Op-Ed on the new Bluetooth Mesh protocol 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


 

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Review of the Altia Systems PanCast 2 at Digital TrendsLogitech’s Brio 4K Webcam briefly had bragging rights as the maker of the only 4K Webcam, but Altia Systems’ Panacast 2 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


 

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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 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), 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


 

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Review of the Logitech K480 Multi-Device Keyboard at PCMagMany 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), though, none have been small enough to consider carrying around with you – except Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.

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


 

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


 

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Review of the Seagate Personal Cloud (3TB) at Computer ShopperIf 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 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, networking veteran ZyXel offers a Personal Cloud line of NAS drives, and Seagate sub-brand LaCie makes the CloudBox. 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 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


 

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

Read the entire review at PCMag


 

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Review of the IRIScan Book 5 WiFi at PCMagNot 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.

Read the entire review at PCMag


 

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Review of the LOGITECH K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard at Digital TrendsOver 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


 

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AUKEY 20W PORTABLE FOLDABLE SOLAR CHARGER REVIEW at Digital TrendsNowadays 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.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/outdoor-gear-reviews/aukey-20w-portable-foldable-solar-charger-review/#ixzz4fHpZ96Lv


 

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