REVIEW: Apple Magic Keyboard vs. Matias & Kanex

In 2016 Apple introduced its Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.  Previously if you wanted an Apple wireless keyboard, you would have received one with your iMac or you could purchase one for $99.  The catch is that no number keypad was included.  This just changed in June, 2017.

Before this new Apple keyboard was introduced, both Matias and Kanex had released full wireless keyboards with a numeric keypad  for less money.  This review is an attempt to compare these three keyboards.  All three are extended keyboards with numeric keypads and aluminum bodies.

Apple Magic Keyboard with Number Pad

I’m not sure just what is “magical” about this keyboard.  It is a full-size Bluetooth keyboard complete with a lightning cable for recharging.  Although there is very little height to the keys, they work capably.  Just install the included cable between the keyboard and your Mac for a full charge which should last about 40 days.  While your keyboard is charging, you will still have full functionality as a wired keyboard. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Canon imageCLASS LBP612Cdw

Color laser printers have left their mark giving users crisp printouts at lower per-page prices. One of the newer examples is Canon Color imageCLASS 612Cdw.

This printer is designed for the home or office user that wants crisp laser printing at a lower cost per page than what inkjets offer. Although this laser printer is listed at $279.99, some retailers are selling it for around $185.

It is built like a tank weighing in at 34.1 pounds.

Features 

  • Wireless Printing lets you print directly from your iPhone, Mac or PC, iPad or other mobile device without a router
  • 5-line LCD display (monochrome)
  • Automatic Duplex Printing lets you save paper by printing on both sides
  • Multiple Connectivity lets you connect by Ethernet LAN, or wireless.
  • Recommended Monthly Volume: 30,000 pages.

The quality of the printouts was excellent for a laser printer. If you have to have deep and rich color printouts, use a quality inkjet printer. These printers are made for color gradations that lasers cannot match. But they have come close in recent years as the Canon LBP612Cdw can attest.

This printer has a rated speed of 19ppm for black or 11ppm for color or 11-ppm for any two-sided printing

Printing a single-page Word document took 12 seconds after warm up. Ten copies of a single page took 40 second to print. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Apple Magic Keyboard With Numeric Keypad

Has Apple been asleep for a decade? They have produced wired and wireless keyboards over the years, but not until now have they introduced a wireless keyboard with a number pad: the Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.

If you work with spreadsheets or do frequent number crunching, you have probably relied on a keyboard with a numeric keypad. Most of Apple’s competitors have produced similar keyboards at reasonable prices.

For several years, Apple has relied on their Magic Keyboard, a Bluetooth-formatted keyboard—but without a number pad. This keyboard has a nice feel to the touch and was easy to recharge.   If you wanted an Apple keyboard with a number pad, you had to be content with their Apple Wired Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. This was a serviceable keyboard that sold for a very reasonable $49.00 

At Apple’s WWDC held in June, Apple introduced their new keyboard without much fanfare. What Apple did not disclose was they were discontinuing their previous wired number pad keyboard.

Their current keyboard, the Magic Keyboard is selling for an overpriced $99, especially when compared to their competition. For example, Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard sells for $59.99. And that keyboard includes a number pad!

Apple has priced their new Magic Keyboard with Number Pad at $129.00, considerably higher than the competition. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Brother Digital Color Laser Printer HL-3180CDW

Color laser printers have left their mark giving users crisp printouts at faster speeds than ever. One of the newer examples is the Brother Digital Color Printer HL-3180CDW.

This printer is designed for the home or office user that wants crisp laser printing at a lower cost per page than what inkjets offer. Although this laser printer is listed at $349.99, many retailers are selling it for around $300. If this price seems somewhat higher than similar color lasers, be aware that the HL-3180CDW includes a built in flatbed scanner.

This color laser is designed for serious users. It is built like a tank and has a weight of nearly 48 pounds.

Features 

  • Wireless Printing lets you print from your iPhone, Mac or PC, iPad or other mobile device directly to this printer.
  • 3.7” Touchscreen lets you make settings and view configurations directly
  • Automatic Duplex Printing lets you save paper by printing on both sides
  • Built-in Scanner for scanning or copying documents.
  • Multiple Connectivity lets you connect by Ethernet LAN, USB cable, USB flash drive or wireless.
  • Recommended Monthly Volume: 300 to 1500 pages.
  • Copy Reduction/Enlargement: 25-400%

Continue reading…

Review: Matias Wireless Aluminum Keyboard

1Apple is known for its leading technology. This is evident with most of their products—except for keyboards and mice.

If you’ve wanted an up-to-date keyboard, for example, you probably went with an aftermarket competitor. One such competitor is Matias that has just come out with a thin aluminum keyboard much like Apple’s standard keyboard—only better.

Matias has been known primarily for keyboards with tactile key presses much like the earlier Apple keyboards of yesteryear. Matias still produces these keyboards—for around $150. Very pricey for a keyboard!

This year, Matias has released its Wireless Aluminum Keyboard to fill the void that Apple has left. If you wanted an Apple keyboard with a numeric keypad, you had to settle for the Apple’s Wired Keyboard with Numeric Keypad for $49.

The only Apple alternative would be its Magic Keyboard that is indeed wireless, but without the number keypad at a price of $99.

To fill this void, Matias comes to the rescue with it’s Wireless Aluminum Keyboard for $99 loaded with features that Apple left off its own keyboards. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Apple iPad Pro

13989786_xxlg_0If you follow Apple’s ads for the new Apple iPad Pro 9.7”, you would believe that this device is a dramatic improvement over recent iPads, but if you look closer, this is not necessarily the case.

In September of last year Apple introduced the iPad Pro, a larger (12.9”) device with much of the specs of smaller iPad but with the introduction of the Apple Pencil for those who need to draw on their iPads.

In late March, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad Pro (9.7”) to match the previous iPads in size, yet had newer features found only in the iPad Pro. Check out some of the new features.

New Processor

The iPad Pro picks up major speed improvements thanks to its Apple A9X chip with 64-bit architecture. This chip replaces last year’s A8X chip.. Apple claims this speed makes everything more responsive without sacrificing its 10 hours of battery life.

I was not able to test the speed of the A9X, but those who did found a 200% improvement. From normal day-to-day activities you may not be able to find a significant difference, so speed bumps with this new iPad may be a perception issue.

Those who have tested this processor have found that the A9X chip delivers speed and graphics that rivals many PCs. Continue reading…

Xfinity Modem Rental

Comcast-Xfinity logo

Exactly four years ago I wrote an extensive article for our newsletter about switching from Comcast TV and Internet service to AT&T’s U-verse. At the time it was a good deal and U-verse was certainly more reliable than Comcast. We had U-verse for two years until the introductory priced contract expired and the rates rose. U-verse service was okay, but not great and streaming Netflix was annoyingly interrupted multiple times for buffering. Both my wife and I have part-time consultancies which require us to have good, consistent internet connections and U-verse just didn’t quite do it for us. So two years ago when a Comcast sales person came around and tried to get us back to Comcast with a deal that was equal to U-verse TV but with much better Internet speeds, we bit and made the switch. That contract ended this month and as we should have expected, our bill rose dramatically. We complained to Comcast and told them we had to get the bill back down to a manageable level, and certainly there must be some other bundle that would do the job for less. To make a long story short, we wound up with a basic TV, phone, and internet package, and upgraded the TV and internet portions to mid-tier levels and still wound up with a price well below the bill we had after our previous contract had expired. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual

51XHpF9WPML._SX378_BO1,204,203,200_When it was first released, iPhoto was developed as an easy way to organize photos from a digital camera and consequently to print or share them. Each year Apple made improvements to this important software.

Several years later Apple released Aperture, an easy-to-use software program that was specifically designed for photographic professionals.

Last year Apple decided to replace both of these software programs with Photos that would serve the needs of both consumes and professionals.   To assist with the learning curve of this new software, Lesa Snider has written Photos for Mac and iOS: The Missing Manual (O’Reilly, July 2015, 312 pages) with a forward by David Pogue.

This book is part of The Missing Manual series from O’Reilly which gives more comprehensive information about its subject than the manual for that piece of software (or hardware). The title suggests that if you bought that digital camera or related software, you don’t have much detailed information to work with. This book will fill in the gaps. This O’Reilly book includes color photos to illustrate its points. Continue reading…

Review: ASUS ZenWatch 2

ASUS-ZenWatch-2_thumbTwo months ago I reviewed the ASUS ZenWatch with solid features that sold for an impressive $199.99 compared to the Apple Watch or other Android Wear smartwatches.

Now just 6 months later, ASUS has introduced a follow-up, the ZenWatch 2 for an even better value starting at an amazing $129. Just like Apple’s pricing, the ZenWatch 2 offers two sizes with a variety of watchbands from rubber to stainless steel.

Two Sizes

The ASUS ZenWatch 2 comes in two sizes: 1.63” (the larger model) that is the exact same size as ASUS’ previous model or a 1.45” size for smaller wrists. The larger model has a 320 x 320 pixel display and the smaller one has a 280 x 280 display.

ASUS has a different pricing approach than Apple. Its larger model is $129 while it’s smaller one is $149. The reason presumably is that the smaller model costs more to manufacture. Continue reading…

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Apple iPhone 6

81zwU5hwAmL._SL1500_81eFkI+CZAL._SL1500_When looking at the Apple iPhone 6 released last September, the closest rival is the Samsung Galaxy S6 that was introduced in March of this year. The rivalry is not just about features, but also about sales.

The Galaxy is the best Android seller in competition with Apple and this review is a look at the two best-selling smartphones on the market today.

Keep in mind that both Apple and Samsung have larger models with similar features. Apple has the iPhone 6+ with a 5.5” screen, while Samsung has the Note 5 model with a 5.7” screen. In addition, Samsung also offers the Galaxy S6 Edge+ that has a curved screen at the edge. Both larger screens from Apple and Samsung sell for an extra $100.

Android vs. iOS

Of course, if you are locked into a platform this would not be an issue. The iPhone operates on iOS 8 or later and if you are a loyal Apple brand follower this is the only phone you would consider (unless you wanted the larger iPhone 6+)

The Galaxy S6 operates on the Android platform that includes a wide variety of smartphone manufacturers. While not going into the details of each platform, Google’s Android offers many more customizable options. Suffice it to say that Apple users prefer the minimum customization and just want to own a dependable phone. Continue reading…