Before You Buy 106 (Transcript)


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Before You Buy 106

Show Tease: Coming up! The new Chromebook is here! The new Chromebook is here! We’ve also got a headphone roundup, a new portable projector, and Shannon prepares us for the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s time to watch Before You Buy. Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT. Bandwidth for Before You Buy, is brought to you by CacheFly, at Cachefly.com.

Leo Laporte: Welcome to Before You Buy, the Twit show where we get all the best new stuff in, and we let our staff review it and give you a real world look on how it feels to actually own it, and use it. We’re going to take things off with our own producer, Shannon Morse, snubs is here. She is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Shannon Morse: Hello all! I am the producer of Before You Buy. My name is Shannon Morse, and today I have all the things that you would ever need to survive the zombie apocalypse, and still be able to charge your cell phones, because we all know that when the zombies come out into the world, in the wilderness we’re definitely going to have cell phone service. So first off, I have the TYLT Energi backpack. This thing is built for all of your tack, whether its laptops, tablets, cell phones, and even like your sunglasses and everything. It has a different pocket for all your stuff plus it even has a battery built in. The battery is huge. I took this thing to CES and it lasted the entire three days I was there. I was able to charge my cell phone four times, at least, so it’s a really big battery. It’s 10,400 MAH, gigantic thing! It is kind of heavy, that is something to keep in mind, and there’s not a lot of space in here for something like clothes and random weird, shaped things like that. But it’s great for all of your tack, great for conventions, really nice if you want to go hiking or something like that. There’s even an NFC tag built into one of the straps. So cool, super comfy! $199. I would give this one a buy. Next off we have the 180s Bluetooth ear warmers. Yes, these look really funny, but they are actually very warm, they’re very comfortable, and a really nice. It is adjustable, although it is a little bit too big for my head, they kind of fall down the back of my head. But it does sound really great! Really nice call quality, it is very clear. And really nice base for whenever you’re listening to Lord Grey Owls, or what ever you have. And it lasts about eight hours on a full charge. There is little built in charging cables, so you can plug in and charge it whenever it gets down low on the battery. And there’s a little LED light to let you know whenever it’s getting down low. It costs $80 total, and I would give these a try! And next we have the Bracketron SmartLantern. This guy is an LED light, which lasts about 48 hours. It’s also a USB charger for all of your products. It has a 7800 MAH battery built in, and it will last you about two charges once we get this full up on its battery. Now the bad thing about charging this is the micro USB port on this is kind of loose. So every time I had to plug it in and charge it, I had to hold it there to make sure that it would get a full charge. It does let you know with four LEDs on the back how far the charges gone. It costs a total of $79.95. And I did notice, even though on the package it says fireproof, it’s not really that fireproof. We did kind of light it on fire. So this is a don’t buy. And then we have three very pretty battery packs. First off, we have the Digital Treasures ChargeIt battery pack. It has four ports on the inside of it, and a 3600 MAH battery, which will charge everything 1 to 2 charges maximum. It has really obvious charge LEDs, so you can tell how much of a percentage you have left. It is a very small size, which is very nice. It does take a long time to charge though, and eventually some of these charging cables are going to become obsolete. So I would much rather just have one USB port, or two USB ports, and be good with it. At the cost of $50 bucks, I got a give this one a don’t buy. And then we have the Powerocks Powerbanks Super Magicstick., I don’t know, it looks like a wand I guess. It’s small, it’s colorful, there’s a bunch of different colors that you can choose, and LEDs on this will give you the charge status. Blue means that it’s fully charged, green means that it’s half charged. I think that is backwards. And red means it’s almost empty. It has one USB out, on the end, and a micro USB charger to go in, for whenever you need to charge it. It works, it’s a very small capacity though, at only 2800 MAH. This one, I would also say, don’t buy. It’s also 50 bucks so you’ve got two small ones, both $50. And the last one I have, is the RAVPower Dynmo on the go power bank. That’s a really long name, RAVPower. This one is a 7800 MAH battery. It’s really nice and big. It lasts about two charges. You can actually get this online for 20 bucks now! Yeah! They have upgraded to an 8400 MAH, and also a 10,400 MAH battery, as well, so both of those are huge. You might want to consider one of those two.  But it has two USB outs, it’s very small, very simple, and comes with a little bag to carry it in! Yay! It’s a buy. And the last one that we have over here is the Guide 10 Solar recharging kit. Guide 10+ solar recharging kit.  This comes with two pieces, first off, the nomad seven solar panel, and it also comes with the guide goal 10+ recharger, which is four AA batteries, and a recharging kit. It can charge 1.5 smart phone charges via the AA’s that it comes with. And the panel can also charge your cell phone devices, as well, as long as you have full sunlight capacity in your area. Really, really cool for hiking. If you wanted to tie thing onto the back of your backpack and just charge your cell phone all day, totally works like a charm, as long as you have full sunlight. Of course, if you get a little bit of cloudy, or if you’re under a whole bunch of trees, it might not work as well. Obviously. Now the AA’s do charge from either the panel, in about three hours, or six hours from a USB ports. And it does not charge any tablets, which is pretty unfortunate. It doesn’t have enough power capacity to charge any big tablets like an iPad, or a nexus 10, or what have you. So, I really like this. I think it’s very cool, it’s built, its high quality, it’s useful, and I love that I have something that I don’t have to plug in to recharge something. Every time I want to use it, you just stick it in the sun! So as long as the zombies haven’t taken over the sun, I think were good. This costs $129.98 online; I would give it a buy. I’m totally going to buy one of these guys. I love it. So these are the products that you would need, to survive your own zombie apocalypse. Good luck out there. I would suggest also getting a Samurai sword, or something similar to that, just in case one of those zombies gets nearby you. But for the most part, hide the trees and you should be good. And keep charging your cell phone, and listen to your music. I’m Shannon Morris again, and this is my zombie apocalypse bag. I’m going to go fight some zombies.

Leo: Thank you, Shannon. Shannon Morris, our producer, snubs. You can actually email Shannon Morris with suggestions for what you would like to see on before you buy, BYB@twit.tv. Also, her Zombie Apocalypse review will be, along the rest of our reviews, will be up on our YouTube channel, at YouTube.com/before you buy. And the whole show is available there, as well as our website twit.tv/BYB. Now, coming up next we’ve got Padre here, Father Robert Ballecer the host, the digital Jesuit, and the host of This Week at Enterprise Tech coding 101. Shannon’s on that also. And he is working on a new show for us. He's going to call it The Devils Advocate. I don't know what that'll be, but I can't wait to find out!  Robert has the latest portable projector from Acer. Let's take a look.

Father Robert Ballecer: Are you looking for a powerful travel projector?  Well, I’ve got the Acer K 132. Designed for the traveler, the 132 rates somewhere between a Peko and a full-size projector, measuring 5.5 inches wide, 4.6 inches long, 1.6 inches high, and less than a pound heavy. The K 132 packs 500 lumens of brightness, A DOP element, a native revolution of 12 80 x 800, a 16 x 10 aspect ratio, into a pocket sized projector wearing big boy pants. Basically, the K132 is simple, and intuitive. The bottom of the unit has two rear feet, an adjustable stand for raising the projector up to 15°, and a hard point that lets you connect it to a tripod, or another standard quarter inch mount. The top of the unit has a power button, menu, and navigation keys, and a mechanical slider that controls focus. For the security conscious, the right side of the unit has a Kensington lock point port, while the rear sports HDMI and power ports, as well as a universal IO slot, a USB service port, and a receiver for the infrared remote. Using the K132 is as easy as giving it power and signal to the HDMI port, which will also support MHL and enable devices. The K132 will accept up to 1080 P signal, which the processor will then scale down to 720 P. The minimum throw distance is just shy of two feet, with a diagonal image size between 17 and 100 inches. The projector is touted as 3-D ready, with the 120 Hz refresh DLP chip. It also has a 1.7 time digital zoom, and 20,000 hours of expected lamp life. Image quality is quite good especially for a unit designed for travel, though like all projectors image quality is highly dependent on the type of service onto which you’ll be projecting. The 500 lumen LED light source and the DLP chip provides sharp images by contrast ratios, saturated colors, and no blur motion. One of the features I really like is the auto keystone. The projector senses the angle at which it is lying and adjusts the keystone to match. No more fiddling with controls to square off your image. Audio is anemic. The K132 has a single speak with two watts of not so great sounding audio. Unfortunately, there is no audio output without purchasing an audio out cable, so you’ll need to figure out an alternative way of getting your bass on. Acer also did a good job with creating an intuitive menu that can actually do things. Not only can you control brightness and contrast, but it has easy balance points for the color of the screen or wall. Options for ceiling or reprojection, and even altitude and power controls. The Acer K132 LED projector is available now, with a one-year warranty you can find it on long line for about $430. On the pro side, this is definitely a travel projector. Everything from the size, to the weight, to the brightness, to the features, like the remote control, and the automatic keystone, tell me that Acer has figured out what you need in a portable projector, and they’ve engineered it into the K132. I even like the fact that I can power it off of the same battery that I use for my laptop, an external battery, which means that I can have a truly portable experience. There is no secret that Acer knows what the traveling professional wants. Now on the con side, I’d have to mention two things. The first is the sound. The sound on this is non-redeemable, it’s atrocious, it’s horrible! Now most of the time on a travel projector I can forgive that, because well, it’s a small package you don’t really expect a really good sound out of something like this. The problem with the K132 is that there is no easy way to get audio out. You have to get one of these optional universal audio cables in order to make that happen. And well, that’s just no good. It seems so easy to put an audio out port, I don’t understand why they didn’t. The second thing is that the fan and this can be a little bit loud. Now if you are in a large room, if you’re presenting to a lot of people, that’s not a big problem. But if you’re going to be using this as more of a personal projector, a second screen, it’s probably going to be a bit too loud. Coupled with the fact that the sound isn’t great, it’s not going to be your portable theater experience. That being said, this is an incredible, competent device. In fact, it’s one of the things that I would say all business traveler should have. A protractor that always works when you need it to, and well it’s just something you should have in your tool bag. If you are looking for a Peko size projector but you want more than just a toy I’d say that the Acer K132 is a definite buy. I’m father Robert Ballecer, and this is Before You Buy.

Leo: Thank You, Robert Ballecer, host of This Week In Enterprise Tech every Monday on most of these same TWiT stations. Now, Radford Castro is here, our director of engineering. Have you tried any Chromebooks before this?

Radford Castro: Yes. I have.

Leo: so are you a fan of the concept of Chromebook?

Radford: The question I always have to ask myself is, can I live in a browser?

Leo: Right, because that’s basically what a chromebook is. Its chrome.

Radford: Yes. So in this one I could!

Leo: Alright! Let’s take a look this is, now there are a number of the high end of Google pixel, which is almost 1500 bucks but most chrome books are on the 250 to $300 range. This is at the lower edge of the range.

Radford: Yes.

Leo: What is it? The C…

Radford:  This is the C720.

Leo: C720 it’s 200 bucks?

Radford: Yes.

Leo: Well give us a little tour here.

Radford: So this one is actually a no-frills laptop.

Leo: No kidding...No frills! (laughs)

Radford: You’re looking at something that’s just less than an inch in terms of white thickness. It has your typical stuff like your USB ports, and all that stuff. The thing that’s really important, that I want to talk about is this…

Leo: The track pad.

Radford: The track pad, but here is the thing I’m pointing at, the off-line aps. It’s huge.

Leo: So this is something that all Chromebooks can do, right?

Radford: Before it didn’t have a lot of these offline aps, like now. We’re seeing more and more of these off-line apps now, and it’s adding more value to it and….

Leo: Well we all saw the add… maybe we didn’t all see it, but many of us saw the ad Microsoft did. The anti-chromebook ad, in which a young woman brings her chrome book to the pawn stars and they say, this is no good, it’s not worth anything, because when you’re off-line you can’t use it. But that’s not true anymore.

Radford: Yes, yeah. So more and more aps are becoming more off-line for the chromebooks.

Leo: Right.

Radford: And were starting to see things like notes… before you could just do things like your calculator off-line. But now you can put notes in, you can play a few games…

Leo: You can store stuff…

Radford: Right.

Leo: And, of course, if you’re doing mail, you could do mail off-line, but you have to have the foresight to download the mail before you get off-line, and then up load it when you get back online.

Radford: An outlook, right? So you’re bringing stuff in…

Leo: That’s okay though, if you’re used to it. What you can’t do is surf the Internet off-line.

Radford: Of course. Absolutely.

Leo: But you can’t do that on any computer.

Radford: Well they do have this thing called, Pocket, where you do actually download the pages.

Leo: Really?

Radford: Yeah.

Leo: Yeah, I guess you’re right. Read it later kind of stuff. So…

Radford: It’s actually pretty cool.

Leo: With a $200 computer, you’ll obviously make sacrifices. What are the sacrifices here?

Radford: Well obviously, without Wi-Fi and other stuff like that. But the other big sacrifice is the fact that this is an Intel based Celeron.

Leo: Okay. It’s a little slower.

Radford: It’s slower, but you really don’t need that kind of power for what you’re doing over here.

Leo: How about the screen? What is that?

Radford: its 11.6 inches and its full HD.

Leo: 1080P Wow, that’s unusual. Alright. And you feel like it’s a decent screen? It’s not a touch screen, but that’s okay.

Radford: No, it’s not. But for something that’s only $199, I mean you can’t really expect that much.

Leo: Right. Battery life?

Radford: Battery life is great. I mean, you’re looking at almost 10 to 12 hours on the thing.

Leo: Wow! So this is not…. So give us the pros and cons here. This is the Acer C720.

Radford: Right, yeah, so everything you are going to expect from a regular chromebook, I mean,  it’s fast to wake up, it’s fast to load.

Leo: If you get corrupted or attacked with malware, no problem! You can reboot it, it refreshes and it’s back to normal.

Radford: Right. Because everything is mostly in the cloud nowadays.

Leo: Right.

Radford: But the biggest con still, again, it’s the Wi-Fi thing. The whole…

Leo: You have to be online!

Radford: Yeah, you have to be online.

Leo: And there’s no Ethernet port on that either, by the way.

Radford: Yes, so there’s no Ethernet port, just some USBs and some SD cards, and stuff like that. But for the most part, I mean, can I live in a browser? In this case, I could. Mostly because of the fact that there is some offline aps that I can toy around with. Even the games are off-line, so that’s always a good thing. But yeah, if you check out the web store, I mean, this is all off-line aps, I could go on and on with this.

Leo: Yeah! That’s pretty impressive! So that’s a global improvement to all Chromebooks.

Radford: Yes.

Leo: And you think at this point, that means the Chromebook is a much more usable product?

Radford: Yes.

Leo: What I see is a lot of schools use it because it does what kids need to do. Which you can do research, and write reports. It’s got a full keyboard, it’s not a tablet. Some businesses are buying chromebooks, in fact they seem to be selling quite well in business. I guess primarily because there are people at work who don’t need the full power...

Radford: Yes.

Leo: of a full computer. It’s more secure, and I think for people who are not who you know real gurus of computing, like mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, who just want to do email and surf the net, this might be a really good choice. And a two hundred bucks you can… you don’t have to worry, it’s not very expensive. So buy, try or don’t buy…

Radford: It’s a buy.

Leo: It’s a buy!

Radford: It’s a buy.

Leo: The C720, brand-new Acer chromebook. What are the other once you’ve tried, just for comparison? Have you tried the HP?

Radford:  Yeah, I tried the HP and I’ve seen the 710. I played with it.

Leo: The earlier Acer. You’ve played with the Pixel.

Radford: Yes, it’s super expensive.

Leo: But it’s hard to recommend that because it’s a full computer price at that point. Thank you! Radford Castro is our director of engineering here at the brick house. Recently fixed our calendar. Thank you. You and Patrick.

Radford: That was all Patrick.

Leo: Yeah. Alright, thank you. Finally we’ve got a headphone roundup. We put young Chad, OMG…I noticed when Chad was on one of our shows recently, That he has Chad “OMG” Johnson. So I guess I’m going to call him, Chad OMG Johnson is here. He produces many of our shows, is host of OMG craft, our Mindcraft show. And we gave him a bunch of headphones to review. Take a look.

Chad Johnson: Its headsets, headsets, headsets galore. Today I’m going to be reviewing three different types of headsets. First, I’m going to go ahead and start off with the Logitech G430s. The biggest thing with the G430s is 7.1 surround sound gaming. When you get the headset, it has just normal analog ports, and then a breakout USB soundcard. First, let’s just get to the hardware. It’s a nice black, plastic headset with blue cloth ear cups, a retractable microphone, easily bendable, which is kind of nice. The microphone does move out of the way. This is a long wrapped cord. This is very, very long, to the point where they do give you a Velcro strap to keep everything nice and tidy. And it ends with the analog ports and then ends with the USB sound card.  Let’s go ahead and get to the pros and cons. For the pros, I enjoyed the 7.1 surround sound. I also did like that they were very comfortable. I like the cloth ear cup. It did come with really, really good software. I felt like I was really controlling my headset experience and that it wasn’t just bloat ware. Now on the cons, I don’t really like this braided, wrapped cord. Every time that it rubbed against my shirt, I could really, really here it in the ear cups. And let’s move on to the Steelseries. This is the Steelseries syberia V2, Kingston HyperX limited edition gaming headset. This is based off of their Steelseries headset, so you may see something very similar to it but it won’t be in this blue color, and it won’t have this Kingston Hyper X branding on the top. What you can expect on this is, plastic construction with some, you know, nice metal and retractable headbands at the top. It has very large ear cups, and these are leather. These have also, 50 mm drivers, instead of the 40 mm drivers on the other ones. Very comfortable. One thing I do like is that the microphone in this headset is retractable, so it kind of comes out of the ear cup. There is, of course, the integrated volume control on the line here, with a mute switch and volume up and down. And if this cord seems a little bit short, it’s because it is. It comes with another extension cord just about as long as the other headset. So getting to the Pros and cons for this headset. I’m going to say the pros are that, it is once again also comfortable. Something you really, really want as a pro for your headset, your gaming headset. I also really did enjoy the retractable mic. It was better than any other retractable mic. It’s much easier to position. On the cons, I wasn’t a huge fan of this head strap at the top. I never really felt like it was quite giving me the amount of support that I wanted. Now, cost. Both of these, both have an MSRP and a street price. Street price is ranging from $70-$75. Buy, try, or don’t buy for each of these headsets. Lets start with the Logitech G430. I’m going to have to say try on this, because I really didn’t like the mic, but I really did like the 7.1 and the software. For the Steelseries Siberia V2, I’m going to say buy! I enjoyed this even though you can’t quite customize which way these ear cups turn, they were comfortable, and I never really found that to be that big of an issue. And I like the mic a lot better, this is something that I would normally use. Let’s move on to the headphone. These are the Wicked Audio EVAC Headphones. A nice military green color. These don’t have a microphone on them, so they are not to be compared with the gaming headsets. For construction, we have plastic ear cups. This is also plastic hinge. These do fold in together for easier traveling, although they have these metal wings, which kind of made it a little bit more difficult to travel with, and they don’t quite disappear in any way. The top headband is sort of a tough canvas. In the ear cups use a synthetic leather. This is an, on-the-ear headphone, instead of an over the ear headphone. These type of headphones are a little bit uncomfortable after hours of listening. And let’s talk about audio quality. It was definitely very, very bassy, but the quality was okay. And these use 40 mm drivers. Let’s get into the pros and cons. The pros, I did enjoy that these were cheap. You know, coming in around $30, that’s pretty inexpensive. I enjoy that they were foldable for portability, although not the most incredible portable thing because of these awkward metal wings here. On the cons, the build quality does feel very low, because its all plastic, and not the best plastic I’ve felt. And I also ran into issues, I didn’t know which side was which. Which is my left and which is my right? I finally found, imprinted on the inside here, on the plastic is a left, right which was very, very hard to tell. Finally, you have two audio cords coming from each ear. Which I’ve kind of found that I’ve grown sort of attached to just a single for the whole set up. So buy, try or don’t buy for the Wicked Audio EVAC headphones? I’m going to have to give these ones a try. I like them but I wasn’t really astounded with them. Nothing wowed me. The price didn’t wow me, the construction didn’t wow me, the audio quality didn’t wow me. That is it for me! Thanks so much for watching.

Leo: That’s Chad “OMG” Chad (laugh) Johnson. And by the way, I’m going to give him a free plug. Check out his YouTube channel. Especially this week. He’s cooking macaroni and cheese pizza grilled cheese sandwich.

Radford: What is that about?

Leo: (Gag) with a painted French mustache. It’s actually quite funny, very funny. It’s, I think YouTube.com/omgchad, is that right? Yep, there he is piping up. The guy with the red hair. We do this show, now our new time, around 3:30 PM Pacific, 6:30 PM Eastern time. Quick Radford, use your calculator on your Chromebook to tell me what that is in UTC.  No idea what it is UTC. Every Tuesday on the TWiT network, that’s our new time. Stop by, say hi, watch it, but if you can’t, we have on-demand versions. And as I mentioned there’s a variety of ways you can get this particular show. Of course, the full show is available at twit.tv/byb. But you can also get each individual review, sometimes in the more lengthy form the show, you know, unedited form, on our YouTube channel. YouTube.com/beforeyoubuy. And if you subscribe at iTunes or Xbox music or whatever it is you use for podcasts, you’ll make sure you get it every single week. Thanks to our producer, Shannon Morse, our technical director Brian Burdette, Thanks to you for joining. Remember, you’ve got to watch, Before You Buy! We’ll see you next time! Bye.