Plexamp Headless Allows Lossless Audio Streaming to Speakers, Audio Systems from a Raspberry Pi

In my latest monthly sponsored Plex video, we take a look at using an interesting official Plexamp client designed for the Raspberry Pi.

They call it “headless” as it’s designed to work on a Raspberry Pi that can be booted up and set aside to drive audio into a speaker or audio system. Once configured the Pi player will appear in the casting players menu alongside Chromecast devices.

The big difference between using the headless Raspberry Pi player versus a Chromecast is that the audio is not compressed for output – meaning your Raspberry Pi can pull high quality FLAC audio directly from the server yet behave exactly like a Chromecast would.

And because Raspberry Pis support high quality digital to analog converters (or DACs) you can achieve some really nice audio output once you have everything set up properly.

The installation process is a little involved but not terribly difficult. Your Pi needs to be running a 64 bit operating system and have Node.JS 16 or higher installed. There are some good instructions on the official Plex forum post to get things started and I followed these instructions for getting Node.JS working.

In the video I step through an installation from the beginning so you can see each step executed visually.

While this is definitely an enthusiast use case it’s nice to see that Plex is still focusing on the types of things media nerds like us want to do with their personal media servers!

How to Find a Good Deal on a New Tesla

I’ve been driving electric cars for 13 years, and 10 of those have been in a Tesla. Every so often Tesla finds themselves with an abundance of inventory at the end of the fiscal quarter and will discount the cars heavily to get them off the lot. This is one of those times.

In my latest video I take a look at how to find the best deals – in some cases you can save thousands of dollars off the sticker price. But just be prepared to do your due diligence as Tesla isn’t always focused on customer satisfaction these days.

So where are the deals? Click through my affiliate link and then click on the “explore inventory” button below the model you’re looking for. You’ll find filtering options on the side to narrow it down to your desired feature set.

I recommend sorting the cars from “Price Low to High” to find the ones that are significantly reduced in price. For example, I found a Model 3 Long Range All-Wheel Drive model for a little less than $4,000 off the list price:

In addition to the price reduction my affiliate link gets you an additional $500 off a Model 3 or Y and $1,000 off a Model S or X.

Tesla’s website also provides information on federal tax credits available for Model 3s and Model Ys. These credits can be applied to your taxes if you meet certain eligibility criteria. Leasing options are also available, where the tax credits may be worked into the lease. There may also be some tax credit options on used vehicles.

If you already own a Tesla with the full self-driving option, you can transfer it to a new vehicle. But, this is a short-running promotion, so act quickly if you’re interested. Also, note that the new vehicles come with full self-driving hardware version 4, which is not yet compatible with the full self-driving feature.

Be cautious when browsing the inventory. Tesla mixes demo models with new inventory models. Demo models have mileage on them and could have been used for test drives or even returned by other customers. They’ll note the demo units on the top of the listing like this Model S example:

Although the car above only has 52 miles on the odometer it’s possible it could have sat in the showroom being manhandled by customers for several weeks or more. My advice on the demo models is to head over to the Tesla store location and take a look at the vehicle yourself before putting a deposit down.

Here are a few things to expect in regards to the buying experience: Tesla’s purchasing process has always been a bit impersonal but it’s gotten worse. In fact the first time you’ll actually hear from someone is after the deposit is made, and it’s mostly a one way conversation via text message to set up the appointment. Any questions you ask will go unanswered. Perhaps it’s a little better in areas where Tesla has a retail presence but generally it’s a self guided sales process all the way up until the point you’re picking the car up.

To reserve a car, you’ll need to put down a non-refundable deposit of $250. If you have a trade-in, Tesla won’t give you a final offer on your trade until after that non-refundable deposit is made. Right now it appears as though that offer won’t arrive until about day or two ahead of your pick-up appointment. This is a significant change from Tesla’s previous process where customers knew up-front what they were being offered. If you walk away from the deal you’re out the $250.

The good news is that throughout my decade of Tesla ownership I’ve found the cars to be reliable and a ton of fun to drive. I’ve had very few interactions with Tesla service and the cars require very little maintenance beyond tires. For service calls they now have a mobile service program where a bulk of maintenance and service issues can be taken care at your home or office. They’ll come to you!

Hopefully you found this overview hopeful at landing a good deal on a new or used car. If so I’d love for you to use my affiliate link. More info on the referral program can be found here.

Amazon Tech Haul!

I was recently invited back into the Amazon Vine program where I have access to a lot of interesting gadgets from lesser known brands. I’ve been posting a few of the more promising ones as shorts or mini-reviews on my Gadget Picks channel.

As you all know I am constantly experimenting with content on the main channel and figured an Amazon haul video might be a fun one to do, similar to the ones we did with some Temu junk. So here it is!

In the video we look at everything from a magsafe charger/speaker phone to a really cool touch screen for a Raspberry Pi. Not everything was a winner but the products all at least worked this time – unlike our prior two Temu hauls.

And wow does the algorithm like delivering haul videos to you:

Given the popularity of this one I think I’ll keep doing these on a regular basis. Especially as the Vine program has almost an endless supply of this stuff.

These videos are also great multi-format opportunities. I was live streaming on my Amazon page while I recorded the segments for this YouTube video. And I will also break each segment into individual reviews for Amazon’s “Shoppable Videos” program. If you follow me on my Amazon page you’ll get notified when I go live!

Stay tuned!

Disclosure: these products came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturer, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received. 

Latest Synology Tutorial – Remote Hyper Backups with No Cloud!

I’ve been exploring the capabilities of Synology’s NAS devices as I continue to implement a number of self-hosted Docker projects. My latest project involved setting up a remote backup using a second Synology NAS and their free “Hyper Backup” software. I detail the setup process in my latest Synology tutorial.

What I like about this dual Synology set-up is that this is that you essentially have limitless cloud storage without any cost beyond the initial hardware. If you have two locations with decent enough bandwidth you can make things work just as well as a subscription service.

Using Synology’s Hyper Backup on the source NAS, I did the initial data transfer of 3+ TB to the destination NAS on my local network. Once the initial backup was complete, I relocated the destination NAS to my mother’s house about 10 miles away. Because I connected the destination NAS to my Tailscale network I just had to type in the remote NAS’s Tailscale IP address to reconnect to the backup job. Subsequent backups are a lot faster as I just have to transfer new and saved files.

Tailscale really makes this entire process a lot easier as I don’t have to open up ports on my Mom’s router and/or configure a VPN server. It just works!

Disclosure: The Synology NAS devices featured in this video were provided to the channel free of charge by Synology. Synology is an occaisional sponsor on the channel but they did sponsor this video nor review or approve it before it was uploaded.

Lenovo Tab M9 9″ Tablet Review

My latest video is of the Lenovo M9 tablet. With a nine-inch display, this compact device caught my attention, especially at its current sale price.

The Lenovo M9 tablet is a nice alternative to some of the “no-name” tablets available on the market. The display doesn’t have the highest resolution (800 by 1340), but its smaller size does provide enough pixel density to make it easy to read text and colors are vibrant.

Under the hood, the tablet is powered by a MediaTek Helio G80 processor, along with 3 gigabytes of RAM and 32 gigabytes of storage. While these specs might sound basic, they are sufficient for typical Android tasks. There’s also an SD card slot to augment its limited amount of internal storage.

One of the things that stood out to me was the tablet’s build quality. It boasts a glass front and a metal back, giving it a premium feel that’s not often found at this price point. In terms of ports, it offers a headphone jack and a USB type-C port. The USB-C port only supports USB 2.0 data speeds and does not have a video output feature. The tablet also has stereo speakers that deliver surprisingly decent audio quality.

A feature I found particularly useful was the reading mode. This mode turns the display into a grayscale, mimicking the look of a printed page. It’s not quite e-ink, but it’s a comfortable reading experience that reduces eye strain.

When it comes to performance, the Lenovo M9 handles basic tasks like web browsing smoothly. However, if you’re into gaming, it’s a mixed bag. While casual games like Horizon Chase and Minecraft run well, more demanding games like Roblox can be a bit laggy. But for game streaming, such as Xbox cloud gaming, the experience is seamless.

One concern many have with tablets is the longevity of support. Lenovo has addressed this by providing a clear roadmap for updates. The M9, currently running Android 12, is slated to receive an Android 13 update by the third quarter of this year and will continue to get security updates until April 30th, 2026.

Battery life is another strong point. In my use, I found that it easily lasts 10 to 12 hours, which can be extended by reducing screen brightness.

The Lenovo M9 tablet is a solid choice for those seeking a compact, affordable tablet from a reputable brand. It may not be the most powerful device out there, but it is more than capable of running most of the tasks a tablet like this is typically used for.

The Return of Budget 15″ Laptops? Ace Magic Laptop Review

My latest video looks at an inexpensive laptop from Ace Magician, a company that produced some impressive mini PCs I’ve reviewed over the last couple of weeks. While the laptop has its merits, there are a few caveats to consider.

The Ace Magic 15″ is currently available for around $310. However, it’s worth noting that the company frequently offers discounts and coupon codes, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for deals. For the price, the hardware is pretty good. The laptop boasts a 1080p 15.6-inch IPS display, which offers decent viewing angles with no noticeable backlight bleed. The brightness might not be the highest (I estimate around 250nits), but the quality of the display was a pleasant surprise.

Under the hood, the laptop is powered by an Intel N95 processor. While this might not be the most powerful chip on the market, it’s sufficient for basic tasks like web browsing, movie watching, and word processing. The laptop also comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, both of which can be upgraded if needed.

However, not everything is great. I encountered some issues with the laptop’s Wi-Fi, which is a 1×1 AC Wi-Fi radio. The data transfer rates were not impressive, and I had compatibility issues with the Unifi Wi-Fi hardware I use here at the house. The Wifi/Bluetooth radio is socketed so it’s easy enough to swap out later. Another area where the laptop falls short is the webcam. The quality is subpar, making it unsuitable for professional video calls.

On the brighter side, the keyboard is decent, with well-spaced but springy keys that offer good travel distance. The trackpad, while functional, can be a bit tricky due to its dual-button design. The laptop also offers a variety of ports, including USB 3, HDMI, and a micro SD card slot. There are two USB-C ports, however one is only for power and the other only works with USB data devices.

When it comes to performance, the Ace Magic 15″ handles basic tasks without issue. Web browsing is smooth, and video playback, especially on platforms like YouTube, is seamless. However, if you’re into gaming, this might not be the best choice. While older games run smoothly, modern titles are not playable, even at lower settings. You’ll need to stream those games from another PC in the house or a game streaming service.

Interestingly, the laptop excels in emulation. I tested it with the PCSX2 emulator, and it managed to run Burnout Revenge at a solid 60 frames per second.

As far as battery life is concerned, I managed to get around six to seven hours on a single charge while performing basic tasks.

For those interested in running alternative operating systems, the laptop can boot up the latest version of Ubuntu and have most of the hardware recognized. Unfortunately the laptop’s audio was not detected properly.

All in the Ace Magic 15″ laptop offers decent value for its price. While there are some shortcomings, especially with the Wi-Fi and webcam, the overall experience is positive. If you’re on a tight budget and need a laptop for basic tasks, this might be a good option to consider.

New Synology How To: Using Docker Containers with the new Synology Container Manager

In my latest video we veer off into the nerdy weeds with a detailed step-by-step tutorial about how to spin up and manage complex Docker applications using the new Synology Container Manager that can be found in DSM 7.2.

As I mentioned in my previous video about my self hosted projects, there are hundreds of amazing open source applications out there that offer similar functionality to popular cloud apps. I received so many questions and comments from that video about how I get them running via Docker on a Synology NAS, so that’s where this video comes in.

Because the Docker containers run in an isolated environment, they’re a little more secure than just running applications on the NAS directly. They’re also very easy to back up and move to another server if needed. Just copy the folder over to the new machine, rebuild the containers with a mouse click, and migration is done!

In the video I demonstrate installing Wallabag, an open source “read later” application similar to Pocket and Instapaper. The way it works is that Wallabag will download an archive of a provided URL, transform the web page into a readable format with just the content, and make it available for offline reading via a web browser. The Wallabag app for Android and iOS can sync the Wallabag container’s data with a phone or tablet.

Wallabag runs on the NAS in a container and its data is stored locally there as well. Using Tailscale I’m able to connect back to the application from anywhere in the world securely without having to open up any ports on my router.

I chose wallabag for this demonstration because it’s an example of a project that consists of multiple Docker containers working in concert with each other. In this case there’s the main Wallabag application in one container, a mysql database server in another and a third container runs a redis caching server.

In the past it was possible to get a project like this working but it had to be done outside Synology’s Docker app using the command line or another tool. Container Manager now makes it possible to build and run applications like this without having to use anything else.

In the tutorial I detail the steps of finding and editing Wallabag’s Docker Compose file and building the application as a “project” inside of Container Manager. One of the important things in this process is pointing the containers to a directory on the NAS for storing data. Containers are considered expendable with each update or build, so user data has to be mapped to a persistent storage location on the NAS. After trouble shooting a few minor error codes I was able to get Wallabag project built and operating relatively quickly and reliably on the NAS.

While all of this might seem a bit daunting vs. finding an app and hitting the install button, containerized applications are in many ways the new standard for running open source applications like this. While there is some up-front complexity, the advantages of having what is essentially portable versions of very robust server applications save far more time in the future. Should something ever happen to my NAS I just need to restore the backup files to a new location, click the build button, and I’m back exactly where I left off.

Let me know what you think in the video’s comments! Also be sure to share some of the containers you’ve found to be most useful.

Disclosure: Synology is an occaisional sponsor here on the channel and they provided me with the NAS hardware used in the review free of charge. However they did not sponsor this video nor did they provide any input or approval prior to publishing.

HP Dragonfly G4 Review

My latest video is a review of the HP Dragonfly G4 is a 13.5 inch laptop. It’s designed for portability but also checks the boxes for performance and battery life. It weighs in at 2.2 pounds (about one kilogram) and comes in a number of different configurations and price points.

In terms of pricing, the review loaner I was sent is priced at $2,279. However, HP provides a variety of customization options, so take a look at their configurator (affiliate link) and see what it might cost based on your specific requirements.

The display of this model has a resolution of 1920 by 1280, with a 3:2 aspect ratio. While this particular model does not feature a touch panel, HP offers other configurations, including some with OLED panels and touch displays.

Internally, the laptop is equipped with an Intel i7-1365U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe storage. The RAM is non-upgradable, but the storage can be replaced if needed. Battery life is estimated at around 12 hours, depending on usage and what kind of display the laptop has. The display on our review loaner is the most power efficient but lacks color calibration for creative tasks and comes in at 400 nits of brightness vs. 1,000 on some other display options.

The Dragonfly G4 features a backlit keyboard and a large trackpad that functions quite nicely. In terms of connectivity, it offers two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a full-size HDMI port, a full size USB-A port and a headphone jack.

The webcam on this model is notable for its clarity and the accompanying HP video control software. This software can switch between multiple webcams automatically and pipe the output to Zoom and other popular conferencing applications. This might be ideal for those who are lecturers who may need to get up and switch to a different viewpoint during a webinar. While this capability is something OBS and Vmix can do, it’s much simpler to set up and use here.

The HP video software also has an automatic keystoning feature that will look for documents placed in front of the camera and will automatically rotate them into the proper perspective.

Performance tests indicate that the laptop handles web browsing, office documents and light 4k video editing efficiently. It can also run some demanding AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2 at around 30 frames per second at 1920×1280 using the lowest settings. So while it’s primarily a work machine it is also a decent casual gaming device too.

When tested with Linux, the laptop had some compatibility issues with the most recent version of Ubuntu, particularly with audio and the webcam.

In summary, the HP Dragonfly G4 checks all the boxes for a decent laptop: it’s lightweight, has great performance and has excellent battery life.

Nintendo 64 to HDMI on a Budget!

In my latest video I take a look at some budget friendly options to get your old Nintendo 64 working on your modern HDMI television.

The most straightforward method would be using the composite output if your television has composite inputs. But not all televisions do a very good job displaying composite signals properly.

A better way is to get a decent line doubler or scaler to process that signal into something that’s more compatible with modern HD and 4k televisions. I stumbled upon two budget-friendly solutions for this purpose through the Amazon Vine review program: the Pound Link Cable and another device from a company called RuntoGOL. Both devices plug directly into the Nintendo 64 and promise high def output via HDMI. But do they deliver on this promise?

Before diving into these budget options, I explored the higher-end solutions to set a benchmark. The RetroTink products, particularly the RetroTink 2x and the 5x, are renowned in the retro gaming community. These devices are really perfect – they offer a near-zero lag experience with stunning visual quality. But they are quite expensive, starting at $149 for their lowest cost version available at the moment.

However, the Pound Link Cable and the RuntoGOL Adapter are significantly less expensive coming in at under $30 each.

Unfortunately you get what you pay for with the least expensive RuntoGOL Adapter. It stretched the game’s aspect ratio, making everything appear squished. The image clarity was also subpar, likely because it sourced the video from the composite output. Additionally, it introduced noticeable input lag.

On the other hand, the Pound Link Cable was a pleasant surprise. Despite its low cost, it delivered decent image quality by sourcing its visuals from the Nintendo 64’s S-Video output. The aspect ratio was preserved, and the games looked as they should. For casual retro gamers looking for a quick and affordable solution it checks the box. However, like the RuntoGOL Adapter, it also suffered from input lag that was about double vs. what I experienced with the Retrotink products.

For those looking for resources on retro gaming, the best place to start is my friend Bob at This website offers invaluable insights into getting the most out of retro game consoles. From modification guides to non-mod solutions, it’s a treasure trove for enthusiasts.

So what’s the best way to experience retro games? On an old tube CRT television of course! And the best part is that you could probably find someone to pay you to take their old TV away! A win-win!

Disclosure: The RuntoGol and Pound cables came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturers, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received.

YouTube Kills External Linking Because TikTok Does It?

YouTube announced this weekend that they will be disabling external links in the video description and comments for YouTube Shorts videos. This is the subject of my latest video.

This change, set to take effect on August 31st, has left me concerned for small and mid-sized creators who rely on affiliate marketing links for a portion of their revenue. When I first started making videos affiliate links drove most of my channel’s income and still represent a sizable portion of my overall revenue.

Affiliate links pay the creator a commission for sales that are generated from a user clicking on the link. What I really like about affiliate marketing is that it disincentivizes false advertising, as any returns made on an affiliate generated sale are deducted from the commission paid to the creator.

That’s why I was very disappointed to see the official response from YouTube’s “Creator Liaison,” Rene Ritchie, who said in a Twitter post that this was “the same as Reels and TikTok” and creators on those platforms were doing just fine.

I’ve always believed that YouTube offers a unique platform that stands out from its competitors through generous (and transparent) revenue sharing on long form videos, great discovery features, and the ability to use external links for affiliate marketing and other purposes.

The introduction of this restriction feels like a step backward – especially as their spokesperson devalues his own brand by comparing it to platforms that are the absolute worst for creator monetization. Perhaps Rene’s experience as a content creator and the creators he associates with are not struggling the way most monetized creators do on the platform. Some of us would prefer not to do the type of payola that clogs up TikTok and Reels.

One of the arguments presented by YouTube for this change revolves around security concerns, specifically the risk of scams and hacks appearing in comment threads. But YouTube solved that problem years ago by holding comments with links for moderation if the creator enables that feature (I do). Rene also rejected the idea of allowing those in the YouTube partner program to continue linking as he thinks it would make them a target for phishing attacks. But large creators are already the targets of phishing attacks as Linus Tech Tips found out a few months ago.

What I think is happening here is that YouTube is trying to get their own affiliate program off the ground which does work with Shorts. This new feature embeds affiliate links in the video itself but is limited only to retailers that agree to work with YouTube who presumably takes a cut of the action.

While this program has potential, my experience with it so far has been underwhelming. The click-through rates and conversions from YouTube’s affiliate links are significantly lower than my personally generated affiliate links and very few retailers that sell the types of products I cover are participating in the YouTube program.

I hope that YouTube will reconsider this decision and continue to support creators of all sizes. I love YouTube because it’s not a payola cesspool like their competitors. If that’s the vision for Shorts, fine. But the people I know at YouTube want to do better than that. And after all, it’s the creators who drive the platform, and their voices should be heard.

Lenovo Tab P11 Gen 2 Tablet Review

My latest video is a review of Lenovo’s second-generation Tab P11 Gen 2 Android tablet. What intrigued me most about this device was its special desktop mode that transforms the tablet experience into more of a desktop environment.

We’ll be doing a giveaway on this one and another Lenovo tablet in the coming weeks so stay tuned! I’ll announce the giveaway plan on this email list.

Lenovo sent me the kit version of this tablet which also packs in a pen and a keyboard/trackpad case and stand. The price point for this entire kit is $299, which I found to be quite reasonable given the premium quality of the accessories.

The tablet is powered by a MediaTek Helio G99 processor. It has 4 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of storage. It has a wide 11.5-inch screen, with a resolution of 2000 by 1200, that can go up to a 120Hz refresh rate. This makes the visual experience smoother compared to other tablets that are limited to 60Hz. The display also supports 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, ensuring accurate colors for tasks like photo editing.

The sound quality out of the tablet is nice for the price point, featuring Dolby Atmos sound. It definitely sounded a lot less tinny than some of the lower cost tablets I’ve looked at recently from Walmart and Amazon.

For ports it has a USB Type-C and a headphone jack along with an SD card slot for augmenting its onboard storage. The USB-C port doubles as the charging port but it is not able to output video via HDMI. The more expensive pro version of the tablet does support video output. For biometrics, it lacks a finger print reader but it does offer facial recognition which worked just fine in my testing.

There are two cameras on board, a front-facing 5 megapixel camera that shoots 1080p video and a rear facing 13 megapixel camera. While the cameras are decent for a tablet, I believe smartphones might offer a better photography experience. But the front facing video quality looked great especially for doing web conferencing.

Running on Android 12, Lenovo promises an upgrade to Android 14 in the near future. I should note that I have heard from some viewers who were disappointed that prior versions of Lenovo tablets did not get promised OS updates. Performance-wise, it handled tasks smoothly, from browsing to video streaming. The Wi-Fi 6E radio ensures a seamless online experience.

One feature I particularly enjoyed was the reading mode. It offers a “chromatic” option that warms the display, reducing blue light. There’s also a Mono mode that turns the display black and white, almost mimicking the look and feel of a Kindle e-ink screen.

The included Lenovo Precision Pen 2 tracked nicely on the screen but did have a slight bit of latency. While it might not be the best for intricate artwork due to the slippery screen, it does work well for note taking and doodles.

The keyboard/trackpad case not only offers protection but also comes with a kickstand reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface design. The keyboard, although not backlit, provides a comfortable typing experience with good key travel and tactile feedback.

Lenovo’s “productivity mode” transforms the tablet into a desktop-like interface very similar to what it’s like to run Android apps on a Chromebook. Apps will turn into windowed applications that are layered on top of a desktop interface very similar to Windows. It makes using the device with the keyboard and trackpad much easier.

I also tested its gaming capabilities. Casual Android games like Roblox and Minecraft ran smoothly. For more advanced gaming or higher end PS2 or Gamecube emulation, you might need a device with a more robust processor. But for 99% of the population this is more than adequate. Of note though the performance on this tablet is identical to the 11″ Walmart Onn and Amazon Fire tablets I reviewed a few weeks ago.

In conclusion, if you’re considering the kit version of the Lenovo Tab P11 Gen 2, I believe it offers great value. The combination of premium features, a reasonable price point, and the versatility of both a tablet and a near-laptop experience makes it a worthy contender in the market.

Disclosure: Lenovo sent the tablet to the channel free of charge however they did not sponsor this review, provide any additional compensation, or review or approve this review before it was posted.

Recent Short Gadget Picks

I still loathe YouTube Shorts but I am making a few of them on the Gadget Picks channel for smaller gadget finds I come across. Shorts on my Amazon channel do much better than YouTube but I may as well put them in both places! Here’s a few of my latest finds. Each title link will bring you to my Amazon page (affiliate link) where you can see pricing and availability.

USB-C Cable with Power Meter

This USB-C cable is not your ordinary cable; it features a built-in power meter. The cable supports up to 100 Watts and provides information about its mode, such as USB-C PD. A point to note: the meter’s display appears brighter on camera than in reality but still a quick way to monitor the power flow going into your device.

Bamboo Wireless Qi Charger

This USB-C powered bamboo wireless charger is a stylish and functional accessory designed for three devices: a phone, an Apple Watch, and ear pods that support wireless charging. It’s versatile, compatible with various brands, and offers a maximum charging capacity of 15 watts. The only issue I encountered is that the magnet for the watch is a bit too weak.

Bluetooth Number Pad

This Bluetooth number pad not only provides numerical keys but also includes nicely sized arrow keys. It’s a great addition for those who might find certain keys missing from their laptop keyboards. Compatible with both Windows and Mac, it also offers keys for screen brightness control, tab, delete, page up/down, and more.

Amaste Milk Frother

Elevate your coffee game with the Amaste Milk Frother. Designed for easy cleaning, the frother uses a magnet mechanism and boasts three modes: froth without temperature, warm froth, and hot milk. Using skim milk, I achieved a rich frothy output that was quite impressive.

Disclosure: These products came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturer, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received.

Synology’s Peculiar New Storage Product: The BeeDrive

My latest video is a review of Synology’s new storage product called the BeeDrive.

At first glance, it might seem like any other external solid-state drive. However, it’s the software layer that sets it apart. This drive and software combination offers data synchronization, backup capabilities, and even a feature that allows you to transfer files from mobile devices, similar to how AirDrop works on the Mac.

The BeeDrive is priced at around $120 for the one terabyte version and $199 for the two terabyte. From a hardware perspective, it’s straightforward with a single USB type-C connector. It operates at 3.1 Gen 2 speeds similar to other drives in this space.

The backup feature is quite simple. It monitors specified folders and updates the backup almost in real-time whenever a file changes. There’s also an option to keep file versions, so if a file changes, it will update the backup and store the previous version. It works with multiple computers, storing the backups in separate folders on the drive.

It also has a synchronization feature that allows for a two-way sync between the BeeDrive and a folder stored locally on the computer. It’s essentially a “sneakernet” DropBox that can keep files in sync on multiple computers with the BeeDrive acting as the master device. Syncing happens only when the drive is physically connected to the computer with the software running.

One of the standout features of the BeeDrive is its mobile transfer capability. With the BeeDrive app, available for both Android and iPhone, you can back up your photo library, including videos automatically whenever the BeeDrive is connected to a host PC on the same network as the phone.

There’s also the BeeDrop feature, which lets you quickly transfer files and photos from your phone to your computer similar to how AirDrop works on the Mac. This feature works remarkably well, even over the Internet. Unfortunately it’s only a one-way trip at the time of this review. Files can’t be transferred back to the phone.

Beyond the software features it’ll also work as a regular external hard drive provided files are stored outside of the folders the BeeDrive software uses for backups and syncs. When I ran a CrystalDiskMark test, the BeeDrive’s performance was adequate but not groundbreaking.

Like most new products there’s a lot missing here that will hopefully be added later in future software updates. The first is a lack of hardware encryption on the drive, a feature that’s found on most name brand external solid state drives these days. And although its backup feature is super simple to use there currently isn’t a restoration feature to put files back in place. That has to be done manually.

Mac users can use the drive to store files but the BeeDrive software was not yet available for the Mac at the time of my review. Synology does have plans for a Mac client shortly.

The BeeDrive offers a unique blend of hardware and software features. It’s worth keeping an eye on this product line, as I anticipate more software updates and improvements in the future.

Disclosure: Synology sent the BeeDrive to the channel free of charge, however they did not sponsor this review, provide any additional compensation, or review or approve this review before it was posted. Synology is also an occasional sponsor here on the channel but is not sponsoring this video.

Channel Updates and Future Plans – Navigating the YouTube Algorithm

It’s been a while since I last checked in with a channel update. I’ve been considering some changes to expand my presence on YouTube, primarily to navigate the ever-evolving algorithm. I detail that in my latest video.

I recently did some research, following my video about how the algorithm misses things from a viewer perspective, and found that most of my subscribers aren’t seeing the content I produce. The YouTube algorithm seems to prioritize certain content over others, and with my diverse coverage in the tech space, it’s been challenging to ensure that my videos reach all of you.

Over the past year, I’ve garnered 8.1 million views, but only a fraction of those views come from my subscribers. It’s evident that not every subscriber is aware of my new uploads, which feels to like an algorithmically generated shadow unsubscribe. This led me to consider YouTube’s current (albeit ever changing) advice: start a new channel when existing topics aren’t gaining traction. But starting from scratch is a daunting task, especially when you’ve built a community over the years.

Analyzing my channel’s performance, I noticed that cord-cutting topics have been the most popular recently. However, just a year ago, laptops and Chromebooks were the top performers. It’s clear that consumer interests shift, and as a content creator, I need to adapt.

Given these insights, I’ve decided to branch out a bit. I’ve launched a new channel, “Lon’s Gadget Picks,” where I’ll be reviewing various gadgets I receive through the Amazon Vine program with short reviews. These are typically things I’d skip on the main channel but they don’t take long to produce so I may as well see if this kind of topic has any legs on its own.

I’ve also partnered with, where I’ve had the opportunity to provide commentary on launches and contribute footage. This collaboration allows me to indulge my passion for space exploration and find a new audience as space videos typically underperform on my main channel.

While I’m excited about these new ventures, I’m also committed to continuing with the content you do watch. However, I’m considering spinning off some of these topics into separate channels in the future as I continue to test ways of finding audience for my less popular content.

To make it easier for you to keep up with all my content, I’ve consolidated everything on my blog. You can also subscribe to my weekly email newsletter or the almost daily email for regular updates. For those interested, I’ve expanded to other platforms like Amazon and Floatplane, offering the same content as on YouTube.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to all of you, especially the supporters who’ve contributed to the channel. Your viewership and support mean the world to me. Stay tuned for more updates, and as always, thank you for being a part of this journey!

Gadget Pick: Mic Stick for DJI & RODE Mics

I recently came across a stick mic adapter designed for microphones like the DJI Mic system. While these mics are typically clip-ons, this adapter allows you to transform them into a stick mic, perfect for on-the-street interviews. You can see my full review on Amazon here.

The mic stick is made of plastic, and while it’s lightweight, I did wish it felt a bit more rugged. It comes with a windscreen and has a mounting point for the mic. The adapter can be held in your hand or mounted to other devices with a tripod mount on the side and bottom.

The DJI mic attaches to the adapter quite securely. The windscreen, however, doesn’t fit the microphone perfectly, but with a bit of adjustment, it can be made to work.

I conducted a quick audio test with the windscreen on and off. The sound quality was about the same in either configuration, but I did notice that the stick picks up sounds when you run your fingers across it. It’s best to hold it firmly to minimize any noise.

One thing to note is that the DJI mics are omnidirectional, meaning they pick up sound from all directions. So, if you’re in a noisy environment, this might not be the ideal solution. However, for quick interviews on the go, it does the job quite well and lets you use a single microphone solution regardless for both studio and run-and-gun field work.

All About My iPhone 14 Pro’s Dying Battery..

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a significant change in my iPhone 14 Pro’s battery life. Despite purchasing it less than a year ago, the battery doesn’t last nearly as long as it initially did. This is the topic of my latest video.

Curious, I delved into the battery health section of my settings and found that my battery health had dropped to 89%. It seemed to be decreasing by about 1-2% every two weeks. In fact since shooting this video on Friday my battery health has dropped another percentage point.

I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. A fellow tech YouTuber, Tech Daily, shared a similar experience with his iPhone 14 Pro on Twitter. This got me thinking about the factors that could be causing this decline.

Apple defines a functional battery as one that retains 80% of its original capacity after 500 complete charge cycles. A charge cycle is counted every time the battery is completely drained and recharged. For instance, if you use up half the battery and then recharge it, that counts as half a charge cycle.

Finding the charge cycle number isn’t straightforward. However, after navigating through the settings, I discovered that my cycle count was 329. This meant that, according to Apple, my battery was still functioning within its expected performance range and would not be subject to a warranty replacement.

I began to wonder if my charging habits were affecting the battery’s longevity. Like many others, I primarily use wireless charging. I’ve noticed that my phone heats up considerably when placed on a wireless charger. Additionally, when I need a quick charge, I use high-powered USB-C PD chargers, which also generate a lot of heat. Could this heat be impacting the battery’s lifespan? TechDaily suspects that might be his problem too:

Interestingly, the European Union is considering a mandate for phones to have user-replaceable batteries. This could be a game-changer, allowing users to easily swap out batteries and extend the life of their phones.

I’m curious to hear from others about their experiences with their phone batteries. Is there a correlation between wireless and fast charging and reduced battery longevity? Let me know in the video comments or on Twitter. It’s all anecdotal for now, but gathering more data might provide some insights.

Wyze Battery Cam Pro is useless right now without a subscription..

Wyze has introduced an upgrade to its outdoor battery powered security notification camera. This one is called the “Battery Cam Pro” and unlike is predecessor will operate without the need for a hub. You can see my unboxing short here on Amazon.

One of the things I like best about the new design is that it works with a removable battery. So you don’t need to bring the entire camera inside to charge it. The battery also has a USB-C port built in so no additional charger is required. Wyze also sells extra batteries so you can always have a charged one ready to go.

Unfortunately this new Wyze cam has all of the limitations of their other current models when it comes to using the device without an ongoing subscription. This is something we covered recently on the channel.

Without paying for a Wyze subscription the only thing the Battery Cam Pro will provide is a still image of what happened to set it off and access to a live feed that allows for two way communications.

While the camera does have an SD card slot Wyze has not yet implemented support for it. Wyze says SD card recording of motion events will come in September and that’s when I’ll review it. Until then the product is not yet complete – especially for people who don’t want an ongoing cost of ownership.