Whoosh 2.0 Screen Cleaner Review

For some reason my computer screens get FILTHY.. This is likely because I often do a lot of work in my kitchen in the morning and evenings.

Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of different cleaning solutions, including some I made myself and others I’ve purchased. They usually work with a little elbow grease but I found most take awhile to get the screens to the point where they look clean without streaks. And with fancier coated screens you need to be careful about the kinds of chemicals you apply for homebrew concoctions.

The other night after getting frustrated with my current solution I went browsing on Amazon and stumbled across “Whoosh 2.0.” They claim their solution is used at Apple stores to keep displays clean so I figured I’d buy a bottle and see if it lives up to the marketing.

As you’ll see in my review the stuff really does the job. Not only did it get my screens clean it did so without too much effort or reapplication. My worst screen took only two applications to get it back to “almost new” condition. It also did a good job getting some caked on dirt off the aluminum on my Macbook.

It only takes two or three pumps of the bottle to clean most laptop screens so I anticipate the bottle lasting awhile. They sell refill kits that mix with distilled water to reduce waste.

New Video : WD Game Drive P40 SSD Review

WD has a new USB-C external SSD called the P40 SSD which is the subject of my latest review. What distinguishes this one from the P50 we reviewed a few months ago is that this one is a little smaller and has RGB lighting.

I found the drive performs quite well for its stated use case: gaming. The random read/write tests on the Crystal DiskMark test suite were excellent. But I did notice that it was not able to sustain its write speeds over longer periods of time, perhaps making this a little less ideal for professional video capture applications that need 800 megabytes+ per second. I did edit a 4k video on it and found it to be very responsive with no lags or slowdowns.

WD continues to build drives that support the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (aka Superspeed 20gbps). This is different than the USB 4 20 gigabit standard that uses Thunderbolt technology. Most computers don’t support 2×2 technology (I have yet to get one in for review that does) so in most cases you’ll only get about half the state maximum of the marketed claims even when connected to a Thunderbolt port. In my testing we were able to sustain about 940 megabytes per second in reads and writes. Yes, USB continues to be a total mess for consumers.

The RGB lighting is not necessary but does differentiate the drive a bit from its competitors. The colors can be configured with a software control panel on Windows which will also allow connections to Razer Chroma, Asus Aura, Gigabyte RGB Fusion and MSI Mystic for color coordination with other RGB hardware.

The drive will work on Xbox Series S & X along with the PS5. But games designed for these next gen systems can only be archived – not played – off the P40. My advice would be to install the prior gen games on the SSD and play the new ones off the console’s internal drive.

All in this is a good choice for gamers but also for booting operating systems, virtual machines, video editing, etc. thanks to its super fast random read and write speeds.

New Video : Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X Review

Every once and awhile Lenovo puts together the perfect “all rounder” laptop that offers a great mix of price, performance and utility. The Slim 7 Pro X is that machine for 2022.

It incorporates a Ryzen 6900HS processor (the first time machine I’ve reviewed with one) along with an Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU running at 55 watts. It’s just a little over 3 pounds, well built and has a nice 14″ 120hz display. It’s great for gaming, light VR, video editing, and other types of basic work.

I ran a few gaming tests with the GPU disabled to see how the Ryzen graphics worked on their own. Red Dead Redemption 2 ran much better on this vs. prior Ryzen generations which was also confirmed in our 3Dmark benchmark tests.

You can see more in the full review up on my YouTube channel.

New Video: Unihertz Tick Tock Phone

Unihertz’s “Tick Tock” phone has nothing to do with the social media network – its name refers to the round watch-like second display it has on the back. It is the subject of my latest video review. See it on Amazon and YouTube.

This very solid and rugged phone has a Mediatek Dimensity 700 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and support for SD cards for additional storage. I was pleased with the performance of the phone for its reasonable price point and I think it’ll do well in industrial and commercial applications. It’s pretty good for games too.

Like other Unihertz phones the build quality is spectacular. It weighs almost 11 ounces and feels like a brick. The phone is IP68 rated for dust and water resistance, has a screen protector preinstalled, and has a case along with an extra screen protector in the box. There’s no need to purchase any additional accessories.

Battery life is exceptional – the large case allows for a large battery that will last quite a long time. It also supports up to 30 watts of fast charging over USB-C although it does not have wireless charging capabilities.

The rear display doesn’t have much utility for me. It’s cool but it feels like Unihertz was trying to come up with something to make this rather standard Android phone feel a little more unique.

The default clock it displays looks great and there are other watch faces that can be used instead of the default. In addition to watch faces the display can display notifications, has a compass app, and allows the rear camera to be used as selfie camera as you can see the preview image in the round display. This is not an Android Wear watch, however, it’s proprietary to Unihertz and they plan on adding additional features to it over time.

The cameras are terrible, however. Although the rear camera shoots at 48 megapixels the image quality is very bland. And with all of that resolution the max it can shoot video at is 1080p @ 30 frames per second. Although it looks like there are two cameras on the back the right hand side camera is just a place holder and doesn’t seem to do anything. It’s not selectable in the camera app. I suppose the camera system is fine for commercial work but it’s not competitive with other phones from better resourced competitors.

Unihertz is known for their niche phones like the super tiny Jelly 2 and their other Android phones with Blackberry style keyboards. This is their first attempt at a more mainstream phone. It’s certainly much better than the many generic phones we see at this price point but it’s not quite up to the level a slightly more expensive Google Pixel 6a would deliver – unless a rugged design is what you’re looking for.

ioSafe 220+ Review

The last two weeks on the channel could best be described as the “not for everyone” series. The ioSafe 220+ is another product not for most people but those who need one will appreciate that it exists. You can see my review here.

The ioSafe 220+ has all the guts of an Intel powered Synology 220+ NAS device inside of a fireproof and waterproof casing. It’s designed to survive being in a 1550 degree fahrenheit fire for 30 minutes and the subsequent water dousing it’ll take to put the fire out. The electronics won’t survive but the drives inside of the fireproof enclosure should.

It works thanks to an endothermic material that is built into the casing. Water molecules are trapped inside of the material and will turn into steam when placed in a high temperature environment. That steam draws heat away from the center portion where the drives are stored. The drive enclosure is hermetically sealed to prevent water intrusion. You can hear more about how it works in this interview I did with the founder of the company back in 2015.

One of the improvements in this version is a much quieter fan. Previous versions had super loud fans that made it difficult to locate the device in an office environment. This one is about as a quiet as a regular Synology NAS.

Performance otherwise is on-part with a regular Synology NAS.

Why is this not for everyone? Price. A regular diskless Synology 220+ NAS sells for $300. This one starts at $940. But there are often corporate and government requirements for data storage that call for flood and fire protection for mission critical data.

Google Pixel 6a Review

Google’s Pixel 6a phone is a value packed device for folks looking for some flagship features without paying a flagship price. I think most consumers will find this to have everything they’d want in a phone: a nice display, great camera, and excellent performance on par with their flagship phones. You can watch my full review here.

The Pixel 6 series phones are the first to use Google’s new Tensor processor which is tuned for some of the AI work and computational photography that Google integrates into their products. The new 6a also has a Tensor and it performs identically to the flagship 6 and 6 Pro phones.

Tensor doesn’t best its Android or Apple flagship rivals on performance benchmarks tests but what’s notable here is that there isn’t a performance penalty for choosing the lower end phone. Apple’s iPhone SE by comparison is powered by the same A15 chip as the iPhone 13 Pro but Apple throttles the SE’s performance to keep it from besting their top of the line product. That’s not the case here with the 6a.

The camera system is excellent here thanks to Google’s advancements in computational photography. The phone has two cameras on the back – one ultrawide lens with a 114 degree field of view and a wide angle camera. Photos look great in most light and the portrait mode gets better and better every year. The phone will also shoot clean and optically stabilized video at up to 4k at 60 frames per second. You can see some examples of photos and videos in the video.

So what’s missing from this phone vs. the 6 and 6 Pro? A few things. The 6a does not have wireless charging, the 6a’s back is made out of plastic vs. glass, it has a lower resolution wide angle camera (12 vs. 50 megapixels), its display is running at a 60hz refresh rate vs the 90 & 120 hz refresh rates on the 6 and 6 Pro, and it lacks the telephoto lens found on the 6 pro. Despite all that it doesn’t feel cheap nor does it feel lacking in any way.

I have long been a fan of the “a” series Google phones and this one is a nice upgrade over prior models. If you’re still running with the 3a this one will be a huge upgrade.

DISCLOSURE: Google sent me the Pixel 6a free of charge but this is not a sponsored review. Google did not have any input into the review nor did they review or approve it before it was uploaded.

New Video : Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Review

Whenever I review a laptop I look at who the target market is for it. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon series (now in its 10th generation) is a very popular device even though it’s known not to be at the top of the performance curve. It’s a successful product because it gives its target audience what they want.

You can see my review here.

This is what I think of as an “executive” laptop: the device the boss uses because he or she doesn’t want to lug around a heavy laptop but needs a large screen that can quickly run business related tasks. The X1 Carbon does these tasks exceptionally well and comes in at just 2 and a half pounds.

But for the enthusiasts out there this isn’t much of an upgrade over the prior edition. The battery life savings promised from the new 12th Intel chips have yet to be realized and the cooling system doesn’t allow the system to run at full performance under load for an extended period of time. So other laptops with the same chip will perform better.

But this is not a computer marketed to enthusiasts, and for the target market my benchmarks found the computer is in fact zippier doing “bursty” office related tasks than its predecessor. So for the executive this is another solid laptop even if it disappoints enthusiasts looking for the ultimate 14″ two and a half pound laptop.

New Video: HP Victus 15 – Budget Gaming Laptop

Last night I posted a review of HP’s budget gaming laptop, the Victus 15. As I always like to say with PCs if you want a laptop that’s lightweight, powerful and has great battery life you pay a premium.

If you want one of those things, you can get it at a reasonable price. And that’s what the Victus 15 is all about.

The review loaner we received has a 12th generation Intel i5 processor along with a GTX1650 GPU from Nvidia. It performs at the top end of the 1650’s performance curve per our benchmarks and comparison with other laptops – including some that cost a heck of a lot more. They also managed to get a 144hz 1080p IPS display on it too.

So what about the compromises? So given performance is the key factor here all the other stuff is where you’ll find compromises. Battery life is pretty bad on it even for light work (maybe about 6 hours). The display isn’t very bright, the webcam is lousy, the fan is super noisy, it’s mostly made out of plastic, it has no biometrics and it’s pretty heavy.

But if you’re just looking for performance and nothing else this will get you there for well under $1000.

New Video : Beelink Mini S Mini PC Review

Today we’re taking a look at another Mini PC, the Beelink Mini S. This is an entry level Mini PC running with an Intel Jasper Lake processor. It’s not bad if you’re doing basic tasks like word processing, spreadsheets and email.

Where it falls short is in its memory configuration. Although it can be expanded to 16 gigabytes beyond its included 8GB, the Mini S only has a single channel of memory. This limits the performance of its processor for more intensive tasks.

In my testing I found that it had a hard time keeping up with 4k 60fps YouTube videos – something that other Jasper Lake processors with dual channel memory can handle with relative ease. It will also limit its performance for other tasks like casual gaming and game emulation.

That said if you’re looking to build out a bunch of thin clients for an enterprise the price here is pretty reasonable especially as it comes with Windows 11 Pro pre-installed. Ubuntu also boots up perfectly on these too.

The system supports two storage devices (one MSATA and a 2.5″ SATA drive) so there’s plenty of storage expandability.

The systems come with a VESA mount and have a very quiet system fan.

New Video: Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 Review

Full confession: I have a thing for 12″ laptops. I was a huge fan of Apple’s 12″ Macbook that remains one of my favorite laptops of all time. The fact that Apple hasn’t made an M1/M2 version of it is downright malpractice at this point.

I liked that Mac for its convenience. It wasn’t pretty slow and didn’t have the best keyboard, but it made up for those shortfalls in its extremely light weight, portability and battery life.

I have not found many computers on the Windows side that come close to that Macbook except the Microsoft Surface Go laptops. I bought it for review a year or so ago and ended up keeping it because it’s become my go-to Windows device for the times when I need a Windows device. Like the Macbook it comes with some compromises: The Surface Go has relatively short battery life, no backlit keyboard, lackluster graphics performance, a low resolution display and a noisy cooling fan.

But the convenience and utility of an affordable fully featured (and well built) Windows laptop outweighed all of it for me.

The second iteration of the Surface Laptop Go, called the Go 2, brings a substantial performance boost in its graphical performance. While not a gaming powerhouse by any means it is able to run many modern games at 720p at or around 30 fps. In my review we were able to get Red Dead Redemption 2, No Man’s Sky, and the Witcher 3 running at decent frame rates. The cooling fan is also noticeably quieter vs. the original too.

Physically it’s the same high quality piece of hardware as before, right down to the non-backlit keyboard and low res display. But it has a fit and finish that few laptops at this price point have – it is engineered with the same attention to detail as Microsoft’s considerably more expensive devices in the Surface lineup.

Bottom line it’s not for everyone. But for those looking for a full featured Windows PC that’s small, lightweight, and functional there are not many other choices at this price point.

8bitdo Ultimate Wired Controller for Xbox Review

8bitdo released a new game controller for the Xbox (affiliate link) called the Ultimate Wired Controller for Xbox. You can see my full review here.

Unlike their last Xbox branded controller that didn’t actually work with the Xbox, this one will work on any Xbox One or Series console along with Windows PCs. I also found it to work with Raspberry Pi’s and the MiSTer project. It does not, however, work on mobile phones or Android TV boxes.

As its name implies this is a wired only controller but its cable is a little short at 3 meters (about 9.8 feet). This might have been ample length back in the 80’s and 90’s but it only got about 3/4s of the way to my couch from my Series X console. While it has a bluetooth radio on board that is only used for its configuration app. It will not function wirelessly.

In my game controller latency test (done by shooting a screen and the controller at 240 frames per second) I found this to be one of the least laggy I have ever reviewed. It was even a little quicker than the first party Xbox One controller connected via a USB cable.

The control sticks have a little more travel vs. the first party Xbox controller so you may notice a larger dead zone in some games. Most Xbox game developers are targeting the Xbox controller for their controller dead zones so you might find yourself having to push the stick a little further to get the same movement vs. the stock controller.

The directional pad looks a lot like the SNES inspired one of the 8bitdo Pro 2 controller. But it doesn’t feel as a precise – I encountered a few errant diagonals when moving my character back and forth in the legend of Zelda. But the d-pad here is definitely better than the stock Xbox controller.

The rest of the controller feels pretty nice. It’s a little smaller than the stock xbox controller but I like the way it felt in my medium-sized hands. Buttons are solid and it even has two buttons on the lower portion of the controller that can be configured.

The configuration software is really the killer app here. It’s possible to configure the controller with your phone and remap its controls while it’s active in a game on the Xbox or PC! You can find that demonstrated in the video – it’s something I’ve never seen on a controller.

It’s possible to configure the controller with a phone while it’s plugged into an Xbox or PC!

While it doesn’t allow for macro functionality you can remap any button on the controller, adjust the sensitivity and deadzones of the control sticks and analog triggers, and invert the stick controls. It stores those settings in one of three profiles that are stored on the controller.

For the price point I think this is a solid offering for more casual gamers who are not looking to spend $100+ on a controller.

New Video: HP Tablet 11 Review

This new 11″ Windows tablet from HP is a bit costly when factoring in all of its accessories but it does have one creature comfort that most tablets don’t : the ability to use its keyboard in portrait or landscape mode. You can see my review here.

It also has a single camera that can rotate from the rear of the device to the front as needed with a button push. Its angle can also be further adjusted via its software interface or manually.

Beyond that it’s a run-of-the-mill Windows tablet running with a lower end Intel N6000 processor. This is a “Jasper Lake” chip which is Intel’s family of low end processors that typically appear on devices like this along with Mini PCs and NAS devices.

For the sorts of things that most consumers use a tablet for the performance is adequate. The bonus here is that it is running Windows 11 so most Windows apps can be installed provided you take the machine out of Windows “S” mode.

At its current sale price of $399 (affiliate link) a fully decked out tablet with keyboard and pen will run about $587. This is competitive against a 9th generation iPad with a keyboard cover and Apple pencil. But the iPad will get better battery life, better performance for comparable apps, and has a much better camera system.

The optional keyboard attachment worked nicely. The trackpad is accurate and not too springy and the keys, while small, are well spaced with nice travel.

Pen support is here too but I found the pen to have more latency than I would like and the screen is a bit slippery when writing. The Apple pencil on the iPad is a much better experience.

But for those looking for a Windows device in tablet form this is one worth checking out. See my other tablet reviews here.

New Video: The $99 Acer Chromebook 311 – CB311-9H-C1JW

We may be in a period of crazy inflation but we’re starting to see some tech gear that was in demand at the height of the pandemic now getting liquidated as demand tapers off.

Like the Lenovo ChromeOS tablet I reviewed back in January, Acer is unloading their 11 inch Chromebook 311 laptop at a super low price of $99 at Target stores in the USA (affiliate link). It normally sells for around $200.

This Chromebook 311 has an Intel N4000 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 32GB EMMC for storage. It has a decent enough IPS display running at 1366×768 (essentially 720p) and seems to perform at the upper end of the performance curve vs. its competitors.

The best part of this machine is that it has two full service USB-C ports. It can drive two 4k displays independently at 60hz along with the internal display! Not bad for $100.

In the video we booted up System7.app – a super cool web based emulator of a 68k classic Macintosh running System 7.5. This is the same OS my $1700 Powerbook ran in 1993. It’s crazy to think that adjusting for inflation this significantly more powerful computer would have cost $50 in ’93 – about the price of a Sega Genesis game!

Check out my full review of the laptop here.

The Sensibo Air Makes Dumb AC’s Smart

I got in the Sensibo Air (compensated affiliate link) a little while back for review free of charge from the company and finally got around to setting it up. This will integrate most dumb AC units or ductless split systems into your home automation system. It supports the trifecta: Amazon Alex, Google Home, and Apple Homekit. Check out my full review on Amazon.

I tested it with my LG split system that I use for heat and AC down in the basement studio. I haven’t touched my LG’s remote since. It’s super simple to set up – in my case I just needed to point my LG remote at it and hit the power button. After that I had full control from my phone.

They have a lower cost version called the “Sensibo Sky” (affiliate link) that has many of the same features. The Air adds homekit compatibility, a faster processor (presumably for future feature releases), person sensing when paired with one of their room sensors, and it can be placed flat on a table. The Sky needs to be vertically mounted.

Both Sensibos have a built in thermometer and humidity sensor that can be used like a thermostat. It can turn your AC on and off based on temperature, humidity or a combination of the two.

It’s a little expensive for what amounts to be an IR blaster but its simplicity of operation will have you very quickly configuring your AC to consume a lot less power. I’m quite pleased with this one. Just be sure to check their compatibility page to ensure it’ll work with your unit.