Epson ET-2400 Low Cost EcoTank Printer Review

My latest video is a review of the Epson Ecotank ET-2400 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. You can find it here at Best Buy on sale right now for only $179 (affiliate link).

Tank printers are often best for people who do a high volume of color printing and want to reduce their cost-per-page versus traditional cartridges. Epson says this printer can deliver 4,500 black and white pages on a single bottle of ink, or 7,500 color pages. The full set of bottles cost around $60 to replace and the printer has a set of windows in the front to indicate how much ink is left in tank.

In the past a tank printer like this would usually cost a lot more – generally in the hundreds of dollars. The reason is that Epson had to build profit into the price of the unit vs. subsidizing the entry cost in anticipation of ink cartridge purchases over the lifespan of the product.

But like other tank printers I’ve looked at in the past you don’t get much for features here. It can’t do automatic duplexing, it has minimal paper capacity (only 100 sheets), it lacks an auto document feeder, and the print engine is pretty bare bones and loud. It prints about 10 pagers per minute in standard quality but only does 5-7 per minute or so in the higher quality mode.

It’s not marketed as a photo printer but it can print photos with an acceptable level of quality. It will do 4×6 borderless prints but nothing larger than that.

All in at its current price point I think it’s a good deal especially as the cost per print is very low. But if you print at a low volume I think a laser printer is still the best option.

One thing I need to look into after hearing from viewers is the waste ink sponge consumable on the printer that apparently cannot be replaced by the user. Epson has a support page about this issue and it seems as though the user has to send the entire printer in for this service which to me looks a bit like overkill.

Xbox Series S Unboxing and Media Player Review

I got a great deal on an Xbox Series S the other day at Target. They were selling them for $249 and the deal came with a $50 gift card! When I picked it up at the store the gift card didn’t process for some reason they took $50 off the purchase price. So I ended up at $200+ tax.

Check here to see if the deal is still on (affiliate link). It does look like they have plenty of stock. I’m also experimenting with a new affiliate platform that dynamically looks for the best in stock price which you can follow at this link.

I made two videos with my shiny new Series S. The first on my Extra’s channel is an unboxing and comparison vs. the much more powerful Series X. The TLDR is that beyond the added horsepower the Series X has an optical drive which is lacking on the Series S. So those who have a large library of older disc based Xbox games will not get much use out of the S as it can’t currently access the discs!

The second video looks at the Xbox as a streaming media device. As we have previously noted the Xbox does do a pretty decent job with Plex so I was curious how it fared with streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, etc.

Unfortunately it falls short in a key area – none of the apps I tested successfully switched the television into 24p mode. Who’s fault is that? Likely the app makers as we know the Xbox is capable of doing this and even has a setting to enable 24p switching!

The Apple TV still reigns supreme when it comes to 24p playback but it’s not so great at Plex. Unfortunately we don’t have a box out on the market at the moment that does everything right !

Mevo Multicam Demonstration with my Kids!

We wrapped up my sponsored series on the Mevo multicam app this week. It’s really amazing when you think about all of this mostly running out of an iPad with the camera feeds coming in over Wi-Fi.

In this last piece we put all of the pieces together from our prior videos and showed how it all works in a real production environment. My kids hosted a fake cooking show while I ran the production from a 2018 iPad Pro. I had three Mevo cameras capturing different angles.

In this piece you’ll see multi camera switching, picture-in-picture and graphical overlays being brought in as we go. You can catch up on the prior videos in the series by clicking here.

I want to thank Logitech and Mevo for their support of the channel!

HP Chromebook x360 13.3 with ARM Processor Review (with Kompanio 1300)

This week we take a look at an ARM powered Chromebook from HP. This one has a Mediatek Kompanio 1300 processor that delivers great performance (especially for gaming) along with decent power efficiency. You can see my full review here.

As you’ll see in the review its web browsing performance is competitive with Intel machines from a couple of years ago. I was very impressed with its GPU performance especially when it comes to game emulation. Dreamcast and Gamecube performance was great using Android emulators and it will of course have no problem running Retroarch for older systems.

Android game performance and compatibility was also excellent. One advantage of an ARM Chromebook when it comes to Android gaming is that you get better compatibility with popular games like Call of Duty mobile that we demoed in the video.

My only gripe with this system is the build quality. While it doesn’t feel cheap, there was a bit too much flex in the keyboard deck when pushing down on the keyboard. Additionally I felt the trackpad clicking when I picked up the system from the corners.

ARM processors are becoming more and more prevalent on PCs these days with Apple switching to their own custom ARM architecture but also a number of options for running Windows on ARM hardware too. ChromeOS has supported ARM from day one – you can check out this review I did way back in 2014 of HP’s first Chromebook. We’ve come a long way!

Artemis I Launch Dispatch!

I am on my way back from an epic NASA experience witnessing the launch of the first crew-capable deep space vehicle since the Apollo days. Check out my behind the scenes look at the spectacle here!

In the video I take you behind the scenes at the NASA press site and give you some amazing audio of the launch. Be sure to put on your headphones for that part! We also took a trip out to the launchpad later that afternoon.

As usual YouTube doesn’t push out my space content to the wider subscriber base. This is a real frustration because of the effort and expense that goes into these. But really I do it because it’s something I like to do irrespective of the views these things get. NASA is my happy place !

I also wanted to share a great comment I got from Logikgr following the launch. This is exactly why I do these videos!

Mevo Multicam Picture-in-Picture and Graphical Overlays Tutorial

The latest video in my sponsored Mevo Multicam tutorial series looks at how the Mevo Multicam app allows the layering of multiple camera angles and graphical overlays all at the same time.

There are few apps that really show off what an iPad can do – this is one of them. During a livestream we managed to have four simultaneous camera angles up on screen at once along with overlayed graphics.

Apple TV 4k 3rd Generation Review (2022)

Enthusiast issues aside, the Apple TV remains one of the top streaming video players on the market. It’s the only TV box that bests the Nvidia Shield TV in performance, has a clean interface devoid of advertising, and integrates tightly with other Apple products and services like Airpods and iCloud Photo libraries. You can see my review of the 3rd generation unit here.

This new edition nudges the platform forward, featuring a more powerful (yet underutilized) A15 processor. While you’ll find a game or two on the platform like Oceanhorn 2 that can show off the prowess of the device, the game library is nowhere near as deep as a Nintendo Switch, Xbox or Playstation.

The new Apple TV is priced competitively vs. other streamers on the market, although Apple pulled the ethernet port out of the lower cost 64GB unit. You’ll need to go up to the 128GB model to get the port which is something I recommend for 4k streaming. The 64GB model also does not have support for the open Matter smarthome standard but the 128GB does.

It handles all of the streaming services I tried well although there does not appear to be any perceptible performance difference vs. the last two generations of the device. The Apple TV is one of the few boxes that can match content properly coming from most popular services, meaning it can switch your television’s display mode to match what the content requires. HDR, Dolby Vision and ATMOS are supported through most streaming apps (with the exception of lossless ATMOS as noted here). This new version also supports the emerging HDR10+ standard which was not available on the prior models.

Should you upgrade from a prior edition? I don’t think there’s enough here to warrant that. I am using the first generation Apple TV 4k now for most of my streaming from subscription services. I like its integration with my Airpods and photo library along with its proper content matching features. The 3rd generation box doesn’t feel much different even though it has a more powerful processor.

But if I were looking for a new box I’d definitely recommend picking up this 2022 version.

The New Apple TV 4k and Plex

My latest video looks at how the new Apple TV 4k works with Plex.

The new box wasn’t out at the time I produced my Plex box shoot-out video that I published last week and lots of viewers asked if the new one would do any better. So this weekend I picked one up at a local Apple store to find out!

My testing methodology involves seeing how well a player can handle 4k Blu Ray ripped media. These video files are typically very high bit rate (some exceeding 100 megabits per second), are encoded with h.265 HEVC, and usually have a lossless audio track with Dolby TrueHD / ATMOS or DTS-X.

One of the problems the Apple TV historically has with Plex is that it internally transcodes all audio into lossless LPCM before passing it off to an audio receiver. While this doesn’t present much of a problem for the type of ATMOS content found on Netflix, Disney+, etc. it is an issue for Plex as the Apple TV’s internal encoder does not work with lossless audio found on Blu Ray media.

As you’ll see in the video the new player continues doing this LPCM encoding and therefore Plex has the same issues on this new box that it had on the older one. Plex is also having to transcode the audio before it sends it over to the Apple TV further complicating matters.

So the 2019 Nvidia Shield TV still remains the box to get for Plex enthusiasts as it supports passing both video and audio directly to a home theater receiver.

The Apple TV does though offer some benefits over its competitors when it comes to regular streaming and games which is a topic we’ll cover in my full review of the device later this week!

Lenovo Thinkbook 13s G4 Review

My latest laptop review is of the Lenovo Thinkbook 13s G4. You can watch it here.

I have been a big fan of the Thinkbook line of laptops – they are the middle ground between the Thinkpads and some of Lenovo’s consumer laptops. They are well built, perform well, and are competitively priced for the specifications.

This one is no exception. It’s very lightweight, coming in at 2.75 pounds or 1.25 kg, has a nice 13″ display, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and has a great keyboard. The only downside here is that the battery life isn’t so great coming in at around 6-7 hours in my testing.

But the performance is great – my loaner unit came with the base level i5 processor that delivers more than adequate performance for most tasks including light video editing. I do recommend going with the 16 gigabyte model over the base 8 GB configuration that was in our loaner unit – especially if you’re looking to play games or edit video.

Beyond the battery life there’s not much to complain about here – it’s another solid offering in the Thinkbook line. It’s nice to have something this small and light perform as well as it does.

You can see more of my laptop reviews here!

Plex Box Shoot-Out !

For this month’s sponsored Plex video we take a look at what options are out there for folks who stream high-end 4k content in the home from their personal Plex media server. While the server requirements are not steep for this sort of activity (you only need enough LAN bandwidth), there is great complexity in choosing the right player.

In the video we look at four popular video players: The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, Amazon Fire TV Cube Gen 3, Apple TV 4k and the Xbox. What I was testing for was each box’s ability to play a high bit rate 4k Blu Ray rip that contains Dolby Vision HDR video, lossless ATMOS or DT-S X sound, and can properly switch the television into 24p with the proper HDR mode selected.

As you’ll see in the video the NVidia Shield is still the reining champion for nearly 100% compatibility with most of the video formats Plex enthusiasts use. If Nvidia ever stops selling them it’ll be a disaster for the Plex community!

The Apple TV and Fire TV Cube are making progress but are not quite there. The big issue with both boxes is that they convert audio to LPCM in the background and there’s no way for the user to circumvent that for a direct feed to the receiver.

The Xbox is very close to becoming an alternative to the Shield. It does work with all lossless audio formats and supports HDR but it’s still not quite there when it comes to Dolby Vision. Given how solid everything is I don’t think it’ll be long until it’s up there with the Shield – and of course it has a great library of games too.

These videos are always fraught with danger for me as the technical weeds are deep and I like to keep things relatively simple. But so far from the comments it looks like I did ok on this one :).

Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld Review

I just uploaded my review of the Logitech G Cloud gaming handheld. It’s great but way too expensive for what it is.

We’ve been covering handheld game systems since the beginning of the channel. Although Nintendo found crazy success in this space, most other attempts have outright failed or were relegated to niche status. Early in Android’s existence there was a major push from Nvidia, HP and others to develop gaming tablets but none lasted very long despite great performance.

So it was a surprise to see Logitech roll out the G Cloud, and even more surprising that they’re not even marketing its capability to run Android games and instead focusing on game streaming services. I wonder if Logitech had any idea Stadia would be wiped out just a week or two before the G Cloud’s release!

The hardware specs are middle of the road here: it’s powered by a Snapdragon 720g processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. It has an SD card slot too but lacks 4G/5G support. Additionally despite it being geared as a streaming device it does not have Wifi 6, just a 2×2 AC WiFi radio. It has a really nice 7 inch IPS 1080p 60hz display that runs at 450 nits of brightness.

But it feels great – its light weight and sculpted hand grips make this much more comfortable to hold than the Nintendo Switch. The G Cloud’s controls feel excellent with silky smooth analog sticks and triggers. Buttons are nicely sized and space too, but there does not appear to be any kind or rumble support.

I tested the G Cloud with Nvidia Geforce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Steam in-home game streaming. With a good WiFi signal all the services worked fine and in line with what I’ve experienced on PCs and other mobile devices. Note that you’ll need to manually set GeForce Now to 1080p at the time of this writing and Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently limited to 720p on Android devices.

If your favorite game is supported by one of these services you’ll get significantly greater battery life than what you’d normally experience with a Steam Deck for example. Logitech says about 12 hours but I think a more realistic target is about 10 with the display at moderate to full brightness.

Although Logitech barely mentions this in their marketing, the G Cloud is a full-on Android gaming device. The Google Play store is visible front and center when you first boot it up and a bulk of the Android game library (including game emulators) will run on it. But many of the popular Android games (like PubG and Genshin Impact) do not support game controllers on Android.

Gaming performance is fine for Android titles and surprisingly good for emulators. As you’ll see in my video review it runs Dreamcast titles pretty much flawlessly with the Redream emulator and was able to run some of the lower impact Gamecube games with the Dolphin emulator at full speed. More demanding Gamecube titles will likely not be playable.

All in it’s great to see a major brand try to reinvigorate the Android handheld market even if they don’t market it that way. Unfortunately I think the G Cloud’s price tag and narrow marketing is going to limit the market for this and ultimately lead to another false start.

Fire Testing the IOSafe 220+ NAS!

Every couple of years the folks from IOSafe reach out for me to review one of their fireproof and waterproof NAS devices. Their NAS’s actually incorporate the guts of a Synology inside, so you get a pretty robust software package to match its battle ready hardware.

One thing we’ve never done was actually test its fire worthiness. You’ll find a number of examples on YouTube of various burn tests, including this great one from Linus Tech Tips, but most of those involved placing the NAS in a fire for a short duration as opposed to exposing it to high heat over a longer period of time.

So I reached out to the Essex Fire Department here in Essex, CT who offered us the opportunity to tag along on one of their training exercises. They put the NAS through three rounds of fire training where a fire was lit to high temperature and then put out with water. Each time we moved the NAS around to angle different portions of it towards the area with highes heat.

Each round exposed the NAS to temperatures around 700 degrees Fahrenheit followed by the water from the fire hose to put the fire out. All in the NAS was exposed to fire for approximately 60 minutes. It got so hot that its cooling fan completely melted!

As you’ll see in the video although the NAS hardware is no longer functional the drives inside worked perfectly fine after they were pulled out and placed in another Synology NAS. This is due to the endothermic material used to draw high heat away from the center of the NAS. The drive chamber is also waterproof to prevent extinguishing water from getting inside.

We interviewed the company’s found, Rob Moore, back at CES 2015 to learn more about its design.

Producer Jake and I had a great time putting this piece together. Also a huge thank you to the Essex Fire Department for their help! I set up a YouTube fundraiser to benefit their non-profit that you can find attached to the burn test video but you can also contribute directly to them here.

Fire TV Cube 3rd Generation Review

Amazon released their third generation Fire TV Cube the other day. Whenever Amazon announces a refresh of their high end TV streamer enthusiasts get excited, and every time they’re left disappointed. This time is no exception but it does remain a great choice for general consumers who are invested in the Amazon Alexa eco system.

You can watch my video review of the new cube here.

That’s not to say the new Cube is a bad product. It in fact combines two Amazon products – an Amazon Echo voice assistant and a Fire TV – into a single product. The Cube has a powerful speaker built in that works when the television is off for voice commands. Like other Alexa devices it can control any compatible smart home device.

The Cube can also be instructed to turn on specific devices hooked up to the television and select the proper inputs for those devices. So for example you could ask Alexa for the Xbox and it will properly power everything on and switch the television and/or audio receiver to the right input without picking up a remote control. While some of the Fire TV Sticks can accomplish the same tasks it does require picking up a voice remote to do it.

The Cube does have an HDMI input that’s designed to be used as a cable box passthrough. This is for simplicity for those challenged by having multiple devices connected to their television, allowing for the Cube and the cable box to work through a single input on the television.

It’ll also upconvert other sources plugged into that HDMI port to a 4k output resolution but my preference is to set things at their native resolutions and have my television’s built in scaler handle the job. Note that it’s not ideal for upscaling game consoles as the video processing does introduce some latency.

Amazon added Wifi 6E support to the Cube which performs well but not all that much better than what we experienced recently on the Fire TV Stick 4k Max. You will of course need a WiFi 6E access point or router to take full advantage of the enhanced networking performance. But it is of course backwards compatible with older WiFi standards.

Beyond that the Cube largely does what other TV boxes and sticks do: stream video from streaming services. It supports 4k HDR modes including HDR10, 10+, HLG and Dolby Vision. It also supports Dolby Atmos audio from supported providers. You’ll find most if not all of the popular streaming apps available on the cube. At least for now.

So the bottom line for most consumers is that if you’re heavily invested in the Amazon smarthome ecosystem the Cube will give you both Echo and Fire TV functionality in a single box with app performance that justifies its price point.

But why are enthusiasts disappointed? It’s because it doesn’t have quite enough built in.

The first involves its networking. Enthusiasts like to plug their devices directly into Ethernet for the best performance. The Cube has an ethernet port but it maxes out at 100 megabits per second. Most boxes that are in the Cube’s price range like the Apple TV and Nvidia Shield have gigabit ethernet. While most streaming services max out at around 40 megabits per second even with 4k broadcasts, many enthusiasts stream higher bit rate video with their home servers that require more than 100 megabits per second of bandwidth. Amazon also went with a slow USB 2.0 port that powers itself off when the box is switched off vs. the faster USB 3 ports we see on most boxes.

Audio support is also a bit flaky on this. The box converts most audio to PCM and does not pass it through directly. This means that movies stored on a personal server that play lossless Atmos or DTS audio will likely have the audio quality degraded by the player and not all surround channels will be activated.

Unlike some Android boxes out there the Cube does have an option for “frame rate switching” where it will switch the frame rate of the television to match the content. Most movies and many streaming shows are shot at 24 frames per second and televisions have special modes to play back that content properly. While it’s nice that it has the option most of the apps I ran on the Cube didn’t support the feature and played back 24p content at 60p. The Cube did do proper framerate switching in Plex, however.

The Cube does not support 64 bit applications just 32 bit ones. While this doesn’t matter much for streaming apps it is a bigger deal for gamers looking to emulate game consoles on the box. Some of the more modern emulators are only available as a 64 bit download. And when Android apps are “sideloaded” on to the Cube they often appear with blank icons. There’s a fairly lengthy process involved with getting those icons to appear properly.

So in many areas the Cube falls short of being an ideal experience. Although the same can be said for most competing boxes too. Which is why we all keep multiples attached depending on the task at hand. We all just want the box that does everything.

But for now my top pick for enthusiasts remains the Nvidia Shield. While it has its own shortfalls what’s amazing is how much Nvidia got right with that box seven years ago. To this day it remains the most graphically powerful Android box on the market.

Pepper Jobs XtendTouch XT1610F V3 Review

We’ve looked at a few products from Pepper Jobs over the years and all of them have been the excellent. They make the best versions of relatively generic electronics you might find on Amazon like mini PCs, remote controls, and portable displays. They do cost a little more than the generics but in exchange the products are of a higher quality and often come pack with more features.

The XtendTouch XT1610F V3 is no exception. On the surface it looks like a run-of-the-mill portable display but its feature set is extensive. For example:

  • It works with a Nintendo Switch without the need for a dock. Although it will not work with the Switch Lite that lacks a video output.
  • It emulates an Apple Magic Trackpad when an Apple machine is connected to it, adding some cool touch functionality.
  • It also works as a touchscreen with Windows and some Linux devices like the Steam Deck
  • It has a full size HDMI port for devices that don’t support USB-C video output along with a battery that can power the display for several hours

You can see all of these different scenarios in the review video:

Because it’s powered by a battery I found it was a bit brighter than some of the USB bus powered displays we’ve looked at previously. While it’s limited to 1080p at 60 hz I did find that its functionality more than made up for its lack of higher resolutions and frame rates.

You can see some other examples of other Pepper Jobs products here.

Orico USB 4 Portable SSD Review – 40 gigabit performance

Hot on the heals of my USB 4 overview video we take a look at an Orico USB 4 drive that supports the new Thunderbolt derived 40 gbps mode. You can watch the video here.

If the artwork looks familiar it’s because it’s based on the artist Piet Mondrian‘s work which has found its way into a variety of products from handbags to furniture.

The drive incorporates an NVME SSD that can take full advantage of the Thunderbolt data bandwidth, delivering north of two gigabytes per second of read and write performance. There doesn’t seem to be any noticeable thermal throttling either even when under load for an extended period of time.

On a Thunderbolt equipped PC or Mac it will appear as a Thunderbolt drive. On Windows you will also need to enable write caching to get its full performance potential. When activating that option be sure to eject the drive properly through the Windows interface before physically removing it to prevent data loss and corruption.

Unfortunately all of this performance comes at a high cost: $349 for the 1TB version and $599 for the 2TB. You can actually build your own version of this using an Orico USB 4 enclosure for less money.

While the drive is backwards compatible with USB 3.x equipped computers the performance will be no different versus other lower cost USB portable SSDs. Also of note is that the USB 4 standard does not require manufacturers offer the 40 gigabit speed option – only the 20 gigabit speed is required to meet the standard. We talk more about the confusing mess that is modern USB in this video.

Nreal Air AR / Display Glasses Review

My latest video review is of the Nreal Air display glasses.

I was excited to try these glasses out as I’ve been looking for a portable display that I can wear for watching movies & TV shows on long flights. While these can largely accomplish this goal for many people, like all VR/AR products your individual mileage will vary based on how they fit. And unfortunately these did not fit well for me at all.

First the good: the image is nice and bright and very visible even in a well lit room. The visual quality is pretty good thanks to their use of an OLED display for projection. The glasses also come with a lens cover that blocks out all of the ambient light so you can see nothing but the screen. Because the glasses don’t have a battery they are very light weight vs. a VR headset or similar device. They are powered by the device you plug them into.

I tested these on a variety of devices including an iPad Mini with USB-C connector, a Steam Deck,  a Macbook Air and a number of other USB-C equipped Windows PCs that can output video through their USB-C ports. Everything pops up just as quickly as it does with a traditional monitor. 

But there’s still a lot here that needs work:

1.  If your face doesn’t conform to who Nreal engineered this product for you won’t have a good experience. I tried all three nose pieces included in the box and could not get a comfortable fit. The big problem is that the areas where the image is projected sits slightly above my field of vision when I am seated looking forward.

As a result I had hard time seeing the bottom of the projection especially for vertically oriented tablet and phone screens. But even horizontally aligned screens presented difficulty seeing the very bottom. It would have been better if Nreal offered a way to reduce the size of the projected image which would have helped my situation.

You can see me struggling with fit in this livestream.

2. Compatibility for their augmented reality features is extremely limited to a small number of phones. While I don’t think most people buying these devices are getting them for the AR functionality it’s still important to note as the only way the image can be adjusted is in that AR mode. I’m not sure why they are advertising Steam VR compatbility when it’s clearly not able to do that. 

3. Smartphones will be hit or miss overall. Most Android phones with a USB-C connector don’t output video through the USB-C port so that will limit even mirroring usage to a small number of devices. iPhones and lightning equipped iPads will need to buy two adapters: one from Apple to get an HDMI video output, and another from Nreal to adapt that HDMI output back to USB-C.

The Nreal adapter will also work with other devices that have an HDMI output but not a USB-C port. It is also required for the Nintendo Switch but note the Switch has to be in its dock for this to work which limits the portability significantly. 

Overall this felt very much like a “minimally viable product.” It doesn’t fit everybody, the feature set is lacking, and while its core functionality of providing a wearable display works the image flickers a bit and is not adjustable. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 1 Review

My latest laptop review is of the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 1 (affiliate link). You can check it out on my YouTube channel here!

This is really a “concept car” for future ThinkPad iterations as it’s very different from the familiar ThinkPad look and feel we’ve come to expect over the past several decades. The Z13 has polished metal edges, a glass haptic clickpad, and a keyboard that feels very much like a mashup of a deep travel ThinkPad keyboard and something from Lenovo’s general consumer laptops.

The trackpad is much improved over Lenovo’s prior attempt at a haptic device. It anticipates gestures much more effectively and gets closer to Apple’s implementation of the technology.

But for those who are accustomed to the trackpoint nub this new input mechanism will take some getting used to. This is because the trackpad lacks the physical buttons found on more traditional ThinkPads making it very difficult to figure out where to place your thumbs. It works but I think a little bump or something that can help users feel their way around would work better.

Performance and battery life are great on this one thanks to the 6000 series Ryzen processors it ships with. Everything from gaming to video editing performed well for a machine lacking a discrete GPU.

The buried lede with this machine though has to be its USB4 connectivity. USB 4 finally brings Thunderbolt compatibility to Ryzen laptops. This allows for connecting external GPUs and other 40 gigabit per second Thunderbolt 3 & 4 devices. You can see more in my video last week about USB 4 which uses this laptop as a demonstrator.

All in this is another nice laptop from Lenovo. Will ThinkPad users buy enough of them to move the ThinkPad brand in a new direction? That I am sure is what Lenovo will be measuring in the months ahead.

More Cores on the Analogue Pocket

The Analogue Pocket, like many of the previous Analogue devices, is the gift that keeps on giving. This is because these consoles are based on FPGA technology that allows for the chips to be reprogrammed on the fly to behave like anything developers can conjure up.

The Pocket is Analogue’s portable system that was able to initially play most of the portable game consoles of the last twenty years like the GameBoy, Game Gear, Atari Lynx, GameBoy Advance, etc. But now that they’ve opened up the system’s architecture a number of other systems are now playable too.

In my latest Pocket update video we take a look at the Neo Geo, NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive cores along with an arcade game. The community is also putting together some other things like an auto-update script that keeps everything up to date with a single click.

Mevo Multicam App Tutorial

My latest video is a new sponsored tutorial series I’m doing for Logitech, the owners of the Mevo streaming camera brand.

As a lifelong video nerd I’m always on the look-out for new and interesting video production tools.

Back in 2016 a little camera called the Mevo hit the market. I reviewed it back then and liked it because it was able to digitally crop and zoom the image to make it look a lot more dynamic than just a static shot. It could even automatically “switch” to the person talking with a medium close up.

Additionally the camera was able to livestream to popular platforms without the need for a PC. All that was needed was a smartphone and it could all work wirelessly thanks to the built in battery on the Mevo camera. I gave it to some friends who run a local news site and were able to add a whole new angle to their news coverage. It is a solid product for people who want more than a static shot but also simplicity.

Just before the pandemic hit Mevo came up with a new camera called the Mevo Start. It added a larger battery and integrated some additional features including the ability to have the camera output via NDI to the network.

One other feature of the Mevo line is to combine multiple cameras into a single production using their Multicam app. Like the single camera version it doesn’t require a PC and can run on a phone or tablet which can then stream it out to a provider and record at the same time.

This first video in the series will go from unboxing to livestream in about 20 minutes! We’ll dive into specific features in future videos in the series. See it here!

Ryzen Finally Gets Thunderbolt Compatibility with USB 4

The other day I got in a Lenovo Z13 Gen 1 (affiliate link) laptop to review. This one is powered by a Ryzen 6850U processor which performs great graphically on its own but of course would do better with an external discrete GPU.

Up until now you really couldn’t get a Ryzen laptop that could support an external GPU because most (if not all) did not have a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt uses a USB-C connector but the underlying technology was proprietary to Intel.

Recently Intel opened up the Thunderbolt architecture which allowed the USB IF to incorporate that technology into their USB 4.0 standard. You’ll now see 40&20 gbps USB 4.0 devices which are functionally the same as Thunderbolt devices along with Thunderbolt compatibility on USB 4 equipped computers.

In my latest video I put this compatibility to the test with the Z13 which has two USB 4 ports built in. I plugged in a Thunderbolt SSD, 10 gig ethernet adapter, and capped it off with an external GPU with an Nvidia GTX 1070 installed. Everything worked just as seamlessly as it does on a Thunderbolt equipped Intel PC.

USB remains a confusing mess but this development does help simplify things slightly for those looking to connect Thunderbolt devices. But don’t worry, the USB IF has plans to keep the confusion going with USB 4 2.0. Yes you read that right. We’ll talk more about that on the next Wrapup.