Category Archives: Gadget Reviews

Gadget reviews

Using a Gaming Mouse for Work? Razer Naga Epic Chroma Review

The Razer brand of computer hardware is well-known in the gaming community. Theres no need for introductions there, but can we use themВ for work? I bought the Razer Naga Epic Chroma, (Thats a mouthful) specifically to help me with macros. Just how well does it perform?

P1030347

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T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review

It is finally here! The first BlackBerry BB10 smartphone with a full qwerty keyboard launched in the US a few weeks ago and I put it through its paces. I purchased the phone out of contract at T-Mobile for $579.99 + tax. For most BlackBerry faithfuls, this is the the top phone to have. the Z10 is a great device but for me, I need a berry with physical keyboard. Coming from the Bold 9900, this was not a necessary upgrade but I couldnt resist a flagship BB10 smartphone with a keyboard. Lets go over in detail what I think about this device and BB10 overall. Continue reading T-Mobile BlackBerry Q10 Full Review

Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review

Hello, my fellow techВ savvyВ friends! It is a wonderful day out, and there is nothing better to compliment the sunshine than to have a new laptop, if I may, accompany you. I was, once again, looking for a budget portable that would do three task: Browse the web, type word documents, and play some tunes while doing so. Well, the Chromebook does all of that and more in a different manner. This review may be outdated because there are a ton of reviews out already, but seeing how I just picked up this convincingly priced machine, I thought I would share my opinions anyways.

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Sirus XM Snap! Review

XM Snap!

Satellite radio have proven itself to be more than just a passing fad and I decided to try it for myself. I didnt want to break the bank so being a cheap skate, I bought the entry-level XM Snap! Even the name got me excited. I mean, it has an exclamation mark. It must be good, right? After testing out Snap! for a few months, I think they should have called it the XM Crap! Because thats what it is. Since I cant really sugar-coat it, Ill do a 2 part review. Both on the Snap! and the Sirius XM service.

 

I purchased Snap! at Best Buy on sale for $30. I figured, Hey, its cheap and I can try out the service to see if its any good. Ive been hearing Sirius XM often as newer cars have them built-in. My brother owns an older car so hes stuck with land radio and a cd player. Snap! promised simple plug-and-play. It was fairly simple to get started.

 

Easy Installation

Take Snap!, shove it into your cigarette lighter plug, route the antenna, hook the antenna, match the FM tuner, and start listening. Before you can start listening though, you need to subscribe to XM radio which can be done easily on their website. You need to choose a subscription and activate a radio. Each radio has a unique id, sort of like a phone ESN. Once you pay for a subscription and activate a radio, you can start listening to satellite radio. Setting up XM online was fairly easy though a bit tedious. Instead of paying one price, they actually have tiered plans that offer extra channels or whatever. I simply went with the cheapest, most basic plan. It was easy. Plug in my credit card info, radio id, and it was done. This is where things started to go downhill.

 

XM Snap!After using Sirius XM for about 2 months, I can honestly say that their service is just okay. Not great but not bad. Just okay. Let me explain. In my opinion, the basic plan was already pretty expensive. It was about $14 which is about half the price of basic Internet access around here. I have high-speed Internet service so I pay more but a basic net plan can easily deliver streaming music and video. Besides the relatively high price, I cant but help feel a bit conned into signing up. Granted, no one put a gun to my head and I probably should have read the TOS more closely(who does?) but I signed up for a recurring payment. There is no option to make single payments. I pay all of my bills online except for rent and I have the piece of mind knowing that I have to manually pay and not have xyz company reach their grubby little hands into my bank account and take my money. Ill even admit that I often keep my balance low so overdraft fees are a legitimate threat. After realizing that I signed up for recurring payments, I figured, Ill just listen to it for a month and if I dont like it, Ill just cancel. Boy was I wrong. Here comes the real con job. Sirius XM makes it so easy for you to sign up online with a few keypresses but to cancel your subscription, you have to call them on an 800 number. Really? Ive been through this before with phone contracts. Id have to call CS, tell them to cancel my contract, they beg me to stay, and go through all that BS. They make it so easy for you to pay and sub online but they dont give you the same option when you want to cancel. You know what? It works. Ive let recurring payments go on and to be honest, if I could cancel online, I would. The only thing that is keeping me is Howard.

 

 

Howard carrying XM

You all you Howard right? The KING of all media, Howard Stern. Yes, I enjoy listening to his talk shows. Hes an interesting character and his shows are entertaining. I also listen to music obviously. Unfortunately, the music is not so good. First of all, lets talk about XM Snap! I bought the XM Crap! on sale for $30. The original price was $60. No way in hell is this little thing worth 60 bones. Let me tell you why. First off, the thing is cheap. Not really surprising since they advertise it as an entry-level XM receiver. It is all plastic. Im guessing they gave it the name Snap! because you can easily snap it in half. I have to give it some credit. Using it is pretty easy. You plug it into your cigarette lighter, tune your existing car radio to match the Snap! XMs frequency and enjoy satellite radio. They recommend that you use an AUX cable to hook to your cars stereo but unfortunately, that wasnt an option for my brothers old Eclipse. If you live in a metro area like me, you will constantly have to fight existing radio stations and re-tune your Snap! to get clearer sound. You really have to find an abandoned FM frequency to have it working without interference. I would highly recommend hooking up the AUX if your car supports it. Save yourself the headache.

 

Apart from the cool name, I found the XM experience to be very similar to its old FM counterpart. The reception is live and a bit spotty at times. If you drive under a highway bridge, you will lose reception for a split second. They say you should mount the magnetic antennae on the top-center of the car. We did that but we still get breaks in reception even when trees are a few car-lengths to our sides. The ability to change stations based on genres is nice back in 2000. Sirius XM also delivers song artist and title data. Unfortunately, and this is my biggest complaint about XM Snap!, the text does NOT scroll! Lets say you are listening to a good songs and you want to know what it is. All you see is Backstreet Boys It (:P)and it stops there. literally. It does not scroll. I paid $30 and I still feel ripped off. How hard is it to put scrolling text onВ this thing? Im not a computer programmer or anything but its 2012 and I have scrolling text on my damn watch. You mean to tell me a big company that charges 14 bones for radio subscription and $60 for this thing cant give us scrolling text? I have to pull out my phone and use Shazam to look up the titles. Why?

 

 

Another dumb thing about this thing is the backlighting. Its shines bright blue which isnt bad at all in the daytime, but at night, it ruins your night vision and you end up squinting at the road. If youre going to use backlighting, why not go with a color that preserves night vision like green, amber, and red? And you cant turn off or dim the brightness? So youre only choice is to (appropriately) wring its neck to the side. $60?

 

Final Thoughts

I have very specific taste in music. Most people looking up this review would feel the same way if theyre considering XM. For music, it didnt satisfy my appetite. For one, their electronica stations are very limited. They dont have trance, vocal trance, goa/psy, breakbeats, or dubstep. Although they have chillout(my fav) they often repeat tracks. You hear them way too often. Their hip-hop selection is pretty narrow also. They have southern hip-hop but not 90s hip-hop or conscious rap? The usual radio rap like Drake, Lil Wayne and all those auto-tune guys but Ive never heard Nas, RAKIM, Blackstar, or Mos Def. They have pop by the decade but they omit the freestyle era of the 90s? Come on. I want to jam out to Stevie B! Overall, for $14 per month, you dont get much at all. And Im not so impress with their service to upgrade any time soon. Especially after finding out about their cancellation procedures. I am still a subscriber. Honestly, listening to Howard is the only reason I am still paying. I commute over 2 hours a day to work so I have a lot of time to test things out. The selection is mediocre, the quality is fair(mainly due to FM tuning), the price is high(for what you get), and the product itself(Snap!) is subpar. It really is that bad. It shouldve never left quality control. They should haveВ hired a college dropout to program scrolling text. I mean, that in itself is inexcusable. I bought it for $30 and honestly, it feels like its worth $10. I dont know what went on during the Sirius/XM merger but it looks like a mirror of the Kmart/Sears merger. They need to get their act together or theyre going under. I get better music from my phone running Pandora and DI.fm and I would do so once I upgrade. After trying out XM Snap! I would steer clear of any XM branded products. I would rather buy a deck that supports XM as an option rather than a standalone XM receiver. They dont seem to stand by their products. Another thing to note. My friend purchased a new car and apparently, there seems to be a trend where car dealers give you a 3 or 6 month trial of XM to get you hooked. His trial ran out and not surprisingly, he didnt sign up. Overall, XM Snap! is garbage. there really isnt much more to say. The Sirius XM service is fair. With so much competition from smart phone apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Spotify, there no need for shifty tactics like calling to cancel. Plus Bluetooth A2DP is quickly becoming a standard so unless XM get with the program, they will go the way of the video store. People will just stream music from their smart phones. Try harder guys. Siriusly

 

 

Update:

I called customer service to have my XM service canceled and В as I predicted, I was transferred to a customer service representative who hassled me to keep subscribing. I politely told the rep that I wasnt using it that much and she offer me more time to explore it with 2 free months. After giving her all my information and talking for a few minutes I asked her why do you guys make it so easy to sign up for XM via the website but I have to go through the hassle of calling customer support, being put on hold for 10 minutes, and fighting with you[XM] to cancel my service? She quickly changed the subject saying some written, We value our customers and we do our best to provide our users with the best experience blah, blah blah.. At this point, I didnt feel like arguing and was happy to get it over with. Ive since purchased a new phone and will use Pandora to substitute XM on those long rides to work.

 

Sirius XM Snap!

Sirius XM Snap! is a cheap entry level Sat-radio receiver and it shows. The device is all plastic and although it works, Sirius cuts costs by omitting obvious standards like back-light control and scrolling text. The Snap! is easy to install and it works as advertised but the XM service is spotty and way too expensive. The device itself is very expensive costing $60. Sirius XM needs to get their act together. Verdict: Pass

Rating by Set Sar: 0.5 stars
1/2

 

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 Review

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570

Trackballs have been with us since the early 90s as our primary pointing device of choice. Since then, the mouse has taken oven. First, there was the trackball, then the mouse, and now, as more people focus on portability, things are moving towards trackpads. While the mouse continues to dominate the pointing device market, the trackball is quietly carving out a niche market and gaining a loyal following. I was having some problems with my Logitech Performance MX. The thumb button was stuck and the left click switch was acting up. This made tasks like drag-and-drop and double-clicking a pain. I decide to purchase a new mouse. I was comfortable with the Performance MX and wanted another high-end mouse but the only ones I could find were more oriented towards gaming. I saw the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 on display and it felt really comfortable. I was confused at first. I thought the ball was another feature of the mouse. After doing some research, I discovered this mouse was really a trackball. You control the pointer with the ball and the device itself remains stationary. After looking up some more reviews on this model, I decided to fork over the $50 and try it out. Heres my take.

 

First Impressions

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 BoxWhen I first unboxed this trackball, I was immediately reminded of its ergonomics. This trackball kept my hand at almost the same angle and my Performance MX. At first, I noticed that the trackball was a bit stiff. I had read that there is a way to correct this. First, pop the ball out from underneath with your pinky finger or a pen. Make sure you use the blunt side and not the pens tip. After you get the ball off, get a small knife or razor bade and strop the outer edge of the trackball case. If the ball was left in, it is where the ball meets the plastic. There seems to be a thin piece of plastic that is left over from the plastic molding process. Blow out all the black plastic shavings and re-insert the ball. If you did it right, you will notice that it is now easier to remove the ball. You will also notice that the ball moves much more smoothly without the stiffness. Be sure to not scrape off too much. You want to get the ball moving smoothly. If you scrape off too much, the ball can beВ popped off without any effort.

 

I was already aware of this before I purchased the Trackball M570 but if I had to live with that grinding feeling upon purchase, it would have definitely made this device feel cheap. After I got that out of the way, I plugged the unifying receiver in and test drove it. The unifying receiver is a small USB device that allows you to use this Trackball wirelessly. It is small enough to leave in your laptop if you decide to pack up and go. If you wish to take if off, there is a little slot in the battery compartment where you can store it. First impressions were exciting. I am not used to a trackball at all. The last time I remember using a trackball was in middle school. Although I was not used to it, the challenge was fun. It was awkward. Sometimes, I would move the trackball like a mouse. I had to consciously remind myself that the ball moved the pointer. I kept telling myself, This is not a mouse. This is a trackball!

 

 

Getting Use To The Trackball

The first day I got this trackball, I had to turn the sensitivity down to get use to the movements. It got more comfortable after about a day. It started to grow on me. At first, I would keep my thumb on the ball all the time. This made me accidentally moving items when I pressed left-click. I got by this by lifting my thumb off the ball before I clicked. At the end of the day, I stopped doing this. I got use to flicking the ball and stopping where I needed it. I got more comfortable with the ball and using it became more natural. I was still used to the Performance MX and its back and forward buttons. They are located where the ball is on the Trackball M570. I still had a bit of trouble getting use to their new location near the left-click. Using the trackball with my thumb felt a bit strange at first. I kept adjustingВ the trackballs position to find the perfect X and Y axis. After a few hours, I said, Forget it. After paying attention to where the pointer moves in relation to the trackball, there was no further need for me to adjust the trackballs place. I now focus on keeping it at a comfortable position and not aligning it right.

 

 

Ergonomics

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570The ergonomics of this mouse is very good. It is nicely angled like the Performance MX and this puts the hand in a very natural position. I didnt think the Performance MX was anything special until I tried a cheaper, flat mouse. It cramped my hands in 15 minutes! The higher-end Logitech Mice and this Wireless Trackball M570 holds true to this ergonomic position. The left and right-click buttons are excellent. I would prefer Logitech put the back and forward buttons a bit higher. I am a palm gripper so this would be more beneficial for me. If you are a claw gripper, you will have no problems with these buttons. The Trackball M570 has 2 finger grooves at the right-side. These grooves are designed to be ergonomic and act as a ring and pinky finger rest. While it is good in practice, I find them a bit uncomfortable. After looking at it closely, I realized that this mouse may be too small. As is, this trackball would be better fit for someone with smaller hands. When I rest my hand on the trackball in a comfortable position, my ring finger sits right between the two sculpted choils. My pinky actually rests on the mousepad. Although this trackball isВ better suitedВ for smaller hands, it doesnt bother me too much since the trackball stays put and I just lay my hand on it. Overall, ergonomics is very good but not perfect. At least not for me.

 

 

Scroll Wheel

I have to take marks off on the scroll wheel. It is a standard scroll wheel. It isnt bad, but for $50, I wished Logitech added their Hyper-Scroll wheels found on higher input devices like the Performance MX and M500. A Hyper-Scroll wheel wouldve been a perfect ergonomic compliment to the smooth ball action. Not only is the scroll wheel generic, but it doesnt allow you to tilt left and right. Granted newer widescreen monitors limited this features use, nearly all $50+ mice have tilt. Why isnt it on this one? This leads me to believe maybe Logitech is cutting corners. This scroll wheel feels rubbery. The steps of each click feels soft. I is definitely quieter than standard scroll wheel but it doesnt feel as good. I was really spoiled with the Hyper-Scroll wheel. It allowed me to fly through long documents with a single flick. If you didnt want that, you can disable it with a mechanical button and have the standard click scroll wheel. When I first tried the Hyper-Scroll of other Logitech mice, ItВ surprisedВ meВ how good the steps felt. It was very firm and audible. The scroll wheel on the M570 almost feels loose. It is adequate, just not what Id expect from a $50+ trackball.

 

 

Looks Sexy

Some people think style isnt important in an ergonomic device. I have to disagree. Theres no reason we cant have both function and form. Fortunately for us, the Wireless Trackball M570 is a very handsome device. At first glance, it looks like a mouse with a ball on the side. Compared to gaming mice with 8+ buttons, this trackball looks rather tame. I like the blue color of the ball. Blue is a color that looks good on nearly any desk. It would be nice if Logitech made additional colors available. I would love to be able to customize my trackballs color. The dark plastic does a good job in making this device feel less cheap or rather more expensive. Overall, the Trackball M570 is probably the sexiest looking trackball Ive seen. The others either look like one-eyed insects(Trackman Marble) or handicapped devices(no offense).

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570

 

Final Thoughts

The Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 is an excellent alternative to standard mice. The accuracy of this trackball is very good as well as its ergonomic. The trackball is very smooth and fluid. I can see this device being used by many designers and engineers. I would like to see this trackball be slightly larger but the main thing I hate about this device is its scroll wheel. Like I said earlier, for the price, I would expect a better scroll wheel. One positive about the scroll wheel is that it stays put when you middle click.

 

Logitech claims this trackball has an 18-month battery life. Ive increased the polling rate to 1,000 MHz which is a 1 ms response time. This has made the trackball more responsive at the cost of battery life. This is not a big deal for me. After the included Duracell battery die, Ill swap it with a rechargeable NiMH.

 

Would I recommend someone buying this trackball? Thats a tough question. I have made the switch and I am happy but if you have used a standard mouse for years, the initial experience may put you off. For comfort, this trackball has been the best pointing device Ive used. Ive seen some videos of people using a trackball for gaming so I suppose it just takes time getting use to. One last thing I want to mention while using this device is that its just fun to use. Maybe its because Im a relatively green trackball user but I find it fun spinning the ball with my thumb. It is especially easy holding the left-click and moving the ball to highlight many files in a folder. If you want to try something different or you are concerned about repetitive stress injury, you may want to consider the M570. Although I like it, I can imagine some people hating it. Trackballs are so rare, its just one of those things where I dont see many feeling in-between.

 

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570

 

Pros: Good ergonomics, accurate, sexy looks, battery life
Cons: Scroll wheel, feels a bit small(personally)

 

 

Logitech Wireless Trackball M570

This trackball takes some time getting used to for traditional mouse users but it rewards you with great accuracy and good ergonomics. The only improvement it needs is an updated scrollwheel. Other than that, the trackball is smooth and easy to clean. The battery life is fantastic and will last you 6 months easily. I just wish it was a bit bigger for my hands.

Rating by Set Sar: 4.0 stars