This morning some new (old) Mac User magazines made their way to the archive and I virtually thumbed through a few editions. One of the ads reminded me of one of the coolest parts of 90’s computing: super fast and super cheap overnight shipping from mail-order retailers.
One of my favorites was the “Mac Zone” and “PC Zone.” They were located on the West Coast of the USA. With me being on the East Coast I could call them at 4 p.m. my time and often have items delivered to me here in Connecticut by the next morning. The best part? Shipping was only $3! Even adjusting for inflation that’s still super cheap for next day delivery.
Other retailers like the Mac & PC Connection also had attractive freight rates like this. Most of them used “Airborne Express,” a competitor to FedEx (known as Federal Express back then). Airborne Express was later acquired by DHL.
The Mac and PC Zone is still around today. Known simply as “Zones,” they mostly cater to the B2B market offering IT equipment and services. They still have the same toll-free number! The PC and Mac Connection is also still around. They too pivoted more towards the B2B market.
Just after Thanksgiving the Cox Media Group (CMG) began marketing an advertising product that they say targets consumers based on private conversations heard by smart devices. This bold claim generated a good amount of media scrutiny, with most outlets saying Cox’s claimed capabilities were exaggerated. CMG has since taken their “active listening” marketing page down.
In my latest video I demonstrate how it’s possible to listen in on private conversations without ever having to upload audio data – just transcriptions generated by on-device AI. Smartphone processors have had enough horsepower to do this since at least 2017 if not earlier.
I conducted an experiment to test these capabilities. Using a piece of software called MacWhisper, which utilizes OpenAI’s models for on-device transcription, I transcribed a conversation from my home. The software efficiently converted the audio into text, which was then uploaded and summarized using ChatGPT. The results were surprisingly accurate and detailed, capturing various topics from health concerns to shopping plans.
The resulting transcript uploaded to ChatGPT was only 3k in size – a file small enough to be transmitted in just a few seconds using a 1980’s 1200 baud modem and mere milliseconds on a modern broadband connection. If anyone was monitoring the network traffic coming out of a smart television a transmission that small would likely be dismissed as just some random telemetry.
And you don’t even need a powerful computer to transcribe text on device. Google Pixel phones since the Pixel 4 could do it and Apple has had this capability since the iPhone X’s release. Conceivably every TV, phone, tablet, smart speaker and just about any other device made in the last five years is fully capable of on-device transcription.
In a statement, CMG denied they were listening to conversations but did not deny somebody else might be:
“CMG businesses do not listen to any conversations or have access to anything beyond a third-party aggregated, anonymized and fully encrypted data set that can be used for ad placement.“
So it’s entirely possible they’re working with a third party vendor that is conducting this activity through apps running on smart devices. CMG could just be buying the “output” of this transcription and AI processing. As of this posting CMG did not respond to my follow-up question asking if they were doing just that.
Is it legal? Cox Media Group thinks so. From their now deleted marketing page:
While the Cox Media Group’s claim about their advertising product could have been exaggerated, I demonstrated that it is now entirely plausible to listen in on private conversations, transcribe the audio to text in real time on-device, and transmit back very small blobs of text that can be interpreted by AI for advertising targeting.
I’d like to believe that CMG’s claims were exaggerated but it’s entirely possible advertisers have found a new way to invade our privacy for profit.
Priced at around $623, the EliteMini UM780 is equipped with an 8 core Ryzen 7840HS processor, 32 GB of DDR5 RAM (upgradeable to 64GB) along with a 1TB SSD. It has an empty NVME/PCIe 4.0 slot for additional storage or an included Oculink riser board.
Oculink allows for connecting external devices (like a GPU) directly to the PCI Express Bus. Some testing I’ve seen shows that the Oculink connection can provide better performance than a Thunderbolt GPU as there’s less overhead. This might be something we explore in the future.
The device’s rear ports include two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, DisplayPort & HDMI, dual 2.5 Gbit ethernet, and a space for the Oculink card’s port. The ethernet ports deliver impressive performance, but the Wi-Fi capabilities fall short, especially when compared to other Wi-Fi 6 devices.
The device’s USB 4 ports don’t quite deliver the expected performance, particularly when tested with external drives like the Thunderbolt Samsung X5 which is compatible with USB 4.0. The Samsung drive performed at full performance on the Beelink SER7 we looked at recently.
The front of the device features additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, a USB 4 port, and audio jacks.
The EliteMini UM780 requires a separate 120-watt power supply and offers a TDP of 65 watts, which can be increased to 70 watts for enhanced processor performance.
Aesthetically, the Mini PC includes a customizable LED light on the top, adding a touch of personalization. It also comes with VESA mount and desktop stand options for versatile placement.
In terms of general performance, the EliteMini UM780 excels in basic business tasks and web browsing. It handles 4K video streaming and basic video editing efficiently. Gaming performance is also commendable, with games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Doom Eternal, and No Man’s Sky running smoothly at lower settings.
Benchmark tests place the Mini PC in line with other high-performing devices, and its cooling system effectively manages thermals without excessive noise. The device also offers a solid Linux experience, recognizing all essential hardware components.
In summary, the MINISFORUM EliteMini UM780 XTX Mini PC is a versatile and powerful device that excels in gaming and general performance. While it has areas for improvement, particularly in Wi-Fi and USB 4 port performance, its strengths in processing power, storage speed, and gaming capabilities make it a noteworthy option in the mini PC market.
But at this moment I do think the Beelink SER7 is the superior device.
Disclosure: Minisforum sent the computer to the channel free of charge however this is not a sponsored review nor they did not review or approve this content before it was uploaded.
I purchased the 2 TB version for my review which is the sweet spot when it comes to price per gigabyte. It currently sells for $179 (compensated affiliate link) but prices will vary depending on market conditions, promotions, and capacity.
The Samsung T9 supports the obscure USB 3.2 2×2 standard, promising speeds up to 2000 megabytes per second. However, this performance peak is only achievable if your computer supports the 2×2 standard, which, as I found, is rare. Most PCs, including Macs and Windows PCs with Thunderbolt and USB 4 support, do not support USB 3.2×2, resulting in halved performance for the majority of users. This limitation isn’t unique to Samsung; other brands like Seagate, SanDisk, WD, and Crucial all made the choice to support this format.
In my tests using a MacBook Air M2 and a gaming PC, the T9’s performance was good but not exceptional. It excelled in sequential read and write tests but fell short in random reads and writes compared to competitors. This might affect users engaged in gaming or operating system boot-ups, where random read and write speeds are important. But these speed disparities will likely not be noticeable by most consumers.
Samsung’s Magician software works with the T9 (along with their other SSDs) which is a useful tool for monitoring the drive’s health and updating firmware. The drive also features hardware encryption capabilities, requiring a password for access, which works on Windows, Mac, and Android, but not on Linux or iOS devices.
Compatibility-wise, the T9 worked well with various devices, including iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. However, it’s worth noting that newer AAA games on the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X require faster storage than what USB can provide.
Overall I found the Samsung T9 is a reliable choice for typical tasks like backups, data transfers, and video capturing. Its performance in these areas is solid, and Samsung’s reputation for reliable storage stands. However, when it comes to random read and write performance, it doesn’t quite match up to its competitors, especially considering its price point.
For those seeking a portable SSD, the T9 is a viable option, but it’s important to weigh its performance against its competitors, especially if your usage involves intensive random read and write operations.
In my latest video I take a deep dive into the troubling world of Facebook’s rampant fraud, fake accounts and scams. Most of what I investigated here are based on my own experiences and observations.
What prompted this investigation was an incident involving a friend whose car was stolen. After she posted about it on Facebook, her post was swarmed by scammers, a clear indication of how these predators prey on vulnerable individuals. Here’s what a few of the comments looked like:
This incident prompted me to conduct an experiment: I created a “honeypot” post on my Facebook page, pretending to seek help for a hacked account. The response was overwhelming and immediate, with over two dozen scammers flocking to offer ‘help,’ all from fake accounts. If these scammers are contacted they almost will certainly demand money from their victims and then disappear.
This experiment highlighted two critical issues with Facebook: the lack of adequate support for users with account problems and the platform’s failure to enforce its own rules against fraudulent activities.
When I reported a scam comment from a “Daniel Sarvela” to Facebook they did nothing about it, even after an appeal. This inaction allows fake accounts to proliferate, scamming more people without consequence.
And that “Daniel Sarvela” I reported? It turns out the fake account was made from images posted by an unsuspecting father and community volunteer from Australia. Facebook’s systems could very easily detect that photos from the victim were being stolen for a fake account yet they do nothing about it. Meanwhile this man’s likeness is being used to steal from vulnerable Facebook users.
But that’s not all.. In checking my recent friend requests, 7 of the 8 top requests on my profile are all cloned accounts of friends of mine. One of them cloned my uncle’s account and tricked my wife into accepting his friend request. The scammer then began a chat with her where he was about to ask for money before she got wise to the scheme.
The problem extends beyond simple scams. I discussed the disturbing trend of pig butchering schemes where lonely individuals lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to fake crypto investment schemes and the human trafficking linked to these scams.
Despite being the largest social media network with the largest number of vulnerable users, Facebook’s efforts to address these problems is completely insufficient. This situation underscores the importance of staying vigilant and informed to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones in the digital world.
Earlier this year I was re-admitted into the Amazon Vine program which has resulted in me discovering a lot of weird random tech sold on the platform. A lot of this stuff is junk, but some of it actually is pretty useful. In my latest video I run down the latest batch of tech I acquired.
I recently had the opportunity to review the HP Envy Move, a unique all-in-one PC that stands out from others in this market segment. This device is not just a Windows PC; it’s also a portable display with a built-in battery, making it versatile for various settings, such as educational environments or for those who need a computer on the go. You can see it in action in my latest review.
Pricing varies based on configuration and retailer promotions, but a decently equipped one will run $900. You can find and customize one here at HP (compensated affilate link). My review loaner featured an i5-1335U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a terabyte of storage. The base model starts at under $800, offering lower specifications. One key aspect to note is that while the storage is upgradable, the RAM is not.
Its portability is a significant differentiation from other all-in-one PCs, weighing in at 4.1 kg (or 9 lbs). The bottom foot stands automatically flip out when placed on a surface and retract when picked up. The handle is magnetic, attaching to the back when not in use, and there’s a pouch for storing the included trackpad and keyboard.
The Envy Move boasts a 23.8-inch Quad HD 1440p touch display with 300 nits of brightness. The touch functions only work when the PC is active device and will not work with other devices.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on, resembling HP’s laptop keyboards. The integrated trackpad is accurate and feels similar to those on HP laptops too. But, it’s powered by AAA batteries, so keeping spares or opting for rechargeables might be wise.
The 1440p webcam at the top supports Windows facial recognition and can detect your presence, locking the screen or putting the PC to sleep when you walk away. However, the fixed position of the webcam and the height of the display vs. a laptop means you can’t adjust the camera angle, which could be a drawback for some users.
It features only two USB ports on the left hand side of the unit: a larger USB-A port and a USB Type-C port that supports external displays. On the right hand side there’s an HDMI port that is input-only, meaning it can’t be used for video capture or as an output.
Performance-wise, the HP Envy Move does well with the types of tasks it was designed for. Web browsing is smooth, and it handles basic tasks like word processing efficiently. For video editing, it manages well with basic projects but might struggle with more demanding tasks.
Gaming on the HP Envy Move is possible, but it’s not its primary function. You can play less demanding games at lower settings, but don’t expect a high-end gaming experience. I was able to get Red Dead Redemption 2 to play but I had to adjust the resolution down to 720p at the lowest settings.
One downside I encountered was the inability to run Linux on this device, which might be a deal-breaker for some users. Hopefully, a future BIOS update might address this issue as I couldn’t get it to boot off an external drive even after disabling secure boot.
Overall, the HP Envy Move is an innovative and versatile all-in-one PC. Its portability, combined with the functionality of a PC and a monitor, makes it a unique offering in the market.
Disclosure: This was not a sponsored review. HP provided the PC on loan for the purposes of this review. HP did not review or approve my review before it was uploaded.
Recently we’ve seen a bunch of new “wearable display” products that project a virtual large display inside of a pair of glasses. They have none of the bells and whistles of VR and AR headsets but for those looking for a private large display for plane trips they’re worth checking out.
The Legion Glasses are priced at around $329 (compensated affiliate link), making them competitive with other wearable display options in the market.
The Legion Glasses project a virtual 86″ 1080p OLED display right in front of your eyes. While they lack the AR features of some competitors, like the Nreal Air glasses, the Legion Glasses’ image quality is notably superior. Weighing in at 96 grams, the Legion Glasses are lighter than a VR headset but heavier than a typical pair of glasses.
They work well with most modern computers that support USB-C alt mode along with many modern smartphones like the iPhone 15 Pro, which supports video output over USB Type-C. The glasses do not have a built-in battery and draw power from the host device.
I found in my testing that gaming and content consumption are the best use cases here. The image quality is crisp and detailed for games and movies but the display falls short for images with text likely due to the small size of the displays.
Adjusting the glasses to fit individual faces and eye configurations can be challenging and unfortunately the Legion Glasses don’t make things easier versus their competitors. They do not play well with eyeglasses and require the user to have a local optician make custom prescription lenses that slide into an included bracket. There is also no way to adjust the display inside the headset and instead require the user to try one of three different adjustable nose pieces to get the glasses positioned for optimal viewing.
Once adjusted correctly, the display is mostly centered straight ahead inside making viewing very comfortable. They don’t completely block out ambient light, allowing for some situational awareness without degrading the screen’s visibility. I also liked that I was able to look down without having to take the glasses off to see items on my desk or to look at my phone.
The glasses have built-in stereo speakers, but the sound quality is basic. For a better audio experience, especially in noisy environments like airplanes, using noise-cancelling headphones is advisable.
In terms of compatibility, the Legion Glasses work well with a range of devices, including Macs, Windows computers, Lenovo’s Legion Go, and the Steam Deck. They offer a large, personal display experience, ideal for gaming or enjoying media privately.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored video but the Legion Glasses were provided free of charge by Lenovo. They did not review or approve my video before it was uploaded.
Every year I take a look back at all of the stuff I reviewed and come up with a “best of” list of products that stood out from the rest. I’ve been reviewing products on YouTube for over ten years and sadly most of what I see these days are iterative – rather than innovative – products. You can see the full list in my latest video.
But I still managed to find about a dozen things that stood out from the rest of the pack including a powerful mini PC, some really cool retro game compilations and more.
In addition to the video I put together a playlist of all of the product reviews I did of these products too which totals almost two hours in length!
My latest video takes a look at Walmart’s newly released Onn Streaming stick,. Retailing at a modest $15 (compensated affiliate link), this device is exclusive to Walmart and primarily targets users with older televisions that support 1080p resolution.
The Onn Streaming Stick, devoid of the high-end features found in more expensive counterparts, still manages to hold its ground in terms of value. It’s particularly appealing for those who have older television sets that are no longer updated, along with those who travel frequently, offering a convenient way to access streaming shows on the go. The device connects via its built in HDMI plug and includes an extension cable for easier placement behind a television.
The Onn streaming stick has only a single micro USB port for powering the device. An interesting aspect is its compatibility with the Smays ethernet adapter, which also provides additional USB ports.
At its core, the stick is powered by an AM logic S805X2 processor, similar to Google’s HD-only Chromecast, but at half the price. It comes with 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, sufficient for streaming applications but limited for storing games or other large files.
The included remote features full voice capabilities integrated with Google Assistant. This allows for easy voice searches and control of home automation devices. Performance-wise, the stick handles most streaming services efficiently.
The Onn Streaming stick runs a “pure” version of the Google TV OS which allows for personalizing content recommendations for multiple family members. Google TV recently added a great new free live channel interface that brings in a lot of ad supported content from a number of providers. And because the underlying operating system is based on Android it has a deep app library along with the ability to sideload apps.
It also supports Chromecasting, enabling content from a phone running a supporting streaming app seamlessly transfer content to the TV. The universal search function, accessible via voice command, is sufficient, although it is still limited by not offering a truly universal search and watchlist functionality.
While the device supports game streaming services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now, native gaming experiences are less impressive due to hardware limitations. In terms of updates, Walmart has been reasonably consistent in providing security updates for their devices, though they haven’t explicitly stated their update policy.
The Walmart Onn Streaming Stick is a good option for those with older TVs or for travelers seeking a portable streaming solution. While it may not excel in gaming, it performs well enough in its primary role as a streaming device, offering good value for its price.
In my latest video we dive further into this topic as I fear it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The terms of service for many digital platforms, including PlayStation, often state that they can discontinue access to purchased content at any time, without prior notice or liability. Here’s language I found in Sony’s TOS for their now closed TV and movie store:
“Unless as otherwise stated in this Agreement, SCEA, at its sole discretion, may indefinitely suspend, or discontinue any and all online access to content at any time, including for maintenance service or upgrades, without prior notice or liability.”
This clause, buried in the fine print, leaves consumers with little to no legal recourse. The situation becomes even more complicated when considering the obsolescence of certain platforms and devices, which further complicates access to purchased digital content.
At the heart of this issue lies DRM, technology designed to control the use of digital content and prevent copying. Because DRM requires server infrastructure to support, many companies could decide to turn off the servers in an effort to save cost on their legacy devices. This leads to a situation where consumers, despite having “purchased” digital content, can lose access to that content without any form of compensation.
While the future looks gloomy there are some DRM-free brightspots in both gaming and music:
Platforms like GOG.com (compensated affiliate link) have shown a different path by offering DRM-free content. This approach allows consumers to truly “own” the digital files they purchase, free from the constraints of DRM. GOG allows consumers to download and keep their purchased content without the need for continuous online verification.
The music industry provides another example of successful DRM-free distribution. Initially, digital music was sold with DRM, tying consumers to specific platforms. However, over time, companies like Apple began selling DRM-free songs, allowing consumers to play their purchased music on any device. This shift was a significant win for consumer rights and set a precedent that the TV and movie industry could potentially follow.
The current state of the TV and movie industry, with its reliance on DRM, poses a significant risk to consumer rights and the long-term viability of the industry. The record industry’s experience with DRM shows that a DRM-free approach is more consumer-friendly and ultimately more profitable. Consumers now have the choice to purchase music and have it able to play on just about anything, and/or subscribe to a streaming service.
I believe Apple could take the lead here and consider adopting DRM-free purchases for their TV shows and movies. Apple after all now owns a TV and movie studio in addition to a platform to sell it to their billions of users. This change could not only protect consumer rights but also potentially lead to a healthier, more consumer-centric industry.
As consumers, it’s essential to be aware of these issues and advocate for our rights in the digital age. The shift towards DRM-free content in the music industry was a significant step forward, and it’s time for other digital content to follow suit. By understanding our rights and voicing our concerns, we can influence the industry to adopt more consumer-friendly practices, ensuring that our digital purchases are truly ours to keep.
How can you help? Why not send Tim Cook an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s what I sent him the other day:
Dear Mr. Cook:
Apple revolutionized the music industry by offering the first viable digital music store, followed by leading the industry to remove restrictive DRM from purchases. These innovations were not only consumer-friendly but also demonstrated Apple’s ability to lead and influence the market positively. The RIAA, who once thought DRM-free media would destroy their industry, is now thriving.
Today, I wish to propose Apple offer DRM free purchase options for movies and TV shows. While the studios will likely not agree to this currently, Apple is uniquely positioned to set the example by offering Apple Studios productions for purchase without DRM.
By providing DRM-free purchasing options for Apple’s original content, you could once again position Apple as a trailblazer, advocating for consumer rights and leading by example. This move would not only offer unmatched flexibility and freedom for users but also potentially encourage other content providers to reconsider their stance on anti-consumer DRM restrictions.
Just this week consumers who purchased content on Sony Playstations from the Discovery channel learned that their purchases are going to be removed from their digital libraries with no refund offered. This is largely due to DRM being tied to only the Sony platform.
Your leadership can make the difference for both consumers and the industry. Apple is really the only company that can do it!
Sadly until something changes I fear we’re going to see many more consumers losing access to their purchases as technologies continue to evolve.
I recently had the opportunity to review the Lenovo Yoga AIO 9i, a large 31.5″ all-in-one Intel PC. This device, loaned to me by Lenovo, boasts a 4K display and is powered by a 14-core Intel i9-13900H processor. It’s a machine that combines aesthetics with performance, catering to a specific market segment that values simplicity and design in their computing experience. You can see my full review here.
It’s equipped with 16 GB of DDR5 RAM and 512 GB NVMe storage, though most models available online offer 1 TB. The display, an impressive 31.5-inch 4K IPS screen, offers 100% sRGB coverage and 495 nits of brightness, making it suitable for light video and photo editing tasks. However, it’s worth noting that the display is fixed at a certain height, which might require adjustments to your workspace for optimal viewing.
Port-wise, the Yoga AIO 9i includes a mix of USB-A and USB-C ports, including a USB 4 port. However, the USB 4 port operates at a slower 20 Gbps, which might limit its use with high-performance external devices. Both USB ports can output video along with an HDMI output. Unfortunately the AIO lacks a video input so its large display can only display content from the attached PC.
One of the USB-A ports will be taken up by the dongle for the keyboard and mouse – although both can operate via bluetooth instead. The included keyboard and mouse are basic transportation but functional.
A unique feature is the Qi wireless phone charger integrated into the base, allowing for convenient charging of compatible devices.
In terms of performance, the Yoga AIO 9i is quite capable. Web browsing and media consumption are smooth, thanks to the powerful processor. For video editing, the machine handles basic tasks well, but its lack of a discrete GPU means it’s not suited for more intensive editing work that might require 3D rendering and color grading. Gaming performance is modest; you can play many popular titles at lower resolutions and settings, but don’t expect high-end gaming prowess.
The speakers deliver a decent audio experience, suitable for music, movies, and calls. Large computers like this tend to do better with audio as there’s more room for larger speakers and air chambers.
The machine’s thermal management is impressive, maintaining performance under load while keeping fan noise minimal.
For those interested in alternative operating systems, the Yoga AIO 9i runs Linux distributions like Ubuntu smoothly, making it a versatile choice for different user preferences.
In summary, the Lenovo Yoga AIO 9i is a well-performing, aesthetically pleasing all-in-one PC. It’s ideal for users who prioritize a large, vibrant display and a clutter-free setup. While it may not satisfy the needs of high-end gamers or professional video editors, it’s good for everyday computing, light creative work, and media consumption for those looking for a simplified PC for the home or office.
Disclosure: This computer was loaned to the channel by Lenovo. They did not sponsor this review nor did they review or approve the content before it was uploaded.
Yes you read the headline correctly. Sony, in a Friday afternoon bad news dump, notified users that video content from Discovery will be removed from the Playstation store and any purchases will also be removed from user libraries. This is yet another reminder that in this digital world we own nothing. See more in my latest video.
Unlike physical media, where ownership is tangible and enduring, digital purchases are ephemeral, often subject to the whims of content providers and platform policies. Even when “purchasing” media, users are merely purchasing a license giving them access to the content. The fine print of Sony’s licensing agreement says they can revoke the license any time they want for any reason.
“Unless as otherwise stated in this Agreement, SCEA, at its sole discretion, may indefinitely suspend, or discontinue any and all online access to content at any time, including for maintenance service or upgrades, without prior notice or liability.”
So how can we safeguard access to our media? One method involves the direct capture of content using software like OBS. While this process is time-consuming, it offers one avenue to preserve access to shows and movies that you’ve paid for. However, this solution isn’t without its drawbacks, primarily the effort and technical know-how required. And also it may violate the Digital Milenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which prohibits the circumvention of encryption protecting the content which is required to do a direct capture.
The best option of course is to purchase physical copies of movies and TV shows, whether on DVD or Blu-ray, which will remain accessible regardless of the changing digital landscape. Physical discs often include special features and additional content, enriching the viewing experience. Unfortunately, the market for physical media is declining, and not all content is available in this format.
Movies Anywhere is another alternative that helps spread the risk across multiple platforms. This service allows digital media purchased on one platform (like Amazon) to be made accessible on other platforms too. Most Blu-Rays now come with a “digital code” option that is often redeemable through Movies Anywhere.
Vudu also has an affordable solution called “Disc to Digital” that allows US consumers to scan the back of a DVD or Blu-Ray movie and have the film added to their digital library for under $5. The film gets added to the user’s Vudu library but the film will show up on other services through Movies Anywhere. I reviewed the service a few years ago.
For those with physical media collections, tools like MakeMKV and Handbrake facilitate the creation of personal digital archives that can be used with personal media servers like Plex.
Another option is the use of streaming service recorders like PlayOn (compensated affiliate link). This tool enables the recording of content from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, though it operates in a legal gray area and raises questions about compliance with service terms and the legality of retaining content after canceling a subscription to the service the content was recorded from.
Unfortunately this dust up with Sony and Discovery is only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect we will be hearing more stories about purchases of music, movies, TV shows and games disappearing from libraries in the coming years. And unfortunately there’s not much we can do about it given the terms of service that allow the companies to do it.
My latest printer review takes a look at the HP Smart Tank 5101, HP’s answer to similar tank-based printers from Epson, Canon and Brother. Tank printers promise a a much lower cost of ownership compared to traditional cartridge-based printers.
The printer, which I received from HP, came with a full set of four ink bottles, estimated to last for about 7,000 to 8,000 pages. The cost of replacing all the ink is around $66, significantly less than the the cost for cartridges printing at that volume.
Setting up the HP Smart Tank 5101 was straightforward, especially when using HP’s smartphone app. This app simplifies connecting the printer to Wi-Fi, allowing for easy printing from various devices. Loading the ink was a clean and simple process, involving placing the bottle on the corresponding color tank and letting it drain. The printer also features replaceable print heads, but there’s no clear information on their lifespan or replacement cost.
That is one of the unmentioned components of tank printer ownership : the ink bottles are not the only consumable. Epson printers for example have a sponge that collects excess ink that needs to be replaced by their service provider after a length of time. It’s not clear what other hidden costs might be present with this printer.
The 5101 is fairly compact, with a flatbed scanner but no document feeder, limiting its scanning capabilities to standard paper sizes. It can handle about 100 pages of 20 lb stock in its rear paper tray and doesn’t support automatic duplex printing. The print speed is sufficient for a home printer, coming in at 12 pages per minute in black and white and five pages per minute in color. These speeds are from the lower quality “normal” mode – the “best” setting is a little bit slower but looks much better.
In terms of print quality, the HP Smart Tank 5101 performs well for its price point. Text documents printed in normal quality are clear and legible, while color documents show a noticeable improvement in quality when printed in the best setting. The printer can handle borderless photo printing up to 8.5×11 inches, but the output quality isn’t on par with dedicated photo printers.
Scanning functionality is another aspect I explored. The printer appears as a scanner on network-connected devices, and the HP Smart app allows for scanning documents directly to a phone. However, the app limits the scanning resolution to 300 DPI, while the scanner itself can go up to 1200 DPI. For high-resolution scans, using computer applications is advisable.
Printing from mobile devices is seamless, both from HP’s app and directly from other applications. I tested both an iPhone and Android phone in my review and both detected the printer automatically.
The printer also offers a basic copying function, with decent quality for color copies.
The HP Smart Tank 5101 is a solid choice for home users who print regularly. Its low cost per page, ease of use, and decent print quality make it a practical option for everyday printing tasks. However, for those who print infrequently, a laser printer might be a better choice due to the potential for ink clogs in inkjet printers. Overall, the HP Smart Tank 5101 offers a cost-effective and user-friendly solution for home printing needs.
Disclosure: HP normally sends me printers on loan but due to difficulties in shipping tank printers back they asked that I hang onto it. This printer will be donated to my local school system. This was not a sponsored review nor did anyone review or approve the review before it was uploaded.