Let’s Save Free TV and Stop ATSC 3.0 DRM! Sign my petition!

This week my local CBS affiliate, WFSB-TV, activated their ATSC 3.0 encryption making their signal inaccessible in my home with an HDHomerun tuner. And it’s not just here – broadcasters are accelerating the DRM roll-out all over the country in the hopes that no one will notice by the time they transition away from the current standard.

But we can put a stop to this. In my latest video I provide some more detail about this DRM problem, what it looks like when it hits your area, and direct you to my Change.org petition that I’ll personally deliver in Washington if we can get 25,000 signatures.

While devices currently locked out from playing this over-the-air content will likely get certified by the broadcasters to display it again, the time and cost of certification falls on the device manufacturer. Furthermore, broadcasters can revoke these licenses at any time, restricting entire families of devices from watching free over-the-air TV. I predict that even after certification, the ability to record, pause, rewind, or time-shift television shows will be significantly restricted.

Why are they doing this? It’s because broadcasters no longer rely solely on viewership for revenue; over half of their revenue comes from broadcast re-transmission fees they charge to cable, satellite and Internet providers. As more people cut the cord and forgo expensive streaming alternatives, there are fewer people paying the broadcast TV fees. This has led broadcasters to restrict access to free over-the-air television, pushing consumers towards subscription services.

But aren’t we allowed to record broadcast TV? While the Sony vs. Universal Studios Supreme Court decision in the 80s affirmed our right to record content, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to circumvent copyright controls to make a recording. This means that, legally, consumers will be breaking the law if they record these encrypted broadcasts through some kind of circumvention.

In response to this issue, I’ve started a Change.org petition to raise awareness among members of Congress and consumer organizations. If the petition reaches 25,000 signatures I will personally bring it down to DC to deliver to US senators and the FCC.

Let’s not forget that the airwaves broadcasters in the US benefit from belong to the public. I believe that restricting what the public can do on public airwaves is counter to the longstanding policy about broadcasters providing a public benefit for the privilege of profiting from this public asset.

I’m urging all of you to take action before it’s too late!

New Plex Feature: Discover Together

Our monthly sponsored Plex video for June focuses in on a new social sharing feature called Discover Together. This feature, currently in beta, allows users to share their watchlist and viewing history with friends.

The Discover Together feature is currently available to Plex Pass subscribers, but once activated, it extends to all friends connected to your Plex account – even those on the free tier. Upon activation, users are greeted with a landing page explaining the new feature and providing privacy options. By default, all information is set to private, and users can choose to share their watch history, watchlist and ratings with friends.

Your personal profile keeps track of how many movies, shows, and episodes you’ve watched since joining Plex. It also displays your recent watch history, watch list, and ratings. This information is then shared with friends.

The Friends tab displays all your Plex friends, and you can click on each friend to view their profile. The Activity feed shows what everyone is watching in real time, and shows what media is trending among your friends.

One of the fun aspects of Discover Together is the ability to send messages to friends about specific episodes or movies. For instance, if you’re watching an episode of Star Trek Picard and notice a friend has watched it too, you can send them a message to discuss the episode. This is especially helpful if a television show has a huge spoiler and you want to talk about it – you’ll know which of your friends has seen it!

The feature works on TVs, phones, and the web interface and offers a similar interface on each platform.

For those interested in automations, Plex now offers the ability to set up RSS feeds for your watch list and your friends’ watch lists. This can be found in the account settings under the watch list section.

Plex’s Discover Together feature provides an efficient way to share and discover content with friends. It’s a robust tool that extends beyond your Plex server, indexing content from various streaming services. It’s a feature I look forward to exploring more in the coming weeks.

AceMagician T8Plus Tiny Windows Mini PC Review

A few weeks ago we looked at a surprisingly decent little mini PC from AceMagician – a PC maker I hadn’t heard of before. In my latest video we take a look at another one called the T8Plus which is even smaller and powered by an Intel N95 processor.

The price point of the T8Plus is around $199, but with a coupon on Amazon, it can be brought down to $150. Inside, it houses an Intel N95 processor, a lower-end chip that is not as powerful as the Ryzen version we looked at a few weeks ago but still fast enough to be useful. It comes with 8GB of RAM, which is soldered on, and a 256GB NVMe that can be replaced. There’s a slightly more expensive version that has 16GB of RAM soldered on. Both versions boot to Windows 11 Pro which is licensed and pre-installed on the unit.

The T8Plus has three HDMI outputs capable of delivering 4K at 60 frames per second out of each independently. It also has three USB 3 ports, two gigabit ethernet ports (powered by Realtek chipsets), a headphone/microphone jack, and a Kensington lock slot. Unfortunately there are no USB-C ports.

Performance-wise, the T8Plus is surprisingly snappy. Basic tasks such as loading up Microsoft Word or browsing websites are handled with ease. It also performs well for media playback either locally or via streaming services. Because it has an Intel chip with Quicksync on board it should perform well as a Plex server.

For gaming, the T8Plus can handle older games like Half-Life 2 which we were able play at 30fps at a 4k resolution. However, it struggles with more modern games like No Man’s Sky, which could barely get 15 frames per second at 720p. Ryzen Mini PCs do much better and often deliver playable framerates with AAA titles.

But due to its video processing prowess the T8Plus exceled at game streaming, delivering a 4K 60 stream from the GeForce Now service.

The T8Plus also performs well with Linux, with Ubuntu 23.04 running smoothly on it. All the hardware was detected successfully, and the performance feels snappy, making it a great solution for those looking to experiment with Linux as a desktop.

The AceMagician T8Plus is a capable and inexpensive mini PC worth considering. It offers good performance for its price point, making it a suitable choice for basic tasks or even as a mini server. However, if you’re shopping around, it might be worth looking at some of the Ryzen mini PCs, which may offer significantly better performance for just a little more money.

Google’s Pixel Tablet is a Great Android Experience

My latest video takes a look at the new Google Pixel tablet. Unique to this product is the included speaker charging dock that turns it into a Google / Nest Home assistant when the tablet is attached.

The tablet comes in three different color options and sells for $499 for the 128GB storage variant with a 256GB version available for $100 more. All models come with the speaker dock so there is not a tablet only SKU available at the moment.

The tablet’s 11-inch display, while not OLED, offers a very crisp image with a decent contrast ratio. It comes in at a resolution of 2560 by 1600 which translates out to a 16:10 aspect ratio. This makes it a little wider and narrower vs. an iPad display. It’s adequately bright at 500 nits.

The tablet is powered by the Google Tensor G2 chip, the same chip found in Pixel 7 phones, and comes with 8GB of DDR5 RAM. This combination ensures a responsive performance for various tasks and applications. It’s also great for Android games and emulators as detailed in the video. The interface feels just as polished as Google’s Pixel Phones do.

The Pixel Tablet supports USI 2.0 stylus pens, which can be used for note-taking or sketching. It also offers a multi-user feature, allowing different users to have their own profiles and experiences on the tablet. In the video I demo’ed the kid interface that is easier for children to navigate and gives parents more control over what they can do on the device.

But there are some limitations. It lacks a headphone jack and only has a USB-C port, meaning users will need to use Bluetooth headphones or connect a dongle. It also lacks an SD card slot for expanding its onboard storage. Additionally, Google’s commitment to only three years of OS updates (from 2023) and five years of security updates means that they’re not all that committed to this platform. Apple supports even its entry level iPads for longer.

All in the new Pixel tablet is the nicest Android tablet I have tested to date. I would have preferred Google offer a version without the speaker dock at a lower price for those that just need a tablet.

The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED Is a Compact Powerhouse

In my latest video, I review the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED. It’s a compact yet powerful laptop that’s marketed towards creators. The loaner Zenbook in the video came equipped with an RTX 4070 GPU running at 85 watts and an Intel i9-13900H CPU, all packed into a lightweight frame of about three and a half pounds.

As its name implies, The Zenbook Pro 14 OLED features a nice 14.5-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2880 by 1800, offering a vibrant and immersive viewing experience with the deep black levels we’ve come to expect from OLED technology. As it’s geared towards creators, the Zenbook’s display supports 100% of the DCI P3 color range and is Pantone certified. Although it can run at up to 120hz the display does not support Nvidia G-Sync which might be a deal breaker for some gamers.

Despite the impressive specs, the laptop’s performance has a notable limitation that gamers will no doubt experience: The RTX 4070 GPU, while powerful, is constrained by its 85-watt power limit. This results in performance that matches an RTX 4060 on a Lenovo gaming laptop we’ll be looking at soon running at 140 watts.

But for creators it delivers more than adequate performance for photo and video editing along with live video production. In the video I demonstrate it successfully rendering out a complex live Vmix production, compositing five 4k video sources simultaneously in realtime. The system still had plenty of resources left to spare too.

One unique feature of the Zenbook Pro 14 OLED is its multipurpose dialpad built into the trackpad. In the video I demo it working as a shuttle jog in a video editing application but it can be configured for different applications and tasks.

The laptop’s battery life is decent, offering around six to eight hours for basic tasks. However, using the GPU or the display at full brightness and 120Hz mode can significantly reduce the battery life. This is far short of the longevity many are experiencing with the Apple Silicon powered Macbook Pro’s that are much more power efficient.

In conclusion, the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 OLED is a powerful and compact laptop that offers excellent performance and a gorgeous display, making it a good choice for Windows-based creators on the go.

No Man’s Sky Ported to Apple Silicon

In my latest video I delve into the performance of the game No Man’s Sky which is now running natively on Apple M1 and M2 processors. This development provides a glimpse into how Apple’s processors can handle popular PC games. I tested the game on my MacBook Air with the M2 processor and my MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip.

The game runs well on both devices, maintaining a steady 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution. The MacBook Air, which lacks a cooling fan, does have more variations in its performance as it will throttle the processor as things heat up. The MacBook Pro is able to maintain 60 fps at higher settings and is more consistent in its performance.

The Mac port also supports multiplayer features, allowing you to interact with other players on the PC version of No Man’s Sky.

The game is currently available for the Mac on Steam and will soon be available on the Mac App Store. Steam users who bought the game on Windows (like I did) get the Mac port for free. It also syncs up the save game file using steam cloud.

I also discuss Apple’s recent release of a new tool to help developers port their games to the Mac. This tool has already shown promising results, with many Windows games, especially DirectX 12 games, being ported over to Apple Silicon quickly and efficiently.

Apple has been trying for the better part of two decades to attract game developers to the Mac platform. So far those efforts have been in vain but perhaps now the combination of fast and power efficient processors along with better development tools for porting may be enough to convince other developers to port their titles over too. Time will tell!

And if you’re a No Man’s Sky traveler you’re all invited to stop by the Lon System and set up a base on the beautiful planet Lonville with perfect weather conditions. More info here!

No Man’s Sky Players: Come to the “Lon System” and Set Up a Base on Lonville!

I’ve been busy settling a “paradise planet” in No Man’s sky over the last couple of months. What’s great about No Man’s Sky is how it runs on just about everything I have at my disposal including my Steam Deck, GeForceNow and even my Macs with a native Apple Silicon Port !

Because I’m running the game via Steam through each of these platforms I’m able to sync my save game file between them. So if I do a little bit on my Steam Deck things are right where I left them when I jump on my PC in VR.

My home system, “The Lon System,” is feeling a bit lonely so I’d like to invite you all to come and visit and maybe plant your flag down on the planet “Lonville” – a stable paradise planet. Here are the coordinates that’ll take you to my system’s portal:

From there you can take a short flight to Lonville to bask in my stable temperatures and a lack of nasty Sentinels! My base on the planet has both a living space on a hillside and an underwater habitat!

One of the many cool things about this “open universe” game is how seamlessly it integrates the multiplayer experience. If you happen to be in the same place as another player you’ll encounter them! And one of the fun things to experience in the game is visiting a populated star system.

Come on down and be my galactic neighbor!

Amazon’s Fire Max 11 is Their Best Tablet Ever

In my latest video I take a look at Amazon’s newest tablet, the Fire Max 11, which is a significant improvement over previous models in terms of performance and quality. You can find it here (compensated affiliate link).

The tablet is priced at $229 for the entry-level model with 64GB of storage, subsidized by advertising on its lock screen. A version without ads costs about $20 more. It features an 11-inch IPS display with a 2000 by 1200 resolution. The display is bright and colors are vibrant.

The Fire Max 11 is powered by a MediaTek MT8188J processor and comes with 4GB of RAM. It has a metal backing, giving it a more premium feel over the plastic backs on prior models. The tablet is equipped with a USB-C port for charging and data transfer, although it doesn’t support high-speed power delivery and is limited to USB 2.0 speeds for data. The Max 11 also has a fingerprint reader integrated into the power switch for quick unlocking.

It supports an SD card for up to 1TB of additional storage. The battery life is around 12-14 hours for basic tasks, but it takes a long time to charge due to the lack of high-speed charging support.

The Fire Max 11 has a Wifi 6 radio on board but I found its bandwidth constrained to about 400 megabits per second. But I found it was good enough to maintain a 1080p game streaming session just fine.

The tablet has two 8-megapixel cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The picture quality isn’t spectacular but passable. Both cameras can shoot video at 1080p at 30 frames per second but the camera system lacks a stabilizer. But the high resolution video should look great on conferencing apps like Zoom.

The tablet also supports USI 2.0 compatible pens for note-taking and drawing, although there’s noticeable latency compared to more expensive tablets. Amazon’s recommended pen is very affordable and will work with other devices that support the USI 2.0 standard too.

The Max 11 can also function as an Echo device, with an always-on display in Show Mode or voice commands in regular tablet mode even when locked.

Performance is much improved over prior versions, putting this tablet on par with other mid-range Android tablets. I was even able to get some playable frame rates out of the Dolphin Gamecube emulator – something that wasn’t possible on prior Fire tablets.

The Fire Max 11 runs on Amazon’s version of Android, which doesn’t support the Google Play Store. There are ways to shoehorn Google Play and other Google apps onto the tablet but it’s not supported by Google or Amazon. However, it does support split-screen mode and has a decent selection of apps available from Amazon’s own app store.

Overall, the Fire Max 11 is a great value tablet with improved performance and quality, making it a good choice for basic consumption and some gaming. However, the lack of Google apps might be a drawback for some users.

ASUS ROG Ally Review: A Powerful Handheld Gaming PC with Room for Improvement

I explore the ASUS ROG Ally in my latest review, the first handheld gaming machine produced for mass market retail. It’s currently a Best Buy exclusive (affiliate link) selling for $699. Despite its rough edges, the Ally’s performance is undeniably impressive, thanks to its AMD Z1 Extreme processor.

The Ally’s standout feature is its ability to run games at 1080p with decent frame rates, something that sets it apart from competitors like the Steam Deck that run at 720p. The 7″ display runs at 1080p 120hz with freesync support at 500 nits of brightness. The display looks great with vivid colors. But its rather slow 7ms response rate negates some of the advantages of the fast refresh rate.

I tested several games, including Forza Horizon 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Death Stranding, all of which ran smoothly at 1080p. The device also handled emulation well, running GameCube games without any hiccups.

I found the sweet spot is to run the games at 720p on the native display which will deliver greater than 60fps performance in most games. Most of the 1080p detail is lost on a small display like this so not much is sacrificed turning the resolution down. But it’s nice to know it can deliver decent 1080p performance when connected to an external dock through its USB-C port.

Because it runs Windows 11 as the underlying operating system it is compatible with a bulk of the Windows games on the market including compatibility for nearly all popular gaming platforms – including Xbox PC Gamepass downloads.

The Ally isn’t without its drawbacks, however. The device’s control surface feels clunky with huge dead zones on the analog sticks and the triggers. The directional pad is even worse, registering false diagonals and feeling a bit cheap for the price point.

While it has a full service USB-C port, it’s running on the older USB 3.2 Gen 2 standard vs. a USB 4.0 port that would allow for Thunderbolt device compatibility. Asus opted instead to use their own proprietary expansion port designed for their mobile GPU product. Those mobile GPUs start at around $799 – more than the cost of the Ally itself! USB 4 would have been much better as just about any PCI Express card could be used in an expansion box. See more about that USB 4 Thunderbolt compatibility in this video.

And of course the Windows 11 operating system isn’t ideally suited for a handheld gaming device. Asus attempted to compensate for this with their Armoury Crate software and launcher, but it often has to dump the user back to a Windows interface for accessing gaming platforms and other configuration items. Users will also spend a lot of time updating the device, having to do so in Armoury Crate and Windows Update to get it working at peak performance.

The Ally also fell short on the 3DMark Stress Test, indicating potential throttling issues under heavy load. But I didn’t notice any significant slowdowns during gameplay.

Despite these issues, the Ally is by far the best performing PC handheld on the market. Nothing comes close. If performance is all that matters to you I’d choose the Ally over the Steam Deck. But the Steam Deck feels like a much more cohesive product overall despite the Ally’s performance advantages.

Is Your Generic Android TV Box Compromised?

In my latest video I dive into the security concerns surrounding generic Android TV boxes.

These devices, often found on platforms like Amazon, Walmart, and AliExpress, have been reported to contain spyware and malware that can execute in the background without the user’s knowledge. This malware can perform various nefarious activities, including click fraud, where the box clicks on ads generating revenue for the people operating the command and control server.

What’s more concerning is that these boxes have the potential to do just about anything from your IP address as they are located behind your router or firewall. Given that these devices are often connected to our Google accounts, this could mean that someone could potentially access your YouTube account, Gmail account, and any other services attached to Google through the TV box.

To ensure your Android TV device is secure, Google suggests checking if your device is Play Protect certified. This can be done by going into the Google Play Store on your device, navigating to the ‘Play Protect’ section, and checking if your device is certified. However, this process can be a bit tricky on devices running the Google TV OS, as the Google Play Store is not readily accessible.

In my video, I demonstrated how to check for Play Protect certification on the Onn 4k Google TV box, a device running the Google TV OS. Despite not being listed on Google’s list of Android TV partner products, the Onn box was found to be Play Protect certified, suggesting that it is a secure device.

However, given the potential security risks associated with non-certified devices, I recommend sticking to name-brand ones. There are good and affordable name brand options available, such as the Onn box from Walmart along with the Chromecast with Google TV (affiliate links). And for power users the Nvidia Shield TV Pro (affiliate link) is still the top device.

While generic Android TV boxes may be tempting due to their low price, the potential security risks they pose just isn’t worth it. It’s always better to opt for a certified, name-brand device to ensure your privacy and security.

AceMagician AM06Pro: A Mini PC with a Few Tricks Up Its Sleeve

In my latest video I took a closer look at the AceMagician AM06Pro, a mini PC that surprised me with its performance and features. This device, powered by a Ryzen 5800U processor, comes with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, all for a price of around $329 with a coupon on Amazon.

The AM06Pro stands out with its ability to output to four 4K displays simultaneously, a feature not commonly found in mini PCs. It also sports dual Ethernet ports, one of which supports 2.5Gbps, providing ample connectivity options.

As expected given its hardware specifications it handled tasks like web browsing, word processing, and even light 4k video editing without any issues. Gaming performance was also satisfactory, with games like No Man’s Sky and Red Dead Redemption 2 running smoothly at lower settings.

Given the price point there are a few areas that aren’t perfect. The fan noise can get quite noticeable when the device is under heavy load although it doesn’t ramp up and down constantly like some others I’ve looked at. I’m also a little weary of the generic-looking NVMe SSD which may not offer the same reliability as more well-known brands.

On the software side, the device comes bundled with Windows 11 Pro, and it also runs Linux distributions like Ubuntu without any issues. However, as with any product from a lesser-known brand, potential buyers should be aware of the risks involved – especially when it comes to after-sale support.

In conclusion, the AceMagician AM06Pro is a capable mini PC that offers good value for its price. Its unique features and solid performance make it a good option for those in the market for a compact computing solution.

Another Broadcaster in Boston Locks Down ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts with DRM

Another broadcaster in Boston has locked down their ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. CBS affiliate WBZ has joined the ABC and NBC affiliates in denying the public the ability to watch TV the way they want.

Here’s the latest from RabbitEars.info. Boston is almost all red now when it comes to access to free over the air TV:

To learn more about this topic be sure to catch this video where I deep dive into the reasoning behind broadcasters locking down their broadcasts. Spoiler alert, it’s all about retaining their lucrative retransmission fees.

YouTube TV: A Comprehensive Review for Cord Cutters

YouTube TV is quickly becoming a popular alternative to cable television services, offering a comparable channel lineup for sometimes less money than a cable provider. In fact some cable TV companies have ditched their own services and partnered up with YouTube TV instead. That’s what happened with Frontier here in Connecticut who offers YouTube TV as their television service.

In my latest video I take a deep dive into the service to see how it works.

YouTube TV offers a robust channel lineup, including all local affiliates and a wide range of popular cable networks. However, I noticed that the service includes a lot of sports channels, which may not be of interest to non-sports fans. YouTube TV also offers family sharing, allowing each family member to have their own unique experience on the platform. However, it does limit users to three simultaneous streams unless they upgrade their service for an additional $10 a month.

The interface is user-friendly across all supported platforms, with top picks based on your viewing history front and center, filtering options, and a channel guide. It also offers a recording feature with unlimited storage, but recordings do expire 90 days. YouTube TV can be accessed via most popular smart TVs and set top boxes, phones, tablets and web browsers.

Despite its benefits, I must point out that YouTube TV follows the same failing business model as traditional cable providers, forcing users to subscribe to channels they may not watch. The service has seen significant price hikes over the years and now costs $73 a month for the basic plan. This price increase is largely due to YouTube having to pay broadcasters and cable TV networks much like traditional cable companies do.

For those of you who are tech-savvy, I suggest using the Channels DVR server, a self-hosted solution that allows users to record and watch channels through their own server. This service costs extra but offers more control over the viewing experience.

While YouTube TV offers a comprehensive solution for those looking to cut the cord, its rising costs and lack of a la carte channel selection could be potential drawbacks for many. As always, I recommend doing your research and considering your viewing habits before making a decision.

Cutting the Cord: Switching from Comcast/Xfinity to Frontier Fiber & YouTube TV

In this latest edition of my series auditing my mother’s cable bill, we’ve decided to make the switch away from Comcast/Xfinity and opt for Frontier fiber optic paired up with YouTube TV. This decision was driven by the desire to save money and the availability of competitive services in the area. You can see the full video here.

Frontier’s offering is a better deal compared to Comcast. They don’t charge any rental fees even for the modem, no term contract, free installation and they even provided a free Eero Wi-Fi extender. The basic plan we chose is faster than even the highest tier Comcast plan on the upstream: 500 megabits up with the same speed downstream. The total cost comes to just under $150 a month, including YouTube TV and their unlimited telephone service. This is significantly lower than the best deal Comcast could provide, which was $186.20 a month after taxes and required a term commitment.

However, the transition wasn’t entirely smooth. I placed the order for service online and there was no option to port her number back over from Comcast. When the tech showed up they had assigned her a new phone number and couldn’t port the existing one over unless we opened up a new order.

As of this writing the old account is still active and they haven’t yet closed it out. I have heard similar issues from others – if there’s any kind of hiccup it’s very hard to get a resolution quickly without multiple contacts.

The Frontier fiber optic service comes with an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) and a router. The ONT is a more robust device than what my Dad got from them at his place, with multiple Ethernet ports and a coax connection for MOCA. The router provided works fine, connecting all devices in the house via WiFi without any issues. In fact I didn’t even need to use the EERO to get her all of her Roku’s attached.

Overall the switch from Comcast/Xfinity to Frontier fiber optic and YouTube TV has proven to be a cost-effective decision for my Mom. Despite some customer service issues, the service quality and reliability of the Frontier fiber optic service have been satisfactory. The next project will be to explore the possibility of cutting the cord further with over-the-air TV and looking for a less expensive TV provider. Because YouTube TV has no term commitment we can leave it at any time.

I’ll cover more about YouTube TV in my next video where I’ll do a full review. Stay tuned!

10 Gigs of Capacity Does Not Equate to 10 Gig Downloads

Here’s an example of why getting the fastest Internet connection you can these days doesn’t always equate to a real-world experience.

This is the fastest Steam download I can muster on my 10 gigabit connection – which translates to just a little more than a gigabit downstream. Super fast, yes, but the reality is that you’ll never find a server that will give you all of your available bandwidth due to peering and capacity restrictions.

But with 10 gigs of bandwidth you can have multiple connections going on at once without any of them being impacted by the other.

You can learn more about my connection here.

Lenovo’s Yoga Book 9i: A Dual OLED Display Laptop

Lenovo often likes to test new ideas in the marketplace vs. the lab. The new Yoga Book 9i, is a testament to that. This unique device, which at first glance appears to be a standard 2-in-1 laptop, replaces the traditional keyboard and trackpad with a second OLED display. You can see it in action in my latest review.

The Yoga Book 9i is a premium device, retailing at around $2000. It’s equipped with a 13th generation Intel i7 i1355u processor, 16GB of dual-channel memory, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. The device is not upgradable, so what you buy is what you get. However, it’s adequately equipped for its target market.

Both OLED screens run at 400 nits, offering 100% of DCI P3 in a 16:10 aspect ratio. The displays are vibrant with excellent contrast ratios and HDR support. The 2.8K resolution translates to 2880 by 1800 on each display.

The device is slightly heavier than a typical laptop of its size, weighing in at just under three pounds. This is due to the additional display and the glass associated with it. Battery life is also a consideration, with the dual displays consuming significant power, especially when running creative software with high screen brightness. Expect around five to six hours of battery life under typical work conditions.

The Yoga Book 9i comes with a Bluetooth keyboard, a pen, and a stand. The keyboard can be used detached from the computer, and when attached, it triggers a virtual trackpad on the lower display. I do wish they integrated a ThinkPad-like trackpoint into the keyboard as the virtual trackpad can be a little tricky to navigate vs. a physical one. The pen works well on both displays, supporting pressure detection and offering a good level of friction for a more natural writing experience. Unfortunately none of the included accessories dock or garage themselves so you’ll need to accommodate and keep track of them when out and about.

Performance-wise, the Yoga Book 9i is quite good. It handles video playback, web browsing, word processing, and even some gaming. There are a few games like Asphalt 9 that take advantage of the dual display layout. I also tested Red Dead Redemption 2 that ran at about 35 frames per second at 1900×1200. The device also performs well with creative work, such as video editing and photo editing, thanks to the quality of the displays.

However, Linux compatibility is currently a no-go, as Ubuntu did not properly detect the displays in my testing. For now, Windows seems to be the optimal operating system for this device.

The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is a unique and innovative device that offers a new approach to computing. While it may not be for everyone, those in the creative field may find a lot of utility in its dual-display setup.

Comcast Gigabit Pro / x6 Now at 10 Gigabits per Second!

In my latest video I provide an update on the Comcast Gigabit Pro / x6 service I had installed here at the house back in 2020. Comcast quietly updated the service tier to a whopping 10 gigabits of symmetrical bandwidth!

This service, which I’ve been using for about two and a half years, is a “metro ethernet” fiber optic connection that has been steadily increasing in speed. Initially, it offered a 2 gigabits symmetrical, but it has since been increased to 3, 6, and now 10 gigabits per second.

The speed increases have been a response to competition in the area, with other providers offering similar performance tiers. Recently Frontier began selling a 5 gigabit symmetrical product, prompting Comcast to respond with their speed upgrade here.

But the full potential of this connection is difficult to realize due to hardware and peering limitations. The bandwidth provided is the amount available into Comcast’s network, but peering arrangements with other networks can limit the speed that can be achieved when connecting to different servers on the internet. For example my YouTube video uploads run at about the same speed they did when my service offered only two gigabits of service.

Local hardware limitations are another factor. A household that is mostly Wifi for example will never be able to take advantage of the 10 gigabit allocation. In my house the best I can muster is about a gigabit wirelessly when I’m in close to the access point. I also noticed that my Macbook Pro when docked through a single thunderbolt connection can only get about 4 gigabits upstream due to the bandwidth consumed by my two 4k 60hz monitors.

My Windows PCs also had a weird quirk where I could only max out at 6.6 gigabits per second. It turns out both had their third PCI Express slot running at only X2 speeds as the default BIOS setting was to share bandwidth with two SATA ports. Switching the slot to X4 and disabling those SATA ports opened the floodgates back up. You can see more in this Short.

Despite these limitations, the service has been incredibly reliable, a significant improvement over the previous coax service. The upload speed has been a game-changer, reducing video upload times from over an hour to about 45 seconds to a minute. This speed has allowed me to switch to 4K uploads and buys me a little more time to work on my videos ahead of my self-imposed deadlines.

Comcast’s Gigabit Pro / x6 service offers impressive speed and reliability at a very pricey $320 a month. While it may not fully reach the 10 gigabits per second due to hardware and peering limitations, it’s a significant improvement over their coax services and a testament to the benefits of competition in my area.