Before You Buy 170 (Transcript)
Father Robert Ballecer: Coming up next we’ve got the future of high definition TVs and drones from NAB, a blue tooth headset in the future of 3D printing. You’ve got to watch Before You Buy.
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Fr. Robert: This episode of Before You Buy is brought to you by Audible.com. Download a free Audio book of your choice. Go to audiblepodcast.com/beforeyoubuy and by Prosper. Prosper is a peer to peer lending market place that connects people who are looking to borrow money with those who have money to lend. Visit prosper.com/twit and receive a $50 visa gift card when you get a loan.
Welcome to Before You Buy! It is Twit’s product review show where we give the latest gizmos and gadgets that we get here in the brick house to our host and our staff members to see if they can come up with an honest review. Now every once in a while 1 of us heads out of the brick house and we get to take a look at technology that otherwise we wouldn’t get to see. This past week there were a group of us at NAB. That’s the National Association of Broadcasters, a show that takes place every year in Las Vegas Nevada. Well NAB is supposed to be about broadcasting so you’ve got FM transmitters and AM stations, you’ve got the latest and greatest in displays in cameras, but this year there was a special trend. That’s right, everyone’s getting into quadcopters so without further ado we bring you the solo from 3DR.
Video: Robert: I’m here at NAB 2015 and I’m with Colin Gwen the chief revenue officer for 3DR and what you’re seeing right now is the solo. Now we did a long version of this for our NAB special. You can watch that but Colin could you discuss some of the finer points of the automation?
Colin: Sure absolutely. Solo is all about just getting shots and the ability to stick your Go Pro on and have a fully integrated experience, Live HD feed right on to iOS or Android. You’ve got a HDMI port to take that live feed to whatever kind of screen you want. We can fully control the Go Pro which means we can start videos and start videos and take photos and change settings right from our app or from the controller and the real story about Solo is the ability to just capture shots. You know the shots you want, we’ve built those shots in right here in our smart shot list so you have selfie and cable cam and orb and follow me. If you want to get a nice big pull away reveal we call that selfie, you set the copter on the ground in front of you, I click selfie, I see the selfie cable here and then all I do is hit play right here to go into selfie mode. Now we’re not going to do that because we’re inside but you set it on the ground, hit selfie, you hit fly, it takes off and booms up and away from you keeping you in frame the whole time and then it reverses that shot right back down to you, again keeping you in frame the whole time and then it automatically lands itself and turns its props off. Ok next shot. It is basically an aerial motion control rig. All you have to do is get your shot into a start frame. So this is cable cam, start frame, however you want to get there, just push 1 button, go up, out, over, rotate, tilt and find exactly the ending frame you want, push 1 more button and then hit play and all 5 things happen at once in perfect harmony right in sync with each other so you end up with this incredible cinematic shot that you took while you were on vacation in Hawaii, you posted to Instagram and all your friends and family are jealous.
Fr. Robert: What I love about this is you’ve got all those features build in but if you look at this controller you’ve got telemeter, you’ve got fpv control and you can turn off all the automation if you want to run it in manual. It’s really designed as a maker kit, you can bolt anything onto this Solo that you want for that particular mission.
Colin: That’s exactly right and that’s the whole point of the accessory bay on the bottom. We’ve got a lot of first party accessories coming out like optical flow and we’re working on ballistic parachutes, LED light kits and then we’ve got a ton of our 3rd part developers that are working on all kinds of stuff. Individuals can make their own 3D printed accessories that plug right into the accessory bay. They have full access to the computers, the auto pilot, power, ground and everything they need to make custom things for Solo. The motor pods are swappable with 4 screws, custom motor pods, the gimbal bay is an open standard gimbal bay with a single plug and an HDMI cable and 3 screws, that’s it. Other companies will make gimbals for it, other cameras will come out for it so it is a platform that’s made to grow over time; not just with the firmware updates that we’re putting on our onboard Linux computers. So you have a 1 gigahertz processor Linux computer on the craft and the same Linux computer driving the controller. Now we can update all kinds of things via software and firmware but you can also make your copter better and better over time with hardware updates.
Fr. Robert: If you’re a maker, a DIYer or just a pilot this may be the platform for you. Now we’re going to try to get this into the studio so we can actually do a full BYB review but until then this is your first look.
(END OF VIDEO)
Fr. Robert: I know there are people who are getting tired of the fact that we always have quad copter multi rotor drone coverture on Twit but I got to say it’s working itself into so many different facets. We saw all over NAB, even manufacturers like Panasonic that are more traditional broadcast supply companies are starting to create modules that can be carried in quadcopter and octocopters because they recognize that they’re actually in demand. Now is the time to get into this and you have to understand how this works because you’re going to see them everywhere. It’s not just in broadcasting, you’re going to see them in delivery, and you’re going to see them on every street corner. I’m sorry folks, that’s just the future. Now we will be getting one of these 3DR Solos. They’re going to release them sometime in June, it could slip depending on whether those experimental prototype models are ready – like for example the Lightar which I love the fact that it can do person/object avoidance and it is going to cost about $1000 for the base module and then you can bolt things on. If you want to add a gimble, you want to add a camera, you want to add something into its bay so it can tie directly into the electronics. The fact that it has an onboard 1 gigahertz Linux computer basically means that if you can program something like a raspberry pie, you can program applications for Solo and that’s been your first look.
Now speaking of first looks lets go ahead and go to a host here on the Twit TV network to take more than a first look at – I’m sorry, Miriam, what are these things called?
Miriam Joire: It slices, it dices, and will it blend? These are actually the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless Bluetooth headphones and I was going to say we don’t like Bluetooth headphones really on this show.
Fr. Robert: Because they cause artifacting. It is not good.
Miriam: So the reason I’m reviewing these is because they’re going to break the trend actually. They’re not…look I’ll be honest with you. I’m a bit of an audio person, I’m picky about my audio. I’ll take it wired any time I have a chance but Bluetooth headsets are getting better and I think this is kind of the new crop of… the first of a new crop of headsets we’re going to start seeing. I’ll get into some more details in a second.
Fr. Robert: Ok we’ll wait Miriam. Every time I’ve reviewed any sort of Bluetooth headsets it has always come down to being kind of cool, it’s got a bit of a utility factor but the artifacting is horrible and the battery life wasn’t great and at some point it unpaired with my device which just was frustrating and it ended up in a bin. You’re telling me that this is going to reverse that trend?
Miriam: Yes, I think the thing that’s starting to happen now is… I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app Xcodec? It’s a Bluetooth codec specifically for Lostless Audio. It’s starting to crop up in more and more phones. HTC was one of the first ones to introduce it with I think it was the DNA and then the M7, the M8 and the M9. LG has it on most of their phones; G2, Gflex2. It’s starting to appear on basically almost all the Android phones now. Apple supports it on the Mac so I don’t think it’s going to be very long before they support it on iOS. The idea is that you now have a transmission of the audio from the device in whatever format it’s stored, directly to your headphones in a Lostless format. You no longer have the artifacting problem as much. This is only possible because of the Tooth 4.0 not the LE part, the actual high bandwidth part of the Tooth 4 spec and so people are going to say well what about battery life? Let’s talk a little bit about the Sol Republic Shadow wireless. It’s very similar to the LGE thing. You stick it kind of around your neck like this and you put the ear buds in your ears and it is very light weight, it’s comfortable and doesn’t get in your way. You’ve got basic controls on the right hand side. Let me show you real quick. Here on the right hand side you’ve got play/pause, volume up and down on the other side if you can see them. There we go. So play/pause answers calls as well and you’ve got volume up and down. If you double tap this it is next track… pretty standard stuff. On the bottom here you have a power button and then there’s an LED in here embedded. Let’s see if you can see it in the camera. There it is you can briefly see it. Right there is the LED and that one lights up. Maybe I should turn it on so you can see. If I push the power button you’ll see the LED light up. There it is. Then on the other side all you have is probably where the battery is, there’s a micro USB port behind the flap. Now this is kind of like sweat proof, you can wear it jogging, when it is raining or whatever. It’s not water resistant but it is good enough that you don’t have to worry. The cool thing is that it is really flexible, you don’t have to worry too much. Can I use a model of it Bryan? You don’t have too much to worry about in terms of breaking or damaging anything. This is the hard part and you could potentially crush these 2 things I guess and this seems to really be solidly attached as well. So these support Bluetooth A2DP the standard Bluetooth streaming protocol in addition to Appdecs which is starting to appear in more and more things. So that’s one of the things I like about it. There’s a battery in here and I don’t know what the capacity of it is but they say about 8 hours of continuous use and I’ve gotten about 8-10 I have to say. This is about Appdecs, you know I’m an audio person and I’m going to use Appdecs every time and chance I get. So that’s good news to me. The only thing I don’t like about this really and this comes to a matter of taste, comes down to a matter of personal audio taste and it is kind of because I’m kind of old school. I’ve got a pair of dynamic DT90 Pro open ear, over the ear headphones, really high quality and I listen to – research in ear monitors that are basically like ear plus in your ears right. They are high quality super expensive and to me a flat frequency response is what I really like. Then tendency now with Beats and Sol Republic there is a lot of base right. Out of the box these fit that taste. If you really like base these have a ton of base. But here’s the thing. I would have knocked them for that because personally I think it is ridiculous. I think that headphones can be tuned a lot with ear pieces, particularly the in-ear canal ones like these. So I thought to myself there’s got to be something I can do to these to make them sound a little flatter. Sure enough and this is a trick that works if you ever get any kind of ear buds where the seal is gone but something that looks like a tiny little mushroom… Can you go back on the…see if you have anything that looks like this, this comes with different size plastic buds, and it keeps them in. This is typically very base heavy in this configuration. This is not a balanced amateur, it’s actually got a diaphragm in here, a standard type mini speaker and an ear canal kind of like tube and this fits over it. If you have the configuration take scissors and cut 4 corners of this in the edges. Watch, I’ll show you. Like this, see. I cut this in 4 spaces, north, south, east and west and now what happens is you still get them in your ear. There’s a bit of insulation but they’re not designed for noise insulation. They’re just designed for base. So by removing the seal, by breaking the seal essentially you lower the base response and all of a sudden these sound extremely flat which means the drivers are high quality actually. So that’s kind of interesting to me.
Fr. Robert: That’s a trend, taking high quality drivers but then make the base very heavy because everyone wants that.
Miriam: Right, it’s all in how it is tuned. So you can detune basically to something more acceptable. So what I’m saying to you is that if you like these base heavy you don’t have to modify them – they’ll work out of the box base heavy. If you’re like me and you’re a little more about flat, kind of studio professional sound quality you can get them to sound pretty good. They come in different sizes in the box bundled in. There’s a new USB cable as well. So these are $99, I think they’re sold pretty much anywhere now – Sol Republic so you should be able to find them. But for me the battery life being decent and the fact that I was able to tune them to something that I like means I’m actually using them unlike many of the competition that either sound like crap, have battery life issues or have connectivity issues. This is actually pretty good if you keep your phone on your person but if you start walking away about 20-30 feet it start cutting out especially without text because it has high bandwidth and needs that connection.
Fr. Robert: Let’s break it down so it’s easy for these people. What are the pros and what are the cons?
Miriam: So the pros are I think they’re really well make, they’re really rugged, they sound great if you tune them properly, they have optex which is really important…is Codec. So I feel really good about it. The cons, as I said connectivity is solid, no weird pairing or anything but I found that walking away from your source of audio playback can cut out pretty soon. So you’re basically really only want to use this with your phone. I tried to use it with my Mac and if I start moving my chair away from the desk (it’s a Mac Mini) it was starting to cut out. So that’s something to keep in mind but I don’t think they’re designed for that kind of purpose. What I also don’t like is the fact that out of the box they sound so base. One thing to keep in mind is that they are 100 bucks so they might be a little more expensive than some of the cheaper Bluetooth headphones but at the same time honestly I think 100 bucks is actually pretty reasonable. I think they can go up to hundreds of dollars.
Fr. Robert: Bottom line, buy try or don’t buy.
Miriam: I think it’s a buy because you can tune them so even if…I think you’ll be able to find it a sound setting that works between the different size ear bud adapters and cutting them as I did.
Fr. Robert: Not bad. There you have it. That’s the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless earphones. They’ve got to work on that and come up with a catchy name. They get a buy from Miriam Joire. Miriam thank you very much again for being on.
Miriam: Thank you, my pleasure.
Fr. Robert: Now of course you can find Miriam everywhere. She’s all over the Twit TV network. You’re going to find her on All about Android, a frequent guest, you’re going to find her here on Before You Buy. Where else can they find out?
Miriam: Sometimes on Twit. Leo invites me every now and then. I’ve been on Coding 101 once.
Fr. Robert: Yes.
Miriam: But mostly you’ll find me online at tankgirl – drop the vowels tnkgrl and you get my twitter handle and all my presence online. I wasn’t able to get that for YouTube but if you go to my blog www.tnkgrl.com you’ll find my YouTube channel where I do phones and other things kind of like I do here. Mostly phones because I love them and sometimes I write for various publications when I go to trade shows like ReadRight and Mobile Geeks and All about Android…sorry that’s the show here – Android Central… I get them all mixed up. But you’ll find me out there.
Fr. Robert: You’re a busy person.
Miriam: Mostly I’m on Twitter and Google Plus.
Fr. Robert: Alright and Miriam again thank you very much and we’ll see you next time here on Before You Buy.
Miriam: That’s right.
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Video: Scott Wilkinson: Hi, this is Scott Wilkinson from Before You Buy. Now I’m standing in front of a high dynamic range, standard dynamic range comparison in the Sony booth at NAB and I hope you can see the difference between them. Over here we have standard dynamic range which is what you can see today in your broadcast and over here we have high dynamic range and the content has been graded appropriately for each one. This monitor is a currently available Sony monitor. It is the x850b and over here is a prototype that we don’t have the model number for yet but it should be available in June. What’s important to notice is how much deeper the blacks are, how much brighter the highlights are that you saw in the reflections in the water and so on. The difference is quite remarkable. In addition the color is different and that is the consequence of the fact that this was graded in high dynamic range as opposed to standard dynamic range. This really points out to me just about more than anything else that the future of ultra HDTV is in high dynamic range. Sure we have more pixels, we’ve got 4 times the number of pixels that we do in HD but that’s to me not the most important part of HD. It’s high dynamic range because you can see that from across the room. If you have some many more pixels and you aren’t close enough to the screen it doesn’t look any different than HD. But with high dynamic range the image really pops and it is in fact the future of video display and capture and Sony has cameras to capture it and now consumer monitors and consumer TVs to show it and I’m extremely excited. This is Scott Wilkinson for Before You Buy. Back to you.
End of Video)
Fr. Robert: I have to say that High Dynamic Range TV is probably one of the big stories to come out maybe at NAB because the last few NABs and CESs we’ve been focused on having bigger screens and more pixels. That’s great, that’s nice because it drops down the price but now the manufacturers are starting to realize that now that we’ve kind of congregated around 4K why don’t we make 4K displays just look really good and that’s what they’re doing with HDR. We’re going to get a lot of those displays into Before You Buy over the next couple of months so stay tuned and get your HDR groove on. Speaking of getting your groove on… Oh I’m sorry next to me is OMG Chad. He’s absolutely got his getting his groove on with the… I’m going to call it the “new new” because that’s what it looks like to me. What do you call this?
Chad Johnson: It’s the NUU is the brand – NUU mobile and it’s the NU3S.
Fr. Robert: You can’t tell me that they weren’t having fun with that. It sounds to me like…
Chad: Yes, this brand most likely not of the USA persuasion but… The NU3S is mobile phone, a very inexpensive mobile phone. It is running Android 4.4 kit kat and it is LTE ready, it’s ready for HSPA plus and it comes when you buy it – it comes unlocked. So you buy this at Target. Target is the official seller but you can also buy it on Amazon as well. So I’m just going to… How much would you guess this phone costs?
Fr. Robert: Well it doesn’t look like a standard cheap phone. A lot of cheap phones…
Chad: It looks like of like a HTC1 maybe.
Fr. Robert: Put it in the 1+1 range maybe so like 300-350.
Fr. Robert: Really?
Fr. Robert: Like 250?
Fr. Robert: 200?
Fr. Robert: Like maybe 180?
Fr. Robert: Oh wow!
Chad: 150 dollars on Amazon, currently 160 and then 170 at Target.com. So 180…
Fr. Robert: That’s not bad.
Chad: So basically 180 or 160. So this is very inexpensive phone and it has some really neat features. 1 is that this is an HD display, it’s a 4.7 inch display coming in at 720 pixels across the bottom and 1280 across the side. It has 2, a front facing camera and a back facing camera with an LED flash. The front facing camera is 5 mega pixels. The back facing camera is 8 mega pixels. I do have to say that the camera quality is probably… By the way took a screen shot. This is before we were here.
Fr. Robert: 5 days?
Chad: 5 days. So this is before. I got this 2 weeks ago and for the first week I thought that we were going to get a sim card from the company so I was just waiting and it was just sitting on my desk so I was on standby for 5 days which I was really surprised about and I took a screen shot of that. Then we found out we weren’t getting one from them so I threw in mine. We have a few photos here of…this is a selfie and this is outside. This is direct sunlight. Let me also make sure that we have the brightness all the way up. Yes we do. Not the brightest of screens but that is outside in direct sunlight. This is also sunlight. This is with the flash on. It looks very yellow, like incredibly yellow. This is some low light with Craig. It’s not that great, it’s grainy. Here is a flash with my brick, once again very very yellow. The flash just kept being incredibly yellow. Here was a selfie in low light, this is in our producer’s room. You can see the colors are really off, it’s really blurry. This is that lower quality front facing camera.
Fr. Robert: But you know you’re not paying 600-800 dollars.
Chad: No you’re not. Then the biggest downside is the camera but 150 dollars for this phone. Some other features that I really enjoyed about this phone is on the back once you open this guy up there are 2 sim card slots.
Fr. Robert: No! Ok this is burner category now.
Chad: This is absolute burner category. I taking this back off and it is a little difficult for me. There are 2 full size sim card slots and there’s also an SD card slot which will support up to a 32 gigabyte card. You’ve probably if you’re like a normal American you’ve never encountered a phone that has 2 sim card slots. Android supports it, you see this dual sim setting right here. Currently I don’t have it…it’s kind of a process to switch sim to my iPhone so I pulled it out because I have to run right after this review. But when you have this in here you can select which sim card does what. So you can make voice and text through 1 and then data through another. So if you’re really cutting a budget very small and you could say, buy a tablet data plan month to month on 1 sim card and then buy just a talk and text on the other… and you may be saving money overall by doing that and using 2 different sim cards.
Fr. Robert: I was just going to say that because T-Mobile has 2 plans I’d love to combine. They have 1 that gets you 5 gigabytes of data but it’s only 100 minutes of talk. They have another one for 15 dollars a month that will give you 500 talk minutes but only gives you 10 megabytes of data. You put those 2 together and that’s the cheapest super talk, super data plan you can get.
Chad: Yes. So the dual sim card slot is a humongous feature of this phone. Other than that let me see if there’s anything else. There’s 8 gigabytes of internal memory, 1 gigabyte of RAM, it is a Snapdragon 200 processor. Let me make sure about that, yes, quad core Snapdragon 200 and HSPA Plus 4G and it comes unlocked which is great. It is not compatible with Verizon so there would be AT&T, Cricket, T-Mobile and that sort of plan with this phone. The other neat feature is that included in the box is a pair of headphones and a charger with extra headphone things and a screen protector which is pretty cool.
Fr. Robert: So it’s all the little accessories that you would buy afterwards that would add up to quite a bit.
Chad: Yes, but if you think about it a pair of head phones with a mic could be $20 easy, and then a USB charger…I’m surprised at this price point that they’re offering extra. This is a pretty nice, flat cable USB charger. So that was another feature that I really liked.
Fr. Robert: Aright, pros and cons?
Chad: Yes, battery life is normal basically. So for the cons I’m going to say camera, camera quality was just really poor and a little slow, tiny bit slow because…
Fr. Robert: You feel a little bit of lag.
Chad: You do but it is $150! For the pros, easily the price, the fact that it comes unlocked and the fact that it has 2 sim card slots. So buy, try, don’t buy for the NU3S is going to be a buy. The features on this phone – there’s just too many to outweigh the cons of the bad camera. Basically the bad camera is really the worst part of this phone. There you go.
Fr. Robert: That’s the New NU3S…nu, nu...NU3S with OMG Chad and he’s going to give it a buy. If you need a second phone or a burner phone or maybe you just want a decent phone that you can take without worrying about destroying it or getting it lost this is it.
Chad: This is it.
Fr. Robert: That’s OMG Chad, now of course you’re going to find him on our network, he does the Gizwhiz every Thursday and you’re going to find him back on Before You Buy.
Chad: Basically I’m on BYB all the time.
Fr. Robert: Every week. But you’ve got some exciting news. I mean of course you’ve got your own show, you’ve got OMG…
Chad: I’m got my own YouTube Channel. OMG Chad.
Fr. Robert: You’ve got 162,000?
Chad: Yes something like that.
Fr. Robert: Quite a few. But your news is that you’re moving.
Chad: I am currently, next week I will be moving down to Los Angeles.
Fr. Robert: To Holly Wood Hills. For anyone who is planning on stalking Chad he’ll be in the Holly Wood Hills.
Chad: Absolutely, yes it’ll be Beverly Hills. That’s where I want to be.
Fr. Robert: So he loaded up his truck. And if they want to find you online where’s the best place to go?
Chad: You can find me on Twitter.com/OMGchad that way, any time I do anything Twit, YouTube, Twitch or anything I’ll post about it.
Fr. Robert: Oh and by the way congratulation, I head you got married.
Chad: Thank you, I did on my Mine Craft server. I’m now married to Amethyst Raindrops…the Mine Craft user. Mine Craft is a very strange thing.
Fr. Robert: OMG Chad folks, thank you. Now I want to take just a moment before we move on to thank the second sponsor of this episode of Before You Buy. With a question, I’m going to start with a question. What if I told you that in just a couple of minutes without affecting your credit score, without walking into a bank, you could get 35,000 dollars? That’s right, just a load like that. Well folks that isn’t magic, it’s Prosper. What is Prosper? Prosper is a lending market place. There aren’t many good ways to borrow money when you need it; friends, family, credit card companies, traditional bank loans… No throw those aside. There’s too many complications. You don’t want to borrow from friends, you don’t want to borrow from family and from experience I can tell you trying to go to a traditional bank is just torture. But now with a low fixed rate loan with prosper.com there’s a better way. You can borrow up to 35,000 dollars in as few as 5 days and you can use the money for just about anything you desire. You can pay off high rate credit cards, fix up the house, and even put it into your business. I remember when I was still running my own business – the hassle I had to deal with to get a short term loan. I needed something to hold me over until my invoices came due. I had to go into a bank and do that whole rigmarole of this is who we are, these are my receipts, I’m just going to need this for a couple of months and then you’ll get all your money back. Well it was demeaning, it was time consuming and frankly it just wasn’t very humanizing. You can skip all of that with Prosper. Now Prosper is that online market place that connects people who need money with those who want to invest it in you. It’s really that simple. Don’t wrack up more debt on your credit cards, you can pay them off with Prosper. And you can check your low rate instantly without affecting your group credit by going to Prosper.com/twit. That’s www.prosper.com/twit. Now and for a limited time Prosper is offering Twit viewers a $50 Visa gift card with your low interest rate. You can get up to a $35,000 loan in your account in as few as 5 days and a $50 Visa gift card. Go to prosper.com/twit. Prosper.com/twit for this special offer just for Twit viewers and we thank Prosper for their support of Before You Buy.
Now folks I’m a little excited about this next review. We’ve been holding onto this for a month. Back at CES in January we got a chance to go to a booth run by XYZ Printing and they showed us some of the greatest 3D printers on the market including the Da Vinci, the 1 that is the bestselling 3D printer out there and 1 that’s actually very easy to service. Well they had a new product, 1 that we focused on; the Da Vinci Jr. which promised to sell for much less than the original and give all of the same features. Well they sent it to us and we’ve been playing with it for a month. Here’s what we thought. The Da Vinci Jr. as the name might suggest is the smaller, less expensive brother to XYZ’s Da Vinci 1.0. At $349 it’s a full $150 less expensive than the original but it maintains many of the features of the more expensive model. Out of the box XYZ includes everything you need to get going – 100 meters of clear PLA filament, SD Card, bed tape, head cleaners, power and USB cables and a filament guide. The Da Vinci Jr. measures 17 inches by 16.5 inches by 15 inches, weighs 26 pounds and can build objects up to 5.9 inches cue on its moving non heated bed. It uses fuse filament fabrication with PLA filament to lay down layers as tall as .4 millimeters and as small as .1 millimeter. XYZ designed a fantastically easy to feed filament system with 1 touch loading and unloading and they designed the printing head with 1 button removal to ease repair or replacement. A small LCD screen and control panel at the front of the unit lets you control all the functions of the printer and an SD card slot lets you directly load STL or XYZ files for printing completely independent of a computer. The filament spool itself is well…controversial. XYZ equips their spool of filament with an NFC chip that lets the printer know exactly what kind of filament is loaded, its printing temperature and how much filament is left on the spool. That does make printing simpler especially when trying to figure out if you have enough filament left to complete a job before you start it. But geeks will be quick to point out that this is essentially DRM per filament since the Da Vinci Jr. won’t work with non-NFC equipped spools and since NFC equipped XYZ filament is 20-40 percent more expensive than generic PLA this could be a deal breaker for some. Ok, on with the making. Using the Da Vinci Jr. is really simple, even for first timers. The bed doesn’t require calibration though you can enter offsets if desired. The feed system never jammed once in a month of testing and you can use the SD system or the USB interface to print. The Da Vinci Jr has 2 ports. 1 for power and 1 for USB. Windows 7 and better or OS 10, 10.8 and up will recognize the Da Vinci Jr as a USB printing device. But I suggest copying your print to an SD card. Some prints can take hours and having the printer as a standalone device is never a bad idea. If this is your first time using a 3D printer you’d best go to any number of websites that can offer you free SDL files for various designs of parts, art and knickknacks. You can load SDL files directly onto the SD card for printing but I suggest using XYZ’s software to convert it to a native file format while also ensuring that the part will fit on the bed, is properly oriented and to add supports or a wrap to the design. Beyond that you apply a sheet of bed tape, load up the printer, select your build and let it go. There is something marvelous about watching parts being built up before your eyes and it’s not just a novelty, I’ve spent more than 300 meters of filament on raspberry pie cases and quad copter parts. 1st just downloading other people’s creations, then modifying them and finally creating pieces of my own. It’s cheaper than buying those parts and shorter than having them delivered but that’s not even the main reason why I like this. I love the fact that I can design, prototype, test, refine and perfect my projects without ever leaving my lab. I have had so much fun with this printer over the last month. Again it’s just the idea of seeing things come to life before your eyes and again the whole idea of having something like the Da Vinci Jr is that you give beginners a place to start. This is not the 5 or 6 or $800 3D printer, this is $349. With that $349 you get most of the capabilities that you’re going to get with the bigger brother. Everything from a high precision movable bed, non-heated bed by the way, to that easily removable head so that if you do have a jam it’s nice and easy to clear. Anyone who owns a 3D printer is going to tell you that head jams are 1 of the biggest problems. This makes it easy to clear out. On the pro side of course it’s going to be price, $349 is a great starting point. I also like the fact that it can work completely independently of a computer. You just use that SD card here and essentially this becomes its own building work station. I also like the fact that the print time is quite good. It’s not the fastest 3D printer on the market but it’s definitely not the slowest and I also like the fact that with the use of standard file formats I can get things from the XYZ website, essentially from any place I can find 3D prints I can find something that I can print on my XYZ printer. On the con side, the no brainer has got to be the DRM on the filament. Now I know they don’t call it DRM but that’s essentially what it is. Yes it does make it easier because now your printer knows exactly what’s been loaded but that would make sense on a printer that could load ABS or PLA. Since this only does PLA which by the way is another con – you really don’t need it. The only reason why you have it is because you want to force people to buy your filament and XYZ filament is going to be 20 percent more expensive than standard filament. I don’t like that. Now I will say that on Know How our other show here on the Twit TV network that maybe dealing with 3D printers we may show you a method to bypass that but you didn’t hear that from me. The other con is probably going to be the size. 5.9 inches is nice for the bed, I would have liked to have just a little bit more. There’s actually space in this enclosure to do a larger bed. I’m sure they limited so they could delineate between this and some of the larger model. Still for this price and this feature set, for these capabilities the XYZ Da Vinci Jr is an absolute buy. Now if you like this be sure to stay tuned to Know How. Next week we’re going to be doing a full run down from start to finish on how you do your first print. And then in the weeks after that we’re going to show you things like how you modify prints and finally how you create prints of your own. The 3D printer universe is fantastic, stay tuned to Twit and we’re going to show you exactly how it works. That’s it for this episode of Before You Buy. I want to thank all of our reviewers, especially to Chad Johnson, to Scott Wilkinson, to Miriam Joire, to all of them for bringing in their reviews, their views on products that we’ve had here at the Twit Brick house. A special thanks to Lisa and Leo who let us do this show each and every week and of course to my TB. That’s right, Cranky Hippo Mr Bryan Burnett. Bryan, what do you do here?
Bryan Burnett: What do I do? It’s probably really hard for you to remember but we do a show right. On Thursdays.
Fr. Robert: Oh yes, that thing with the thing!
Bryan: That thing that we’re going to be doing with that 3D printer.
Fr. Robert: Oh yes, what do you call that again?
Bryan: We call that Know How at 11:00 on Thursday’s Pacific Time and yes I’ve already got some ideas churning for that 3D printer. But hopefully we can keep our hands on it because I know Carson already wants to take it from us.
Fr. Robert: Carson wants to take it and Burke has been eyeing it and I’m thinking what I’m going to do is I’m going to 3D print a shell and put like a decoy…
Chad: A protective 3D bubble around it. So we’ll definitely be having fun with that. You can catch me on that or follow me on Twitter at Cranky_Hippo.
Fr. Robert: Fantastic. Don’t forget you can always find our show at our show page at twit.tv/byb. That’s before you buy. You’ll find all of our back episodes if there was an episode that you missed or if there’s a product that you’re looking for and you’ll find a little drop down menu so you can subscribe to the show and it will be automatically downloaded to your device of choice. Your iPhone, your iPad, your Android device, your Mac, PC, laptop, desktop. No matter how you want it we want to give it to you in that format because that’s just the way that we are. Also you can find me on Twitter. Just go to Twitter.com/padresj – that’s @padresj. If you follow me you’ll know exactly what products we’re going to cover on every episode of Before You Buy and you’ll be able to select products that you’d like to see reviewed. You can also see what I do when I’m not doing shows on the Twit TV network…like getting steamed buns or playing with Cranky Hippo or finding… it’s kind of my thing. I’m a very boring person but every once in a while I get to see a Corgi in a backpack. That’s right….I forgot that was in there. Until next time I’m Father Robert Ballecer. This has been Before You Buy and remember you’ve got to watch before you buy. We’ll see you next time!