Before You Buy 125 (Transcript)

Show Tease: Coming up! Kyocera Hydro Vibe, sounds like a toothbrush, but it’s not! Plus, can you connect a monitor VIA USB? Aaron Newcomb will tell us. And then Mike Elgan with some fitness bands, and I’ve got the latest laptop from HP. It’s all ahead! 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 buy CacheFly, at Before you Buy is brought to you by IFixit, you can fix it! And Ifixit makes it easy, with free step by step repair guides, high quality replacement parts, and all the tools you’ll need. For 10 dollars off your purchase of $50 or more, go to and enter the offer code BeforeYouBuy at checkout. And by To download the free audio book of your choice, visit

Leo Laporte: Welcome to Before You Buy, the TWiT show where we get the greatest and most interesting products, we bring them in-house, we let our staff bang on them like small monkeys, and give you an experience of what it would be like to actually own a product like this. When it comes to Android phones, nobody knows more than Jason Howell, the producer of Tech News Today.

Jason Howell: I like the sound of that.

Leo: And of course the Host of All About Android. So we always give him the Android phones, although I’m holding out for the LGG3 when that comes out.

Jason: Yeah, that’s pretty fantastic.

Leo: That’s an interesting phone. In this case, you got the Hydro Vibe.

Jason: This is where my job is particularly challenging, right? Because I have my hands in the best Android devices, top of the line, high end specs, and when you’re handed a phone that’s kind of low to mid-range, you can’t compare them to the high end specs. Right? Because people that are buying the phone like the hydro vibe, it’s 150 dollars off contract, maybe 20 dollars on contract. Maybe they just don’t have the money to spend on high end specs. So It’s how much value do you get for the money that you do pay?

Leo: In many ways it’s a shame that the phone market is so focused on specs and high end.

Jason: Right.

Leo: These are in general very competent phones. It’s an Android phone. What version of Android is that?

Jason: it’s an android 4.3 so it’s Jelly bean.

Leo: Very good.

Jason: It’s still kind of behind the curb, it’s not quite Kit Kat yet, but it is Jelly bean, and jelly bean is not a bad version of Android OS necessarily. Hopefully it gets updated at some point. It’s 1.2 gigahertz quad core Snap Dragon. 1.5 gigs of RAM. 8 gigs of internal storage, though it does have a micro SD card slot. I believe it’s behind the battery cover. Sorry. I actually couldn’t figure out how to get the cover off, every time I try I feel like I’m going to snap it.

Leo: But that’s good news though, removable battery, I actually like that.

Jason: Yep. 2000 milliamp hour removable battery.  There’s an 8 megapixel rear facing camera on the bag. 2 megapixel front facing camera. You’ll notice there’s no hole up here for the ear and that’s because ti’s a smart sonic….

Leo: Where’s the headphone jack?

Jason: Oh well the headphone jack is up here on the top.

Leo: What are you talking about then?

Jason: I’m talking about the speaker phone. For making calls.

Leo: yeah!

Jason: It’s not up there. Basically it’s done through what they call smart sonic receiver. It uses vibrations to translate the sound through your ear cartilage.

Leo: Wait a minute! Basically they’re saying we were too cheap to cut through the case? I don’t understand! What are they saying?

Jason: It vibrates the whole phone and that vibration actually amplifies it even more.

Leo: How does that work? Can you hear?

Jason: It’s a little tinny. Yeah you can hear. And it sounds alright.

Leo: It’s fine for phone calls. Probably not so great for listening to music. You’d have to press the phone to your ear!

Jason: Hopefully you’re not going to press the phone up to your ear to listen to music necessarily. There is a speaker on the back, but I’m talking about straight up phone calls. It does that vibration, kind of interesting approach. Does have wireless charging. It’s power matters alliance. PMA enabled wireless charging. So that’s kind of nice. It’s LTE capable. IP 57, that’s water and dust resistant, that’s why it’s called the hydro vibe. So behind the battery case, on the outside it actually seals it up on the inside, so you can get it wet.

Leo: I love the slogan. Live more, fear less.

Jason: Well the screen, they also say, is kind of impact resistant, so it’s a little extra toughness there.

Leo: Alright. Dr. Mom is asking, the chairman, is there a spear phone mode? I guess, because there’s a speaker on the back, you can still use it in speaker phone mode.

Jason: I would imagine there is. What do you do when you need to call a fake number? 555-1212? Speaker on.

Leo: Okay, alright.

Jason: It’s there. I noticed with calls, in general, the call quality wasn’t the great. It was a little kind of, a little tinny to hear, and just in general it’s hard to resist knocking Sprint, only because Sprint coverage here is really poor. So it’s kind of hard to put it in a level playing field. In San Francisco, I was there for a day and used it a couple times. It still was kind of iffy there as well.

Leo: Is this Sprint only?

Jason: It’s spring, primarily spring, and it’s virgin if I’m not mistaking.

Leo: SO it’s a CDMA firm.

Jason: Yeah, mmhmm. So the display is not a super duper high res. It’s 960X540. It’s a 4.5 inch IPS QHD display. So that’s about 245 pixels per inch. But I though the display was one of the stronger suits. It doesn’t have to be super high res. And being, I can’t believe I’m going to consider 4.5 inches a smaller screen, but in this day and age I do!

Leo: It’s still bigger than the IPhone.

Jason: So the resolution holds up at that size. I’ve got to say the camera, and you could load up a few of those samples that I put into the tricast with. The camera is one of the big Achilles hill on this phone. It was outdoors. This was probably one of the better photos that I got. Just kind of dull, washed out.

Leo: Drab, drab.

Jason: Man I tried, I really tried because if you can see this photo, it’s  dog carrying another dog in a backpack, and I tried, and tried, and tried to get the best picture possible, and there’s a lag when I’d hit the shutter, you’d think you hit it and then about a second later it’d finally go off. It was just kind of flat, it couldn’t really catch its auto focus very well. Depended on, you know, I got a couple of good photos, this is definitely not one of them, and its super dark. And then the video, and this is indoors with pretty amble light, and it came out blurry. So this is phone. Watch this one…

Leo: It’s a little shaky, are you on a?

Jason: It gets a little exciting when suddenly we end up on a roller coaster, I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but I don’t like what I saw. Anyway, I did record other video, and they didn’t do this, but it’s probably important to point this out. All in all, not very impressed with the camera performance. But performance of the system in general, pretty great, like I said it’s a quad core Snap Dragon processor. I was gaming, I did riptide GP two. Which has a high, you know a lot of action going on the screen at once. And it handled it really well. What else? Standby time was really bad. I, at least, thought it was bad, other reviews don’t seem to point it out, but I would, if I left it unplugged overnight, which I like to do to test phones to see how they do. This one would be really low by the end of the night.

Leo: Hmm. That’s not good.

Jason: But the battery performance, when I was operating it and using it regularly, did alright, it got me through the day. So I’m not sure why that would be different between standby and regular use.

Leo: So let’s do the pros and cons.

Jason: Yes, let’s get there. Pros, obviously what it’s all about, dust, impact, water resistance, that’s great. LTE for 150 dollars, when you compare it to the Moto E and $129, that’s 3G, and the motto G at $179, which is 3G. So LTE if it’s important to you, you’ve got it here. There is a hardware camera button. If you so choose to use the camera.

Leo: It’s awfully thick too. Look at that.

Jason: Yeah, it’s got a little bit of thickness. I kind of expect that on a lower end phone though, for whatever reason, but I kind of like the fact that there’s a hardware camera button. And the wireless charging, of course, is pretty cool from this standpoint.

Leo: STE Charger?

Jason: No, no, no. It’s what is it? Power Matters alliance, PMA enabled wireless charging.

Leo: So it’s a separate kind of charging.

Jason: Yeah, but nifty none the less. Cons, definitely the camera, and I’d say the battery, for the most part, gave me reason to be concerned. Overall like I said, it’s hard to review a device like this when you’re use to reviewing high end devices. I would probably have to give it a try, only because where it sits in the price point between phones we know are pretty darn good, like the Moto G, and I haven’t played with the Moto E yet, but everything I’ve read and heard about it says it’s pretty good for the price. So you know, LTE kind of stands out. As well as just being impact, dust, and water resistant. And just to prove it, because I like to do this…

Leo: No, No, No! You’re really going to do this?

Jason: I’ll take this gigantic TWiT mug, yes! The ports don’t’ have covers, so you know, we’ll see what happens, we’ll get it in there. Oh! It’s doing stuff, look at that!

Leo: That’s not good! Well there you go, the Kyocera toxical stew.

Jason: This is. It’s the toxical stew, right here.

Leo: Right there. Alright, all about Android, 5:00, Android App arena, say it again Tuesday?

Jason: NO, it’s Fridays at 1 PM pacific.

Leo: Is that going to be the regular time?

Jason: That’s going to be the live time, it’ll post later that day.

Leo: Okay, very good.

Jason: Primers on the 13th of Friday. There we go!

Leo: This is the open for it?

Jason: Yeah!

Leo: Love that!

Jason: That’s pretty awesome.

Leo: Who did the stomp motion?

Jason: Eden Soto did that.

Leo: Eden you rock.

Jason: He did the graphics for this.

Leo: Android App arena! Thanks Jason.

Jason: Thank you.

Leo: Do you have one of these? You must have one of these by now!

Jason: I do! I love it.

Leo: The Ifixit tool kit! Anybody who has a phone, or any device, and wants to fix it themselves, has to know about Ifixit. Ifixit is the free online repair manual for everything! Not just phones, iPhone screens, red ring of death on your Xbox, swabbing the battery in your galaxy S3, ifixit has you covered. And even refrigerators and lawnmowers, you can find manuals on 10,000 repair guides! Even clothing! Your bike! Your tablet, your game console, and they’ve got the parts you’ll need. Everything they sell is tested and guaranteed, they also make the most trusted repair tools for consumer electronics. The repair kit that, you know, this is my litmus test, if you can look at this, and not drool, then you are not a geek! But every geek I know, would look at this and go, wait a minute? Is that spudgers? Are you talking, you have torx bits? Oh my goodness! The ifixit, look how many bits are in here, this is the 54 bit repair kit, including the Philips big and small pent lobe that is the iPhone screwdriver. Apple does this every time. Torques, torque security bits, the tri-wing bit, which is for video game consoles! And even a triangle bit that’s, guess what? What’s that for? McDonald’s toys! You can fix anything with this, and of course, you attach the bit to the swivel top precision driver with the flex extension which allows you to get into screws in areas where you can’t normally turn a screw driver. It’s DSC, or course, safe. Precision tweezers for delicate manipulation. Antistatic wrist strap, the spudgers, nylon, the metal spudge. If you’ve got a geek in your life, I’m telling you Father’s day is coming up. Forget the tie, this is the best father’s day gift ever. Even if dad doesn’t fix stuff, and doesn’t know how to fix stuff, he’ll be so flattered that you thought he could! He’ll go, why, you think I can use this? What is this? A dental tool? And you can say no, dad, because I know you’re the greatest dad in the world, you can fix anything. Every dad should have this in his pocket, this is the perfect father’s day gift. 64 dollars backed by a warranty of a life time. 64.95, I’m going to tell you, you can save a little bit though, by the way, if you stay tuned for a moment. So what is the take away? What points to remember here? for 10,000 plus manuals,, you can use the offer code BEFOREYOUBUY, and save 10 dollars on any purchase of $50 or more. That means the fixit kit qualifies. Now it is $54.95, but you’ve got to use the offer code BEFOREYOUBUY. This is an awfully nice gift. I tell you, there’s no dad in the world, no geek in the world, you know how nice it is? You can carry is like a clutch. Aaron Newcomb! We know Aaron, he’s been on All About Android, a regular on This Week in Google, helps Randall Schwartz frequently on Floss weekly. He’s a great guy for a maker himself. Always interested in hacks, he said you know this AOC USB monitor, I’ve been reading a lot about it, I’m very curious, and this is the latest version of the monitor. Yes, USB monitor, at a very affordable price, we had to find out! Aaron, what do you think?

Aaron Newcomb: Hey, Aaron Newcomb here with another review for Before You Buy. This time it’s the AOC 16 inch monitor, from AOC. The specific model number if you’re looking for this online is E1659FWU. At the time of this recording it’s about 130 dollars on Amazon, although people have reported that it does get a little bit cheaper from time to time. So put this on your price watch if you’re interested later. So this is a 16 inch screen. It’s a USB monitor, so you can actually connect this to USB, there’s no additional power required or even capable, you can’t even plug additional power into this monitor. The resolution is 1366X768, and it has a 500 to 1 contrast ratio, so not bad. It’s got a foldable stand in the back, which is really nice. And this stand allows you to rotate the monitor either horizontal or vertical position. So if you like to do vertical you can actually set this up vertically like this, and it works really well. The monitor stand folds into the back of the monitor so there’s no additional things you need to screw in or plug in. It just really the Monitor stand, and the USB cable. It does support USB 3.0, which is really nice. You get that high speed display for all the information being sent from your host machine. There is another model, I just have to mention that’s available on Amazon as well. It’s a little bit cheaper, its 90 dollars. But this particular model is a lot nicer because it is a lot thinner, the other model available is quit thick. It does have USB 3.0, and it has a brighter panel with better contrast resolution, or contrast ratio. This particular panel also gives you the VSIM mount, so if you’re going to mount this on the wall it has a 75MM Vsim mount, which a lot of people are looking for so they don’t have to rest it on their desk, they can actually mount it on the well. This particular model also comes with a carrying case. It’s a nice little padded foam carrying case. But you know, really for a 16 inch monitor, a lot of backpacks have a special place for a tablet, you might be able to sneak this monitor into that place in your backpack, it’s a little big, but I think you could make it work. Now let’s get into what’s great about this little monitor. What’s great, is the simple installation. So for Windows, really all you have to do is plug it in to your USB port, and you’ll see that Windows goes out automatically, finds the right drivers to install, and then there is a specific driver for all the settings and things for this monitor. That gets launched automatically when you plug it in, so not only does it load the driver automatically in Windows, it installs the necessary software. Because, I should mention, all of the controls for this are on screen. There are no hard controls, there’s no power button, there’s no menu button, and it’s all in software, so whether you like that or not, might be something you should keep in mind as you’re looking at this monitor. And that’s it, that’s really it. The downsides to this monitor really are, I tried to get this working on Lennox, I was hoping to get this working on Raspberry Pie, as you know I’m a big maker, and having this really huge portable display like this would be great. But I spent hours recompiling kernels and trying to get raspberry pie to work. It just didn’t work, I couldn’t get it to work. There’s been mixed results on the internet, if you’re a Lennox user, you may not want to get this particular monitor because it’s going to be hard to set up for you, at least for the time being. For MAC users, there are drivers available, you shouldn’t have any problems for MAC. One of the downsides from this monitor is, it might be hard to tell on this screen, but it is a little washed out. The colors are a little washed out, they’re crisp, just not bright and vibrant. You’ll definitely notice the difference if you have a normal monitor attached to your host, and you compare it to this one, it’s going to be a little washed out. But maybe for a portable design like this, you can give up a little bit on the colors, and just go with the high quality, a high definition monitor, for things like coding or working in your email or whatever. Alright so let’s get to the pros and cons. Pros: Easy windows installation, for sure. Very easy to set up in Windows. A decent looking display like I said, a little washed out on the color side, but the resolution is there. No additional power required, everything runs off the USB, which is great, and it’s also very low cost. If you compare this to other models on Amazon you’ll see this one is usually 20 to 30 dollars less than those other models, which is great. As far as cons, limited support for Lennox, and slightly more difficult installation for MAC, and the build quality is actually pretty good, but not the best. SO you’re not going to get metal edges here, this is all plastic. There’s actually some threads sticking out from over here, I noticed these are coming from inside the monitor, it wasn’t something I snagged on my t-shirt or something. It’s something that’s coming out of the cracks here from inside the monitor, so, build quality is not the best, but hey, you get what you’re paying for, right? So my recommendation for this product is a definite try, if you’re a windows user it’s buy, right? If you’re a windows user, go buy it, it’s great, if you’re a Linux or Mac user, you may want to think about getting something else though. That’s my recommendation, check it out online, and thanks for watching.

Leo: Thank you Mr. Aaron Newcomb, a solid try on the AOC USB monitor. I have the earlier, much earlier like 2 year old version of that, and it failed, it stopped working at one point for me. But you know what? At that price, a try isn’t exactly the end of the world.

Mike Elgan is here, our news director, and a guy who’s really taking our news programming to the next level, and I really appreciate it. We stole him away from the world. Got him to settle in Petaluma.

Mike Elgan: The world doesn’t really miss me that much, I’ve found out the hard way.

Leo: OCENT 10 AM Friday, 2 PM Pacific, 1 PM eastern, 1700 UTC, he also is, our host on I fund that, that was fun! Filled in for me on TWiT on Sunday, thank you!

Mike: Thank you. That was a lot of fun! It was hard, but it was fun! You make it look so easy but…

Leo: Yeah, you know, it’s the hardest show I do every week. It’s absolutely exhausting.

Mike: I was exhausted afterwards.

Leo: No, it is, but at the same time, you know it’s our big show, and it’s a fun show to do, so thank you for doing that for me. You have been, you’re a health nut, obviously, look at the guy, he’s 73 years old, he doesn’t look a day over 40, and he’s been testing out a health band for us.

Mike: 73 is the new 71.

Leo: What health bands have you tried?

Mike: Well I’ve tried a few of them. None of the, I’ll say right off the top of the bat, I don’t like health bands in general, or quantified computing in general. Simply because people tend to use it as an alternative to getting in shape. You have to go outside and exercise, and you have to eat right. That’s the most important part, if you want to measure that, that’s great as well.

Leo: But these don’t measure how you eat? In fact they only measure a few fitness exercises.

Mike: That’s right. So this, what I’m wearing here is the Garmin Vivofit, fitness band, and I thought I wouldn’t like this, because this is pretty low tech. Now if you look at this closely, that’s a reflective display.

Leo: It’s not backlit.

Mike: It’s not backlit. And so it’s very low power, which is, turns out to be a benefit. So let me go through some of the basics of this. This is a 130 dollar device. Its 169 dollars with a heart rate monitor, this is the heart rate monitor right here.

Leo: Oh you have to wear a strap? Like the polar heart rate monitor?

Mike: That’s right. And I don’t care for these either, unless you’re training for the Olympics or something like that. But we’ll get into them in just a second.

Leo: I’ve worn them in the Gym, but you certainly wouldn’t want them around during the day. On the other hand, that’s a much more accurate way to measure.

Mike: That is absolutely true. So you see this, and there are all these other bands here, so you can get multiple colors. Okay, so what it shows is it shows, we’re looking at the time here. There we go, so the time, you have date, you have the heart rate monitor information, which I don’t have. And then you have the number of steps you’ve taken since, today. I reset this earlier today so I’m not quite as lazy as it looks like I am here.

Leo: I was going to say you’ve really been walking!

Mike: And this is my steps goal. 6700, we’ll get into the goals…

Leo: Where’d that come from? That’s not a traditional goal.

Mike: It’s not. What it does is it monitors what you actually do. This is the distance I’ve walked today. Not very far to the refrigerator and back about ten times, I think it was. And then this is the calories burnt. So it measures those simple things, you can upload it to a device and so you put this here so you can see this, but this is the standard Garmen…

Leo: They have a nice website.

Mike: You can just see that.

Leo: And it’s uploaded by Bluetooth automatically or?

Mike: Yes, it’s uploaded by Bluetooth. It has this thing here ant device right here, if you want to use that again, it’s a USB…

Leo: Ah, it’s a little dongle that goes in the USB port.

Mike: Little tiny thing, very easy to swallow, so be careful out there kids.

Leo: Don’t eat it.

Mike: Yeah don’t do that. It’ll pass right through, and when it comes out the other end, it’ll give you more data. No, don’t try this at home. Now even though this is from Garmin, this does not have a GPS in it.

Leo: Right. Garmin is famous for their GPS.

Mike: That’s right. And that’s where we get to actual reality of what this is. This is not a low end fitness tracker. This is a high end pedometer.

Leo: You know what? So are many of these devices.

Mike: That’s right, and I think it’s one of the better ones. But this doesn’t make any noise. It doesn’t beep, it doesn’t harass you with sound or vibration. But it has something really ingenious, you see that red at the top there?

Leo: Yeah, what’s that?

Mike: That says I’ve been sitting on my lazy butt. If for every hour that passes, it’ puts another little red bar there. And the things that’s really killing us these days is we sit all day long. And this device will get you moving, because when you see that red bar coming, that means you’ve been sitting too long. And you have to get up, and it’ll go away if you get up and walk around for a little while.

Leo: It does away?

Mike: It goes away, and so if you’re committed to that you’ll avoid the trap of sitting too much.

Leo: I’ve always thought that these devices were just glorified pedometers. Their best use case as kind of a coach, a nudge to say you haven’t quite made your goal yet. I love the fact that it tells you, you’ve been sitting a lot, and that’s really for a lot of us, that’s all we need is somebody to remind you, take the stairs today.

Mike: That’s the main thing that affecting our health actually. And we don’t need high end, super high tech fitness tracking, as if we’re training for the Olympics, we just need to get off our butts and walk around once in a while, and not sit there all day. So went into the connectivity options, it also connects to an app for both Android, and IOS via Bluetooth. The connection can be a little bit flaky sometimes. Let’s go through the goals, its automatic goal setting. So it sees how much you walk, it says okay, we’re going to give you a goal that’s a little higher than that. And if you meet that goal, It’ll make it a little higher, and a little higher.

Leo: I like that. I like that.

Mike: The beauty of it, is you don’t set a goal.

Leo: You don’t start at 10,000 steps like most people do, and you never get close, and it’s very frustrating. This way you’re always pushed to go a little more, a little more, I love that.

Mike: That’s right. Again, it’s very gentle nudging, and it’s all very visual on the watch. Unlike some of the other devices, like the fit bit flex, or the Nike fuel band, which send the data somewhere else, you can’t really see them that well on the device itself. You don’t ever need to connect it.

Leo: What you need is right there.

Mike: Exactly. It’s water resistant up to 50 meters. It’s slim, it’s comfortable design, and easy to wear. Those are the pros. The cons are that the display’s not backlit, so you need good light, if you don’t have good light you’re not going to be able to see it at all. It’s not good at detecting biking, swimming, weight lifting, or all kinds of other exercise. It’ll basically tell you, you’ve been sitting around even if you’ve been at the gym for two hours. It’s not good for that kind of fitness.

Leo: That is what bugs me, because I don’t do walking or running that much.

Mike: That’s right, so it’s…

Leo: Now how about battery life? How often do you charge it?

Mike: That’s one of the great things. You can’t charge this, it uses watch batteries, but it lasts a year.

Leo: Oh, hallelujah!

Mike: And entire year!

Leo: No charging! I love it.

Mike: That’s right. And that’s one of the great things about it. So I’m going to give this a buy, simply for the following reasons. You put it on, you don’t have to set goals, you don’t really have to connect it, you don’t really have to do anything, it’s very comfortable and light to wear, it’s water resistant, you don’t have to take it off in the shower. It’s so low maintenance, its zero maintenance, and you can even forget about it for a weak, and then go back with the app and see what happened during that week.  So it’s really compatible with a real life.

Leo: No sleep monitor?

Mike: There is a sleep monitor, it’s very low tech. It notices how much you’re moving around at night and you can compare. It’s only good to say, wow for the last week I’ve been really moving around, or I must have been dead last night because it’s flat lined there. So whatever, it’s only good by comparison, but it doesn’t give you real data.

Leo: But price is right. It’s in the ball park, I love the fact that you don’t have to charge it.

Mike: That’s right.

Leo: And of course, that’s no back lit screen, that’s the reason it doesn’t take a lot of juice.

Mike: That’s exactly right.

Leo: And you’re going to give it a buy?

Mike: A buy, because it’s based on reality, not on the fantasy that you’re going to become this incredible trainer.

Leo: I like it and a lot of these modified self-devices promise much more data than they actually deliver. Mike Elgan, he’s the host of TNT, Monday through Friday, 10 AM Pacific, 1PM eastern, 1700 UTC, and thank you for your review of the, what is it? The Vivo?

Mike: That’s right it’s called the Garman Vivofit, fitness band.

Leo: Okay, as you can see, I am so fit, I don’t need it. You know what I really like? And I wish that every device I have in my house did it, is audible audio books. I listen to them all the time. If they’d put audio in that watch, and audible books on that watch, that’d be a no-brainer.

Mike: I bet you the Apple Iwatch will support audio books.

Leo: Don’t you think?

Mike: They will.

Leo: Wouldn’t that be great? I don’t get in the car, I don’t go to the gym, I don’t walk the dog, I don’t do the dishes, without my audio books. I sometimes don’t even go to bed, I listen to audio books all the time. Listening right now the Martian, and amazing book. If you go to and browse around, you will find 150000 titles, current fiction, like Donna Tarts new book, which we really loved. What’s it called? The Gold finch. The Martian science fiction, Bryan brushwood recommended it. I can’t put this one down! Can’t wait to find out what happens. Nonfictions, science, anything you’re interested in. They’ve got so many titles, here’s the deal, visit, and you’re going to join up for the gold account. That’s a book a month, and plus the daily digest or the wall street journal. Cancel any time in the first thirty days, if you know it doesn’t suit you, don’t worry, you can cancel, pay nothing, but that book will be yours to keep. But if you decide to stick around, you’re going to have the toughest choice in the world, every month picking one of the 150000 titles! But it’s such a good feeling! So many great books at I’m also listening. I had to take break it’s a 48 hour book, the first of the three volume biography of the Beatles, called Tune In. Awesome! But I  though, you know, I’m never going to get, at this rate, the Martian I won’t be listening until 2018, he’ll be home, he’ll be having dinner and so I wanted to listen to that book before so I’m talking a break, you can do that with Audible, it’s nice. The audible app on windows phone, on Android, on IPhone is just spectacular. On windows 8, spectacular, makes it easy to listen, easy to find. Try it out! Now, I’m going to review something that if you just glanced at it, you’ve got a MacBook pro there. If you just glanced at it you might say oh yeah, you’ve got a MacBook air don’t you. Except for the giveaway, the HP logo on the roof. This is HPs kind of response to the MacBook air. It’s their Specter 13 inch Windows 8 ultra-book. And like most ultra-books, there’s certain things all ultra-books have in common. This was a specification Intel created for ultralight MacBook air clones, it is a little heaver as the Ultra books go 3.3 pounds. Nice screen though, 1080P screen, and, of course, it’s a touch screen, which I think is important for Windows 89. Which nice about this is I’ve not been a fan of windows laptops and desktops because of the crap wear on here. And there is some junk on it, but it is fairly light in terms of crap wear. There is MacAfee antivirus and, as you can see right now, it’s also saying it has a little popup that says your HP warranty expires in 2015, would you like to add to that? That’s a, I don’t want to see that the first month I got the computer, but you are. It does something that’s unique in the… go away, thank you… in the ultra-book space. Look at the size of the track pad, that’s because they’ve added ears on the track pad to give it additional features. Scrollbars and things like that. And one thing I think that makes Windows 8 a lot easier to use, the windows 8 is touch focused when you slide in front of the side, you get the charms bar, but what’s nice about this is you can also do that on the track pad, and the ears will sense movement from either side, which I think makes this a little more intuitive do use. I do like the track-pad, it has the nice, smooth glassy feel that really high quality track pads do. The keyboard is a little bit short on the throw, but it is backlit. It reminds me a lot of my Acer S7 keyboard. Not my favorite keyboard in the world, certainly not Mac quality, or even Lenovo quality, but totally usable. And the build does feel really good. Nice brushed metal top and bottom, a little prone to fingerprints, but I guess we’re use to that in all of them. A good raised feet, which make it very easy to keep this air conditioned from the bottom. And one feature I really like is it comes with Light room, now I think that’s a very big differentiator when it comes with ultra-books. There’s a lot of ultra-books in this class, this one is roughly a thousand dollars. But the fact that it comes with a 200 dollar piece of software, that really, buy the way, shows off the screen beautifully. I mean, you can really get a sense of how good the screen is. We’re getting a little bit of strobing here and that’s because it’s not quite 60 hertz and our cameras are getting a little confused by it. But it really does an excellent job. So, and yeah, it’s windows 8, I can do things like that. How exciting. Windows 8.1 as a matter of fact. MacAfee is on here, in fact you’ll see some of the HP stuff they’ve preloaded it. I’m going to give them a pass because it includes light room, and we can still uninstall all the other HP stuff. The keyboard is probably my biggest negative, for a notebook in this price range, it probably should be a little bit better. It’s also thicker and heavier than my favorite ultralight in this category. The ACER S7, but good battery life. I got about 9 hours of battery life, really excellent battery life, in fact. And one thing that makes this a little bit of a standout, it’s got beats audio. It turns out HP still has a deal with Beats through the end of 2015, even though Apple owns them, they can still put the Beats logo there, and if you’re curious to what that adds to it. And I’ll use mike as the sound tester here. Let me play a little bit of audio, see if I can get this thing to do what I want it to do. And you can tell me, Mike, if this sounds good or not.

Mike: Do you have any Dr. Dray in there?

Leo: Actually, that would be appropriate, wouldn’t it?

Mike: Only until next year, and then it won’t play Dr. Dray.

Leo: I think, if the sensors will let us, we’ll play a little strain of Compton maybe. How about some NWA. This is the best of, that would actually be a good test, because the beats, the bass on this thing should sound really good. I’ll turn it all the way up.

Mike: And Beats audio.

Leo: I mean look, it’s a laptop, if you want to really rock the house, you’re going to have better speakers attached to it, but it’s still. He’s going to be so great in the board meetings going forward at Apple computer. I just can’t wait to see how he takes over the place. So pros and cons. On the pro side, really nice build, it’s all metal, feels good, feels solid, it is I think, for HP a relatively unadulterated version of Windows 8, and I particularly like the fact that HP has decided to add light room to this. It has a dedicated power on button, also a nice feature of devices of this type. Also a 1920 by 1080 P screen. All of that’s good. Oh and let’s not forget the touchpad, which I think is quite well done, and I kind of like the little ears that add some functionality to it. On the negative side, the keyboard is a little bit short in the throw, so it’s easy to make mistakes. The sound is good, but not great. And it’s thicker and heavier than I’d like. There are lighter laptops in this category. Around $1000, depending on how you configure it. This I5 is in the middle of the price point. I think it’s a definite buy if you’re in the market for a windows 8 ultra-book. This is absolutely a solid player in that category. I would say look at the Acer S7 for an extra thin version. I didn’t mention, it also has a SD card, USB ports, full size HDMI port, that could be handy if you like to play to a big screen TV and a medium display port on the side. So a buy on the HP specter 13. Now one more thing we’ve got to finish up. This mug of water happens to have a phone in it. And it looks like the Kyocera ultra, what is it called, the glide vibe, the ultra what? The hydra vibe has survived the entire show, dunked in water! So there you go, Jason reviewed it, and we’ve proved it, it is absolutely, it does survive in a mug of water.

Mike: That’s amazing. Have you tried coffee?

Leo: That’s amazing. No! Hey thanks for joining us. Thanks to Mike Elgan, Jason Howell, to Aaron Newcomb for their reviews, thanks to you for joining us. We make all the reviews available in a couple of ways. The full show is always available at Or wherever you subscribe to podcasts, like ITunes. But we also make each individual review available so you can share it with friends or family if they’re in the market for one of these devices at YouTube. We’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions, products you’d like us to review. Email us at, Carson Bondy or Tonya Hall, our producers, would be glad to see if they can get that product you’d like to have reviewed on this show. Thanks for watching and remember, come back next week, because you’ve got to watch Before You Buy! See you next time.

All Transcripts posts