Author: IPAI Online

GE’s New GTW750 Washing Machines Are Smarter and Integrate with Alexa

There is no doubt that GE (aka General Electric) is a trusted brand. After all, it’s been around since 1892. Yes, you read that, right. GE is 125 years old. And if you didn’t know, one off its founders goes by the name of Thomas Edison. But I digress.

So now it’s more than a century later, so what’s new? A new washing machine, that’s what. Well, a new line of top washers that boast a presoak feature, plus WiFi connectivity.

To kick things off, they’re launching with one model, the GTW750, which comes in black (GTW750CPLDG) or white (GTW750CSLWS). However, the black costs $899, versus the white’s $799. Specs are exactly the same, so yes, you’re paying a premium for that dark finish, which GE seems to believe is worth an extra $100 for the same functionality and specs.

So what’s this presoak function? In effect it allows you to manually run the water (aka water faucet) and presoak heavily stained clothes. You can do it with or without detergent.

According to Julie Muennich, director of marketing for GE Appliances’ laundry products. “The new onboard Water Station combined with the proven SmartDispense™ technology and WiFi®capabilities on GE Appliances’ top load models give you power.”

That being said, this line of machines also boasts an auto soap dispenser. It holds up to 75 oz of detergent, which means you’ll never have to manually add detergent to your loads again. Moreover, it automatically dispenses detergent based on load size, so in theory you should be able to save on detergent or at the very least not over use.

In addition to the aforementioned, there is on board WiFi, allowing you to connect your iOS or Android device. And that’s not all. It can also connect with Alexa, Amazon’s line of intelligent devices, allowing you to speak commands and continue the spin cycle or check on time remaining.

Home depot has both the white for $719.10 and the black for $809.10.

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Brid Air Purifier: Interesting Promise, But Short on Details

Even among the best air purification systems available, filtration takes a lot of work. Multiple filters specialize in particular jobs like odor control, killing spores, removing especially tiny particles, and more: most need maintenance or replacement, which can sometimes feel like a juggling act when you just really wanted clean air in a room.

That brings us to Brid, a new venture for a sleek, canister-like air purifier that does several things at once – with a single filter that doesn’t need any maintenance. Is it too good to be true? The secret behind Brid is a set of “nano-structured ceramic filters” that appear to be infused or “baked” with titanium dioxide. This titanium dioxide can apparently react with harmless LED lights and kill spores, viruses, and so on. Periodically wash the filter, and that’s all you need to do.

Those are a lot of claims to make about a new filter, and it’s always a good idea to look carefully at any Kickstarter product featuring suddenly-new technology. Brid may have grabbed a lot of headlines with its promises, but it’s not quite clear how this technology works. What specifically makes bonded titanium dioxide more useful? In what ways does it react with LED lights to avoid the needs of other photocatalytic converters? How does the ceramic filter absorb odors without carbon? Is there an ion exchange process? We don’t know the answers to these questions, because Brid doesn’t talk about it. Warning bells!

Air Purifier: Brid

Brid promises a lot, but does it deliver?

Much of the marketing seems to emphasize that the bonded titanium dioxide doesn’t require UV lights or ozone, which the Brid team tells us are bad: While UV light can cause sunburns and you definitely don’t want to inhale corrosive ozone, they aren’t exactly things you need to avoid. No one has ever gotten hurt from a little UVC light in an air filter, and we use ozone particles to help clean pools and clothes.

So we’re left with several dubious claims, some talk about patents with no detail, and a pretty design. Not much to hang your money on, especially when the cheapest option to preorder a filter is still $289.

However, Brid has been funded several times over, so hopefully the product will go to market soon and third party reviews can check out just how well it works in early 2018 (fake Kickstarters have a habit of never actually hitting the shelves, so this is another important test). If Brid really does excel at removing odors from the air and killing living particles, it could make a useful addition to your air filtration system, although it is not designed to help control allergies.

The post Brid Air Purifier: Interesting Promise, But Short on Details appeared first on Gadget Review.

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Apple Rumored to Announce iPhone 8 on September 12th

According to a report first posted by Mac4Ever last week, Apple is set to announce (and possibly release) the iPhone 8 on September 12th.

While it wouldn’t exactly be the most shocking news that Apple is revealing its next phone in September – a company staple since 2012 – the article claims that Apple has been contacting telecoms in advance to keep the specific day of September 12th free in their calendars.

Expected at this year’s event is the new iPhone 8, which will supposedly feature an all-screen front that only leaves small holes for the speaker, camera, and LED. But that won’t be the only model hitting shelves this year, with Apple also expected to announce two more iPhones on the same stage: suped-up versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Other unveilings are said to include the debut of iOS 11, as well as an update to the Apple Watch that could bring LTE connectivity to the wearable device.

So if you’re going to grab a new iPhone 7 we’d recommend you hold off, but in the meantime it’s always good to get prepared for your new smartphone to come home! Check out our list of the the Best Smartphone Insurance Plans to make sure that your new iPhone 8 (or high-powered 7s) are protected throughout their lifespan from theft or damage.

Having a smartphone insurance plan is the most affordable way to guarantee you’ll never be left out in of the loop the next time your phone takes an unsanctioned dive straight into the toilet.

The post Apple Rumored to Announce iPhone 8 on September 12th appeared first on Gadget Review.

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ThinkEco’s SmartAC Conversion Kit Can Upgrade Your Old AC (for a Price)

These are good days for A/C; We’re seeing the rise of some of the top rated WiFi smart air conditioners in years, models that are starting to shake off the issues that prevented smart AC units from taking off in the past (generally shoddy quality, confusing apps, and noisy fans were among their numerous issues).

However, now that WiFi air conditioners are showing up in force and destined to become commonplace in houses and apartments, a new and interesting trend is emerging: smart AC conversion kits.

You see, many people with window/portable air conditioners like their current model are just fine, and don’t want to pay a couple hundred dollars (at minimum) for a new model. However, consumers do like the idea of smart features and controlling their A/C via their phones, especially if they can pick up some extra abilities as well.

That’s why ThinkEco’s WiFi SmartAC kit ($140) exists: this simple kit turns any plug-in AC unit into a smart device, allowing you to control it with your phone or computer. Once set up, the kit can help you set schedules, control temperatures from your mobile device no matter where you are at, and measure how much electricity your AC unit is using (and how you can cut back).

SmartAC

A simple plugin model.

ThinkEco isn’t the only conversion kit on the market, nor the least expensive, but it does have one of the simplest setup procedures, a boon to those who don’t have much experience with smart devices.

The model also comes with a variety of plug types for various voltage requirements, which means you can also use the SmartAC kit on larger air conditioners or units with more unique power needs (international units, etc.). It adds welcome clarity to an AC market that can get overly complex at times, but it also means that you’ll need to carefully pick the right voltage numbers for your unit, or otherwise deal with major problems.

SmartAC ThinkEco Report

SmartAC works on Mac or Windows computers.

Note, however, that this is a plug-based WiFi model. That means it works primarily by controlling power to and from the AC unit. It’s a very direct method, but it tends to have unpredictable effects on various air conditioners. You may not be able to control all advanced settings with the app, so some manual adjustments may be necessary. That being said, ThinkEco comes with a wireless remote for temperature control, so your hands won’t be entirely tied.

The post ThinkEco’s SmartAC Conversion Kit Can Upgrade Your Old AC (for a Price) appeared first on Gadget Review.

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Should You Microwave a Sponge? Science Knows!

It’s time to start asking the real questions: Have you ever microwaved a sponge? We’re serious – some of the best microwave ovens in the world are being used to cook sponges instead of food, with the understanding that this kills bacteria in the sponge and makes it safer to use. Because we’re excited about microwave tech and have never seen a sponge setting on even the most advanced microwave models, we decided to look into this practice.

Using Microwave

It turns out experts from the University of Furtwangen in Germany were also curious: they analyzed the bacterial content of household sponges, and what really happens when they get microwaved (besides heating up). Let’s make a list of their most important findings – all of you cooks and kitchen dwellers, take notice:

  • Sponges are really, really dirty: This isn’t surprising, but you may not know just how dirty they can get. Around 82 billion live in a cubic inch of the average house sponge, with hundreds of different bacteria species living together. That’s roughly the same density of bacteria that is found in human stool…so you can see why getting your sponge clean is a priority. Oh, and you know that nasty sponge smell that develops? That’s a sign that a lot of busy bacteria are creating fatty waste deposits that build up and start to smell.
  • Microwaving a sponge will kill some of the bacteria: Yup, bacteria doesn’t like being microwaved. A good round of microwaving will kill off a lot of those bacteria.
  • However, the strongest bacteria are left: Some strains can survive high temperatures, and they tend to come back madder than ever. Indeed, microwaving a sponge (like using hand sanitizer) is a way to weed out weak bacteria and make sure that only the strong survives – and since we’re talking about bacteria, that’s really not a good thing. Plus, your microwave will get dirtier.
  • There’s no good way to clean a dirty sponge: The microwave trick isn’t particularly effective, and most other methods of cleaning a sponge ensure it stays warm and moist, perfect for future bacteria growth. That doesn’t leave you with many options. The bottom line is that when a sponge gets dirty, it’s time to throw it away and buy a new version.

So, in summary, while you can microwave a sponge, and clean your microwave using one, it’s not very helpful for the sponge or the microwave. There’s no sponge button for good reason – microwaves have a tough time killing the hardiest bacteria, and only encourage their future growth. If your sponge is starting to smell, throw it out instead.

The post Should You Microwave a Sponge? Science Knows! appeared first on Gadget Review.

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How To Program a DirectTV Remote: A Guide for Universal or Genie Remotes

If you use a DirecTV universal remote or genie remote, you can program that remote to also control devices like TVs and speakers. It helps you save on remotes, and the process isn’t that hard if you know where to go. We’ll walk you through the process of how to program DirecTV remote models to connect both the universal and Genie remotes to other devices.

Universal Remote

Satellite - DirecTV Universal Remote

Your universal remote should look – at least a little – like this.

Note: DirecTV has gone through a lot of remotes over the years, so your universal remote may not look like any pictures we post. That’s okay! They still have the same general buttons and controls, so while you may need to study those lesser-used corners of your remote, the process should still work just fine.

Step 1: Find the right remote code. Devices have various remote codes used to program and connect new remotes. This code basically pairs the remote and the device, like an old-fashioned version of Bluetooth. Start by getting this code to speed the process up considerably!

Fortunately, DirecTV has made this process very easy. Start by heading over to this webpage. In the fill-out form, you will notice options to pick from Video/DVD, Audio, Satellite/Set-Top, and even VCR. Pick which most accurately describes the device that you are trying to pair, and then type in both the brand and the model number.

Hit search, and the tool should provide the most popular codes for your device. Note that this isn’t a full-proof method. The tool can’t always guarantee a match, and it doesn’t work well with newer set top boxes and devices, which may not be compatible with DirecTV remotes. But for all that, it’s still the best way to look for codes.

Step 2: Find the Menu button on your universal remote. It should say MENU, loud and clear! Press it to open up the Settings & Help menu. Note that this only works if your remote is already paired with your DirecTV satellite receiver, which must be plugged into your TV so you can get a picture of your Settings. Note that we’re talking about your receiver menu here, not the menu from your TV or other menus like the DirecTV app version.

Step 3: In the Settings menu, look for the icon that says Settings. At least, this is true of most new receivers. If you have an older DirecTV DVR or SD receiver – uncommon, but not impossible – then you will want to go to Parental Favs & Setup instead, and then choose System Setup. You end up at the same place either way for step 4.

Step 4: Select Remote Control from the new list. Then choose Program Remote. This will give you a familiar looking list of device categories. Choose the same category that you chose when finding your remote code.

Step 5: You should now have some options to search for a remote code or input one manually. Since you (hopefully) found your code online, you can choose to input the code manually.

Step 6: Now test your remote by performing basic functions like changing the volume. If the device lights up with indicators that the volume, etc., really is changing, then your pairing process worked! If your DirecTV remote is not working, try using the next suggested code or looking up more information your device’s remote codes.

Genie Remote

DirecTV Satellite - Genie Remote

The Genie remote has a slightly different setup process.

The Genie is a more modern DirecTV/AT&T DVR system with added smart features, a greater focus on internet apps, and a rounded remote with its own unique set of capabilities. That means both good news and bad news. The good news is that you can program the remote to control an HDTV, a compatible DirecTV TV, or compatible audio devices like sound bars and surround sound systems. The bad news is that the Genie remote won’t work outside of these device categories, so it’s a little more limited than a universal remote. The good news is that, if you’re worried about how to program a DirecTV Genie remote, the process is still quite simple.

Step 1: Make sure that the remote is in RF mode, which is the only way this will work. With your TV and DVR on, point the remote at your DVR and hold down both the Mute and Enter buttons for a second. The screen should flash a message saying that it is applying IR/RF setup. When it does this, you can move on.

Step 2: Once again, we’re going to suggest you look up your TV code using the tool that DirecTV has provided. Either the Television or Audio heading should be your first selection, based on what device you are connecting. Put in both your brand and model number – they should be visible on your device. As we mentioned above, this method may not work for more modern devices, but it’s generally reliable.

Step 3: Press the Menu button on your Genie remote, which will (as you may have guessed) open up the on-screen menu guide. Note that you absolutely have to have your Genie DVR on and connected to your TV for this step to work. Also note that if you are trying to connect to a separate audio device, it should also be connected to your TV.

Step 4: Look for the Settings & Help menu, and enter it. Here select Settings, and then select Remote Control.

Step 5: Choose to “Program Remote” and select the type of device that you want to program.

Step 6: Now is the time to either input the code you found on DirecTV’s site or allow the device to guess at what code it thinks will work (the answers are typically the same). When you finish, you should be able to control things like volume with your remote, so test it out and make sure that volume really does go up and down reliably. Then you’re done!

Note! There is a different process for “DirecTV Ready” TVs and Genie remotes. Fortunately it’s very easy. Turn everything on, then press and hold the Mute and Select buttons on the remote. Hold them until you see the green light at the top of the remote flash two times. Then, using the number pad on the remote, type in the right code. If your DirecTV Ready TV is Samsung, type 54000. If it is Sony, you need to enter 54001. If it is Toshiba, enter 54002 instead. That should do it!

The post How To Program a DirectTV Remote: A Guide for Universal or Genie Remotes appeared first on Gadget Review.

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StandDesk Pro Standing Desk Review: A Great Standing Desk But…

It seems like every time a new trend starts gathering steam in the tech community, a whole new range of small unknown startups spring out from the woodwork to fulfill the growing need.

StandDesk is one of those companies, and their flagship product – the aptly-named StandDesk Pro – is yet another standing desk that puts together many of the same components we’ve come to know and need in a standing desk, all at a price that claims to be the cheapest of all the competition.

So how does the StandDesk “stand up” to our scrutiny? Read on in our StandDesk Standing Desk review to find out!

Overview

Summary: The StandDesk Pro comes in dozens of different configurations that can be tailored to almost anyone’s specific needs – but getting all those extra parts to work together comes at a cost.

Price: $490 to $1500 (varies depending on configuration)
Available: Now

What We Liked

  • Great, clean design
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • The most stable standing desk we’ve tested yet

What We Didn’t

  • High price could scare off some customers
  • Limited size options
  • Poor customer support/quality control

StandDesk Standing Desk Specs

jarvis-standing-desk-desig2
Desktop Dimensions 30″ x 27″ up to 78″ x 30″
Height Adjustment 23.25″ to 48.75”
Lifting Capacity 350lbs
Programmable Controller? green-check-mark
Lift Speed 1.5″ per second
Operating Noise 50dB
Weight 66lbs (frame-only)
Price $500 – $1,690
Buy Now

Setup

Look, I’m not afraid to admit it: I’m terrible at putting furniture together. My last outing with the Jarvis Bamboo should be a pretty good indication of just how overwhelmed I can get with a simple set of instructions, which is why I was so happy to see a full-color instruction pamphlet complete with easy-to-understand drawings of everything I needed to keep an eye on.

Not only that, StandDesk also has a whole host of setup videos on their website and YouTube channel, just in case the drawings throw you off. Even though I had all the assistance in the world though, my colossal DIY ineptitude still crept in at certain points, namely when I was trying to figure out how the crossbars lined up with the two leg supports on either side.

Things only got more complicated when I tried to mount the handset to the underside of the desk itself. When I looked at the two screws that were included with the handset that was shipped to me (more on that in a bit), I knew that if I screwed both of them in I was going to pierce the other side of the desk.

After a call with one of the designers I was told not to worry about it, but despite that even when I did eventually try to screw them all the way in, the screws were too big for the pilot holes and wouldn’t budge another inch. This left the handset sort of awkwardly hanging off the front of the desk rather than being directly attached, which as I’ll mention later seems to be the fault more of the technical support staff than it is the designers themselves.

Design

standdesk standing desk review

The design of the StandDesk is pretty standard, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?

Because I’m always a fan of bamboo wherever I can get it, I ordered the brown bamboo version of the StandDesk desktop. On the company’s configurator you can also choose from two other bamboo tone variants, as well as the option to go with a matte black or all-white non-bamboo finish instead.

Much as I had the same concerns when it came to reviewing different DIY home security systems, I can’t help but shake the sense than many of these startups are all buying the same equipment from the same manufacturers and then just slapping their own branding on top.

Although I’d like to spend half of this section going on about all the differences in design choices I saw between options like the Jarvis and StandDesk, there’s simply far too much that’s identical about them to go on splitting those hairs. Pretty much the only difference I could find was the woodburned “StandDesk” logo in the right-hand corner.

That said, everything I loved about the design of the Jarvis can be reiterated here. From the smooth finish to the sturdy gray legs, our 30″ x 60″ desktop was more than large enough to handle my desktop setup (two speakers, a lamp, and a 28″ monitor”), and could still easily fit a three-monitor/two-laptop mega setup if you really wanted to squeeze it all in.

Features

standdesk review features

The only thing that sets this desk apart from the competition is a woodburned logo on top.

The StandDesk model I reviewed was the rectangular bamboo 30″ x 60″ non-ergo option with two non-powered wire grommets and the programmable memory controller. All told this model will set you back $825.97 out the door, almost a full $200 more than what I would expect to pay for a comparably equipped Jarvis.

Other than the option to add a cable management tray, rolling casters, or the aforementioned crossbar though, there aren’t really a whole ton of additional features you can choose from here.

The programmable memory control panel comes with seven buttons in total: two for the up/down controls, four to handle the different presets, and one to actually set those presets depending on the current height. This option will tag an extra $49.00 onto your checkout costs, though you can also order the desk with a simple up/down switch if you’re shopping on a budget instead.

Performance

Despite any problems I may have had with the handset or the cookie-cutter design, pretty much all of those concerns washed away once I actually got down to using this thing.

Although I didn’t think it was even possible, the StandDesk somehow manages to be even more stable than the Jarvis, both at sitting and standing heights. Most days I like to run my Jarvis at max height while pressed against my wall; not necessarily because it’s that wobbly, but just because I want as much stability as I can get.

The StandDesk one ups the gambit even further, proving to be just as steady on its own at standing height as the Jarvis is with wall support. This is all without the company’s crossbar addition, which they claim adds even more stability when purchased as a part of the package deal.When it comes to weight tolerance, the StandDesk shares yet even more stats with the Jarvis, being rated for up to 350 lbs of weight capacity.

I’ve been using the desk for about three weeks now for daily work (and following standing desk best practices) , whether it’s typing out reviews like this one from our desktop or a laptop from time to time. The desk holds up well against non-coastered drinks, and the finish on top of the desk still feels just as smooth and slick as the day I opened it despite days of sweaty wrists wresting on it and multiple wipe downs with a rag. Though I never intentionally try to dent any desks too hard, during some lighter tests (throwing a set of keys onto it from a distance, for example), it still held up without too many visible signs of damage.

Lastly, when I measured the noise output of the desk while it rose from a sitting position to standing and back again, it was by far the quietest we’ve tested yet. I could barely get it to make more than about 9.5dB of noise, so if your biggest concern is the whirr of your motor, this is definitely the standing desk for you.

Customer Service

Now, normally I don’t include much about the customer service support of any given company, only because I feel that in general if a product works the way its supposed to, I shouldn’t ever have a reason to call them in the first place. And while I wish I could say that was the case during my experience with StandDesk, I simply can’t finish this review without mentioning the numerous, seemingly endless problems I encountered trying to get my desk put together.

For starters, the desk I was sent didn’t have any memory handset included originally, which meant I had no way of actually controlling the up/down function on the desk itself. I contacted StandDesk about this issue, who got back to me around a day later with an apology and a promise that a new one would be shipped out shortly.

standdesk review handset

The source of all our problems…

About four days later a handset arrived in the mail. The handset initially turned on, but it wasn’t long before I noticed that none of the programmable buttons worked, nor did the down button, but for some reason the “memory” button handled the down function just fine. I contacted the company again, and they apologized for the mixup and said they would have a new panel and control box out to me within the week.

Over two weeks later my new panel and control box arrived. Once I installed them both the desk finally began working the way it was supposed to, but not after almost a month of waiting and back and forth with a company that couldn’t remember to ship a core component of their product inside the same box from the get-go.

Wrap Up

The StandDesk is a conflicting product. There are so many reasons to like it; whether it’s the insane stability at all heights or the overall feel and finish of the design. If everything works (and that’s a big if, as I learned), it works just the way you would expect it to at whisper-quiet operation levels, a feat that only a few select standing desks can claim for themselves (among other features to look for in a standing desk).

But for everything the StandDesk as a product does right, the company that sells it still has awhile to go before it’s got all the kinks worked out. With so many problems during my review popping up (no handset, then a non-working handset that came with the wrong screws, long delivery delays between all of it), it’s obvious that the customer service and quality assurance departments might be in a little over their head. If I had to recommend the StandDesk, I’d say maybe wait another month or two before making the plunge, because as it is right now there are simply too many missed details to make the increased cost of ownership worth it.

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Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Toaster Oven Review

Traditional oven or toaster oven. It’s the inevitable debate on which to use, provided you own both. But honestly, it’s one that quickly comes moot if you’ve got a great toaster oven in  your possession. And if you don’t, here’s your chance to learn why a great toaster oven can be a game changer for even the most experienced home chef.

First, some of today’s top toaster ovens heat up super quickly, unlike their traditional counterparts. Second, they versatile, allowing you to heat up food and negate the microwave – the latter should really be a stop gap measure.  Lastly, some of them use infrared technology, which cook food directly, leaving it moisture and all together better in taste.

So what’s a top notch toaster oven that you can by today? Look no further than Cuisinart’s TOB-206N1. It boasts an all around stainless steel finish, so it’s a fit for just about any kitchen. And unlike toaster ovens of the past there is a digital display, easy to use controls and a variety of cooking options to satisfy even the most picky of cooks.

So keep reading my Cuisinart TOB-260n1 toaster oven review to learn more.

Overview

Price: Check Amazon
Availability: September 2016
Model: TOB-260N1

What We Liked

  • Fairly fast heating time
  • 15 cooking functions that actually work, such as bagel and keep warm

What We Didn’t

  • Possibly inaccurate thermometer
  • Lacks an infinite on/off function; limited to 2 hours max

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Cuisinart TOB-260n1 toaster oven is the kitchen device everyone has been missing.

Summary: The Cuisinart TOB-260n1 toaster oven sells itself short, but only because of its name; it’s much more than a toaster oven. 15 cooking functions fast preheating, and toast that is golden brown. The only significant caveat to this oven is that there is no manual on/off switch, requiring you to set a timer of 2 hours or less.

Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Specs

 
Watts 1800
Digital Display green-check-mark
Size 18.5 x 22.62 x 13 in
Cooking Functions 15
Interior Light green-check-mark
Quartz Heating Elements green-check-mark
Price [amazon_link asins=’B01M0AWSJX’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’gadgetreviewc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’481e0f1e-5098-11e7-ac0d-bd06d6d9fe7d’]
Check Price

Design

Inside you’ll find .95 cubic feet of cooking space. And while that’s largely intangible, what you should know is that you can cook up to 6 pieces of toast simultaneously, fit a 13″ pizza (stone included), or a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. The latter is actually the most impressive, though for my pan to fit I removed the racks as it slipped perfectly into the slots.

On the outside you’ll find a stainless steel finish that easily cleans and doesn’t mar (though you’ll notice that I left my pizza stone on top of the machine, and presumably from the heat it has made its metal facade brighter in finish). To that end, there is a large window and an interior light that can be activated at the touch of the button or upon opening the door. That being said, I highly recommend that you buy a toaster oven with an interior light, provided you don’t buy this one. It’s super handy and negates the need to open the door, which in turn can let out heat.

[amazon_link asins=’B01M0AWSJX’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’gadgetreviewc-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’481e0f1e-5098-11e7-ac0d-bd06d6d9fe7d’]

The LCD screen is easy to read and the controls are intuitive and straight forward. To activate the toaster, or wake it, just tap the control knob. From there you can select from one of 15 cooking functions (toast, broil, roast, left overs, etc), modify the time and temperature, or in the case of “toast the number of pieces and the “shade”. Which is to say, the “toast” function is preprogrammed with both temperature and time.

Cuisinart TOB-260N1

Intuitive controls making operating the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 easy.

The other buttons you see allow you to add 30 seconds to the cooking time, activate the convection features, turn on the light, activate speed convection (it skips preheating), and lastly dual cook, which let’s you select two cooking modes, such as baking and keep warm, or roast then broil so you can finish your chicken off with nice brown crisp. Lastly, the crumb tray is its own slot, which is to say it can be easily removed and cleaned without having to open the oven door and perhaps risk burning yourself. Lastly, thanks to the large interior space, and removable racks, it’s easy to get inside and clean the toaster oven.

Heating Elements That Heat In Seconds

Beyond the aforementioned, you’ll find 6 quartz elements, which in short provide the infrared cooking I already mentioned. To be completely honest, I wasn’t familiar with quartz heating elements, but like me, you’ve probably been exposed to them as a result of using a space heater. Quartz has a number of advantages. For one, they heat up quick, in seconds in fact. That isn’t to say they reach their max temperature in seconds, but they do instantly, or almost instantly turn red hot. This means less preheating time is needed than traditional oven coils.

In my testing, the Cuisinart reached its max temperature in less than 13 minutes. Moreover, since quartz emits what is called short wavelength infrared, it not only heats up faster, but the objects in its way, food in this case, absorb it more effectively, and in turn don’t heat the air, which can dry out food. You might have noticed this with certain space heaters; they’re warm in toasty to stand in front of, but do a poor job in heating up the actual room. This explanation seems pretty on point with what I’ve been reading around the web.

Performance

One of the tried and tested, well, tests, is how effective a toaster oven can be at, you guessed it, toasting bread. But it’s not just a question of how it can toast bread, but how effective it can be at toasting multiple slices of bread, which in turn can denote what is commonly referred to as a heat map.

So I picked up some Sara Lee white bread – never before in the confines of my kitchen – and toasted 6 pieces, the max allowable amount to see how the heat is distributed. As you can see from the picture below, the Cuisinart is able to effectively toast all pieces, but you can see that the outside columns don’t achieve the same golden brown goodness as the center column. That being said, the Cuisinart, thanks to its different cooking functions, does a great job toasting the top and slightly the bottom, all the while maintaining a moist center. I know it sounds like marketing speak, but I can honestly back this up with my testing. To that end, the bagel function also works great, as it slightly toasts the bottom of the bagel, which in turn retains that correct amount of chewiness. Other toaster ovens often just have one toast setting, which can result in a hockey puck like texture.

Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Heat Map

You can see that the center column toasts more evenly.

As for temperature accuracy, I purchased a Taylor thermometer from Amazon. I set the Cuisinart to 450 degree F and waited. After just shy of 13 minutes the Taylor thermometer showed a temperature of about ~435 degree F. Slightly under, yes. But I’d rather that than over. Of course the location of the thermometer is a variable, and placing it center, left or right would or could impact the read out. But nevertheless, the take away here is that the Cuisinart’s temperature settings are fairly true to what is displayed. What I should note is that it reached 300 degrees in about 7 minutes, yet took another 6 minutes to increase another 150 degrees.

Beyond the dough, I also cooked the following food items and largely achieved success:

  • A gluten free chocolate cake in a 9″ x 13″ pan. This came out better than I thought. In fact, it was amazing. The cake didn’t over cook one bit despite being a small oven and the center was moist – no crisp or overcooked edges. We ate the entire thing. Of course it didn’t hurt that I slathered two layers of chocolate frosting on it.
  • Miso Cod: I largely blame the marinade for the char that you can see, though it still tasted decent. I think this one is back to the drawing board on both recipe and cooking function.

    Cuisinart Fish Cooking Example

    The char on the fish is a result of the marinade – miso cod. Nevertheless, it was still moist on the inside.

  • Shishito pepper: I unfortunately didn’t grab a picture of this. However, they came out by all means edible, but I need to experiment which cooking function is best for this. I tried roasting the first time around, but I’m thinking that broiling might be a better option and could result in less sogginess with a slight char on the face.
  • Chicken breast on the bone: I roasted two breasts on the bone. They came out a nice golden brown and the meat was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of moisture retained.
  • Short ribs: these were amazing. My hats off to my girlfriend for the 48 hour marinade, though I have to attribute some success to the Cuisinart’s broil function, which provided a great crispness and char, as well as the pan with the raised tray so it wasn’t boiling in its own juices.

Cuisinart TOB-260n1 Toaster Oven Review Wrap Up

Cuisinart TOB-260N1

The Cuisinart TOB-260N1 crumb tray removes for easy cleaning.

So putting aside long term testing, the Cuisinart TOB-260n1 toaster oven is one of the best I’ve ever used. Next up on my list is Panasonic’s Flash Express Toaster Oven. However, that model is largely designed for toast and offers a much smaller cooking space. Granted it’s less than half the price of this model, but with it comes far less versatility. Breville is also on my list and I believe, based on what I’ve read, that that brand’s models will pose the largest threat or the greatest level of competition.

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But for now, and the foreseeable future, the Cuisinart TOB-260n1 toaster oven is my #1 pick. It offers all the cooking functions one could ever ask for, heats up faster than any traditional oven, and succeeds at living up to its designation, effectively toasting bread to a golden brown hue within the specified time, which I should note is about 6.5 minutes.  My only gripe you ask? The timer maxes out at 2 hours, which means that you’ll manually have to add time for anything that require more cooking. Put conversely, there is no pure on only option.

The post Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Toaster Oven Review appeared first on Gadget Review.

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Linksys EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream Wireless Router Review

If there’s anything that Linksys has learned in its nearly three-decade long tenure of making some of the best home networking devices in the business – it’s that no one router fits all sizes.

While some might want the most raw output and power possible (and are willing to sacrifice big chunks of desk space to get it), there are routers like the EA9500. But, for those who may live in a smaller home or apartment, all that extra power is lost when you’re not transmitting data over distances more than 20ft in any direction. So what’s a customer in the middle supposed to buy?

Well, keep reading in my Linksys EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream router review to find out!

Overview

Summary: The Linksys EA8300 MU-MIMO Max-Stream is a mid-priced router that puts out top-tier performance, while still including many of the same rockstar features like Smart WiFi to help seal the deal.

Price: $199.99
Available: Now
Model: EA8300

What We Liked

  • Functional, minimalist design
  • Great performance at short range
  • Linksys Smart WiFi is still king of router software

What We Didn’t

  • Could use more wired ports

Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream Router Specs

Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream MU-MIMO Tri-Band AC2200
WiFi Type 802.11ac
Processor 716MHz quad-core processor
Transmission Rating AC2200
Operation Modes Wireless Router, Wired Networking, Access Point, Bridge
128-bit Wireless Encryption green-check-mark
2.4Ghz green-check-mark
5Ghz green-check-mark
Ports 4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,
1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
MU-MIMO green-check-mark
QoS green-check-mark
Dimensions 8.41 x 6.37 x 2.16 in
Weight 1lb
USB Inputs green-check-mark
Price $199.99
Buy Now

Design

Linksys EA8300 Review

Now where have we seen this before…

For anyone who’s already read our review of the Linksys EA9500, the design of the EA8300 should feel like a familiar face in the crowd. Almost everything from the EA9500 has been copy/pasted over to the EA8300, albeit in a much more petite package than before.

The EA8300 is both considerably smaller and lighter than its bigger brother, at just 8.41 x 6.37 x 2.16 in around and 1lb heavy (compared to 3.25lbs from the EA9500). This means it’s made to fit in tighter spots in your home office, or maybe even hang on the wall without requiring an anchor screw to hold it in place. 

Around the border of the black-on-black plastic meshed shell are four all-black antennas, compared to the six we found on the EA9500. This suggests there might be a little less power output than what we’d normally see on routers of this size, but more on that later.

The new LED status screen in the middle of the router also bears mentioning, as it adds just another little layer of “cool” on top of a router which already looks 95% the part. The subtle orange and white highlights shine brightly (but not too brightly) off the surface, telling you if the router is having any problems with connectivity or just to let you know that everything’s running in tip-top shape.

Hardware

Linksys EA8300 Review

A smaller router means a smaller number of ports than you might normally be accustomed to.

The Linksys EA8300 features a 716MHz quad-core processor with three offload processors, tri-band AC2200 wireless, 802.11ac/n/a 2.4Ghz/5GHz antennas with MU-MIMO beamforming capability, four high-powered antennas, five gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN, 1 Internet), and one USB 3.0 port for setting up external media servers.

Software

Speaking of media servers, setting one up in Linksys’ Smart WiFi system – like everything in that software dashboard – is a breeze. I’ve gushed endlessly about all the benefits you get with Linksys Smart WiFi that the competition can’t match, and the case continues to ring true on the EA8300.

Whether it’s altering your parental controls, watching device logs from your phone, or getting media to stream to any device anywhere you are in the world, you can do it in Linksys’ Smart WiFi dashboard.

Speed & Distance Tests

All number in Mbps 2.4GHz (5ft) 2.4GHz(30ft) 5GHz (5ft) 5GHz (30ft)

Linksys EA8300
Up: 31.75
Down: 150.97
Up: 76.39
Down: 163.82
Up: 281.26
Down: 502.53
Up: 118.50
Down: 261.30
all
Amped Wireless ALLY Plus
Up: 99.46
Down: 69.68
Up: 5.45
Down: 9.96
Up: 149.83
Down: 199.93
Up: 9.07
Down: 12.95
61pduaxrczl-_sl1350_
Netgear Nighthawk X10
Up: 109.24
Down: 77.45
Up: 69.30 Down: 69.67 Up: 388.04
Down: 513.45
Up: 351.29
Down: 354.44
linksys-wrt3200acm-design
Linksys WRT3200ACM
Up: 102.65
Down: 73.26
Up: 48.68
Down: 43.52
Up: 475.24
Down: 449.84
Up: 311.96
Down: 276.98
Product Image 1 (1)
AmpliFI HD Mesh Router
Up: 177.99
Down: 196.22
Up: 197.23
Down: 146.29
Up: 368.04
Down: 534.86
Up: 161.06
Down: 372.34
A1+ih84z5YL._SL1500_
TP-LINK Archer C5400
Up: 103.86
Down: 108.11
Up: 61.92
Down: 84.31
Up: 369.84
Down: 459.58
Up: 231.07
Down: 269.54
61qU72ikisL._SL1000_
Linksys EA9500 AC5400
Up: 106.49
Down: 94.73
Up: 69.86
Down: 70.84
Up: 295.30
Down: 302.3
Up: 204.35
Down: 214.64
51wKSYRGfAL._SL1000_
D-Link DIR-879 AC1900 EXO
Up: 102.05
Down: 81.34
Up: 65.28
Down: 64.75
Up: 241.46
Down: 338.53
Up: 209.32
Down: 177.06
Netgear Nighthawk X4S
Netgear Nighthawk X4S
Up: 77.45
Down: 109.24
Up: 59.33
Down: 78.36
Up: 241.70
Down: 348.86
Up: 223.42
Down: 169.15
Netgear-R8500-Router
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300
Up: 91.32
Down: 104.97
Up: 71.61
Down: 82.20
Up: 288.97
Down: 348.33
Up: 216.49
Down: 200.58
Tp Link 9
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
Up: 64.94
Down: 96.35
Up: 67.18
Down: 34.26
Up: 289.97
Down: 483.37
Up: 181.40
Down: 132.40
Netgear NightHawk X6 AC3200
Netgear NightHawk X6 AC3200
Up: 59.19
Down: 84.98
N/A Up: 209.80
Down: 280.61
Up: 170.98
Down: 169.84
Linksys EA7500
Linksys EA7500 AC1900
N/A Up: 44.27
Down: 141.55
N/A Up: 78.72
Down: 209.31
Print
TP-Link P5 AC1900
Up: 90.89
Down: 99.21
Up: 40.77
Down: 82.267
Up: 354.28
Down: 524.54
Up: 247.32
Down: 269.95
Linksys WRT1900ACS
Linksys WRT1900ACS
Up: 63.38
Down: 70.02
Up: 59.37
Down: 56.66
Up: 299.83
Down: 412.59
Up: 242.43
Down: 216.16
D-Link DIR890L:R AC3200
D-Link DIR890L/R AC3200
Up: 49.25
Down: 66.30
Up: 33.89
Down: 36.03
Up: 285.83
Down: 470.85
Up: 200.06
Down: 325.12

Linksys EA8300 2.4GHz 5ft

As a part of the Max-Stream family of Linksys routers, we expected only the best speeds out of this pint-sized performer, and we didn’t leave the testing table disappointed.

Despite its AC2200 rating, the Linksys EA8300 still managed to pump out an even rate of 150.97Mbps down, 31.75Mbps when testing the 2.4GHz band from a distance of five feet away. That upload score could definitely use some work, but somehow we actually got a better score once we pushed the 2.4GHz testing to a distance of 30ft. On that test we were able to achieve 163.82Mbps down and 76.39Mbps up, one of the best scores recorded to date.Linksys EA8300 2.4GHz 30ft

Note: All speed tests conducted from this review forward will now use a local Stephouse Networks server, rather than the direct line to Centurylink. This is due to a change of address from our old testing facilities, which were previously close to the CL node. These will produce slightly faster results across the board, independent of the specific router we’re testing.  Linksys EA8300 5GHz 5ft

The EA8300 held up equally as well when it came to the 5GHz spectrum, clocking a respectable score of 502.53Mbps down/281.26Mbps up when running from five feet away. Next was the 30ft test, which as always runs with several walls and doors placed between the base station and the laptop to get the most realistic results. Being that 5GHz suffers between obstacles, it was understandable when we saw the nearly-cut-in-half score of 261.30Mbps down/118.50Mbps come back to round out the 30ft distance results.Linksys EA8300 5GHz 30ft

Wrap Up

The Linksys EA8300 is yet another ace in Linksys growing pocket of knockout networking equipment, providing both mid-sized homeowners with larger families or single apartment-dwelling gamers with the speed and performance they need without breaking the bank.

At $199.99 the EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream router is competitively costed out, especially given the above-average performance we saw at almost every range. Add to this the ever-flawless Linksys Smart WiFi system on top of its lower-profile build and you get a router that’s well-rounded and future-proofed enough to justify the investment.

The post Linksys EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream Wireless Router Review appeared first on Gadget Review.

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Zest Desk Review: A Portable Standing Desk for Hot Desking

When I think of a great “standing desk” the last thing I think about it portability. But that’s exactly what the Zest Desk is all about. Ok, truth be told, it’s not a full blown standing desk, but if you work in a co-working space like I do, it could be a great stop gap measure, especially if you sit for 8-10 hours a day and don’t use the same desk every day. How so? Keep reading my review to find out.

Overview

Summary: A standing desk for hot desking. But it won’t replace a stand alone (no pun intended) standing desk.

Price: $340 – $449 at Zest Desk
Availability: Now

What We Liked

  • Easy to setup (for the most part)
  • Light enough to carry in one hand thanks to a built in handle
  • Feet can be adjusted even when stuff is placed on top of it
  • Fairly stable thanks in part to the rubber feet

What We Didn’t

  • Requires at least a 24″ wide surface
  • Additional monitor stand not stable enough for a large monitor (27″ monitor in my case)
  • Bag not included unless you pay extra
  • Not quite tall enough for me (6′ 2″) to feel comfortable

Design

Zest Desk Handle

A built in handle hides away when unfolded and makes carrying the Zest Desk a breeze.

The Zest Desk weighs just 12.6lb, which is pretty light, especially when you consider some massive gaming laptops can weigh more. So for the most part, it’s easy to carry the Zest Desk, especially because there is a built in handle that only appears when it’s folded up. And yes, it folds up making it more compact and easier to carry, though I was a bit disappointed that the base price of $349 doesn’t include the bag.

Zest Desk Legs

The Zest Desk legs fold up and down without the need to flip any switches.

That being said, the legs’ height can be adjusted from to 10.6″ to 15 inches. Even on top of my desk, at WeWork, a co-working space, this didn’t quite accommodate me, as I stand at 6′ 2″, as I prefer to have a standing desk that is closer to lower/mid chest height such that my arms are comfortable extended below my shoulders and my eyes are looking forward at my screen. Adding a monitor with a stand can help alleviate this issue since the keyboard should be lower than where you look, but I think the take away here is that the Zest Desk is not a complete replacement, height wise, for a true standing desk, at least for someone of my height.

Related: Our #1, BEST Standing Desk

My package included a monitor stand. It stows away neatly underneath the Zest Desk for portability, though it took me a few minutes to figure out how to unlatch it and place it on the correct side up. In fact, it was the only challenge I faced when setting up the Zest Desk. Which is to say setup is intuitive and fast; just 30 seconds.

Zest Desk Locking Pins

A few pins keep the Zest Desk locked in place.

To break down the Zest Desk it doesn’t take more than 30-45 seconds, and another 15-30 seconds to get it into the bag, which at times can be a bit fiddly but doable by all accounts, and without the help of anyone.

In Use

As mentioned, I’m 6′ 2″. The Zest Desk, while perched on my desk, is still too low to provide the necessary height to bring my arms and eyes to their optimal position. However, it’s a reasonable stop gap measure. But since I don’t “hot desk“, meaning I have the same desk every day, there are alternatives to the Zest Desk that can accommodate my height better, such as the Taskmate Go, or equivalent there of (seen below).

However, if I were hot desking, or moving from desk-to-desk every day, which generally means I wouldn’t be able to leave my stuff in one place for the foreseeable future, I can see where the Zest Desk can play a significant and pivotal role in alleviating one’s all day sitting. But what I did discover – and you’ll want to be sure to check – is that the design of the Wework desks in my office aren’t suitable for the Zest Desk. How so?  There is a hole in the middle of the desk’s surface to accommodate a power strip, computer and monitor cords. As a result my Zest Desk was always teetering on the edge of the gap and ready to fall, which doesn’t lend itself to stability.

Related: How to Properly Use a Standing Desk

However, the Zest Desk is remarkably stable given its portability and weight, provided all 4 feet can lay flush on the surface of the desk. But again, you’ll need a fairly wide surface, at least 24 inches in width.

Wrap Up

Zest Desk Feet

The Zest Desk feet easily adjust.

There is no question in mind that the Zest Desk is well made, and with care at that. Even when folding up the Zest Desk, the body magnetizes together. The legs also fold and unfold in a soft yet solid manner, leading me to believe they won’t break anytime soon, even after constant use. That said, my Zest Desk’s corners did mar from standing it up right on the floor, even though I didn’t do that too often.

So can I recommend the Zest Desk? Yes, but largely for those that are “hot desking”. And while it’s just under 13lbs, it’s important be to mindful, because if you’re a nomad like worker, it’s likely you’re already carrying a 5lb laptop and a few other pieces of gear. And lastly, make sure you measure first. The Zest Desk is convenient, but it won’t fit every where, and the legs and their width are locked into place, so you can’t narrow its stance.

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