Recently while researching a vacation package I was considering booking, I noticed that while all of the customer reviews about the destinations, tour guides and mechanics of the trip were glowing, there were a few people who gave poor ratings for reasons that didn't seem like the travel company's fault: Their flight was cancelled so they missed a day; they got food poisoning so couldn't enjoy a tour; or they hadn't purchased travel insurance so they couldn't get a refund when they could no longer embark on the trip.
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Mesh networking is the "in" thing at the moment. As we depend on Wi-Fi to connect more devices than ever, those blackspots around the house or office become more acutely annoying. D-Link has been a long-time player in the networking business so it's no surprise they've made an entry to the mesh business. They have several options to choose from. I've been running the COVR-C1203. Here's what I've found.
There are literally hundreds of security cameras on the market. If you've been looking at cameras for a while, you'll be familiar with Swann. They've been making home security gear for a long time. The Swann Smart Security Camera is a security camera that can be used indoors and outdoors and boasts wireless operation. Here's what I found after a couple of weeks of testing.
As we've noted many times, Amazon is cluttered with fake reviews, and it takes work to sift through them. BuzzFeed dives deep into the economy of these fake reviews, which includes a subreddit tragically named /r/slavelabour. (The name is kind of a joke, but a very sad and true one.) The whole piece is just as depressing, as it basically spells out how utterly doomed Amazon reviews are.
One of the easiest ways to get into the world of smart home devices is to invest in a security camera. Google has been making a big play to embed smart, connected devices to the home through Google Home and their acquisition of Nest. The Nest Cam IQ integrates into the Nest app and includes facial recognition and very sharp images.
Now that the non-Pro version of the iPad supports the Apple Pencil - the company's high-tech $145 stylus - you might be tempted to finally ditch the paper and pen and move to a fully electronic note-taking tool. So, I've been taking a look at apps that make the iPad into an electronic notepad. The first one I'm playing with is Notability - a $14.99 app that simulates the look of a notebook but adds some nifty high-tech features.
Even the humble doorbell has been given the smart home treatment. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 upgrades the humble doorbell to include a video intercom system and remote monitoring as well as providing your home with a simple security camera you can monitor. Here's the Lifehacker Australia review of the Ring Video Doorbell 2.
Bluetooth headphones are all the rage. With Apple and others dropping the trusty old 3.5mm headphone jack, you can either carry an extra, easy-to-lose adapter around, or you can spend a few bucks on a decent set of wireless headphones. The Audiofly AF100W bluetooth headphones are an in-ear set that sit comfortably and have a flexible over-the-ear design that keeps them in place while you're exercising to some tunes. But how did they sound?
The way we interact with the internet has advanced rapidly in the past decade. For some, plucking out a smartphone and asking a virtual assistant for advice has become the norm, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to consign the humble keyboard to the depths of history any time soon.
Microsoft’s Modern Keyboard shows how far you can take a simple desktop keyboard, if you’re willing to pay for it.
If you rely on a few different alarms to get up in the morning -- smart lights that blast on at a certain time, a smart speaker placed far away, and your trusty smartphone alarm -- the macOS app Wakefy adds another tool to your arsenal of awakening. It isn't perfect, but it performs well enough that we'd consider adding it to our morning collection.
There are times when you need a piece of tech but the prices of new gear make it prohibitive. That was the situation I faced recently. I needed a portable computer to use while travelling. For quite some time I'd made do with a tablet but there are a few things I need to do that, while possible on a tablet, were costing me a lot of time. So, I started looking around at used and refurbished gear and picked up a used 11-inch MacBook Air for $400. So, how does this almost seven year old portable cope with today's world?
One-star reviews, in addition to being the least helpful kind of review, are also the longest and the worst-spelled. Data journalism blog Priceonomics analysed 100,000 online product reviews and found that 40 per cent of one-star reviews have at least one spelling mistake, vs. under 30 per cent of five-star reviews.
When Apple announced the iPhone X on 12 September 2017 you'd have thought they had made peace in the Middle East, cured all disease and made a decent DC superhero movie. But the reality is they simply released a new, very expensive smartphone. They skipped version nine, delivering the iPhone 8 and iPhone X that day. I've been using an iPhone X for a little while now and have found that it's a story of compromises as Apple lays the foundation for their next generation of smartphones.
Over recent weeks, I've been testing three different mesh network kits, the Linksys Velop, TP-Link Deco and Netgear Orbi. All three are competent but have different strengths and weaknesses. And while they all, more or less do the same thing - deliver wireless network access over a large are - they do differ in some ways. Here's where I'd spend my money.
TP-link has build a reputation for making great networking kit that doesn't cost an arm and leg. The Deco is their push into the world of mesh networks. Their three node kit is much like the Linksys Velop I looked at earlier this week in that it is set up using an app but it does differ when you get into the details.
Mesh network systems promise to increase wifi range without sacrificing performance as devices move further from the network core. They do this by using two or more access points that work in concert. Over the next few days, I'm going to look at three different systems; the Linksys Velop, Tp-link Deco and Netgear Orbi. Today, I start with the Velop system.
For over a year now, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles director Dave Green and actor Joe Cobden have been posting increasingly elaborate 12-second video reviews to Yelp. Along with some friends, they have made 41 videos about L.A. restaurants, often using special effects, stunts, and stop-motion, that recall the golden age of Vine.
While cloud storage has put a huge dent in the need for small storage devices to act as a kind of sneaker-net, there's still a place for external storage devices. When it comes to remote backups or moving large volumes of data, external hard drives are still very useful. With portable hard drives, reliability and performance are of paramount concern. That's why I've been looking forward to testing the Western Digital My Passport SSD and LaCie Rugged USB-C drives out.