Articles about Review

System76 Meerkat is a cute Intel Broadwell-powered Ubuntu Linux computer [Review]

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Imagine if every time you wanted a Windows computer, you had to buy a Mac, format the hard drive and install Microsoft's operating system. That would suck, right? This is pretty much how it is for Linux users, sadly. If you are a user of a Linux distro such as Fedora or Ubuntu, for the most part -- unless you are a system-builder -- you have to buy a Windows machine, and install your preferred operating system.

What if you want to buy a computer with an operating system such as Ubuntu pre-installed? Enter System76. The company sells computers -- both desktops and laptops -- running the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. Recently, the company began selling the Meerkat -- a mini computer based on Intel's NUC. I have been using the computer for a few weeks now, with both Ubuntu and Windows 10 and I am ready to share the experience with you.

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Harman/Kardon Nova is bright [Review]

Harman Kardon Nova

My daughter's cat Cali loves to chew cords—a habit we will eventually break. Meanwhile, it's good excuse to invest in new wireless speakers that diminish some of the cord clutter. Our 20 year-old also is moving home for the summer, putting more wires at risk and necessitating some speaker swaps. She takes my Harman/Kardon SoundSticks, which subwoofer meets her requirement for thumping bass; I don't need it and switched to a space-saving, cord-reducing duo set.

Spectacular sound is my description for Harman/Kardon Nova, which deliver rich treble, magnificent highs, fine detail, and more-than-adequate bass for the kind of kit. Separation and soundstage are bold—dynamic! The speakers are best appreciated when matched to the right source. I stream from lossless leader Tidal on Chromebook Pixel LS, connected via Bluetooth. The combination is immensely enjoyable and makes me happy while working, which boosts the quality and speed of my productivity.

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EasyAcc DP100 Bluetooth 4.0 speaker [Review]

EasyAcc DP100

There are lots of Bluetooth speakers on the market, so which one you choose really comes down to the features you value most. Is sound quality your top priority or is portability and long battery life a bigger attraction?

The EasyAcc DP100 certainly qualifies on the portability front. It's a compact design, about the size of a Coke can, feels nicely weighty and has a rubber base so it won't slip around. The design is quite stylish in matt black with a shiny highlight around the top. There's an on/off switch and sockets for charging and aux-in at the back. Playback controls are operated by a grey, rubbery button on the top, this works well enough but doesn’t have a particularly nice feel.

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IOGEAR GearPower Mobile Power Station USB battery pack [Review]

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Removable batteries in smartphones are becoming quite the rarity. While Apple never offered such a thing on the iPhone, it was once very common on Android devices. While some smartphones running Google's mobile operating system still have this feature, it is far less prevalent (the upcoming LG G4 is a surprising exception). Unfortunately, the battery life of these devices can be very short; making it through a full work day can be challenging. Since you cannot swap the battery, what are you supposed to do?

You need a USB battery pack. These battery boosters are all the rage nowadays; Amazon and other manufacturers are littered with them. Deciding on a model can be tough, but luckily, I discovered a winner -- the IOGEAR GearPower Mobile Power Station. It has made my Nexus 6 more usable when on the go. Battery anxiety, be gone!

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Chromebook Pixel LS is nearly perfect [Review]

Chromebook Pixel

Mark the date with an alarm. Around May 28, 2015, sellers likely will fill eBay and Craigslist with spanking new Chromebook Pixels, available for bargain prices—if anything less than $999 or $1,299 could be considered a deal. Google's developer conference commences that day, when I expect many attendees will receive and quickly dispatch shiny, new laptops. Big G gave away the pricey Pixel two years ago, and it's good guess will do so again. Smart developers will keep the machines; many will not. Dumb move, but who am I to judge, eh? Pixel rests at the precipice of future computing, for those open-minded enough to welcome it. They are few.

If you are among those who get the Chromebook concept, who thinks about purchasing the laptop, but waffles indecision, watch for short-term selling prices that could meet what your sensibilities and spending budget can tolerate. It's good background for me to finally review the higher-end of the two costliest Chromebook configurations. My primer can help you decide whether or not to bother, either for full price now or for the chance of less later. Why wait? I wouldn't and didn't. I received my Pixel in March, on Friday the 13th, ordered two days earlier from Google. I use no other computer. It's more than my primary PC and could be yours, too.

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Samsung 850 EVO SATA SSD -- this is the drive you've been waiting for [Review]

SSD850EVO

The absolute best upgrade for any computer that's operating system is running from a hard disk drive, is a solid state drive. Why? The performance increase is significant, while SSD prices are decreasing. In other words, you can speed up your PC without hurting your wallet.

The problem, however, is deciding which SSD to buy. While affordability and speed are important qualities, I tend to put a premium on reliability. Of course I want the drive to be fast, but the contents of the drive -- important documents and family photos -- trump anything else. Luckily, Samung's offerings have proven to be both reliable and fast, while also being reasonably priced. Today, I am taking a look at the latest and greatest SATA variant; the 850 EVO.

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Divoom Voombox-Outdoor portable Bluetooth speaker [Review]

Divoom_Voombox-Outdoor - 1 (1)

Smartphone speakers are rubbish when it comes to playing music. There are some exceptions, like HTC's One M flagships, but, generally speaking, the sound quality just isn't there. There is only so much you can ask for from a tiny little speaker, trapped inside a small shell. So, if you want more oomph, you will have to hook up your smartphone to an external speaker.

Of course, if you want something that you can carry with you, you should actually be looking at a portable speaker. An interesting such offering is Divoom's rugged Voombox-Outdoor, which can connect to your smartphone either through a cable or, better yet, via Bluetooth. Here is what you should know about it.

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Inateck BP2001 Bluetooth stereo speaker [Review]

Inateck speaker 1

With smartphones and tablets increasingly becoming the focus of our entertainment a decent portable speaker is becoming an essential accessory if you don’t want to be tied to headphones or want to share your music with others.

Inatek's latest offering has a pair of 5W speakers mounted in a stylish, compact (around 9.5 inches long by 2.5 inches high) black and silver enclosure. It has a nice weighty feel and there's a slot in the top into which you can sit a smartphone or tablet -- a pop-out strut at the back prevents the unit from becoming top heavy and tipping over as well as keeping a comfortable viewing angle -- so you can use it to watch videos. A built-in microphone means you can make hands-free calls too. However, it isn't an actual dock so it won't charge your phone or tablet.

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Inateck FE2004: Turn your old hard disk into a USB 3.0 external drive [Review]

Inateck hard drive

You can of course buy ready to use external hard drives, but should you have a spare 2.5 inch disk from an old machine lying around it's easy enough to pop it in a case so you can use it for backups or transferring files.

There's lots of choice when it comes to buying an external enclosure and most of them aren't very expensive, so what makes this offering from German company Inateck attractive?

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ZTE Blade L2: An affordable 5 inch quad-core Android smartphone [Review]

ZTE Blade L2

Smartphones have become such an important part of our lives that it makes sense to get the best make and model you can. However, not everyone can afford an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6. Fortunately, there are plenty of great budget smartphones to choose from, and these days a budget price doesn’t have to mean a budget experience.

The Blade L2, from Chinese firm ZTE, is a great example. It’s priced at just £89.99 off contract, and for that you get a handset with a quad-core processor and a 5-inch screen.

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Nexus 6 is amazing [Review]

Nexus 6 Back

When isn't a cell phone too big? The Motorola-made, Google-branded phablet answers that question for me, and may very well for you. From Samsung's introduction of the original Note, I scoffed at large-screen smartphones—and, honestly, the seemingly stereotypical gadget geeks using them. But big is better, and my arrogant attitude about phablets and the people buying them was unwarranted.

Simply stated: Nexus 6 is the best handset I have ever used. The experience is so fresh and delightful, the emotional reaction reminds of using the original iPhone that I purchased on launch day in June 2007. N6 shatters my negative preconception about phablets, particularly unwieldiness when used daily. That said, I made some lifestyle changes, including choice of clothing, to accommodate the mobile's massive size.

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Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 Smart WiFi Router AC2350 [Review]

Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 Smart Wi-Fi Router AC2350 1

For many of us, connecting to the Internet is life. While technically not as important as drinking water or breathing oxygen, being connected can feel that way sometimes. It is for this reason that I am often perplexed that people choose to skimp on their router. Look, I like a good deal just as much as the next guy, but why wouldn't you go for the best you can get when it comes to something you do every day, such as connect the Internet? Is it really worth saving $20 if your connection is constantly dropping?

For the past year or so, I have been enjoying Apple's Airport Extreme router, and for the most part, it has been a success. Unfortunately, it has some negatives. Lately, the 5GHz band has become flaky, causing me to disconnect and reconnect; a pain in the butt to the say the least. The biggest deal-breaker? It requires an Apple device or Windows computer to manage. Unlike most routers that can be accessed though a web browser, Apple requires a special program. As a Linux user, this meant not having the ability to change router settings without booting into Windows or grabbing my iPad. To solve this dilemma, I swapped it for the 802.11AC Netgear AC2350 Nighthawk X4 Smart WiFi Router. Did it outperform Apple's Airport Extreme?

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Seagate Personal Cloud: Home media storage done right [Review]

seagate box

The average family has multiple devices capable of taking photos and videos. Seagate Personal Cloud from Ebuyer provides a central repository for all of this media, and can automatically back up content from your computers, smartphones and tablets.

You can access movies, music, photos and files from any supported device on your network, and stream media directly to Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and some Smart TVs. You can also access your files remotely over the internet, and sync content with cloud storage services.

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Huawei Honor Holly: Budget phone without budget performance [Review]

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If I wanted to pinpoint the most important development in the smartphone sector in the last two years, it would probably have to be the rapid rise of Chinese manufacturers. Huawei is one of the companies that has forced the mighty Samsung to consent to a rapidly declining market share in the huge Chinese market. Now it is going even further to conquer the world.

The Huawei Honor Holly that I review here is a typical example of what is on offer. It signifies what consumers in rising Asian markets want most: A large screen and good performance that will allow operation as the user’s only device. Let’s take a closer look.

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Lenovo B50-30 23.8 inch All-in-one -- beautiful, powerful and affordable [Review]

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As a system builder, and lover of desktop add-on cards, I am usually adverse to all-in-one computers. Why? I prefer having my computer and monitor separate -- if one breaks, the other can still function. With that said, I recognize the value and space-savings potential of these machines.

For me to be interested in an all-in-one unit, it has to be exceptional. In other words, it has to be well-specced, as many upgrades will not be possible. Today, I am reviewing the Lenovo B50-30 23.8 inch All-in-one computer, and boy oh boy, are the specifications nice! It has an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM and a discrete 2GB Nvidia gaming card. Is it enough to make me an all-in-one proponent?

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