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Sabrent Rocket Nano, a Micro Nimble M.2 External SSD [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-11 09:59

2020 seems like a year where we will finally be able to carry the full power of Thunderbolt 3 in the palm of our hands! Last year, we got a few small very quick SSDs, but 2020 seems the power keeps increasing as much as their footprint seems to be diminishing!

A few months ago, I tested the CalDigit Tuff Nano external SSD with promises of doing a crazy speed of 1050 MB/s in both read and write! I remember that not too long ago, I was excited about “only” 300 MB/s! The drive was fairly small, with a rubber protection.

But today, I have something even smaller. Its footprint not only fits in your hand, you can actually close your fist around it! 😱 The Rocket Nano by Sabrent is an m2 SSD wrapped in a 100% aluminum case that promises 1000 MB/s of both read and write speeds!

Design

This little guy is quite impressive to look at. The box seems make it seem like it’s way bigger, so when you actually open it and see how tiny the external SSD is, you blink and can’t believe it!

The enclosure is made of aluminum and act as a heat sink for those long transfer sessions when hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes are moved on and off the drive. It comes with both a Thunderbolt 3 cable (USB-C ends of course) and a USB-C to USB-A cable to maximize compatibility in these evolving times where the USB connectors are changing.

Now, how big is the Rocket Nano? It’s only slightly larger than a USB thumb drive. Its length is basically the width of a SATA SSD drive. It’s half the width of an AirPods case, and only about 1 cm longer. Here are a couple of shots of it next to everyday items so you can get an idea of its size.

Features

  • Dimensions: 69.9mm x 29.2mm x 12.7mm (2.75” x 1.15” x 0.5”)
  • Weight: 46g (1.62 oz)
  • Available in six colours (black, grey, blue, pink, red and gold)
  • Available in 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 Interface with 1000 MB/s

Having extra storage is often an expensive upgrade when buying a laptop. Going from 1TB to 2TB with the latest MacBook Pro 16-inch, costs 400$. For 100$ less, you can get a 2TB Rocket Nano! (pricing in May 2020). If you don’t need to have that storage inside your computer at all times, the Rocket Nano is a great way to save a ton of money! And if you need it with you? Well, hide it in your iPod Nano jean’s pocket and it will always be with you where you go!

Performance

Of course, the very first thing I did was to run a bunch of benchmarks to see how well this little speed demon behaves! For reference, I was testing the 1TB model in grey.

Using the regular disk benchmarking software, I got speeds on or around that 1,000 MB/s. ATTO Disk Benchmark reported 1,020 MB/s in both read and write, AJA System Test Lite said 963 MB/s in read and 968 MB/s in write and Black Magic Disk Speed Test returned 907 and 915 in read and write speed respectively.

Most of the tools are reporting the advertised speed and that is amazing. Using it as an external SSD at these speeds do not feel like an external SSD at all!

Sustained Transfer

The last test I wanted to make was a long-running transfer of just above 100 GB. Why you might ask? Often times, manufacturers will use a fast SLC cache of various sizes to allow for the maximum top speed for what they think is under the average transfer size. This way, they can save on cost as this fast SLC cache is way more expensive and would triple of not quadruple their costs.

To test this fast SLC cache you need to transfer files that are larger than its size, and note if you see a drop in transfer speed. For this, I’m using the excellent iStat Menu with the SSD option ON while looking at the graphic.

iStat Menu Sustained Graph

As you can see from the graphic above, I’ve done three separate transfers, separated by about 1 minute. You clearly see that there is a drop of about 40% after a little while. Looking the macOS file transfer window this happens around the 26 GB mark. Therefore, we can safely assume that there is probably a 26 GB fast SLC cache that gets filled and then the speed drops from around 950 MB/s to 500 MB/s according to iStat Menu.

This SLC Cache can be of any size from a few gigabytes to over 100 GB on more expensive desktop SSD drives. The Rocket Nano has a decent size cache that is around the average size on the market and it beats a few drives out there with smaller caches.

iStat Menu, Up Close for Single Transfer

But what does it mean in reality? In a typical day-to-day utilization, you should not see any meaningful speed degradations unless you move over 100s of gigabytes regularly. Opening a photo library or even doing a 4K edit directly on the drive will not slow down since you don’t work off ALL of the data at once. I personally rarely move over 50 GB of files in one single transfer, therefore instead of being around 50s for the complete file transfer, it will be about 70s. Not a very meaningful difference.

Temperature

With all the above benchmarking and large file transfer, you might wonder how the aluminum case behaved? Well, it really did its job wonderfully. Knowing that these little memory boards can get so hot, you can’t touch them, I have happy to see that the worst temperature I got was offered multiple 100 GB transfer and it was 51˚C. Certainly hot to the touch, but not enough to burn you. And after regular sized copies, it was around 40˚C in continuous use.

Infrared Temperature Reads After Large Transfers

The case/heatsink does a very good job, as knowing how hot SSDs can get, it sure was hot to the touch, but not enough to burn, and it came down quickly after that to only feel warm!

Conclusion

The Sabrent Rocket Nano is a tiny little drive that has performance of competitors 3 and 4 times its size. It’s so small that it can fit comfortably behind your laptop, in your jeans pockets, even in the smaller pocket!

With sustained performance of 1000 MB/s, it’s just like having another internal SSD Drive. I see absolutely no difference running Final Cut Pro or Photos on it. The only time when you might not benefit from its full potential is if you transfer over 26 GB of files in one single stream. These times, you will see about half the speed due to an SLC Cache of about 26 GB.

All in all, I strongly recommend the Rocket Nano for someone looking to extend the total capacity of their computer. The speed is great and does not allow to see much difference in everyday use, even with professional tools. It does not run hot and with both a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C on both ends) and a USB-C to USB-A cable, you can use it literally anywhere! As long as the computer is fast enough to drive the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface! Nowadays, it’s the computer that risks not being fast enough!


CleanMyMacX Now Available on the Mac App Store

Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-28 08:32

I never thought we would see the day where CleanMyMac X, the best all-in-one maintenance and optimization suite, would be available on the Mac App Store. Apple has been very clear about how application should request access to drives and ressources, but most of all, the restrictions that came with the Mac App Store were even worst.

To a point where even code editors could not live on the MAS because they would not be able to read all the files on the disk. Apple defined the entitlements that applications must request, however, since the introduction of this sytem not all of the possible entitlements were available. And sadly up to this day, everything that is possible for a notarized Mac app is not possible to be done in its Mac App Store version.

MacPaw judged that what is now available is enough and they are launch an almost complete version of CleanMyMac X on the Mac App Store today!

CleanMyMac X

The main difference between the MAS version and the MacPaw Store version is the notable absence of the Photo Junk, Maintenance, Updater and Shredder modules. There is currently no way for MacPaw to have these modules work with the current state of the Mac App Store. There are also a few limitations to other modules like the Smart Scan that comes without the Speed module, replaced by the Large & Old Files. The System Junk can’t access Xcode simulators, System Log Files, System Cache Files, Language Files and Deleted Users. The Trash Bins, Privacy, Optimization, Uninstaller and some fonctionnality of the CleanMyMac X menu are also limited.

All in all, you still get most of the features for an App that lives in the Mac App Store, that does not require you to share your payment information and will be showed with your other subscriptions.

Talking about subscription, did you know that there are three ways to get CleanMyMac X? You can buy a one-time copy or an annual subscription on the MacPaw Store, an annual subscrption on the Mac App Store or an annual or monthly subscription through SetApp. Phew!

But which version should you get?? That’s a good question!

MacPaw Store Version
One-time purchase, or annual subscription
For 1 Mac
Cool rebates (returning customers, upgrade discount, competitor discount and more)

Mac App Store Version
Annual subscription only
Available on all your Apple ID devices
Appears on your MAS subscription invoice

SetApp
Monthly, or annual subscription
2 Macs
Access to 160+ other Mac Apps

So from this information, you might want to try to get the best price for you. If you already own another Mac Paw product you should head over to the MacPaw store, you might be able to get either a cheaper upgrade or returning customer price. However, if you have multiple Macs and no other MacPaw licenses, the Mac App Store version would be “pay once and run everywhere” so this might be better for you. And finally, if you already have a SetApp subscription, you already own CleanMyMac X!

I really like CleanMyMac X and I think I should review it soon!


Twelve South StayGo USB-C Hub, the Hub to Rule Them All [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-22 14:18

There are a lot of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C in the market and they usually look like a thick slab of aluminum powered by a large power brick. They are ideal for your home office or office, but that’s where you will set them and you will never travel with them.

That a pity and often time, on the go, I have the same needs as when I’m at home. I need to connect devices to my USB-C port MacBook Pro but there are no good portable docks and I don’t like bringing a complete kit of dongles when I work outside…

The StayGo USB-C Dock by Twelve South is a solution to both at home and on the go, get it? StayGo? So let’s see if this hub really fulfills the promise of being a good home dock and a good on-the-go dock and as I’m a geek for numbers, let’s run a few benchmarks with it!

Design

The StayGo is a small size dock that still offers great connectivity for the size but it’s special power is how I how they decided to manage power. Instead of using a super thick power brick, they are reusing the power brick that comes with your MacBook Pro and offers 85W of passthrough power. And the cable to plug it into your Mac is hidden inside the dock! So when you are going out, you simply take the dock with you and you don’t need to think about the cable or have a weird dangling cable that’s in the way.

The StayGo in all its glory!

The whole dock acts as a heat sink for the heat generated through its use and it’s one of the only, if not the only one, with both a microSD and SD card reader. Three USB-A 3.0 for your fast external storage and one of them gives out 7.5W for charging your phone. The HDMI shoots out 4K video at 30Hz and the Ethernet jack is a Gigabit port that can do 1,000Mbps.

But where this little shines, is that it comes with one right angle USB-C cable for the desk and it can even store a short USB-C cable inside itself for use on the go! So you just grab the StayGo and run! No need for extra cables!

The matte black design is great and it feels amazing in the hand! Great design, great looks!

Features

  • Compact form factor
  • Power pass through (70W for your Mac)
  • 3x USB-A, 1x Gigabit Ethernet, microSD and SD card ports
  • 1x 4K HDMI at 30Hz
  • Now power cord
  • One integrated short USB-C cable

Performance

Let’s first talk about the power performance of the StayGo. From the marketing document, Twelve South says it’s offering a passthrough of 85W for charging a MacBook Pro. This is very good as it closely matches what the 2018 and before MacBook Pro 15” were requiring. The new 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro requires 96W so you might not be able to run it to its fullest speed without seeing a few percentage points drop. For a compact dock like this, it’s not bad at all and a good compromise. Worst case, when you leave your computer to eat or make coffee, it will regain the lost points.

When I plugged the MacBook Pro charger, it displays 86W of charging current (for an 87W charger). And when I plug it in through the StayGo, I have 72W displayed in the System Information. The way it works is that the 85W are passed through, but the StayGo needs 15W to function, so you are left with about 70-72W of charging power to your laptop.

As for external drive performance, I hooked up my CalDigit Tuff Nano (buy it now), a disk that can do 974 MB/s and 792 MB/s in read and write speeds to one of the regular USB3 port of the StayGo. I got 419 MB/s and 57 MB/s in read and write speeds, but then when I used the powered port, the one that can provide 7.5W Fast Charging, I got 421 MB/s and 327 MB/s in read and write speeds. So if you need speed with an external SSD, make sure you use the powered port as it’s much faster than the other ones. However, it’s nowhere near as fast as a Thunderbolt 3 port which can basically double the bandwidth speed. Remember that the USB-3 ports are the 9 Gbps type, a lot slower than the 40Gbps of a Thunderbolt 3 port.

As for the microSD and SD card ports, yes you have both so you don’t need to carry an extra microSD to SD card adapter, they are the UHS-I type that can do about 104 MB/s. With a Kingston SD card rated for 90 MB/s and 80 MB/s, I was able to reach 67 MB/s and 62 MB/s, not quite the maximum power of the card but close.

Given all of these performance numbers, it’s clear to me that the StayGo does not try to be the fastest or more powerful dock, after all it does not require a huge power brick as does the other big boys like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock or the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The StayGo is also not the same price, and all of its specs are detailed on the website for full transparency.

Conclusion

The StayGo is a marvel of design giving how much it packs in such a simple case. It’s the fastest, nor is it trying to be it. It’s a “good to great” performer that has the smarts to be very useful on the go or on your desk. It offers the possible and flexibility to be all you need on the go, no need for those damn dongles and at the same time, it can be the dock for the office where you have Ethernet, an external monitor and a few external disks. This is where it shines, it is more flexible than any other small docks on the market, and it still can offer great performance to be able to resume work on the go without any need of dongles.

If you need the superpower of a Thunderbolt 3 dock, then either you wait to be home and use all the dongles your MacBook Pro needs, or you acquire the OWC or Elgato docks. Note that instead of being 99 $US these models from the two companies are about 300 $US.

Overall, the StayGo does what no other docks do well, be practical both on the go and at home, while giving enough ports, power and performance to be well rounded for most of the setups out there, even professionals on the go!


LastSwab, a Solution for Disposable Cotton Swabs [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-19 13:40

This is not a product category that I often review, but after realizing how many cotton swabs we go through in a year, I decided to look for a solution. And one that I could talk about here for you to discover.

I present you the LastSwab, a silicon tipped reusable swab that allows you to simply clean it after use and stop wasting and polluting the ocean with disposable cotton swabs. As it is the case with many of these great ideas, it started with a Kickstarter that raises 706,811 US$ to revolutionize the way we clean our ears and how we do makeup!

Design

The LastSwab comes in two flavours at the moment, the Basic rounded tip cotton swabs with little bumps to catch the ear wax, and a makeup version, called Beauty, that is slick and has more of a pointy tip, more flexible and softer.

Both versions have a very flexible core to prevent you from putting too much pressure in your ear and thus helps prevent injuries. To help with storage and to keep it clean while not in use, they come in a nice carrying case that feels more like a œuvre d’art display than anything else!

And did I mention they in many, many colours? Seven different colours for the basic model and six colours for the beauty model!

Features

  • Reusable product that replaces 1,000 cotton swabs
  • Comes in a corn-based carrying case
  • Two models and 7 colours

Performance

We are a family of five so we consume lots of cotton swabs, I was looking forward to a good replacement so I asked to test both the Basic and Beauty versions. I’ve got two teenage girls and a wife so I figured I should probably have them test the Beauty model!

I have been the one mainly using the Basic model and after having it for a few weeks I really like it! The first thing you realize is that the LastSwab has a grippier feeling than cotton swab that can grab all of that ear wax! You let warm water flow on the tip and a quick rub removes it all.

The tip is very comfortable and I like the little scratching it does to my inner ear! If you ever have an ear itch, the LastSwab is great for that too! The main difference between a cotton swab and the LastSwab is the effectiveness of removing every last bit of ear wax. You see the LastSwab leaves a film in your ear canal, keeping the natural protection ear wax provides without the grossness of it. Cotton swabs removes everything and can even easily be irritating your ear canal if you rub it too hard. At first I thought I did not “feel” as clean, but after multiple weeks, it is not the case. You feel as good as with a regular cotton swab.

As for the Beauty version of the LastSwab, the girls in my household actually were not using cotton swabs for their makeup, but the corner of a foam sponge to do some medium precision application. Moving to the LastSwab was actually a revelation for them and they have already asked me to get them one each! The great thing with the LastSwab is that they are flexible enough to be comfortable, but stiff enough to allow for ease of control when applying makeup. The other end being rounder offers another tool that is easy to use, clean and re-use.

And given that the tips are made of silicone, you can easily clean them, dry them and try again where a sponge could easily be ruined after a single use (or require drying time after cleaning it).

Conclusion

The idea of a reusable swab is very interesting, especially if you tend to use multiple ones. The numbers add up rapidly and if you start thinking about where those end up, it’s not very long before you start feeling awful and try to look for a solution. The team behind the LastSwab has created a very interesting product that is both effective and very well designed. It works great and is easy to cleanup under hot water. I would go as far as say it does a better job than the cotton swabs because it does not try to clean your ear canals out of all their ear wax. It leaves a very thin layer that can do its job, you know, protecting your ear canal from infections and other bad things.

The two models, the Basic and the Beauty, make this a tool that can be part of the everyday life of those in need of a practical and ecological solution for their makeup.

Both are really like by my family and they have voiced their interest in each having one with their own colour! Sadly, I don’t see a Family Pack of LastSwab Basic or Beauty… (hey LastSwab, make a family pack!)

Overall, I really like the product, and I strongly recommend it for anyone that cleans their ears! This makes a lot of you so you know what you need to do!


Twelve South AirFly Pro, the Wireless Panacea [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-06 10:56

A few months ago, I reviewed the original AirFly from Twelve South and had such a great experience that I was wondering if they could do something more, like add more to the product to make it even better. I’m happy to report that we now have the Twelve South AirFly family of products with the original AirFly, the USB-C, the Duo and the Pro!

To put it simple, the Classic is the one I reviewed with one pair of headphones and 8 hours of battery life. The Duo supports two headphones and has 20+ hours of battery life. The USB-C swaps the 3.5mm jack for a USB-C port and the Pro has a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve! This is the little guy I reviewed!

Design

The AirFly Pro is kind of the AirFly Classic which means it connects to any 3.5mm port, often called the AUX port on stereo and gym equipment to allow a non-Bluetooth capable device to broadcast its audio over Bluetooth.

It comes in a very small and now rounded and slightly longer and thicker but narrower than the Classic. You really feel the quality of the parts here and it does come with a carrying case and cables including a cap for the 3.5mm cord.

The Pro has three major changes from the Classic, first off the battery life goes from 8 hours to 16 hours, and you can charge it via USB-C. The second is that you can pair two headphones to it so you can share the movie in a plane or the audio while exercising with a loved one.

And finally, what I think really makes this the audio panacea, it can act both as a Bluetooth transmitter for use in a plane or with a Nintendo Switch or as a Bluetooth receiver for uses when you want to send audio to the AirFly. You could send your Spotify music from your phone to your car or visit a friend’s house and send your own playlist to their home stereo and be the DJ for the night!

Features

  • Both a transmitter and a receiver
  • Can connect two headphones
  • Charges via USB-C
  • 16-hour battery life

Performance

The AirFly comes with a simple booklet to get this setup, it’s not the most intuitive setup thanks to the different audio devices and their different ways to put them into pairing mode. The AirFly Pro tried to make this as simple as possible with only one main button, a reset button and a Rx/Tx switch to toggle between receiving and transmitting audio.

I did need to do a few tried to get both my AirPods and the Sennheiser Momentum 3 properly paired. But once it was done it really works like a charm, turn the AirFly Pro on and turn your audio devices ON and bingo!

AirFly Pro, up close and personal

Sound quality is perfect, even with the phone in my pocket with the AirFly Pro, I did not have interference troubles or anything like this. The range is not what I would call amazing if I start to go to another floor but given the use case at hand of being close to the device it does not really matter.

Conclusion

Overall the experience is great and I really like what they did with the new models which is better for people with a different need while keeping the cost down. You should use this page to decide on which of the AirFly family member is the best for your specific need. I know that I will continue to use the AirFly Classic with my Nintendo Switch since it’s a bit thinner and the Pro will be ideal for in-flight entertainment as the transmitter and in the car as the receiver since my 2011 car does not have great Bluetooth audio hardware.

For use with the Nintendo Switch, I kind of wish we could have a Light version that can fit very closely to the Switch as a thin layer behind the console. The Pro works great but dangling kind of feels weird. I’ll probably add some Velcro behind it so it stops bumbling around.

Once again, Twelve South made a bang with what I think is more than what could be expected and every single product of the family is a great addition to anyone’s gadget pouch! Highly recommended!


Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro Webcam Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-04 12:33

With all of the remote worker jobs that are popping everywhere from LinkedIn to Medium with a bunch of tips and tricks and best practices to empower remote workers. One constant is found across all of these articles is the use of video for coworkers to both build a sense of friendship as well as foster better communication. You can use your laptop’s 720p camera but that camera and microphone looks and sound very bad.

This is where Logitech comes in the picture with the Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam, a camera that can show your face in 4K as well as offer front-facing quality microphone. This camera is often used in conference room because it offers a wide-angle view and its microphone can pick up sound in a much better way than what a TV or laptop can.

Design

The Brio Ultra HD Pro comes in the shape of an attachment you can easily add to the top of your laptop or desktop display. It is installed on a double hinge system that allows you have it rest securely on the display while at the same time allow you to adjust the vertical angle to be perfect for your actual position.

Once you have installed it and plugged it in via USB, the webcam just works. No driver needed, no other software needs to be installed, it just appears in any software that has access to your webcams.

Coming with the Brio, you also have a small flap that you can install on top of your camera to hide the lens. It flips down and covers the camera so if you are worried about hackers gaining access to your camera, at the very least you can hide yourself with this optional attachment. The camera also has a small pouch for travelling with it and at the same time to clean up the front glass of the product.

Being glass, this allows for a much better light transmission and visual quality, but also attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Thankfully, the pouch does a good job of cleaning it and once you actually set up your camera, you can basically forget it and never touch it again.

Features

  • 4K Ultra HD Resolution
  • Digital 5x Zoom
  • High bitrate
  • HDR capture and RightLight™ 3 technology

Performance

The installation could not be simpler, connect the super long USB-C cable and you’re done! But if you want to jump in the settings, you can download the Camera Setting application and change the viewing angle, zoom levels and a few more details.

The camera is capable of running at 4K 30fps and 1080 60fps so you can use it to stream through OBS or Xsplit while you are streaming your favourite game! It will be well adapted for such activity thanks to its HDR capture and better sensor.

I’m used to two very similar cameras in my day-to-day remote work. The first one is the MacBook Pro (2017) webcam capable of 720p with a tiny, tiny sensor. And the second one is the Apple Thunderbolt Display (2011), also capable of only 720p. Both have very crappy image quality and very crappy microphone quality.

So using the Brio Pro is such a nicer experience, without even considering the sharpness and the higher resolution, just the quality of the sensor and the light that can be captured is incredible. You have a much better image with a ton more light. Your face is well lit and there is no dark zone in the picture.

Let’s go over a few examples of video recorded with all three devices, the MacBook Pro, the Thunderbolt Display and the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam.

 

As you can see the quality is night and day compared to other “regular” webcams. Plus with the free Logitech Camera Setting app, you can adjust many of the parameters to even better the image you are capturing. The way the camera is installed on your desktop display really makes it in the perfect angle.

As you can see, you can also change the cropping when in both Standard and Widescreen view as well as change exposure, focus, brightness and more. But out of the box, the camera is good enough to correctly expose you.

Conclusion

The Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam from Logitech is a great addition, not only for remote workers that want to step up their game with regards to the video quality they project to their peers or for the streamer that wants to increase the quality of his setup without the need for expensive pro hardware. This webcam allows for a much better video quality, resolution and with its HDR capabilities, it offers a well-rounded image quality and allows for a ton of light to be caught by the sensor.

The result is a close to professional quality that will undoubtedly help in all of your interactions with your colleagues or to get you new subs on YouTube, Twitch or Mixer because in that small corner of the screen you should get all of the quality you can get to really look great! Plus the camera will match the 60fps of your gaming recording and thus make your image comfortable to the eye of your watchers!

I highly recommend the Brio Ultra HD Pro for anybody using some kind of camera for communication, you will simply love it!


Logitech MX Master 3, the King Is Back Baby! [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-22 11:31

After 2 incredibly successful iteration of its MX Master Mouse, Logitech came back with another version. But how can they make this incredible, already close to perfect mice even better? I mean, I love my MX Master 2 and I would not trade it in for another mouse for nothing in the world… And, from a tech reviewer’s point of view, what could even make this new version more interesting than the previous one?

I mean, it probably has a few new features, but could Logitech really make this mouse even better??

Design

If you have used a MX Master or MX Master 2, you already know the shape of the mouse and the overall feel, you played with it in the past. However, what you have not experienced is the incredible upgrade they put in this revision. Every single thing on this mouse feels premium in a what that I did not anticipate could be done.

The MX Master 2 was great, but now, we have more metal parts, more precise mechanism with a very BMW feel to them and it is an incredible feeling when you first start using it!

The new MagSpeed Electromagnetic scrolling wheels can scroll to incredible speeds but never does it feel cheap. It’s more precise, it’s metal construction is weighted and it’s super quiet. All things I did not think was possible, yet it’s in my hand as I type these words!

The side wheel is also made of metal and have the same feel to it. All the buttons are slightly different, giving out a stiffer yet more refined click when you press them. The mode shift allows you to change the mode of the scroll wheel like in the past, from what they call the Ratchet mode (the “tick-tick-tick” mode I call it) and the Free-Spin mode when it spins just like an electric skateboard!

You still get the side scroll wheel, two side buttons, two main buttons and the thumb button as previously available. But the MX Master 3 now has a few new tricks up its sleeve.

Features

  • Re-engineered hardware
  • Superfast, and silent, scrolling
  • Gesture button
  • App Customization
  • Control multiple computers
  • 4,000 dpi sensor
  • USB-C

Performance

As mentioned above the experience is quite impressive and it does not look like it when you just read the words on the browser. The feel, resistance when needed and quality of the comments feels like using a luxurious car knob.

You really need to experience it to really know what we are talking about !

The technology called Flow is not new this year, it was released last year with the MX Master 2S and it allows you to control multiple computers with the same Logitech mouse and keyboard. You exit the screen just like you would do with a dual monitor setup to reach the second monitor and automatically the second computer captures your cursor as if you switched mice.

The Gesture button is a new take on how you can customize actions for each of your app. This is the thumb button that is horizontal just under your thumb. When kept pressed it awaits your command, which is a movement going forward, backward or sideways. Each direction can be mapped to an action in your apps. For example, you could map one to the undo and redo action in Photoshop.

Plus you can also assign these actions to the side buttons and horizontal scroll wheel as you can with the mode switching button.

Really, this mouse is customization heaven!

Finally a USB-C port

It also comes with a USB-C port! No more fiddling to connect it! It has a Quick Charge feature where one minute of charging gives you 3 hours of use! And it even last 70 days on a full charge!

Conclusion

The MX Master 2S was an incredible mouse that I did not think could be made that much better. Logitech took the challenge head first and impressively past all expectations! The MX Master 3 hardware is better on all fronts, the customization is incredible, it even has a new sensor and finally uses USB-C with a 1-minute quick charge for 3 hours!

What else can I say other than, run and buy this incredible mouse! You will not regret it!!!


Nightingale IC2 7300 WH Office Chair Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 14:18

I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.

After testing a first office chair model, Nightingale offered me to try another very different model, a model with a more modern look. At first glance they are right, this model offers a special combination of fabric, leather and mesh. But there are many other differences.

First of all, let’s talk about the model number. The chair is called IC2 7300, WH means “white” and D means adding an optional headrest. So the model tested is knowned as IC2 7300D WH.

Design

In comparison with the CXO 6200D the 7300 IC2 is less impressive (in terms of size and weight) and we see it as soon as the box comes out of the truck. It is much lighter and the reason is mainly the use of plastic instead of metal on several components. Rest assured, none of these components have poor build quality, it is not a barter where we can be losers.

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

The IC2 7300WH uses a main axis made of shiny metal as well as the five branches for the wheels. The width of the branches ratio versus chair height is slightly smaller than the CXO and it’s probably not a bad thing if you don’t like getting your legs on the castors. The seat can be covered with leather or fabric and the back rest with elastic mesh (named Ablex) or leather, all choosable options according to your taste.

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

Features

  • Ergonomic chair with 11 adjustments and features
  • Choice of foam covered with fabric or leather
  • Adjustable headrest on two axis, optional
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

Performances

The assembly is the first step you take with the chair and it can even be done without instructions. A single page explains how to attach the headrest and other than that it comes fully assembled (the central axis included!).

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

This chair offers a wide variety of adjustments. The first one is obviously the height, but a very nice feature is a rocking mode resistor that can be adjusted infinitely. By turning a knob, it increases the resistance until your weight can not tilt the chair. Nightingale calls this the Galileo mechanism. We can also adjust the seat depth by making it move from the front to the back …

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

An adjustable lumbar support in the X and Y axes, from top to bottom and from rear to front is included. The arm rests are adjustable according to the width direction, forward / backward, up / down and left / right. They call this 4D adjustment. Finally, if you have opted for a headrest, it can be adjusted up and down and rotate on its axis to provide the best angle to your head and adjust when you balance yourself back on the chair with the Gallileo feature.

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

All theses adjustments make the IC2, a very comfortable and very customizable chair. Being more configurable than other models, you also have the famous memory foam that I loved so much about CXO 6200, the back rest can be made of Ablex mesh or leather. The final price of the IC2 can vary greatly depending on your selections.

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

We instantly see the same build quality as other products from Nightingale, the chair is a good balance between strength and weight to be stable without being ridiculously heavy. Even adjusting the headrest has improved in comparison with the CXO 6200. It is more difficult to move and it’s a very good thing, once adjusted it keeps its position.

The back rest is significantly narrower than I imagined. This is not a problem for many people, but I prefer a larger back rest to properly support my shoulders. Especially when I rock the chair backwards. The armrests are very convenient, because in addition to the 3 axes, we can remove them or bring them closer to the seat. Also, they can drop much lower, enough to get under the desk. Very handy when a kid has to use the office!

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

The seat of the chair tested was covered in leather, a good quality leather well assembled and firmly molded to the shape of the seat. This seat has a concave shape, like a bucket type seat, very comfortable upright, but as I often place a leg under theother, this becomes very uncomfortable. This chair is not suitable for fans of a (bad) position.

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

Pluses and Minues

Pluses ➕

  • Great number of adjustments
  • Strong and confortable tilting mechanism
  • Seating comfortable
  • Many adjustments for headrests and armrests

Minuses ➖

  • Seating unsuitable for those who cross legs
  • Supports back not sufficiently large
  • Leather is nice quality but can stain easily

Nightingale IC2 7300 WH

Conclusion

Again Nightingale offers a high quality product that, considering its options, is more configurable and therefore more affordable than many other models. We loved its feature set and its very customizable nature, more than many other more expensive chairs. The back rest, lumbar support and the headrest are virtually perfect. The seat is also perfect for an upright position, but not for someone who crosses his legs.

The big news is the tilting mecanism and I must say it is something I really appreciate during an intense debugging session where stretching this way allows to take a step back and kill a persistent bug.

As tested, this model is also very design and will easily fit in any office. Just be sure to try the chair in the store to be sure that you will be comfortable with the various positions you take when you get home.


Nightingale CXO 6200D Ergonomic Chair Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 10:20

I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.

For the freelancer or the office worker that have a generous boss, finding a comfortable and ergonomic chair is quite an adventure. I have found a specific model that brings together all the interesting ergonomic adjustments and a few special features. It’s already been a few weeks that I’m testing the ergonomic Nightingale CXO 6200D chair.

Assembly

As soon as you get your chair, you’ll see that a bit of assembly is required. Don’t be scared, we are far from the IKEA pamphlet, here we only have a single page for the chair and a small page for the headrest. Once all is unpacked, all you have to do is position the piston on the legs platform, cover with the plastic cap and finally drop the chair on top of the piston. Everything fits perfectly into place and not screws are needed.

As for the headrest, all you need to do is screw it on the back of the chair and cover the screws with a little plastic cover. The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes, but be sure to get some help if you have trouble lifting the chair. It’s quite heavy since most of its construction is made of metal!

Design

The CXO 6200D is a different model from the CXO 6200. The “D” in the model means it has the headrest option added to the base model. The chair itself offer more than 10 adjustments to perfectly fit your body. This is great, but the CXO 6200D also has a few other tricks in its sleeve and some of them really make this product stand out of the crowd.

Nightingale CXO 6200D

First of all, the backrest is made of elastic fabric. This gives you a great air flow for these long programming summer days! The other feature that makes the CXO 6200D really stand out of other similar products is its memory foam seating! Not a cheap memory foam that will completely collapse under your weight like some other products on the market, I’m talking about a memory foam here that offers comfort and support at the same time!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

Features

  • Ergonomic chair with 11 adjustments and features
  • Memory foam seating
  • ABLEX™ fabric backrest
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Mostly metal construction
  • Made in Canada!
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Performance

Once everything is installed, now comes the moment to change all the adjustments and adapt it to your test. But before talking about all of the adjustments, I want to talk about the seat rest. This might seem silly, but being someone that can work hours without standing up, I need to change my seating position regularly, and the one I prefer (yes, I know it’s totally wrong to do so) is when I cross my legs so that one of my calve rests below my thigh.

With the CXO I have quickly realized that the memory foam seat rest offers a great support and really shapes to your bottom and thighs. After a few seconds, we totally forget about it and we really feel as if we were sitting on a cloud! Also, the memory foam is quite thick and it’s rounded shape in the front is also very comfortable to the back of your knees.

Nightingale CXO 6200D

The adjustments

Let’s start with the classic, the pneumatic piston that adjusts the vertical height according to your height. Placed at the right of the chair, it’s very easy to reach and the adjustment is well balanced. We can also adjust the seat rest position from front to back to get closer to the back of your knees and offer a complete support all along your thighs. The way it works is exactly like in your car! I love it!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

The back rest is usually kept in a up straight position, but if you prefer you can unlock it to give you an almost lied down position. A control is located to the left of the chair and can lock or unlock at the precise angle you prefer. To accompany this adjustment, there is also a turning knob that can adjust the resistance of the movement. The more your turn it clockwise, the harder you need to lie down to actually move the back rest down.

Nightingale CXO 6200D

One of the peculiar features of the CXO 6200 is the way the chair reacts when you lie down on the back rest. This is not a dumb movement, the back rest movement is synchronized with the seat rest so that they all slightly adjust to keep a comfortable position and keep your feet on the ground.

Nightingale CXO 6200D

The lumbar support is also very customizable, not only can you move it up or down like many ergonomic chairs, you can also move it forward and backward to augment or diminish the intensity of the support. Extra points to Nightingale because of the included memory foam on it!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

The arm rests are also highly configurable as it’s most of the time the part that needs more flexibility on ergonomic chairs, but not on the CXO. We can adjust the height of the arm rests, the lateral spaces to accommodate larger individuals, we can make them pivot left or right and even slide from the back to the front and vice versa. You will find an ideal setup, no questions about it!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

On the reviewed model, the CXO 6200D, the optional head rest was included. You can adjust the height of the head rest to fit your height using a ratchet-like mechanism. This means that from the lowest position you can click your way up step by step but cannot go lower until you reached the last position. This is also the same mechanism for the lumbar support height adjustment. Both the lumbar support and head rest have the same memory foam as the seat rest. A little extra that adds a lot of comfort to all these parts!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

The experience

Once assembled and installed in my office, I have started the adjustment process. Everything as mostly done without consulting the included instructions since all the adjustment knobs and levers are easy to access and intuitive. I have then consulted the documentation to be sure everything was properly setup. Since that initial setup more than 2 weeks ago, I have only very slightly adjusted the lumbar and head rest support.

I’m always attracted to the memory foam products and I will even replace my mattress with one made up of this material in the future. I was, however, concerned about the density of the foam selected not being high enough to offer a real support. Once seated on it, however, you only need a few seconds for the memory foam to adjust and the “cushion under your bottom” feeling disappears. The ultimate comfort!

And since the head rest has the same material, it really is relaxing to throw yourself on the back and lie down to think of the best way to squash those bugs!

Nightingale CXO 6200D

Thanks to the mesh back support, your back stays cool even during those hot humid days. On the downside, I had issues adjusting the head rest since it was moving up too quickly and I kept missing the height adjustment I as looking for. I had to start over a few times to “aim” better and finally get the position I was looking for.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a great quality product that will totally adapt itself to you, look no further! The CXO 6200D offers enough adjustment settings to enable you to take a very comfortable position. The use of memory foam adds a lot tot he comfort, something I had never experienced. We completely forget that we are sitting on an office chair! I would have made the ratchet mechanism easier to use and “aim” to the wanted position. I keep having to reset and try again multiple times to get it right. Available in more than 10 colors, leather and fabric, and backed by a lifetime limited warranty the CXO 6200D will be the best tool in your work toolbox as well as a great ally to let go some steam on your computer!


Mophie Charging Pad Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 20:00

With all of those new phones and headphones that are compatible with wireless charging, we start to have more and more choices on the market. mophie known for their battery pack had to jump on the charging train. This is why they have worked a few charging pucks for your house. One of the, the Wireless Charging Pad has a few quirks that make it stand out of the crowd.

Design

The Wireless Charging Pad is available in either black or white and it has a very low profile design. It is made of different types of plastic and really looks good! It can fit any types of room and will not scream at you “technology” like some futuristic looking gizmo can often do. It does not stand out and I think for a utility like gadgets this is perfect.

You rest your phone on it and it charges. It does so quicker than with most other chargers too!

Features

  • Qi compatible charging pad
  • 7.5W charging power
  • 2-year warranty
  • Available in black or white
  • Available at Apple and Zagg only

Performance

The performance side of things of a wireless charger basically comes down to how fast can the charger charge your device. In the case of the Mophie Wireless Charging Pad, it does so with 7.5W of power using the latest Qi-compatible hardware. This means that you can charge your phone 50% faster than what the included 5W charger allows.

Given that for a long time wireless charging was not very efficient, this 7.5W charging is a very good thing. It means that most of the energy is transferred to the device and not all of it is lost as heat.

It also allows you to charge through a 3mm case on your iPhone. As long as it’s not a battery or a metal case, it should be good for most of the cases on the market. It also works with the 2nd generation AirPods case and the AirPods Pro too. Given that it is compatible with the Qi standard, any compatible Android handset will work too.

If you have not tried wireless charging, you quickly get addicted to it. You probably already have the reflex of letting your phone rest on your desk, now with a good wireless charger it can gain a few percentage points quickly and those periods where you leave your phone resting would mean that it would get charged. On a normal day it might not matter that much, but that day when you go out with friends and you are a 96% and they are at 20% will make a huge difference! This is one very convenient habit to gain!

The current wireless charging technology is still not as efficient as wired charging, thus the charging pad becomes hot after charging for a few minutes. It’s not scolding hot, but it’s definitely very hot. I’ve seen worst in the past, so I am sure we getting towards a more efficient future but we are still not there.

If you are looking for an alternative, we previously reviewed the mophie Charge Stream Pad+ that can provide 10W of fast charging for compatible devices.

Conclusion

If you are on the lookout for a powerful yet stylish wireless charger, the Wireless Charging Pad by Mophie is one of the best out there. It charges your phone more efficiently than other alternatives and does so with more power than most charger, which means your phone is charged up much faster.


CalDigit AV Pro 2 4TB Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 15:00

CalDigit is making a great lineup of storage products, which includes a tiny rubberized external SSD, the Tuff Nano, for which I already have professed my love for. But what happens if you need a bigger hard drive than what the Tuff Nano offers? Well, CalDigit offers the AV Pro 2, a versatile external hard drive with extra ports and power for charging your laptop!

Design

The AV Pro 2 is a slick aluminum external drive dock that comes with your choice of storage. It can be placed horizontally or vertically in a small transparent plastic holder and offers extra connectivity that a simple external drive does not.

The AV Pro 2 is powered from a wall outlet and provides 30W of power to charge your laptop. Not enough to replace an outlet for the latest MacBook Pro, since these require 90W and more, but enough to charge it while idle or while doing light usage.

The single Thunderbolt 3 cable that goes from the AV Pro 2 to your laptop carries data and power. You also have an extra slim USB-3 port and two old fashion USB-A ports for USB drives or memory card reader. They can also charge other devices like your iPhone with a 7.5W charge.

CalDigit is known to make very Mac centric products and this one is no different. It comes with software to easily mount or unmount drives and even works with the Apple SuperDrive.

Features

  • Solid aluminum enclosure with drive tray
  • Lockable with a key
  • 4-14TB (HDD), 1-2TB (SSD) capacities
  • Can also be bough with just the enclosure
  • Power delivery to your MacBook with 30W
  • Extra USB ports

Performance

The tested model includes a Hitachi 4TB hard drive. This does not allow me to fully test the performance of the AV Pro 2 since the Hitachi has a lowered maximum speed than what the CalDigit AV Pro is capable of. The SSD version of the AV Pro 2 has a maximum advertised speed of 430MB/s.

As you can see from the gallery, I’m only able to reach about 145MB/s in read and write depending on the tool used. For photo editing and backup purposes, this is enough but if you are editing 4K video, you should consider the SSD version.

If you already have an SSD lying around, you should check out the enclosure only version which only costs 54$. This way you could get the best bang for your bucks.

Sky’s the Limit

There are ways to make the AV Pro 2 even better, and I really hope CalDigit is taking notes here. ;) Cranking up the power to 100W would be ideal given that the new 16” MacBook Pro has a 96W power requirements (61W for the 13” MacBook Pro). This way you could work, and render computational heavy tasks all day without a hitch!

The data interface being limited to 430MB/s should be upgraded to allow full Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s performance and thus reach theoretical speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s! The most popular SSD NVMe stick on Amazon is the Samsung 970 EVO SSD 1TB which only costs 168$ and can do 3,500 MB/s read and 2,500 MB/s read. Given the incredible speed at which this SSD stick can run I can only dream of installing one in the next AV Pro and benefit from the awesome speed Thunderbolt 3 can provide!

It’s good that the AV Pro 2 presents itself as a dock, and I really like the extra port, but since we are now in 2020, there should also be at least one extra USB-C port (ideally two) and an SD card reader. I’m currently running an Elago Thunderbolt 3 Dock at work and the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock at home, only the one from OWC has an SD card reader and I use it constantly. Perhaps this is more for someone like me, but I think the SD card reader would be a nice bonus!

Conclusion

Having a sort of two in one where you have an external storage and dock all-in-one is a very good idea and I really love the design of the AV Pro 2. However, if you only need storage this is not the best use of your money. You would have much better performance out of the Tuff Nano by CalDigit with its 1,055MB/s speeds. But if you need a solution to charge your Mac laptop, increase your storage and have a dedicated space to plug in your memory card reader, or USB sticks, then the AV Pro 2 is the dream device that can fit all of your needs! Also, it looks great in all its aluminum glory! Just make sure you wisely choose speed or space with regards to your specific needs.


Sennheiser Momentum 3 Video Review

Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-14 12:59

If you missed my written review you can read the whole piece right here. And I just added a video version of the review. Now you can do as the kids say these days and hit Like and Subscribe on YouTube!


Exway Electric Skateboards on Sale

Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-23 11:36

One of the best esk8 of 2019 are now slashing their prices. Have a look at the X1 and X1 Pro with or without the Riot pack!

Head over to my review of the Exway X1 while you’re thinking about buying an Exway X1 or even X1 Pro. They are all on sale, just make sure to double-check the price and use the coupon EXWAY50 on checkout to get a 50$ off the advertised price!

Exway Xmas 2019 Promo

Looking at these, getting an X1 Pro with Riot pack for only 699$ is an incredible value! You get the longer rage of 16 miles and a kickass belt system!


Nomad Lightning Cable With Kevlar Review

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!

Design

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.

Features

  • Kevlar central core
  • Kevlar outer braid
  • Metal connector plugs
  • Thick rubber flexible ends
  • MFi Certified

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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!


Rugged AirPods Case by Nomad [Review]

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?

This is where Nomad comes into play! Known for their leather case for smartphones, they have released the appropriatly named Rugged Case for the AirPods (first and second generation)!

Design

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!

Features

  • Horween leather from the USA
  • Works with AirPods 1st and 2nd Generation
  • Compatible with Wireless Charging
  • Microfibre interior
  • Precision moulds to fit perfectly

Performance

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!

Nomad Rugged AirPods Case

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!

Conclusion

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!


Aeropress Go, a Great Design Made Even Better [Review]

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?

Design

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!

Features

  • New Design
  • Comes with stirrer, scoop, filter holder and cap
  • Comes with 350 paper filters

Performance

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!

Conclusion

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!


CalDigit Tuff Nano, Compact Speed Demon [Review]

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!

Design

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.

Features

  • Pocket-sized USB-C SSD
  • Shockproof
  • IP67
  • USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and USB-A cables include with hard case
  • 1000 MB/s of transfer speeds
  • 2-year warranty
  • Available with 512GB in black, green, blue, red

Performance

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 Sytem Test

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.

BlackMagic DiskSpeed Test

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.

ATTO DiskBenchmark

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! 👏

Conclusion

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?


Antidote 10, the Writer’s Best Friend! [Review]

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.

Antidote 10

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!

Features

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.

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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.

Antidote 10


elago Cushion Case for iPhone

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.

Cushion Case for iPhone XS

Cushion Case for iPhone 7/8 Plus

and even more Cushion Cases!


Sennheiser Momentum 3, Perfect Marriage of Quality and Noise Cancellation [Review]

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.

Design

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.

Sennheiser Momentum 3, all the things

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!

Features

  • Premium headset and premium sound
  • Active user configurable noise cancellation
  • Transparent hearing
  • Ear cup buttons for control including smart assistant
  • Integrated Tile for lost items
  • Samart App

Usability

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!

Audio Performance

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.

Mobile App

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!

Conclusion

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!


MacBook Pro 16-Inch Press Tour

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!

New Features

  • New 16-inch display with 500 nit brightness and P3 wide colour gamut
  • Latest 8-core 9th generation Intel processors
  • Up to 64GB of memory
  • Up to 8 TB (❗) of drive space
  • Up to 8GB of VRAM graphics memory
  • New keyboards (😍 ⌨️) with scissor switches and inverted T arrows!

New Escape Key!

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.

Press Tour

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 :)

New Thermal Design

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!


Unlimited x Loaded Tesseract Race Complete Electric Longboard Review

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!

Design

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.

Race Kit Features

  • 42 kph top speed
  • 21 km max range
  • 4 kg standalone, 7.8k with Tesseract board
  • 2 x 90 kWh batteries
  • 2h30 charge time

Speed

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.

Range

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.

Comfort

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.

Remote

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!

Maintenance

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.

Conclusion

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!


Linksys LGS108 8-Port Business Gigabit Switch Review

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.

Design

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.

Features

  • Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Unmanaged
  • Plug and forget

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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!


Unlimited X Loaded Race Complete Video Review

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!


Unlimited x Loaded Race Electric Skateboard Unboxing

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!


Elago AirPods Dust Guard Review

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!

Design

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.

Features

  • Thickness of 0.4mm
  • Fits inside the case
  • Multiple colours
  • Keeps this surface clean

Performance

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!

Conclusion

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!


Elago AirPods Secure Fit Cover Review

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.

Design

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.

Features

  • Simple installation
  • Fits inside the AirPods case
  • Better fit for larger ears

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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!


Roku Launches New Roku Express, Streaming Stick+ and the Premiere

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.

The Roku Channel: Live Linear

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:

  • Law & Crime ‒ Watch the courtroom drama unfold live and get in depth legal analysis on the day’s biggest crime and legal stories.
  • Now This ‒ Now This is the most watched mobile news brand in the world, providing the latest in video news, investigative reports, interviews and original series.
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Autin Mann's Review of the iPhone 11 and iPhone Pro Cameras

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.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Twelve South AirFly Review

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!

Design

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.

AirFly by Twelve South

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.

Features

  • Use wireless headphones with non-wireless devices
  • AirPods compatible
  • 8-hour battery life

Performance

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.

AirFly box, great looking!

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.

Back of AirFly, don't peak!

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.

Conclusion

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!


Fotodiox Pro Fusion Adapter for Canon EF to Sony E Mount Review

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.

Design

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!

Features

  • Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Camera
  • Works with Full-Frame & APS-C Formats
  • Enables Autofocus and Auto Exposure
  • Retains Image Stabilization Functions
  • Control Aperture from Camera Body

Performance

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:

  • Canon brand lenses from 2006 and more recent
  • Works best on Sony Alpha α6300, α7 II, α7R II, α7 III, α7R III E-Mount cameras
  • Non-Canon lens might have autofocus issues
  • Continuous AF and video AF are not supported

Conclusion

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.


DJI Osmo Action 4K Action Camera Review

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!

Design

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.

Osmo Action Round Filter Thread

The case is compatible with regular GoPro attachments so feel free to reuse all of your current GoPro gear!

Features

  • Dual Screen
  • RockSteady Stabilization
  • 4K HDR Video
  • 8x Slow Motion
  • 4K60p Recording
  • Waterproof up to 11m

Performance

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.

Dual Screen

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!

RockSteady

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!

4K HDR Video

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!

8X Slow Motion

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.

Conclusion

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!


Boosted Mini X, a Concentrated Formula? [Review]

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!

Design

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.

Boosted Mini X

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.

Features

  • 20 mph top speed (32 kph)
  • 14 miles of range (22.5 km)
  • Custom Deep Dish Deck
  • Custom Lunar 80mm 78a wheels
  • Custom machined trucks
  • 3 ride modes

The Woes of a Reviewer

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!

Performance

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.

Speed and Braking

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.

Range

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.Boosted Remote

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.

Torque and Acceleration

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.

Riding Comfort

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.

How to Take the Mini X to the Next Level

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.

Conclusion

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!


Arlo Ultra Security Camera Review

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!

Design

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.

Arlo Ultra and All Accessories

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.

Features

  • 4K HDR Video Recording
  • Auto-zoom and subject tracking
  • Enhanced Color Night Vision
  • Dual noise-cancelling microphones
  • 180˚ Field of View
  • Smart Siren, Activity Zones
  • 1-year of free Arlo Smart

Installation

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.

Arlo Ultra

Performance

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.

Configuration

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!

Activity Zones

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.

Recordings in 1 hour

Smart Detection

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.

Accuracy

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.

Night Vision

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.

Battery Life

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.

Arlo Smart Premier

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.

Conclusion

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.


Gorillapod 5K dSLR Bendy Tripod Review

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?

Design

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.

Gorillapod 5K with Ball Head

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.

Features

  • Holds up to 5 kg (11 lbs)
  • Anodized aluminum construction
  • Rubberized grips
  • Ball-head with Arca-Swiss quick release plate

Performance

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.

Conclusion

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.


SharkWheels on a Penny Board [Review]

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 !

Design

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?

SharkWheel California Roll 60mm 78

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:

Features

  • Helical design
  • 60mm diameter
  • 78A durometer
  • available in a wide range of colours

Performance

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.

Newer Bearings?

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!

Shiver ABEC-9 High Performance Bearings

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!

Conclusion

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!