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All posts tagged "reviews"

Friday, August 17, 2012

When A Router Aspires To Be More

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"However, if your needs are limited to casual usage, such as sharing documents and streaming music and photos, then a router with built-in network storage capability -- one that comes with internal storage or can host an external storage device and shares that with the rest of the network -- fits the bill better."

I would have to agree with the first suggestion made in the article, that if you have serious storage needs, a dedicated NAS is the way to go. Networking companies have been looking for ways to differentiate themselves by adding more features to their routers. From NAS capabilities, to sharing USB printers to cloud functionality. However, if you are on a budget, a router can function as a competent NAS. A decent NAS can cost quite a few shiny pennies, where a NAS capable router can be had for dirty pennies. Transfer rates will be slower, but it does mean that you have one less device to manage for your home "data center."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Build a Better Mouse and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Picking the best mouse to use is a pretty personal decision—it often comes down to taste and how the mouse feels under your hands, but there are definitely some stand-out models that most of us would recommend to friends if they asked us."

A lot of people are on the tablet craze where they touchy touchy their data, a lot of people still use a mouse as one of their main interface to a computer. A typical computer comes with a mouse that functions, but tends to be very basic. For those that use computers for a living, spending some coin on a more advanced mouse can make a huge difference in productivity and comfort. While the list LifeHacker provides tends to be more gaming focused, many of them function very well as desktop mice, and with extra buttons, it can make things like web surfing much easier. I am partial to the MX Revolution myself, but preference is very personal.

What surprises me is that Microsoft is missing from this list. I am a staunch Logitech fan, using their hardware for most peripherals I have, I must admit that Microsoft also puts out some very good mice and keyboards. What works best for you if you want to upgrade? Go to a brick and mortar store and see how each fits your hand. Reviews are great, but we are talking about a device that you are likely to spend years with.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Bigger Is Not Better: Review Of Four Nettops

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM,3231.html

"Today, we have four machines from as many different vendors. Our focus this time around is more on the products themselves, particularly now that we know how the hardware inside each performs (don't worry, we're running plenty of benchmarks here, too). Each box has its own unique focus. Some aim to squeeze desktop-like performance into a diminutive enclosure, and others minimize physical dimensions while pushing performance a notch higher compared to previous-generation models."

Laptops, tablets and smartphones are all the craze. Who wants a big boxy computer that stubs your toes when you are surfing the Internet fantastic? For those of us who still like a desktop kind of setup, these mini-pcs can provide a lot of benefits. Whether they act as an HTPC, office computer, a computer for the kids, or whatever else, space can often be at a premium. Historically, I have seen many of these small machines compromise performance in many ways, however, its impressive to see one of them sport a Core i5. It will not boost your bitcoin mining operation, but for regular use, and possibly even some light gaming, it's great to see these tiny wonders pack a punch!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting Seniors Connected

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Well the Telikin is an entirely different sort of PC. Built as an all-in-one device, the machine includes an 18- or 20-inch screen, large-print keyboard, and a normal wired mouse. It runs an unnamed version of Linux and is completely locked down, dumping you into a kiosk-like experience that you can’t leave."

Targeting seniors and getting them connected is an admirable task. While some seniors may be comfortable and fully able to live a full life without going online, I can see that many want to remain connected to their family, and the Internet is a great way of doing it. The problem is that computers tend to have large learning curves and lots of kinks to confuse people not used to technology. Having grown up with computers, most things are second nature to me, but when working with my parents, I can understand the challenges that face them. I like the Telikin concept, but I think a more successful implementation would be something based on Android. An iOS device would also be welcome, but I suspect Apple is satisfied that their current offerings are sufficient. A custom Android tablet could prove useful to seniors as it provides a more intuitive and easier to use interface. With Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond, usability is also up there. It would be great to see more seniors get online and be exposed to everything that the Internet has to offer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Photo Post Production and Library Software
Manufacturer: Adobe
Where to Buy: [Full version] [Upgrade] [Digital Download Windows] [Digital Download Mac OS X] (Affiliate)
Price: US$149 for Full, US$79 for Upgrade.
System Requirements: For Windows: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor, Microsoft® Windows Vista® with Service Pack 2 or Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, 2GB of RAM, 1GB of available hard-disk space, 1024x768 display, DVD-ROM drive, Internet connection required for Internet-based services. For Mac OS: Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support, Mac OS X v10.6.8 or v10.7, 2GB of RAM, 1GB of available hard-disk space, 1024x768 display, DVD-ROM drive, Internet connection required for Internet-based services.
Specifications: Partial Feature List


  • Easy to use but powerful workflow
  • Good results are fast to achieve
  • For Nikon users: Proper colours, finally!
  • US$149 price point is hard to ignore


  • Slow, slow, slow. Performance issues are present
  • Expects to be the centre of your workflow; stepping out of it can make things awkward
  • It is slow. It bears repeating. Are you sure you want to use that D800 with this?

Summary: Adobe's Lightroom has reached version 4, and we take a look at its two main modules, and how it works for one of the last holdouts against it. There are some performance issues, but it is capable of some great results. The performance issues cannot be overlooked that easily however, and it does cost the software some points in overall usability. The new price point makes it a relative bargain for many, however. Read more...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Digital Photography Review Reviews the Nikon D800

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:30 AM

"When the Nikon D800 was announced, the specification that got everyone's attention was - and to a large degree still is - the massive pixel count of its 36.3MP CMOS sensor. When a moderately-sized full-frame DSLR body aspires to go toe-to-toe with medium format cameras and backs at a fraction of their price, other attributes can seem secondary." has reviewed the D800, and what can I say? It's a phenomenal camera. The 36 megapixel sensor is truly state of the art, and the camera built around it is no slouch either. If you ask me, this is the FX and DX camera of the moment. Shoot it at 36 megapixel for class-leading resolution, or downsize it to 12 megapixels to exceed the D700's performance. Shoot at 15.3 megapixel for a DX crop that beats the D7000. Now, if only I can find the money for it somehow. On a more curious note, I wonder why DPReview upsampled the Canon 5DIII files instead of downsampling the D800 files; usually that makes the image that is being upsampled look a lot worse. Still, great camera. Time to raid the piggy bank, I think.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pentax K-01 Reviewed by Digital Camera Resource Page

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

"Aside from its unique looks, the K-01 is also a full-featured interchangeable lens camera. It has a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, K-mount lens support with built-in image stabilization, lots of manual controls, a boatload of scene modes and special effects, an HDR function, and 1080p video recording."

When the Pentax K-01 was announced, I mentioned (right in the headline no less) that Pentax cannot seem to do mirrorless cameras right. Well, in addition to all the issues that come with sticking to the K-mount instead of developing a new mount for a large sensor mirrorless camera (fat body due to large flange distance for the mirror box, slow AF with some lenses not designed for contrast detection autofocus), Pentax seems to have some terrible quality control issues here. Jeff Keller has a long history of reviewing digital cameras, but I don't think I have seen him point out so many issues in one review before! Nevertheless, if you are still interested, you can read the review, where the output from the camera is actually quite good, but given all the other issues, I think there are better mirrorless cameras out there.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Reviewed by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM has a review of the latest Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-M5. I'll spoil it a little: It's the best rated one yet. I have spent some time with the E-M5 and I have been quite impressed with many aspects of it, though the up-close and personal experience with what Olympus fans call the "Olympus Colour" did not leave me quite as impressed. It consists mainly of a very aggressive tone curve that pulls the upper-midtones and overall increases contrast to deliver a very punchy yet natural look. I think I prefer to process my raw files and their colours myself, thank you. The rest of the camera, including its low-light high-ISO noise, its AF speed, the user interface, were really good. My only quibble was with the rear command wheel, which being placed closer to the viewfinder meant I had to stretch my right thumb more than normal compared to the Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras or Nikon DSLRs. Overall, a great performance. Now Panasonic, where is that GH3?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taking Your Apps With You

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 AM

"Windows is great. The way Windows installs applications, however, is an out-of-date mess, adding local dependencies and unnecessary cruft to your system. In this day and age, there's no reason to stick with Windows' antediluvian default. What's the alternative? Using portable apps, you can install an app once, have all of the necessary files in one place, and even sync its settings across different machines with Dropbox. Handy, right? Here's how it works, and why you should do it."

Portable apps have been around for a long time, and have matured over the years. Now they are quite easy to use, and cover a wide range of needs. While there is a lot of merit to portable apps, the paranoid voice in me screams that they are a bad idea. I have used them in the past, but now that I bring my own computer with me everywhere, either in tablet or laptop form, I find little need for being able to run apps on someone else's computer. I also find myself not trusting what else could be on their computer. When it comes down to it, I just remote into my PC at home if there is anything that needs to be done. What about you? What uses have you found for portable apps? Am I wrong?

Friday, February 17, 2012

PC Gaming Will Never Die! Introducing the Alienware X51

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"The X51 is basically the size of an Xbox 360, but the insides are pure PC: Alienware employs a Mini-ITX motherboard, desktop-level Sandy Bridge Intel processors, and a full-sized double-slot graphics card (rotated ninety degrees and connected via a riser card to the PCIe 2.1 x16 slot)."

The gaming industry has seen a lot of changes over the past few years. While gaming consoles have traditionally dominated the market, the rise of casual games on the iPhone and Android have gained a lot of attention lately. PC gaming, though, is like that that kid you see at the school dance, standing in a corner, all alone, trying to look inconspicuous. He may have a lot to offer, and really is a great person, but no one wants to even talk to him because he does not quite fit in with the rest of the crowd. Despite all the love that other gaming platforms get, there is still a great market for PC gaming and the success of Steam suggests that it is not going to die anytime soon. The Alienware X51 looks like a good stab at helping to create more interest in the platform.

The biggest problem I see with the PC platform is its complexity. Performance varies widely, depending on what hardware you have, and with most games being 3D, a lot of computers that use integrated graphics find the experience less than stellar. Distribution services like Steam go a long way to simplifying the distribution chain, but until games can offer a much more stable platform like that which you see with a console, or a mobile device, I am certain that many people will remain put off by the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oloneo PhotoEngine Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: HDR Software
Manufacturer: Oloneo SAS
Where to Buy: Oloneo's Website
Price: US$149
System Requirements: OS:Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (32-bit or 64-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)
Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) Hard disk: 200MB of available space CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel or AMD with SSE2, dual-core recommended RAM: 1.5GB Screen: 1280 x 720.
Specifications: Complete Feature List


  • Great-looking and pleasing HDR images in just a few clicks;
  • Fast rendering live preview of changes;
  • Offers a high level of control for the advanced user.


  • Auto-alignment for handheld HDR shots not perfect;
  • Active noise reduction controls not present.

Summary: Oloneo's PhotoEngine may be the most expensive, but it is easily the best HDR software available in the market currently. Its ease of use with beautiful and natural results makes it hard to beat. It also has an additional neat trick in the form of HDR ReLight. There are a few minor issues, but for a 1.0 product, they do not overshadow the positives as a whole.

[Editor's Note: Today we bring a special review, written by a top professional photographer with well over a decade of experience. Jed Wee will be reviewing Oloneo's PhotoEngine, which made a splash when the beta was first released back in 2010. Now that the product is shipping, how well does it live up to the early promise? Join Jed as he puts the software through its paces!]


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Best Way to Keep Your Toys Juiced

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"If you have kids, you probably know this already, but lots of stuff needs batteries. Remote control toys, Wii remotes, laser pointers (well, that is for me), flash lights, even Nerf guns. For me, I have found the best place to pick up batteries is at one of these “dollar” stores. Sure the batteries are cheaper, but are they any good? Who knows. Let’s find out."

Like any person that likes electronics, I tend to go through a lot of batteries. From remote controls, to cordless mice and keyboards to cameras. While many of these toys use rechargeable batteries, some even custom ones, I find myself using a steady supply of AA and AAA batteries. Yes, I know there are rechargeable batteries in those sizes like Eneloops and even regular NiMH, but they involve a high upfront cost, something that is not always feasible. For those of us who still find use for disposable batteries, Wired has a good review. An update has been added noting that the store-branded batteries tested were of the "heavy duty" type and not alkalines that the premium brands sell. If you buy disposable batteries, be aware of this. Heavy Duty and Super Heavy Duty batteries are not the same as Alkalines, and will always offer less power. While they may suit for very light use, like remote controls, if the device is something that needs more power, like a flashlight, or a smoke detector, you will want something with some degree of staying power.

Digital Photography Review Reviews the Nikon 1 V1 and J1

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 AM

"Nikon's entry into the mirrorless interchangeable lens market late last year was widely anticipated, but the products that were finally announced took a lot of people by surprise. Nikon has created an entirely new system based around a relatively small sensor, that's about 30% of the size of those used in the company's DX-format SLRs. The system is spearheaded by two cameras - the Nikon 1 J1 and 1 V1."

DPReview's verdict is not the highest praise, and I still think they are a bit lenient there. When I tried both cameras, I found their UI to be absymal. Fixed function button that controls a useless feature? Check. Lots of menu scrolling? Check. Using a rocker instead of the more intuitive command dial to control manual functions? Check. It is not better for casual users either. Lack of contextual information for newcomers and casual shooters? Check. No clear indication what is the full auto mode? Check. Overall, for enthusiasts, it is a pain to use, and for casual shooters, there are other cameras which are easier to use. Then there is the price, which is more expensive than many of the Micro Four Thirds cameras. I will be waiting for version 2.0 of the product. Sorry Nikon, you need to do better than this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag ~ Near Perfect Camera Bag

Posted by Stacie Huckeba in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:17 PM

Product Category: Camera Bag
Manufacturer: Manfrotto
Where to Buy: Best Buy, Amazon
Price: $50 - $99 USD
Holds: DSLR with lens attached as well as 1 to 2 other lenses, 17" Macbook (15.4" laptop) and personal effects.
Specifications: Product Height 12.2", Product Width 7.5", Product Depth18.9",Product Weight 2.2 lbs.


  • Lightweight;
  • Cost Effective;
  • Lots of Storage Space.


  • Shoulder Pad is not Comfortable;
  • No Regular Tripod Attachment;
  • No Easy Access Side Pockets.

Summary: The Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag is a great camera bag for photographers on the go or who travel frequently. It is stylish and has an easy access top zipper that lets you get to all your gear in a hurry. That same zipper makes it easy to grab your laptop out for airport security checkpoints and, yes, the whole bag is carry-on friendly for both domestic and international flights.

The ability to carry a pro body with a battery pack attached and a 17 inch laptop along with other lenses and equipment without weighing a ton or requiring you to stop and find a place to sit your bag down in order to access your equipment is a lifesaver. The messenger bag style makes it easy to carry around all day and doesn't scream "I have an expensive camera in here!". The price point on this can't be beat - at $50 - $100, it easily compares to bags twice the price. Read more...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Amped Wireless High Power R10000 Router Review

Posted by Chris Sacksteder in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:30 AM

Amped Wireless High Speed Router

Product Category: Home Router / Wireless Access Point
Manufacturer: Amped Wireless
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $119.99
System Requirements: A computer with Ethernet for setup.
Specifications: Band: 2.4GHz, 80211b/g/n. MIMO. 300Mbps. Security: WEP, WPA, WPA. Output power: 29dBi. Antennas: dual 5dBi removable. Ports: 4 10/100Mb and one 10/100Mb up link.


  • Excellent wireless coverage;
  • Fast data transfer;
  • Easy setup.


  • Ethernet ports only 10/100Mb (Gigabit model coming soon);
  • Single 2.4GHz band (dual band model coming after the Gigabit version).

Summary: If you have spots in your home with poor wireless coverage, or find streaming HD video often breaks up, the high powered Amped Wireless R10000 router may be a better solution than adding one or more additional access points. Our tests show this device really does provide wide coverage and high speed.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Digital Camera Resource Page Reviews the Canon Powershot S100

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

"As you can see, the PowerShot S100 got a bump in resolution, zoom power, and continuous shooting performance -- plus it now has a GPS receiver. The S100 retains the compact metal body and customizable lens ring of its predecessor, plus full manual controls (with RAW support), an HDR mode, and larger-than-average sensor. The PowerShot S95 was one of my favorite cameras from last year. Will the same be true for the S100? Find out now in our review!"

The S100 is a nice upgrade from the S95, unlike the S95 itself, which was a small bump in terms of specs from the original S90. The 24mm equivalent wide-angle is a highlight for me, and the images have a smoother look to them compared to its CCD predecessor. All-in-all, I think this is the small compact camera to beat.

Sony NEX-7 Reviewed by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

"Now, with the NEX-7, Sony is specifically targeting those advanced users with a camera whose key spec reads like it's come straight off an enthusiast's wishlist. First up is the 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, shared with the SLT-A77, that enables true 1080p60 video recording."

The Sony NEX-7 has been one anticipated camera, and the delay caused by the floods in Thailand have probably made the anticipation even higher. Luckily it does not seem to disappoint, with DPReview giving it a pretty good review. I personally do like the design of the camera, but I still have some concerns with the sensor, and I also think the lenses are too big and too few - the NEX system currently is just too tiny to support enthusiasts. Now if Panasonic and Olympus do try something like this for their Micro Four Thirds, that would be something really worth getting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Listen To The Right Review For Headphones

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:30 PM

"We’ve decided to tackle this rather tough job by compiling a list of our favorite cans. We can assure you that all listed here sound great, are very comfortable and fill specific needs for listeners. Of course, if you don’t see your favorite headphones listed, please feel free to add your top pick in the comment section below."

Whether they be earbuds or headphones, both are great ways to keep the music flowing without subjecting everyone around you to your Bieber fix. Of course, good headphones do not come cheap. While you may be able to pick something up from the dollar store that sort of, maybe, kind of does the job, laying down some real coin for higher quality cans can make a huge difference, especially if you are no longer using 128kbps mp3s. And really, you should, because if you are going to appreciate music, Bieber or not, hearing them the way it was meant to be heard is a wonderful experience.

Cutting The Cable? What Should You Use?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"So, which one is right for you? Well, here’s what I’ve found in my years of watching Internet TV on my television. These days I use an Apple TV, a Roku 2 HD and a pair of Internet-enabled Sony Blu-Ray players for my TV watching pleasure. Indeed, a few months ago I cut the cord to my cable company and now the only TV I watch comes up either the Internet or from one of my own network media servers."

Despite what they say, I consider Internet TV to still be in its infancy. Yes, if you live within the United States, you get a wonderful selection of options, though that seems to be dwindling. If you live anywhere else, your choices are less than stellar. Until Apple releases the rumored Steve Jobs dream of a re-imagined tv service, we have options like Apple TV, Roku and an increasing amount of Blu-Ray players that handle Internet TV. It isn't just Blu-Ray players though. TVs themselves are coming out with all manner of new features. It is not far away that they will be able to make you a sandwich. Until then, I can only hope that they come out with some sort of universal standard for streaming TV, and allowing you to pick your own supplier or aggregator. While it is nice to see some of these sites offering access to places like Netflix and Youtube, it would be nice to be able to add your own streams more easily. That would be particularly handy should any of the custom services go down.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

PhotographyBLOG Reviews the Nikon Coolpix AW100 Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 PM

"The AW100 is Nikon’s first foray into the weather-proof camera market and is is waterproof to 10 meters, shock-proof to 1.5 meters, and freezeproof to as low as -10°C (14°F). The Coolpix AW100 also has a 16-megapixel back illuminated CMOS sensor, a 5x, 28-140mm equivalent zoom lens with lens-shift vibration reduction, 3-inch 460K-dot LCD monitor, full 1080p HD video with stereo sound, 3fps burst shooting, built-in GPS, a world map display and an electronic compass."

Once again, does anyone really like Nikon compacts? Image quality on the Coolpixes in the last seven years have ranged from average to downright terrible, and the cameras themselves are rarely a joy to use. The AW100 does not do much to shake off this reputation, but at least it as less competition since it is one of the few waterproof and shockproof compact cameras in the market (it seems only Panasonic, Olympus and Pentax have updated theirs). Still, at least it will survive a drop where most cameras will not!

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