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Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-22 13:00
As you read in my MAINGEAR APEX Turbo review, we also got a gaming chair to go with the gaming setup for our son, Ayden. The Forma R is one of the two models offered by MAINGEAR at the moment with multiple adjustments, faux leather and great support. Everything a gamer needs for those long hours of play time.
We received the Forma R in the white faux-leather colour with black MAINGEAR logo and the white headrest. The quality casters are set to aluminum allow base that is very hefty and solid. Both the back and the seat are shaped for comfort and they are wide enough to accommodate a large adult of my size.
The main adjustments include the 4D adjustment armrest to really get the chair into your setup and not the opposite where you have to fit the setup around the chair. You can, of course, tilt and lock the chair in your preferred position and it goes down all the way to 165˚.
The chair itself is shaped to offer great support and be comfortable for long periods of time. The back is like a quality car seat that fits the contour of your back.
Well, it’s quite something to do as there are many parts and it comes in about 7 or 8 components but the first step is to use the gloves! MAINGEAR provides gloves and it’s a nice touch! Assembly takes some time, but not too much. The instructions are clear and it’s quite easy to do. Just set aside 20 minutes to do it properly.
My son did a little montage of me assembling it on his Youtube channel, so as they say, like and subscribe!
We’ve had this chair for a few months now and my son was daily-ing for home school and gaming sessions. Even if he is too small to correctly fit the chair, he needs extra back support as the seat is too long for him to have an ideal sitting position while having his back resting, he finds it very comfortable. As comfortable as a previous ergonomic chair he had, the Nightingale IC2 7300 WH, he really likes that he can adjust it perfectly to his liking.
After long sessions, his back or legs are never tired and he could play for many more hours, or course. And when I use the chair with my large stature, I can confirm that the moulding is incredibly comfortable. I feel supported and I really like it. Even after playing with Windows settings or going through many software updates, I still find it great and comfortable!
Our son is often leaning back the backrest to watch movies or TV shows from his chair. I’m always surprised to see him like this instead of using the living room, but
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it is how it is! He loves it and that’s really what matters most!
Coming from ergonomic chairs, I always prefer to have a forward-backward sliding seat to make sure the knees are at a 90˚ angle with a small clearance behind the back of the knee; and them rest the back on the chair back. Thankfully, I think the dimensions are generally good so it should fit most individuals.
One particular quick of that chair that I particularly love is that the seat is flat and we can easily cross our legs while setting on it. It’s not the best position, but during the day I like to switch between positions and this is comfortable on this chair. The IC2 was made with a “cup” shape and thus you had plastic pieces that would make it impossible to sit comfortably.
Rocking back and forward without locking is possible and comfortable. This way when thinking you can just lean back and it has a good spring to it.
You may also lock it into place and have it stay in the selected position. When unlocking though it comes back quite quickly to its default position. I wished the chair had a feature to slow it down back to place as it can come back very, very fast. Don’t keep your fingers near the mechanism they could get caught!
The 4D armrests are great and can really be set the way you prefer, out of the way, under the desk, aligned with the desk, you choose!
I’ve always been wary of gaming chairs as the few I tried in various stores were clearly just there for the companies to make a quick buck with an awful product. This Forma R from MAINGEAR is the opposite. As with anything MAINGEAR, I’m starting to realize, they do love to put in the work and attention to detail to really make an incredible product.
For a gaming chair, it’s very close to what you would normally get in an ergonomic chair but aimed at gaming. Usually the foams are cheap and do not offer support, but with the Forma R the foam is stiff and supporting. A very good thing for long sessions of gaming!
The materials are of great quality, but the leather crafter in me would have preferred real leather… but then again, you would have needed about 2/3 of a hide, so around 250$ of leather so that would not really work out for a 360$ chair… The faux leather used will prove to be easy to clean and it looks sturdy enough to last a long time.
If you’re looking for a gaming chair, definitely look at the MAINGEAR Forma R as for not that much more money than the awful chairs on Amazon, you can get a quality product that is 10x better! Highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2021-06-19 16:11
As you know from reading this blog, I’m a very devout fan of all things Apple. However when it comes to gaming we all know that unless you want to find very few games on Steam or emulators of classic consoles, your options are quite slim…
With all the Windows machines out there, it should be easy to buy one, right? Sure, but what about getting the best components? What are the best components? How do you water cool a PC or a graphics card? Sure you can roll up your sleeves and start the research phase, buy a ton of components and hope for the best… but for anyone like me that is used to compare specs and get something that, famously, Just Works™ there is something you might do and I must say the solution is very, very sweet!
Buying a Gaming PC, not one you buy all the parts for, but one for which you select all the parts for and someone way more experienced than me or you, can build it, test it and give a nice little seal of approval that it works as intended and won’t leak! After some research, I selected, and completely paid for, a MAINGEAR APEX TURBO gaming desktop!
This Gaming PC was for my son who suffered through the worst year of his life battling a very nasty tumour that metastased in his lungs. This meant chemotherapy and radiotherapy for over 9 months, all this while being confined to our house due to COVID and not being able to see friends and families. It was the worst year of our life so we decided to offer him his dream Gaming PC and Streamer kit. Once he gets a little less shy, he wants to try to do reviews too :)
The APEX TURBO by MAINGEAR is a Mini-ITX size desktop computer, think of it as a smaller than what your regular old tower PC looked like. But don’t let the size fool you, this little guy can pack quite a punch!
The APEX in the name means that it uses the proprietary cooling Integrated Cooling System that adds an open loop that cools both your CPU and your GPU, so this means that for your selected GPU they will remove the casing and the fans, and use a custom-made water block for your specific model of GPU that is precisely fit to cool it with liquid.
This takes all of the heat from both your CPU and your GPU and passes the heated liquid in a radiator where the heat is removed and pulled from not only the water, but the case too. At the end of the radiator, the water is colder and ready for another passage through your CPU and GPU water blocks. This is a very fancy, and effective way, of moving the heat away from your components!
This is not only affected by choosing the APEX TURBO chassis, but also all of the components and customization you selected. There are many options like having an automotive quality paint for the exterior case or even your logo painted on the side of the computer! We haven’t gone through with these options though and kept it simple and cool with clear tubing, transparent blue coolant and blue braided cables.
The case is black and it looks awesome! It has a big power button that can also serve as a shutdown trigger and it has a few USB ports on the front as well as a headphone jack. We choose to have LED everywhere so not only is there in case lighting, but the RAM also has LED lights and the fans too! This way, all this can work in unison and offer a great light show!
The back of the computer is what a back of a computer looks like, lots of ports, the graphic card with its multiple DisplayPorts, the motherboard has on-board Wi-Fi 6 so we can add a small antenna there and the rest is quite normal.
Of course, you’ll see the design from all the nice photos I took of the computer, please excuse the cable management, this part of the project is never really done…
This is basically how I customized the TURBO. It took a while because NVIDIA loves to sell their graphics cards to miners… and the whole order took just over 3 months to be shipped here!
Of course to go with this computers, there are a bunch of accessories that we purchased seperately. Since you are probably as curious as I, here is the list:
Well, I need to mention it but there is really nothing to report here. The TURBO arrived ready to create the admin account on Windows Pro and this was it :) Nothing else to install apart the games and software. All I had to do was plug it all in and bingo!
Of course, we had to install a few software from Razer to get some lights going with the various peripheral we have and the tower LED. But really, a few drivers updates and that was it!
Of course, being a MAINGEAR product it comes all pre-assembled and tested in their labs to offer the best possible performance without risk to your system. This means that it can sustain the maximum performance, non-stop, without being thermal throttled thanks to the APEX cooling! Also, the system is not overclocked by default from MAINGEAR, this is a discussion you need to have with them prior to them shipping your computer of after through their support.
So right from the get-go, the CPU temperature never crossed 90˚C. Usually the maximum temperature it gets is around 82-86˚C, and the average around 75-78˚C. This is valid through all of the benchmarks below.
For transparency reason, I will link to the result whenever possible so you can see for yourself that the results are legitimate.
Using this test, the MAINGEAR TURBO is performing better than 60% of the machines tested. The CPU is rated 106% with a strong single-core performance, while the RTX 3080 got 185% as its score. The FireCuda 520 M.2 SSD got an outstanding 372% score thanks to its incredible speeds and the Kingston memory received 117%.
UserBenchmarks: Game 193%, Desk 109%, Work 219%CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X - 105.8%GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 - 185.1%SSD: Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD ZP2000GM30002 2TB - 372.1%RAM: Kingston HyperX DDR4 3600 C18 2x16GB - 117.5%MBD: Asus ROG STRIX X570-I GAMING
Fun fact, the average temperature of the CPU was 64˚C and 65˚C respectively.
One benchmark that I’m very used to running on various Mac, GeekBench 5. This one does CPU and GPU benchmarks with various frameworks (OpenCL, Vulkan and CUDA). I will be comparing the TURBO with an iPhone 12 Pro, a Macbook Pro 16-inch 2019 with a Core i9-9980HK with 8 cores and a few extra devices for the fun of it! The RTX 3080 is very much optimized for CUDA however, that is not possible to be tested on iOS or macOS devices, so I will only compare the OpenCL results.
This one covers single core and multi-core and you can see how it compares to a 16,000$ MacPro, a MacPro with the same number of cores and a MacBook Pro and the new M1 Macs.
As you can see, the Ryzen 9 5900X is quite a beast and easily beats the 12-core Xeon processor in the Mac Pro with the same number of cores. The 28-core comparison is not really fair, but I put it here for fun since it’s a machine that costs almost 3 times as much as this custom TURBO!
Here, of course, the RTX 3080 shines with the CUDA benchmark, but since it cannot be ran on other hardware I got my hands on, I am going to compare OpenCL here.
And now let’s compare my result with other Vulkan compatible cards on the market.
As you can see the RTX 3080 is not a slow card! And just so you know the score with the CUDA test is 193,445 as you can see here.
Now, another benchmark that stress tests the CPU. I ran the same scene here in single-core and multi-core configurations. Here’s how the Ryzen 9 5900X performed!
Here once again, great results, much better than an 8-core i9 CPU, but not quite to the level of a 24-core Xeon though! In Single Core though, it’s at the top of the list equal to an 11th Gen Core i7 CPU.
For this last benchmark, no more synthetic benchmarks, let’s look at what this little gaming PC can do with a great game like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Definitive Edition and Fortnite!
Launching the game’s demo and going into its benchmarking tool built-in gave use these results. My son has Windows set to French so you might not understand all the details.
As you can see from the above, in the lowest settings possible we got an average of 326 fps (or 259 fps as the 95th percentile) on the GPU and 158 on the CPU only. If we crank up those graphics and get the GPU to be more solicitated, we now reach 197 fps on average for the GPU and 172 fps on the CPU.
For fun, we have played Fortnite with different graphic profiles and during a game we could reach the following number of frames per seconds when pushing the computer to its limits.
|Test Scenario||FPS||Max CPU Temp||Max GPU Temp|
|Lowest Graphics||600 fps||90˚C||66˚C|
|Lowest Graphics Lock @ 240fps||240 fps||88˚C||56˚C|
|Highest Graphics with Ray Tracing||75 fps||91˚C||73˚C|
As you can see, there is some ample performance we can work with. And when setting the maximum fps to what the display can actually do, 240fps, we keep the CPU around 89˚C and the GPU at a cool 55˚C!
This is one area where MAINGEAR put lots of thought into this little chassis. Not only are the fans spinning very fast to expel the heat, it does it in a way that really minimizes noise. Even when the fans are revving up very high you don’t have that much noise. My MacBook Pro 2019 that is very much thermal constrained puts out almost as much noise as this bigger, meaner machine!
In terms of vibration, everything is solid, heavy and does not budge. For anything else than gaming, that tower is basically silent.
As you can see, I am very, very pleased with this machine! Our son is using it on two 1080p displays so there’s enough power to play with the graphics at the maximum level and still have plenty of room to stream and record his gameplay without breaking a sweat!
The design of the TURBO is so nice to look at! It’s a very pretty case and the quality is up there. The service from MAINGEAR was amazing also and I must say that I strongly recommend you their products, especially if you do not know how to build a gaming PC like this one with liquid cooling. You will pay more than if you get all the parts yourself, but you will also have a fully tested PC and no compatibility issues, and more importantly no water leaking!
The MAINGEAR TURBO is the little brother of the bunch, but they also have many more products as computers come in all shapes and sizes. Their gaming laptops were also recently refreshed with the RTX 30-series based mobile GPU. Check them out!
Permalink - Posted on 2021-04-18 17:10
It is no secret, I’m a big fan of what Tom and Dan from Studio Neat are crafting. I have or have own most of their products since the very first Glif, which I reviewed after backing it on Kickstarter back in 2011! I also rock on my nightstand, the Material Dock with Apple Watch ever since it was released. It even travelled with me to Europe twice!
Recently, they released a MagSafe compatible Material Dock which is a BYOM, Bring Your Own MagSafe. In glorious simplicity, they designed a round walnut holder for the MagSafe puck that has a few design quirks.
Just like the previous model with Qi charging, the Material Dock is first and foremost a round walnut CNC machined piece of wood. It precisely fits the MagSafe charger. It stays snug not only thanks to the precision cutting, but also that famous micro-suction 3M tape both inside and under the puck.
This way it can stick to your desk or nightstand without moving when you remove the phone. You can pull it straight up as if the MagSafe puck was part of your desk.
And if you need to remove the dock? Well, for one you should not pull on the cord as it might damage it since with the 3M suction tape it really holds it in place. There is a hole on the underside where you can push it through. Comes off very easily!
What about removing it from the desk? Well, our wonderful duo thought of everything! There is a small lip right next to the cord where you can put your finger and pull.
Well, after rocking this little gizmo for a few weeks, I must say that I was not expecting anything other than an awesome experience. It works perfectly, can be repositioned without any trouble and if you ever need to take it off and use another accessory, it’s also very easy.
It looks great on both my nightstand and my walnut desk. Now, you start to see a pattern, right? Well, walnut is my favourite wood essence you know :P
The only downside would be that the cord is white and I try to use only black cables with my desk setup since I rock a custom-made veg tan leather keyboard mat, a black leather coaster and a black Dyson LightCycle Morph lamp! But that is not Studio Neat’s fault, it’s Apple’s fault!
I think I will get some spray paint and paint my MagSafe puck… Talking about the puck, you will also need to get a charger for it. Apple recommends the 20W USB-C Power Adapter but this will run you an extra 20$. I personally prefer the Aukey 20W Swift charger that is compatible and works perfectly! Also, it’s often on sale for 10-11$!
If you are looking for a minimalistic take on the whole MagSafe for your desk solution, the Studio Neat Material MagSafe Dock is the perfect solution! It’s doing its job perfectly and it’s designed with very nice functional touches to help you set it perfectly on your desk or nightstand. Pair this with the MagSafe charger and the Aukey 20W Swift adapter and you’ve got yourself a nice little kit!
I have one more Studio Neat product in my hands with a review to come soon… This one is also a nice fidget toy… 😜
Permalink - Posted on 2021-04-18 10:59
A few years ago, I managed to snag a Nomad case for my iPhone 7 Plus, it was one of their first iPhone cases, and even if it was minimalist in terms of construction, I was very happy about its quality Horween leather used to wrap a hard plastic shell. I took that phone and case halfway around the world and beaten the hell out of it! I do have fond memories, thought and over the years I keep tabs on Nomad for their newer cases.
I got an iPhone 12 Pro a few weeks ago and I immediately thought of Nomad and wanted to try their new MagSafe compatible cases so here is my Nomad iPhone 12 Rugged Case review!
Just like many years ago, the Nomad case is using top quality Horween leather, and as much as I love all types of leather, I went on a more traditional route and selected the black version.
This quality leather actually develops a patina, and as you can see from the photos, I do not baby it. I love how leather looks when it’s been roughed a bit. Over the next few months, it will evolve and gain more character. Why black you ask? I have an all decked walnut and black leather set up on my desk, so as you can see it in the pictures, it matches perfectly!
Instead of the hard plastic shell, Nomad choose a moulded soft rubber to get around the iPhone 12 Pro and the leather does not go all the way around. It says mostly on the back and curves a bit around the side.
The grills and port on the bottom are well exposed and it has a cross section to keep the bottom part solid and make sure it does not unnecessarily flex. On each side there is a lanyard attachment point where as the name says, you can add a lanyard.
Finally, the Side button is textured with lines and the two volume buttons are soft. All the buttons feel great to press. I can even reach the silence switch without any difficulty. Something I usually have lots of problems reaching with many cases and my big fingers!
Putting this case ON or OFF is great, it’s easy enough but not too much. Meaning that it will stay well attached. The shape of the case is moulded with extreme precision and because of this and its construction it can take a 10ft drop! Now, as it’s usually the case I will NOT be trying that. But clumsy me, I will report back in a few months if my phone survived many falls, as it’s written in stone, in the future it will be dropped! A lot!
The inside of the case has a nice little suede finish with the MagSafe magnet circle embossed. You can see from the inside the shock absorbing rubber that helps with the drop resistance.
After rocking this case for a few weeks, not only has the leather started to develop a bit of patina, but it’s still in perfect condition (except one small kink) after many, many installations and removal.
Compared to the previous case from Nomad I had, I’m pretty sure this one will age even better!
This case is MagSafe compatible and I can say that it works perfectly. It not only attaches solidly to the MagSafe puck, but it is also easy to align and I don’t see any interference in the whole MagSafe process.
The quality of the Nomad iPhone 12 Rugged Case is impressive, the leather is amazing and the patina that gets developed is nicer every month. This idea of a rubber, shock-absorbing material paired with a precision moulding, makes this case the ideal shape, weight and with the great finish; basically a perfect case!
I would prefer leather all around, but knowing what can happen in a year or two, I can tell you it’s a bad idea. This case design is like a great wine, it got better with the years and frankly whenever I’m being asked what case I recommend, I always quickly respond Nomad!
Permalink - Posted on 2021-04-14 19:03
What happens when you want to imagine a lamp, make it smart but don’t want to settle for the common denominator on the market? Well, you reinvite the light itself, add novel features, squeeze all of that into a new form factor and call it a day. What’s the result you may ask? The Dyson Lightcycle Morph Desk lamp is everything you can think of in a modern desk light plus a few extra things that make you go “woah!”
Dyson took the LED lamp idea we all want and need but pushed it to 11. They came up with a super power LED array that cranks out 850 lumens paired with a Boost mode that cranks it at the maximum level while changing the color temperature to make it a bit bluer for periods of 20 minute. But normally, that would wear out the LED array and eventually running it like that will prematurely damage the lamp. Well, Dyson integrated a copper heat pipe that allows the excess heat to be taken away from the lamp elements and bring the life expenctancy of it to 60 years!
The lamp itself is a bit larger than what you normally would find on your desk, as it has a long performated cyclinder body that in a very Dyson fashion allows the light to shine through when you move the lamp heat to its resting position. Another thing that Dyson loves to do with their products is to have a swivel head of sorts, well the lamp is no different as it can move around on its base and its head can swivel to light the wall, a painting or if you mov it just right cast a bit of light on your face for your endless Zoom calls!
The base is a solid cylindrycal shape that has no problem staying put. It also sports a USB-C port giving away 7.5W of power. Not enough to drive a MagSafe adapter but enough to charge your phone or AirPods at a reasonable speed.
The top most arm onto which the LED lamp is installed has a few tricks up its sleeve. The first one is two touch sensitive sliders to adjust the colour temperature from yellow to blue and an intensity slider to adjust the brightness of the lamp. Finally, a nice little ON/OFF button makes it easy to turn it ON or OFF with a simple tap.
Nothing that impressive you say? Well, you have to look on the underside for the cooler stuff :) It has a movement sensor that turns the light automatically when you get close to it. Sitting at the desk is enough to trigger it, it’s sensitive enough but not too much. It also sports a light detector to adjust itself automatically to its surroundings and a little button to enable the Synchronized mode where your physical location on the planet and the light outisde is taken into account in real time every minute for the lamp to self adjust with accurate color and intensity.
But that’s not all, there are more features in the app we need to go over!
The only downside with relation to the design of the lamp seem to be the base. It’s a heavy and large base that make it very stable, but the choice of material, a glossy plastic, is a dust and fingerprint magnet. I would have much prefered an aluminium base with a matte finish.
I was very excited not only to play with this incredible feat of technology as I love all the Dyson products and their small and big innovations, but I was also curious to try the Lightcycle Morph in a desktop situation as my day to day lamp and see how much it would stay out of the way.
You see, I have experience with multiple Dyson products and everytime, I’m very curious to see the innovation Dyson puts in their products and the few touches that make them a joy to use.
The single feature I love the most on the LightCycle Morph is the presence detection paired with the intensity and colour change that follows the time of day. From the early morning to late at night, the light is always perfect, never too bright, never to white (nor too orange). And whenever I leave my desk to make a coffee or eat lunch, it turns OFF by itself and when I’m back, it comes back to life :) Very neat!
The color accuracy is impressive (CRI 90+), as with all things Dyson do they push it far with a custom made LED light array that allows it to keep cool and last 60 years! It can go from very orange with 2700K to 6500K which is a blue-ish white.
You have different modes which are aimed towards specific applications, and which you can control using their mobile app. One of the physical features of the LightCycle Morph that allows it to offer more than just “light going to your desk”. You can swivel it on two joints to really position itself in the perfect position, and tyou can even rotate the head to light the wall, a picture frame, or even your face for all those Zoom video calls.
If you are looking to create a good ambience, you can move the light to its base and light the column which is perforated to let a smooth ambiance light cast a nice evening light on your desk!
The Dyson LightCycle Morph is a suped-up desk lamp that really kicks ass with it’s customization option, mobile app and its smart features to offer the ideal partner in all of the various scenarios that you need from working on your desk! From a morning task light to focus on work, to a soothing orange glow when relaxing in the evening, and even help in those video conference, the LightCycle Morph is the perfect partner.
Permalink - Posted on 2021-03-24 18:03
A few months ago, I reviewed a large battery pack from mophie, one that could power two iPads, or two iPhones and even one with wireless charging. You can even plug in a 65W laptop and use the LED lamp for many, many hours. This was a great battery, but it had one feature I totally underestimated. It comes with jumper cables and Mophie says you can jump your car 4 times on a full charge.
At the moment of the review, I fully tested the mophie Powerstation Go, except the boosting feature since I did not have a use for it. The idea was great, but I did not think I would ever need it as my car battery was only 1 year old.
Oh boy was I wrong! The mophie Powerstation Go saved my ass many times over many days until I could go to the garage and get my car fixed. You see, one morning, my car was dead as a rock. Not as single light, not a single beep. It was as if all of its life essence was sucked dry. My immediate thought is that I must have left a light open in the cabin or perhaps I triggered the trunk light by mistake. However, my car is a Lexus CT200h, it’s a hybrid, and in the past I left the driving lights open all night and I still had plenty of juice to start the car 12 hours later… It must be something else.
Now, I never had any battery trouble, except the previous year if I left the car on Accessory mode for 45 min while waiting for my wife, the battery would end up too weak to power the car. After it happened 3 times, I got the battery checked and learned that a battery should be changed after 4-5 years at most, mine was 8 years old! 😬
So we did just that, replaced it with the same type from Canadian Tire as, of course, in the middle of January the dealership was out of batteries. Fast-forward a year to this month, I had the same thought crossed my mind. But how could the battery be dead like that, the car sleeps in the garage (a heated garage!) and it was not running on Accessory mode all night.
So on that weekend, the car was dead on Saturday morning when I was about to do my groceries, I had a dead car for which I did not have a tender to charge the battery at home, nor a spare battery to boost the car… But I did have one! The Powerstation Go I regularly use for long days where we don’t have access to an outlet. It has booster cables!
So to Youtube I go, watch a bunch of videos on how to boost a CT200h since it’s a hybrid car, the battery is not under the hood, it’s hidden behind the back bumper but there is a positive pole under the hood. I hooked the red cable to there and the black cable to a bolt, powered ON the Powerstation Go and all of a sudden, I had power!
mophie does not say how many times it can be used, but I safely used it three times on the same battery and only list about 25% of the battery. So keeping this little battery in my trunk I will. Next step is to see how long it keeps its charge.
I was able to boost myself for two days, charging the Powerstation Go overnight so I always have a full one in the morning.
Once at the dealership, they do their usual investigation and found out that after a previous accident I had with the car, a Dodge Ram rammed us from behind at a red light, one cable was loose and over a few years, it scrapped itself against the metal of the car body, eventually exposing itself and shorting out the power. Thus, I still had juice in the battery, there was just a short circuit.
Fixing the cable brought everything back to normal :)
Never underestimate the times when you might need a tender or a boost, even if your battery is new (or newish). The Powerstation Go saved me a towing payment and headache with meals as it happened while I was going out to do the groceries.
As of March 2021, it seems the Powerstagion Go is now called the Halo Bolt Compact on ZAGG/mophie website. It lost the wireless charger and the power outlet, but it still seems to have the same capacity (44,000 mWh) and jumper cable connections. I still recommend it, even if only for the battery boost feature, you never know when it would become useful.
As a last test, I have also stored it in my car trunk, under the carpet close to the spare tire and about 1 month, the battery is still 4 out of 4, so it does hold a charge. Maybe check it once per 3 months to be on the safe side, but overall it keeps it charges and saves your ass like no other battery!
Permalink - Posted on 2021-03-11 08:43
This announcement feels weird, as it’s exactly the kind of device I asked for in my review of the Airthings Wave Plus and Wave Mini I posted a few months ago. I was impressed by the sensors packed into the Wave Plus, but one sensor was missing from it, an airborne dust or particulate matter (PM) sensor. Other devices like the Awair Element did have a PM sensor, but were lacking the radon detector that is super useful, especially if you live in an area where radon could be a problem. It never felt like there was one device that could do it all… Until now!
Airthings just launched the View Plus, a small desktop device that mixes the aesthetics of the previous devices from the company with a few key new features. Not only is the PM sensor added, it also acts as a Wi-Fi bridge just like the Hub, but built-in! The View Plus also has a small screen to show some of the key values, and will also react as the other Airthings devices do to a swipe of your hand and respond with a LED coloured to match the air quality around you.
The PM sensor in the View Plus can detect PM2.5 and PM1 particulates and I’m really looking forward to getting all of the details. I know we can choose which metric we want to be displayed, but I’m hoping there are more modes added like a cycling mode that goes through all the different “bad numbers”.
So this new View Plus can do radon, CO2, PM2.5, humidity, temperature, VOC and pressure; all in one single unit you can put on your desk or attach to the wall.
There is also a business version that will work with the rest of the Airthing business-centric devices.
You can pre-order the View Plus today for a special price of 269$ (reg. 299$).
Permalink - Posted on 2021-02-27 10:46
When looking for a chair the easiest thing to do, and probably the worst, is to get to your local office supplier store and get a cheap chair. Easy-peasy, right? Well, if you are looking to mess up your back and joints sure, go right ahead! The alternative is to buy a high-end computer chair from big brands like Herman Miller or Nightingale. But what if you also want something that has a great design? Something that does not scream GAMER?
Mid-century modern design enters the chat.
The half a century ago, there were designers of the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Dieter Rams that produced furniture and electronics that were much more modern than other design trends of the times and offer not only pretty objects to look at, but also introduced many design principles and particular design processes.
Being a big fan of Dieter Rams, I even backed the Kickstarter funded documentary Rams, I try to design my home office for 2021 with modern elements but also try to take inspiration in the mid-century modern style. I recently reviewed the Ergonofis Sway Desk, a sit-stand desk made of pure walnut with black accents. So for it I had to find a matching chair that was kept inline with the colour scheme and the overall design.
This is where the Eames Executive Chair comes in. Just like other create creations from the previous century, you can get the real thing currently made by Herman Miller which starts at 4,895 $US. Or you can try your hand at a replica, something that for all intent and purposes looks like the real deal, but only costs a fraction of the price.
There are many replica makers out there, and sadly not all of them are created equal. Some are of an incredible low quality, so I started to research those brands and try to scour the Internet in search of reviews with details. One company stood out of the pack with regards to quality, Eternity Modern.
Thankfully, they have offices in British Columbia, Canada, and can ship their goods all over the country! I decided to get one of their Eames Executive Chair for my office, so let’s go over that great-looking chair!
I would say that this is where Eternity Modern got me first, on the look of the Eames Executive Chair. It looks just like the real deal! You have the same design with two back cushions and one thick seat cushion that, just from the pictures, looks very comfortable.
Many of the replicas out there might look great on photos, but once you actually try them, you realize that the leather, fabric and foam are of terrible quality. This was the risk I wanted to take for my chair as I had no way to see before I buy what I would really end up with.
If you really are a good observer, you might notice some very slight difference between the Herman Miller one and the Eternity Modern version. The casters are slightly different, so is the shape of the seat cushion. Just like the real deal, you can adjust the height with a pneumatic, as well as the tilt and tilt tension.
The Eternity Modern version has less customization possibilities as the Herman Miller one, as it only has one type of metal frame, polished aluminum, and six full-grain leather colours to choose from. Unless you have extremely specific colour needs, the six offered normally covers most of what you might want.
The Eames Executive Chair has non-removable arm rests with thick foam padded leather rests that are right at the elbow height for me. The back does not go as high as some might like, no headrest at all, but for me the top cushion fits right on my scapulas.
I chose the black full-grain leather as the leather colour, which goes on perfectly with my Ergonofis walnut desk and black accessories on my desk.
One of the features, which I have not tried, is the possibility to use your own material to wrap the foam cushion. You can contact them and get a preliminary quote on that whole process. If you are working with leather like me and really want to use a specific type of leather, that seems to be something you can do!
I took a bit of time before publishing my review as I wanted to have many days working from that chair, from early in the morning to late in the afternoon while at the same time slightly changing the various adjustments. In the past, I needed to have the arms go under the desk to be comfortable, and now that I have a sit-stand desk, all of those ergonomic adjustments are so much easier!
I first focus on the chair, lowering it so that my knees are at a perfect 90˚ to the ground and I feel a slight pressure under my thighs so that I feel some support. After that, I can immediately see if the arm rest is useful or not, or needs an adjustment. In the case of the Eames Executive Chair, I can lower my shoulders and rest my arms on the armrest comfortably. I might have preferred them to be 1-2cm lower, but given that they compress slightly, I can tell you that I did not have any pain or muscle fatigue. This is one of the reasons, why I wanted to try the chair for a fairly long period.
The seat cushion not only looks thick, but it’s also of a good quality that offers great support. There are holes under the cushion for the air to escape and even after many hours sitting, when I stand up it takes back it’s space in a few seconds. The only issue I had was after many long hours sitting on it, I felt two pressure points on both my butt cheeks. Turns out the buttons are where the pressure lies, so after prolonged periods you can have some discomfort if you are on the heavy side like me.
I keep the chair with the tilt turned ON and often time throw myself back when thinking or stretching. Don’t forget to stretch regularly! You will need many days of tiny adjustments to get the perfect tension for your weight, but once you dial it in correctly, it’s great and easy to go from straight.
I’m a big fan of leather, and I do leatherwork regularly, so I know my way around good quality leather. This Eames chair does have quality full-grain leather and it shows. You don’t have that cheap feeling vinyl-like feeling you get with cheap furniture. This smells, feels and looks quality. I appreciate that, a lot!
The die-cast aluminum frame looks incredibly sturdy and once buffed it’s very shiny! I usually go for a more sandblasted aluminum look with my Apple Thunderbolt monitor and MacBook Pro 16-inch , but with Eternity Modern, we currently don’t have a choice to swap it for another finish or colour.
Before purchasing this chair, I was worried about the quality of the materials, having never bought any product from Eternity Modern, as well as the mechanical parts not being very sturdy. I got many chairs in the past where you could instantly feel the mechanical parts being badly designed and feel flimsy.
This is not the case with the Eames Executive Chair, all the components feels solid and the material are of very high quality. In an ideal world, you could swap the polished aluminum for brushed or black brushed aluminum and perhaps offer two foam resistance levels for light or heavy individuals as sometimes the buttons are felt after long period sitting.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this chair! The look is incredible, this replica is of incredible value for the money and I feel very good about choosing this particular model and manufacturer. If only I had a bit more space, I would even go for the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman replica they offer! This is the chair that introduced me to the whole mid-century modern esthetic years ago. This and a neighbour that had an original Le Corbusion LC4 Chaise Longue with black and white cowhide! I was young and impressed, and that marked me (excuse the cow pun).
I strongly recommend Eternity Modern for all your replica needs, as the prices are much more affordable and you have similar quality at the same time. You might have fewer options for colours or materials, but for saving more than 3,000$ on a chair, I was more than happy with fewer choices.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-12-17 14:07
Looking for a big battery that can save your ass in more ways than one? Well, I have found a particular product that not only has 44,400 mAh battery, but all the things at the same time! A wireless charging pad, two USB-A ports, an LED light, even an AC port and a car boost port!
The Powerstation Go from mophie is quite a product! It has many uses and can really come in handy with its multitude of ports.
This mophie Powerstation Go is a big hunk of batteries. Not something you store in your pockets like the Powerstation PD with Lighning Input, but something quite a bit more massive. It has to because not only can it power your mobile devices, it can power any electrical device (up to 65W) and even boost your car battery!
On the top side, you have a wireless charger, that is Qi-enabled, with a nice rubber ring to help your phone stay put even when you are bombarded with Likes on Instagram and your phone vibrates like there is no tomorrow.
On the front side, you have the cart booster cable port, two USB-A ports and a battery indicator with 25% increments. On the left side, you have an LED light and a button, while on the right side you have the 65W AC port.
All of that rests on four rubber feet for added stability.
I’ve been rocking this little guy for a few weeks and I must say that I’ve come to really depend on it. Sure it won’t power a 90W+ MacBook Pro but for my son’s little Windows laptop it sure come in handy when he has to do long Microsoft Teams meetings and his battery is running low!
Charging multiple devices is perfect! You have the choice of wired or wireless and with 44,400 mAh, you can charge multiple devices, multiple times every day!
I have not yet needed to boost my car, we actually replaced the battery last spring, but last winter this little would have saved my life quite a few times when my car battery ran down too quickly. The LED light is both helpful as it’s pretty bright and wide, and a good way to signal other if you ever get stranded. You can easily signal SOS with it.
I’ve used the AC port the most of the last few weeks. Second are the USB-C ports charging an iPhone and an iPad at the same time.
I’ve really come to depend on that little guy to be not only a very large battery, that’s overall not that heavy when you think that there are fifteen iPhone 12 charges in there. The AC port is super useful as often time you need to charge something else than a phone or an iPad. The LED light and the car battery booster are things you might not think you need until you actually do. They can literally be life savers.
I strongly recommend the Powerstation Go for anyone that needs a large capacity for on the go, as well as those that take trips or have a weak car battery. You got a few colour choices too so you might even be able to match your car colour!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-12-16 09:00
There has been lots of talk over the last few months about 5G and the incredible innovation it will bring forth. I wanted to chime in and bring back some clarity into the whole ordeal. Many readers and friends have asked if 5G will be revolutionary and if it’s happening today.
I believe it will revolutionize many things by its increased speed and its ability to have many more devices connected at once. But it will not be revolutionary just today. Like any revolution, it does not happen overnight.
Like any great technology coming it, it’s once again a matter of compromise as we cannot have the very best thing straight out of the gate. Just like LTE before 5G, there were major hurdles to pass before we could really say that LTE was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Let’s take a look at LTE as of today. Often called 4G or LTE, for the common folk they are both the same thing. A fast, low latency, high-speed connection that allows mobile devices to connect to the Internet, often times even faster than your home connection. In a recent report on the mobile network experience, we saw that the speed of the Telus LTE network in Canada was mature and reached the same speeds as the network of South Korea. Often times very avantgardiste, the South Koreans have a small land area to cover and regularly make the news with their incredible speeds that few other countries can match. The download speeds of the Telus network on average reaches 59 Mbit/s, just a tiny bit lower than South Korea’s 59.6 Mbit/s. And when you take into account its highest speeds of 72.7 Mbit/s, you can see why I said this is often faster than home Internet connections.
But LTE did not come out this year, it actually was widely available around 2010 with the iPhone 4. At that time, I did have an iPhone 4 and I did have an LTE plan. However, if I were to keep the LTE turned on, not only would it keep on switching back to 3G whenever I was out of range of LTE antennas, it would drain my battery like crazy. I could not even do half a day with LTE turned ON.
Like many, I kept it on 3G most of the time, hoping that it would get better and it did. A few years later, in the iPhone 6 or 6s era, the LTE networks around me were not only available all day long, advancements on the modem side of things made it so that you would not see a significant impact when using LTE. And since, LTE has served me well!
5G also brings in more speed, even lower latency and with mmWave antennas (and network) speeds of multiples of gigabits per second. Yes, speeds that can be 10-20 times your home connection speed! This is truly amazing!
However, just like LTE before it, there is not very large coverage with those nifty new antennas. The technology itself has a shorter range, therefore there needs to be more antennas around, and once again there is a significant battery hit when on 5G. So much so that phones like the iPhone 12 generations are kept idle on LTE until you actually need the speed of 5G, that’s when they awoke and connect to a 5G antenna nearby. This is smart and is a much better way to tackle the battery draining issues.
Once again, in a few years, not only will 5G be everywhere, the same connection will stay on while you’re moving between buildings and across roads, just like LTE can do it and has been doing it for many years.
5G is a revolution, indeed. But one that is presently cooking. It’s going to be amazing, we just need to let it cook a little bit more. But when the over dings, this will truly be impressive on every level!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-12-15 09:05
Over the many years that I’ve been reviewing gadgets, I’ve come across so many cables, so many of them. I could probably fill a full bath with all the cables that came with hardware or accessories. Most of them, thankfully, have been recycled and are not filling my every drawer or closet. So when a gadget I’m looking at says it can reuse something I already have, I’m always more interested than adding yet another micro-USB cable to my collection…
The mophie Powerstation with Power Delivery and Lightning input gave us this exact promise. It can charge and discharge with a single Lightning cable. But also have a large capacity, it can also charge your iPhones quite fast!
Let’s jump into this!
The mophie Powerstation with PD and Lighthing Input, let’s call it the Lightning Powerstation from then on, is like the name implies, a Powerstation power bank that allows you to charge your Lightning compatible devices like an iPhone or an iPad.
It has a super-slim design that not only makes it easily pocketable, but also sports a nice fabric finish that looks modern. It is still packed with 6,000 mAH and can charge your iPhone 12 a little bit more than twice. It can even charge more power hungry devices like the iPad and does so with 18W of power so more than the included 5W charger for the iPhone and the 10 or 12W chargers that used to be included prior to 2020.
While you might think that it does not really matter what an extra cable does or does not, let me tell you that when you are Mr. Tech like me and pack the tech back for the whole family for a trip, one more cable here and there start to add up. Plus, using the same cable for lots of things makes this even better.
I can pack a single Lightning cable and not only can I use it to charge with the wall plug, but I can also use it to recharge the Lightning Powerstation and use the same cable to charge my devices off the Lightning Powerstation too.
This is quite liberating! And on top of that the 18W charging makes this little compact and light power bank ideal to travel with. Bot iPhones and iPads can be charged with it and it can even charge my phone very fast. Ideal to just top it off a few times per day when you are taking a break from your activities.
The fabric design around the Lightning Powerstation makes it not only a tactile experience, but it can also match your style with a bunch of nice different colour schemes. I personally really love the imprint of all the technical details on the back side. Most of it is readable easily and it does not make it jarring to look at.
When looking for a portable power bank, the Powerstation PD with Lightning from mophie is a great product that I recommend. It charges fast, uses only one cable for all your charging needs and it simply looks great! This is a no-brainer, just get one! Being from mophie, it’s safer than any other no-brand products on Amazon and with 6,000 mAh you can recharge your phone more than twice on a single charge.
Perfect Christmas gift for anyone, really!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-31 16:37
As things are with 2020, we had to work from home and as much as I like my little single-room and BDI Sequel L-shape desk, it’s not enough for two people working from home, every day. There goes the search for a new better desk, ideally not as big so that we can both work in the same room.
A few years ago I reviewed the Autonomous SmartDesk 2 and that got me hooked on standing desks. As much as I loved this desk, it had to go, once again for the lack of space. In that small office, we already had the BDI Sequel desk and a Dutallier armchair. At work, we were in the process of expanding the office space and renovation, therefore we had temporary desk on top of which I had a PrimeCable Ergo Riser. Still, I would work standing for the whole day. I love this way of life.
So when looking for a new desk, I kept with my usual pattern of looking for hardwood and ideally, locally made. This is where Ergonofis enters the ring.
ergonofis is a office furniture company based in Montréal that leverages the know-how of local wood working shops to build incredible wood top sit stand desks. Their systems are not only low-noise, but they can go higher and lower than most of the competition while offering a stable desk (even with dual monitors and a wooden shelf), and they make this incredible, low profile, control pad that is installed inside the top desk.
I selected the ergonofis Sway with a black frame and a walnut top desk. But before I jump in the details, let’s go over the other products that ergonofis makes.
There are three types of desks made by Ergonofis, the Shift, the Sway and the Alive desk. The Shift is a laminated top desk with a mat finish that resists fingerprints. The Sway is made of hardwood in maple, birch or walnut and the Alive features a walnut or suar live edge.
Of course, I choose the walnut as I’m a sucker for this essence of wood. I have a complete living room set from Verbois, the MPD Collection, in their tainted walnut colour. I also have another few Puzzle Collection tables from Verbois as well as a dining room table, once again with walnut. No need to tell you that I REALLY love walnut!
The Sway Desk is a 30 x 60 inches desk with a solid walnut top desk of 1 1/4” thickness that is finished with a clear mat lacquer. This means that you are able to enjoy the walnut grain while at the same time have a finish that does not attract fingerprints.
The sit-stand mechanism is installed using pre-drilled holes to remove any guess work and it is rated for 300 lbs of lifting capacity. It goes higher and lower than other sit-stand desk I tried and does so with a very low humming noise. The cutest and, frankly one of the features that made me really love the Sway, is the control pad that is built inside the top desk. Nothing protruding in the front, only a small 9cm x 4cm control pad with 5 buttons. Two memory presets and a nice digital display that feels good to use.
I chose the model without any grommets and I decided to add the desk shelf to support my laptop and display and has a nice way to add accessories under the shelf like my elgato Thunderbolt 3 dock . Once again, the shelf is made of solid walnut wood to match with the desk. As it is with natural wood, I did end up with a slightly lighter tone of wood for the shelf than for the desk. I prefer the desk colour that goes a bit more towards the brown side.
And finally, I opted for the Neat filing cabinet, a two-drawer cabinet for standing next to me and store away files and knick-knacks. The front of the filing cabinet is also made of wood, walnut in my case and the rest of the cabinet is black. Once again, I really love wood accents. It’s also a bit brighter than I would have liked, some of the parts of the top drawer are quite blond. Not a huge problem, it’s something you need to expect when you order natural wood.
Given that I have some experience, I figured that this would not be very hard. It sure was not complex, but I did get a bit of resistance from a few screws. You see you install the legs “guides” first using wood screws and then you slide in the mechanical legs. They are attached with 6 screws to afix them to the guides. Looks simple enough, right? Well, sometimes the screw does not want to go in, sometimes you can do most of the work with just your fingers. And the most challenging one is the one closes to the exterior sides of the desk where you have about 90-120˚ of torsion with the Allen key.
Overall, with the few pesky screws, it too over 2h to do assemble the whole thing with basic cable management. It’s very simple to do, I just got a few screws that were slowing me down. Once completed, though the thing is incredibly sturdy! There is a rod that goes along the length of the desk, right down the middle that sits on top of the leg guide and leg plate hat really adds lots of strength to the whole thing (after all it’s about 5-6 extra wood screws on each side!
Once you have finished doing the grunt work and you flip your table on its legs, you need to initialize the system. The instructions are very clear on how to do this. Bring it to the lowest setting and then you are ready to go!
I’m amazed at the number of features you can do with this seemingly simple keypad. It has only four visible buttons, plus the Ergonofis logo is a hidden fifth function button. Not only can you save two presets (sitting and standing), you can raise and lower it with the arrow buttons, but you can also have access to more features to make sure you do not damage your workspace.
The anti-collision system allows the desk to detect a resisting force when lowered or raised and it stops and reverse for 1/2 inch. Very useful when you are still setting up your office, you might think that something next to the desk might be just a little bit under it.
I myself triggered it a few times when trying different configurations.
There is also the possibility to set a minimum height for when you have the Neat Filling Cabinet under your desk. In theory the desk can be lowered down to 22.7” but the cabinet needs 27” of clearing. Once set to this height, you can rest assured that the desk will not damage the cabinet or vice versa.
The first setup allows me stay minimalist and have my laptop closed focusing exclusively on my work while having a nice place for my Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock right below the display, centred on the desk.
The second setup introduces a bit more aluminum in the mix and allows me to keep my laptop opened or closed next to the main Thunderbolt monitor. I’ve gone with the second setup for over a week but ended up going with the first setup after that. I’m still rocking this setup for now while I gather more accessories. Expect more pictures soon!
After using the ergonofis Sway desk daily for a few weeks, I must say that it’s a very refined experience. Not just because of the real wood, but also because the system gives out very low noise and moves very fast. The fact that I can get the desk higher and lower than the competition helped me doing nice product shots, which you’ve already seen on the site. I really, really love the inlay control panel, this makes a huge different not only esthetically but also functional since I can’t rip it off by walking too close to my desk.
The desk really is a beauty, I can’t put enough emphasis on this. The wood grain, the colour and the mat catalyzed lacquer is just perfect! I would not change a thing on it! The other accessories are also quite impressive, the walnut really brings the whole kit together!
Installation took more time than expected but after that you are set to rock one of the most amazing offices out there! Now, I love minimalism and all, but I think I need a few more accessories, perhaps a new keycap set for my mechanical keyboard, a leather desk pad… so many ideas!
I would strongly recommend the ergonofis Sway desk, and all of their products,they are proudly made in Montréal, Canada and they love their craft it reallyshows!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-24 11:32
I’m a sucker for well-designed products, and I’m a coffee addict so when I saw that I missed out on the Hunu collapsible coffee cup, I reached out to the makers behind this successful crowdfunded campaign and asked if I could review their product!
Compared to other pocketable-that-are-not-really-fitting-in-your-pocket products out there, the Hunu actually does fit in your pants pockets. Be it in the back or front pocket. Even in some types of skinny jeans!
Hunu is made out of three components, the silicone collapsible cup that accommodates 265ml (9oz) of hot life-saving liquid coffee, the hard cap that serves as a cover and adds stiffness to the product, and finally the textile elastic band that not only allows you to store away the Hunu cup and keep it tidy and collapsed, but also it servers as an insulated band around the cup.
This is very well designed, in London, and truly offers a product that fits anywhere from jeans pockets to backpack so that you do not need to waste any more paper or plastic at your local barista.
The format is the usual barista format that fits under espresso portafilters and allows you to get a reasonable amount of coffee in your system. And when you’re done, a quick wash and you can store it away for next use. Heck, you could even not rinse it just yet and only do it at home, the way it’s designed it should not drip in your pockets.
At first it’s a bit hard to open until you realize, you can just pinch the bottom and pull it open after removing the elastic band. It just takes its shape! Remove the cap and it’s ready for the barista to pour in pure elixir of productivity. Add the cap and you’re ready to drink your way into a blissful awakening!
I’ve not tried it at barista since with the way 2020 treats us, we can’t really use reusable cups at cafés, but at home where I have a barista looking machine, it’s a Breville Barista Express if you’re wondering, it works just fine and I can imagine myself at my local café ordering a nice latte to go in my Hunu cup!
I actually really love the motion of opening the cup, it feels very Inspector Gadget to take this out of your pockets and have it ready in two swift movements. The plan would have been to ride my electric skateboard to work and on my way stop at one of the nice independent cafés in Montréal and have a sweet nectar of joy poured in my Hunu cup. It’ll be for next summer!
If you are looking for a truly collapsible coffee cup that really fits in your pocket to bring your total number of plastic or paper cups to zero, check out the Hunu Cup, available in four great colours. It’s a joy to use and can really make a meaningful impact on the total amount of garbage you generate every year if you regularly stop at a café!
Simple, effective and truly pocket-fitting coffee cup!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-23 16:17
A while back I mentioned a new update for the AirThings Mini where a new feature was introduced, the Mold Rick Indication. A feature that tries to inform you in advance before here is actually mold in your house. This way you can act before the problem is at hand.
This is an exclusive feature for the small AirThings Mini , probably because of their size they can be placed anywhere in your house. Behind a couch, on the window edge, in a corner of a room, anywhere where you think humidity could be a problem. Of course, it also reports in the mobile app information about your air quality that includes humidity levels, temperature and VOCs.
The design of the Airthings Mini is very similar to the Wave and Wave Plus but it packs in a special feature. There is a small stand that comes with it so that you can prop it up vertically. You can also wave your hand in front to have the LED show up as green, yellow or red with regards to the data picked up by the sensors.
Given its tiny size, slightly bigger than a hockey puck, you can really place it anywhere. I’ve placed it on window edge in the basement, and in a corner of my basement away from heat source or air currents. There is even a set of wood logs right next to it, which could attract humidity.
The setup is a breeze, I already had the app installed for my other two Wave Plus, so adding the Mini was a few simple steps and it was ready to work its magic!
Of course, there is a settling-in period to gather accurate data that you need to respect. After 7 days the device is reporting for duty and can show you the relevant information. Mold Risk Indication needs a bit more time to gather sufficient data with the changing humidity levels to forecast any future problems.
The Mold Risk Indication is a scale from 0 to 10 where anything above 5 requires serious attention. This means that the humidity levels are often higher than normal, for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, you need to either ventilate more, or add a dehumidifier. This is where the smart features of Google Assistant or IFTTT are very useful. You can set up a rule so that when the humidity raises above 60%, it turns ON the dehumidifier. Of course, it needs to be a model that does not need to be turned on manually. For small rooms, I see that the Pro Breeze Mini Dehumidifier is a recommended one and should work great with a smart Switch like the Belkin WeMo Mini .
During my testing, which thankfully is quite boring, I was never able to raise the humidity level to a worrisome level. It was kept at 0 as the risk level for the many weeks that I have run the device in my basement with basically no ventilation since we have cold fall temperatures now. As you can see from these graphics, it’s pretty flat. Now if you had a different situation, you would see more yellow and red, then you would need to act!
If you are in need to keeping tabs on your humidity levels and know if your situation poses a risk, the Wave Mini is the way to go to not only see detailed numbers on your situation, but also to know if you are exposed to any real danger with the Mold Risk Indication feature. Like all Airthings products, it’s easy to set up and very precise in its measurements. Combined with a dehumidifier and or some system to recirculate the air in your house, you can build a completely autonomous system to remove the excess humidity and VOCs from the room being watched!
I strongly recommend the Wave Mini for keeping tabs on your current air quality situation. Now if only we could add events in the application so know how certain actions are impacting the air quality numbers. I would love to hit a button, add an event like “opening windows” and see a vertical line on the graphics that shows when the event occurred.
Also, if we could get a 24h view instead of 48h, it would be much easier to see what happened recently after an action was taken like turning a humidifier ON an hour ago. At the moment we need to scroll and play in the last 100px of the screen to try to make out the change in number. I would love these features in a future software update!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-10-07 12:35
Last year I reviewed the Arlo Ultra, the top of the line 4K security camera from Arlo. I had a great experience with it. However it had poor battery life and is a very, very expensive product. The Arlo Pro 3 is the latest generation of a 2K resolution camera. I’m hoping that the lower resolution and newer hardware would help in regards to battery life.
The Arlo Pro 3 I have on hand is the two-camera kit with a base station kit; therefore I’m hoping to get most of the most important features from the Arlo Ultra like Vehicle and People detection, night mode and spotlight.
If you compare the Arlo Ultra with the Arlo Pro 3, the only changes are 4K to 2K, 180˚ to 160˚, no wind reduction but it has echo cancellation and record footage to a USB drive instead of microSD. The only different setting I could find is the operating temperature, 60˚C for the Ultra and 45˚C for the Pro 3. Maybe make sure not to place it close to a dark coloured wall in direct sunlight?
The Pro 3 looks very similar to the Ultra, it’s a black camera module with detachable batteries that you slide inside a glossy white plastic shell. The unit is installed on a very strong magnetic base that swivels around to get the perfect angle. The charging cable is attached with a magnetic cable that reminds me of the Apple MagSafe.
The body is very nicely design and I really love the way they engineered the slide in mechanism. Normally aiming down, the camera has very few seems exposed therefore the gasket is enough to really make this work under the rain and under the snow. Given the impressive performance of the Arlo Pro with our Canadian winter, reusing the same design makes lots of sense!
The SmartHub is very similar to the one I have with the Arlo Ultra, with the small difference that it takes a USB key (or drive) to store the video instead of a microSD card. Here is one tip I have for you, place the SmartHub as close as the camera as possible since they exchange data over their own private Wi-Fi network and not through your home Wi-Fi network. I thought the Smarthub should be closer to my router, but in the end I installed it close to the Arlo Pro and used a wired connection to my local network. This was the most reliable way to get all this working.
Given that this is an Arlo product, it comes with great design and the mobile application is quite simple to use. You simply tap the Add device button and add either a Base Station or a Camera and follow the easy few steps.
You will also see the device get any firmware update required so they run on their very latest feature set and bug fixes. Once you are done with both cameras and the Base Station, you are now ready to install your cameras inside or outside of your home.
The first thing you should do is place the cameras where you want them to capture movement. If the Arlo Ultra is any indication, the camera will trigger and record any movement, even outside the Activity Zone you define. Therefore, set them up in a way where you don’t have constant movement in front of them. I have mine pointing to the front of my house where cars and pedestrians are passing by. Due to a bug with the Arlo Ultra software, I was able to discover that I have over 1,200 events per day… More on this in a separate post.
In the box you have two different adapters, one which works with a very strong magnet and can offer lots of great angles when attached to a wall, and one which is fixed on a peg and can also be tightening with a bit larger angle. Sadly, there are not two of each type. So if the magnet one was your preferred attachment, you only get one in the box.
Same goes with the magnetic charging cable, you also only have one in the box and it’s quite short. For charging purpose, either you remove the camera from its base and bring it inside, or you buy an extension USB cable like I did to attach it while leaving the camera in its position.
Once you have tried both ways of installing your Arlo Pro 3 cameras, you can always look up extra-long power cables on Amazon so you never need to recharge your cameras, or lookup extra magnetic wall mounts . There are even solar panels so you can install your cameras a bit further from your house and have them self-charge with the power of the sun!
Now that your cameras are installed, I would place the Base Station relatively close to them. You see, one thing I discovered with testing the Arlo Ultra is that the Base Station creates a local encrypted Wi-Fi network shared with the Cameras. So even if your home Wi-Fi network is strong and the Base Station wired to your home network, far away cameras might not be able to reach the Base Station and stream the video.
For example, my Arlo Ultra is installed on top of my home entrance which is close to the living room. I installed the Base Station inside my TV cabinet with an Ethernet cable. This way, I have a strong signal between the Base and the camera. You should do the same if possible.
The Arlo Pro 3 comes with a free 3-month trial of Arlo Smart, the service that allows you to receive Smart Notifications for detected events that contains People, Vehicle, Animal, Audio Alerts and Other Motions. There is even a recent Package detection that allows you to know when a package was delivered to your porch. All these alerts can be configured by camera. For example, a camera in your garage might not need to alert you of packages and a camera in your backyard might not need to check for Vehicles… :) And finally, Call a Friend is a way for your system to call a friend when an event was detected.
The way recent updates of the Arlo firmware for the Base Station work is that any Smart Notifications events are recorded in the Cloud Storage and can be filtered or retrieved easily. They are recorded in HD. When you plug in a USB drive in the Arlo Pro 3 Base Station, you can have a rolling recording of all events. Every single movement is recorded to the local storage (not just identified People, Vehicle or other). This is why I have a 128GB microSD car in my Arlo Ultra. The Arlo Pro Base Station does not support microSD, but has a simple USB port for a USB drive (stick or hard drive or your choice). Something like a short SanDisk Ultra Flair 128GB could be a good choice, or if you want the absolute smallest the SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB is an even better choice. Both are USB 3.0 and offer enough speed to read and write without any worries, I would stick to known reputable brands though since the local recording is kind of your “master” recording of all events. If you ever need to refer back to something that happened and if it was not identified correctly with the smart features, at least you have the recordings.
The way the Arlo app allows you to set up local recording is like I said earlier with a rolling recording, meaning that it will fill up to about 90% capacity and then start deleting the oldest videos to save new ones. This is where the size of your storage will impact the number of days of recordings it will keep. The larger the better, especially if you leave for vacations over many weeks.
When an event is triggered, you can load up the live feed and using the microphone button speak to the person that stands in front of the camera. This is useful for friends, neighbors or even the delivery guy to leave more instructions.
Here are a few recording samples to show you want the Arlo Pro 3 are capable of. For each recording sample, I will list some of the settings and positions so that you know what to expect. One thing that I noticed is that both the cloud video and the locally stored video are 1440p whereas for the Arlo Ultra, only the locally stored videos were 4K.
During the day, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 4.4MB (H.265)
During the day, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 3.8MB (H.265)
During dusk, recorded as a People detection.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 3.8MB (H.265)
During the night, recorded as a People detection using the infrared night vision.
from Cloud Storage, resolution 1440p, 5.4MB (H.265)
As you can see from the above videos and features, the Arlo Pro 3 seems to be a better balanced product than the Arlo Ultra given that the video are sufficiently detailed and processing HD video is less resource intensive than processing 4K. I noticed that the battery life was better with the Arlo Pro 3 versus the Ultra and if you don’t want to charge your batteries too often.
This is doubly important if your camera is pointing in an angle where lots of movement is occurring. With the Ultra I had trouble lasting more than a few days, but I feel the Pro 3 would last more time than this as with my constant passing in front of the camera for most of the day, the battery was still at 92%.
Overall, the experience was great all the way from setup to recording movement and identifying what the camera saw. I used to have issues over the last year but working relentlessly with the Arlo Support, we were able to get through these issues with notifications and Person recognition. Just in time for me to test the Arlo Pro 3! Happy to report that all these nice paid features are working great!
The trial for the cloud services is only 3 months for the Arlo Pro 3 which is a bummer as it was 1 year with the Arlo Ultra. I would love to see this extend or have a promotional pricing for the first paid year.
The Arlo products are expensive, they have always been expensive, but they do offer great features and they work reliably. If you can afford them, you will not be disappointed by them. Personally, I still rock my Arlo Ultra and completely rely on it to see what’s happening in front of my house, every single day!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-13 11:50
I’ve been wondering something for quite some time. Are the AirPods clones out there any good? I mean, do they feel and work as well as the original? For about 1/3 of the price even if they are not as good, could they be a viable alternative?
I’ve got two pairs of FruityPod on hand, a blueberry and in black and I can tell you all about them! I have them for a few months, and I was debating if I should write an article or not given that there is not much to talk about.. but in all transparency, I think I should warn you and review them.
The come in this little cardboard box, a box that does not look bad at all. It does feel a bit cheap and everything is moving around in it. Once out of the box, you have some paperwork a short charging cable and the FruityPod themselves. Wrapped in a very Apple-like fashion.
Once the wrapping is out… OMG no. The feel in hand is very, very bad. They are super light, and not light as in “ooh look at this slick, light product”, but light as in Dollar store cheap plastic light. The texture is soft and that is probably the best thing about these physically. The closing mechanism feels very low quality and it feels like it can break at any time. The sound they make when you close the case is tiny and not very reassuring like the original AirPods.
Same goes for the pods themselves, once out of the box they look like the real deal as in their photos and marketing material they look 100% identical, but once you compare them with the original they are close but not at the same time. They too are very light, they feel like a bad quality toy.
There is so many things wrong with this, I’m not even joking… Let’s go over the first-use experience, and then I’ll go over the various features. I mean, I don’t like to 💩 on a product, but this is interesting you will see.
Given that I have AirPods and know all there is to know about them, I figured I should be able to use the FruityPod, pair them and use them without the manual, right? Well, kind of.
Opening the case you, sometimes, have the native AirPods UI peaking out of the bottom of your iPhone. I say sometimes, because it really is not reliable and most often than not does not show up. If by a miracle, you get it to show up, then you can pair the FruityPod. But even the, you might get an error connecting, or if you are lucky only one of the FruityPod will connect. There are very specific pairing steps detailed on their website.
You put them in your ears and the black pair I had only spoken to me in Chinese and the blueberry one in English. There is a way to change the language before pairing them. Then about 10 minutes later, they were both in English.. OK, I don’t mind that much, but I do find it weird.
Let’s then start playing some music. Know that I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but I have tried systems worth 10s of thousands of dollars and crazy expensive headphones and in all cases I could notice a significant difference from more affordable products. I’m also a musician and have somewhat of a good ear to grasp all of the dynamic range of good music reproduction. The FruityPod are not better than a 2$ pair of earphones from DealExtreme!
Around 2007 or 2008 I got some fake in-ear earphones that looked like the Apple ones from DealExtreme, they were called
For iPod Noise Isolation Earbuds NORREBO and cost exactly 2.00 USD. They looked like the real thing from a distance, but the quality was not there at all. Here’s a review from iLounge about the official ones.
Why do I digress? Well, because once I started playing music with the FruityPod, the music sounded tiny and exactly like the 2$ earphones I got from DX! No bass, all the frequencies are muddied together and frankly the sound is garbage. I listened to Rage Against the Machine, Deftones and a few Dream Theater songs that I know by heart and boy, were my ears in for a treat. And not a good treat. I hated the experience.
If you need another example to really understand the bad quality of the drivers, imagine those cheap Dell laptops from the 2000s with their awful speaker array, and put them inside your ears. No dynamic range, and just a poor and awful sound.
Now let’s go over the various tech specs of the FruityPod to complete our well-rounded review of this product.
We already covered the first one, they are not high definition by any stretch of the imagination, and there is absolutely no noise cancellation. They probably mean that you will hear noise from them, as the sound reproduction is so bad that it is noise, and that this noise will cover noise from around you, then yes, this noise will cancel other noises. But it will not actively remove the noise around you like Bose, Sony or Apple do with their various products. As for passive noise cancellation, they are not sealing your air canal so they cannot claim to do passive noise cancellation either. I’m really at a loss here…
Frankly, I did not want to have those in my ears for that many hours… it was that bad. I think the promise of around 3h is slightly exaggerated from the use my kids made of them. It’s more around the 2h mark or slightly above.
Yes, they do have one. How does it sound? Well, have a listen and you will ~see~ hear it!
The bass is way too high on the FruityPod and the quality overall not very good. The AirPods first generation is known not to be that great with their microphones, but the FruityPod are even worst.
For this bit I will refer you to Wikipedia on the IP Code page. IP means Ingress Protection and the first number is the protection against a foreign object like dust or an ant, or even a finger. The X means they have no data. OK, then the second number means water resistance. They say 6, which means
Powerful water jetswith a test that does
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm (0.49 in)) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Fair, I guess the case can protect itself and the pods, but from the build and assembly quality, I would not even want to try it. Forget about forgetting them in the washing machine, this is sudden death for them for sure.
So I haven’t tested them myself, but I’m not confident about them…
This is the single good thing about these, their soft rubber texture is actually very soft to the touch and they do not attract fingerprints. It’s a minor issue you will say, but it’s the most truthful claim they also make.
So the FruityPod are not a good replacement for AirPods, in fact, they are just looking alike but they have zero common features that work as well. They promise good pairing, good sound, good looks and more, but all they can do it look good in product shots. Not even in person, in your hands.
I was not expecting a product as good as the 1st generation AirPods, but I was expecting a product that is worth this price, about 1/3 of the AirPods, therefore about 1/3 as good. These are about 1/10 as good and I would not spend more than 10-15$ on them. With Free Shipping.
I hate the sound reproduction, even the packaged Apple earphones are 100 times better in terms of quality. Stay away from them, I do not recommend them at all, not even for kids, save their little ears and allow them to ear all of the frequencies of music in a much better pair!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-08 09:33
In a software update, AirThings will release a new feature for the Wave Mini around the world. Mold Risk Indication will allow you to know overtime if you are at risk of developing mold because of your higher than wanted humidity levels.
The sensors in all of the Airthings products include an hygrometer and provides accurate humidity levels. Airthings is now pushing this further by analyzing the trends in your home with regards to the humidity levels and report a risk factor. They don’t have an actual mold detector, but they use all the data they are gathering to identify risk.
With the health effects of growing mold like asthma, and the absolute bizarre thing of needing to have a big problem first before you can actually diagnose it, having a preemptive strike against mold like this is a first!
Data Scientist from Airthings has developed the Mold Risk Indicator that goes from 1 to 10, 1 being good and 10 being a big problem. It takes a couple of days for the Wave Mini to go through the proper data and calculation, but after that you should get a good indication of what is the situation at your house. Placement is key here, so you need to make sure you place the Wave Mini close to where there might be problems like a window, close to the floor or behind furniture, etc.
It even works with the Airthings Hub to track the air quality remotely for the cabin or shed without the need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. And with automation and a smart plug like the WeMo Mini Smart plug , you can quickly have a dehumidifier running when humidity reaches a certain level.
With the Wave Plus I recently reviewed, the offer from Airthings keeps getting better! I hope this feature comes to the other device like the Wave Plus as I have two of them!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-09-07 10:52
After testing a few of the new generation of smaller size SSD like the Rocket Nano and the Tuff Nano, I was wondering if I could get even more performance out of a stick of NVMe SSD using an external enclosure. After all, the Thunderbolt 3 architecture should, in theory, allow for 40Gbits of bandwidth. This is 5 GB/s of theoretical transfer rate.
I contacted my good friends at Sabrent and got to test the Rocket Q , one of their faster NVMe 2280 SSD, a little stick that can be used inside their Tool-Free enclosure which I really loved the design, or inside any other enclosure of your choosing.
This is one area where the SSD drives are way faster than any enclosure can keep up. Therefore, I’ve been trying to get one that is much faster than the Rocket Q, and sadly, failed to find one. I did find one that is good, but not as fast as I would hope it would be.
There is not much to say about an NVMe SSD stick, it’s a small piece of PCB with memory chips on it. It stores data. Period. ;)
NVMe comes in various sizes, this one happens to be the M.2 2280 one which is the most common, and also one of the smallest. Perfect for small external devices like enclosures.
It took a long time for me to put this drive through its paces. I’ve tested a few external enclosures including Sabrent’s own Tool-free enclosure, but sadly it seems the market is not ready for such tremendous power.
There are a few enclosures on Amazon that are rated to surpass 2 GB/s, but they don’t really advertise their maximum theoretical speed. Often they just take a Western Digital or Samsung NVMe drive and provide these numbers. Nonetheless, here are a few drives to consider:
Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 M.2 2280 NVMe Enclosure - 2800 MB/s read
Yottamaster Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2700+ MB/s read, 1500+ MB/s write
Orico Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2,300 MB/s read, 2,100 MB/s write
Fledging Shell Thunder Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure - 2,900 MB/s read, 2,500 MB/s write
As you can see, these reported speeds are all over the place. All of these are supporting Thunderbolt 3 with 40 Gbit/s, but none of them seem to go over 3 GB/s when the maximum speed should be around 5 GB/s. So I ended up selecting the Fledging Shell Thunder for this review because it seemed to be the most rounded one with the fastest read speed and a very fast write speed.
You have to know that the Sabrent Rocket Q is rated for speeds of 3,200 MB/s (read) and 2,900 MB/s (write) and none of the above reach the speeds of the Rocket Q sadly.
Installing the Rocket Q inside the enclosure is not a challenge at all, just 4 simple screws and a stick of thermal pad. That is really all there is to it. The Sabrent Tool-less enclosure is faster, but unless you are going through SSDs like crazy 4 screws is not such a hard process either.
Here I would have loved to be able to reach the full potential of the Rocket Q , however, sadly it is not possible with the current Thunderbolt 3 enclosures on the market. The Fledging officially supports 2,900 MB/ in read and 2,500 MB/s in write as its top speed. Here are the numbers I got going through the various benchmarking software.
I have also moved very large files in one single stream in order to trigger the SLC cache limit. The SLC cache limit is a superfast cache that is used to offer the best performance and then when the transfer is completed, it is offloaded to slower memory banks. Often time this limit is between 20 GB and 70 GB, this is why I did two tests. Moving a file of 90 GB and moving another file of 120 GB.
In both situations, I did not hit any limit at all! Granted, I did not reach the SSD’s maximum speed, but I still nonetheless made a very large transfer that would have filled the cache if there is, was one. ~In a perfect world, I would move a full 2 TB of data like this, but I never saw someone actually do this… It would be an interesting test, though!~ Scroll down a bit to the next section! ;)
As you can see from the above file transfer, recorded with iStat Menu, it kept its maximum transfer speed of roughly 2.1 GB/s constant. There was a very slight dip, but nothing to phone home about. This tells us that the full (or a significant portion) of the memory banks are of the very fast kind. In real life scenarios, even for backup purposes, you should have no trouble getting the maximum speed of this drive without any slow downs!
My job is to push my hardware to the limits, so I generated an empty file (random ones and zeros) of 1TB. If there is an SLC cache on the Sabrent Q, we will surely find out! I used the same process as above, writing the file to the SSD installed in the Fledging enclosure. Just look at this beauty:
Quite impressive! As you can see from the graph, apart from a very small hiccup in the first few seconds, the Rocket Q sustained 2.1GB/s of file transfer speed for the whole transfer! We can safely say that the Rocket Q does not have any SLC cache, and the complete space on the SSD is made up of superfast memory chips!
Not being the first product of Sabrent I’m testing, I was under the impression that it would be quite fast and indeed, fast it is! The advertised speeds are not only for the first X gigabytes, they are reached for as long as a file is being transferred and this is marvellous for those of you out there moving large number of files. Bet it for backup purpose, or do read and write your 4K (and even 8K) video edits directly on the Sabrent Q SSD!
If for some reason, speeds of 3GB/s are not enough for you, Sabrent recently released a new product, the Rocket Q4 which comes with or without a heat sink, allowing it to reach speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s in reads and 4,400 MB/s in writes. You do need a PCIe Gen4 compatible motherboard, but like Sulu would say… OH MY! This is truly impressive speeds!
The Rocket Q is a very nice balance of power and affordability that offer performances usually reserved to much pricier products and if you register the product quickly, you get a 5-year extended warranty! I highly recommend the Rocket Q and if you end up getting the new Rocket Q4 let me know, I would love to know what you think!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-08-17 09:20
Sometimes you ask yourself questions about your surroundings. You read stuff online and you wonder about the air quality in your home. However, after a cursory search on Amazon, you realize they are lots of devices out there and they all mention weird acronyms that mean nothing to you. They must be good at what they do, but before using them you need to understand what they report and how to act on that information.
This is where a solution like the Wave Plus from Airthings comes to the rescue. This round piece of plastic houses many little sensors to do what other devices do, report numbers on the various pollutants of your indoor air. But it does so much more than this. It not only reports very accurate numbers, but it also provided graphs to see how your air quality varies with hours, days, weeks and even months. For each type of pollutant, Airthings provides ample documentation that is easy to read and helps you quickly learn about the effects of pollutants and gases inside your home.
And for the developers amongst you, they even go a step further… More about this later.
Compared to the vast majority of air quality monitors out there, Airthings has one of the nicest, most minimalist design out there. After all, it’s designed in Norway and for once, not assembled in China but in Tunisia!
The unit is quite simple, no buttons whatsoever, only a single motion detector so that if you pass your hand in front of the unit, a LED ring lights up and gives you a red, yellow or green alert. This tells you without looking at numbers the air quality measured by the unit. The unit has a magnetic backplate so if you want to install it on the wall, you can use the provided screw and do so with the backplate. The unit then magnetically attached itself to the plate. This way you can easily take it out to change the batteries.
The batteries should normally last you between 1 and 1.5 years. And if you use some of the Eneloop Pro batteries, you might be able to push this even further!
In 2020, you must have an app. This is plainly simple, you need to be able to take a look at the numbers from your phone and if possible have some kind of history. Even more with an air quality monitor, you need to be able to see trends, averages, and act on that information.
Airthings does provide a mobile app which you need to use to set up the Wave Plus. Once you got through the wizard and have your new Wave Plus setup, it needs 7 days to breathe and provide accurate readings. From the specifications, it seems this is because of the VOCs and CO2 sensors, they need time to set and provide accurate numbers.
After the 7 days are passed, you can now refer to the numbers and start changing your behaviour.
The app shows you your list of devices and the battery level of each of them. The main page of a device gives you a clear view of all six measurements. They even have a little circle that shows up yellow or red to point to the measurement that is concerning.
If you tap one of the measurements, you are greeted with the average value based on the timeframe selected below (48h, week, month or year). Swipping allows you go move between measurements.
Talking about the measurements, the Wave Plus provided 6 measurements. This makes the Wave Plus one of the products on the market with the most measurements. And the only one with a radon detector.
The complete list includes radon, total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), CO2, humidity, temperature and air pressure.
The impressive thing here is the radon detection, usually you need to get some of those little black pucks, leave them be for 6 to 12 months and then send then to a laboratory for analysis. Using the Wave Plus you have an accurate reading with ~10% after 7 days and ~5% after two months. Here again if you want the most accurate numbers, you need more than a few days, but given that radon-level changes not only with airflow but also seasons and behaviour (like having the windows opened during summer and closed during winter), you should refer to this number on the long run.
The only sensor missing from this impressive list would be the PM10 and PM2.5. Particulate Matter of a 10 microns or less, or 2.5 microns or less is not being measured by the Wave Plus. This pollutant can be breathed and it can travel deep inside your lungs and cause all kinds of irritation, trigger allergies and asthma in certain individuals. Think of this as small dust particles travelling in the air. The PM10 is what causes the beige/brown haze you often in photos from China or India. Although less present here, there are days when the outside number rises to levels that requires you to think about it.
I do wish the next generation of the Wave Plus incorporate a PM10 and PM2.5 sensor, as with it, and the other existing sensor, it would cover 100% of what most of the air quality monitors can monitor.
As with many things in my life, I have an episode where my partner had trouble breathing during the lockdown. We never were at home for such an extended period of time and this caused her to start having trouble breathing.
We have central air and even an air exchanger, but never really got numbers from the air quality in our home. Our home is almost 10 years old and was built using the Novoclimat standard, a government approved guideline that makes sure houses are better insulated than usual and thus have basically no unwanted air leaks. This is great for saving on heating and cooling bills, but it has the adverse effect that if we don’t actively circulate the air, it stays stale and significantly drop in quality.
In the past, we used to put the central AC on during 30˚C and plus days, but rarely the air exchanger. Or if we did, we wanted to cool the house as quickly as possible so we set it to recirculate the air. This is a very bad idea, as all of the VOCs and the CO2, and even the radon, stays inside and moves around.
This was during summer. During winter, we also did not have such a great track record either. We, of course, being in Québec with our -30˚C, have to heat our house. Which we do at or around 22˚C during the winter, and have the air exchanger running on auto with around 35-40% relative humidity. This is good, but we often time do not set the air exchanger to circulate air from the outside. Can’t wait to see how bad we are once winter invites itself…
Now that I have a Wave Plus, I can get accurate numbers and act on them to correct the situation. Having the AC running without the air exchanger basically raised the CO2 and TVOCs levels very high, in the yellow section after about one hour and if left to its own device with us 5 in the house, it rapidly reaches the red zone. Turning on the air exchanger fixes the problems and brings back all the levels to green. Phew!
You know what also fixes all the problems? Opening the windows! Especially on a windy day, you can quickly get your air cleaned by opening the windows for a few minutes. All the levels with drops significantly.
Radon is one of the worst air pollutants out there. It’s odourless, does not seem to harm anyone until it’s too late. And the end result of living in an area with too much radon can be lung cancer. So yes, you need to look into this. Seriously.
Airthings provides anonymized information regarding all of the Wave Plus devices out there and gathers the results on a Radon Map. This can quickly tell you if others have low or high levels of radon in their houses and if you should take a closer look at this. A friend of mine (👋 Angelo!) lives in a High Risk area and got his house tested. I live in a Medium Risk area and thanks to the Wave Plus I can see that my levels (at least for now) are quite low. Having poor ventilation raises the numbers and even when measured on the second floor of my house, the number also rises. This means that the radon can easily circulate even to the bedrooms with the AC ON, but without proper air exchange practices.
I have also set up those little black pucks to do long-term (6-12 month evaluation) and I’ll post back the results which I’ll be able to compare with what the Airthings reports in 6-9 months.
The mobile app gives you a great glimpse at the current situation and offers some graphs to see the last 48h, weeks or months. But if you like to see graphs and data, head over to the Airthings dashboard!
This thing is AMAZING! Just look at these graphs, you can see the data captured by the Wave Plus over the last few months.
This is great to see how the numbers fluctuate, but I wished we could add events which would add a vertical line to the graphs. For example, “opened windows”, or “turn on AC” because I don’t always remember what happened before a spike or a drop. You can frantically refresh the app 30 minutes or 1 hour after you did such event, but I would love to see how my actions affect the air quality in a more interactive way.
Using Bluetooth 5.0 allows the Wave Plus to communicate with your phone and using Wi-Fi, it can communicate with the remote server to upload data. The Mobile App however, requires you to be on the same home network to refresh the data. If you want to retrieve the data from outside your home, you will need to purchase the Airthings Hub .
You can also add cool automation when pairing your Airthings Wave Plus with Alexa, Google Assistant or leverage IFTTT to get alerts. Or even better, pair this with a WeMo Smart Plug and you can even start a fan, dehumidifier or other device to automatically take care of risky levels without raising from your couch! :) You can even use any Philips Hue product to get a visual, and colourful, notification when the specified level has risen.
Very cool stuff!
Airthings is sharing lots of code on their Github page. You can even set up a Raspberry Pi to regularly download the numbers from your Wave device. They have reader code for the Wave Mini , the Wave and the Wave Plus ; as well as a Grafana exporter.
I will be sure to play with the waveplus-reader to extract the data. I could even probably build my own dashboard and add support for events… 🤔
After testing the Airthings Wave Plus for many, many weeks, I can say with confidence that this device is very, very impressive! It offers a glimpse into an area of your life that you did not know could have such an impact on your well-being. Airthings provides in-app documentation to help you understand each of the metric, their impact and how to help with fixing a problematic situation.
The app is intuitive to use and offer nice graphs with your present and past numbers, but on the online dashboard is where all the juicy details are gathered. You can consult much more precise graphs and historical data. Given that the numbers are recorded every 5 minutes, you have ample data to learn about your situation.
I only wish that the Wave Plus would have a PM10 and PM2.5 sensor to really offer all of the sensors currently available on the market in its competitors. The Wave Plus does have the radon detection which is something quite unique, but in order to really know about allergens, dust and other things that can affect my air quality I would need to get another sensor.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-29 08:59
My initial plan was to use this little enclosure with a cool Sabrent Rocket Q NVMe SSD drive I got, and don’t get me wrong it works, however, the drive is faster than the enclosure so therefore things can be much faster! I’ll try to find another drive that can actually reach the promised speeds of 2,800MB/s that the Rocket Q can achieve!
But if you have another NVMe SSD that is a bit less powerful than this, the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool-Free Enclosure is a great little piece of engineering!
The enclosure is made of 100% aluminum, which means that it is actually using itself to dissipate the head generated by high-speed transfers. You simply open the enclosure by turning a little tab 90˚ and the bottom plate pops off. You slide in your NVMe SSD of 2280 size (or less, it also works with 2230, 2242, 2260), remove the plastic peel from the heat pad, and close it back with the back plate.
Your SSD is now ready to be used with the provided Thunderbolt 3 cable, but bear in mind that the hardware inside the case is NOT Thunderbolt 3 optimized, it’s actually USB 3.2 and it can “only” do 10 Gbps of sustained top speeds.
In the box, you also have a USB-A cable provide since the enclosure is retro compatible with USB 3.1 and 3.0.
There you go, you have a nice-looking sandblasted aluminum that fits in your pocket. It’s not as small as the Sabrent Rocket Nano we recently tested, but it’s using the same design principles.
To leverage the speeds offered by the quick USB 3.2 interface, you do not need a compatible drive, one that can accommodate over 1,000 MB/s otherwise, you will feel very constrained! I’ve got this great little, itsy-bitsy drive called the Rocket Q from Sabrent . They promise speeds of up to 2,900 MB/s in writing and 3,200 MB/s in reading. Definitely way more than what is expected of the enclosure!
Mounting the enclosure and going through testing was a breeze and there were no disconnection errors during the whole process of trying multiple times, all of the software below. Let’s go over the different applications and their results.
As you can see from the above screenshots, DiskMark reported read and write speeds of 974 MB/s and 962 MB/s, both very close the theoretical maximum speeds of the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool Free Enclosure.
Moving on to ATTO Disk Benchmark, we got a bit faster here with 1,010 MB/s and 1,040 MB/s respectively in read and write speeds. This is pretty on par with the manufacturer’s promise.
What does this tell us? Well, if you have an NVMe SSD around that can do 1,000 MB/s or more, the Sabrent USB 3.2 enclosures is a great partner in crime! It will allow you to reach those speeds without any problems!
If you are looking for a solid solution that will allow you to reach the famous 1 GB/s in read and write speeds, the Sabrent USB 3.2 Tool Free Enclosure is the drive to get since it does reach those numbers without any problems. And if you are swapping drives, its tool-free design is such a fun process to go through, and super quick too! The whole enclosure will allow you to dissipate the large amount of heat that the NVMe chips releases, it does become hot to the touch, almost burning, but rarely will you be moving terabytes of data in one single session. In regular use it should only become warm to the touch, and not hot.
Now that I have a crazy fast Sabrent Rocket Q in my hands, I need to push the envelope even further and find another enclosure that will allow me to reach the 2.8 GB/s and 3.2 GB/s write and read speeds that this tiny but mighty drive can do! I’ll report soon!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-19 12:27
The world of wireless earbuds has dramatically changed over the last two years with not only the usual big guys like Sennheiser releasing interesting new products, but also other consumer product companies like Apple, Samsung, Google and Jabra. Jabra has a long history of various businesses and chat headsets, but they have also released a few models of wireless earbuds.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t have nothing to envy towards other high-end headset, their design is quite impressive. The case has a very nice rounded shape and fits nicely in your pockets. The two earbuds are held with magnets, as is the case cover. It also makes a satisfying click when shut close! But what users were complaining the most about got fixed in this revision, it now charges via USB-C!
The 75t also comes with three size tips to really be comfortable to your very own ears. Talking about ears, they are not what I would describe as small once installed, but there are definitely smaller than lots of what is out there.
They are offered in a few colours including Navy, Copper Black, Grey, Sienna and Mint.
The tips are not what I would consider the most comfortable tips out there. There are OK, but I’ve seen better. In the past I’ve had great success with the foam tips from Comply and I see they are already offering them in three sizes for the Elite line. If you like the 75t but feel the fit could be better, have a look at the Comply!
The very first thing I wanted to test is the sound quality. This is often times what is mostly lacking some earbuds on the market. They too often have a ton of great features at the expense of sound quality. Given that these are earbuds, sound quality for me is of upmost importance! Comparing them with other buds and even full-size headsets like the Sennheiser Momentum 3, they are surprising!
The sound quality is very good and flat by default, which is what you want with earbuds that come with a customizable EQ. You can then go to the Jabra app, do updates if there are some, and customize the sound to your liking. I prefer to add just a bit of bass and some highs. Then the sound was perfect to my ears! I have yet to try the AirPods Pro but compared to regular AirPods and other earbuds I tried in the past, their quality is very good especially since they are not wired and have to go through wireless protocols.
As for the fit, well this is something very personal. Some people can’t stand in-ear earbuds, some can’t even stand the regular iPod and iPhone style earbuds. For me, they do fit nicely in my ears and the three different size tips are good to find the perfect fit. For me, medium is where I need to be.
Coming from AirPods, I did need to get re-used to in-ear earbuds. I rocked for a very long-time the Microsoft Zune Premium earbuds (review in French) for years and even upgraded them with Comply foam tips at one point. But after years of Bose QC35 , Sennheiser Momentum 1 and Momentum 3 headsets, and AirPods, I did need to get re-acquainted with in-ear audio devices.
Once properly installed, you do need to learn how to fit them right and once you do, you forget they are even there! They are comfortable and offer a good seal to passively block outside noise.
Their battery life is great with around 7.5h of autonomy in the buds themselves, and a total of 28h if you include the case. One great thing I miss with my AirPods is the fast charging. If often happen I will forget to charge the case and realize, I have but a mere 20% left on the AirPods… The Jabra 75t can quick charge your buds for 15 minutes and get over 1h of listening time. But the best thing is the USB-C port! One more device going to USB-C is so great!
I don’t know why people are not talking more about this?!? This is the single, best, incredible feature of the Jabra 75t! You can pair them with up to 8 devices, which by itself is incredible. But the amazing thing is how you can switch between those devices. It’s almost seamless!
I’m not counting Spotify here because the app itself has that feature built-in, so let’s have the use case of Youtube. A video is playing on my Mac and I want to switch to my Overcast app on my iPhone. I pause the video on the Mac and hit play on the iPhone. The audio is now coming out of the iPhone! No need to fiddle with the active device like with AirPods! No bad connection, nothing!
IT JUST WORKS (GREAT)!
I should probably do a long-time review of the AirPods to explain my woes with them… but suffice it to say that I do spend most of my day switching devices. And if that process can be improved, believe me it has to with AirPods, the Jabra team really are going strong here with their painless switching between devices. It’s really like the 75t knows where audio is coming out and it automatically switches to that for you.
The Jabra 75t have both active noise cancellation as well as transparent hearing which they call HearThrough. With just a click on the left earbud, you can go from noise cancellation to transparent earing. The noise cancellation is actually very good because, first of all, you benefit from in-ear passive noise cancellation since the 75t are placed inside your ear canal. Then, on top of this, you add technology that cancels the noise you get a great result!
The HearThrough works well, but I always find this mode to have too much background noise. I mean, I know it uses the microphone to pickup ambient noise, but the background “shhhhh” is a bit too much for me. Perhaps it could be toned down a bit. As for other sounds, like if someone speaks with you, it does sound reasonable natural.
This is a very recent addition to the Jabra 75t. It offers a personalized test to check which frequencies you can hear and from that little test, customize the EQ for your specific earing. The MySound features plays short tones of varied frequencies and when you hear it, you tap a button. You do this about 25 times and repeat for the other ear. Once completed, it builds a personalized EQ just for you.
Does it work? Yes, it does! I played Pull Me Under from Dream Theater, a song I probably listened to over 500 times over the course of my life, and on audio devices ranging from 2$ earbuds to full stereo worth north of 30,000$. Suffice to say, I know the ins and out of this song and I’m very sensitive to its varied frequencies. After applying the MySound profile, the sound not only sounded more rounded, but it also sounded less metal tin-y in the highs.
Weirdly, it kind of “fixed” the audio and made it so much better! I mean it’s the intended behaviour, but I was not expecting to see such a difference. I tried turning it OFF and reran the test a second time, I see a very noticeable difference! GN Group, the parent company of Jabra knows a ton about hearing aids, and it shows when you have something like this added to the latest firmware of great wireless earbuds.
After rocking these for a few weeks, I must say that I am more impressed that I thought I would be. The welcome surprise was the way to toggle between devices, something even the great Apple can’t get to work reliably with their “single device at a time” AirPods. The constant updates to both the mobile app and the firmware of the Jabra Elite 75t make them an impressive little product to rock. And with major new features, that actually increase the sound reproduction capabilities like the MySound feature that was recently released, rarely can you say that your audio product just got better for your own ears!
If in-ear earphones like the Jabra Elite 75t fit your ears, you should definitely get them as they are one serious contender for this year, and often more affordable than the competition!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-06-11 12:12
If there is one thing I really love, it’s the innovation brought by a cool piece of tech, but it also needs to come with a slick design and genuinely fix a problem. This is no easy task to accomplish! Often, we have great gizmos that do fix a problem, but the design is absent, or it tries to fix a problem we don’t have.
Unlimited, yes that Unlimited from the partnership with Loaded, from which I tested their incredible electric longboard last year, now has another Kickstarter in the works. This time, they are tackling the e-bike conversion problem!
Instead of proposing straight up an e-bike, they also do but it’s beside the point, they are offering a solution to electrify your bike. You add a battery, replace the front wheel and use their pedal sensor to automatically transform your bike into an e-bike with pedal assist!
There is even an optional accessory to add a screen and display your speed, distance and battery level. And if you’re in the US, there is another optional accessory, a throttle trigger that can replace the human pedalling on the bike.
What about specs then?
|Battery Range||35km (22mi)||80km (50mi)||80km (50mi)|
|Max Power||750W (US) 250W (EU)||750W (US) 250W (EU)||750W (US) 250W (EU)|
|Top Speed||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU||35kph (22mph) US 25kph (15mph) EU|
|Air Travel||Compliant||Not Compliant||Not Compliant|
Not bad, heh?
I like that you have a choice of the capacity of the battery and some optional accessories. This way you can get just what you need and not more.
The design of replacing your front wheel with a wheel with the motor is great! Easy to swap and by using the water bottle holes it should be super quick to install. The 35kph is great and if that can be sustained for close to 80km it would be awesome indeed.
This is a valid question and I can see this upgrade being useful for different types of cyclist. Somebody that wants to get to work with their bike but do not want to get there all sweaty could benefit from the pedal assist of this ebike conversion kit. Someone that is not necessarily at the top of their physical statue might benefit from this to enjoy longer rides outside which could then help in making their life a lot more enjoyable.
And pedal assist does not mean you need to turn it on all the time, you can turn the pedal backwards and the sensor will register the change of mode.
I really love the minimalism of this idea, the design looks great and I can’t wait to try it on to test how well the idea came into reality!
You can still get in on the IndieGogo campaign!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-05-11 09:59
2020 seems like a year where we will finally be able to carry the full power of Thunderbolt 3 in the palm of our hands! Last year, we got a few small very quick SSDs, but 2020 seems the power keeps increasing as much as their footprint seems to be diminishing!
A few months ago, I tested the CalDigit Tuff Nano external SSD with promises of doing a crazy speed of 1050 MB/s in both read and write! I remember that not too long ago, I was excited about “only” 300 MB/s! The drive was fairly small, with a rubber protection.
But today, I have something even smaller. Its footprint not only fits in your hand, you can actually close your fist around it! 😱 The Rocket Nano by Sabrent is an m2 SSD wrapped in a 100% aluminum case that promises 1000 MB/s of both read and write speeds!
This little guy is quite impressive to look at. The box seems make it seem like it’s way bigger, so when you actually open it and see how tiny the external SSD is, you blink and can’t believe it!
The enclosure is made of aluminum and act as a heat sink for those long transfer sessions when hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes are moved on and off the drive. It comes with both a Thunderbolt 3 cable (USB-C ends of course) and a USB-C to USB-A cable to maximize compatibility in these evolving times where the USB connectors are changing.
Now, how big is the Rocket Nano? It’s only slightly larger than a USB thumb drive. Its length is basically the width of a SATA SSD drive. It’s half the width of an AirPods case, and only about 1 cm longer. Here are a couple of shots of it next to everyday items so you can get an idea of its size.
Having extra storage is often an expensive upgrade when buying a laptop. Going from 1TB to 2TB with the latest MacBook Pro 16-inch , costs 400$. For 100$ less, you can get a 2TB Rocket Nano ! (pricing in May 2020). If you don’t need to have that storage inside your computer at all times, the Rocket Nano is a great way to save a ton of money! And if you need it with you? Well, hide it in your iPod Nano jean’s pocket and it will always be with you where you go!
Of course, the very first thing I did was to run a bunch of benchmarks to see how well this little speed demon behaves! For reference, I was testing the 1TB model in grey.
Using the regular disk benchmarking software, I got speeds on or around that 1,000 MB/s. ATTO Disk Benchmark reported 1,020 MB/s in both read and write, AJA System Test Lite said 963 MB/s in read and 968 MB/s in write and Black Magic Disk Speed Test returned 907 and 915 in read and write speed respectively.
Most of the tools are reporting the advertised speed and that is amazing. Using it as an external SSD at these speeds do not feel like an external SSD at all!
The last test I wanted to make was a long-running transfer of just above 100 GB. Why you might ask? Often times, manufacturers will use a fast SLC cache of various sizes to allow for the maximum top speed for what they think is under the average transfer size. This way, they can save on cost as this fast SLC cache is way more expensive and would triple of not quadruple their costs.
To test this fast SLC cache you need to transfer files that are larger than its size, and note if you see a drop in transfer speed. For this, I’m using the excellent iStat Menu with the SSD option ON while looking at the graphic.
As you can see from the graphic above, I’ve done three separate transfers, separated by about 1 minute. You clearly see that there is a drop of about 40% after a little while. Looking the macOS file transfer window this happens around the 26 GB mark. Therefore, we can safely assume that there is probably a 26 GB fast SLC cache that gets filled and then the speed drops from around 950 MB/s to 500 MB/s according to iStat Menu.
This SLC Cache can be of any size from a few gigabytes to over 100 GB on more expensive desktop SSD drives. The Rocket Nano has a decent size cache that is around the average size on the market and it beats a few drives out there with smaller caches.
But what does it mean in reality? In a typical day-to-day utilization, you should not see any meaningful speed degradations unless you move over 100s of gigabytes regularly. Opening a photo library or even doing a 4K edit directly on the drive will not slow down since you don’t work off ALL of the data at once. I personally rarely move over 50 GB of files in one single transfer, therefore instead of being around 50s for the complete file transfer, it will be about 70s. Not a very meaningful difference.
With all the above benchmarking and large file transfer, you might wonder how the aluminum case behaved? Well, it really did its job wonderfully. Knowing that these little memory boards can get so hot, you can’t touch them, I have happy to see that the worst temperature I got was offered multiple 100 GB transfer and it was 51˚C. Certainly hot to the touch, but not enough to burn you. And after regular sized copies, it was around 40˚C in continuous use.
The case/heatsink does a very good job, as knowing how hot SSDs can get, it sure was hot to the touch, but not enough to burn, and it came down quickly after that to only feel warm!
The Sabrent Rocket Nano is a tiny little drive that has performance of competitors 3 and 4 times its size. It’s so small that it can fit comfortably behind your laptop, in your jeans pockets, even in the smaller pocket!
With sustained performance of 1000 MB/s, it’s just like having another internal SSD Drive. I see absolutely no difference running Final Cut Pro or Photos on it. The only time when you might not benefit from its full potential is if you transfer over 26 GB of files in one single stream. These times, you will see about half the speed due to an SLC Cache of about 26 GB.
All in all, I strongly recommend the Rocket Nano for someone looking to extend the total capacity of their computer. The speed is great and does not allow to see much difference in everyday use, even with professional tools. It does not run hot and with both a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C on both ends) and a USB-C to USB-A cable, you can use it literally anywhere! As long as the computer is fast enough to drive the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface! Nowadays, it’s the computer that risks not being fast enough!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-04-28 08:32
I never thought we would see the day where CleanMyMac X, the best all-in-one maintenance and optimization suite, would be available on the Mac App Store. Apple has been very clear about how application should request access to drives and ressources, but most of all, the restrictions that came with the Mac App Store were even worst.
To a point where even code editors could not live on the MAS because they would not be able to read all the files on the disk. Apple defined the entitlements that applications must request, however, since the introduction of this sytem not all of the possible entitlements were available. And sadly up to this day, everything that is possible for a notarized Mac app is not possible to be done in its Mac App Store version.
MacPaw judged that what is now available is enough and they are launch an almost complete version of CleanMyMac X on the Mac App Store today!
The main difference between the MAS version and the MacPaw Store version is the notable absence of the Photo Junk, Maintenance, Updater and Shredder modules. There is currently no way for MacPaw to have these modules work with the current state of the Mac App Store. There are also a few limitations to other modules like the Smart Scan that comes without the Speed module, replaced by the Large & Old Files. The System Junk can’t access Xcode simulators, System Log Files, System Cache Files, Language Files and Deleted Users. The Trash Bins, Privacy, Optimization, Uninstaller and some fonctionnality of the CleanMyMac X menu are also limited.
All in all, you still get most of the features for an App that lives in the Mac App Store, that does not require you to share your payment information and will be showed with your other subscriptions.
Talking about subscription, did you know that there are three ways to get CleanMyMac X? You can buy a one-time copy or an annual subscription on the MacPaw Store, an annual subscrption on the Mac App Store or an annual or monthly subscription through SetApp. Phew!
But which version should you get?? That’s a good question!
MacPaw Store Version
One-time purchase, or annual subscription
For 1 Mac
Cool rebates (returning customers, upgrade discount, competitor discount and more)
Mac App Store Version
Annual subscription only
Available on all your Apple ID devices
Appears on your MAS subscription invoice
Monthly, or annual subscription
Access to 160+ other Mac Apps
So from this information, you might want to try to get the best price for you. If you already own another Mac Paw product you should head over to the MacPaw store, you might be able to get either a cheaper upgrade or returning customer price. However, if you have multiple Macs and no other MacPaw licenses, the Mac App Store version would be “pay once and run everywhere” so this might be better for you. And finally, if you already have a SetApp subscription, you already own CleanMyMac X!
I really like CleanMyMac X and I think I should review it soon!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-22 14:18
There are a lot of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C in the market and they usually look like a thick slab of aluminum powered by a large power brick. They are ideal for your home office or office, but that’s where you will set them and you will never travel with them.
That a pity and often time, on the go, I have the same needs as when I’m at home. I need to connect devices to my USB-C port MacBook Pro but there are no good portable docks and I don’t like bringing a complete kit of dongles when I work outside…
The StayGo USB-C Dock by Twelve South is a solution to both at home and on the go, get it? StayGo? So let’s see if this hub really fulfills the promise of being a good home dock and a good on-the-go dock and as I’m a geek for numbers, let’s run a few benchmarks with it!
The StayGo is a small size dock that still offers great connectivity for the size but it’s special power is how I how they decided to manage power. Instead of using a super thick power brick, they are reusing the power brick that comes with your MacBook Pro and offers 85W of passthrough power. And the cable to plug it into your Mac is hidden inside the dock! So when you are going out, you simply take the dock with you and you don’t need to think about the cable or have a weird dangling cable that’s in the way.
The whole dock acts as a heat sink for the heat generated through its use and it’s one of the only, if not the only one, with both a microSD and SD card reader. Three USB-A 3.0 for your fast external storage and one of them gives out 7.5W for charging your phone. The HDMI shoots out 4K video at 30Hz and the Ethernet jack is a Gigabit port that can do 1,000Mbps.
But where this little shines, is that it comes with one right angle USB-C cable for the desk and it can even store a short USB-C cable inside itself for use on the go! So you just grab the StayGo and run! No need for extra cables!
The matte black design is great and it feels amazing in the hand! Great design, great looks!
Let’s first talk about the power performance of the StayGo. From the marketing document, Twelve South says it’s offering a passthrough of 85W for charging a MacBook Pro. This is very good as it closely matches what the 2018 and before MacBook Pro 15” were requiring. The new 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro requires 96W so you might not be able to run it to its fullest speed without seeing a few percentage points drop. For a compact dock like this, it’s not bad at all and a good compromise. Worst case, when you leave your computer to eat or make coffee, it will regain the lost points.
When I plugged the MacBook Pro charger, it displays 86W of charging current (for an 87W charger). And when I plug it in through the StayGo, I have 72W displayed in the System Information. The way it works is that the 85W are passed through, but the StayGo needs 15W to function, so you are left with about 70-72W of charging power to your laptop.
As for external drive performance, I hooked up my CalDigit Tuff Nano buy it now ), a disk that can do 974 MB/s and 792 MB/s in read and write speeds to one of the regular USB3 port of the StayGo. I got 419 MB/s and 57 MB/s in read and write speeds, but then when I used the powered port, the one that can provide 7.5W Fast Charging, I got 421 MB/s and 327 MB/s in read and write speeds. So if you need speed with an external SSD, make sure you use the powered port as it’s much faster than the other ones. However, it’s nowhere near as fast as a Thunderbolt 3 port which can basically double the bandwidth speed. Remember that the USB-3 ports are the 9 Gbps type, a lot slower than the 40Gbps of a Thunderbolt 3 port.
As for the microSD and SD card ports, yes you have both so you don’t need to carry an extra microSD to SD card adapter, they are the UHS-I type that can do about 104 MB/s. With a Kingston SD card rated for 90 MB/s and 80 MB/s, I was able to reach 67 MB/s and 62 MB/s, not quite the maximum power of the card but close.
Given all of these performance numbers, it’s clear to me that the StayGo does not try to be the fastest or more powerful dock, after all it does not require a huge power brick as does the other big boys like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock or the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock . The StayGo is also not the same price, and all of its specs are detailed on the website for full transparency.
The StayGo is a marvel of design giving how much it packs in such a simple case. It’s the fastest, nor is it trying to be it. It’s a “good to great” performer that has the smarts to be very useful on the go or on your desk. It offers the possible and flexibility to be all you need on the go, no need for those damn dongles and at the same time, it can be the dock for the office where you have Ethernet, an external monitor and a few external disks. This is where it shines, it is more flexible than any other small docks on the market, and it still can offer great performance to be able to resume work on the go without any need of dongles.
If you need the superpower of a Thunderbolt 3 dock, then either you wait to be home and use all the dongles your MacBook Pro needs, or you acquire the OWC or Elgato docks. Note that instead of being 99 $US these models from the two companies are about 300 $US.
Overall, the StayGo does what no other docks do well, be practical both on the go and at home, while giving enough ports, power and performance to be well rounded for most of the setups out there, even professionals on the go!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-19 13:40
This is not a product category that I often review, but after realizing how many cotton swabs we go through in a year, I decided to look for a solution. And one that I could talk about here for you to discover.
I present you the LastSwab , a silicon tipped reusable swab that allows you to simply clean it after use and stop wasting and polluting the ocean with disposable cotton swabs. As it is the case with many of these great ideas, it started with a Kickstarter that raises 706,811 US$ to revolutionize the way we clean our ears and how we do makeup!
The LastSwab comes in two flavours at the moment, the Basic rounded tip cotton swabs with little bumps to catch the ear wax, and a makeup version, called Beauty , that is slick and has more of a pointy tip, more flexible and softer.
Both versions have a very flexible core to prevent you from putting too much pressure in your ear and thus helps prevent injuries. To help with storage and to keep it clean while not in use, they come in a nice carrying case that feels more like a œuvre d’art display than anything else!
And did I mention they in many, many colours? Seven different colours for the basic model and six colours for the beauty model!
We are a family of five so we consume lots of cotton swabs, I was looking forward to a good replacement so I asked to test both the Basic and Beauty versions. I’ve got two teenage girls and a wife so I figured I should probably have them test the Beauty model!
I have been the one mainly using the Basic model and after having it for a few weeks I really like it! The first thing you realize is that the LastSwab has a grippier feeling than cotton swab that can grab all of that ear wax! You let warm water flow on the tip and a quick rub removes it all.
The tip is very comfortable and I like the little scratching it does to my inner ear! If you ever have an ear itch, the LastSwab is great for that too! The main difference between a cotton swab and the LastSwab is the effectiveness of removing every last bit of ear wax. You see the LastSwab leaves a film in your ear canal, keeping the natural protection ear wax provides without the grossness of it. Cotton swabs removes everything and can even easily be irritating your ear canal if you rub it too hard. At first I thought I did not “feel” as clean, but after multiple weeks, it is not the case. You feel as good as with a regular cotton swab.
As for the Beauty version of the LastSwab, the girls in my household actually were not using cotton swabs for their makeup, but the corner of a foam sponge to do some medium precision application. Moving to the LastSwab was actually a revelation for them and they have already asked me to get them one each! The great thing with the LastSwab is that they are flexible enough to be comfortable, but stiff enough to allow for ease of control when applying makeup. The other end being rounder offers another tool that is easy to use, clean and re-use.
And given that the tips are made of silicone, you can easily clean them, dry them and try again where a sponge could easily be ruined after a single use (or require drying time after cleaning it).
The idea of a reusable swab is very interesting, especially if you tend to use multiple ones. The numbers add up rapidly and if you start thinking about where those end up, it’s not very long before you start feeling awful and try to look for a solution. The team behind the LastSwab has created a very interesting product that is both effective and very well designed. It works great and is easy to cleanup under hot water. I would go as far as say it does a better job than the cotton swabs because it does not try to clean your ear canals out of all their ear wax. It leaves a very thin layer that can do its job, you know, protecting your ear canal from infections and other bad things.
Both are really like by my family and they have voiced their interest in each having one with their own colour! Sadly, I don’t see a Family Pack of LastSwab Basic or Beauty… (hey LastSwab, make a family pack!)
Overall, I really like the product, and I strongly recommend it for anyone that cleans their ears! This makes a lot of you so you know what you need to do!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-06 10:56
A few months ago, I reviewed the original AirFly from Twelve South and had such a great experience that I was wondering if they could do something more, like add more to the product to make it even better. I’m happy to report that we now have the Twelve South AirFly family of products with the original AirFly, the USB-C, the Duo and the Pro !
To put it simple, the Classic is the one I reviewed with one pair of headphones and 8 hours of battery life. The Duo supports two headphones and has 20+ hours of battery life. The USB-C swaps the 3.5mm jack for a USB-C port and the Pro has a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve! This is the little guy I reviewed!
The AirFly Pro is kind of the AirFly Classic which means it connects to any 3.5mm port, often called the AUX port on stereo and gym equipment to allow a non-Bluetooth capable device to broadcast its audio over Bluetooth.
It comes in a very small and now rounded and slightly longer and thicker but narrower than the Classic. You really feel the quality of the parts here and it does come with a carrying case and cables including a cap for the 3.5mm cord.
The Pro has three major changes from the Classic, first off the battery life goes from 8 hours to 16 hours, and you can charge it via USB-C. The second is that you can pair two headphones to it so you can share the movie in a plane or the audio while exercising with a loved one.
And finally, what I think really makes this the audio panacea, it can act both as a Bluetooth transmitter for use in a plane or with a Nintendo Switch or as a Bluetooth receiver for uses when you want to send audio to the AirFly. You could send your Spotify music from your phone to your car or visit a friend’s house and send your own playlist to their home stereo and be the DJ for the night!
The AirFly comes with a simple booklet to get this setup, it’s not the most intuitive setup thanks to the different audio devices and their different ways to put them into pairing mode. The AirFly Pro tried to make this as simple as possible with only one main button, a reset button and a Rx/Tx switch to toggle between receiving and transmitting audio.
I did need to do a few tried to get both my AirPods and the Sennheiser Momentum 3 properly paired. But once it was done it really works like a charm, turn the AirFly Pro on and turn your audio devices ON and bingo!
Sound quality is perfect, even with the phone in my pocket with the AirFly Pro, I did not have interference troubles or anything like this. The range is not what I would call amazing if I start to go to another floor but given the use case at hand of being close to the device it does not really matter.
Overall the experience is great and I really like what they did with the new models which is better for people with a different need while keeping the cost down. You should use this page to decide on which of the AirFly family member is the best for your specific need. I know that I will continue to use the AirFly Classic with my Nintendo Switch since it’s a bit thinner and the Pro will be ideal for in-flight entertainment as the transmitter and in the car as the receiver since my 2011 car does not have great Bluetooth audio hardware.
For use with the Nintendo Switch, I kind of wish we could have a Light version that can fit very closely to the Switch as a thin layer behind the console. The Pro works great but dangling kind of feels weird. I’ll probably add some Velcro behind it so it stops bumbling around.
Once again, Twelve South made a bang with what I think is more than what could be expected and every single product of the family is a great addition to anyone’s gadget pouch! Highly recommended!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-03-04 12:33
With all of the remote worker jobs that are popping everywhere from LinkedIn to Medium with a bunch of tips and tricks and best practices to empower remote workers. One constant is found across all of these articles is the use of video for coworkers to both build a sense of friendship as well as foster better communication. You can use your laptop’s 720p camera but that camera and microphone looks and sound very bad.
This is where Logitech comes in the picture with the Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam , a camera that can show your face in 4K as well as offer front-facing quality microphone. This camera is often used in conference room because it offers a wide-angle view and its microphone can pick up sound in a much better way than what a TV or laptop can.
The Brio Ultra HD Pro comes in the shape of an attachment you can easily add to the top of your laptop or desktop display. It is installed on a double hinge system that allows you have it rest securely on the display while at the same time allow you to adjust the vertical angle to be perfect for your actual position.
Once you have installed it and plugged it in via USB, the webcam just works. No driver needed, no other software needs to be installed, it just appears in any software that has access to your webcams.
Coming with the Brio, you also have a small flap that you can install on top of your camera to hide the lens. It flips down and covers the camera so if you are worried about hackers gaining access to your camera, at the very least you can hide yourself with this optional attachment. The camera also has a small pouch for travelling with it and at the same time to clean up the front glass of the product.
Being glass, this allows for a much better light transmission and visual quality, but also attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Thankfully, the pouch does a good job of cleaning it and once you actually set up your camera, you can basically forget it and never touch it again.
The installation could not be simpler, connect the super long USB-C cable and you’re done! But if you want to jump in the settings, you can download the Camera Setting application and change the viewing angle, zoom levels and a few more details.
The camera is capable of running at 4K 30fps and 1080 60fps so you can use it to stream through OBS or Xsplit while you are streaming your favourite game! It will be well adapted for such activity thanks to its HDR capture and better sensor.
I’m used to two very similar cameras in my day-to-day remote work. The first one is the MacBook Pro (2017) webcam capable of 720p with a tiny, tiny sensor. And the second one is the Apple Thunderbolt Display (2011), also capable of only 720p. Both have very crappy image quality and very crappy microphone quality.
So using the Brio Pro is such a nicer experience, without even considering the sharpness and the higher resolution, just the quality of the sensor and the light that can be captured is incredible. You have a much better image with a ton more light. Your face is well lit and there is no dark zone in the picture.
Let’s go over a few examples of video recorded with all three devices, the MacBook Pro, the Thunderbolt Display and the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam.
As you can see the quality is night and day compared to other “regular” webcams. Plus with the free Logitech Camera Setting app, you can adjust many of the parameters to even better the image you are capturing. The way the camera is installed on your desktop display really makes it in the perfect angle.
As you can see, you can also change the cropping when in both Standard and Widescreen view as well as change exposure, focus, brightness and more. But out of the box, the camera is good enough to correctly expose you.
The Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam from Logitech is a great addition, not only for remote workers that want to step up their game with regards to the video quality they project to their peers or for the streamer that wants to increase the quality of his setup without the need for expensive pro hardware. This webcam allows for a much better video quality, resolution and with its HDR capabilities, it offers a well-rounded image quality and allows for a ton of light to be caught by the sensor.
The result is a close to professional quality that will undoubtedly help in all of your interactions with your colleagues or to get you new subs on YouTube, Twitch or Mixer because in that small corner of the screen you should get all of the quality you can get to really look great! Plus the camera will match the 60fps of your gaming recording and thus make your image comfortable to the eye of your watchers!
I highly recommend the Brio Ultra HD Pro for anybody using some kind of camera for communication, you will simply love it!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-22 11:31
After 2 incredibly successful iteration of its MX Master Mouse, Logitech came back with another version. But how can they make this incredible, already close to perfect mice even better? I mean, I love my MX Master 2 and I would not trade it in for another mouse for nothing in the world… And, from a tech reviewer’s point of view, what could even make this new version more interesting than the previous one?
I mean, it probably has a few new features, but could Logitech really make this mouse even better??
If you have used a MX Master or MX Master 2, you already know the shape of the mouse and the overall feel, you played with it in the past. However, what you have not experienced is the incredible upgrade they put in this revision. Every single thing on this mouse feels premium in a what that I did not anticipate could be done.
The MX Master 2 was great, but now, we have more metal parts, more precise mechanism with a very BMW feel to them and it is an incredible feeling when you first start using it!
The new MagSpeed Electromagnetic scrolling wheels can scroll to incredible speeds but never does it feel cheap. It’s more precise, it’s metal construction is weighted and it’s super quiet. All things I did not think was possible, yet it’s in my hand as I type these words!
The side wheel is also made of metal and have the same feel to it. All the buttons are slightly different, giving out a stiffer yet more refined click when you press them. The mode shift allows you to change the mode of the scroll wheel like in the past, from what they call the Ratchet mode (the “tick-tick-tick” mode I call it) and the Free-Spin mode when it spins just like an electric skateboard!
You still get the side scroll wheel, two side buttons, two main buttons and the thumb button as previously available. But the MX Master 3 now has a few new tricks up its sleeve.
As mentioned above the experience is quite impressive and it does not look like it when you just read the words on the browser. The feel, resistance when needed and quality of the comments feels like using a luxurious car knob.
You really need to experience it to really know what we are talking about !
The technology called Flow is not new this year, it was released last year with the MX Master 2S and it allows you to control multiple computers with the same Logitech mouse and keyboard. You exit the screen just like you would do with a dual monitor setup to reach the second monitor and automatically the second computer captures your cursor as if you switched mice.
The Gesture button is a new take on how you can customize actions for each of your app. This is the thumb button that is horizontal just under your thumb. When kept pressed it awaits your command, which is a movement going forward, backward or sideways. Each direction can be mapped to an action in your apps. For example, you could map one to the undo and redo action in Photoshop.
Plus you can also assign these actions to the side buttons and horizontal scroll wheel as you can with the mode switching button.
Really, this mouse is customization heaven!
It also comes with a USB-C port! No more fiddling to connect it! It has a Quick Charge feature where one minute of charging gives you 3 hours of use! And it even last 70 days on a full charge!
Th MX Master 2S was an incredible mouse that I did not think could be made that much better. Logitech took the challenge head first and impressively past all expectations! The MX Master 3 hardware is better on all fronts, the customization is incredible, it even has a new sensor and finally uses USB-C with a 1-minute quick charge for 3 hours!
What else can I say other than, run and buy this incredible mouse! You will not regret it!!!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 14:18
I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.
After testing a first office chair model, Nightingale offered me to try another very different model, a model with a more modern look. At first glance they are right, this model offers a special combination of fabric, leather and mesh. But there are many other differences.
First of all, let’s talk about the model number. The chair is called IC2 7300, WH means “white” and D means adding an optional headrest. So the model tested is knowned as IC2 7300D WH.
In comparison with the CXO 6200D the 7300 IC2 is less impressive (in terms of size and weight) and we see it as soon as the box comes out of the truck. It is much lighter and the reason is mainly the use of plastic instead of metal on several components. Rest assured, none of these components have poor build quality, it is not a barter where we can be losers.
The IC2 7300WH uses a main axis made of shiny metal as well as the five branches for the wheels. The width of the branches ratio versus chair height is slightly smaller than the CXO and it’s probably not a bad thing if you don’t like getting your legs on the castors. The seat can be covered with leather or fabric and the back rest with elastic mesh (named Ablex) or leather, all choosable options according to your taste.
The assembly is the first step you take with the chair and it can even be done without instructions. A single page explains how to attach the headrest and other than that it comes fully assembled (the central axis included!).
This chair offers a wide variety of adjustments. The first one is obviously the height, but a very nice feature is a rocking mode resistor that can be adjusted infinitely. By turning a knob, it increases the resistance until your weight can not tilt the chair. Nightingale calls this the Galileo mechanism. We can also adjust the seat depth by making it move from the front to the back …
An adjustable lumbar support in the X and Y axes, from top to bottom and from rear to front is included. The arm rests are adjustable according to the width direction, forward / backward, up / down and left / right. They call this 4D adjustment. Finally, if you have opted for a headrest, it can be adjusted up and down and rotate on its axis to provide the best angle to your head and adjust when you balance yourself back on the chair with the Gallileo feature.
All theses adjustments make the IC2, a very comfortable and very customizable chair. Being more configurable than other models, you also have the famous memory foam that I loved so much about CXO 6200, the back rest can be made of Ablex mesh or leather. The final price of the IC2 can vary greatly depending on your selections.
We instantly see the same build quality as other products from Nightingale, the chair is a good balance between strength and weight to be stable without being ridiculously heavy. Even adjusting the headrest has improved in comparison with the CXO 6200. It is more difficult to move and it’s a very good thing, once adjusted it keeps its position.
The back rest is significantly narrower than I imagined. This is not a problem for many people, but I prefer a larger back rest to properly support my shoulders. Especially when I rock the chair backwards. The armrests are very convenient, because in addition to the 3 axes, we can remove them or bring them closer to the seat. Also, they can drop much lower, enough to get under the desk. Very handy when a kid has to use the office!
The seat of the chair tested was covered in leather, a good quality leather well assembled and firmly molded to the shape of the seat. This seat has a concave shape, like a bucket type seat, very comfortable upright, but as I often place a leg under theother, this becomes very uncomfortable. This chair is not suitable for fans of a (bad) position.
Again Nightingale offers a high quality product that, considering its options, is more configurable and therefore more affordable than many other models. We loved its feature set and its very customizable nature, more than many other more expensive chairs. The back rest, lumbar support and the headrest are virtually perfect. The seat is also perfect for an upright position, but not for someone who crosses his legs.
The big news is the tilting mecanism and I must say it is something I really appreciate during an intense debugging session where stretching this way allows to take a step back and kill a persistent bug.
As tested, this model is also very design and will easily fit in any office. Just be sure to try the chair in the store to be sure that you will be comfortable with the various positions you take when you get home.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-20 10:20
I originally published this review on Blogue de Geek in French.
For the freelancer or the office worker that have a generous boss, finding a comfortable and ergonomic chair is quite an adventure. I have found a specific model that brings together all the interesting ergonomic adjustments and a few special features. It’s already been a few weeks that I’m testing the ergonomic Nightingale CXO 6200D chair.
As soon as you get your chair, you’ll see that a bit of assembly is required. Don’t be scared, we are far from the IKEA pamphlet, here we only have a single page for the chair and a small page for the headrest. Once all is unpacked, all you have to do is position the piston on the legs platform, cover with the plastic cap and finally drop the chair on top of the piston. Everything fits perfectly into place and not screws are needed.
As for the headrest, all you need to do is screw it on the back of the chair and cover the screws with a little plastic cover. The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes, but be sure to get some help if you have trouble lifting the chair. It’s quite heavy since most of its construction is made of metal!
The CXO 6200D is a different model from the CXO 6200. The “D” in the model means it has the headrest option added to the base model. The chair itself offer more than 10 adjustments to perfectly fit your body. This is great, but the CXO 6200D also has a few other tricks in its sleeve and some of them really make this product stand out of the crowd.
First of all, the backrest is made of elastic fabric. This gives you a great air flow for these long programming summer days! The other feature that makes the CXO 6200D really stand out of other similar products is its memory foam seating! Not a cheap memory foam that will completely collapse under your weight like some other products on the market, I’m talking about a memory foam here that offers comfort and support at the same time!
Once everything is installed, now comes the moment to change all the adjustments and adapt it to your test. But before talking about all of the adjustments, I want to talk about the seat rest. This might seem silly, but being someone that can work hours without standing up, I need to change my seating position regularly, and the one I prefer (yes, I know it’s totally wrong to do so) is when I cross my legs so that one of my calve rests below my thigh.
With the CXO I have quickly realized that the memory foam seat rest offers a great support and really shapes to your bottom and thighs. After a few seconds, we totally forget about it and we really feel as if we were sitting on a cloud! Also, the memory foam is quite thick and it’s rounded shape in the front is also very comfortable to the back of your knees.
Let’s start with the classic, the pneumatic piston that adjusts the vertical height according to your height. Placed at the right of the chair, it’s very easy to reach and the adjustment is well balanced. We can also adjust the seat rest position from front to back to get closer to the back of your knees and offer a complete support all along your thighs. The way it works is exactly like in your car! I love it!
The back rest is usually kept in a up straight position, but if you prefer you can unlock it to give you an almost lied down position. A control is located to the left of the chair and can lock or unlock at the precise angle you prefer. To accompany this adjustment, there is also a turning knob that can adjust the resistance of the movement. The more your turn it clockwise, the harder you need to lie down to actually move the back rest down.
One of the peculiar features of the CXO 6200 is the way the chair reacts when you lie down on the back rest. This is not a dumb movement, the back rest movement is synchronized with the seat rest so that they all slightly adjust to keep a comfortable position and keep your feet on the ground.
The lumbar support is also very customizable, not only can you move it up or down like many ergonomic chairs, you can also move it forward and backward to augment or diminish the intensity of the support. Extra points to Nightingale because of the included memory foam on it!
The arm rests are also highly configurable as it’s most of the time the part that needs more flexibility on ergonomic chairs, but not on the CXO. We can adjust the height of the arm rests, the lateral spaces to accommodate larger individuals, we can make them pivot left or right and even slide from the back to the front and vice versa. You will find an ideal setup, no questions about it!
On the reviewed model, the CXO 6200D, the optional head rest was included. You can adjust the height of the head rest to fit your height using a ratchet-like mechanism. This means that from the lowest position you can click your way up step by step but cannot go lower until you reached the last position. This is also the same mechanism for the lumbar support height adjustment. Both the lumbar support and head rest have the same memory foam as the seat rest. A little extra that adds a lot of comfort to all these parts!
Once assembled and installed in my office, I have started the adjustment process. Everything as mostly done without consulting the included instructions since all the adjustment knobs and levers are easy to access and intuitive. I have then consulted the documentation to be sure everything was properly setup. Since that initial setup more than 2 weeks ago, I have only very slightly adjusted the lumbar and head rest support.
I’m always attracted to the memory foam products and I will even replace my mattress with one made up of this material in the future. I was, however, concerned about the density of the foam selected not being high enough to offer a real support. Once seated on it, however, you only need a few seconds for the memory foam to adjust and the “cushion under your bottom” feeling disappears. The ultimate comfort!
And since the head rest has the same material, it really is relaxing to throw yourself on the back and lie down to think of the best way to squash those bugs!
Thanks to the mesh back support, your back stays cool even during those hot humid days. On the downside, I had issues adjusting the head rest since it was moving up too quickly and I kept missing the height adjustment I as looking for. I had to start over a few times to “aim” better and finally get the position I was looking for.
If you are looking for a great quality product that will totally adapt itself to you, look no further! The CXO 6200D offers enough adjustment settings to enable you to take a very comfortable position. The use of memory foam adds a lot tot he comfort, something I had never experienced. We completely forget that we are sitting on an office chair! I would have made the ratchet mechanism easier to use and “aim” to the wanted position. I keep having to reset and try again multiple times to get it right. Available in more than 10 colors, leather and fabric, and backed by a lifetime limited warranty the CXO 6200D will be the best tool in your work toolbox as well as a great ally to let go some steam on your computer!
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 20:00
With all of those new phones and headphones that are compatible with wireless charging, we start to have more and more choices on the market. mophie known for their battery pack had to jump on the charging train. This is why they have worked a few charging pucks for your house. One of the, the Wireless Charging Pad has a few quirks that make it stand out of the crowd.
The Wireless Charging Pad is available in either black or white and it has a very low profile design. It is made of different types of plastic and really looks good! It can fit any types of room and will not scream at you “technology” like some futuristic looking gizmo can often do. It does not stand out and I think for a utility like gadgets this is perfect.
You rest your phone on it and it charges. It does so quicker than with most other chargers too!
The performance side of things of a wireless charger basically comes down to how fast can the charger charge your device. In the case of the Mophie Wireless Charging Pad, it does so with 7.5W of power using the latest Qi-compatible hardware. This means that you can charge your phone 50% faster than what the included 5W charger allows.
Given that for a long time wireless charging was not very efficient, this 7.5W charging is a very good thing. It means that most of the energy is transferred to the device and not all of it is lost as heat.
It also allows you to charge through a 3mm case on your iPhone. As long as it’s not a battery or a metal case, it should be good for most of the cases on the market. It also works with the 2nd generation AirPods case and the AirPods Pro too. Given that it is compatible with the Qi standard, any compatible Android handset will work too.
If you have not tried wireless charging, you quickly get addicted to it. You probably already have the reflex of letting your phone rest on your desk, now with a good wireless charger it can gain a few percentage points quickly and those periods where you leave your phone resting would mean that it would get charged. On a normal day it might not matter that much, but that day when you go out with friends and you are a 96% and they are at 20% will make a huge difference! This is one very convenient habit to gain!
The current wireless charging technology is still not as efficient as wired charging, thus the charging pad becomes hot after charging for a few minutes. It’s not scolding hot, but it’s definitely very hot. I’ve seen worst in the past, so I am sure we getting towards a more efficient future but we are still not there.
If you are looking for an alternative, we previously reviewed the mophie Charge Stream Pad+ that can provide 10W of fast charging for compatible devices.
If you are on the lookout for a powerful yet stylish wireless charger, the Wireless Charging Pad by Mophie is one of the best out there. It charges your phone more efficiently than other alternatives and does so with more power than most charger, which means your phone is charged up much faster.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-02-01 15:00
CalDigit is making a great lineup of storage products, which includes a tiny rubberized external SSD, the Tuff Nano , for which I already have professed my love for. But what happens if you need a bigger hard drive than what the Tuff Nano offers? Well, CalDigit offers the AV Pro 2, a versatile external hard drive with extra ports and power for charging your laptop!
The AV Pro 2 is a slick aluminum external drive dock that comes with your choice of storage. It can be placed horizontally or vertically in a small transparent plastic holder and offers extra connectivity that a simple external drive does not.
The AV Pro 2 is powered from a wall outlet and provides 30W of power to charge your laptop. Not enough to replace an outlet for the latest MacBook Pro, since these require 90W and more, but enough to charge it while idle or while doing light usage.
The single Thunderbolt 3 cable that goes from the AV Pro 2 to your laptop carries data and power. You also have an extra slim USB-3 port and two old fashion USB-A ports for USB drives or memory card reader. They can also charge other devices like your iPhone with a 7.5W charge.
CalDigit is known to make very Mac centric products and this one is no different. It comes with software to easily mount or unmount drives and even works with the Apple SuperDrive.
The tested model includes a Hitachi 4TB hard drive. This does not allow me to fully test the performance of the AV Pro 2 since the Hitachi has a lowered maximum speed than what the CalDigit AV Pro is capable of. The SSD version of the AV Pro 2 has a maximum advertised speed of 430MB/s.
As you can see from the gallery, I’m only able to reach about 145MB/s in read and write depending on the tool used. For photo editing and backup purposes, this is enough but if you are editing 4K video, you should consider the SSD version.
If you already have an SSD lying around, you should check out the enclosure only version which only costs 54$. This way you could get the best bang for your bucks.
There are ways to make the AV Pro 2 even better, and I really hope CalDigit is taking notes here. ;) Cranking up the power to 100W would be ideal given that the new 16” MacBook Pro has a 96W power requirements (61W for the 13” MacBook Pro). This way you could work, and render computational heavy tasks all day without a hitch!
The data interface being limited to 430MB/s should be upgraded to allow full Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s performance and thus reach theoretical speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s! The most popular SSD NVMe stick on Amazon is the Samsung 970 EVO SSD 1TB which only costs 168$ and can do 3,500 MB/s read and 2,500 MB/s read. Given the incredible speed at which this SSD stick can run I can only dream of installing one in the next AV Pro and benefit from the awesome speed Thunderbolt 3 can provide!
It’s good that the AV Pro 2 presents itself as a dock, and I really like the extra port, but since we are now in 2020, there should also be at least one extra USB-C port (ideally two) and an SD card reader. I’m currently running an Elago Thunderbolt 3 Dock at work and the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock at home, only the one from OWC has an SD card reader and I use it constantly. Perhaps this is more for someone like me, but I think the SD card reader would be a nice bonus!
Having a sort of two in one where you have an external storage and dock all-in-one is a very good idea and I really love the design of the AV Pro 2. However, if you only need storage this is not the best use of your money. You would have much better performance out of the Tuff Nano by CalDigit with its 1,055MB/s speeds. But if you need a solution to charge your Mac laptop, increase your storage and have a dedicated space to plug in your memory card reader, or USB sticks, then the AV Pro 2 is the dream device that can fit all of your needs! Also, it looks great in all its aluminum glory! Just make sure you wisely choose speed or space with regards to your specific needs.
Permalink - Posted on 2020-01-14 12:59
If you missed my written review you can read the whole piece right here. And I just added a video version of the review. Now you can do as the kids say these days and hit Like and Subscribe on YouTube!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-23 11:36
One of the best esk8 of 2019 are now slashing their prices. Have a look at the X1 and X1 Pro with or without the Riot pack!
Head over to my review of the Exway X1 while you’re thinking about buying an Exway X1 or even X1 Pro. They are all on sale, just make sure to double-check the price and use the coupon
EXWAY50 on checkout to get a 50$ off the advertised price!
Looking at these, getting an X1 Pro with Riot pack for only 699$ is an incredible value! You get the longer rage of 16 miles and a kickass belt system!
Permalink - Posted on 2019-12-10 12:00
Are you breaking Lightning cables all the time? I have three kids so yes, we are breaking cables. The feel more like consumables now that I think of it 🤔. There is a solution to this, and not one that is just functional, it also looks damn sexy! Nomad makes great leather products, but they also made killer cables. The latest line of Kevlar reinforced offers an intricate design as well as a great looking, almost matte black everything!
The Lightning Cable with Kevlar (3m) is the model I tested. It’s also offered in USB-C to Lightning, with either 1.5m or 3m and as the Universal Cable; a cable with Lightning, USB-C and micro-USB on one end.
This cable has a very peculiar construction. It’s not only wrapped in Kevlar, but it also has Kevlar in the central code, a thin but super-resistant line of Kevlar in the middle that make sure it can withstand being pulled and wrapped around things for years!
The cable being solid is great, but if you’re like me you know that the connector is usually where cable breaks, splits or completely gets destroyed! This is why Nomad chose to use metal alloy connectors attached to a thick rubber part that allows it to bend slightly, but it’s also strong enough to absorb lots of force. This tells me that it will resist over time and not flake out like very flexible versions of other Lightning cables.
I’ve only had this cable for a few weeks, but I did try to abuse it by pulling on it hard, flexing it, playing tug-of-war with a bear… Ok, maybe that last bit is not true but I did play rough with it. Still works like a charm!
Giving regular everyday wear, I am sure this cable will stand the test of time. The only culprit I can see is the Lightning connector that could eventually either go bad as those PINs can be abused since they are not meant to withstand as much abuse as Kevlar!
However, in all my years of using a Lightning cable, I never got a PIN go wrong, but I had many cables break near the plastic connector, so in reality it might not even be an issue.
The Lightning Cable with Kevlar by Nomad is one good-looking cable with its dark colours and with its awesome construction with Kevlar in its core and its braided exterior, this cable will be here in many years! I have no problem imagining this cable still going strong, even after years of abuse by my kids!
As a bonus, it also looks great in a car! With the leather and the dark vinyl of a car, this can go very well with this cable!