By Jeff Benjamin on May 21, 2015
Today, I picked up the ZenFone 2 from Asus. It’s a mid-tier Android phone with flagship specifications.
This phone is actually quite good from a pure specs perspective. It features 4GB of RAM, and it’s one of the first phones to do so. It also packs in a 64-bit quad-core 2.3 Ghz Intel Atom processor, and 64GB of flash storage, expandable up to 128GB.
The screen is 5.5 inches, and it’s roughly the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus, though a bit thicker. Needless to say, this ZenFone is firmly in the realm of the “phablet” and although it’s selling at mid-tier prices at $299, it’s got some decent specs.
In this review, which won’t be your typical review where I spout off statistics and benchmarks, I look at 5 things that this phone does right, and 5 things that it does wrong—all fed through my iPhone-tinted glasses. Read More
By Jeff Benjamin on Mar 21, 2015
I’ve been using the Das Keyboard Professional Model S for the last two years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed typing on this mechanical keyboard. If you do any sort of long form typing on a regular basis, then having a mechanical keyboard can make a huge difference in your life.
After typing on my MacBook’s chiclet keyboard for years, I began to develop problems with severe wrist pain. Although it was never officially diagnosed, I’m pretty sure that I suffered from some sort of repetitive stress injury, which made it excruciatingly painful to type for extended periods of time. Needless to say, having a mechanical keyboard has alleviated 99% of these issues, and I can never see myself going back to using the MacBook’s chiclet keyboard full time.
Earlier this month, Das Keyboard released an updated keyboard for Mac with new features and functionality. The Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac, as it is called, brings a similar typing experience to the table. Is it something you should consider if you’re in the market for a new keyboard? Should previous Das Keyboard owners upgrade? Have a look at our video review and walkthrough for the answer. Read More
By Jim Gresham on Dec 2, 2014
In a recent attempt to go paperless, inspired by our own Jeff Benjamin, I began the search for a solid document scanner about this time last year. Thankfully, December is the month before CES and I hunted for a solution at the world’s largest end-user computer conference.
Finding the right scanner was not particularly important, because I had no idea what should accompany a scanner purchase. What features does one need when it comes to scanning? Other than using primitive scanners back in college or a full blown office scanner, there is no personal benchmark for home-use that I could rely upon. In my quest through confusion, I stumbled upon the Neat team members, who promised a scanning option that did not require tethering to a computer. The NeatConnect is a powerful desktop tool without the requirement of annoying USB cables. Read More
By Jim Gresham on Sep 2, 2014
Way back in September of 2012, I wrote a fairly lengthy review of the HoverBar by Twelve South. The device is a mounting mechanism for iPad. It is not a new contender to the mountable space, certainly not two years later, but it is a well designed product. Twelve South, a South Carolina based company, limits their product development to a low number each year, ensuring proper care is spent on each device they launch.
The HoverBar 3 is an intentional upgrade on the previous generation. The 22″ arm extends from a bi-directional assembly that screws into a metal clamp. Overall, the design and assembly is almost exactly the same. Where the new generation differs is the compatibility for iPad 2nd – 4th generation, iPad Air, and both versions of iPad mini. Read More
By Jim Gresham on Aug 30, 2014
Have you ever used a Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad? Sure, you have! All serious iPad users have, at one time, tried to use a Bluetooth keyboard with their favorite tablet. I tried to use an external keyboard on several occasions with my iPad, not just for reviews either.
The same can be said for iPhone. In fact, at one time I was searching mini Bluetooth keyboards to keep on my desk, just to make iMessaging easier. That was before my OS X days. During the course of any day, I almost always keep my iPhone and iPad in a dock or stand next to my computer. Being a user of multi-devices, there are certain tasks I like to accomplish on each device.
Complicating my movement from device to device in a serious work environment is input. Typing on an iPhone or iPad’s virtual keyboard is not the best experience, and that is coming from a fanboy. What would be perfect, is a wireless keyboard that operates either devices without the hassle of re-pairing each time. What would be perfect is the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard. Read More
By Jim Gresham on Aug 27, 2014
Despite smart devices replacing point-and-shoot cameras in the mainstream, there still seems to be many people confused by the transition to an app-based camera. Every time I am out and ask someone to take a picture of my wife and me, it seems to be a shot in the dark, so to speak. People always fumble around with the screen, trying to zoom, or change the flash, or even take the picture.
I run into people that push the software button to take the picture instead of using the volume button. Either way, there always seems to still be an unfamiliarity with the way an iPhone takes pictures. Unless you were born in 2007 when the iPhone launched, there is a transition from point-and-shoot cameras to the iPhone, and it continues to be a struggle for some.
In that light, Incipio developed an app and hardware combination bringing point-and-shoot characteristics to iPhone. Focal is a camera case providing easy snap picture taking. Dedicated shutter and zoom buttons prevent screen pecking while trying to setup the perfect shot. Read More
By Jim Gresham on Jul 4, 2014
Ten One Design is mostly known for the Pogo Stylus, which comes in multiple designs. Bumping into the team at CES, I was able to get a glance at the Magnus Mini, their new iPad mini stand. It is one of the most simplistically designed iPad stands I have ever used. With just a small base and a minimal lip, iPad is held at a perfect angle to remain standing with as little effort as possible.
In comparison to other much more complicated docks or stands, the Magnus Mini is a welcomed change to the otherwise overly dramatic iPad dock arena… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Jul 2, 2014
There are a few product categories with which I am obsessed – mugs, jackets, and backpacks. Thankfully, my position at iDB allows me to feed one of those addictions on a fairly regular basis. A good backpack is your best friend. While traveling, on the road, or sometimes heading into the office, your backpack is with you on a daily basis.
Proper weigh distribution, materials, zipper quality, and pockets are key features for a good bag. What accessories you choose to use with the bag is also important. Today, we take a closer look at the Booq Boa shift backpack and Booq Viper hardcase 13. The combination is a one-two punch for protecting the items most valuable to you, a MacBook, iPhone, and iPad… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Jun 27, 2014
Seagate is the world’s largest provider of external hard drives by volume. Personally, I have around five or more scattered around my home, office and desk–too many to attempt to round up for an accurate count. They make great LAN, portable, wireless, and desktop class storage. Of course Seagate makes internal drives as well, but my experience with them is less versed. As I have witnessed, assumedly along with others familiar with the product line, Seagate is now producing a more creative approach to an otherwise simple storage device.
External storage, as a whole, used to be a simple drag-and-drop venture. Arguably, it was a simpler time. I really appreciate the ability to just plug in a drive and drop stuff to it. However, with the advent of social media, home networking, and some creative thinking, external storage is now something much different. Considering the Seagate Backup Plus line of products, which I first discovered at CES 2014, social sharing and saving are now integrated with the drives… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Apr 22, 2014
Loads of Apple accessories debuted at CES 2014, but one of my favorites was the Jimi by Bluelounge. Simply, “putting your iMac USB port within reach, Jimi is a j-shaped, USB port extension for your iMac to bring your USB port forward, allowing easy access.” It is fairly straight forward and, after a pause, genius.
It is rare to so strategically pinpoint little nuances to everyday uses of Apple devices. Bluelounge specializes in these minute details, solving issues we gradually came to accept over time. I resorted to spinning my iMac around each time I wanted to access the USB ports. With an additional monitor on each side of my iMac, adding anything to the port required me to carefully pull my iMac forward and gently turn it to one side. Sometimes, I resorted to reach over the monitor, blindly cramming my cables into the aluminum back. My reckless behavior is no more, thanks to the Jimi… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Jul 14, 2013
Always moving forward, Seagate continues to reinvent current solutions. This time, Seagate took a hard look at their previous NAS drive, the GoFlex Home, and decided it left a few things to be desired. In an effort to impress, Seagate tore down the Home and seemingly started from scratch on the Central.
Overall, I am fairly impressed with Seagate’s changes to the new hardware and corresponding software, online dashboard, and revamped media app. After speaking with the engineers behind the drive at CES, there appears to be a more prevalent focus on user experience with the new 2013 product line, of which I previously reviewed the Wireless Plus. Leading the charge for a user friendly product, this previously complicated network drive enables even novice users to go from box to operational in less than ten minutes… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Jul 6, 2013
A child of the console revolution, there is nothing better than tactile feedback when gaming. None of these new age children know the feeling of a Game Boy D-Pad. Instead they are stuck with slick screened iPod touches, where the most tactile feedback they will feel is the orange peel rubberized drag of a ZAGG invisibleSHIELD. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of iOS gaming, but there is just something more than nostalgic about tactile feedback.
Some day, not in the near future, Apple will finally include haptic feedback in their screens courtesy of a Senseg-like interaction between the screen and electrons on the finger. However, until then, we are stuck. In an effort to match the desires of similar tactile fans, Ten One Design provides the Fling analogue joystick for iOS devices… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 15, 2013
Apple shipped five million Apple TVs last year for a nearly $500 million in additional revenue. That’s a very successful hobby and while talk of Tim Cook & Co. building a standalone HD TV set remains just that – rumor mongering – Apple has quietly retooled the $99 set-top box, with most of the under-the-hood tweaks aimed at optimizing production costs.
AnandTech took a peek inside the gadget and found some minor changes. The publication found a significant reduction in the new model’s power consumption, directly related to the optimized A5 chip, leading AnandTech to speculate that perhaps Apple could use this chip for another device, “perhaps one powered by a battery” (hint: iWatch)… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Mar 14, 2013
After meeting with Seagate at CES, I was excited to get my paws on their new Wireless Plus, which is big brother to the recently retired and previously reviewed GoFlex Satellite. We all need our digital content on the go and, often, our iOS devices do not have enough room. I know my 16GB are carefully utilized on both iPad mini and iPhone. Toting around a Wi-Fi enabled 1TB Seagate drive prevents the need for choosing which media to bring along. Just drag and drop your media file to the Wireless Plus and walk out the door… Read More
By Jim Gresham on Nov 21, 2012
Like the Lidless Eye of Sauron, iZON stares unblinkingly into your home, taking note of all within. Scary, right? Well, not exactly, as there are many uses for a Wi-Fi enabled video monitor in the home, office, or abroad. The iZON, pronounced “eyes-on,” provides a single video feed across a wireless network that streams through the iZON server system, giving the user access to the feed anywhere in the world with your iOS device. If there is a need for you to be two places at once, the iZON can be your eyes and ears whether watching your newborn, crazy pet, or the front door… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 15, 2012
The hardware arena is becoming an increasingly crowded space and that’s a good thing for consumers who want more choices. Not that long ago, tech giants used to sit on the sidelines and leave the gadget making biz to Apple and the iPhone maker happily exploited the opportunity, churning out music players, cell phones, wireless appliances, set-top boxes, tablets and computers.
But things have changed quite a bit. Nowadays, everyone and their brother wants to build hardware, software and services in a vertically integrated fashion that made Apple a popular choice among the consumers. Amazon now sells tablets and e-readers and is allegedly building a phone. Google has become a handset vendor thanks to its pricey purchase of Motorola Mobility. And with a recent trifecta of Nexus devices, the search monster has become a hardware force to be reckoned with. But what’s Microsoft up to? Read More