Articles about Review

Feenix Nascita 2014 gaming mouse and Dimora mousepad [Review]


Whenever I buy anything, the old adage "you get what you pay for" is always with me. Whether it is a computer, a car or deli cold cuts, I am willing to spend more for quality. However, I do not just throw money around -- I prefer quality and value. Shoes are something I wear every day, so I am willing to spend a lot for comfort. In other words, I know where not to be cheap. Much like shoes, I use a mouse every day too. Sure, I can buy an inexpensive mouse, and it will be functional, but since I use it so much, don't I deserve the best? I think so.

I've been using a high-end mouse for a few weeks, the Feenix Nascita 2014. This is a peripheral from a relative newcomer to the industry -- Feenix Gaming LLC. Please read on, to learn of my thoughts and impressions.

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Nexus 5 -- meh, it's OK [Review]

Google Nexus 5 Android action figure 2

While I love Android, I am open-minded. Despite the fact that I collect Android figures, I am no "fan-boy" of Google's mobile operating system. My choice to use the OS is because I like it. Over the years, I have tried Palm OS, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone -- all of these smartphone-focused operating systems are good in their own ways. However, I fell in love with the counter-culture aspect of Android -- hacking, rooting, flashing roms; it was fun.

The holy grail of this sub-culture of Android is the Nexus smartphone. You see, these phones are easy to tinker with because you can easily unlock the bootloader, plus they have a pure Android experience. The newest such smartphone, the Nexus 5, has the Android community giddy with excitement. The phone sold out almost immediately and it is currently on backorder for weeks. If you check eBay, you will find the device selling for more than MSRP. You must be thinking that this phone is amazing right? I am sorry to say it's not. It's just OK. It's also one of the best Android phones you can buy. Confused? Read on.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week -- November 3-8


Another busy week with more news than you could shake a stick at. Following the release of KitKat, Google was riding high as figures revealed that Jelly Bean is now installed on more than half of Android devices. It’s a similar story for Microsoft. Its previous operating system, Windows 7, is still the most popular while growth for Windows 8 and 8.1 remains slow. It was better news for Windows Phone which is making serious inroads into Android and iOS's share of the mobile market in Europe, and even managed to overtake Apple in Italy.

It seems that more people want to be able to use the latest and greatest version of Android, and following the announcement that the Galaxy Nexus would not receive a KitKat update, a petition was quickly launched to try to change Google's mind. Showing that the march of progress will always leave casualties, Google announced that Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be supported by Google Apps, and Windows 7 users gained Internet Explorer 11. To push the launch, Microsoft unveiled a new Anime ad campaign focusing on the browser's improved security.

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The good and bad of, more than one year after its launch [Review]

In late-July 2012, Microsoft launched, a new consumer-oriented email service set to replace the cluttered and dated Hotmail. Its long-term mission would be to take on Google's prevalent Gmail and establish itself as a product with widespread appeal. By grandfathering-in those who used Hotmail, Microsoft announced, in early-May 2013, had reached 400 million users.

I delivered my review of two days after its launch. My impressions were positive for a product that, at the time, was still undergoing testing (the official public launch happened in late-February 2013). Still, I concluded that the service was not up to par with Gmail, because it was missing key functionality. But lots of things have changed in the meantime, which is why I decided to write this long-term review of, outlining the most important changes and detailing the positives and negatives of the service, now that it has reached maturity.

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Verizon LG G2 -- an old-school Android smartphone [Review]


The Android operating system and school of thought are undergoing a major change; a sea change brought on by the Motorola Moto X and its voice interaction. After using it, I remarked that specifications and benchmarks melted away and I was enveloped in the experience. However, not everyone wants to interact with their smartphone using voice. Some people, myself sometimes included, just want to touch a big beautiful display and have the best specs and most bragging rights... and that's OK. People are different as is their usage.

The LG G2 represents Android's old-school, previous school of thought. It is fast and flashy and will trounce the Moto X in speed. However, the phone infamously has a new trick up its sleeve by assigning the buttons to the rear. This feature stole the focus from the device in the media and rightfully so. After all, it is an out-of-the-box approach that people just haven't seen before. I have been using this smartphone for a couple of weeks now and I finally feel ready to share what it is and what is isn't. At the end of this article, you will find out whether I can recommend it or not.

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Google-HP Chromebook 11 first-impressions review

HP Chromebook 11

Many people reading this review tangle up in features. They have a spec-sheet mindset that obscures seeing some products' benefits. Google gets the difference, and you should too. The paper holder that wraps around a Starbucks coffee cup is a feature. Protecting your hand from burning is a benefit. While related, the two are distinct. Any evaluation of Chromebook -- or any other thing to be purchased -- should focus on benefits first. Specs are a distraction.

In offering my first impressions about HP Chromebook 11, I step back from features and focus on benefits and who gets the most from them. Based on the out-of-the-box experience, for most people reading this review, I would not recommend the computer, which Google co-designed, over Intel Haswell-based Chromebooks. However, keeping with suspicions expressed yesterday, the tiny Chromebook would be right for students. Design, size, portability, functionality and value for price offer the right mix of benefits for preschool-to-grade 12 students. HP Chromebook 11 is what white MacBook was to kids last decade.

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The 2013 Apple MacBook Air from a Windows PC user's perspective

2013 13-inch MacBook Air

For an exclusive Windows user, the prospect of owning a Mac has been an exciting to-do to cross off my enthusiast bucket list. I have owned two iPhones and one iPad, and have enjoyed all three, but I have never bought a Mac nor have I used one extensively. I have always been curious to see what's on the other side, but some constraints, one of which was Windows-only engineering software, prevented me from looking at any Mac with serious consideration. Luckily, or not, things have changed, and at the beginning of September I bought a new 13.3-inch MacBook Air, hoping to see what all the fuss is about.

I'll admit to being quite passionate about new devices, and always looking to get to know the basics before they arrive at my doorstep. Yes, I too scour the InterWebs searching for the tiniest of details. I just can't help it (and no, I do not believe that I am a control freak). But this time around I decided that the MacBook Air (I'm going to call it MBA from now on) needs a fresh take. Before it arrived, my impressions were that the hardware will not be a surprise (why would it be?) and that the software will take some getting used to. I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing once I settled in... and I was wrong.

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Review: CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Ultimate

power director3

CyberLink PowerDirector has been one of the top consumer video editors for a few years now, and you don’t have to use it for long to understand why.

The core editor gets the program off to a good start. Import your source files into the Media Room, organize them on the 100 track timeline, and apply hundreds of effects and transitions by dragging and dropping: it’s all very easy.

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Meet the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 [Review]


I love laptops for their portability, but I despise touchpads. Every laptop I use gets the same treatment -- a micro-sized USB receiver and a travel-sized mouse, with the laptop touchpad disabled. In other words, I am a mouse person. The mouse, as an input device, is not new and has changed relatively little in the course of modern computing history. So while my phones, tablets and computers move forward, a trusty and cheap Logitech M185 has been hooked to each PC.

Now Logitech has decided to thrust me into the modern computing era by shipping a brand new "Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630" right to my doorstep.

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Taking programming back to the 1980s -- hands on with the FUZE [Review]


Back in the late '70s at the tender age of 19 or so I learned to program in COBOL on a system that used punched cards -- a Sperry UNIVAC for those who care about these things. There was no instant gratification to be had with this method, non-essential (i.e. student) programs were run as overnight batches so you had to submit the cards holding your carefully-crafted code in a cardboard box. You went back the next morning (OK, afternoon) to collect your output which, naturally, came on blue and white striped continuous paper.

The next generation were able to learn the joys and frustrations of writing code in the comfort of their own bedrooms and lounges thanks to home machines that ran BASIC, no longer did it take 24-hours to fix a bug. Today though affordable PCs and off-the-shelf software for just about any purpose mean that everyone can use a computer without having any need to understand what makes it work.

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Hands-on with the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio iPad case

The FabricSkin in it's natural habitat.

After using the new Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio iPad case for the past two weeks, the pros and cons have become pretty apparent. This extended use has been important, as my impressions have changed over time. Overall, it is an impressive package and definitely worth considering.

At first glance, the materials look good, if not "expensive", and the textures seem well suited to their tasks. The case did feel pretty heavy, especially compared to my usual lightweight leather (non-keyboard) cover. The iPad snaps in fairly easily, and is very securely held. The rubber-like material that holds the device has a slight outer rim, that gives you good grip, but should also bend and provide some shock absorption in a fall. The outer fabric feels a bit like the nylon of a thick gym bag -- fairly smooth, but it is very grippable. The inner lining and keyboard covering have a smooth suede finish that feels great.

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Office 365 for Business: Cloud email (finally) ready for primetime [review]

businessman cloud

Merely a half year ago, my thoughts on Office 365 were salty at best. Outages continuously plagued the service. Its treatment of browser-based users who wished to forego desktop versions of Outlook and Office disappointed. And spam filtering was bottom tier, proving to do little in stemming waves of junk mail. In the February 2013 release, Microsoft turned a new page and proved why it's a reliable comeback kid in the cloud.

If you don't believe Microsoft is transorming itself into a company solidly rooted in the cloud, you're clearly missing the writing on the wall. The company's past three years have been nothing short of a cloud-cluster of budding services while simultaneously sun-setting legacy on-premise products. Windows Small Business Server bid its farewell, while runaway hits like Azure sweep the Redmond, Wash. horizon. Yet even as Office 365 for consumers came out to relatively loud fanfare, the main attraction of the Office 365 product line is the business-oriented offerings.

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MultiPLX is latest RSS alternative to dance on Reader's grave [review]

crow grave bird rip

I am long done with rattling on about Google's decision to kill Reader. I get it. RSS is popular with our crowd -- the tech writers and those who follow multiple blogs and wish for an easy way to keep up. That is where the service excels. But, let's face it -- the vast majority of people do not use this technology. My wife and kids, savvy computer users, would not know what RSS was if I asked.

However, the software has a niche, and sometimes a niche is all that is needed for a successful business. We have alternatives in Feedly, The Old Reader, Feedspot and Digg, which has bun in the oven. There are lesser-known options as well, but most users seem to be destined for one of these already established programs. Several have had to beef up server capacity and bandwidth to cope with new-found popularity.

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Windows Azure: Cloud-hosted virtual machines done right [review]

Cloud Computing

Some of Microsoft's greatest battles aren't being fought in the open, contentious field of constant public opinion and media coverage. If there's one thing Microsoft has always done better than the competition, it's blowing open new areas of opportunity and running with the ball on the sly. Apple and Samsung can keep their tactical flags limited to consumer electronics; Microsoft has far greater potential as a rising star in the cloud arena. The war started with its drive to push email to the cloud with Office 365, and the next leg of battle sits in the helm of Windows Azure and XaaS dominance.

If you're under the impression that we are not yet in the era of massive, prevalent 'big data', you're wildly mistaken. Our data needs are already climbing to astronomical levels, with IBM stating that 90 percent of the data in existence today was created in just the last two years. Not surprisingly, much of these growing data needs are being tossed into virtual environments whether it be on-premise in a VMWare or Hyper-V driven route, or my personal favorite: cloud-hosted virtual machines.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 -- it's just a damn phone [review]

Galaxy S4

After a year-and-a-half on an iPhone 4S, I'm now on the current cutting-edge of smartphonery: Samsung Galaxy S4. I've used the phone for almost 3 days now. It's good. I'm excited. Are there any ball games on tonight?

Where was I? Oh yeah, the phone. I'm so excited that I something that excited people do. Honestly, it's a phone. It's a very nice phone with some great features, a great physical design and a lot of bling features that I'll probably never use. I can believe it's the best of the Android phones, but I haven't tested all the others.

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