HP’s new Envy 17 Leap Motion SE is the first with Leap Motion inside. So it’s the first PC to recognize when you flip it off. Or try to Force choke it.
I’m being told that my crappy experience with the Surface with Windows RT was because I didn’t shell out an additional $120 on a keyboard.
I’ve gone through so many shredders over the years. They’ve all survived near-endless stacks of papers, but every one of them has shuffled off its metal coil due to a random paperclip or staple making it into the mix. Why did I have to concern myself with busywork that the hardware (itself) should have been able to handle on its own? Well, there is no Bill of Rights for office products; not all shredders are created equal.
My next shredder, I decided, would better be able to handle errant items without causing me undue stress. It’s not like I go out of my way to find things to shred. It’s just that I don’t want to worry about what I can (and cannot) feed into the mouths of these monsters.
When given the opportunity to shred it with a Fellowes 79Ci, I was more than willing. I mean, right there on the front of the box it shows you (with clear illustrations) that the hardware can handle paper clips and staples all the way to plastic cards and compact disks. You just can’t go shoving that kind of stuff into your current shredder if it wasn’t designed to handle anything more than regular ol’ paper.
If your current method of shredding involves scissors, it’s time to upgrade. If you already have a shredder nearby, but it chokes when you stack more than two sheets of paper atop one another, it’s time to upgrade. If your current shredding solution jams (in an extremely non-musical way), it’s time to upgrade. The Fellowes 79Ci might be worth snagging… before you hit another snag.
So, just how loud is this sucker? It isn’t. Of course, every single shredder emits some amount noise (friction happens) – but the 79Ci isn’t going to have you scrambling for ear plugs. I’d have taken actual decibel readings, but I’m not so sure that would impress my girlfriend as much as knowing I’m not going to wake her up when I decide to do one of those late night shredding sessions. Don’t laugh. It happens more often than I’d care to admit. Jam sessions? No.
As the literature claims, this Fellowes shredder is “100% Jam Proof” – and for anybody who has ever faced a pile of half shredded documentation, this should bring relief. Halting your workflow when a piece of equipment doesn’t do what you need it to do is frustrating (at best). When you need to shred something, “janky” isn’t an option. And, even if you never experienced a jam before, have you been shredding things well enough?
The 79Ci was designed with a higher level of security in mind – cross-cutting up to 14 sheets at a time into several hundred pieces (per sheet). Nothing is overkill when it comes to the safety of your information. Why else would you be shredding papers? Ah, and your information isn’t the only thing that will remain safe; there’s a mechanism that will automatically stop the shredding when your hands touch the paper opening.
With its 6 gallon (pull-out) bin and 12 minute (continuous) operational timespan, you’ll probably be set with a Fellowes 79Ci sitting somewhere in your home, office, or home office. Don’t wait for someone to steal what you shouldn’t have shared. You protect your online accounts and passwords, right? Protect your print outs, too. And, heck… who doesn’t want to have a shredder?!
So, Do You Really Want one?
Okay. Leave a comment on this post stating what you would be shredding if you won. If you care to read the official contest rules, feel free to do so. Just promise me that the first thing you decide to shred will not be a printed copy of this particular blog post. If you want to enter more than once, check out our sister review on LockerGnome.
After watching Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich / Samsung Galaxy Nexus launch live on YouTube last night (and providing running commentary in my Google+ Profile all the while), I’ve come to one conclusion: Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) will be awesome. But, to that end, did anybody really expect it to be worse than what we’ve seen before? That would have been more of a surprise.
With any luck, carriers will push out the long-awaited OS update to capable devices within a short matter of time (and short, in this case, is extremely relative). It’s difficult enough for the average consumer to keep up with the cavalcade of new Android devices that seem to drop every other month; why must carriers further burden a customer’s decision-making process with a questionable software update calendar / no OTA updates?
So, yes – the bottom line? If you can get a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich on it today, you should absolutely do it. With it will come countless new features and refinements:
- Easier way to manage your widgets
- iOS-like folder creation
- The ability to add “people” directly to your home screen
- A Calendar app that enables you to zoom in to reveal appointment details
- “Visual Voicemail” with an audio-speed slider
- Easy screen shots (finally)!
- Closer-to-real-time voice dictation feedback
- Get up to 16 “tabs” in Browser.
- Deep-level data usage charts
- Android Beam – allowing you to share data with another Android Beam user
And Dan Morrill further goes on to highlight Upload Settings, Disabling Apps, Camera Controls, Improved Download Manager, Support for Encryption for Phones, and Audio Effects. Is that all? Hardly.
I hesitate to speak too much about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – since I haven’t touched it or tried it, and I’d be hesitant to trust opinions from those who also have not – but the screen sounds delicious: 1280×720 resolution at 316ppi! Compare that to the iPhone 4/4S’s resolution of 960×640 at 326ppi. To quote Yoda: “Size matters not.” He never said anything about resolution or pixels per inch, though – and that’s what really matters with these pocket computers. That’s right: I called ’em pocket computers. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with the definition of “computer” and “pocket.”
For a healthy marriage, hardware and software must work together seamlessly. Theoretically, this is possible. What works well for some seemingly does not for others. Consider this thorn from ThisIsMyNext (don’t shoot the messenger with bigotry):
As to overall performance, we saw a good deal of stutter in the Galaxy Nexus before us. Taps were not always recognized and there were occasional delays in performing an instruction, though in Google’s defense, it was a phone fully loaded with running tasks and the software is being continually improved and optimized (i.e. it’s not yet fully baked). That having been said, it unfortunately remains the case that Android isn’t as swift and responsive as iOS or Windows Phone (or even MeeGo Harmattan on the N9). Or at least it wasn’t on the demo phone we got a look at. The subtle, pervasive lag that has characterized the Android UI since it inception is still there, which is not a heartening thing to hear when you’re talking about a super-powered dual-core device like the Galaxy Nexus.
Let’s hope they keep tweaking it to perfection. This industry needs healthy competition, and I’m happy to see Ice Cream Sandwich looking like a more-than-viable option.
How can you tell if the plug (or port) on the end of your cable is male or female? While it may seem like common sense in most cases, some cables can pose a bit of a challenge when determining the sex.
The tradition of labeling connectors either male or female exists throughout the electronics and mechanics industries dating back to the early days. Essentially it describes a mated pair of cables by how the corresponding parts fit together. The male cable’s active component is generally shaped as a protrusion that is coupled with a matching female port that the male plug inserts into.
In the video below, LockerGnome’s Brandon Wirtz instructs me on the finer points of determining the gender of various cables:
Based on some of the information presented by Brandon, not every male cable is easily identified as such. Sometimes, the basic shape of the connector itself can be deceiving. The important part is the functional component that actually sends an electronic signal from one component to the other. All a cable needs to be identified as male is a single tiny wire that carries the current protruding in a way that allows it to fit securely on its female counterpart.
In many cases, the sex of the cable can tell you more than just what it needs to be paired with. In the case of electrical cables, the gender of a given cable or port is determined by guidelines that help maintain a directional transfer of energy between one component and another. Should two power sources be connected to one-another improperly, the result could be hazardous.
For cables that simply transfer data from one point to another, gender changers can help in situations where you have two male ends and you need to form a connection between them. In this case, a male to female gender changing adapter could come in handy. These are usually easy to find at electronics stores and are commonly used with audio, video, and low-powered data components.
It’s not uncommon to see a cable that is both male and female. The termination at one end being male and the other female. As mentioned before, this is most common with electrical cables in order to avoid the possibility of an accidental connection between two sources. A computer or monitor power cable would be an example of this. Another common example can be found in extension cables that are intended to add to the possible length between devices.
Determining the gender of your cable is important when you’re undertaking a project that requires multiple connections between devices and can help you avoid embarrassing repeated trips to the electronics store to find the right connector for the job.
The HP TouchPad is out and LockerGnome’s Jake Ludington picked one up try out. Comparing the TouchPad to the iPad yielded interesting results. While design differences between the two are a world apart, the heart of their differences lie in the software.
While running the Microsoft FishIETank browser test, the Safari browser appeared very underpowered when compared to the HP TouchPad’s browser. With 20 fish on the screen, the Safari browser on the iPad choked at 2 FPS while the HP TouchPad trucked along at between 9 and 15 FPS. The Safari browser also reflected a resolution of 982×662 while the TouchPad sat at 1024×686.
The performance differences extended well past simple benchmark tests. When loading simple web pages without Flash or other intense scripting involved the HP TouchPad loaded pages faster on a consistent basis.
Then there’s the elephant in the room, Flash. The iPad doesn’t support Flash at all while the TouchPad supports it in almost all cases. Sites such as Google Analytics depend on Adobe Flash to display graphs and other tools that allow you to visualize data.
Where Safari on the iPad appears to have an edge is through smoothness of scrolling and navigating through a page. The HP Touchpad was somewhat sluggish after the page loaded while we were scrolling up and down pages. This issue is likely to be resolved during a future over-the-air update.
The operating system powering the iPad (iOS) has a clear advantage in terms of sheer number of apps currently available to support it. Just about anything you need to do on a modern tablet can be done through apps already available for the platform. WebOS currently has a smaller but growing collection of apps available for the platform.
If aesthetics are important to you, the HP TouchPad is noticeably bulkier than the iPad 2 though it would be fairer to compare it to the slightly thicker original iPad. A shiny black finger-print magnet surrounds the device where the iPad features a non-reflective aluminum body.
The iPad 2 also has the edge on battery life, allowing its user around 9-10 hours of use compared to the HP TouchPad’s 6-8 hours.
They both feature front-facing cameras. The iPad 2’s at VGA while the HP TouchPad sits at 1.3 MP. Only the iPad 2 has a rear camera allowing the user to shoot video at 720p. Admittedly, the iPad 2’s rear-facing camera leaves much to be desired in the way of quality.
Overall, the HP TouchPad is a stunning example of what is possible on the WebOS platform. It gives the user a fast browsing experience and Flash support when compared to the iPad. The iPad is still a clear leader in terms of available third-party apps and battery life. Should you buy the HP TouchPad or the iPad 2? That all depends on how much you use the browser and how many apps you’ve already invested in on iOS.
If you’ve been following the ongoing situation with my home wireless network, then you might be aware of the different methods I’ve tried to harvest a fast, reliable connection throughout my home. I have two AirPort base stations and am constantly having signal issues resulting in slow speeds and unpredictable connectivity. All I want is for my connection to be fast and consistent from the basement all the way up to my home office.
Recently, I received an email from Dennis (a member of the LockerGnome community) making me aware of a plan that allows two AirPort base stations to share the same network and Internet connection without creating an issue between them. To my surprise, it worked.
This setup is called “roaming” which allows you to pass between base stations without dropping your connection to the Internet. By doing so, you effectively double your available wireless coverage area giving you consistent speed throughout your home. Here’s what I needed to do to set up my Apple AirPort base stations to do this:
- Connect all of the AirPort Extreme Base Stations and Time Capsules to the same subnet on your Ethernet network.
- Give each device a unique name.
- Give each device the same network name and password.
- Set up the devices as bridges. (More information on how to set up Apple’s AirPort as a bridge can be found here.)
AirPort wireless devices are configured by default to bridge the connection between an ethernet network and a wireless AirPort network. This means that your wired network is connected to your wireless network through the AirPort device, allowing your wired systems to communicate and share resources with wireless ones.
Once you’ve got everything configured, you should be able to pass through rooms without the two base stations battling it out with one-another and causing interference. They theoretically would work as a team on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz.
This setup is working for me in my home office, and it may work for you. If you know of a better solution to the problem of keeping a solid wireless connection going throughout your home, please email me and let me know. I’m always looking for a better way to increase performance without having to spend an extreme amount of money to do so.
LockerGnome’s Jake Ludington has decided to give the HP TouchPad a try. The webOS-driven tablet computer has been receiving positive reviews out of the gate, and the ability for users to experience flash elements from the web is a clear advantage in cases where the user frequently uses web-based tools that require some level of flash support. Here are some of our first impressions of the HP TouchPad:
The HP TouchPad features a 9.7-inch LED backlit display (1024×768) and a glossy black finish that is a fingerprint magnet. It’s slightly heavier than the iPad 2 and has a build that more closely resembles the slightly bulkier original iPad. That isn’t to say that it’s too heavy to use, but it could be a burdon after a long period of time. Is is comfortable to hold, however, and doesn’t have any sharp corners that would otherwise make the device feel uncomfortable.
After inspecting the TouchPad, it appears to have two reasonably-sized speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side. The built-in camera is front facing with no camera available on the back, meaning you’ll need to face the screen at whatever you’re taking a picture of. This indicates the primary use of any camera on this device will be for video chat rather than updating your Instagr.am account.
The 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor seems powerful enough. We were able to do some video benchmarking online and discovered that the TouchPad actually outperforms the iPad in a few rendering situations. However, this is not intended to be a processing powerhouse. It’s intended to be a tablet geared towards running web-based apps with support for stand-alone applications.
Battery life is pretty solid. HP reports say you should be able to get a solid 9 hours out of it during normal use. This appears to be a close approximation. In general, you’ll want to keep a USB cable handy to give it a charge if you intend to use it for more than a normal day’s use.
Switching between apps on webOS is snappy and easy. Navigation requires an occasiona flick and tap giving you the ability to toss unwanted windows and applications off the screen to get rid of them. If you want to look something up, Just Type gives you the ability to search on the device and on the web for something with a single search bar. This is a pretty nice feature, especially when you have a lot of apps loaded in to the TouchPad down the line.
Overall, it’s a fine device for anyone that absolutely must have flash as part of their mobile browsing experience and doesn’t want to deal with Android. Of all the tablet operating systems out there, webOS is doing a lot to prove its feasibility in today’s competitive market. Whether or not the TouchPad really takes off is anyone’s guess.
How do you know your product has failed?
When it’s sitting at the top of Woot – after Not Selling anywhere else. [EDIT: for the sake of Varun’s sanity, a very spirited commenter in the thread below, I amended this paragraph to help him better understand.]
I don’t know about you, but I hate buying something (new or used) only to know that it’s not going to be around (or supported) for much longer. Not to say that the Motorola Xoom tablet is a failure, but… normally, you wouldn’t find successes sitting in the digital equivalent of a bargain bin.
If you would still love to get your hands on this tablet computer, you’re better off looking for people who are more-than-willing to sell their remorse to you. I’m guessing you can get a Xoom for even less than what this web site is selling it for.
I might also mention that I’ve never touched a Motorola Xoom – but why would I? Why would you? Five years ago, the Xoom may have made for one interesting portable device. Five years ago.
And, for clarification’s sake: I have absolutely nothing against the Motorola Xoom for what it is! Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations in just about every way – and when you’re trying to compete with the iPad, you’d better have one amazing story to tell at a no-brainer price point.
Some people hate Apple so much that they’re trying to prove a point by buying something else. Stupid, but I guess it’s admirable. If you’re really itching to spend money on anything that isn’t an iPad at this point, you’re better off looking at HP’s TouchPad – if only because you know a single company is controlling the experience (hardware AND software).
I think it’s fair to say that the Xoom lost – but it didn’t go down without a fight!
Setting the right wireless channel on your router can make a big difference on how well your Wi-Fi connection works. While most users may be just fine with whatever the default settings may be, others can experience frequent packet drops resulting in the appearance of an unstable or even unusable connection.
These issues can be caused by a number of factors. Other networks, electronics, and even your neighbor’s equipment could be interfering with your router’s ability to maintain a solid connection with your various devices. This interference can cause confusion between devices similar to a couple trying to carry on a conversation at a crowded location. While you may be focused on the person in front of you, making it easier to hear them than the background, an occasional shout or holler can interrupt the conversation and break the chain of communication.
If you’re having occasional problems with your wireless connectivity, you might consider switching channels and giving the new space a try. A good method for testing the new setting is by doing a speed test and comparing the results to other channels. Run the test several times in order to determine consistency in cases where problems may come and go frequently.
More popular Wi-Fi channels tend to be the best to avoid as they are usually the most crowded and prone to interfere. These include 2, 6, and 11 which are commonly used as defaults on some of the more prominent router brands. If your router gives you the option of allowing it to automatically find and set the best channel for you, this is usually the best way to go. The router will check each channel for traffic and connectivity potential before deciding on what it determines is the best option for you.
One useful tool for figuring out which channel is best in your specific location is a Wifi analyzer. This can come in the form of a dedicated device or an app for your smartphone that uses a Wi-Fi connection. Android has a popular free spectrum analyzer available to it aptly called “Wifi Analyzer“. This program checks various channels on the spectrum and allows you to do connectivity checks as you switch between them.
This is just one of several tips and tricks that can help you improve the stability of your wireless network at home. What are your wireless tips? Do you know any tricks that can help strengthen the connection?
Networking is complicated. Businesses often spend a great deal of their available revenue on their IT department in order to keep their various systems talking to each other. At home, small and medium sized networks are becoming more and more common as our devices begin to integrate the net in to what they do.
In the past, you would connect a modem to your computer and that was the extent of your networking needs. If you had multiple computers, you may have invested in a second network card and switch, hub, or even a full-on router if you really wanted to go all out. Now, having a router in your home is as common as having a television set.
What happens when you want to utilize your router’s Wi-Fi capabilities, but the signal degrades between the upstairs and downstairs areas of your home? My solution to this problem was to set up two base stations with default settings and it appeared to work. Unfortunately, we experienced serious packet loss as a result.
Brandon and Jake tackled this problem at my home office and their solution was to set up a Wireless Distribution System (WDS) which used one of the base stations as a primary and the other as a remote. This creates a unified operation between the two base stations which helps manage and improve the flow of traffic between my wireless devices.
They recommend using two matching routers (in brand at least) for this setup in order to be sure that they are using the same variation of the WDS standard. You also want to make sure that they are using the same wireless channel. In addition, it would be a good idea to avoid the default channel (whatever it may be) on your device as most users keep their devices on default which may cause interference.
The Minority Report featured some incredible theoretical technologies, some of which have continued to interest geeks for years. One of these technologies was a system in which you are able to interact with the user-interface with a few hand gestures Now, imagine if you were able to control Windows 7 in much the same way. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile project to check out?
LockerGnome community member Kevin Connolly has managed to recreate this using the Kinect SDK in a project he calls the KinectNUI (Natural User Interface). Currently, the project works with a single Kinect and any modern Windows PC.
With a swipe of your hand, you are able to switch between active windows, zoom in and out, more. While zoomed in, the Kinect will follow your movements as you walk around the room and allow you to scroll vertically using your left hand.
Future plans for the project include a pie menu to allow you to control your system in greater detail. This feature is expected to work in a similar manor to the pie menu featured in the Sims.
If you don’t like the computer responding to your every gesture, you can turn gestures on and off with a single vertical movement of your arms.
Without a doubt, this project (and others like it) have demonstrated the potential for relatively inexpensive devices like the Kinect to change the way we think about interacting with our computers.
What started as a device that took the principals of motion-controlled gaming to a new level by removing the need of a physical handheld controller is now beginning to bring to question whether or not this kind of device could actually replace the keyboard and mouse and change the landscape of computing as we know it today. While the physical technology may not be there just yet, it’s pretty interesting to think of what’s ahead.
Brandon Wirtz and Jake Ludington of LockerGnome joined me in a discussion about the various differences between the iPhone and Android in relation to how the keyboards differ on the two platforms. While they both share many of the same core functions and features, there are a few notable differences.
The iPhone uses predictive text to determine where someone is headed while typing in order to increase accuracy during keystrokes. For example, if you type the word “drawer”, it will automatically predict whether or not the last letter in the word was a “t” or an “r” since they are laying very closely on the keyboard. With such a small surface and some users having larger digits than others, predictive text is often necessary to maintain a sense of accuracy while typing.
The iPhone will also give suggestions when it appears the user is misspelling or heading in the direction of a particular word. Hitting the space bar will automatically tell the iPhone that their suggestion is correct and allow you to begin entering the next word in the phrase. Unfortunately, this can be a problem when you’re intending to enter a proper name or abbreviation that the iPhone doesn’t recognize.
Android phones tend to handle text input a little differently. In addition to the standard Android on-screen keyboard, the user is able to install alternative keyboards that meet their particular needs. For example, the Samsung Captivate comes with three different on-screen keyboard layouts to choose from. The traditional Android keys are easily replaced with a Swype input and even a custom layout made specifically for the Samsung Galaxy series that is designed to fit within the exact dimensions of the particular device.
In addition, many Android devices feature a physical keyboard in addition to the one on-screen which allows you to have tactile feedback as you type. For many, this is a big plus, especially when you depend on being able to find your place by touch alone.
Swype is another feature available to Android users. With Swype, you can make a single figure motion across the screen to type a word rather than having to peck out individual keys. This allows you to type with a single digit faster than you would on a traditional keyboard. It does take some getting used to, and in being so, it isn’t for everyone.
If you compare the iPhone’s predictive text scheme to that of the standard Android keyboard, they are very similar. While some Android devices may vary in terms of accuracy and usability, the basic function of the keyboard remains the same. One very key difference is in how Android handles suggested words. Instead of suggesting a single word (like the iPhone), Android will put a list of possible matches in a horizontal bar across the top of the keyboard. Touching any of these suggestions will automatically change the word you’re typing to match and add a space in order for you to be able to pick up where you left off.
In the end, it all comes down to personal taste and experience. Some may find, as I have, that the iPhone’s keyboard just works faster and provides greater accuracy. Others may discover just the opposite. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.
Jake Ludington of LockerGnome is looking for a tablet small enough to fit in his cargo pants pocket with the capability to run Android apps. The Nook Color by Barnes and Noble may be exactly what he needs to get the job done. So, can the Nook compete with other Android tablets?
With a 7-inch screen, the Nook Color is slightly more compact than many of the other tablets out there. As an ebook reader, the screen is just right for reading text on a page-to-page basis. In fact, the Nook’s screen is bigger than its biggest competitor, the Kindle, which sits at 6 inches. This makes it small enough to fit in a cargo pants pocket, which is exactly what Jake was looking for. Colors are vibrant and vidid on the 1024×600 display. When compared to the slightly more powerful Archos 70 ($335), the Nook ($249) actually features a higher-resolution.
One important note here is that the Nook is powered by Android, but not all of Android’s features are made available to the user out of the box. In order to unlock the full potential of the Android installation, the user needs to root (think Jailbreaking) the device. This may void your warranty, but if an inexpensive Android tablet is what you’re looking for, this can make it possible.
If you are planning to use the Nook as an Android device rather than a book reader, you may want to keep in mind that the Nook has an underpowered processor when compared to other Android tablets. The ARM Cortex-A8 processor (800MHz) is about as powerful as one you might have found in the very first generation of Android phones. Though it certainly doesn’t compete as strongly with the Xoom or Samsung Galaxy tablets, it is capable of handling basic tasks such as email, web browsing, etc.
At this point, price for performance on the Nook may beat everything currently out on the market. At $249, you essentially have a capable Android tablet with a decent screen and build quality. Though underpowered by today’s standards, and really just an ebook reader at heart, it can deliver more bang for your buck than even the incredibly disappointing $99 Maylong tablet.
A member of the LockerGnome community sent in the question, “As more and more of our programs become web apps, do you think speed and processing power is losing importance in the computing world?”
As more and more of our programs are becoming web apps, the importance of processing power comes in to question. Is processing power becoming less important?
Web apps typically require very little in terms of actual hardware speed to run. In fact, the majority of the computational work is done by the host in the cloud. This leaves your system with the simple task of displaying the data and giving you a method to make changes.
Internet speed seems to be the thing you notice first. A slow connection to the web can put a huge damper on your experience in more situations than mediocre system specs. In today’s world, you need a fast Internet connection.
There are several types of users that will still require faster hardware. Gamers will still hunger for the biggest and the best systems as graphics continue to increase in complexity. Gaming worlds are becoming large enough to require more RAM and CPU speed.
Video and photo editors also benefit from better-equipped systems. HD video takes its toll on slower systems during editing and encoding. Programs like Motion and After Effects are incredibly huge CPU hogs, and there is no question that a slower system would bring their efforts to a crawl.
Still, for the majority of average users out there, having a faster Internet connection will have more of an impact on their experience than the latest and greatest CPU. This may be one of the biggest reasons behind the widespread acceptance of netbooks and nettop computers with underpowered processors and lackluster specs. These machines are extremely slow by today’s standards. All they really need is enough power to run a browser.
Which would you rather have: a slower computer and a super fast Internet connection, or a super fast computer and a slow Internet connection?