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Before You Buy 134
Show Tease: Coming up! A pan/tilt/zoom camera, a VeryKool phone. We’re going to look at some new cases for the iPhone 5S. And Mike Elgan will review the latest Toshiba Satellite laptop. 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. Before You Buy is brought to you by Nature Box. Order great tasting, healthy snacks delivered right to your door. Forget the vending machine and get in shape with healthy delicious treats, like Seaweed rice pops! Mmmhmm! Get 50% off your first box. Go to Naturebox.com/twit. That’s naturebox.com/twit. And by SmartThings. The easiest and most affordable way to create a smart home. Protect and control your home from anywhere! No contracts or monthly fees. For 10% off any home security kit, visit smartthings.com/twit, and use the code TWIT10 at checkout.
Leo Laporte: I’m feeling kind of off center. I’m tilting over. Hey! Welcome to Before You Buy, the TWiT product review show where we get some of the most amazing, interesting products out there, and give them to our talented staff, and get them to take a look at them and give us an example or an idea of what it would be like to use this in real life! Everybody knows Chad Johnson, the host of OMGcraft. Of the Daily Gizwhiz, actually now weekly,
Chad Johnson: The weekly daily GizWhiz.
Leo: The weekly daily Gizwhiz. That was a funny joke about four years ago, but I don’t know.
Chad: I just love how we’re on episode 1478, or something like that.
Leo: It’s amazing!
Chad: I just love seeing that.
Leo: That’s our longest running show. And of course, brand new show, Redditup. Which I saw the first episode of this past week.
Chad: Go subscribe! TWiT.tv/RU.
Leo: It’s a great show to watch if you want to keep up on the means.
Chad: Right. We’ll cover the funny stuff, basically.
Leo: Yeah, what everybody is going to…it’s what you’re going to get from your friends next week and from your dad in a about a year.
Chad: Right. You’ll see it on Facebook in about a week, and you’ll get it from your grandma in a chain letter next year.
Leo: The funniest one is the Beard ones, where the guys have big long beards and then they tilt their head up and draw a face on their neck.
Chad: It was good.
Leo: Trust me, it was funny.
Chad: It was good!
Leo: Here you go. RedditUP, every Wednesday on the TWiT network, but we have given Chad an assignment.
Chad: Yes! I loved this product. It came in and I was just eyeballing it ever since it came in.
Leo: We got one for the Daily Gizwhiz. It’s a PTZ camera, it’s a camera you can aim from your smartphone or webpage. And it was so dang hard to…how much did we spend on that professional grade PTZ?
Leo: So this is not for professional use, this is a security camera.
Chad: Right. This is a security camera. This is something you’re going to put in your home to make sure you can watch the kids. There it is right there.
Leo: It looks just like the one we spent $3000 on, I tell you.
Chad: It’s a little bit smaller. In fact this is a pretty zoomed in video. This is just to show you.
Leo: Yeah. There’s your hand, your giant hand.
Chad: There’s my hand.
Leo: this is about the size of a Logitech camera on a base, the base is a big thing because it’s got to aim it.
Chad: Right. So it has some pretty nice features for users who are going to use it in their house. So first it does have an app. So if you don’t want to put your computer, and you don’t want to put the software on the computer, it has software for all of the major, you know, this is on Android.
Leo: PC, IOS.
Chad: Yeah this one is on Android. They have an IOS version, they have a PC version of the software, and they have a MAC version of the software. No Linux support. One of the things that all of the support for all of it is just a little big buggy. So there we go, now I've got the video up.
Leo: It looks like a pretty good image.
Chad: It’s a really good image. HD quality so 720 P. And then if I want to switch it, it’s as easy as either swiping around on the screen.
Leo: So you’re actually moving the camera by… oh look at that! By just scrolling on the screen!
Chad: Yep, just swiping around.
Leo: Now it’s not instant, because it has to send a signal to the camera, the camera has to receive it and act upon it.
Chad: Right. And then if you don’t want to do that you can also set some locations, so I set my first location up to where the sky desk is. No one is setting up there, earlier when I had set it there was a person setting up on top of the sky desk.
Leo: Do we know the person or was it a stranger?
Chad: It was Burke. Someone like Burke. A strange person in this studio.
Leo: The reason I asked is we had a bum sleeping in the doorway yesterday, so I thought maybe he might have moved in.
Chad: Wow! Oh man! Gosh. No, he wasn’t on the sky desk.
Leo: It wasn’t a bum, it was a hobo.
Chad: Okay, perfect. That’s their word. So anyway this is the. I can even…it has a pretty far range of motion, so I can lock on to you as well, and it’ll continue to go around, and there you are, sitting right there.
Leo; But that’s what this is for. This is a security camera so you might be looking at your warehouse, and say, who’s that? There’s it looks like a foot down there, and you can go zoom in. Actually you can’t zoom, I called it a pan/tilt/zoom.
Chad: You can actually. So on the phone, it’s a little bit more difficult because it doesn’t have a very good detection of whether you’re swiping or pinching to zoom. Hello little camera back there!
Chad: Isn’t that kind of neat? So you have to kind of slowly make sure that it knows that you’re zooming in and then…
Leo: Is it digital or optical zoom?
Chad: It’s only digital. It’s all digital, and of course it thought that I was swiping as well. While we’re talking about the software, software is fairly bucky. There’s a few times where I felt like it wasn’t quite up to snuff. On top of that, if you go to look anywhere on line for their software. Let me pull up, there we are. This is the apps that just they provide. This isn’t me searching. This is a Swann HD.
Leo: That’s crazy.
Chad: The name of this is the SwannEye HD pan/tilt.
Leo: Do they do different things?
Chad: I have no idea! I have no idea! In fact, I installed the wrong PC software the first time I downloaded it because there’s no… in the instructions there’s no good URL to go to, like you know, swann.com/ you know the model number, or something like that. And also when I went to the product page there’s no download for the correct, so I downloaded the wrong one, then I found out I needed the Pro HD version of the one that I had, completely different features. One of them wouldn’t connect to the camera that I had, so their software really needs to be revamped. If anyone at this company is listening to me, one application to control them all. There should not be, I can’t even count how many applications there are here!
Leo: And you’ve got to get the right one.
Chad: And you have to get the right one. So that was very frustrating. Yeah. Anyway, so now that that’s out of the way. You can control this off of your computer, and you get a few more features. So you do get the, everything that we had before. I can set up my selections. Yeah, it’s kind of in a weird position, sorry about that. So we’ll move it to somewhere that’s a little bit less weird. You can also set it always be panning….
Leo: Always be tanning.
Chad: Always be panning, that’s a pretty good motto to say. Here we go, you can kind of see how far the range is. It is 350 degree range.
Leo: That’s pretty good.
Chad: All the way around. And it has about 100 degrees up and down.
Leo: Now is this WIFI, or do we have to have Ethernet?
Chad: You can do WIFI, and you can do Ethernet.
Leo: We’re connected VIA Ethernet right now.
Leo: And I mentioned that, because that will effect latency, the lag and so forth.
Chad: Right. It’ll also do internal LAN networks form the software, or WAN networks from anywhere in the internet.
Leo: Okay, So you can control this over the internet.
Chad: I can. I can.
Leo: That would be important, because you’re probably not on premises. You put this in a guest house, and you don’t want to be…
Chad: Absolutely, and that set up was very simple. All I had to do was create an account, create a user, and then pare the device with two numbers on the base of the device, to my account, and now I have access to it. I didn’t have to port forward, I didn’t have to do any of that. Very easy setup.
Leo: I see it also has apps for audio.
Chad: It does. Audio in and out.
Leo: And an alarm app.
Chad: it does. It’s on an alarm system if that’s what you want on the back. On top of that, the…so if you’re say far away from your computer, and you see someone rummaging through your stuff, you have the option to hit the little microphone, and say, “Hey! Stop doing that!” Can you hear it from there?
Leo: Here, let me put it up… can I pick it up?
Chad: Yeah pick it up.
Leo: Let me put it next to my microphone. Let’s try that again Chad, because I tell you what, that is not going to scare me as a burglar.
Chad: Let me sign in from the app because I’m not sure that I’ve set up the correct microphone on this computer, I’ve been plugging and unplugging.
Leo: I’m stealing your stuff that’s what I’m doing here.
Chad: Yeah, Hey how’s it going…It’s going to start moving here on you, sorry about that.
Leo; Always be panning.
Chad: Hey can you hear me Leo! Hey I need you to get away from my stuff if you would. That’s my uh card board boxes in my garage. If you could! Those are kind of collectables.
Leo: Okay. I’m going to tell you where this is useful. You don’t say that.
Leo: You go, yeah this is officer 634, we’ve got a 50395 going on in here down in the basement. I need backup.
Chad: Or just I’m calling the police currently, get out of my house.
Leo: I think that guy is armed, I’m just going to shoot him down, requesting permission, over!
Chad: That’s what you pipe into it, really.
Leo: Now we’re… Oh they’re coming for you!
Chad: That is not a feature. It will not start siren sounds!
Leo: Well how did you do that!
Chad: That’s Bryan behind us!
Leo: Oh, you need a tricaster for that.
Leo: Accessory not included. It has lights though, that’s good.
Chad: So those lights are inferred lights, so it’s really good night vision.
Leo: Hey let’s turn out the lights and see what we can get. We could do this whole show in the dark.
Chad: And it will automatically… That’s not it! It hasn’t flipped yet, so it’s automatic. Sometimes it’ll just…
Leo: It’s too bright.
Chad: Decide to flip, sometimes it won’t. There it goes! Now it’s in night vision mode.
Leo: Let me put it in my mouth.
Chad: If that’s not the creepiest thing in the world.
Leo: Tell me how my tonsils look.
Chad: Black and white, I can’t quite tell.
Leo: Well I can verify that it’s pitch black in my mouth.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely.
Leo: That’s good!
Chad: Isn’t that crazy?
Chad: So that does that very well. Here, I’m actually going to show you a little bit of footage that I took before.
Leo: I am so scared!
Chad: A little bit of blare witch going on. You can record video. Which it’ll record it locally onto whatever device you’re viewing it on, or you can take a photo. This does have an SD card slot in it, so it’ll continuously record, and if there’s a motion it will capture that 13 seconds. It’ll capture 3 seconds before.
Leo: You’ve got the eyes that glow in the dark.
Chad: It’s funny. No matter how many times I’ve done this, my eyes totally just glow in the dark for some strange reason.
Leo: You are part lynx.
Chad: So I have some photos of…This is…I was cleaning up my room so please bear with the…
Leo: You take kitty cat pictures and stuff?
Chad: Yeah, I took a few photos of the cats. So there’s one of my cats licking herself.
Leo: Are you moving?
Chad: She was. What do you mean? Oh, no! I was cleaning up my house!
Leo: Are you moving?
Leo: This was like spring cleaning?
Chad: I was just changing the sheets on my bed!
Leo: Oh okay.
Chad: So there’s me hanging out with my cat and you can see her eyes are glowing.
Leo: Yeah! Look at that!
Chad: This is at night. And then this is waffles hanging out. So, and I was just testing out some of the video stuff.
Leo: That’s creepy.
Chad: Let me also grab…now there are a few…So I took some video files of the brick house earlier. So you can see just…
Leo: The quality is really good.
Chad: Yeah, this is 720.
Leo: Given what it is…
Chad: Right. So this is kind of the… now and you can see just right there in the dark, it went into night mode.
Leo: Okay, it did the same thing earlier, I was wondering.
Chad: Right. So it just switched into night mode for some reason, that’s all automatic.
Leo: So it goes black and white, which is fine, because you’re looking for an intruder most of the time, right?
Leo: Or a broken water pipe, or something like that.
Chad: Right. So, and then… so that’s about it, is that it’ll do pan/tilt/zoom. Oh! One thing, if you are recording the zoom, instead of it keeping it all the same resolution, what it does is it zooms in and then it crops the image, and the video file, it also crops the video file but in the same stream. So it doesn’t create a new video file, so I have a recording of myself trying to use the zoom in feature on one of my cats, and I can start to play the start of this. But then once it’s going to switch into zooming in on her face here, and it’s just going to completely crash the application because it can’t handle it. Because it…the play back, yeah and this actually kernel panicked my computer earlier.
Leo: it killed VLC, wow.
Chad: Yeah, so that’s an issue is that they need to figure out their…
Leo: Does it work in the app, if you’re working in the app?
Chad: It’ll work live in the app, I couldn’t get any recording to play back, so that was a big issue.
Leo: It sounds like the hardware is fine, the software is buggy.
Leo: What’s the price?
Chad: Okay, the price is 180 dollars.
Leo: That’s a great price.
Chad: Yeah. It’s a pretty good price.
Leo: Remember we started this a couple of weeks ago. It was 3000 dollars when we started this review. It was 3000 dollars for the pro pan/tilt/zoom. That is a really good price. 180 bucks.
Chad: Right. So for the pros it’s very easy to set up. It has black and white night features, and it has the continuous recording so that it’ll just continue to record, and if there’s a motion it will capture the first three seconds and then continue recording for about ten seconds afterwards. And also it’ll send you those alerts via message on the app, or email, or whatever.
Leo: I have to say, I mean, for the price it’s pretty flexible. I love it that it has WIFI, that’s a big deal.
Chad: Right, right. Now on the cons, way too many apps. It was very confusing to find the right app and the apps that it did give me were a little bit buggy. There’s definitely a slow response time, I feel like they could make that faster. Why can’t you make your response time faster? It kept switching into night mode when it shouldn’t, is the cons. So buy, try, don’t buy for the Swann pan/tilt/zoom security camera. This is the ADS445 version, I’m going to give this a buy. I actually did like it and I could definitely consider buying this for my apartment. That’s another thing is once you’ve tied it to your account is you could buy a whole bunch of these. I could buy three of them and put them around my apartment and easily have them all tied together.
Leo: Thank you Chad: It is a buy for the SwannEye HD Pan and Tilt WIFI.
Chad: You also get these cool stickers that you can put on your windows. This might keep the intruders away better than the cameras.
Leo: That’s more effective. That’s what the security expert told me once, don’t get the service, just buy the stickers. They can’t tell if you have the service. We have a guy here in the brick house studio.
Leo: Yes we do, who spends a lot of time with burner phones. Don’t know why, but when we got this VeryKool S505 Spark we thought, Bryan Burnett’s the buy to take a look!
Bryan Burnett: This is Bryan Burnett for Before You Buy and today I’m introducing the VeryKool, with a k, S505, and when you spell cool with a ‘K’ you know you’re getting some serious fun. A little background for those of you new to veryKool, like myself before I did this review, is VeryKool is a company that provides unlocked hardware at pretty competitive prices. And it’s headquartered in San Diego California. At a glance, the S505 looks and feels very similar to a Samsung S3 if you’ve ever played with one of those. And the specs are very near the same, and it share the same slippery plastic feel. Despite the very scary background, the 1280 by 720 screen looks good and sharp, but doesn’t get very bright. Flipping from the home screen to the apps feels pretty snappy, but when loading a game or more intensive app, the S505 can feel a bit sluggish, which is probably due to the one gigabyte of RAM that it has. Under the hood of the VeryKool is a 1.3 quad core CPU running Android 4.2, which is pretty much completely stock. The back is removable, giving you access to the 2000 milliamp battery, which is good for around 6 hours. Also, it has duel SIM slots, along with a micro SD expansion slot. There is a 12 megapixel rear camera, and a two megapixel front. And even though it is a 12 megapixel rear, a lot of the shots ended up looking blown out and low light looked very noisy. For the pros and the cons of the VeryKool S505, the first pro is price. Coming in at 200 dollars, the hardware and build quality is pretty nice for that at that price point. It does have duel SIM so that’s another pro there, if you’re looking for GSM phone. And it’s fairly slim, it’s not bulky and feels good in the hand. The cons; it can be a bit sluggish when opening a more intensive app, and the camera is mediocre. And along with the 2 gigabytes of internal memory, you’re definitely going to want to make use of the expandable micro SD. So is the VeryKool a buy, try, or don’t buy? Well I’m going to have to give it a try. Despite the name VeryKool, the S505 is very mediocre at 200 dollars. But you get what you pay for. The performance isn’t as high as you’d expect from the hardware specs, and there are phones in this segment for a bit more, like the 219 dollar Moto G with the LTE, but only has 8 gigabytes of non-expandable storage. So in the end, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money and you’re looking for an unlooked GSM phone with expandable memory, the S505 has solid build quality and a screen making it a decent value. This has been Bryan Burnett from Before You Buy, see you next time.
Leo: Bryan Burnett our technical director, and the veryKool S505 Spark. I’m actually a try, I’m kind of surprised, I didn’t expect anything quite that good. You seem like you might be a little peckish Chad.
Chad: Yeah. My blood sugar is getting a little low.
Leo: Is it Nature Box time?
Chad: What? Wait!
Leo: It’s Nature Box time!
Chad: I was actually, literally just eating…
Leo: I saw you and I thought, you know what? I’m going to give you some Nature box, I’m feeling sorry for you. Hey, I know that you’re a classy guy. Lemon Tea Biscuits, that’s pretty…
Chad: Wow! I want to actually have one. I haven’t seen those yet.
Leo: They’re lemon mini cookies. Nutritionist approved as is everything…look at that, look at that!
Chad: Give them to me!
Leo: It’s a great way to tease your employees.
Chad: Come on! I want a Lemon Tea Biscuit!
Leo: Got teenagers in the house? Oh he got them! You know what’s great about these, once you open them they’re resealable, they have a Ziploc top, they stay fresh.
Chad: Yeah! I have you had the Sirarcha roasted cashews?
Leo: Oh Sirarcha roasted? Are they really spicy?
Chad: No, it’s the perfect amount of sirarcha.
Leo: That’s what you say!
Chad: No it’s really good!
Leo: Never any HFCs, High Fructose Corn syrup, never any GMOS, no artificial flavors, colors, this is healthy stuff! You’ll be glad to give your family, and you get it delivered every month. You can just take a random box, because there’s over a hundred different snacks, or you can specify. You can say, hey I want gluten conscious, or vegan, spicy only, or sweet or savory, you get to choose, discover if you prefer and get snack happy! And by the way for every box they deliver they donate a meal through feeding America! So you’re helping feed America at the same time, they’ve delivered over a million meals, or they’re trying to and that’s a great goal. Let’s help them out. We’re going to do it by giving you half off your first box when you go to naturebox.com/twit, and use the offer code TWIT. Naturebox.com/twit, use the offer code TWIT for half off your first box. But I’ve got to warn you they’re addictive.
Chad: They’re really good.
Leo: Discover, delight, nourish, and enjoy. Is that Lemon Cookie everything you hoped it would be?
Chad: It’s good. It’s really good, I could totally imagine munching on these.
Leo: Coconut cashews?
Chad: They’re pretty.
Leo: This to me is heaven.
Chad: Coconut cashews?
Leo: Coconut cashew, that’s heaven. These are all new, we got new flavors. Baked Sweet potato flies.
Leo: Fries! Sea salt, sun crunch and sunflower sesame seeded crackers.
Leo: Get out of here! These are my nature box!
Chad: I want those too!
Leo: Naturebox.com/twit. You can keep the lemon cookies.
Chad: Okay, I’ll keep them. I opened them.
Leo: I think it’s time for us to take a look now at something for your iPhone 5s. Sarah Lane Hosts Ifive for the IPhone, we thought she’d be the perfect person to take a look at two new cases from Life Charge and Spark Beats.
Sarah Lane: Hello everybody! Sarah Lane here! I am the official IPhone case reviewer for Before You Buy. Have you ever noticed that? They always come to me. But that’s cool because I have an iPhone and I like cases. So let’s start out with this, this looks like a, you know, gold plastic boring case. Not much to look at, although I kind of like the gold, because I do actually have a gold back on my white iPhone. And go ahead and let’s put our phone inside it and see what’s cool about it. Alright, now this puppy here, if I tell you that it’s $79.99, you might say Sarah you’re crazy! Why would anybody, why would anybody pay that? Well because it does a 2300 milliamp battery that gives you up to 8 hours of added talk time, or ten extra hours of internet use on WIFI, or 40 hours of music, or 10 hours of video playback time. You’ve got these nice little vents here so that you’re speakers will work, it also has four LEDS on the back that will show you battery capacity. Anybody who’s familiar with maybe a Mofi charger knows how that works, you can see it’s full at this point. Now it weighs 83 grams, and I have to say to you right now, it doesn’t feel heavy at all, and that’s one of the issues that I have with battery packs, and stuff that you wrap around your phone, because well, you know, everybody likes more battery but you don’t really want it to be like this huge weight in your bag or your pocket. SO this is more battery life than the biggest mofi case. And Mofi is a respected brand and everything, but life charge battery case for 80 bucks, does better than the name brand, you know where I’m going with this. It’s not even as expensive either. So, you know, stylish, comes in white, black and gold, or course we’re looking at the gold, but if you don’t have a gold phone you don’t have to choose this one. And then, of course, it has a cut out so that you can charge and sync your iPhone without having to take the case off. You put your headphones in there, and there’s the charger as well. Comes with a headphone extension cord too, and, of course, you can access all of your controls easily enough. Easy to take on, take off. So pros and cons? This is pretty easy, large capacity, not that expensive, 80 bucks again, for a really, really solid extra battery life, and it’s not heavy. The cons, well, if you’re really into having an IPhone without a case, this is definitely going to bulk it up! It makes it longer, and it makes it fatter, that’s just the way that it goes. And then it charges with Micro USB instead of a lightening cable, and for some of you guys that might be a non-starter. For me though, that’s a buy! Alright, let’s move on to our second IPhone case. This one is just straight up weird, alright? So let me just show you, first of all before I even put my IPhone on the inside. It looks like a fairly boring case that has some sort of a pattern on the back. Actually feels pretty flimsy, plastic, there’s like a little piece on the inside that’s sort of flapping at me here. Alright, let’s put the phone on the inside here, and you go ahead and get it to a point where it’s feeling comfortable. Okay, now I’m going to go ahead and open up an app that goes along with this case. This case is called the Spark Beats case, for $49.95. 50 dollar case, companion app is free. What does it do? Well, I will show you. You know how you can turn on your flashlight on your phone? It’s really, really bright and sometimes people can be like really obnoxious and set their flashlight when their phone rings? You can turn on the flashlight and trust me when I say that the light is not as obnoxious as it normally would be, because I have this case on and now it’s also lightening up the back of the phone. In some way that’s supposed to be artsy and cool. So alright, let’s say that I go ahead and set the flash free, let’s see if we can tell the difference. By the way, this doesn’t actually, it’s hard to do. Well come on now, I did this right before the show. Okay, well that’s a con right there! It’s got a little lever that doesn’t really move very easily. What it’s doing right now basically is it’s got a little kind of like a filter on this flashlight. This flashlight would be much more annoying, and by the way, I’m sorry to anybody who’s prone to epilepsy because it’s probably really hard to watch this. So you can soften the flesh and I guess what’s cool about it is if you’re kind of in to this artiness, you can kind of see the light on the sides of the… you know if you’re into phyicadelic or, I don’t know! There are some kind of interesting things about it, it is using the built in flash light and, if you actually look at this app, the spark beats case app, it’s designed to not just do this one thing. It’s supposed to be able to, like, follow music, you can go ahead and toggle on and off whether you’re playing music. Motion, flash, you can change your brightness, and you’re frequency. Turn it down so it’s a little bit less going on here. Let’s see if that looks any better. Yeah, so maybe, that’s a little bit more your speed. Okay, so this is a kick starter. It’s now available to everybody, I can certainly give it a pro support for being unique. I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s cool! It certainly doesn’t weigh anything, I mean, even if you never used this, it’s a pretty nice sleek case. Save for, you know, a little bit design on the back of it. But I really just find no point. Maybe I’m not much of a raver, but I just don’t, I don’t know! I don’t see a use for it. In fact, if you’re the guy at the bar that’s got this on, trying to be cool, nobody is going to talk to you. So that’s the con. The app needs a little bit of work, some of the toggles seem to work okay, and some don’t. But in general for 50 dollars I can think of a lot of other things that I would rather buy. So I’m going to go ahead and say don’t buy the Sparkbeats case. Sorry Sparkbeats, but you know, you’re just partying a little too hard for me. You’re a little too punk rock for all of us here at Before You Buy. Well those are the two cases, we’ve got a buy and a don’t buy. Everything feels perfectly in balance as far as I’m concerned. Hope you enjoyed my review, and thanks for watching Before You Buy.
Leo: That’s Sarah Lane, host of Ifive for the IPhone, IPad today, Tech news tonight, Redditup. What doesn’t she host here at the twit brick house? And once, again she really liked the life charge. I think it’s nice to take a case and have it do something extra. Before we see Mike Elgans review of this new Toshiba satellite featuring an A and D radian, GPU.
Mike Elgan: yes.
Leo: Sounds like a gamer’s delight.
Mike: Not really.
Leo: Oh. You know what is a delight? This is a kick starter project that took off and it’s always a happy story when somebody goes on kick starter with an idea whose time is coming, they get the funding and they make a product and now you can buy it. It’s from SmartThings, maybe you saw the project. The idea is home automation is tough, because there’s so many different competing standards, nothing talks to anything else. Couldn’t we make it easier? The idea of SmartThings is it all starts with the hub, the SmartThings hub, which talks to pretty much everything. GE, Schlage, Honey Well, Eon, the Nest thermostats, the Philips Hue lights, the Weemos from Belkin, even your Sonos music player. So the hub connects to your internet, you power it up, and now you can do all sorts of cool things. SmartThings wants to sell you a kit that gets you started. They also have an API, so developers can create new ways to use the product. And then they publish those integrations and feature them in the incredible SmartThings app, you’re seeing it right there, so that all the customers can use them, with thousands of developers adding new stuff all the time. It means your smart home is getting smarter all the time. It just begins right here. You plug the SmartThings hub into your router, add the sensors and outlets, it’s free, it’s easy to use. In fact, let me show you, so the best way to do this is start with ta home security kit. They call it a home security but it can be more than that. That includes the basic kit. $329 includes the SmartThings hub, the SmartThings motion sensor, which is you know, as you might expect, something that sees motion in the room. Let me show you this, though. Like all the SmartThings devices they’re very easy to attach to the network. You just pull this tab out that says remove to pair and it’s on the network! And it’s working. So this senses motion, this is the presence sensor, its a little keychain tag, you could put on a dogs color, on your keychain. Attach it to your remote control if you lose it a lot. And this one is kind of the smartest, this is their smart sense multi. It’s got all sorts of sensors including temperature, movement, because it’s got the two part thing where if somebody opens a window or door. It also has accelerometers. So you can use this to know the temperature in a room, and then talk to your nest and turn it up. Things like that! It’ll tell you when things open or close, when valuable items move. It can alert you if you’ve left the garage door open, so you get the basic smart home security kit, includes one of the hubs, the motion sensor, the presence sensor, and three of these multi-sensors that you can do so many things with. And then for $479 get the smarter kit, which adds an additional motion sensor, everything in the basic kit plus an additional motion sensor, smart power outlet, and a siren strobe alarm. And then the smartest home security kit includes all of the above, plus another presence sensor, a power outlet, and an outdoor light plug and control power outlet. You can kind of start seeing where you can go with this. Once you get the kit you can then add stuff like crazy! All your other stuff, your sonos, and weemo. It’s fun to think of the kinds of recipes you could make with this thing. You know, I walk in the door, the Sonos starts playing cocktail music. Hail to the Chief, Ruffles and Flourishes. The lights turn red, white and blue. My television set goes on and turns right to fox news.
Mike: I want to put a motion sensor on the cookie jar, and then have the siren go off when somebody attacks the sugar.
Leo: You should do that for Amira’s Cherry pie is what you should do. I’m sneaking in to steal that.
Mike: Well I love the way they think about this because they’re thinking about it as an integrated flexible solution. These one off things, you want to get the whole point of home automation. The future of home automation is integrated solutions like this that are flexible.
Leo: Absolutely. A smart house that gets smarter all the time. That’s the idea. SmartThings. Go to smartThings.com/twit. You will save 10% off any of those home security kits when you use the offer code TWIT10. And we thank SmartThings for finally solving this home automation problem. It’s such an elegant way. Now, my friends. Mike Elgan is here. He’s our news director at TWiT. The hose of Tech News Today. And he, you know, you use a MAC laptop.
Mike: I do. But I used windows for I don’t know, a decade and a half or more.
Leo: You edited Windows magazines.
Mike: Windows magazine, that’s true, that’s true.
Leo: So you ought to know a little bit about it.
Mike: That’s right. And this of course, this would be a competitor to things like the MacBook pro with Retina. Because it’s a super great screen. So what this is, is the Toshiba Satellite P50t. The way to look at this laptop is it’s more or less a regular windows laptop. But it has 4K, and in fact this is the only laptop ever shipped, or at least it was the first one, to ship with a Technicolor certification for 4K. So this is a 4K screen. So what I want to do first of all...
Leo: So it’s twice the resolution of my HD screen?
Mike: Four times the resolution.
Leo: Twice wide and twice top to bottom!
Mike: So here’s sort of the canned video that comes with it. The music is pretty boring, but we’ll go ahead and play it anyway.
Leo: See computer makes sense for 4K, because while there may not be a lot of 4K movies available, in fact, there really aren’t any, unless you can get one of those hard drive things, there’s a lot of computer content that’s 4K.
Mike: That’s right. But we’ll get to the caveats in just a second, but let’s go over the specs on this. Its 16.4 inch ultra HD true bite screen. It’s an IPS so it’s got pretty good, pretty wide viewing angle.
Leo: Yeah, I can see it from here, I’m off to the side.
Mike: The star of the show is the native resolution of 3840 by 2160. It’s a pretty, and you can see the reflective screen, that’s one of the downsides.
Leo: Well all of them are like that. You at home are only seeing this at best, 720 P so let me see. This is, this looks like the 4K monitors I use to see at CES. This is gorgeous!
Mike: Yeah. It’s got pretty reasonable specs. It’s got a quad core I7 CPU. UP to 16 gigs of ram. It’s got an END radian and online 265 GP with two gigs of video RAM, which is important to push all this 4K video. As a laptop, there are certain things about it I don’t really care for. Notice that the right edge of the touch screen is in the middle. So you’re often to the left.
Leo: A lot of them are starting to do this. And I’m a lefty which really throws me off when they do that! I want this in the middle.
Mike: But it is a full size keyboard with a numeric keypad as well.
Leo: That’s cool. So really the trackpad is in the middle of the alphabetic keyboard.
Mike: It’s pretty much in the middle. Yes. So you’re kind of, the screen is here and you’re over to the left.
Leo: The little space bar always throws me. It’s a little bit of a strange thing.
Mike: Yeah, and it’s a matter of personal preference to a certain extent. It has to be said the keyboard is pretty good, pretty nice for a windows laptop. Now let’s get to some of the 4K goodies here. Make this go away. And thank you for your time.
Leo: Is it touch?
Mike: it is touch! It is a touch here! Here you go. 10 point touch.
Leo: See I think you and I both agree, 8.1 needs touch.
Mike: It does and I’m a big fan of touch. I don’t believe in the gorilla arm phenomenon. I think its okay for a lot of uses. And truth is after using the iPad, I’m touching my screen anyway, it’s nice when something happens.
Leo: I don’t use it all the time, I use the keyboard and mouse a lot. But every once in a while you want to bring in, swipe in the charms or swipe down the task.
Mike: This comes with a wallpaper, a 4K wallpaper. A very high Definition. This has an app called Chrome Chroma Tune. It comes with Choma Tune. This is the right here, I’ve got it on Technicolor. This is Technicolor.
Leo: So they’re changing the color space too.
Mike: Exactly so if you’re a photographer, a special photographer, doing 4K video especially, this is important because you have perfect color fidelity. If you’re just a high end user you want to click this over to direct 709, it’s my favorite. You can switch over to a cool and warm. I don’t know why people would want cool and warm but…
Leo: No, that’s terrible.
Mike: But Technicolor is accurate and direct 709 looks best in my opinion. But you have this very easy method to switch between them. And, of course, it’s certified Technicolor again. That’s really huge for people who really need, professionals need color fidelity. HDMI has four 3.0, USB 3.0 ports
Leo: One for your tablet for sure. This is for an artist. This is great!
Mike: That’s right. Now, oddly enough here are the caveats that I have about this. You’d think, well, okay this is a super high end, this is like the laptop that has the greatest video you can imagine. It’s not really the case. When you’re doing 4K stuff, it is great. When you’re doing true color fidelity photography and video, it’s great. For everything else, it is not that great. It’s pretty mediocre. There’s inconsistency in the font rendering, so some of the fonts don’t look crystal clear as they do on the MacBook pro with retina, for example. All the fonts on the MacBook pro with retina look fantastic. So let me just give you an example if I can find it here.
Leo: I wonder if this might be a windows problem as much as it is a hardware problem.
Mike: It could be. It depends on the site. A lot of the google sites don’t look all the high res for.
Leo: I think that’s chrome for one thing.
Leo: We had that problem when the retina MacBook’s first came out. Google Chrome looked terrible. Apple solved this somewhat by having a high DPI solution, which means you’d run it at 1080P, unless you had an image that was higher quality, and then it would jump to that. I don’t know if Windows has such a great, easy way to do that.
Leo: I run my windows at 19. And my MAC at 1080P on a 4K display.
Mike: Yeah, now one of the things you mentioned games earlier. This is one of the surprises, this is not good for high resolution games. You have to dial down the resolution in order to get reasonable performance on the games. SO you can’t play games in 4K.
Leo: What’s the GPU? It’s a radian?
Mike: It’s a radian GPU. It has two gigs of video RAM it’s a Radian R9M265X. The GPU is fine, the problem is the games haven’t been written for 4K. And again 4K content is a problem. You can find some 4K content on YouTube, but really it’s in the minority. Netflix has some 4K content, but really if you’re expectation is you’re going to get this laptop and you’re going to be watching 4K content all the time, you’re not.
Leo: Well and the other thing is you take a hit with 4K, because it’s going to hit the CPU, it’s a lot of work to push those pixels and it’s going to kill the battery life.
Mike: One of the weird things about this, it’s got a fan that’s on the right side. So if you’re using a mouse, an external mouse.
Leo: You feel it.
Mike: Yeah, it’s like a hairdryer blowing at your hand.
Leo: Well it’s good for sweaty palms, put it that way.
Mike: its good when its cold, it’ll keep your hand warm.
Leo: Is it a loud fan.
Mike: You can hear it, when it really gets going. It’s not so bad right now, but once you start pushing 4K around it gets kind of loud. And, you know, again it’s so let me just get to the recommendation because this is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re a professional, you have some use for 4K, this is a great product because it’s a laptop, its Technicolor certified, it’s relatively inexpensive. $1799.
Leo: That’s not bad.
Mike: Yeah, if you look at what the macro is, for example. Another 4k option for professionals, not a portable, which is really, you know, this is cheap.
Leo: its 2500 bucks. Same specs.
Mike: Exactly, well without the monitor.
Mike: So this,
Leo: Oh MacPro is $3000, but a MacPro with retina 15 inch is 2500 about 800 bucks more.
Mike: Yeah, So it’s good for that, and certain types of photographers, professionals. Professional photographers I would say I would recommend this, but if you are a regular user who just wants a great screen, this is not the product for you. You’re not going to find the content, you’re not going to be able to play games and do all the things you think you’re going to be able to do in 4k. You’re going to be using a regular laptop that has a loud hot fan. And so, I don’t recommend it for ordinary users but for professionals I do recommend it. So this would be a buy for professionals. Don’t buy for even advanced or enthusiast users.
Leo: And you know who you are. It’s a good cautionary tale, don’t buy 4K because not that much is 4K, and really there are penalties for running such a thigh resolution.
Mike: And we want people to make 4K, so if you’re making 4K get this laptop so you can see the 4k you’ve made. But if you just want to consume 4K, forget it, it’s not worth it.
Leo: Mike Elgan, he’s the news director at the twit brick house. He’s also the host of Tech News today Monday thru Friday. 10 AM pacific, 1 PM eastern, 1700 UTC. Right here your daily dose of tech news. A buy if you’re a pro! But don’t anybody else on this new Toshiba Satellite, and you have the number, it’s the p50t. Thank you Mike!
Mike: Thank you!
Leo: Thank you to all our reviewers, Bryan Burnett, Chad Johnson, Sarah Lane. I’m Leo Laporte, we do Before You Buy right after Security Now every Tuesday. Usually around 3 PM pacific, 6 PM eastern time, 2200 UTC, if you can be here we’d love that, but if not don’t worry! On demand audio and video always available after the fact. Twit.tv/byb. We put it on YouTube as we do all our shows. But Before You Buy we do something a little bit different. Not only do we put the whole show at youtube.com/beforeyoubuy, we put individual reviews, so if you’re thinking about this laptop, or you know somebody who is, you can send them that particular review. You can find all our reviews at youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got something you’d like us to review. I’m Leo Laporte thanks for joining us. And remember you’ve got to watch Before You Buy! See you next time.