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Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

BlueAnt EMBRACE Stereo Headphones

September 25th, 2011 No comments

4 Stars- techdad
EMBRACE Headset

BlueAnt Wireless, the purveyor of high-end Bluetooth headsets and speakerphones, has decided to get into the high-end wired headphone business.  Why would a wireless company throw their hats in the ring with industry stalwarts like Sennheiser, Shure, Grado and others?  Well, if Dr. Dre can do it, why not BlueAnt, right?  Right?
 

Continue reading “BlueAnt EMBRACE Stereo Headphones” »

How to clean and disinfect your keyboard and mouse

August 18th, 2011 No comments

Clean & disinfect your keyboard and mouse

Dirty keyboard and mouse?  Learn how to clean it the right way.

Read more at CNET.com…

Categories: How To Tags: , , , ,

Incipio SILICRYLIC Hard Shell Case w/Silicone Core for HTC Incredible 2

August 18th, 2011 No comments

5 Stars- techdadIncipio SILICRYLIC case for HTC Incredible 2

I’ve tried just about every type of case there is for my smartphones. My Motorola Droid X had a generic TPU case on it and though I didn’t intend to keep it at first, I ended up really liking it. Unfortunately, I had to say “buh-bye” to my Droid X and “hello” to my new HTC Incredible 2. This also meant that I had to say “hello” to a new case.

PROS

  • Fantastic fit and finish
  • Beautiful design
  • Good protection
  • Not too bulky
  • Improves operation of volume rocker and power/lock button
  • Improves grip
  • Easily slides in and out of pockets
  • Easy to remove

CONS

  • Black silicone case attracts dust and lint

I was happy to see that there were so many case choices for the HTC Incredible 2. The usual suspects like Seidio, Trident, Otterbox and Incipio all had premium cases for the DINC2, as did a number of other manufacturers. Since I’d been so happy with a TPU case for my Droid X, I started out with one for my DINC2. It was a great fit and I loved it for all the reasons why I loved it on my Droid X, but two different TPU cases had the same problem; the volume slider was impossible to operate while in the case. That wouldn’t do. I next turned my attention to Incipio. I’d just recently reviewed an Incipio case for the first time and was so impressed with it, I decided to give the SILICRYLIC case a shot.

SILICRYLIC boxesSILICRYLIC silicone core and hard exterior shell

DESIGN

The SILICRYLIC case by Incipio is beautifully designed. It’s a two-part case, comprising of a silicone core and a hard plastic shell. You simply place your phone inside the silicone cover, then attach the plastic shell around the silicone cover. The two-part case with silicone cover is actually a very popular design right now, but the difference with the SILICRYLIC case is that it doesn’t add a lot of extra bulk. I also like that the plastic shell has a soft coating and that it frames the sides and back of the phone. It makes for a very attractive look when you get one of the two-tone colors. I only wish there were more two-tone color options.

SILICRYLIC front

PROTECTION

The SILICRYLIC case appears to provide good protection from scratches and minor impacts. The silicone part covers the volume rocker and the power/lock button, but leaves the headphone jack, both microphones and the micro USB port open. The SILICRYLIC adds just enough of a ridge around the display that when you lay it face down, the display does not touch the surface. Similarly, the camera lens on the back of the phone doesn’t touch the surface when laid flat. Since the SILICRYLIC doesn’t have any built-in protection for the screen, Incipio includes a “vanity kit” in the box. The vanity kit is made up of a screen protector, small lint-free cloth, and a cardboard air bubble remover/squeejee thingie.

SILICRYLIC USB portSILICRYLIC camera

USAGE

The HTC Incredible 2 is a pretty slim phone and can be somewhat hard to grip. The SILICRYLIC case not only improves the grip, but makes using the volume rocker and power/lock button significantly easier. It also slides in and out of pockets easily. The only drawback I can think of with the silicone, is that it does attract dust and lint. If you get the black/black color, it will be very noticeable. However, it’s very hard to notice on the white/gray and I imagine it’d be hard to notice on the pink and purple too.

SILICRYLIC back and bottomSILICRYLIC black/black

CONCLUSION

I spend way too much time contemplating, comparing, and buying cases. As a result, I get a lot of requests from readers, friends, and family members asking me which case they should get for their phones. If someone asked me what case they should get for their HTC Incredible 2, that looks good, offers reasonable protection, but doesn’t add significant bulk, it’d be a simple answer. Go buy the Incipio SILICRYLIC hard shell case with silicone core.

Available from Amazon.com.

How to clean your smartphone or tablet

August 16th, 2011 No comments

Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone
Do you wash your hands before you handle your smartphone or tablet, each and every time?   Chances are, your device could use a good cleaning.   Here’s how to safely clean your smartphone or tablet:

Read more at CNET.com…

Leatherman Skeletool

August 11th, 2011 6 comments

5 Stars- techdad

The Leatherman Tool Group owes its great name to its founder, Tim Leatherman. In 1983, Tim Leatherman invented the multi-tool and began selling it himself when knife and tool companies lacked the vision to buy his invention. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Leatherman Skeletool is one of several full-size tools that Leatherman currently manufactures, with more than 60% of the manufacturing work done right from their Portland, Oregon facility. Leatherman’s website recommends the Skeletool for biking, boating, and fishing, but they may want to add that it’s also great for techies.

PROS

  • Great build quality
  • Just the right amount of tools
  • Awesome bit driver
  • Easy to operate knife, one-handed
  • Looks great
  • Just 5 ounces
  • Incredible 25 year warranty

CONS

  • None

I bought my first Leatherman, the Super Tool, way back in 1995, when Eddie Bauer used to sell them in their stores. For years, it was the only tool I owned or wanted and is still my favorite tool by far. I’m fortunate enough to have added a second Leatherman to my collection and now have two favorite tools––my trusty old Super Tool and the new Skeletool.

Skeletool-box

BUILD QUALITY

The Skeletool’s build quality is indisputably Leatherman-grade. The Skeletool exudes quality and durability. Every piece of the Skeletool lines up perfectly and operates smoothly. If it’s anything like my Super Tool, it’s going to take a lot to break the Skeletool and it should last a very long time.

Skeletool-open

TOOLS

All told, there are seven tools on the Skeletool:

  1. Needlenose pliers
  2. Regular pliers
  3. Combo straight/serrated knife
  4. Wire cutters
  5. Hard-wire cutters
  6. Bit driver
  7. Carabiner/bottle opener

Whew! I’m going to be honest with you here and tell you that I am not an outdoorsman. I had no fantasies of cutting fishing line or repairing a boat engine with the Skeletool. As a techie, I tend to tinker with computer components, wires, and cables. Also, as a product reviewer and an avid Internet shopper, I open a lot of packages. The Skeletool is very handy for most of my day-to-day needs. I just clip it onto a belt loop on my pants and go about my day. On just the second day of having the Skeletool, I was at a friend’s house and needed a bottle opener for a beer bottle. On any other day, I would have been asking someone if they had a bottle opener, but on this day, I had my Skeletool. Oh, but the Skeletool is so much more than just a fancy bottle opener.

Leatherman Skeletool carabiner/bottle opener

The interchangeable bit driver was of particular interest to me since I work with devices that use different types of screws and in different sizes. The Leatherman bits have little notches on the sides that lock into place, keeping them securely attached to the Skeletool. To remove the bits, you simply press on the release mechanism. Incredibly, Leatherman also found a way to include storage on the Skeletool for a spare bit. Keep in mind that these are flat bits, not your typical hex bits. For light to medium-duty tasks, I expect the flat bits to hold up just fine.

Leatherman Skeleteool driver

Leatherman Skeletool bit storage

The knife is made out of 420HC (high carbon) stainless steel. 420HC is strong, resists corrosion, and stays sharp. The knife is serrated on the inner half of the blade while the outer half is straight. It’s pretty easy to open and close the blade one-handed. You can use the knife, as well as the bottle opener, without having to unfold the Skeletool––very convenient!

Leatherman Skeletool knife

Leatherman Skeletool blade lock
The pliers and wire cutters are very easy to use and the curve of the lower handle makes it more ergonomic than if it were just straight. The Skeletool cut through a CAT5e patch cable well, but wasn’t sharp enough to cut the pull down string. For that, I just used the knife.

Leatherman Skeletool pliers

ACCESSORIES

The Skeletool by itself, is a very versatile tool. However, combining it with a few accessories, takes the Skeletool even further.

Leatherman Skeletool plus accessories

Though a Leatherman sheath isn’t included with the Skeletool, it is available for purchase separately. I originally considered the omission of a sheath as a con, but the more I use the Skeletool, the more I realize that I probably wouldn’t use a sheath very often anyways. Using the carabiner clip is quick and easy and for carrying in a pocket or bag, the pocket clip works well.

The Leatherman Bit Kit is a must if you plan to use the drivers extensively, like I do. It comes with 21 double-sided steel bits and can also be used on many of Leatherman’s other tools.

Leatherman bit kit

The Leatherman Bit Driver Extender is also a must for me. It allows you to extend the driver by 3.25 inches. You can even use regular hex bits with it, in addition to the Leatherman flat bits.

Leatherman bit driver extender

Leatherman Skeletool CX

Skeletool CX

If you’ve already decided to get the Skeletool, you might be wondering what the differences are between the standard Skeletool, and the Skeletool CX. There are two main differences––the knife blade and black DLC coating.

The knife blade on the CX is made out of 154CM, which is a premium stainless steel. It is stronger than 420HC stainless steel, resists corrosion better, and holds an edge longer. The CX knife blade is also straight, while the standard Skeletool’s blade is a combo serrated/straight blade. The black DLC coating on the CX helps resist scratches and corrosion. So, for about a $20 difference in retail price, you get a better knife blade, added durability, and a cool black color.

WARRANTY

Leatherman warranties the Skeletool, and all of their other tools, for 25 years. How many products do you own that have a 25 year warranty? I’m willingly to bet, not many. As I mentioned previously, I’ve had my Leatherman Super Tool for 16 years and the only thing that ever went wrong with it is that the wire cutters became damaged. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I recently sent it to Leatherman for repair. I’ll try to update the warranty process and my experience as soon as the repair has been completed.

Skeletool vs Super Tool closed

Skeletool vs Super Tool open

SUMMARY

The Leatherman Skeletool’s value, performance, and versatility is unmatched by any other tool on the market. The easy one-handed knife operation, kick-ass driver bits and the clever carabiner/bottle opener, all work together to provide yet another example of Leatherman’s intelligent designs and precision workmanship. I can’t recommend the Skeletool highly enough.

Available from Amazon.com.

Leatherman Bit Kit from Amazon.com.

Leatherman Bit Extender from Amazon.com.

Leatherman-recommended sharpening kit from Amazon.com.

Review unit and accessories provided by Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

Incipio iPad feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case

August 8th, 2011 No comments

5 Stars- techdad

Incipio iPad Feather case

You might be surprised to learn that Incipio has been around for 12 years. Based out of Irvine, CA, Incipio is a leading manufacturer of 3rd party accessories for Apple products, as well as other popular mobile gadgets. The iPad feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case is one of 13 iPad cases made by Incipio!

PROS

  • Great protection for the back of the iPad
  • Makes the iPad easier to grip
  • Very light weight
  • Nice selection of colors

CONS

  • Difficult to install screen protector

 

Incipio feather iPad case boxWhat's included in the Incipio feather iPad case

PROTECTION

Make no mistake, the feather case doesn’t protect the iPad screen from impact, though a self-adhesive screen protector is included to protect against scratches. This is by design, so if you’re looking for something that provides more protection for the screen, you should consider getting something else entirely, or perhaps using a combination of cases.
Incipio feather iPad case (bottom)
What the feather case does protect, is the back of the iPad. If you think about it, the back is where most of the damage is likely to occur during normal usage. The feather case also protects the left and right sides but leaves space for easy access to buttons and switches. The top and bottom are completely uncovered, except for the corners. This allows the iPad to dock with most docking cradles with the feather case left on.
Incipio feather iPad case (right side)
The screen protector that’s included with the feather case is difficult to install. It appears to be too large. No matter how hard I tried to line it up, either the top or the bottom went too far off the edge of the glass, making it impossible to remove the air bubbles from the edges.

BUILD & FIT

The feather case is solidly constructed and fits perfectly around the iPad. Though the case is made out of a strong but light polymer material, it has a nice soft feel to it due to a soft coating. It made holding onto the iPad a lot easier than without it. I also like that it doesn’t create a lot of static, which keeps dust and lint from sticking to the feather case. It comes in black, magenta, purple, charcoal, and frost.
Incipio feather iPad case (front)
Incipio feather iPad case (back)

CONCLUSION

The Incipio iPad feather case is the perfect case for the minimalist. If you want to give your iPad a little bit of protection against scratches and impact but still want it to look great, give the Incipio feather case a try. Just keep in mind that there’s no real screen protection so you might want to add a pouch/sleeve for traveling or storage.

Available from Amazon.com.
or directly from Incipio.
 

Review unit courtesy of Incipio Technologies

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Motorola 89494N Motorola TX500 Bluetooth Speakerphone

May 30th, 2011 10 comments

2 Stars- techdad

Motorola TX500 Bluetooth Speakerphone

Motorola makes a lot of mobile phone accessories and a majority of them are considered to be of very good quality. The TX500 Bluetooth speakerphone is the latest addition to their Bluetooth speakerphone collection. It touts long battery life, one-mic noise reduction, and basic voice prompts at a reasonable price. Let’s see what $60 gets you from Motorola these days.

PROS

  • Incredible battery life
  • Physical On/Off switch
  • Basic voice prompts
  • Quick connection
  • Pair up to 6 phones (two at the same time)

CONS

  • Average sound quality
  • Average noise reduction
  • Volume too low
  • Status lights are too complicated

 

Motorola TX500 Contents

CONTENTS, BUILD QUALITY, & DESIGN
The TX500 comes with a car charger and short manual. The visor clip is permanently mounted on the speakerphone unit.

The build quality of the TX500 is solid, though the thin visor clip makes me wonder about its durability. It has a mic mute button, volume up, volume down, answer/end and power switch. You can use different combinations of the buttons to perform specific functions, like turning off voice prompts.

Motorola TX500 Front

USAGE
Pairing a phone to the TX500 was very easy. It supports pairing a combined six phones, allowing the entire family to use it at any given time. You can even have two phones paired with it at the same time. The TX500 connected to my phone amazingly fast each time I turned it on.

The TX500 makes use of voice prompts, which a lot of manufacturer’s are including now. It’s a heck of a lot easier to understand than deciphering blinking lights and beep sequences. Unfortunately, the voice prompts are very basic and the TX500 still uses a lot of confusing blinking light combinations to communicate status.

Making and receiving calls on the TX500 was very simple. The mute button worked fine and the volume buttons had a good feel. Unfortunately, I had to max out the volume on it for the duration of my testing because it was very hard to hear. Unless you drive a vehicle with excellent cabin noise filtering, the TX500 will be nearly impossible to use. I eventually got so frustrated with it that I ended my calls prematurely and used my headset instead. Maybe those Motorola test engineers need to step out of their Cadillac’s and Lexus’ and test it out on some other cars.

SOUND QUALITY
In my testing, sound quality on both ends was just average. Both parties could make out what was being said but it wasn’t close to being great. Also, the noise reduction didn’t seem to help a heck of a lot when I drove with the radio on or had the windows down.

BATTERY LIFE
The strongest feature of the TX500 is its phenomenal battery life. It is rated at 45 hours for talk time and 6 months on standby, which exceeds other speakerphones I have tested, by a mile.

CONCLUSION
The Motorola TX500 Bluetooth speakerphone is a below-average Bluetooth speakerphone that happens to have amazing battery life. I’m not entirely sure who Motorola is targeting with the TX500. It’s around the same price as the BlueAnt S3, that just kills the TX500 in terms of performance and features. The biggest issue by far with the TX500 is the lack of volume. No matter the features, if I can’t hear my calls, it is pointless. I recommend looking at speakerphones from BlueAnt or Plantronics instead.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review sample provided by Motorola