accurate.
This is a very useful feature and I’m assuming it will only get better overtime.
Once you have readjusted your expectation, the accuracy of the detection is actually quite good. You can be alerted by notification only when certain things happen and this makes it a good experience to only get notified for what you want.
Sadly, because of the previous point about Activity Zone, you will need to place the camera far from the street or angle it down so low as to completely exclude streets or sidewalks from it.
The coloured night vision is actually pretty good. The sensor seems to be sensible enough with a good amount of noise reduction that makes up for a slightly discoloured but still coloured video.
The embedded LED light is very strong and can actually help with the video since it does light up subjects. Its main feature is a deterrent though so people getting too close will know they are being filmed.
As you might have guessed, this is where the Arlo Ultra falls short. Because of it constantly being triggered by subjects outside the activity zones, it basically records all day. I had over 400 clips in one single day last week!
The battery is dead after 2 days, at most three. Not something ideal, especially if you want to peak at your house during a vacation that is longer than a weekend.
The cameras come with a free 1-year plan for up to 10 cameras and 30 days recording. This plan is what enables smart notifications and people detection, similar to how Logi is selling their monthly plan to add similar features. At 3.49$ per month per camera it’s a good price for the rich notification support and image recognition, they even recently added package detection for when UPS drops a package on your porch. I feel this is a mandatory buy for this camera to really be featured full.
The Arlo Ultra does not have the most complete ecosystem, but it has great features that make it very fun and practical to use. The Auto-Zoom and Subject Tracking is very cool and makes for a nice demo. However they are sadly not available when in 4K, the video has to be 1080p so that it can zoom around the frame.
I feel that for every nice feature, there is a downside. For example, the Activity Zones are just for notification purpose, as the camera still records every passing car or pedestrian outside the activity zone. The swappable battery idea is nice but because it literally records hundreds of clips per day, it drains the battery in a matter of 2, maybe 3 days.
So to who is that camera really for? It is made for securing a perimeter where there is basically no movement regularly. And when there is some, it will trigger the camera, light and allow you to sound the alarm if you wish. Then, this camera will be worth it! I’ve seen a local shop that recently installed these inside his place of business, it makes total sense as after the store closes this is a perfect security camera system.
Given that you can set it to have specific armed hours, or geofencing, it’s ideal for a business scenario or a house scenario when you are asleep or out of the house.
But if you are looking for something to secure your front porch, you might have problems setting up the camera so that the battery does not drain in matter of days. You could always get a weather-resistant extension, however, the camera placement might not be ideal to have a dangling wire. Given the price of the kits, even the very expensive one camera kit, I would really ask myself if my need is for rare movement or constant movement type scenario before buying. Or making sure I can return it later if it does not fit the bill.
I really wanted to love the camera, the design is great, the feature list looked impressive but the limitation in terms of battery life and activity zone detection makes it a hard sell for many scenarios. Only if you were looking to point it at your porch from atop or to the back of your house, would it make sense.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-06-23 21:19
The king of vlogging tripods, Joby, has refreshed his line of tripods with brand new internals and new names for all of its tripods. The biggest bendy tripod, the Gorillapod 5K, comes with a ball head and is capable of supporting a dSLR with a short lens and even some smaller cameras with a larger sense.
Why are these bendy tripods so popular? Are they really that useful when you have a dSLR and a medium lens?
The Gorillapod 5K is the strongest of the bunch, able to support up to 5 kg, it’s made of mostly aluminum therefore it’s holding up heavier gear much easier. But the great thing with the 5K model is that it can come with a ball head with a quick release plate compatible with the Arca-Swiss system.
This ball head allows for free 360˚ movement and it has a full 90˚ angle section so you can attach the tripod to vertical objects like a pole.
I’ve been rocking this tripod for on a table setup with both my iPhone 7 Plus and a Sony A7 III equipped with a Zeiss 24-70mm lens. It also works very well with a vlogger setup and I brought my A7 outside and attached it on trees or posts and it kept stable. The camera is about 650 g and the 24-70mm is 426 g, totally at just above 1 kg. It’s rock solid and does not even give signs of flexing even in weird positions.
I even added a few extra gear like a monitor or a shotgun mic and it’s still very stable. But the real winner here is the ball head. This is a very high quality ball head that allows you really get the perfect angle you are looking for. It’s much easier to get that horizon levelled with that ball head. So much so, that I’m even moving it to the Gorillapod 3K when I want to use this lighter and shorter tripod.
The quick-release system is very useful and at the same time rapid to remove and solidly attached in just a few turns of the locking wheel. I do not have other compatible devices to the Arca-Swiss system, but from the look of it I would have really happy to more than one.
If you are looking for a vlogging setup, the Gorillapods are still the king and this new line of products confirms their position as the leader of the pack. They are more professional looking and you have one for each budget and for all the types of uses. The 1K, 3K or 5K are all different length, size and strength so you can get the one that fits your gear perfectly. The ball head alone is worth the investment. If you choose a Gorillapod 3K or Gorillapod 5K, both would have a big benefit from the versatility that it allows. So much so that I strongly recommend to get one with these Gorillapods!
The only time a Gorillapod 5K is not recommended is if you have a very large dSLR and or lens, it could be hard to get it balanced and could damage your gear if you can’t set it up properly. If it’s your case, I would into a store with your gear and test it out first.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-06-23 19:50
This is, I agree, not what you were expecting. I have an old faithfull Penny Nickel board I use for quick rides to the corner store a few blocks away and, when I don’t have my electric skateboard, to go to work. If you ever used a Penny board for long distances in a city, you know there are two major troubles with it. The small wheels compared to a longboard are not fit for road cracks, and with them cracks and a long commute it seems we are always kickpushing non-stop.
Well, I found two potential solutions to these problems! The first one is to irradicate that crack problem. But since the city is notorious for not caring at all about the bikepaths, we are left with solution numero dos! SharkWheels are the makers of nice helical polyurethane wheels, larger wheels (60mm) than the stock Penny with a special shape that seems out of this world, but they are also a great upgrade for any commuter skateboard. They call them, the California Roll !
What is a helical wheel? It a wheel that is shaped like a sine wave! This looks weird, and it’s a great conversation starter, but do the really work?
Although they look kind of like as square, they are actually perfectly round. The have a diameter of 60mm and a durometer of 78A. Compared to stock 59mm and 83A Penny wheels, it does not seem like it would make a big difference just by looking at their actual diameter. Their durometer being less, allows them to be better equiped with impacts thus sending less vibration through your legs.
Also, SharkWheel has other sizes as follow available:
Without loosing a minute, I quickly replaced the stock wheels on my Penny with the crazy looking SharkWheels and use the board for my daily commute in Montreal. For all Canadians that took a car or bike trip in Montreal, you know that this city is known for its aweful road. There are many cracks on my commute, many of them dangerous for Penny-sized wheels.
The larger the wheel, the better so the wider 60mm wheels were well received during my commute. The rocks are also less of a problem since the shape of the wheel is rarely receiving a rock head on. Finally, I had the “joy” of riding in the rain and I must saw that this really makes a huge difference. The grooves are acting as water channels and they are allowing the water to flow and let the wheel grip the pavement.
Sharkwheel were kind enough to send me a kit of ABEC-9 High Performance bearings at the same time. So I tested the wheels seperately on the stock Penny bearings and I got all of the above results. But once I changed the bearings to the ABEC-9, with their special lubricant, things changed. Alot. I’m known to be the kind of guy that clean his bearings regularly and uses the famous Speed Cream on cleaned bearings. I must say that the ABEC-9 bearing from Sharkwheel are actually much better than stock, clean and lubed bearings from Penny Co. They are smoother, spin the wheels much faster and actually need less kickpushing!
Both the Sharkwheels and the ABEC-9 bearings make what I think is the Ultimate Combo for any board. Add thicker shockpads to help with the bumps and overall comfort of the ride and you get one mean board!
If you have a commuter board, like a Penny or even any type of cruiser board, the Sharkwheels are a great product to look at. They are also a good conversation starter, but most of all I feel they are a required upgrade to anyone that is riding in the city where cracks, rocks and rain can be a problem. They help with all of these situation and are simply very cool to look at! I strongly recommend the Sharkwheels and ABEC-9 High Performance bearings from the same company!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-06-13 12:18
The smart speaker world is expanding as I write these lines. It started with the Amazon Echo a couple of years ago and since then, Google and Apple joined the party. But none of those devices can take a good splash. What about actually going downstream with you? Nope, none of them can. But there is hope! The Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST does check this box!
Usually, a smart speaker is a cube or cylinder shape speaker with microphones that has a short cable that ties it to the wall. But the MEGABLAST is not like that. It’s actually powered by a large battery. It has a very nice and modern look, can go outside in the rain and even be dropped in the pool with zero stress.
It started with the Ultimate Ears BOOM years ago, I reviewed it on the now deceased Future Shop Tech Blog, and I really loved it! It had a great sound quality and could take a tumble and a splash like a king. Fast forward almost a decade and now the MEGABLAST is a bigger version that is both more powerful in the audio sense or the term and in terms of features with Alexa built-in!
The speaker is faithful to the very efficient design of the first generations with a large plus and minus button on the front and a power button on top.
The setup is very simple with the MEGABLAST, you can follow the simple app to add the speaker or use the simple Bluetooth setup you all know from forever ago. Both solutions are quick and easy to set up. The interesting part comes when you use the Ultimate Ears app to customize the experience offered by the MEGABLAST.
In reality, you will benefit from also installing the Amazon Alexa app so that you and your Spotify account for when you ask Alexa to play music. It includes a free version of Amazon Music but it’s super-limited and you will quickly run into its limitations.
On the audio side of things, you can select one of the preset EQ settings or define your own. Then, you can enable or disable the microphone for those not wanting Alexa to listen in too much. I prefer to simply click the main button to close the speaker down.
When you take the speaker by itself and listen to it, you immediately realize that it is capable of outputting a high level of sound as well as a very good quality reproduction of your favourite music. I tried it in different rooms and outside, and in every case, it sounded great and I could not complain.
But when you face it off against an opponent like my Sonos Play:1 that has been optimized with the Trueplay room calibration, you can hear that Sonos has the upper hand. The MEGABLAST tries to send sound all around it, and therefore cannot be as directional and optimized as the Play:1. This is the only time I felt like the MEGABLAST did not have the best sound quality.
This is where I had major issues with the MEGABLAST. It often times works but more than half of my request simply die in the void. The speaker not responding after waiting a few seconds. The good thing is that the speaker supports multiple languages so I was able to set it up in French for my kids to use, but ended up switching it back to English since most of what they do is ask for songs and telling English song names in French do not work great with any assistant out there.
Make sure you fully set up Alex through the ULTIMATE EARS app and the Alexa app to really enable its full potential. Sadly, you do not get the full Amazon assistant experience, but you still can control your music, request songs, it plays nicely with smart devices in your house and more.
If only they could fix that reliability issue. If you factor in the kids trying to speak to it with their lower voice volume, it works about 20% of the times. It seems the microphone is not as sensitive as with an Apple Homepod or a Google Home.
The battery life is great and I never once had an issue with it needing to be recharged. I store the speaker away on its POWER UP puck, a contact charging dock that makes sure that no matter when you need the speaker, it will always be at 100%. I even took the speaker on a trip for multiple days and after many, many hours of playback it kept on playing as if nothing happened. It can provide up to 16 hours of playtime so you really need to listen to a ton of music for many days to actually drain the device.
Of course, playing at higher volumes will drain it faster so in a party scenario, you should use the POWER UP to have non-stop party action!
Talking about the POWER UP, this is an optional accessory that allows you to simply drop the MEGABLAST on a round puck for it to be fully charged at all times! You simply swap the bottom centre hook piece with the included contact charging one from the POWER UP and plug the puck into the wall. That is it!
For me this optional accessory is so useful that I highly recommend it for anyone looking to either use the speaker as an Alexa speaker or just to be 100% sure the speaker is always fully charged when you leave the house.
Once again, I feel Ultimate Ears did a great job on their 360˚ speaker! By having water resistance, I feel you can really bring this little guy everywhere. Sound quality is great, although not as good as a Play:1, but being cordless and having a long play time, I cannot complain!
Now if only, it would have a better microphone (or microphone array), more reliability with Alexa requests and the full-Alexa skill set, it would be even better than Amazon’s own products and a real mix between an amazing speaker, shock and water resistance and all the smarts you could wish for!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-06-05 09:53
I recently got my hands on a Boosted Mini X, a compact but quick electric skateboard from Boosted that can do 32 km/h and a range of 22km. Before doing the full review, here is the unboxing video and an overview of the specs with cool shots of the board up close; and clean, something that will not stay like that over time!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-05-24 07:58
Panic has been an amazing MacOS (and macOS) developer for over 20 years and I find the announced of the Playdate very on point for me since I discovered the company and Cabel Sasser very late. Before I got an actual Mac, I stumbled across Cabel’s overview of the Nintendo DS Lite in a video he made at a time where good online videos were rare.
The Playdate is a handheld console that brings back lots of fun in its design and software ethos. The console has a D-pad and two B-A buttons. And a crank. Yes, a crank that does not charge the console, but is actually a console mechanism for some of the games. Some games use it, some only use it. The screen is black and white and does not have a backlight.
It’s kind of a pure, distilled handheld console that comes with 12 games in the first season. Over the span of 12 weeks, every Monday, a new game will be released. The games are from actual video game creators that are renowned like Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy), Zach Gage (Spelltower), Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It) and Shaun Inman (Retro Game Crunch).
The console will be released early 2020 for 149$. Expect more games and more surprises in the coming months!
Over the first 24 hours, the Playdate website generated interest from 70,000+ people through their waiting list, and most importantly thousands of interested developers! This could actually become an amazing console if quality games are launched on it. After all, it should be fairly straightforward since Panic created their own OS for the Playdate and their aesthetic choices are really appreciated by everyone!
In the mean time, you can head over the small post reposted on the Playdate website and if you need more, head over to the Edge magazine issue 333 with all the juicy details. It’s also part of Apple News+ if you are a subscriber.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-05-10 19:10
Many cameras nowadays come with a nice screen, often high resolution with a high brightness, but not always swivelling and always too small to fully rely on. I cannot tell how many times a bad picture on the small camera display was actually pretty decent once I opened it on the computer. And when you’re doing video, you really need to get that focus right, at all times. This is hard, but I have a solution that will help you out tremendously!
The FOCUS OLED from SmallHD is a 5.5-inch monitor that attaches to your camera via SDI or HDMI and allows you to really see what’s happening in front of your camera.
Since the FOCUS OLED is a touch-screen display, it does not have many buttons. Actually, it only has one to turn it ON or OFF. Once you turn it ON, you will experience something great visually. The OLED screen is bright and crisp, and really makes your content shine!
The FOCUS is powered by a standard Sony L-battery, those large batteries that can pack lots of electrons. SmallHD also has a kit of accessories to fit a fake battery inside your camera so that the big L-battery powers both your camera and the FOCUS monitor!
One of the accessories that comes with the FOCUS is a tilt arm that allows you to install the monitor in your camera’s hotshoe mount. The display can tilt from face to back very easily and it even auto-rotates the image on the display. The word that keeps coming up in my head is simplicity.
Available in either SDI or HDMI configuration and OLED or LCD configurations, the SmallHD FOCUS has lots to please!
In terms of general performance, this display is relatively fast. Not the fastest touchscreen I found, but quick enough to get to the menus and enable and disable features in a timely fashion.
For someone like me using a Sony A7III, I do not need all of the features of the Focus OLED, since many of them require specific hardware. For example, the Focus can de-squeeze anamorphic footage captured with an anamorphic lens. This is great because you get a glimpse at the final result directly on your small compact monitor without the need to do post production on your footage.
The FOCUS comes with a bunch of features that you can turn ON or OFF to fit your specific needs. This list includes high resolution scopes, waveforms, false colour, focus peaking and real-time 3D LUTs.
Some of the features make lots of sense for almost everyone, intermediate to professionals and we’ll go over them quickly. Once you see your subject, the thing you might want to do is look at that subject closer. The Pixel Zoom function allows you to use the pinch to zoom gesture and get up close to see the details of your shot.
The second feature you usually want to enable is the Focus Assist. This will allow you to clearly see what part of your subject is in focus. There is the exact same feature built inside Sony A7 line of cameras and if you are shooting manual, this is a must have!
Now that you see your subject in detail and know which part of the image is in focus, you might want to make sure you have the right ratio. This way if you want to try a nice 2.39:1 ratio or even one of the bleeding edge ratios like 2:1, you can very easily be set on one of the preset or specify your own. With these featured set you are good to go and film nice things with your FOCUS OLED!
We all have to film different types of shots depending on what we want to do with the footage. Some great Youtubers are using CinemaScope ratio (2.39:1) for smooth b-roll shots, and the regular 16:9 ratio for talking heads. You do not want to fiddle with your controls constantly and that’s why the FOCUS has the concept of “Pages”. Each page is a setup individually and you can easily swipe between them for when you change your filming setup.
After working in film for a while, you might want to start using lookup tables (LUTs) and since you might want to preview the final look without modifying your footage, the team at SmallHD has put in a nice feature called LUTs previewing where you save your LUTs file on the SD card and assign your LUTs to pages so that by the swipe of a finger you can preview the final look very easily!
After the Focus Assist comes a very important tool called Exposure Assist! Once again, you either a colour, a zebra, a waveform or a histogram to show you when you are overexposing or underexposing your shots. This can quickly tell you where your exposure will be clipping. If you need more control, the Exposure Assist even has a False Colour mode that leverages the Arri False Colour chart to display colours from red to purple depending on the % of the dynamic range you are getting. With the latest version of the onboard OS, you can even push this further and customize it to your likings!
The team at SmallHD did not stop there, they are pushing even further with more features that are probably not part of the “usual suspects” but nonetheless super useful; especially if you end up needing them!
To go with the cross-hair, you can have a grid and even safe zones that allow you to know where titles or old CRT TV would clip the image. But one feature that I did not realize I need is the image overlay.
This allows you to load an image on the SD card and use it with transparency so that you can, for example place an item back on the table, exactly where it was in your previous shot. You can even use the Image Capture feature to snap the image directly from the FOCUS OLED! And as usual, there is a bunch of settings you can fiddle with to get the most out of this feature.
Audio meters are often forgotten, but not this time. You can set a customizable meter for up to 8 inputs on the FOCUS OLED and even change the position and size of the meter to make sure it does not get in the way of your shot!
Crop & Scale and Size & Position allows you to change the cropping and position of the image on pages where you need to keep an eye on the histogram or audio levels at all times.
One thing that I wanted to test absolutely, and caused my review to be a bit late, is the firmware updates. I had awful experiences in the past related to firmware updates on other products, so this is always something I love to test. The FOCUS has an SD card slot to load custom LUTs, as explained above, as well as firmware updates. You simply need to copy the downloaded firmware file to the SD card and from the Settings menu, you can launch the update. It’s quick and all went very well.
I’m happy to see that SmallHD is behind their products and keeps them up to date as well as change some of the interactions you have for the better like the colour of the LED in the Power button changes depending on what’s happening in the boot sequence.
A monitor is a must-have product in your arsenal as a videographer and until you actually tried one, you might not understand how useful and life changing they are. So much so that when I was filming with my iPhone, I kept my iPad close by for it to act as a monitor. Canon shooters know the usefulness of the small swivel display, but until you experience a 5-inch and more display you really are missing on a lot. You can set your camera further with a longer focal to get that nice compression and that punny little 1.5-inch display is not very useful.
The FOCUS OLED with its amazing panel is simply amazing to look at! Not only do you get a large image and can see all of the details of your footage, but with its feature list as long as an arm, you are bound to make the overall experience great by unleashing a real control on your video capture as well as always have an eye on what’s actually happening.
I have not used the non-OLED version of the FOCUS but I must say that the dynamic range and colours reproduced on the FOCUS OLED is simply just a joy to use. I’m used to the nice, but small, OLED display on my Sony A7 III and going from one to the other does not feel like a drop in quality. This is important as you might be irritated when going to another larger, but less quality screen. This is not the case with the FOCUS OLED.
With the constant firmware updates released by SmallHD, you are getting an even better product than when it was released with new features and better performance. SmallHD knows how to keep their products amazing! I strongly recommend the FOCUS OLED (and regular FOCUS) for any filmmaker that would love to get a better grasp on their technique and improve the reliability of their capture skills with a tool that will increase the quality of your footage!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-29 12:12
There I am reviewing another security camera, but this one is peculiar. Most of the time a security camera is a standalone, all-inclusive thing that you set and forget. It has a single precise function and does it on day one until its last day. But what if you could get something modular? Something that can be moved around the house. This is where the Logi Circle 2 camera comes in the picture!
This camera is as small as a hockey puck albeit with a conical shape, and can be placed inside a variety of situations. Attached to walls and horizontal surfaces, wired or wire-free, even magnetically set against a metal surface or even glass or behind. In short the Circle 2 system is extremely flexible!
The Circle 2 camera is a super-wide angle that offers a wide, ultra-wide or 180° view and has infrared lights and sensors to even work during the night.
I got to test the Wired version and this is very important as I learned the hard way that there are actually two versions of the Circle 2 and not all accessories are compatible with every permutation. The Wired camera can be attached to the Window Mount which uses double side tape to be attached to the inside of windows facing outside. You can also swap the wire for the Wire-free battery but you can only set it on a stand and not attached to the Window Mount. I managed to do it, it looks awful and I’m not sure it’s going to hold for long…
Make sure you read which accessories are compatible with the Circle 2 camera you are choosing! Look below for a table of compatible accessories.
There is a lot to say about the Circle 2 because of the so many ways you can set it up and the options if offers! As I said earlier, I started with the Wired Circle 2 which comes with a long cable and can be set on a table, screwed to a wall or even on the underside of a flat surface. The cable is quite long with a standard USB-A port that you can extend cheaply with an extension for a few bucks for 10-15 feet. This cable finally connects to a USB wall adapter that is small enough.
The camera requires some love through a mobile app or the Logi website to be configured. Logi went far with customization on that product line. You can opt for suggested « packs » of settings to quickly get started but in the end going through all of them, one by one, will make you get the most out of the Circle 2 system.
Recording can be toggled between 720p and 1080p but a better feature is the cropping of the recording. You can set it to go a full 180°, Ultra-Wide or Wide, something that allows you to actually secure a full alley by setting the camera perpendicular and not lose an inch of that alley! Ultra Wide is similar to a GoPro at its widest and the crop of the centre part only slightly distorts the image.
After testing a couple of cameras, one feature that really is key with the Circle 2 is the ability to set a Window mode which allows you to really get the best quality images when looking through glass. Not only does it disables the LED for infrared light (it would otherwise bounce back on the window and give out a useless image), it also has a couple of other settings presets that allows you go get the Circle 2 setup quickly.
With the Wired version of the Circle 2, you can even purchase a Window Mount, which allows you to stick the camera directly to the window. Illuminating as much reflexion as possible and getting an even better image. I bought this one and I must say it’s a great companion to the Wire-free or Wired version of the Circle 2 camera.
Trying to push my luck, I also acquired the Circle 2 Rechargeable Battery in hopes of adding a battery to my Circle 2 while it’s being attached to the Window Mount. Sadly, this did not go well. I mean, I was able to force the battery to the camera, but for some reason, it does not trigger when I’m passing in front of it. It stays in “standby” mode, even with the sensibility cranked up to the maximum setting. Note that the Logi website says
Rechargeable Battery works with Circle 2 Wire-Free., but since I purchased mine from Amazon, I did not know that. Also, I was, naively, expecting the whole suite of accessories to work with my Circle 2 camera, but some only work with the Wired and some only work with the Wire-free.
|Circle 2 Wired||Circle 2 Wire-free|
The TL:DR; is that the Recheargeable Battery only works with the Wire-free version and since there are no wires for it, it cannot use the Weatherproof Extension ;)
Swapping accessories is very easy and should only take a minute, once you align everything properly. I did not try the Magnetic Mount, the Plug Mount or the Weatherproof Extension, but the accessories I tried are made of great quality material and should be a blast to use.
For free, with the purchase of a Circle 2 camera, you are receiving free 24h Cloud Recording with Smart Alerts and a cool Timelapse feature of all the events that triggered a recording. This is great, but one of the features we are expecting to get nowadays is human recognition as I don’t think you really care if a newspaper passes through your lawn during a windy day.
For this, you will need to look at the other plans. Namely, the Premium plan as the Basic plans is just like the Free plan but keeps 14 days of recording at 4$ per camera or 7$ for up to 5 cameras.
The Premium plan adds Motion Zones, so you can define zones with a custom shape and name them, therefore the Smart Alerts are getting even smarter with contextual information. As for the Person Detection, this is the type of thing we are looking for. When you look at the UI you can now filter by event types to only see when a person was detected. Same thing with the Alerts, you can opt in only to get when somebody moved into the frame. This works great, however, sometimes a thing will go into the frame and since there is a human passing by outside of your zones, you will also get that notification.
For example, a dog owner walks their dog and the doggo goes on my lawn to sniff my plants. Only the dog got in the Motion Zone, but since at the other end of the leash there is a human, it will trigger an alarm. I would have preferred to have only events when a human actually triggered the motion. On a windy day, trees and leaves also trigger motion events so I have to give the camera some buffer around the zones. Shadows are also a thing to consider, this is why the Person Detection is required otherwise you get a hundred notifications every day.
Although this camera is not perfect, it gets to a level that is appreciably close to perfection. It has the most extensive accessory line on the market, to really help you to get your camera setup where you naturally want it to sit and aim. It has a tone of customization features to account for all situations and the Cloud Recording features are great and plentiful. If you are looking for a camera to set around your house that work over Wi-Fi the Circle 2 by Logi is an amazing product with great flexibility. If only the video quality was even better, sometimes the compression is plentiful, and I would love to be able to go from Wired to Wire-free mode with all accessories being compatible with both cameras. The Smart Alert stuff could be better with human-in-the-motion-zone detection being better.
But all in all, this is a great product and you can even buy a couple of packs with 2 or 3 cameras and different versions in a single purchase. Highly recommended.
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-23 12:20
When we are talking about great design and battery pack, well, we are never mixing both. Most battery packs on the market are what they are, energy in a pack. But never, or extremely rarely, is it a work of product design. That was until, ElevationLab took a crack at it! With the BatteryPro, ElevationLab are cramming a big 8,000 mAh inside a nicely designed power brick with the added touch of having an Apple Watch charger built-in.
The BatteryPro has a USB-A port capable of pushing 2.4A of current to quick charge your iPhone or charge your iPad. It’s one of the few accessories that went through the hassle of getting certified by Apple. It’s using the same charging pad that you have on the included box of your Apple Watch.
The only other port is the micro-USB that is used to refill the battery pack. You can charge both your Apple Watch and your iPhone on the battery. Perfect for an overnight charge to get all your gadgets juiced up!
This works as advertised and charges both devices at once. The nifty little green LEDs are showing how much energy is left with 25% increments. Once of the cool thing is the way the BatteryPro secures your Apple Watch. They included an elastic strap to make sure the Watch is attached securely.
ElevationLab went a step further and included all of the logos, certifications, and specs behind the elastic strap. This way, that junk text is not apparent at all!
If you are looking for a solid, powerful and nicely design power brick, I strongly recommend you take a look at the BatteryPro, it’s quite well designed and should be a good-looking companion for your remote adventures! Bonus points, it keeps the charge for months, and months!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-22 12:02
Over the last two decades, I really tried all kinds of pillows. It all started with a down-filled pillow that I got from my dad that I kept for way too long, then I moved to memory foam, latex foam, shredded latex and back to another type of memory foam. Then, I tried a water-filled pillow that eventually leaked… so I was back to down-filled pillow, this time with a mix of feathers and down for added support. And finally, I discovered the ComfySleep Buckwheat Hull pillow.
Why all that change? Comfort is the reason. I’m a side, stomach and back sleeper so I need a pillow that does a good enough job of supporting me, while at the same time, not put too much strain on my neck when I’m sleeping on my side or stomach. This is probably the longest quest I made around comfort in my whole life! Most of the mentioned pillowed ticked one or many boxes, but none of them actually were great and all of them eventually gave me neck pain, shoulder pain or back pain.
The latest contender is something that Japanese slept on for the last couple of centuries, a bag full of buckwheat hulls. ComfySleep actually provides this in a very thick and nice casing made of organic cotton twill. Let’s see how this pillow worked out for me over the last month and a half!
The ComfySleep organic buckwheat pillow comes in four sizes, Standard, Classic, Classic Plus and Traditional. They are not as large as one would expect since the material is not down or feathers. I was provided by ComfySleep the Standard size pillow with an extra 2lbs of hulls, as well as the Classic Plus, same length as the Standard but a fair bit narrower.
The pillow is made of a predefined quantity of buckwheat hulls, a dry ingredient that is perfect for supporting your head and neck while at the same time being able to move freely around to adapt to your back and neck line. The casing is also made of organic materials, cotton twill this time, that has a strong zipper. This makes sure the content does not come out of the casing while you sleep.
And if you need to add or remove some of the hulls, you simply unzip and remove them with a large soup ladle. Each product comes with extra hulls because overtime, they might lose some of their thickness and adding some back will bring back the optimum comfort level.
When you first open the box, you are greeted with your pillow already filled a pre-defined amount of hulls and a large Ziploc bag with extra hulls. You can first start to sleep on the pillow as it and see how comfortable you feel. Then over time, you add or remove hulls to fit your preference.
I first started with the Standard pillow, thinking it’s the recognizable shape. After a few days sleeping on it, I realized it was too large for me, pushing me too far down my bed and I was having my feet dangling out of the bed. I have a king-size bed and I measure 6 ft. I could have removed some of the filling but instead I decided to try the Classic Plus, a pillow with the same length, but narrower in design. I LOVED IT!
This Classic Plus size can be used as a side pillow for people that want to have something next to them, or between your knees if you need a straighter line all along your body. In my case, I used it as a pillow and realized on the first night that it was perfectly filled and perfect size for me!
You need to know two things about buckwheat hull pillows. The first one is that they make noise when you move around or reposition your head. I did not find this annoying and I even heard people describe it as soothing (👋🏻 iMyke!). The second thing is that this material allows you to actually shape the pillow, but it actually holds in place! At first it’s eerie, but then you realize how great this actually is!
I often turn from back to side or stomach, and I then move some of fabric to fill the arch of my neck and have full support from head to shoulders and it’s actually quite soothing to feel this kind of support!
If you are like me and tried a tone of pillow or are still searching for the Choosen One, have a look at ComfySleep Organic Buckwheat Hull Pillow, it’s amazing and I could not be more excited for a pillow! The comfort level is through the roof even for a strong guy like me! It adapts and supports you to sleep perfectly. The extra hulls allows you to adjust comfort out of the box and over time if you feel the hulls have diminished in their abilities to hold you up correctly. You can even buy extra hulls for the coming years if you need more.
I really like the casing, the hulls, and the overall quality of this product. I strongly recommend this pillow to anyone. Period. After many decades, I finally found the type of pillow my body needs!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-22 11:01
The Belkin Car Power Valet is kind of a weird product. It fills a real need, but at the same time adds a touch of luxury, not normally associated with in-car accessories.
It is actually made of more than one accessory, the first part is the 12V adapter that allows you to power your mobile devices with its powered USB port. The second part is a high-quality cable that can be magnetically attached to your car dashboard with its little sticky magnet. And the last part is the leather pouch in which you can store everything.
Everything is made of aluminum and other quality materials. This really feels luxurious in terms of accessories. Even the box has a great unboxing experience that feels great!
The Power Valet works as expected and does with by adding a touch of luxury to the experience. If you have an expensive car, chances are you do not want to get a cheapo 1$ charger. This accessory is perfect to match any Lexus or BMW, or even a Tesla. :)
The 2.4A current is great for fast charging your iPhone, while you are using the GPS.
Overall, this accessory is great and should be looked at if you want a refined experience and accessories to match your great-looking car. The Belkin Car Valet is what you are looking for!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-09 06:00
In October 2015, Dan Counsell released the iOS game Almost Impossible! And I was immediately hooked! I covered it on the blog and I got very positive feedback from you guys.
Guess what? Dan is back at it [Almost Impossible! 2]((https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/almost-impossible-2/id1453987087?ls=1&mt=8), a sequel of the game! 50 new levels, no in-app purchase, just a simple purchase of 1.99$ (2.79$CA) and that’s it! No ads either, no fuss!
Almost Impossible! 2 is a side-scrolling atmospheric puzzle platformer, built exclusively for iOS. Guide a small ball of light on a dangerous journey. It’s easy to pick up, yet insanely addictive.
No Ads, no In-app-purchases, just fun gameplay and with over 50 action packed levels, Almost Impossible! 2 is the most splendid game you’ll pick up this week!
This is a instant recommendation from me! Plus, the music made by Jim Kulakowski, is as always amazing! Fun fact, after hearing Jim’s music for Almost Impossible!, I commissioned him to do the music for RGBA, our podcast!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-07 16:19
Rarely do books hit a bull’s eye in my retro gamer heart like the SNES Omnibus! Brett Weiss did an amazing job gathering information, comments, and reviews of all of the Super Nintendo game repertoire!
The SNES Omnibus is an in-depth look at what not only shaped my childhood, but completely revolutionized the gaming industry. When all you could see on TV were ads about how faster the Genesis was, the Super Nintendo kept innovating with new game genres, ton of RPGs and incredible game direction that would leave a deep and wide mark on gamers all of the planet.
I remember reading Electronic Gaming Monthly, Gamepro and Nintendo Power each and every month to get new reviews of games I could soon either purchase or rent for 3$ a day at the Super Club Vidéo 2000. Brett not only compiled the full list, but he also brought back from the past how the games were received and what industry experts were saying about them.
If you are ready for an amazing blast from the past, make sure to pick up the SNES Omnibus Volume 1 today and while you’re at it, go ahead and preorder the Volume 2, it just got pre-released and it will be in your hands on April 28th!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-07 11:32
When I was preparing for my upgraded living room, I choose a great Vizio 4K television to benefit from that nice 4K HDR picture, but I also needed a new Apple TV 4K, the right cables and accessories to make all of this setup nice, tidy and most of all great looking and kid proof.
I had most of the gear chosen pretty early on and that includes the Apple TV 4K, the only hassle less 4K HDMI cable from Belkin that is trusted to do the best job, an elago Multi Mount to stick the Apple TV to the back of the TV using magnets and the elago R1 Siri Remote Case to protect the glass of the Siri Remote in case of drops.
Not long after I got the Vizio TV, I realized that the back of the TV is made of plastic, but not plastic that hides a slate of metal, therefore I cannot use the 4 strong magnets of the elago Multi Mount to attach it to the TV. I have to use the rubber loop handle to attach it to my TV wall mount and leave it dangling away from eyesight.
Not the worst thing that could happen. With a bit of cable management, I can get all this setup nicely since the 6ft of the Belkin Ultra High Speed 4K HDMI Cable requires some black tie wrap to loop it around the back of the television.
I used to have the TotalMount Apple TV mount that sticks to the back of the TV, but twice it fell. I should probably have given it more time to really set by placing the TV face down and adding weight to the back of the mount for a couple of hours, but I was in a hurry and I wanted to play with my new toys! 🙂
Not sure if you look up the price, but a Siri Remote repair is very expensive, 79$ in the US so probably over 100$ in Canada, so I always trusted the elago R1 Case for my original Apple TV and could have not been more satisfied! I even tried knock offs when I first got the Apple TV 4K, but highly regretted it. Bad moulding, cheap materials, etc.
Now both my Apple TV remotes are protected with the trusted elago R1 Case!
For this part of the setup I was looking at a compact solution that is a no-fuss solution either. I did not want to fiddle with a ton of wire or latency. Therefore I choose the Sonos Playbar, an optical cable solution with only another thin wire for the power. It even matches my TV for the metallic accents!
Nothing fancy here in terms of setup, I only installed the Playbar Mount (sold separately) to the TV wall mount and that was it.
This is not the most complicated or involved setup but covers the ground to get a fast Apple TV mounted to the back of the TV and a soundbar just below. No wires dangling and a protected expensive Apple TV Remote.
Have you recently done a TV setup? If so let me know what parts you choose and what setup you did!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-07 09:33
The number of security cameras that are HomeKit powered is not very large. One of the first cameras that were released, if not the first one with this feature, is the Omna 180 Cam HD by D-Link and we gave it a spin! It’s a security camera with HomeKit support as its main features that can alert you of movement as well as record locally the footage on a microSD card.
The design of the Omna 180 Cam HD, let’s just call it the Omna camera from now on, is very nice. You have a brushed-aluminum cylinder with a front-facing lense. It has air vents near its foot and a single microUSB cable connector to go with it. You install the microSD card on the underside of the camera.
There’s not much to it, as there are no options, external accessories, light or anything else. It’s pretty much there by itself.
The first thing you need to do is setup the camera. Thankfully the HomeKit feature makes this ultra-simple. Just point your HomeKit app camera to the code label on the back and bingo. :) Just like an iTunes Gift Card of the past, you get the camera added to your Home in HomeKit.
When enabled, you can do motion recording to the not-included microSD card. This means that you get clips recorded automatically from a few seconds before movement to after the moment has stopped. The UI to view back the footage is awful though. I would strongly recommend to hook the memory card to your computer to navigate the folder structure and see your videos.
You can shout inside the app and have the speakers on the camera play what you are saying. You can have a conversation using this camera but there is some delay. Also, all of the functions I mention are only available inside the Omna app. The HomeKit app only allows to view live feed of the camera, no options, no settings. The single options you might fiddle with is the motion detection sensitivity and the delay between recordings (from 30s to 5 minutes). These will allow you to record meaningful footage.
One of the most important things with a security camera is the quality of its recording. I will show you a few examples of recording in different situations so you can see how good, or bad it is. The footage is untouched and simply uploaded online as is so you can see the exact files you will be able to retrieve from the camera microSD card.
Here are a couple of examples to show off what the Omna 180 Cam HD can do.
As you can see just from the feature list, the Omna 180 HD camera does the minimum but very well. The quality is not up to par with other 4K cameras and it does not have any smart features like going from 4K to HD and following a detected human but it does record what you point it to. It has a very large field of view and that’s a good thing. It’s HomeKit enabled so you can use Siri Shortcuts with it.
As for quality well, I’m very happy to be late to the review. Over the last few weeks D-Link pushed great updates including a quick arm/disarm features and an auto-update for the firmware. One of the worst bugs I saw was problems when I was trying to save my zones, it would go back and ignore my changes. I would need to do this 3 or 4 times for them to apply.
I initially wanted to lower the score of this camera because of all the software issues but now that they are resolved it’s much better!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-04-02 07:30
I’ve been a big listener of Double Density since the beginning and I really enjoyed every bit of it! I’ve always loved conspiracies around aliens, crypto’s and all things paranormal and as you know tech in general. So mixing both is basically great!
They recently reached their 100th episode and by the end of last week episode something weird happened. Brian, one of the two co-host, basically disappeared… very weird.
Angelo, the second half of Double Density, is trying to understand what happened. And no, it’s not just a case of bad Internet.
I really hope Brian is found, he’s a great guy.