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”

Thinkware X350 dash camera review

There are plenty of choices when it comes to dash cameras. Big cameras, small ones, front facing and rear. We’ve got an article on the blog about all the dash camera options and how to choose (read that here) but today we’re reviewing the Thinkware X350. Continue reading “Thinkware X350 dash camera review”

Virtual reality Coldplay concert with Samsung Gear VR

I’ve always thought virtual reality is something for teenage boys, and gamers. The appeal to a middle aged woman like me has been limited up to now. But thanks to Samsung, I’m starting to see the promise of virtual reality and how it can be expanded from gaming to real life applications. Continue reading “Virtual reality Coldplay concert with Samsung Gear VR”

Review – Living with my new Samsung Galaxy S8+

I’ve been toying with making a switch from Apple to Android for a while now. I’ve long been curious if the grass really is greener on the other side.

With a new Samsung Galaxy S8+ in hand I finally made the leap about five weeks ago. I wanted to spend an extended period of time living in this new world before writing my review. So after much use, some travel with the new phone and plenty of new apps, photo-taking and more, here it is. Continue reading “Review – Living with my new Samsung Galaxy S8+”

Rowkin wireless earbuds are Apple Airpods competitor

Ever since Apple announced it was removing the headphone jack from its new iPhones, the world is going crazy for completely wireless earphones. Apple’s Airpods are both a trendsetter and the gold standard when it comes to wireless headphones or earbuds. But plenty of competitors have come on the market to compete with them. Most notably, Samsung released its IconX headphones for Android phones and devices. But there’s also another option. Rowkin makes a competing set of earbuds it markets as “the world’s smallest”. While Rowkin wireless earbuds are definitely small, and cleverly designed with a rechargeable case, how well do they hold up during real-life testing, and how do they compare to Apple or Samsung’s models? I received a pair of Rowkin earbuds for testing and review. Here’s what I found after spending several weeks with them.

Continue reading “Rowkin wireless earbuds are Apple Airpods competitor”

Photo gear from Joby lets you go handsfree

With so many of us relying solely on our smartphones for the bulk of our photography, it’s too bad we don’t put much effort into making the shots truly great. While lighting, luck and skill are definitely part of getting a good photo, you can improve your snaps with a few key accessories. Joby is a large company that makes photo accessories and gear for DSLR cameras, and action video cameras like GoPro, but it’s also got some gadgets that can help you with the photos you take on your phone. Continue reading “Photo gear from Joby lets you go handsfree”

Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016

I’ve tested a lot of gadgets and gear this year. Picking favourites is hard, because unlike previous years, many of the items that have come into the tech test kitchen in 2016 are really high quality, and work well, so picking the cream of the crop is a challenge. Nevertheless, here are the Top 10 tech gadgets I highly recommend having in your life. Continue reading “Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016”

New Ring Video Doorbell has smaller design, adds Live View

doorbell_proRing, makers of the very popular and easy to use Video Doorbell, are rolling out a brand new gadget dubbed Pro. Made as an upgrade from the existing doorbell, the new Pro version is smaller and slimmer than the original,  and has advanced features, like Live View.

Ring says the ability to peek in on homes at any moment, with a live video feed has been the number one most requested new feature, so it’s now available in the Pro model.

I’ve been a fan of Ring since first reviewing the original model and now one keeps watch over my home. Read my review here.

The new ultra slim wifi video doorbell with advanced features available today on pre-order for $249. Ring will now offer two choices for smart doorbells, Ring Video Doorbell, which offers dual power and super easy installation for $199 and Pro which requires doorbell power and has a handful of advanced features for $249.screen-motion-pro-b3c5ab536239238cce5b1e39e151f4bf

Interested in other home security options, like padlocks that work with your smartphone (no keys!) and wireless alarm systems? Check out those gadgets here.

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Want a better movie experience? Get a Projector like the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema Projector 2040

img_9051Super-sized flat screen TVs are all the rage.  Mention a home theatre projector, however, and people will tune out.  After all, many folks remember projectors as dusty, weak-beamed devices with a noisy fan and little appeal.  Not any more.

Movie theatres use uber-powerful projectors to kick out Hollywood-sized images with crystal clear definition, amazing contrast ratio, and no motion blur. If it’s good enough for JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, shouldn’t a projector be good enough for your home?Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.06.35 PM

Even so, I was sceptical.  I’ve never tried a home theatre projector before the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema Projector 2040 arrived for testing (full name: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2040 2D/3D 1080p 3LCD Projector). While the device itself looks a lot like projectors I remember, the image is like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Set up is easy, but you better have a plan

Setting up the Epson 2040 projector itself was very easy. The hardest thing about setting up this device, will be that you need a series of extra long cables in order to make it look good.

The projector is pretty much plug and play. Just plug in your audio and video components and you are ready to go immediately. I decided to plug in my Roku streaming stick into one of the projector’s 2 HDMI ports and instantly I was watching Netflix.img_9053

If you plan to plug a home theater projector into your stereo system or cable box, you’re going to have to do some serious planning before hand. Most projectors are designed to reside at the back of a room, and are often best placed at or near the ceiling. This means you will need a wealth of both audio, video, and HDMI cables, with very long runs. You’ll also want to plan for where you will snake or hide these excess cables in your room, and how you’ll plug them in.  For some, this will mean potentially relocating all your components to the back or the room.

If you’re building a media room from scratch, this will be easy, and you can easily factor in where to hide your cables. However if you are operating a projector like the Epson in an existing room, particularly one that has purposes other than media viewing, you will likely end up with some unsightly cable runs.

For my setup, since it was temporary, we just ran the cables across the floor and stepped over them, though it was quite a mess, having power cables snaking in one direction, and audio and video cables in another.

Once everything is plugged in, you’re ready to go, and like I said, in an instant we were streaming movies on Netflix.

I can’t tell you how much both my husband and I were instantly blown away by the amazing quality of the video picture.  Since this is a projector, you can adjust the image size to fit literally any space. In our case we had it fill nearly an entire wall of our media room.

img_9081While we didn’t have a screen for this test, we were easily able to hack one together by using a large bedsheet and tacking it to the ceiling. Even with a wrinkled old bedsheet as the canvas for the image, there was no hiding the spectacular picture on display. The 1080p image was crystal clear, and had excellent contrast. We put on a series of action movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 6 were treated to a hyper realistic video picture with absolutely no noticeable motion blur. Even basic TV shows looked fantastic. The most striking feature of using a projector like this Epson was the super realism of the video. It literally looks like the scenes were unfolding right in the room with us.

img_9059Only about 20 minutes of surfing through action oriented video content, my husband declared he wanted to think about getting a projector for our media room, and got online and looked up the price of this particular device. While the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2040 is not cheap (regular price is about $999CAD), it is certainly well rated by many users.

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema Projector Features

Spec Sheet:

  • Projection Method: Front / rear / ceiling mount
  • Product Colour: White and Gray
  • Driving Method: Epson Poly-silicon TFT Active Matrix
  • Projected Output: 2D, 3D, Full HD 1080p
  • Pixel Number: 2,073,600 dots (1920 x 1080) x 3
  • Colour Brightness (Colour Light Output): 2200 lumens1
  • White Brightness (White Light Output): 2200 lumens1
  • Aspect Ratio: Native 16:9 widescreen
  • Native Resolution: Native 1080p (1920 x 1080)
  • Resize: 16:10, 4:3
  • Lamp Type: 200 W UHE
  • Lamp Life:
  • ECO mode: Up to 7500 hours2
  • Normal mode: Up to 4000 hours2
  • Throw Ratio Range: 1.22 (Zoom: Wide) – 1.47 (Zoom: Tele)
  • Size (projected distance): 34″ – 332″ at (2.98 ft – 35.89 ft)
  • Keystone Correction:
  • Vertical: ±30 degrees (Auto)
  • Horizontal: ±30 degrees (Slide bar)
  • Contrast Ratio: Up to 35,000:1
  • Colour Reproduction: Full-color (up to 1.07 billion colours)
  • Colour Processing: Full 10 bits

You can make several adjustments with the Epson projector. A simple menu allows you to adjust things like colour, brightness, contrast, and sharpness.

This projector can be controlled both with the included remote control, or also with buttons on the projector itself. The home button for example allows you to switch between sources, adjust the colour, or alter 3D setup as well as changing things like iris settings and power consumption. I think it’s handy you can also adjust the settings right on the device, as there is nothing more frustrating then being unable to operate a device, because you have missed placed the remote control.

The projector also has 2 built in HDMI input, allowing you to keep two devices at the ready.

The Epson PowerLite 2040 also has a keystone setting which will allow you to make adjustments for curved or oddly shaped walls, a must when owning a projector, and particularly so if you plan to take it with you anywhere.

This projector, like all others, has a fan to keep the unit cooled during operation, and truthfully, after a while I stopped hearing it, even though it was definitely still running.

While the 2040 also has 3D capability, I don’t have any 3D content so I was unable to test this feature.

You need a screen

If you’re going to commit to going the projector route, you absolutely need a proper screen. While my bed sheet hack was rather clever if I do say so myself, every tiny wrinkle and flaw was visible when watching the video. A proper screen is going to make the video experience absolutely seamless, and that’s what you want in your hyper-realistic projected videos. You don’t want to be worried about every notch, gouge, or scratch in a wall (or a wrinkle in a sheet). You want to feel like you’re part of all the Hollywood action. Take my advice: get the best screen your money can buy, to go with your projector.

Awesome experience

I really, really enjoyed the experience I had with the Epson PowerLite 2040 Home Cinema Projector. I loved the immersive viewing experience, and can’t say enough how absolutely stunned I was at the amazing quality of video that’s available via a projector today. I will note that you should probably make sure your new projector has decent ventilation, as the PowerLite 2040 ran rather hot after only a few minutes. But I don’t think that’s atypical for projectors; they’re kicking out a ton of light through those bulbs, and heat is the byproduct.

While for now we’ll keep our flat screen TV as the main viewing object in our home theater, I have a feeling a projector of some description may be in our future as well, for those times when we want a massive video size, and a movie theater-like experience.

You can get more info from Epson on the 2040 projector, or pick one up at Best Buy.

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While Epson provided a loaner unit for this review, it did not ask for, nor receive pre-approval over this blog post.

 

3 Minute Video Review: Ring HD Video Doorbell

You might wonder why you’d need a video doorbell.  After all, old fashioned doorbells work fine, and then there’s really old school: knocking.

You might be surprised at how versatile and handy the Ring Video Doorbell is.  Combine that with how absolutely fast and easy it is to set up and you’re ready to start screening visitors in less than 10 minutes!

Watch my 2 minute Video review to see what the Ring can do for you.


No time for TV? Read my blog review of Ring here.