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…

Review: ASUS ZenWatch

asus_90nz0011_m00010_zenwatch_android_smartwatch_brown_1421709650000_1112696If you buy any Apple Watch you have many choices although all of them involve the type of watchband or body you prefer. The mechanism itself is the same with prices ranging from $349 to $17,000. Currently, the Apple Watch only works with an iPhone 5 and up.

If you have an Android watch, however, you have more choices. Smartwatches are made for Android by Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony and others. And within each smartwatch model you have case and band choices. Only Pebble offers the user a choice between iOS and Android platforms.

To make things simpler, most of these manufacturers have adopted Google’s Android Wear OS. So for whatever watch you choose, the operation while not identical will be very similar.

After having purchased 4 of these watches, I have found some considerations that I did not like. Features were the most common but price was a major issue. My last smartwatch was an LG Watch Urbane, a stylish model loaded with features. But it also came with a $350 price tag.

On the heels of this purchase, I discovered that the ASUS ZenWatch I previously considered had lowered its price from $199 to $150. This caused me to reappraise the ZenWatch. Continue reading…

Review: GMYLE Ultra-Slim Illuminated Keyboard

GMYLE-Backlit-KeyboardWe previously reviewed the Logitech K811 Illuminated Bluetooth Keyboard that operated 3 Apple devices from one keyboard. All these features came at a hefty $100 price. That keyboard is now scarce with prices over $150. For this amount you get an aluminum Bluetooth® keyboard with a full complement of function keys.   It sounds like a rip-off, doesn’t it?

As competition, GMYLE has introduced a similar Bluetooth keyboard with illuminated keys that work with Macs, iOS, Windows and Android devices. It uses typical scissor keys with a stainless steel back, just like Apple’s own keyboard. But unlike the competition, it lists for $50, but discounts can be found around $35! It comes in white or silver.

Unlike the Logitech keyboard, the GMYLE keyboard offers a choice of 7 backlit colors at the touch of a key: blue, green, purple, red, yellow, white, and cyan. In addition there are 2 brightness levels as well as off.  Continue reading…

REVIEW: HP Color LaserJet Pro (M252dw)

71mhBWOJReL._SL1500_No one can dispute the quality of today’s color laser printers. They produce great quality output at speeds and prices that get better every year. The HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw is the latest example of this phenomenon.

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 $299.99, many retailers are selling it for $199.99 with online vendors even less.

Compared to my previous printer the LaserJet Pro 200 (M251nw), this printer is priced similarly, but has added features. What do you get for your money?

Features 

  • Wireless Printing lets you print from your iPhone, Mac or PC, iPad or other mobile device directly to this printer.
  • 3” Touchscreen lets you make settings and view configurations directly
  • Automatic Duplex Printing lets you save paper by printing on both sides
  • Multiple Connectivity lets you connect by Ethernet LAN, USB cable, USB flash drive or wireless (above)

Continue reading…