Before You Buy 172 (Transcript)

Father Robert Ballecer: Coming up we’ve got the last word on the Galaxy S6, It’s a cube, that’s instant, a drone that’s made for film makers. That’s all next. You’ve got to watch Before You Buy.

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Hey, welcome to Before You Buy! It’s Twit’s product review show where we take the gizmos and gadgets that we get into the brick house and we give them to various members of the studio. That’s right, a place to get honest reviews from people who honestly use technology. Now a few weeks back we had a chance to take a look at the Galaxy S6 Edge. Leo LaPorte told us that it was bar none the best phone that he had played with including the iPhone. It had the best camera, it had a beautiful screen, it was just gorgeously designed. But that’s the S6 Edge. We also wanted to take a look at the Galaxy S6 so we gave that Android phone to the master of all Android Phones – Jason Howell and this is what he thought.

Jason Howell: Hey, what’s up? I’m Jason Howell and I’m here to review a phone that I’ve been waiting to review for the past month. It’s the Galaxy S6 by Samsung. I’ve got to say I’m super impressed by this phone and I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with it. It starts with 32 gigs of storage inside for around $765 unlocked, that’s the price on Amazon and goes all the way up to 128 gigs for $1,285 unlocked on Amazon so take it for what it’s worth. You can find different pricing all over the internet as well as deals through your carriers if you sign up for a contract. So let’s take a look at the specs of the Galaxy S6. This is not the edge, this is the straight forward S6 design. It has got a 5.1 inch QHD, that’s 2560 by 1440 resolution. It’s powered by a Exynos octa core processor that Samsung makes. 3 Gigs of Ram, then like I said 32, 64 and 128 gigabyte storage options internally. It’s got a 16 megapixel rear facing camera on the back and then you have a 5 megapixel front facing camera for your selfies. 2550 milliamp hour battery underneath. It is non-removable. The S5 was a 2800 milliamp hour battery so it’s kind of a reduction in capacity for battery here and it is running 5.0.2 Lollipop out of the box. 1st let’s take a look at the design which is absolutely 1 of the killer features of the Samsung Galaxy S6. They made some changes from previous iteration and I think they’ve all been for the best here. It’s a super narrow thin device, pretty light, nice rounded aluminum edges along the sides. Both the front and the back are glass so you’re going to need to be a little careful handling the device because it can break on both sides now so be aware of that. Down at the bottom here you have the home button which I’ve never been a huge fan of but now it acts as a finger print sensor. So literally you just tap your finger on the home button and hold it there for a split second. It’ll recognize your finger print and pass you through to the home screen and it works really well, I love this. It’s going to be hard for me to not have it on my own phone. On the back you have the heart rate monitor which is kind of a feature that Samsung’s been adding. I could give or take on that 1. There’s an IR blaster on top if you want to use your phone as a remote control for some of your devices at home. Samsung Pay is a part of the Galaxy S6, which was once known as Loot Pay, it was an acquisition not too long ago to enable contact list payments at stores and its compatibility is kind of crazy. It’s using magnets to talk to the registers. But that has actually not been activated software side so once that is activated sometime in the coming months this phone will be compatible with that. So that’ll be a feature then. The battery of course is non-removable. It’s stuck in there, it’s the 1st Galaxy line phone where the battery doesn’t pop out and also there’s no micro SD for storage expansion. They had to kind of cut those in order to get this new striking design. Personally I like those changes but true fans of those features are going to be a little disappointed. Now for the display. I think once again the display is top notch. It’s gorgeous, colors are vibrant, and everything is super sharp. It’s a QHD display so it’s even more resolution than their 1080-P display. For a 5.1 inch device I’m personally not convinced that that’s necessary. Yes things look amazing but that comes at the cost of your battery which I’m going to talk about here in a second. Personally I think the QHD is kind of overkill for this particular form factor and I think they would have done better just sticking to 1080-P and giving you more of that battery life as a result. So speaking of battery I’d say battery is 1 of the downsides of this device. It’s actually a smaller capacity battery than what was on the S5 and I don’t know, it’s just kind of mediocre performance. I definitely had to charge up throughout the day hoping that I get through to the end and it didn’t happen pretty regularly. I will say on the plus side though that quick charging is on board here so if you have a quick charger it’s going to charge your phone super-fast. I think it’s somewhere around 6 hours per 15 minutes. So if you do have to top it off throughout the day it doesn’t take very long to do that. It also supports Chi and PTMA wireless charging so keep that in mind. Now as for the cameras you’ve got the front facing camera and the rear facing camera. Without a doubt this is the phone you get if taking pictures with your phone is the most important thing to you. I don’t think you can get much better. Just to kind of show you here if we double tap the home button it takes you right to the camera app and the volume rocker on the side actually (let’s see here, oh there I am) works as a shutter. So you can use your volume button to take the pictures which is kind of a nice feature. I actually really like the camera software here. Samsung’s refined it a lot to make things a bit easier to find inside. That’s as far as the software is concerned. As far as the performance of the camera itself it’s excellent in low light. Both the front and back cameras are the same in that they have 1.9 f-stop lens, they just have different megapixel capacities there. That basically means that it lets in more light and without a doubt this is the best camera that I’ve used on an android device and a lot of people are comparing it to the iPhone. As far as side by side the pictures are as good as each other so very cool stuff. It’s super-fast to snap. I will go ahead and take it and it just responds really quickly. There’s also some extra features like slow motion, auto high dynamic range, panoramic. There’s a pro-mode that kind of allows you to dial in and get a bit more specific as to how you take your pictures. That’s also really nice for Macro shots. The front facing camera I will say kind of feels a little like it’s a wide angle lens and I’m not sure how I feel about that. If your face ends up on the edges it kind of stretches out a little bit but I think you mileage may vary as far as that’s concerned. I don’t feel like it really affected the quality of my images that much. Over all best camera you can find on an Android device right now and I can say that without a doubt. As for performance of the device as I said earlier Samsung is using its own Exynos processor inside the Galaxy S6 bypassing the Snapdragon 810 which is what they were going to go with initially. They said they had problems with heat but I think it kind of works out in Samsung’s favor that they’re using their own processor here. I think it’s a pretty good switch for them and I have the feeling we’re going to see a lot more of this. I found everything to be pretty speedy, browsing was fast save for a few hiccups when I did my verge test when it was first loading. But once everything loaded in it was super smooth. Gaming was smooth as well. Racing 3 is my current favorite for testing out gaming performance and everything moved without a hiccup. Touch whiz in general about as smooth as I’ve experienced but that’s you know with the asterisk involved that Touch Whiz kind of tends to slow some things down at times. For example going to the side screen – there’s the flip board screen that sometimes takes a while to snap into place. Right now it looks like it is doing alright. Over all I would say I encountered a few handoff issues between WIFI and mobile networks if I was moving from 1 location to another where it wouldn’t automatically connect to WIFI and I wasn’t quite sure. I had to turn it off and turn it back on again for that to happen. So that was a little frustrating but that could have been the wireless access point more than the phone. It was very hard for me to determine that. Now speaking of software this is Touch Whiz and Samsung has definitely kind of gone in and brought Touch Whiz  a little bit further forward to match some of Lollipop’s design choices. I wouldn’t say it’s definitely totally looking like a Lollipop device though. Samsung really kind of sticks to their version of what Android OS should look like and that’s more in line with their kind of design choices as opposed to what’s been chosen for the platform in general. I am a fan of the camera software. I thought the camera software was great. There’s a theme store that you can access in the settings if you want to totally apply a new theme to your device and there’s a bunch of free options in there as well as paid. They have some motion gestures that are included; for example I can move my hand over the top and it’ll take a snap shot, not necessary but kind of neat. Also if you have a contact showing on the screen and you pick the phone up and put it to your ear it’ll automatically call that contact. Little things like that that I supposed could be kind of handy. There’s a split screen mode so if you hold down your multi-tasking button it will pop up 2 different apps on both sides of the screen. It kind of helps with multi-tasking there. There’s a wake up command that only works with s-voice, it doesn’t work with Google Now so if you wake up the screen from off it will do a search using S-voice and you might not want to use Samsung’s S-voice. So that’s kind of a bummer. Finger print implementation is bang on, it works almost without a hitch every time and takes your right through. I found it super handy in particular with Last Pass for managing my passwords instead of having to type in my long master password I just put my finger print on there and it would automatically do it for me. It’s a game changer and I’m going to be really sad to not have that feature. Pre-installed software just so you know takes up around 9 gigs of space on here and you can’t uninstall it, you can only hide it so keep that in mind. Maybe you want to get a higher capacity version of this phone when you get it. Alright let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of the Galaxy S6. First the pros; the camera is fantastic, best camera on an Android phone right now. The display is super sharp, very vivid and very detailed maybe to a fault which I’ll talk about in a second. The design I think is just a striking design, it’s super comfy and it just feels good holding this phone in your hard. Then the finger print sensor, man I’m going to be really bummed to not have a finger print sensor on my Nexus 6 when I go back to it. As far as the cons; battery performance, I really wish they would have maybe gone with a lower resolution display or tweaked battery or gone with higher capacity because it doesn’t perform as well as it should. Touch Whiz is better than it has been but that’s not saying a whole lot, some of the software feels kind of unnecessary and then the un-removable battery and lack of micro sd card is going to bum out fans of previous versions of this device that have relied on those features. But over all I would have to say without a doubt buy on this. It’s a little expensive obviously, it’s a premium line device but you are going to get what you pay for. The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a phenomenal phone and it’s 1 of my favorites of the year right now and I don’t know, I’m pretty bummed that I have to send this back. My name is Jason Howell, you can catch my reviews on All About Android and of course on Before You Buy here and thanks for watching my review of the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Fr. Robert: That was Jason Howell with a buy for the Samsung Galaxy S6. If you’re looking for a Next Generation phone and maybe the Edge isn’t quite right for you the S6 may be your next phone. Now we wanted to take a look at something a little bit different so we talked to Miriam Joire and we gave her the Instacube and this is what she thought.

Miriam Joire: It is Miriam with Before You Buy and what you see here in front of me is called the Instacube. It is essentially a photo frame that you can hang somewhere… well probably not hang, it’s a little thick but put on a shelf or something and it shows you your Instagram feed. Kind of cool. There’s lots of digital photo frames out there, some of them are connect to now days but you have to understand that context of this product. It was launched, it was crowd funded about 2 1/2 -3 years ago now and for a long time it looked like we weren’t going to get any product from these people. Now you know that crowd funding doesn’t mean you’re going to get something necessarily but they did reach their goal. I actually was a backer, I paid $100 for this device and it took them forever. We had all but given up on them and they finally shipped this thing late last year. Unfortunately it was designed 3 years ago so the guts of it are horrendously terrible. It’s basically a very cheap Android tablet from 3 years ago, put into this enclosure and turned into a digital photo frame that connects to your Instagram feed and displays it for you. I wanted to show you quickly what it looks like. First of all it has this kind of retro vibe with the Polaroid kind of look and feel. It looks like the Instagram App icon which is really cool. You can see that that the top half has a soft touch finish on it. The bottom half is has a shiny gray finish and then there is this rainbow look around it. These are actually stickers. That’s how cheap this thing is. You can peel them off. They aren’t painted on or anything like that. The front is really kind of low quality, 600 by 600 pixel display. It looks kind of bluish here because it is kind of bluish in real life. So it’s a capacitive screen but it’s an incredibly cheap plastic cover on top of this and as you can see it’s a fingerprint magnet and reflects light like no one’s business. The Instacube was cool though. Then on top you’ve got 3 buttons and they are kind of interesting actually. You’ve got a power on and off button that is round and then you’ve got this grid button which is square and then you’ve got a heart button. The heart button lets you do what you expect, you can like a photo as you see it. Let me go to 1 that I actually like and this is where you’re going to see how abysmal the UI is. As you see it’s very slow and so you push the little heart and guess what? It hearts it and if you push again on the same picture… I guess it doesn’t even un-heart it so you pretty much have to go in the settings like this, let me show you, and un-heart it. There is an option to do that. Then this grid view here brings you to think cube UI that lets you pick things like the night library of your photos, photos you’ve liked, hashtag; I have a hashtag pre-programmed in here. It hasn’t loaded the pictures, let’s see if it actually does it. But it’s going to load all the Instagram photos that are public that say nomogram and do a feed of that. There you go. So that’s really it in a nutshell. It’s designed to show you your Instagram feed in this manner and to look through like this all day happily and when you walk by and see a picture you like you can push the heart button on top here and heart it, like this can of beans. But the strange thing about it and this is kind of the killer flaw, other than the cheapness of the device to start with is that the battery lasts about 2 hours. So if you’re trying to have this run maybe 4 hours, I’m being a little factitious here but it doesn’t last really even half a day. So what you’re saying is that if you have this on a shelf you pretty much have to connect it to a micro USB charger because the battery on this thing is just terrible. So that’s 1 major drawback other than the cheapness and the display quality. You saw the software is very slow and unresponsive and that’s because this thing is running an Android tablet underneath that is like from 3 years ago and possibly cost $30 3 years ago and you know how abysmal these things were. Probably single core with 512 megs of RAM or 256 megs of RAM. You can also do gestures like this and see a grid view and you can see it’s loading the grid view so let’s wait for this to happen shall we. Yes it is loading my grid view off of WIFI and you know at Twit here we have good WIFI so it’s really not a WIFI performance issue. Anyway I’m going to spare you this but you get the feel for what I’m trying to say here. This is not really a great product. And then here’s the killer, you can actually reboot this thing into the Android desktop because it is running Android and what happens then is  you realize that behind this panel is actually an 800 by 600 landscape tablet that goes edge to edge and has been masked to be 600 by 600. When you do that you see part of the user interface hidden behind the black frame. So you can’t even use this as an Android tablet if you wanted to recycle it somehow unless you take it apart. So I’m not sure it’s worth $100 in a nut shell. It was a cool idea, it took a while to deliver, it was a pretty painful campaign that they had in terms of satisfying their users. Lots of people were complaining, nobody thought it was ever going to ship. They shipped so kudos for that but what they did ship is exactly what they promised but very poor implementation of it. So pros and cons. Pros; it’s cool, it’s an interesting idea. Cons; it’s terribly executed, the performance of the device and the software are terrible, the display isn’t very good, the battery life is abysmal and it’s built like crap. Really the cheapest possibly material you can put together. It scratches just looking at it. So yes, this is an absolute definite don’t buy. I have spent $100 on this and it’s my own and I’m glad that I contributed to it because I believe in the idea but this is what crowd funding is like. You pledge and might not get anything and if sometimes you do get something it might not actually be very awesome. So this is the Instacube here on Before you Buy and I’m Miriam Joire.

Fr. Robert: So it is slow, it’s poorly executed, it scratches just by looking at it and it’s built like crap. That means that Miriam Joire is going to give the Instacube a “don’t buy”. Well there’s a lot of frames out there, it’s just not that one that you’re going to want. When we come back we’re going to go ahead and jump back into NAB. We wanted to take a look at a couple more segments that we took at the show but before we do that let’s go ahead and thank the 1st sponsor of this episode of Before You Buy. Now let me ask you a question; what if I told you that in 5 days simply by going onto a website you could have $35,000 to spend as you wish. What would you spend it on? Would you pay off those high rate credit card bills, would you pay off student loans, would you go into that house project or maybe even start your own business? Well folks that’s what you can get with Prosper. Prosper is a different way to borrow money. It’s not going to your friends or to your family. It’s not going to a traditional bank and groveling in front of a bank manager trying to convince him or her that you do deserve a loan. Prosper is a way to get money from people who want to lend it. That’s right, it connects those who are looking for a loan with those who have money to lend. What could be more progressive than that? Now face it there just aren’t that many good ways to borrow money which is why Prosper was created in the first place. You can borrow up to $35,000 in a few as 5 days and you could use that money for just about anything. I remember when I was running my own business. At 1 point business was booming, I had a lot of contracts but I needed a bridge loan just to pay off my employees until the contracts started rolling in. Well I went with all my spread sheets and my numbers and I was confident I was going to be able to get a loan with no problem once I showed these business managers that they were going to get paid back in a matter of months, not in years. But I went from 1 bank to the next and to the next and to the next and because they didn’t understand my business model which was new at the time and because they didn’t believe my numbers it took me forever to get a loan. I wouldn’t have to do that today with Prosper. Prosper is a place to get the money that you need when you need it. Don’t wrack up more debt on your credit cards, don’t go to your friends and family and stress those relationships with a request for money. Instead check your low rate instantly without affecting your good credit by going to Right now and for a limited time Prosper is offering Twit viewers a $50 Visa gift card with your low interest loan. You can get up to $35,000 in your account in as few as 5 days and a $50 Visa gift card all by going to That’s with this special offer just for Twit viewers and we thank Prosper for their support of Before You Buy.

Let’s go ahead and take a trip back over to NAB. That’s right, the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas. Scott Wilkinson and I were there taking a look at some of the latest and greatest in broadcast tech and I thought you might want to take a look at a camera that’s wooden.

(Video: Fr. Robert: Ok so you’ve got your gear, you’re set up, you’ve got a nice camera, maybe some nice audio gear, maybe you’ve even got yourself the right lighting but now you need something to put all that gear on top of which is why we’re here at Wooden Camera standing next to Ryan who’s going to explain some of the newer gear that they brought out for your rig. Ryan, thank you so much for talking to us.

Ryan: Thank you. So we’ve got many new options at the show today; 1 of which is our new matte box which is on the front of this rig here. So it’s a 4x5.65 matte box with 2 rotating stages. It also has a tray catcher on the bottom so you don’t accidently drop your filter through to the floor. It has Nano-standard quick releases on each end here which is great for positioning monitors using our new Nano lock magic arm. So you can unlock, side to the end and quickly remove your monitor. You can also go on to the side of your matte box if you want to attach your monitor in front of you for hand held shooting. Then on the other side here, we can spin this around; we’ve got our new D box which is for power distribution. So it enables you to choose your own connectors. You can choose from D tab, 4 pin hirose, 4 pin or 2 pin lemo, 3 pin fisher and a 5 volt USB so it is completely customizable. You have the ability to change the connectors yourself even. So it’s easy to do, you just unscrew these 4 screws and you can pop the connector box out and inset a new panel yourself.

Fr. Robert: 1 of the things that you’ve done that I really like is you’ve put in the voltage regulators in line so that you don’t have to worry about accidently cross connecting something or miss-soldering something and sending the wrong voltage to your devices.

Ryan: That’s right. So this is a good example of that. This is a 5 volt USB, it provides up to 3 AMPS and it has the voltage regulator built in here so you can disconnect it and pull this out and put another connector in and get 12 volts out or 24 volts just depending on which one you use.

Fr. Robert: Of course this is to build up a rig of your choosing. You get to choose what you have on it, what kind of devices are powered and what kind of batteries you use. But I think 1 of the things that makes the Wooden Camera approach so neat is the customizability. You have so many mounting points, so many different devices and like the Matte Box they are so precision. We were playing with this before we started filming and it just feels right. You don’t ever feel like you’re forcing a part. How long have you been doing this and why does your gear seem so nice?

Ryan: I started as a camera operator so that gave me a good background and the knowledge for what’s needed and we’ve been in business for manufacturing for about 4 years. We started with simple products and then as we learned and evolved we added a lot more products that are complex including video distribution, power distribution and now the Matte Box.

Fr. Robert: Ryan, thank you very much for talking to us. Now if our audience wants to find out more about Wooden Camera, they want to see where maybe they could pick up some parts for a rig of their own, where do they go?


Fr. Robert: You have it; I’m Father Robert from NAB 2015. We’ll see you next year. (End of video)

Fr. Robert: That was actually the very last booth that we took a look at. Carson needed us to take a look at just 1 last thing because he really liked it and I’ve got to admit the tech that they have is great because it enables you to use the tech you already have in a better way. Speaking of using tech that you already have in a better way, 1 of the things that I’ve been interested in doing is building these things – quad copters, multi rotor crafts. Some people call them drones. But there’s a different between building a quad copter for fun which is what I prefer to do and building a copter for the perfect video shot. The smooth, silky, blah blah blah shot, the overhead 360 view, the selfie view. These are the kinds of capabilities that we’re starting to see in quad copters that are released from manufacturers like DJI and 3D Robotics. But here we took a look at the Aries Blackbird. You want a quad copter but you don’t want to build it. You want a capable aerial camera but you don’t want to buy parts from dozen different vendors and budge them together, you want a stable multi rotor but you don’t want to get a masters in quadology just to make it fly. If that’s you then you are the person that the engineers at Aries had in mind when they built the Blackbird X10. An all in 1 almost ready to fly aerial photography and videography platform. When the folks at Aries say that the Blackbird is ready to fly out of the box they mean it. The kit literally includes everything you need to be up and flying within 30 minutes without having to purchase or find any additional parts or tools. That includes the body with preassembled electronics and motors, 2 sets of self-fastening props, 5300 milliamp hour 3 cell lithium power battery, prop guards, a transmitter, 2.4 gigahertz signal repeater that pushes a safe operational range past 1600 feet and accessories. They even included a screw driver and wrench that you need to attach the prop guards and tighten the prop. With everything out of the box you can plug in the chargers for the Blackbird’s battery and the signal booster and let them go while we finish the kit. You can run the Blackbird without prop guards but I’d advise against it until you’re comfortable with its handling characteristics. Simply remove the front2 screws from the end of each arm, attach the prop guards and secure them with the included extension screws. With the prop guards on install the props remembering that you want clock wise props, the ones with the black caps on the front left and rear right arms and counter clock wise props, the ones with the white tops on the front right and rear left. Use the included wrench to grab the motor housing to make tightening easier. The props and prop nuts are integrated and they’re reverse threaded against the rotation of the motor. In other words they’ll tighten themselves in operation. Once the battery is charged (easy to gauge because each battery has a LCD indicator) you can slide it into the back of the Blackbird and lock it into place. The Blackbird has a 16 megapixel still camera that can also shoot video at 1080p/30 frames a second. Toggling transmitter 3 tilts the camera up and down and once you’ve locked the camera into an angle it’ll try to hold that angle by automatically tilting up and down as well as flying the craft around the target. Video can bet transmitted to an Android or iOS device, clipped to the top of the transmitter, just load the app on your device of choice, sync it to the repeater and voila, instant fpv… kind of. There is considerable lag on a WIFI connected device so while it can be used to position the camera it’s not really for flight. For those who want the best possible video and stills the Blackbird has a micro SD slot on the underside to record high quality media. It also has buttons for starting and stopping video as well as a trigger for stills. After taking the Blackbird outside, calibrating the compass and locking onto a GPS signal it’s time to fly. The central feature of the Blackbird is a camera driver auto hoover. Unlike the throttles of traditional transmitters the throttle of the Blackbird is spring loaded to center. Arming the Blackbird will start up the motors, pushing the throttle up from center will make the Blackbird rise. Releasing the throttle will put the Blackbird into hoover. Only pushing down from center will make it descend. The Blackbird includes “return to home” in case of signal loss and is actually quite good with rain. But if you’ve ever flown a homebuilt quadcopter it will take some time to properly fly the Blackbird because it’s been built as a camera platform 1st. It’s got plenty of power and stability put it doesn’t fly like an acrobatic quad. In GPS mode the Blackbird is smooth and responsive to stick movement but only when you’re holding the controls off center. The moment the stick centers the Blackbird will assume that it should hold its current position and altitude. Furthermore the camera will actually fly the Blackbird to keep its tagger in frame. This will look like uneven flight but it’s actually better for video and photo. The effect is unnerving to those who are accustomed to flying quads in full manual or just with self-leveling but it also makes sense. As a camera platform with a quadcopter attached the Blackbird should do everything it can to stabilize the picture even at the expense of flight characteristics. The 5300 milliamp power battery holds enough juice for about 15 minutes of aggressive flight or up to 25 minutes of station keeping with no wind. Now as a camera platform let’s talk about video quality. At least I would like to talk about video quality. You see I took the Blackbird out to fly 4 times. Each time the Blackbird failed to record its aerial sessions despite the flashing green light on the transmitter and the recording light on my phone. The last time I took it out I even recorded while it was on the ground, tested that card in my laptop to make sure it had recorded and then started the recording again and took flight. At the end, nothing. Later I lucked out and it happened to be recording while I was practicing in the parking lot and the camera and the self-stabilization is actually incredible. At 1 point I was comfortable enough with it on auto hoover to lift the Blackbird into the air, then put aside the controller and fly a second quadcopter. There is so much promise in the Blackbird but unfortunately the camera issue is a deal breaker. You can’t have an aerial videography platform if it won’t record every time without fail. You especially can’t have 1 that tells you that it is recording while no data is being written to the memory card. I actually do like the Blackbird. It is a decent device, it’s got a nice wing span so it’s nice and stable. I like the idea of having the camera platform 1st. Some people could see that as a con but if you’re looking for an aerial filming platform that’s what you want. It’s got many good things. I like the auto hoover, I like the simple operation, I like the feature of the range extender that they have on the transmitter. This thing was really designed for people who want to film first and maybe fly 2nd. But the biggest con, the thing that just pulls it away has got to be the fact that it didn’t work. If it’s going to be a camera platform 1st it has to work every single time. Any photographer or videographer is going to tell you that the worst camera is a camera that’s unpredictable. If it says it is recording and you come back and it didn’t get anything you just destroyed a shoot and that shoot could be worth thousands or tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s just simply unacceptable. The other thing that I don’t like is the proprietary nature of some of the parts; specifically this battery. You’re going to want to get more than 1 battery and these are going to cost you $125 a pop. This is just a standard battery that they incased inside of this enclosure. In fact I’d already opened this thing up. I know how to put a regular battery inside of here so it’s kind of silly that Aries is going to make this Blackbird so that you have to go ahead and buy another 1 of their batteries. The pricing is going to change. Right now it is about $700 but with the release of the Phantom 3 and with 3DR coming out with their solo you’re probably going to see this drop down to the 600-500 dollar range which still does make it a bargain. It’s a bargain at the pricing once they fix it. What I would say about the Blackbird right now is that it is an absolute don’t buy. But it is an absolute potential possibility – that’s a lot of potentials – for a redemption. If they can fix the recording glitch, if they can maybe drive the price down a little bit this could go from a “don’t buy” to an absolute buy. Now when we come back we’ve got a 1st look at a product that might turn your iPhone, your iPad, your Android device, your Windows laptop into a high definition audio device. But before we do that let’s go ahead and thank the second sponsor of this episode of Before You Buy and it is Smart Things. Now Smart Things was rated as the number 1 home automation product at CES 2015 and the reason why was because it is so good. Now there are a lot of home automation products on the market but they all suffer from the same problem and that is you have to buy all your modules from them which Smart Things has done and what makes it such a neat solution is that they’ve given you this. This is the Hub and this hub doesn’t just control everything from the door sensor and the smart sensor and the light control and the door switch and the audio box; it controls all your devices. If you want to integrate your drop cam or your Nest thermometer or let’s say your audio system into your home automation system you can do it with the Hub. My personal favorite part is this; this is a smart sensor that I can carry on my person. That means that my home knows when I come up to the door and it can do things like unlock the door, turn on the lights, set the temperature to where I want it, maybe even turn on my favorite music. This is the sort of thing that we dreamed of when we started creating our smart homes in our minds. Now if you’ve dabbled with home automation in the past, stop dabbling and get smart by getting Smart Things. Smart Things works for iOS, it works for Android, it works for Windows phone and because it is an open platform it will work as well with its own sensors as it does with connected devices from Drop Cam, Honeywell Thermostats and many more. Again it was a CES 2015 editor’s choice award and you should try it and see exactly why it got that acclaim. You can use it for home automation to turn on your lights or off from your phone. You can use it for security so that you can get an alert from your drop cams every time someone approaches your home. You can use it for energy savings so it will automatically drop your thermostat when you don’t want to be using up power and you could use it for water detection to find out if water is building up in your basement. These are just a few of the things that you can design on your own turning your home into a true smart home. Now right now there’s no monthly required fees and the kits start at just $189. Smart Things is an affordable way to create your smart home and just for our Twit audience, Smart Things is offering you a chance to save even more. Get 10% off any home solutions kit or security kit and get free shipping in the United States when you go to and use the offer code twit. That’s and use the offer code twit and we thank Smart Things for their support of Before You Buy.

1 last bit, a first look… now for a while people have been looking at products like the Pono Player or even the Philo that we had on Before You Buy a few weeks back as a way to get better quality audio out of your phone, your laptop etc. You see the problem is the audio that’s built into our devices; it’s good, it’s decent, it works but if you’re an audiophile you’re going to notice the pops, you’re going to notice the hiss, you’re going to notice the sub hard noise isolation that you’ll get on everything from your latest Galaxy S6 to your iPhone. There is a way to get around that and that is to not use that onboard audio at all and that’s what HRT did with the IDSP and the DSP. Simply put this takes a digital to analog converter and a DSP and an ultra-clean headphone amplifier that makes it a separate unit from your device. Here’s how it works. This is a DSP, this will work with your Windows box, this will work with your Mac OS10 box and this will work with your Android device. It’s simply a USB device so I can take any one of these plugs that I need for that particular device and plug it into my Windows laptop or I can use it with this cord so that I can plug it into my USB L equipped Android device. Once I’ve got that connected I can play pretty much any file format that I want. This will support MP3 AAC, PCM Apple and Windows Lossless and all streaming audio and video formats and because it has an onboard DAC that’s separate from the power supply that’s inside your phone or your laptop you’re not going to get that hum. Because it has a DSP it means you can do signal processing inside the device so that you can get really, really, nice audio. Get rid of all those artifacts and because it’s powered over the USB bus means you’re not going to have a whole lot of cables hanging off your device. Now that’s good, this is better. This is the IDSP and they specifically designed this for I devices so your iPad or your iPhone. Again they could have gone with a standard dongle approach and you would have had to use a dongle. You’d have to use a dongle like this from a Lightening to a USB or from a 30 pin to a USB and then you’d have to put the connector so that it would do something like that. That’s not elegant, that’s a whole lot of mess hanging off your device. Instead they devised the IDSP so that it will take a standard 30 pin or lightening connector to USB and integrates it as part of the device. Now that’s pretty slick and that’s the kind of engineering that I like to see. It’s got all the same specs as the regular DSP, it supports all the same formats, it is bus powered but this 1 will work on a lightening phone, it will work on the 30 pin standard iPhone, iPad connector and it will give you all that same audio quality that you’d get off of the little red box. Now each of these is $69, it started off as a kick starter campaign. We’ve got a couple in the studio, what we want to do is we want to show this to a couple of the audiophiles that we have and see if this finally turns your hand-held device into that ultra-high definition device of choice.

Now that’s all we’ve got for this episode of Before You Buy. Remember that you can always get all of our episodes at If you go there you’ll find not just our back episodes and not just our notes, our pros and cons but you’ll also find a place where you can subscribe so that every episode is automatically downloaded into your device of choice. Also please follow me on Twitter. You’re going to find me at, that’s @padresj. If you follow me you’ll find out what I do for every episode. I always announce it ahead of time, you’ll be able to suggest products that you want on future episodes of Before You Buy and you’ll also see what a day in the life of Padresj looks like. Thanks to everyone who’s submitted reviews for this episode of Before You Buy. Of course that’s Jason Howell, that’s Miriam Joire and that’s Chad Johnson and a special thanks to Lisa and to Leo my super producer Carson and my absolutely fabulous Cranky Hippo Mr. Bryan Burnett. Bryan can you tell the folks where they can find you every week?

Bryan Burnett: Every week doing Know How with you on Thursdays. We have a lot of fun doing that show so check it out.

Fr. Robert: Yes, please do. Until next time I’m Father Robert Ballecer just reminding you that you’ve got to watch Before You Buy!

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