Articles about Review

Rachio 3 Wi-Fi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller with Alexa support [Review]

Owning a home is not in a walk in the park. Actually, being a homeowner can be downright daunting. Why? Well, things constantly break and need either fixing or replacing. Not to mention, there is normal upkeep, such as mowing the lawn, gardening, and for some folks, shoveling snow too.

This is why I am such a fan of the smart home. Anything I can do to get a little help is appreciated. Things like smart lights and thermostats not only make my life easier, but they can save me money too. Recently, I have been testing the 3rd generation smart sprinkler controller from Rachio and I came away with a very definitive opinion of it.

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SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD: Excellent performance at a good price point [Review]

The easiest and best way to speed up a slow computer is to replace its HDD with an SSD. This will deliver a huge performance boost, and can make an old PC feel brand new. If you’re after the best speeds and your computer has a compatible PCIe-based M.2 slot, then a NVMe solid state drive is what you should you be looking for as they are significantly faster than SATA models.

That said, SATA remains the dominant interface for connecting a SSD to your PC, and for most consumers the performance improvement it provides will be perfectly acceptable -- certainly much quicker than you’d get from a mechanical drive. We took SanDisk’s Ultra 3D SATA SSD for a spin to see how it fared.

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Review: RAVPower AC Outlet 27000mAh Power Bank

RAVPower AC Outlet 27000mAh Power Bank

Power banks are a dime a dozen nowadays, offering a way to ensure that your phone stays charged while you're on the move and away from a power socket. But while there are plenty of power banks with USB connections, what about those devices that require AC power?

There are some laptops that can charge using a USB-C connection, but most need AC -- and this is where the RAVPower AC Outlet 27000mAh Power Bank can help. As you might guess from the name, this is a portable battery pack that offers 27000mAh of power and could just save you from running out of juice when you travel.

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I cut the cord and switched to YouTube TV -- I couldn't be happier [Review]

For 2018, I decided to take stock in my finances to see exactly where my money is going each month. I found many ways to cut costs, such as making my own lunch instead of buying something from a deli each day. In New York, a sandwich, bag of chips, and a Snapple can easily run you $13! Food aside, there was one thing in particular that was really destroying my budget -- cable.

When I say cable, I am referring to the traditional "triple play" service, where you get television, internet, and phone. For this, I was paying over $200 a month! This was without any premium channels -- no HBO, Starz, or Showtime. The most ridiculous part? I was being charged monthly rental fees for the cable boxes and modem. Well, enough was enough. Thanks to YouTube TV, I "cut the cord" and I couldn't be happier.

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VisionTek VT1000 Universal Dual Display USB 3.0 Dock [Review]

If your laptop has Thunderbolt 3 -- and you want to connect it to a keyboard, mouse, and display -- a TB3 dock is a worthwhile investment. This allows you to both charge and connect your peripherals with a single cable. Don't have Thunderbolt 3? That's OK -- you can still utilize a USB dock. While it won't charge your machine, it will still offer much convenience.

While my MacBook Pro has Thunderbolt 3, my family and I have Windows and Linux notebooks that still use USB 3.0. For these computers, I have been testing a new USB 3.0 dock from VisionTek called "VT1000." Not only does it serve as a 3-port USB 3.0 hub (two Type-A on front, one on rear), but it also provides gigabit Ethernet, audio, and the ability to push two displays. For this, it offers very versatile connection options -- HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA.

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Nomad 100W USB-C Cable [Review]

No matter the product, a manufacturer should take pride in what it produces. In a world where technology is largely disposable, it is appreciated when a company creates something that is designed to last. If you go on Amazon these days, and you look to buy, say, a cable, you will be presented with countless unrecognizable brands with inexpensive low-quality offerings. And yeah, saving money is cool, but if you are buying crap, have you really saved anything?

I say all that because I have discovered a new USB-C cable from a company called Nomad that promises to be extremely rugged. Do you need a durable cable? Well, if you travel, absolutely. People that are constantly "on the go" will find themselves often pulling cables out of their bag and then shoving them back in. Not to mention, when you are in an airport or coffee shop, for instance, you may find yourself in awkward positions where the cable faces extra strain on its connectors while charging.

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Roundup: The best Windows 10 tweaking and customization tools

Windows 10 box and spanner

Unless you're a fan of using a computer that looks and feels the same as everyone else, you probably want to spend some time tweaking Windows so it works the way you want it to. Broadly speaking, tweaks fall into three categories -- those that change appearance, those that boost performance, and those that change the way things work.

Windows 10 does -- through Settings and the Control Panel -- afford you a decent degree of control over how the operating system looks and works, but if you want to get serious about things you have two options: head into the registry, or turn to a dedicated tweaking and customization tool. Now there are endless apps to help make life easier, so here's a roundup of the best Windows 10 tweaking and customization tools.

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AZIO Retro Classic: an incredible steampunk-inspired mechanical keyboard [Review]

AZIO Retro Classic

If it's not immediately obvious from a quick glance, AZIO explains that its striking Retro Classic keyboard is inspired by the look of a vintage typewriter. It's not just the look that's inspired in this way -- as it's a mechanical keyboard, there's a distinct typewriter sound to things.

There is just so much to like about this keyboard. Regardless of whether you are a fan of steampunk, the look is undeniably eye-catching. The build quality is quite phenomenal -- well... you'd hope so at these prices. The key action is gorgeous, and the clickity-clack perfectly suits the typewriter-style keys. So... let's take a closer look.

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Top 5 free data recovery tools for Windows

Miniature man on hard drive

We all back up our data, right? That's what everyone does! But of course, that's far from true. Most people don't get much further than thinking about putting a backup plan in place, promising themselves it's something they'll sort out one day -- and, all of a sudden, it's too late.

Deleting files by accident is easily done. If you're tinkering with partitions, it's also scarily easy to wipe out the wrong one! These are just two of the ways in which you can lose files, and if you don’t have a backup to hand, you're going to need help from a data recovery tool. Here we look at five of the best free options to help bring your files back from the dead.

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Woojer Strap: Adds a whole new dimension to sound [Review]

I first reviewed Woojer three years ago when it was a matchbox-sized subwoofer that could be worn in a choice of ways -- in the center of your chest, the base of your spine, or against your hipbone or collarbone. Since then, the product has undergone a massive change, and is now a large, adjustable strap which you wear across your body (there’s also a vest version).

Despite having changed form significantly, the idea behind Woojer remains the same -- which is to help you feel sound, not just hear it.

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D-Link DIR-882 EXO AC-2600 MU-MIMO router [Review]

D-Link AC-2600 router

For many people a router is something that's supplied free by their internet service provider. Consequently they don't give much thought to it unless they encounter problems.

Yet, as we attach more and more devices to our home networks we put more demand on our routers and performance can start to suffer. The good news is that there's a whole world of routers out there that offer performance and connectivity features way beyond those of the basic units usually sent out by ISPs.

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Creative Sound BlasterX Katana gaming soundbar [Review]

As a younger man, I was obsessed with audio equipment. I invested in expensive stereo receivers, multiple large speakers, and countless components -- turntable, cassette, CD, mini-disc, and more. Of course, I also connected my television and computer. Over time, however, with the explosion of downloadable and streamable media, all of that went away. Now, my living room just has a soundbar and subwoofer hooked to my TV -- Apple TV handles video and music. It is simple, and I like that.

So yeah, soundbars are great for living rooms, but what if there was one that was designed for computer desks? Weird concept, right? Yes, but as I have learned from the Sound BlasterX Katana, it totally makes sense. This speaker system from Creative is designed to sit under a computer monitor and provide exceptional sound quality. It is not just a soundbar, though -- it comes with a subwoofer, remote control, and has an integrated USB DAC.

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Apricorn Aegis Bio 3.0: A simple, but super-secure biometric drive [Review]

If you want to keep your personal data safe and secure, then a hardware encrypted drive is your best bet. Secure drives, like the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z, require you to enter a PIN into the integrated keypad to unlock the drive. These also come with a variety of security measures to make sure they can’t be brute forced.

If you prefer a different way of securing your data -- one that doesn’t require remembering a long PIN -- then you might prefer a biometric solution like the Aegis Bio 3.0. This a USB drive with a built-in finger reader. Unlocking the drive, and therefore your data, just involves swiping your finger down the AuthenTec TouchStrip sensor.

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VAVA Dash Cam offers great video quality in an usual-looking package [Review]

vava dash cam car mounted

When designing a dash cam it's easy for manufacturers to focus more on features rather than benefits. That's why we end up with so many devices that look bland, have pretty much the same features, but lack that special touch to set them apart from the crowd. With its new dash cam, VAVA decided to do things differently.

The VAVA Dash Cam is an intriguing proposition, featuring a cylindrical design and a magnetic mount connection, but no display or physical buttons. However, it's not lacking in features, as it packs lots of useful functionality. But how well does it work? I've tested it to find out.

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Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z: A super-secure USB flash drive [Review]

If you have important data that you need to have easy access to at all times, carrying it around on a USB flash drive makes sense. Unfortunately, these tiny storage devices are easily lost, and software encryption methods may not be 100 percent reliable.

If you want to guarantee that your personal data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in the event of the loss -- or theft -- of your drive, the best solution is a hardware encrypted memory stick like the new USB 3.1 Aegis Secure Key 3z from Apricorn.

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