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Before You Buy 112
Leo Laporte: Coming up we have a USB 3 doc, a new 8 inch Windows 8 tablet, Lotech has a new mouse and keyboard we'll take a look at and it is time to release the Krakin. You better watch Before You Buy.
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Leo: Hey welcome to Before you Buy the product review show where we get all the latest and greatest and we give it to our greatest employees. They review it, giving you a sense of what it is like using it in real life. Give you the thumbs up or thumbs down, buy, don't buy or try recommendation. We are going to kick things off with Father Robert Ballecer the host of This weekend Enterprise Tech. We gave him a new Doc, a universal Doc with USB 3 to try out. Let's take a look.
Fr. Robert Ballecer: Do you spend a lot of time finding ways connect your various peripherals and cables into your laptop or Ultra book? Well if you do pay attention because we've got the Startech Universal USB3.0 laptop dock. The Startech USB3 is a universal docking station designed for those with USB 3.0 laptops. Measuring 7.7 inches long, 2.8 inches high, 4.9 inches wide and weighing less than 13 ounces the Startech dock is well sized for even for the slimmest of notebooks and requires a I3 cvu with 2 GB of memory or better. It is compatible with Windows XP and above, as well as Mac OS10.6 and up. Combining a display length 3900 video chip set with a realtech 82E Ethernet adapter and VLI USB interface the dock gives you dual displays with Ethernet, full audio and a powered USB3 hub all in a single package. On the back of the dock you will find connectors for DVI, HDMI and VGA video. A single GB Ethernet port 3.5 mm jacks for speakers and microphone and 2 USB3.0 ports. On the right side of the unit Startech added a 3rd USB3.0 port. While the left side has a Kensington Lop port the USB up link and a jack for 5volt power. You can use 2 of the video connectors at a time, either HDMI and DVI or HDMI and VGA. But not VGA and DVI. With a maximum resolution of 24x48x1152 per screen. Using the dock is simple, connect all the peripherals you intend to use to the dock and then connect the single USB3.0 up-link to a USB3.0 port on your notebook. You'll automatically get a display pop-up that will install the drivers necessary to use the on board video devise. I was up and running in less than 90 seconds. Performance of the unit is impressive thanks to the 5GB transfer rate of the USB3.0 buzz. I was able to drive all 3 screens at 1083 resolution with no discernible lag, pixelization or artifact. I tried to stress the dock by pulling HD streams over the network over the docks Ethernet adapter while simultaneously displaying them on the monitors. But again I had perfect display of all content. Even as I ran them in the background while pulling data off a USB3.0 hardrive. I did notice that copying data from the USB3.0 hard drive to the network drive while simultaneously pulling 3 HD streams and pushing them out to the monitors the CVU utilization would rise towards 90% but that was just 3 points above what it would be using a separate USB Ethernet adapter and the on board HDMI board to drive just 2 monitors. The Startech dock USB3 is available now with a 2 year standard warranty. You can find it online for about $120. There is a lot to like about the Startech USB3 universal laptop dock, it is the right size the right weight it is compact and yet it has all the ports you need to connect all your peripherals. I also really like the performance, I tried to stress this a lot. I ran plenty of video, I used up a lot of data transfer devises over the bus trying the make it die and it just wouldn't. It's got the bandwidth and the performance you need to do high quality video applications over the single USB3.0 bus. I also like the price at $120 it sounds like maybe it may be a bit too expensive but consider all the individual components that goes into the Startech dock. You've got the dual link display adapter, the GB Ethernet adapter, the USB audio and the USB powered hub. It is pretty much a wash in price except this is a single unit, which means I can have my nice little tower with a real docking station that has my laptop, my keyboard, my mouse, my USB, my sound devise and all my monitors in one little docking station. I really like that. On the con side, the only negative I can think of is that it doesn't have more USB ports, specifically 2.0 ports. Yes I like that it has 3 high speed 3.0 ports but you are going to use those up really quickly. I mean one with mouse, one with keyboard and you have one remaining for something else. I would have liked to have had 2 to 4 USB2.0 ports so I could plug my mouse, my keyboard maybe my phone into those and then reserve those high speed ports for those hard drives or any applications that require a lot of transfer speed. Still, this is a really good dock. This is the solution you want if you want that single point of connection between your laptop and your home system. If you are looking for a docking station then I say that the Startech USB3.0 Universal laptop dock is a definite buy. I am Father Robert Ballecer with Before you Buy.
Leo: Father Robert Ballecer the digital Jesuit, hosts This weekend Enterprise Tech, Know How, Coding 101 and every once in a while if you tune in on Thursday he has a little Father Robert's corner thing he does, it is kind of fun informal show on Friday afternoons. Let's move on, before we do Snack time, you want a snack.
Shannon Morse: Oh I love snacks.
Leo: Shannon Morse is going to be here in a little bit to talk about this Windows 8gb tablet, but it's snack time. We got a nature box. Hey who has been in my nature box?! Somebody has been eating my chili lime pistachio’s. Hey this bag is empty, yeah you know this is the problem with Nature box, people eat it! We have talked before about curated boxes from other people, gifts for men, shaving supplies that sort of thing. What about curated box for snacks? Brilliant idea! Not just any snacks but really wholesome delicious snacks. No High fructose corn syrup, no saturated fats, no trans-fats, we are talking about Nature Box. Naturebox.com if you want to learn more about it. Every time I show someone my Nature Box people go OH and they order it. If you go to naturebox.com you can see all the different snacks you can order and you can put your box together or you can get a default one. Here are sourdough pretzels, here let me run these by you Shannon to see which one you want, Garden Tomato Crunchies, Blueberry Numnums, you know what take a Numnum. You’re going to just love them. Here are roasted garlic Pumpkin seeds. Again these are resealable bags, thank goodness because people have been in them. Doesn't that smell good?
Shannon: Yeah it does.
Leo: Or would you rather have, yeah smell that.
Shannon: It smells very fresh.
Leo: It is, very delicious very fresh. Mexican mango, dried mango's. I had dried peaches earlier for a snack. Baked sweet potato fries. O this is good too, I just ate a whole bag of this, Cherry Ganish Granola, it is a granola with chocolate on the outside and dried cherries.
Shannon: It's good!
Leo: Yeah that's good.
Shannon: Really good
Leo: Look on the back, No high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no artificial sweetener, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no trans-fats. Not just good, but it is good for you. Once you are a member you can select which snacks come in your monthly box. They also have customization for vegans, if you want to be soy free, gluten conscious, lactose free, nut free, non-gmo, any diet need you can fulfill at naturebox.com. You can also select by taste, savory, sweet or spicy. Can you tell my mouth is watering. I like the savory's myself. They send you great tasting snacks right to your door with free shipping anywhere in the United States. So swim suit weather is here but we all still get hungry, lets snack smarter, lets snack better with nature box. Naturebox.com/twit, 50% off your very first nature box. Stay full stay strong go to naturebox.com/twit. That was a good one, isn't it?
Shannon: Yeah this one is very tasty. Blueberry Nomnums
Leo: Yeah Nomnums
Shannon: I won't eat the rest of them I promise.
Leo: Their like, what do you mean the rest of them, there is one left.
Shannon: I know, sorry.
Leo: No, I never eat the last one either. Their so good. Anyway we'll put these aside for later. Now you have brought along something new from Lenovo.
Shannon: I have.
Leo: What is that?
Shannon: This is the Lenovo Miix 2 8. 8 because it is 8 inch, yeah.
Leo: 2 because it is the second one.
Shannon: 2 because it is the second Miix. Yeah, this is brand new it just came on the market very recently. There are a couple of competitors as well that have pretty much the same specs as this one.
Leo: Dell has something similar.
Shannon: Dell has has the new Pro, Toshiba has the Excite I believe.
Leo: Now these are all 8 inch Windows 8 actually 8.1 tablets
Shannon: Yeah, this one is 8.1 specifically and it is full 8.1 so you are going to be able to get onto the desktop of you wanted to, you could use a stylus
Leo: It's not Micro though?
Shannon: You can even use, this one comes with Microsoft Office and Student edition
Leo: Oh, that's nice.
Shannon: Yeah you get a nice little extra $140 piece of Office on there.
Leo: Can I get a keyboard to attach to that or is it just a tablet?
Shannon: You could do a blue tooth keyboard if you wanted to but there is no specific one.
Leo: It isn't like a surface one.
Shannon: No it's not. They also sell an extra cover if you wanted to by that too, it is about 30 bucks on their website. I didn't get to review the cover. I just have the tablet itself. As far as form factor goes it is really nice.
Leo: It's little.
Shannon: It's very little, it's very lightweight I can hold it with one hand.
Leo: Compared to my Nexis 7, which is a 7 inch tablet. It is very similar.
Shannon: Yeah, very similar in size, both of them are built very nice. This one weighs just a little bit more, this one is 12 ounces.
Leo: Well it has a full operating system on it, it's Windows Pro.
Shannon: It does, yeah. It has nice insides too, it has 32 GB of storage space on there. It also has plenty of RAM, 2GB which is just fine for this.
Leo: Yep that's fine.
Shannon: As far as the processor goes it is an Intel Atom Batrel Quad processor.
Leo: Batrel is a good one we have been waiting for. Does it have camera and SD card storage on it?
Leo: So I am not stuck.
Shannon: So right on the side. I know you hate these, it has a flap.
Leo: Well that's alright, I understand. That I don't mind so much because you put that in and close the flap.
Shannon: Right there, a little micro SD. That's right next to the charger, micro USB. We'll close that. Up here at the top we have the volume and the power. Battery on this guy lasts about 8 hours or so, that was what I was able to get out of it. People are saying you could get up to 10 but they must not be using it very much because I wasn't able to get up to 10 hours.
Leo: Did you watch video on it, how was that?
Shannon: I did. So speaking of video, the resolution on here is only 1280x800. So they say it is full HD screen, so really nice viewing angles. But when your reading things on here, when you are reading very small text like the comments. You can really tell, if you are used to like an Ipad the AIRE you can really tell a difference.
Leo: It isn't Retina then?
Shannon: It isn't Retina, unfortunately. So I will pull up
Leo: This is an earlier before
Shannon: This is a review I pulled up that we did a while back. I am going to pull up 720 and I will make it full, there we go.
Leo: That looks pretty crisp. It is also frozen.
Shannon: Yeah that happens.
Leo: Hey JRY!
Shannon: Pretty decent. It looks pretty good with videos, as far as that goes. But it is just the text that I had issues with reading. Right now it is having some buffering issues in the studio.
Leo: I don't know if that is it, it is probably our internet, I would blame the Tablet.
Shannon: Yeah it's probably most likely our web. The windows key on this side is not physical it is touch.
Leo: Have you ever played with a Dell Venue 8?
Shannon: I have not, but we do have one and I think we are going to be reviewing it next week I do believe. We'll be able to get a really nice comparison on the 2 side by side.
Leo: It seems very similar.
Shannon: Yes, it is very very similar. But honestly for this one, they say on Lenova's website it costs around $389.
Leo: That's too much.
Shannon: That's the thing, Lenova still has it at that price but you can get it at Best Buy for 200 bucks!
Leo: That I would do.
Leo: That is less than Nexis 7 that is amazing.
Shannon: I know and that is 32GB storage and you can also get at 64 version as well. That one just costs $50 extra I think.
Leo: So shop around for this.
Shannon: Yes, shop around for it. Get it for a good deal. Because honestly I wouldn't spend $389 either. I found it a lot of different places online for $299 if you don't have a Best Buy in your area or you don't want to shop on their website. Pretty much it is decent, it's fun. I really like the fact they keep full Windows on here and it is Windows 8.1 so you don't have to update it at all.
Leo: I like that it comes with Office.
Shannon: I love that it comes with Office.
Leo: That saves you a lot of money.
Shannon: You can access the Desktop on here.
Leo: That's the cheapest way to buy Office.
Shannon: Yeah you can do all the things you can normally do on a Desktop. It works very well as far as that goes. The speakers could be a little bit louder. There is only one on the back up here and you have to cup your hand around it to really get some good sound out of it and boost it up all the way. I think that could be a problem a lot.
Leo: Can you put headphones on it?
Shannon: Let's see, Yeah there is a headphone jack up at the top so you can use the headphones. I really like the fact that I can hold this in one hand.
Leo: Amazing, look at that.
Shannon: It doesn't weigh very much. I really like this new line of Windows Tablets. I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did, because it is Windows 8.
Leo: Before you get to Pros and Cons, a couple of questions. It has a camera?
Shannon: It does have a camera, I did have some fun with the camera.
Leo: O that is good, show us the people who share your office. They are always the Guinea pigs aren't they?
Shannon: They are. So there are 2 cameras on here. The front camera is 2 megapixels and the back is 5 megapixels.
Leo: How about Skype?
Shannon: It is good enough Skype. I had a little fun with it here in the studio taking some photo's. Here is one of my buddies that I work with. This is the front camera, it is very grainy even with our high light here in the studio. Although with the front camera, I was able to get some pretty cool photo's. I was able to do this kind of
Leo: Oh a Photosphere.
Shannon: Yeah this photosphere thing with the back camera.
Leo: That's neat.
Shannon: It looks pretty good as far as taking picture with it goes. It also has a gyroscope so I can tilt it around. Which is a kind of neat way to take a picture.
Leo: O that is a neat way to do a photosphere.
Shannon: Yeah isn't that neat.
Leo: I like that.
Shannon: It is kind of cool. I had a lot of fun with it. Although it sort of gives you vertigo after a while. You can take video's with it, like I took this one. But the sound quality is not very good on it. You can't even hear it.
Leo: It needs a better microphone on it.
Shannon: Yeah it needs a better microphone but decent enough video for a tablet. So it's just kind of yeah OK, it's average. Nothing too special about it.
Leo: So the second question, no stylus right?
Shannon: No stylus, you can purchase a stylus if you wanted to.
Leo: Oh you could?
Leo: It just wouldn't slot into it.
Shannon: Exactly, no slot unfortunately. That would be nice if they did include that. So pros and cons, you ready? So a solid design, I really like the design of it and all that. Full Windows 8.1 experience and a very very bright screen. The competitors of this don't have bright screens like this one does. Although on the con side, I feel the speakers are lacking and the screen resolution for all of the ones that are the same size specs as this one, all of their screen resolutions could be boosted up a little bit higher it seems. Especially when it comes to things like reading E-books and such. Articles online all of those things. So if I was going to give this a buy try or don't buy. I really had fun with it but I definitely think you should try out the top ones in this market to figure out which one is best for you so I would give it a try.
Leo: Try on all 3.
Shannon: Try on all 3
Leo: To be sure, as there are differences and so forth.
Shannon: Absolutely, yes.
Leo: Although, if you can really get it for 199 bucks that is a pretty aggressive price.
Shannon: 199 bucks, I am pretty sure that is the cheapest one you can find on the market. That is a really good price.
Leo: But there are some differences so try before you buy.
Leo: Thank you Shannon, Shannon Morse - Snubbs. Now you mentioned you could use a blue tooth keyboard and mouse with that. We got one that you might want to try. We gave Radford Castro the director of engineering the new Logitech Blue Tooth illuminated keyboard and also an Ultra thin touch mouse. Let's see what he thinks.
Radford Castro: Hi I am Radford Castro and these are the reviews on 2 particular accessories from Logitech. One is the Ultra thin mouse T630 and the K810 both powered by blue tooth and both meant for mobile users. This is the Logitech 630, the T630 from Logitech and it is ultra light blue tooth based mouse. But the real big thing is it is gesture and touch based. So the surface of the mouse is actually using what they call a touch surface so you can actually scroll through the web page just using the top of the mouse. And of course you can click on it. The other cool thing too is you can actually interact with the Windows 8 menus by swiping from the edges of the mouse. From the left side as well as from the right. There is even a middle button that you can tap so you can manage and navigate through all the different apps on Windows 8. So at least for my 2 months of usage, using this thing it charges very fast but also quickly dissipates over time. So if you haven't been using it for over maybe 2 or 3 days it is discharged. But it takes a few minutes to get a good charge for 2 or 3 hours of use. So if you have a portable backpack with a charger inside this will help out a lot. Now as far as the pros are it looks really nice, it is extremely mobile and it has a quick charge. The nice thing to is it has these nice built in gestures that you can use with the mouse that I have demonstrated on the screen. Now the cons is that the battery life is inconsistent and the touch surface is hit and miss. I guess one of the experiences I with this mouse is that when you are browsing through and doing simple things such as selecting a bunch of text, the problem is you are going to be touching the top of the mouse and not realizing you are either holding it down or scrolling simply because it is just touch based. That is just some of the issues you are going to run into playing with this mouse. The price for this mouse is $69.99 and for that this is definitely a try. Now lets go on and talk about the keyboard. This is the K810 from Logitech. It is a back-lit illuminated blue tooth keyboard that is definitely used for mobile use. This doesn't use any battery just the same way. It is also charged with micro USB. The cool thing about this is it also uses 3 different settings for blue tooth. As soon as you press the key it assigns the blue tooth to that devise. You can connect it to 3 devises, your tablet, PC, your laptop whatever and the connections are quite quick. Connecting to it is quite easy, it has a connect button right in the back. For the most part it does its job. The cool thing to is as you are typing it is very fast and very responsive. I don't know how to type a sentence. Type a sentence, because yeah, I suck. For the most part you can do all the normal things you do on a keyboard and it is really responsive. It has all the controls you would expect to have on a normal laptop as well as a tablet. The other thing I have to point out too is that the battery life is excellent on this thing. This thing can last for days. The battery probably just takes up the entire area right here, this big square here. So definitely this is something you can hold onto in your backpack and travel around with you and have it sit around for a month and it will still work. The Pros are the fact that it is light, nicely illuminated, has a variety of settings and extremely responsive. The only con, is that it doesn't have everything a real keyboard should have but why not. So there is just a few minor quirks about this aside from its price but you get what you pay for. For $99.99 it is a buy. So between the 2 accessories the Mouse is a try and keyboard is a definite buy. For Before you Buy I am Radford Castro.
Leo: A buy and a try say Radford. Radford Castro our director of engineering. No before we move on to release the Krakin. I want to talk a little bit about Audible.com. If you have ever listened to audio books you probably know that they are a life saver when you are stuck in the car, you are doing the laundry, walking the dog exercising at the gym. An hour on the treadmill is so good for you but it is mind numbingly boring for you unless you have Audible.com. It is better than music because audible occupies your mind. It is better than TV. Because you can close your eyes while your are listening to a great audible reader bring a book to life and it is as if you are watching a movie in your mind. I mean they really come alive. I just recently listened to Daniel Suarez's Influx. I mean it is really like you are there. In fact it has happened in the past that I will see a movie and think I have already seen it because no know that I listened to it. Audible readers are the best in world if you saw last week’s triangulation you saw Jeff Gerner do a performance. That is what really is a little bit of Influx the Daniel Suarez novel for us. It was like he was there and then all of sudden it was like a pop-up book the whole book just opened up in front of you. That's how good these performers are at Audible.com. Now I know you are a little sceptically. Many of us are about the idea of listening to a book, am I going to be able to follow it, is it going to be distracting while I am driving. Best way to find out is get one, Try it free for a month and let us know. There are some great new books at Audiblepodcast.com/beforeyoubuy, check it out. You will be signing up for the gold account at that sight. That means it is 30 days, every 30 days a new book, plus the daily digest of the Walls Street Journal or the New York Times you pick. No the deal is we are going to give you that for free for 30 days. You pay nothing for the first 30 days, cancel anytime during that period you don't pay a penny and you get to keep the book so that is kind of nice. I think you are going to want to stick around. Try the new Influx by Daniel Suarez that is a really a great reader. Any of Daniel Suarez's books. A lot of books when they come out immediately appear in the book store and on audible.com. If you have a favorite, Stephen King, Klive Custler, Nora Roberts, any of the authors you love when their books are out in the stores they are going to be on audible.com. I don't even bother to go to the book store anymore, don't tell anybody, I just get it on audible.com.
Shannon: Me too.
Leo: Yeah, it's so great. What are you listening to right now?
Shannon: Right now, the second book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, it is so good.
Leo: One of the best things to do with audible is to get involved in a series.
Shannon: Yes, it is the same voice actor too.
Leo: Then it's not just a great movie it is a lifetime of great stuff. The George R. R. Martin books Game of Thrones
Shannon: Oh those are so good, love them.
Leo: I listened to the Aubrey-Maturin Seafaring serie, there are 21 of those, imagine. Do you like the Vampire academy?
Shannon: I do, yes the movie just came out so I decided to go ahead and get into the series.
Leo: Is this a bite club assignment or are you just
Shannon: No, we stopped doing bite club unfortunately.
Leo: What, no
Shannon: It's just something I like.
Leo: So Vampire Academy from Snubbs, that is her recommendation. First one is free, audiblepodcast.com/beforeyoubuy. Alright we are ready to release the Krakin. Unfortunately it's not some sea monster it's headphones. Hope you don't feel I have teased you this whole time. We gave Greg Burnett, Razer Krakin Forged edition headset. The Razer Krakin Forged edition, you know what Greg will explain it all to you.
Greg Burnett: Hi I am Greg Burnett with TWIT.tv and Before you Buy. I am reviewing the Razer Krakin Forged edition headphones. To start us off these headphones are a top of the line high quality headset. Razer is known for producing quality gaming and music based headphones. This pair seems to be a little bit more inclined to music but it does have drivers that will really bring out that bass and midlevel sounds so it is totally suitable for gaming as well. I spent a good amount of time with these headphones and I have to say I really like them. Since they are the Forged edition headphones they are made of brushed aluminum and the cushioned parts are all made of leather making them feel really well built and hardy. I am the type of person who associates their tech with the heavier it is the more durable it is. So the fact that it is made out of metal and kind of has some weight to it makes me feel like I can toss these headphones around and I don't have to worry about them getting beat up. They came in a leather durable case as well. So if you are the type of person who is really particular and don't want to get their headphones scratched you can shove them in that case as well. Overall the sound quality in these headphones is fantastic. I would hope so considering the fact that you will be paying $299.99 for them. Another issue I had with these headphones is that most Razer headsets have a retractable microphone this one does not. It has an inline microphone that actually doesn't work coming straight out of the box. You need to buy a splitter to have it work with your PC. That was a big issue for me. It stopped me from testing the quality of the microphone. Onto my pros and cons, Pros durable, a great design and great sound quality. Cons, had a lot of issues with the in-line microphone and it is pretty pricey. If I was to give this headset a buy, try or don't buy, I would give it a buy even with the short flaws with the microphone. I would say it is a quality product, it is really well built and I had a great time playing with it. Once again I am Greg with TWIT.tv and Before you Buy, have a good one.
Leo: Greg Burnett, thank you so much. We call him Grog and a definite buy. Boy at 300 bucks, it better sound good!
Shannon: They are nice, I like them.
Leo: That will rock n roll your ears. Thank you all, thanks for being here everybody and thanks to our reviewers. Shannon Morse, Greg Burnett, to Padre of course and thanks to Radford Castro. To you for joining us. You can see each and every one of our reviews individually on You Tube. We do that so you can share them with family or friends who are looking to buy. That is youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. You can also subscribe to our show wherever you find better podcast just look for Before you Buy. In fact all the TWIT shows will be available there. Or on our own website twit.tv/byb. You got something you would like us to review just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time. Remember you’ve got to watch Before you buy. See you next time!