A non-Wi-Fi sibling to the Editors’ Choice Epson ES-300W we reviewed recently, the Epson WorkForce ES-200 Portable Duplex Document Scanner ($199) is a highly capable portable document scanner. Like the ES-300W, it comes with a top-tier collection of optical character recognition (OCR) and document and business card management programs. And, like the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula P-215II Scan-tini Personal Document Scanner, both Epson models have automatic document feeders (ADFs) and the ability to scan two-sided multipage documents in a single pass. The ES-200 doesn’t support wireless scanning, nor does it have an internal battery (as does the ES-300W) for higher portability. It’s a less-expensive alternative to the wireless model for relatively high-speed scanning on the road, but at just $50 more, for many users, the higher-end ES-300W is a better value.
Not long ago, there were a fair number of handheld, or wand, scanners like the IRIScan Book 5 WiFi ($149) on the market, but they have become less common. The primary difference between these and most other types of scanners is that you move it over the material you’re scanning, rather than the machine itself moving the content over the scanning sensor. As with the Editors’ Choice VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST47-VP, with the Book 5 you can scan without a PC, send your scans to mobile devices, and it comes with software for converting scanned text to editable text. Unlike the Magic Wand, the Book 5 includes a 4GB microSD card and it lets you scan directly to a PC or mobile device. These perks were more than enough to elevate the IRIScan Book 5 WiFi to our new Editors’ Choice for wand scanners.
Over the course of a day, many of us flip back and forth between two, sometimes three, computing devices, moving from the keyboard on a desktop to the virtual keyboard on a mobile device, and back again. Wouldn’t it be much simpler if you could switch between and enter data on these gadgets from the same keyboard? A while back, Logitech released such a solution, the K380 Bluetooth Keyboard ($30), which let users flip between multiple devices with the touch of a button.
While a terrific idea, a shortcoming of the K380 is that it doesn’t provide a way to hold your smartphone or tablet upright as you type. Logitech corrected via a groove, or gutter, carved into the top section of its Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 ($30). Both the K380 and the K480 let you pair up to three devices and switch between them easily, but each has its limitations. The K480’s groove, for instance, is big enough to hold only one mobile device, and the keyboard itself has no number pad.
Those issues, as well as a few other shortcomings, have been addressed with Logitech’s premium device-swapping keyboard, the K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard. However, this new keyboard is $70 — more than its predecessors, as well as most competitors. Are its improvements worth the price?
Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/keyboard-reviews/logitech-k780-review/#ixzz4fUAZ5URB
Nowadays few of us would consider “roughing it” in the wilds without taking along at least a smartphone, and perhaps even a tablet or laptop. The problem with that is, when we get too far away from civilization — or our cars, at least — for more than a day or so, there’s no way to keep our mobile devices charged. You can take along a portable battery pack, but if you’re off the grid for very long at all, then the issue becomes keeping it charged. The answer, of course, is a solar power charger, such as the Aukey 20-watt Portable Foldable Solar Charger ($50) we’re reviewing here today.
There are scores of portable solar power sources available, ranging from $30 to $300 and beyond. Some, such as the Kogalla Solar Storage Bank ($200), come with rechargeable batteries that allow you to store power for when the sun is not shining. Others, including the ECEEN Foldable Solar Charger ($34) and today’s review unit, the Aukey 20W solar charger, do not. Many come with only one USB port, though, whereas the Aukey model comes with two. Designed with the backpacker in mind, it’s the only $50 solar charger we know of that generates enough juice to allow you to charge two mobile devices at full power at the same time.
The hype around gaming mice makes it difficult to see the reality for the hyperbole. You can spend $60 or more for industry-standard pointing devices, such as the Razer DeathAdder Elite, or choose less costly alternatives like Logitech’s G602. Yet there’s an even less expensive, highly customizable, lesser-known alternative — $36 Aukey KM-C4 Gaming Mouse, which regularly retails for as little as $20.
The Aukey gaming mouse might seem a little too humble if you’re into impressive specifications like 16,000 DPI sensors and tracking speeds of 450 inches per second. However, most gamers don’t need incredible hardware in a gaming mouse. Aukey’s not the only company that knows this. It faces competition from Logitech’s G300 and Corsair’s Harpoon, a pair of well-known mice from major brands.
While devices that extend your Wi-Fi signal to eliminate dead zones in your home or office abound, you won’t find many that double as home security hubs. But that’s exactly what you get with Zmodo’s $49.95 Beam Alert. By itself, Beam Alert is just one more way to make your home network and Internet connection accessible in the back bedroom or upstairs, but with the addition of the company’s multiple accessories—door and window sensors, motion and smoke detectors, video cameras, gas and carbon monoxide detectors, and alarms—you can turn your wireless network and smartphone into a home security system.
If all you need is simple Wi-Fi extension, it’s easy to find less-expensive solutions, such as Netgear’s AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender. And yes, there are devices, such as D-Link’s Wi-Fi Audio Extender, that do more than merely extend your wireless signal. There’s also several wireless security solutions, including Stack Lights BeOn bulbs and the iSmartAlarm. However, Beam Alert is the only combined Wi-Fi extender and security system we know of. When you think about it, though, the matchup makes a lot of sense.
While there are plenty of innovative wireless pointing devices available, few are as light, compact, interesting, and mobile as Microsoft’s Arch Touch Bluetooth Mouse. It’s designed primarily as an accessory for the company’s Surface Book PCs (it’s the same light-gray color), but since it’s a standard pointing device, it also works with most laptops or tablets running a recent version of Windows (and some MacBooks) that support Bluetooth. The Arc Touch mouse is, when turned off, ultra-thin, making it easy to slip in to your pocket or some other tight spot.
The Arc Touch mouse is unique in design. Even so, just about any other small wireless “travel” pointing device, such as Logitech’s M535 Bluetooth Mouse ($39.99) or Microsoft’s own Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 ($29.99), is a direct competitor. You can pick up the Arc Touch mouse for about $40, which is a bit high for a small mouse like this, especially considering that you can buy the EasyGlide Wireless 3-button Travel Mouse, and several others, for as little as $20. That said, you’ll have trouble finding a mobile mouse as easy to carry around with you than the slim and petite Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse, and like most Microsoft peripherals, it’s well-built, durable, and somewhat elegant.
There’s no shortage of mobile keyboards in the world. Some, such as EC Technology’s Bluetooth Ultra-Slim Keyboard and the Jorno Keyboard, fold in thirds. Others, including VisionTek’s Waterproof Bluetooth Mini Keyboard and today’s review unit, Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard, fold in half. Nearly all are water resistant to some degree, and most of them support all three of the standard tablet and smartphone operating systems: Android, iOS, and Windows.
Akin to its Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro Type Cover keyboard sibling, Microsoft’s mobile keyboard is light, compact, and easy to use. And like most Microsoft keyboards (and other peripherals), it’s well-designed and well-built, if somewhat expensive. If you shop around, you can find it for around $70. You can pick up the VisionTek model for as little as $20, though, and the iClever BK03 Ultra Slim Mini Bluetooth Keyboard, yet another competitor, sells for about $36. At nearly two-thirds of a C-note, do you get what you pay for?
At the risk of dating ourselves, not only do we remember when the highest-capacity hard drive you could buy was 10 megabytes (10MB), but some of us here at Computer Shopper actually owned machines with this piddling amount of storage in them. (A few of us go all the way back to when PCs had no hard drives at all, but instead stored the operating system and data on floppy disks that held less than a megabyte. Ah. Those were the days…) If you have that kind of perspective on the industry, you know that it’s remarkable not only that storage devices holding as much as 8 terabytes (8TB) exist, but also that you can buy them for less than $250.
As we wrote this in mid-March 2017, the subject of today’s review, the 8TB WD My Book, was on sale on Western Digital’s Web site for $229.99. That comes out to less than 3 cents per gigabyte (GB). Considering that at one time you would have paid as much as $10 per megabyte (or more)…well, then. In those days, though, you really couldn’t store and edit massive videos and photos on your personal computer, and computer games, such as they were, took up very little disk space. Even so, for many years we had to police what we stored on our PCs to control the capacity being used. Every few months or so, we’d have to prune data and program files to make room for others—all the while taking great care not to delete anything important, such as critical system or program files that kept our computers and applications running.
Not anymore. Nowadays, in this terabyte age, most of us download and install just about anything we want without much thought toward how much space it eats up. Take it from those of us who spent years operating from a mindset that computer storage was at a premium: A multi-terabyte drive, and the ability to save what and whenever you want, really does provide convenience and freedom.
Which brings us back to the product we’re reviewing. This new My Book is a multi-generational iteration of a product that has been around since 2006, with the first actual terabyte (1TB) version of the My Book showing up in late 2007. These days, Western Digital sells four versions of My Book, starting with a 3TB model for $100. You can also buy, in addition to the 8TB version, 4TB and 6TB My Books. The larger the drive, of course, the higher the overall price—but the lower the per-gigabyte cost.
Inexpensive storage is not unique to WD’s My Books. Seagate, one of the other big, established names in consumer data storage, offers the 8TB version of the Seagate Backup Plus Hub for about the same price. The primary reason this type of storage is so inexpensive is that spinning hard drives have reached a comfortable plateau. Top drive capacities still advance at a steady march, but the external desktop drive itself is, at the core, yesteryear’s technology. The drives are a bit bulky, and they contain moving parts, meaning they’ll never approach the speeds of today’s flash-memory-based drives.
Plus, desktop-style models (like the two mentioned here) employ big, cost-efficient 3.5-inch drives inside, the kind meant for desktop PCs or servers, and thus require an external power source. That’s in contrast to portable drives that use 2.5-inch mechanisms inside, the type used in laptops. Portable drives draw their power over the same USB connection that sends data back and forth between the storage device and the computing device.
All of these concerns—bulky size, external power, slower speeds—make desktop drives like this one less about portable storage than so-called near-line storage, a bulk repository for keeping your data at hand, but not by the fastest and costliest means. The WD My Book (and its competitors) are meant to stay put most of the time, and while they’re slow compared to flash solutions, that low cost per gigabyte is attractive for storing massive amounts of data cost-effectively.
If that’s what you’re looking for, we recommend the WD My Book (8TB), though Seagate’s offerings at this capacity are strong, too.