Review of the Canon Pixma TS8120 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One at Computer ShopperIt’s been less than a year since we reviewed Canon’s last round of TS-series Pixma printers, which included the Pixma TS8020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One.($107.95 at Amazon) That model is the precursor to the machine we’re reviewing here, the $179.99-MSRP Pixma TS8120 ($149.00 at Amazon).

It’s unusual for a printer maker to refresh its line so soon. Speculating why Canon did so here would be, well, speculation. All we know for sure? Earlier in 2017, the Pixma TS series replaced the company’s MG-series Pixmas, a line of long-in-the-tooth photo-centric all-in-ones (AIOs) that we’ve reviewed year after year throughout the ’10s. Perhaps Canon felt that the first round of the new TS series wasn’t quite right. Or perhaps evolving market trends tipped the imaging giant’s hand.

In any case, the Pixma TS8120 is second from the top dog in Canon’s recent TS-line upgrade. This new line of five printers comprises the Pixma TS9120  ($199 MSRP, discounted to $149.99 as we wrote this in mid-October 2017) ($149.99 at Amazon), today’s Pixma TS8120 (discounted at many e-tailers to $149.99) ($149.00 at Amazon), the Pixma TS6120 ($149.99 MSRP, discounted to $99.99) ($99.99 at Amazon), the Pixma TS5120 ($99.99 MSRP, discounted to $89.99) ($89.00 at Amazon), and an all-new entry-level iteration, the Pixma TS3120 ($89.99 MSRP, discounted to $59.99).($59.00 at Amazon) We’ll be reviewing four of the five; this is the first in our Canon review wave.

All but that last one are updates to existing models. And, as usual, from top to bottom, as the prices shrink, so do the feature sets. For a $20 higher list price than the Pixma TS8120, for example, the Pixma TS9120 adds Ethernet connectivity and has a 5-inch display, whereas the Pixma TS8120 does not support wired networking and comes with a 4.3-inch screen.

Canon Pixma TS8120 (SD Card Front)

Because these models are positioned as photo printers, how well they print photos is paramount to everything else. As we’ve seen over the years, five- and six-ink printers tend to do a better job of printing across a wider variety of photos than standard four-ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK) machines. With that in mind, the two top TS Pixmas, the TS9120 and TS8120, use six inks; the next two down the chain (the TS6120 and TS5120) use five inks; and the TS3120 uses the standard four inks.

A change this time around is that instead of the “photo gray” ink that six-ink Pixmas have been using for the past several years, the sixth ink is now a “photo blue.” Where the photo gray ink was claimed to increase the color gamut (or color range) somewhat and help print superior gray-scale images, the new photo blue, according to Canon, reduces graininess. (We assume that the photo blue ink should increase the color range, too.)

The TS8120 comes in three colors: black, red, and white, as shown below. Canon sent us the red one…

Canon Pixma TS8120 (Colors)

A standing difference between consumer-grade photo AIOs and their office-oriented counterparts is that the former generally cost more to use: The per-page ink cost is higher. Canon’s photo-centric Pixmas traditionally have had slightly higher running costs than their competitors, and printed some of the best-looking images among consumer-grade photo printers. Nothing has really changed on those fronts.

Whether the Pixma TS8120 is right for you depends on several factors. Positioned as a photo printer foremost, not only does it cost more to use than some other inkjet AIOs, but it also lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multi-page documents to the scanner. ADF AWOL is not unusual with this class of printer, especially those under $200. That trend has begun to change of late, though, with newer models such as the HP Envy Photo 7855 All-in-One ($199.99 at Amazon); we’ll look a little closer at this important development in the next section.

Canon Pixma TS8120 (Mobile)

The bottom line on the Pixma TS8120? If you’re looking for a machine mainly for printing photos, it’s hard to beat this little AIO (aside from getting the stepped-up Pixma TS9120, which we’re also reviewing, or one of a few Epson photo-centric models to be discussed later). If, on the other hand, you also need your photo printer to be nimble at making copies, printing lots of documents, and scanning pages with regularity, the Pixma TS8120 has a few shortcomings in those areas.

How much should they affect your buying decision? That depends on just how much printing, copying, and scanning you need to do. Let’s dig in and judge.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper



 

IWilliam Harrel's reviews on Computer Shoppert’s hard to believe, but I have been writing for the legendary Computer Shopper for over eight years (as of October 2017), and have been a contributing editor there for about seven years. My beat has covered everything from desktop systems and laptops, to tablets and 2-in-1s in several flavors (operating systems) and size, printers and all-in-one printers in all shapes and sizes, video cards, SSD and other types of disk drives—you name it. It’s been a wild ride.

More so than ever, competition in the tech markets is cutthroat and fierce. It’s been my pleasure to do what I can to keep you all informed.

For a list and links to my articles on Computer Shopper, click here


 

Digital TrendsCamarillo, CA – October 2017: Almost three years and over 40 articles later, I have covered numerous products and technology news for the immensely popular online digital technology magazine, Digital Trends. My beat covers all aspects of computer-related news and reviews. For example, my first few articles included information about DDR4 memory, USB 3.1, Sata Express, and Nvidia G-Sync, .

But since then I have covered everything from mouse and keyboard combos to 4K 360 degree digital cameras, and everything in between. My two latest news stories at Digital Trends cover Bluetooth Mesh technology and the latest, fastest Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ax.

You can get a complete list of my articles on Digital Trends here.


 

IN A WORLD SATURATED IN WI-FI, THERE’S STILL ROOM FOR BLUETOOTH MESH - at Digital TrendsYes, current Wi-Fi-based smart home technology can turn on the lights with your smartphone or voice. But do you call that home automation, really? Isn’t it just a slightly more convenient light switch?

How about this? When you unlock your front door, the lights in the foyer come on, the motion sensors on your alarm system turn off, the thermostat starts the air conditioning, and your entertainment system begins playing your favorite music—all before you put your keys down!

Now that’s home automation, right?

What about a more serious, or potentially life-and-death scenario, where hospital staff could track patients, staff members, and equipment from any console, PC, or tablet on the premises?

While the best Wi-Fi systems allow us to take baby steps into building automation, wireless security, asset tracking, and more, a new technology called Bluetooth Mesh — an update to the standard Bluetooth wireless solution that most of us know — promises a better, more efficient, and much less expensive solution.

“As people’s expectations for networks go up, they demand networks capable of handling hundreds (or thousands) of IP addresses, offering Wi-Fi-level of signal performance across the house and building,” Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President of Silicon Labs, told Digital Trends. “People won’t put up with flaky Wi-Fi anymore. If they can get away with fewer antennas, it would be much better.”

Cooley is a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, or SIG, which oversees and develops Bluetooth technology. If he’s right—and industry watchers and makers of networking equipment are betting that he is—many aspects of our lives will soon be secured and simplified by this latest Bluetooth update.

Read the entire article at Digital Trends


 

Review of the Altia Systems PanCast 2 at Digital TrendsLogitech’s Brio 4K Webcam ($159.99 at Amazon) briefly had bragging rights as the maker of the only 4K Webcam, but Altia Systems’ Panacast 2 ($995.00 at Amazon) has changed that—and then some. Perhaps to sophisticated be called a mere “webcam,” — Altia calls it a “camera system” — it’s $1,000 price tag relegates it to businesses, and the most dedicated video conferencing consumers. This is a webcam on steroids

It promises a 180-degree coverage area with automatic panoramic zooming and exceptionally clear video. It’s also small and elegant in appearance. Unfortunately, the zooming feature costs extra, as does a very slick add-on called Whiteboard that automatically centers on a whiteboard during, well, a whiteboard presentation. As our Panacast 2 Camera System review will show, this gadget is high-tech and impressive — but by the time you get it decked out the way you want it, it could cost you about $1,350. For most individuals, (and even most companies) this is the kind of investment that requires serious consideration.

Read the entire review at Digital Trends



 

Review of the Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5050 at Digital TrendsIf you, like us, spend a good portion of your life banging on computers, the first thing you do after buying a new PC is replace the stock USB keyboard, and mouse that comes with it. Upgrading to aftermarket peripherals such as, say, the Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5050 (Check on Amazon at Amazon) review unit we have here, not only improves the aesthetics of your desktop and increases comfort, but can also be a wise investment in the well-being of your wrists and hands.

Compared to some other keyboard and mouse combos we’ve looked at recently, including the Logitech Performance MK850 Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo ($80) ($78.99 at Amazon), Microsoft’s Desktop 5050 is relatively inexpensive. It lists for $70, but we found it at several outlets for $50. While the Logitech MK850 specializes in allowing you to pair with multiple devices simultaneously, the Desktop 5050, in addition to its ergonomic design, comes with several additional keys for assigning shortcuts in Windows. Does it, however, provide enough comfort and convenience to warrant laying out half a C-note?

See the entire review at Digital Trends



 

Review of the Logitech K480 Multi-Device Keyboard at PCMag

Many of the keyboards we’ve looked at lately have been multi-device models, in that you can pair two or more computing devices—smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs—to them simultaneously, and then switch back and forth with the touch of a button. Aside from Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard ($70) ($66.88 at Amazon), though, none have been small enough to consider carrying around with you — except Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.($27.25 at Amazon)

The K480 is compact and light compared to many multi-device keyboards, including those in Logitech’s line-up. It’s also inexpensive. Logitech lists it for $50, but we found it at several online outlets for around $30. At that price, the only real issues left are — does it, as its more expensive siblings and competitors do, perform well, and is it really portable?

Read entire review at Digital Trends



 

Review of the Logitech MK850 Performance Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo at Digital Trends

Unless you buy an upscale gaming or some other specialized PC, chances are the keyboard and mouse that comes with your new computer is boringly and often uncomfortably basic, and more than likely wired via separate USB cables for both devices. If you spend a lot of time typing and mousing around, you might want to consider something easier on your wrists and fingers, such as the Logitech MK850 Performance Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Combo ($78.99 at Amazon) we’re reviewing here today. The MK850 lists for $100, but is frequently sold for $80.

If you’ve done any shopping around, then you already know that the array of available products, either keyboards and mice sold separately or combo products, is dizzying. Not only does Logitech offer several combos, including the Wireless Keyboard K350 & Performance Mouse MX Bundle ($135), but so does Microsoft, such as its Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop ($130) (Check on Amazon at Amazon) and the Wireless Discomfort Desktop 5050 (which we’ll be reviewing shortly).

While many of these input peripherals have been designed to maximize comfort and convenience, the MK850 has the uncommon ability to pair with up to three separate computing devices and switch between them with the touch of a button.

Read entire review at Digital Trends



 

Review of the Seagate Personal Cloud (3TB) at Computer Shopper

If you’ve been in the information technology (IT) business as long as we have, we’re sure that you marvel at the evolution of its terminology the same way we do. Take, for example, the term “cloud,” which emerged in the 1990s as an abstraction for the complicated inner workings of the telephone company, and later to represent the massive infrastructure of the Internet. The term was used by IT people to symbolize the too-complicated-to-explain conglomeration of servers, routers, switches, and data lines. The cloud was a mysterious entity out there where intricate and wondrous things took place.

So how, then, did we get from that vast abstraction to everyday network attached storage (NAS) appliances being called “clouds,” like the $169.99-MSRP Seagate Personal Cloud 3TB ($145.16 at Amazon) we’re reviewing here today? Or, more simply: How did a humble data-storage device, sitting beside you on your desk, get associated with a term of such immense reach?

In short: The term keeps morphing and evolving. After all, Seagate is not the only drive manufacturer to use this “cloud” conceit in naming its personal storage devices. Western Digital (WD) offers multiple versions of its My Cloud NAS product ($299.00 at Amazon), networking veteran ZyXel offers a Personal Cloud line of NAS drives, and Seagate sub-brand LaCie makes the CloudBox.($139.99 at Amazon) The term “cloud” evolved from referring to the Internet’s massive wide area network (WAN) to refer more specifically to the storage repositories on the Internet—such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive—where many of us save or back up our data these days. Before long, concerns arose about entrusting your only copy of key data to these offsite services. And so, with some brilliant marketing judo, storage-device makers adopted the term for storage appliances that let you keep a copy of your data in-house while making it accessible to the wider Net. And just like that, the enormous, intricate, and highly complex has been reduced to a data-storage gadget residing in our homes and offices.

Which brings us back to the Seagate Personal Cloud. What we have here is a one-hard-drive version of the Personal Cloud 2-Bay (Check on Amazon at Amazon) we reviewed back in 2015. In addition to this 3-terabyte version we received for review, Seagate offers 4TB ($219.99 MSRP) and 5TB ($239.99 MSRP) alternates.

The primary advantage of the Personal Cloud and NAS drives like it, compared to online cloud sites, is that with your own NAS drive, you pay a one-time charge for your data storage—the cost of the drive—and can add as many users as you want. In contrast, Dropbox charges $12.50 per month to rent 2TB of online storage, and if you need an account that supports multiple users, that goes up to $20 per user. It doesn’t take long, then, to burn up the cost of a small NAS like this in cloud-storage fees.

Seagate Personal Cloud (3TB) (Left Angled)

The primary disadvantage of the Personal Cloud and its competitors is that if anything happens to the NAS device—fire, theft, and the like—you’ll lose your data. Another disadvantage, of this Personal Cloud drive in particular, is that it contains just one hard drive mechanism, as opposed to higher-end NAS appliances that house at least two (and some of them, four or more). Multi-drive NAS devices let you configure their internal drives in redundant arrays designed to protect your data should any of the drives in the array fail. A shortcoming, then, of the Personal Cloud and others that contain just one drive is that if the drive inside fails, so goes your data, unless you have backed it up somewhere else (such as, say, a cloud site) or what’s on it is just a second copy.

That said, the Seagate Personal Cloud is easy to set up and use, and it comes with handy apps and services for backing up the PCs on your network and other routine tasks. Also included are a few feature-rich and adroit media-streaming servers. In testing, it was speedy enough, and it has a USB 3.0 port for adding supplemental external USB storage to the Personal Cloud, or for backing up USB external drives and thumb drives. And given that the street price is under $150 at this writing, the value proposition for a 3TB drive paired with all these extras is hard to beat.

For what it is, we like the Personal Cloud as a personal backup and media-streaming device, as long as you don’t rely on it alone for storing your only copies of critical data. For that kind of storage, this drive needs a backup plan itself.

See the entire review at Computer Shopper



 

Review of the Epson Workforce ES-200 Portable Duplex Document Scanner at PCMag

A non-Wi-Fi sibling to the Editors’ Choice Epson ES-300W ($249.99 at Amazon) we reviewed recently, the Epson WorkForce ES-200 Portable Duplex Document Scanner ($199) ($199.99 at Amazon) 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 ($216.96 at Amazon), 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.

Read the entire review at PCMag