Google Pixelbook laptop review

There’s a dose of ‘love at first sight’ when it comes to Google’s new Pixelbook. It’s the best ever Chromebook offering — and you get your first sense of that before you even open the box. Continue reading “Google Pixelbook laptop review”

Google Pixelbook laptop first look

Google is hoping to rule the world with its new suite of hardware devices. Recently there was the Pixel and then the Pixel 2 just last month. There’s also Google Home, Wi-Fi and now Google is into the laptop and tablet game with the Google Pixelbook. Continue reading “Google Pixelbook laptop first look”

A smarter workstation: iRizer makes working on the go more comfortable

img_2789You know when an invention is so smart, so simple, you wonder, ‘why didn’t I think of that’?

That was the first thing I thought of when the new iRizer by Matias arrived in its slim and sleek box.  I unboxed the lightweight laptop stand, which is made of matte black plastic, and latched the two pieces together in about 3 seconds and I was ready to use it.

This stand has several slots where the pieces can be slid together, allowing the stand to hold  your laptop at various angles for comfortable typing and better viewing.

iRizer – Light & Portable

If you travel a lot, and work on a plane, hotel desks, or awkward tables, you know how uncomfortable it can be to hunch over your laptop, using claw-hands to try to peck out your emails and documents. But carrying around something to help you has, until now, been just added bulk, space and weight.img_2803

Not any more.  The iRizer stand comes in two flat pieces which slip easily into a small fabric envelope, and will fit in even the slimmest of laptop bags (the stand measures just  0.55″ or 14mm thick ).

Adjustable comfort for your work space

While the iRizer stand is perfect for travel, it’s also great for a home office, which is where I tested mine.

My set up is not ideal; my chair is too low and the table too high, but I’ve just dealt with the discomfort. When the test model of the iRizer arrived, I was finally able to adjust my laptop to put the screen in front of my eyes, which was instantly much less stressful on my neck. Typing on the keyboard was still possible at the 20° angle, if a bit hard to get used to.  That was when I added a portable keyboard (which incidentally you can also get from Matias) and instantly my work area was transformed.

How Matias iRizer Works

The iRizer’s two plastic panels slide together; one piece slides into special notches in the second piece; four different openings allow you to angle your laptop 20°, 30°, 40°, or 50°. The stand feels solid and durable, but does allow some flexibility when typing. The stand also has the ability for its front edge to sit off the edge of the desk or table, further giving you options and angles to work at.

The iRizer also acts to cool your laptop; by lifting it from the work surface, air is allowed to circulate, keeping things from overheating. The stand can even work with your iPad or tablet too, meaning it’s ultra-versatile.

iRizer is recommended for use with a separate keyboard and/or mouse, but will work great on its own too.

Why lift your laptop?

Do you really need to raise your laptop? Ergonomics experts say yes.

“Unlike desktop computers, you cannot adjust the monitor and keyboard independently,” notes a University of Western Ontario article on proper laptop ergonomics. “Adjusting the keyboard to elbow height encourages neck bending when viewing the screen.  While, raising the monitor to eye level and accommodating eye height will position the arms awkwardly.”

The solution is to lift the monitor using a stand like the iRizer, while adding an external keyboard for additional flexibility when configuring your set up. This allows you to adjust both your screen’s eye-level, and to maneuver the keyboard for less strain on the wrists.

Testing the  iRizer Laptop Stand

My first tests were at my regular work desk as I noted above.  I found the stand made the most difference for me with respect to the screen’s viewing angle.

One thing I wasn’t used to was the slight bounce, or ‘give’ the stand had.  It was most noticeable while typing, and though it was a new sensation, it wasn’t unpleasant. This is also easily dealt with by using the recommended external keyboard.

Next I moved to the coffee table; a much lower surface. Normally I wouldn’t dream of working at the coffee table because of the discomfort, but the iRizer made it manageable.  I was able to type comfortably, sitting straight up and keeping my wrists level across my knees.  I also noticed that the stand had significantly less bounce to it if I dropped the front edge of the stand off the front of the coffee table.  As far as I’m concerned this is a great option for working at a low table; at home, or in a hotel room or lobby.

Bonus MiniRizer with your iRizer Laptop Stand!img_2792

A nice surprise in the box was the bonus miniRizer for my phone.  The credit card-sized holder works as a stand for your smartphone or even for business cards. I found it super handy for keeping my phone in view, and will be packing it on my next trip so I can easily watch TV on my phone next time I’m on an airplane.

Overall – The iRizer by Matias

While initially I wasn’t sure ow useful or helpful I’d find a laptop stand, I’m a convert now.  The iRizer does help me get better angles for both the screen and the keyboard, depending on my work environment du jour. I like how lightweight and portable the stand is, and how its many ways to configure the stand provide lots of options for getting a comfortable work space.  I also fell in love with the miniRizer, and it now resides on my desk as a place where I can keep an eye on my smartphone screen for incoming messages. One final plus that warms my heart; Matias, makers of the iRizer, are Canadian.  I love featuring great Canadian technology whenever I can so knowing such a solid invention is made by fellow Canucks makes me happy.

The iRizer is available HERE.



This post is sponsored by Matias Corp. They did not request prior approval over this review.


Gatekeeper fob eliminates the need for your long computer password

If you work in an office where security is paramount, you know what a pain it can be to constantly be required to put in your password every time you turn away from your screen. Not to mention the fact your password, of course, has 14 characters, upper and lower case, 42 wingdings, and a partridge in a pear tree.

There’s an easier way to deal with this pain in the rear, while still maintaining the security of your network.

Meet Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper is a tiny key fob with a powerful superpower. It can log you in and out of your computer without you ever entering a keystroke. The device is really easy to set up. Once you start the pairing process, the app finds the fob via your smartphone app in seconds. Step two is to download the software to your computer.

With the software downloaded, you slide the tiny USB chip into a port on your computer. Then just touch the key fob to the USB stick in your computer; doing so immediately registers the key. Once this is done you get a pop-up menu that allows you to configure your lock settings.

It knows when you’re near… or far

What the Gatekeeper does is uses proximity to lock or unlock your computer. When the fob is close to the computer (you can set the exact distance you want) it will automatically unlock your screen. When you get up and walk away, it automatically locks it again. While you could clip the device to your keychain, it’s probably much more effective worn on your body; either attached to a lanyard or retracting card clip.

I tested the proximity and speed of the device by simply walking it across the room from my laptop. A few steps away from my screen, I could see the device lock my computer.  Stepping back into range, the screen was unlocked again before I could even sit down.

I ran this test a few times and the Gatekeeper is very responsive. What happens if you misplace the fob? Fortunately you can still access your computer by using the “hit return for manual login” option. After hovering briefly in black I was taken to my main login screen where I was able to login instantly. The only problem I found with that test was that as soon as I was in, it booted me out again because the keychain was still across the room. As soon as I pulled it back across the room the screen popped open, no password required. But I could see that being a problem if you can’t actually find your fob for a while.

Is there a way to beat the Gatekeeper system?

This got me thinking; what would happen if I simply pulled the USB stick from the USB port? Would I potentially be able to get around the security protocols? So I tried that. Even with the USB stick removed, the lock screen stayed put. I was forced to manually enter my password in order to regain control of the computer. Once back in, Gatekeeper will prompt you to reinsert the USB lock to re-enable Gatekeeper.

That means, even if you slip away from your computer and someone knows the USB stick is enabling the security software, and even if they pull it out, they won’t be able to login without your password.

No need for another password

One aspect of the system I like quite a bit, is that you don’t need to set up a brand-new login and password. Gatekeeper uses your existing system login and password, so there’s no need to worry about forgetting a secondary password. That’s really smart.

Gatekeeper is a tracking device too

The unlocking function of this key fob is just one of the tasks it will do. It also functions as a tracking device for things like lost keys pass cards phones remotes just about anything you might misplace. including the fob itself.  If, as  I noted above, you can’t find your fob, you can send an alert or track its location or even have it sound an alarm if it slips out of range.  However I had a much more difficult time getting this function working. When I’d try to locate the tracker, I’d just get a message that it’s out of range.

 The Gatekeeper is $49 USD from the company’s website.  A second generation Gatekeeper is about to be released, that will cost $10 more, but it’s on for the same price as the Gen 1, for a short time.

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