Archives For Reviews

lg-optimus-g

After evaluating LG’s flagship Optimus G Android handset these last few weeks, we’re convinced the quad core, high res powerhouse should be on every smartphone shopper’s short list. Beyond the impressive specs, the Optimus G is a handsome device to behold that challenges the iPhone in build quality and design symmetry. And, unlike some of its Android counterparts, the LG is not saddled with a shiny, creaky plastic covering (à la the Samsung Galaxy S line). My only real complaint is that it’s still running Ice Cream Sandwich, as opposed to the Jelly Bean build found on its white-labeled Nexus 4 brethren. However, LG does a very nice job augmenting Android with their Optimus UI 3.0 — enhancing functionality without getting in the way (not counting the carrier-loaded third party apps that require rooting for removal). Continue Reading…

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After four long years, and despite something of a false start, Sling Media’s new line of Slingboxes are now ready for their close up. The Slingbox 350 ($180) and Slingbox 500 ($300) will be available for sale this weekend and, once older inventory has been cleared, effectively replace the Slingbox SOLO and Slingbox PRO-HD. Of course, I have a rather long history with Sling, having been a customer since pretty much day one and even spending a year or so on the team. And while there was a time when I thought the window for roll-your-own placeshifting had closed, given ongoing content licensing restrictions and app fragmentation, the need for Sling is just as relevant now as it was in 2005 – but perhaps not quite as technically impressive… nor as intimidating.

As a refresher, Sling’s core competency is relaying the content you already pay for around your home or beyond … via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Plug a Slingbox into your cable or satellite box, watch your DVR-ed shows or favorite sports team while on the road (or on the deck). Unlike your provider’s mobile apps and online services, there are no limited channel lineups or regional restrictions (much to their chagrin). Yet, as a subsidiary of EchoStar, I’d feared Sling would abandon retail in favor of operator integration and partner deals. But we were merely back burnered and they’ve returned with these two new placeshifters. Continue Reading…

tivo-stream

While you can’t get your hands on the TiVo Stream just yet, I have. And I can tell you it’s pretty killer. Of course, it helps to understand my perspective — This site exists because of my interest in mobile video, having launched with the TiVoToGo tutorials and leading to a stint with the Slingbox folks. So I’m all about watching television on my terms… which doesn’t always involve a TV.

The TiVo Stream ($130) is essentially a small network-connected companion box that relays video from a wired TiVo Premiere DVR to an iPad or iPhone. An (upcoming) update to the already highly functional and attractive TiVo iOS app enables Stream connectivity and playback — making for some seemless integration via new “Watch on iDevice” and “Download” buttons. And setup is pretty trivial… Once the Stream is hardwired, the iOS TiVo app will discover it on the network and prompt for a personal media access key to link everything up.

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Continue Reading…

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After a week with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($100), I can say it’s my new favorite iPad accessory. While it may not provide the same typing angle, key spacing or travel of a more traditional Bluetooth keyboard, Logitech makes up for it via sleek and clever portability. And, really, the typing feels good. Basically, the rechargeable Ultrathin makes good use of the iPad 2 and iPad 3′s integrated magnets — both for securing the keyboard as a screen cover when not in use and for additional stability when an iPad is docked into the keyboard. Check out Logitech’s promotional video to get a sense of how it comes apart and assembles. It’s a bit clumsy to unpack, but is quite secure and stable with the iPad in landscape orientation (unlike, say, the top-heavy ASUS Transformer Prime). Despite the (minimal) fumbling, I prefer this over integrated cases because the Apple tablet is not permanently affixed to a keyboard, providing a more flexible solution. However, both the Ultrathin and iPad rear will be exposed to scuffs… as you can see below. So you might end up investing in a padded sleeve and rubber feet.

D-Link MovieNite Review

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2012 — 15 Comments

D-Link unveiled a new low-end streamer this week, the MovieNite (DSM-310) – exclusively available via Wal-mart for $48. So, as I’m wont to do, I immediately picked one up (and simultaneously discovered a new Roku box).

Unlike its chief competition at this price point, MovieNite has a finite number of pre-loaded “channels” compared to Roku’s 400+ channel bazaar (which often is bizarre). And D-Link’s competently covered all the bases with Vudu (by Wal-mart) for high quality video rentals, Netflix streaming, Pandora audio, and Picasa photos. Also, D-Link bests Roku by offering YouTube.

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As to the actual experience, MovieNite can be a bit rough around the edges with a sometimes sluggish interface, perhaps exacerbated by a lack of transitions, and old school fonts. I also experienced a lock up that required pulling the power cable and another incident where the box let out a high pitched squeal as it rebooted. Having said that, the streamlined UI homescreen is suitable for novices — like my mom who’d be overwhelmed by all of Roku’s options and put off by their advertising. Further, the remote channel shortcut buttons make much more sense with a fixed lineup. Continue Reading…

jabra-cruiser2-sunvisor

It’s been almost exactly two years since I picked up the solar-powered LG Bluetooth hand-free gadget. For the first few months, I used it extensively in the car – very rarely needing to plug it in for supplemental juice. But the speakerphone eventually ended up collecting dust on the desk for quite some time, as I reverted back to my most favored Jawbone Prime, which has the right mix of style, comfort, and performance. As my car talk time began to increase several months ago, I pulled the LG out of cold storage. In 2011, its audio performance on either end is probably never stellar. More annoying is the tiny power button that needs to be held down a second or two and no standby mode. And, thus, my search for a replacement began.

Unfortunately, solar power speakerphones really haven’t taken off the way one would have hoped — there just aren’t too many options. So I settled on the more traditionally charged Bluetooth units, with two in particular standing out: The BlueAnt S4 and Jabra Cruiser2. They both run about $70 these days, and I was leaning towards the BlueAnt given its potentially useful voice control and styling. Yet, I came across the Jabra on a Costco run this week… and an impulse purchase ended the debate. Continue Reading…

Caution… potential movie spoilers ahead.

Many characters in film and television have wrestled with the question, “Does she really love me for me?” But only a select few, including Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) and that guy from Quantum Leap, have had to answer it in another dude’s body.

Source Code, Duncan Jones‘ sophomore directorial effort, after debuting with the vastly superior Moon in 2009, is the kind of movie where you can sort of accept the things that are happening on screen until people start trying to explain them. Our hero, Captain Stevens, wakes up on a train and spends the rest of the movie exploding for a good cause.

Stevens is part of an experiment that transports him back to the last eight minutes of one passenger’s life on a Chicago commuter train to figure out who placed the bomb that wiped out everyone on board. Nothing Stevens does can affect the outcome in his own timeline, so he’s strictly gathering information to thwart a possible future attack. Every time his host body dies, Stevens is forced back on the train to try again. Think Groundhog Day meets Seven Days. Continue Reading…