Gadget Pick: MakeID L1 Label Printer

I recently had the opportunity to try out the tiny MakeID L1 Label Printer. You can see my full review here on Amazon.

If you’ve ever used a Brother P-Touch printer, this device operates in a similar fashion except this one uses an app versus an on-device keyboard.

The printer itself is quite simple. It’s a basic thermal printer that prints in one color. It’s not designed for printing photographs, so it’s best to stick to clip art that you’ll find in the app. The ribbon with an adhesive backing is stored inside the printer. I used a white one that came with the printer, but there are other colors available.

The printer is equipped with a built-in battery, allowing it to operate wirelessly. It connects via Bluetooth to an iPhone or an Android device. The charge should last through a good organizational session, but you might want to plug it in if you’re planning an all-day project.

The app also offers the option to save your designs for future use. Even if you forget to save, the app keeps a log of everything that was printed, which is quite handy. However, it’s worth noting that the app doesn’t support barcodes or serialization.

Overall, I found the MakeID L1 Label Printer to be a useful tool for home use. While the printer itself is inexpensive the ribbons cost a bit more than I expected. In some cases you’ll pay more for ribbons on the L1 than you will on the P-Touch!

Lenovo Yoga 9i (2023) Review 14IRP8

As the back-to-school season approaches, I will be exploring various sent to the channel on loan for review. The new Lenovo Yoga 9i is the first of a few you’ll see over the next couple of weeks and the subject of my latest review. This 2-in-1 laptop, powered by an Intel i7 1360p processor, offers the flexibility of flipping into a tablet or a display mode.

The upper-end configuration with a 4k display is currently $1,400 at Best Buy (affiliate link). The laptop I reviewed looks to be similar to the Best Buy configuration with a 14-inch 4K OLED display, 16GB of non-upgradable RAM, and a 1TB nvme SSD for storage. The display, with its deep blacks and vibrant colors looks great but is not as bright at 400 nits as other premium displays I’ve looked at.

The build quality of the Yoga 9i feels nice and premium. Weighing about 3 pounds, it has a sturdy metal design that feels very well balanced. The integrated speaker bar in the hinge delivers great sound quality, suitable for both music and spoken word. The keyboard, a typical Lenovo strength, is backlit and comfortable to type on, although the key travel is slightly shallow. The trackpad is responsive, and the laptop offers a decent array of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The 1080p webcam will look nice for Zoom meetings and an improvement over 720p cameras in older laptops of this class. The camera also has a built-in physical shutter for privacy.

The battery life isn’t spectacular, however. Part of this is due to the high-resolution OLED display that will draw a lot of power. I estimate you’ll get about seven hours of battery life on basic tasks.

Performance-wise, the Yoga 9i didn’t disappoint. Web browsing was smooth, and it handled video editing tasks efficiently. The pen experience was also noteworthy, offering pressure detection and a natural writing feel. On the gaming front, I tried out Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2. While it’s not a gaming laptop, it handled these games decently.

I also experimented with Ubuntu on this laptop, and everything ran smoothly.

All in all, for someone heading to college and looking for a Windows laptop, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is a solid choice. It offers a blend of performance, design, and versatility, although one might need to keep the charger handy.

HP’s Sprocket Studio Plus Review: an in-home photo lab

In my latest video I review the new HP Sprocket Studio Plus (affiliate link), a compact photo printer that prints high-quality 4×6 photos that are very close to the digital prints you might get from a photo printing service.

What sets it apart is its use of dye sublimation technology. This is a departure from the typical inkjet technology and even from HP’s other Sprocket printers that utilize the Zinc standard.

The printer is priced at $149, and the cost per photo comes to about 44 cents. This cost estimate includes the special paper and the unique ribbons it requires. Because it uses a ribbon to print photos the consumable cost is much more predictable vs. an ink printer.

The printer is very compact. The paper tray can be removed and stored on top of the printer to reduce its footprint when not in use. And because it doesn’t use ink the printer won’t get clogged up if it’s left to sit for weeks or months. It should pick back up right where it left off.

Setting up the printer was straightforward. It does require the HP Sprocket App that runs on Android and iOS devices. Even though it operates over Wi-Fi it can’t be directly printed to without running the photos through the app first.

The app can pull photos from your phone’s gallery, Instagram, Facebook, and Google Photos. Printing a photo is as simple as selecting it in the app and hitting print. The entire process takes about 90 seconds, with the printer laying down colors layer by layer. The result? A nice, high-quality photo.

I printed several photos to gauge the printer’s quality. While the contrast wasn’t as deep as on my phone’s OLED display, the photos were still impressive especially when compared against similarly priced ink jet printers. As you’ll see in the video some details might appear softer when viewed up close, but for a 4×6 print, the quality is more than satisfactory.

The app offers some fun features, like creating photo collages. You can also add labels and text to your photos. There’s also a photo booth mode and an option for taking passport and ID photos.

The HP Sprocket Studio Plus is a good choice for those who love printing 4×6 photos. While it costs a little more than a photo lab print, having the convenience of printing similar quality photos at home might be appealing.

Disclosure: HP sent the printer 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.

I Saw a Rocket Launch from Connecticut!

I recently was invited to collaborate with NasaSpaceFlight.com on a few upcoming projects and my first effort was to provide live footage for their livestream of the CRS NG-19 cargo launch to the International Space Station.

What was fun about this particular project is that the rocket launched from Wallops Island, Virginia so I was able to capture stage separation and upper stage ignition from the beach here in Connecticut! Check out their coverage here, my shots begin around begin around the 36:30 mark:

The shot begins with the first stage reaching its main engine cut-off followed by stage separation. The tail end of the first stage was visible here and it looked amazing as the sun was setting.

I was then able to catch the second stage ignition complete with the fairing halves falling back to earth. See it here on the Snippets channel.

It was really fun to hear the excitement of the commentators and watch the reaction in the chat room. These “up the coast” shots are rare as most rockets launch from Florida and don’t offer these kinds of views from land.

Tune in tonight at around 11:15 p.m. eastern as I’ll be providing some color commentary on the launch of a communications satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

ATSC 3 DRM is Worse Than We Thought!

I’ve been deeply involved in raising awareness about the broadcast industry’s intentions to encrypt free over-the-air television. Recent developments have shown that the situation with DRM encryption is eve worse than I initially thought. You can see more in my latest video.

Our collective efforts to inform the FCC about these concerns have been fruitful. Since my last update, the number of comments and filings on the FCC’s official transition docket has significantly increased. This surge in participation is heartening, but there’s still a long way to go. I urge everyone to continue voicing their concerns.

In a positive turn of events, the FCC has delayed the official transition to ATSC 3.0 until at least June 2027. This gives us more time to make our case and ensure that when the transition does occur, it doesn’t come with undue restrictions.

However, there’s concerning news on the horizon. Despite promises from Pearl TV, the organization behind this initiative, it seems that even certified devices can’t decrypt DRM protected content. This revelation comes as Silicondust, the makers of the HDHomerun, now have certified firmware for their hardware and apps – yuet those apps cannot decrypt the DRM content.

This directly contradicts Pearl TV’s earlier statements in June that certified devices would be able to decrypt broadcasts:

Thankfully, the security layer already included in NEXTGEN TV is being enabled now and is supported by all of the television manufacturers selling NEXTGEN TV-certified receivers.

A recent article by Jared Newman from Tech Hive further delved into the intricacies of this DRM. Shockingly, broadcasters could potentially delete DVR recordings from your own server after a certain period of time or block the recording of content outright. And if you’re not using a television connected directly to an antenna an Internet connection will be required to watch live television – that includes smart TVs using an app, tablets, computers and other devices.

Additionally, there could be restrictions that effectively prevent out-of-home viewing from network tuners. This means that every time you watch television or a recording, you will have to disclose your physical location.

The industry’s justification for these restrictions revolves around concerns of copyright violations. However, it’s evident that the real motive might be to protect retransmission fees they collect from cable and streaming service subscribers. With many consumers cutting the cord due to exorbitant fees, broadcasters seem to be taking measures to protect their revenue streams.

The essence of free over-the-air TV must be preserved if broadcasters wish to continue using the public airwaves. Viewers shouldn’t be burdened with unnecessary limitations in an effort to force them into paying exorbitant subscription fees. It’s crucial to continue voicing our concerns and ensuring that the public’s best interests are upheld.

I’ll be back with more on this soon including a new effort we’ll be undertaking to let the industry know we’re not going to stand for this!