Category: Appliance Reviews

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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!


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

The post StandDesk Pro Standing Desk Review: A Great Standing Desk But… appeared first on Gadget Review.

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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.


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


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.


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.

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

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!


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


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.


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.


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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.

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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.


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


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.

The post Zest Desk Review: A Portable Standing Desk for Hot Desking appeared first on Gadget Review.

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Pioneer AVH-3300NEX First Look, Apple CarPlay in a Single DIN

What you’re looking at is Pioneer’s newest, and perhaps best head unit for the car. What makes this one particularly remarkable, aside from the presence of Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, is that it’s a single DIN. You see, all prior iterations, that included smartphone integration, were of the double DIN sort, meaning a wide swath of potential customers were excluded. But not any more.

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I had the luxury of testing out the AVH-3300NEX first hand at a Pioneer event a few weeks ago in Hollywood, CA at the lovely and always celeb filled hotel, the Roosevelt. And here is what I know.


Pioneer AVH-3300NEX Open

First off, this single DIN unit will set you back $600. That is of course the suggested manufacturer pricing, so it seems be in reason that you might find it cheaper. Install, based on my interview with a Product Manager from Pioneer, shouldn’t run more than $150, including additional parts and labor.

CarPlay and Android Auto

I’ll let you make the judgement call if $750 is a (un)reasonable amount of money, but in my book Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto) is worth every penny. That being said, I don’t have much experience with aftermarket head units, largely because the use case hasn’t ever called. But I can say, based on my limited interaction with the AVH-3300NEX, it does seem like a worthy contender if you’re looking to upgrade your single DIN system with something that affords you the latest in car audio tech. Especially if you own an Android or Apple device.

The Screen

Now, as far as the screen’s stability goes, which mind you is touchscreen and can be hidden away with the touch of button, the 3300NEX is impressive. I asked Pioneer’s product manager and he noted that the double DIN’s will always be more stable, but he assured me that the company spent a lot of time ensuring the stability of this unit’s screen. After all, 95% of your interactions will be via the touchscreen and as I’ve learned if there is too much give or wobble to the screen, it’s painstakingly difficult to use. And I’m happy to report the 3300NEX is by most accounts usable, although I didn’t have a chance to test it in a moving car, so real world testing remains to be scene. The speed at which is screen ejects from the base of the unit is fairly fluid and quick, all things considered.

Pioneer AVH-3300NEX Screen

The AVH-3300 NEX sports a 7″ 24-bit 840×480 touchscreen.

Next on the list of concerns is not only the screen’s sensitivity, but how fast the menus and images move. Unfortunately, I can’t say the experience is completely analogous to that of any of today’s smartphones, but it’s most certainly speedy enough and fluid enough to put any of those concerns at ease. I should mention that the 24-bit LCD screen measures 7″ diagonally with an 840 x 480 resolution. So things look vibrant and not washed out, though I wasn’t able to see it perform in direct sun light, which is always a concern, but really only something Tesla has been able to overcome, or so I’ve been told.


Pioneer AVH-3300nex Security

A partially removable face plate is designed to deter criminals.

If security is a concern, as it should be, there are two options with Pioneer’s AVH-3300NEX. The first is what the company calls a “partial detachment”. Which means you can remove a fraction of the faceplate and thus rendering it useless. Apparently it’s not coded, so if a thief can get their hands on another one and the head unit can be repurposed. So think of it as more of a deterrent. The second is a pin system. You simply enter a 4+ digit pin, and until it’s re-input, the system is useless. So gone are the days of the completely removable faceplate, but honestly, who wants to carry that around when they exit their car?

So what else should you know?

Sonically I wasn’t able to test the system. I could make the argument that those that invest in this unit will likely install an aftermarket amp, but that may not always be the case. But you should know that it comes with a built-in 50 w x 4 amp, a 24-bit DAC and the ability to tune the speakers using an external mic that plugs into the AVH-3300NEX. There is of course Bluetooth for hands free calls, though I can’t say how well that works, though there is a built-in microphone that also works in tandem with Apple’s Siri eyes Free.

There are two other models available, though this one is their flagship model. However, and for some reason, the other models include the ability to add a backup camera if you so choose. I’m not sure why the 3300NEX doesn’t include that feature and Pioneer didn’t have an answer either.

Pioneer includes an app for mirroring certain apps that aren’t yet available in CarPlay or Android Auto, such as Waze and Navme. Pioneer updates their hardware about every two years. They of course wouldn’t say what that would look like, but it’s worth noting if you’re planning to make an investment. That said, they will issue OTA updates, but since the unit doesn’t have its own cellular connection you’ll have to get involved, phone wise of course. And last, but not least, the AVH-3300NEX includes a 1-year warranty and ships with its own remote control.

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Honda Civic Si 2017 Review: Adaptive Suspension at $23,900

Honda Civic Si 2017 Review: Adaptive Suspension at $23,900 Gadget Review – Your lifestyle gadget site

Full Disclosure: I’m far from a race car driver, have limited track experience and never drove the original Civic Si. So with that in mind, you’re getting a raw, unadulterated review of the all new 2017 Civic Si. Can you dig it? Also, Honda put me up for 2 nights at a hotel and flew us out to their proving grounds on this jet.

Honda Civic Si 2017 Review

Bow Wow was not on board. Go figure.

First and foremost, the all new Civic Si costs a mere $23,900 (plus $200 for summer tires). While it’s no drop in the bucket, compared to some of the other cars in its class it might be considered a steal. Take for instance a fully loaded GTI. It pushes close to the $40,000 mark. Sure, it offers some features not found on the Civic Si – such as adaptive cruise control – but it’s a vast gap.


Civic Si’s Competitors at a glance.

Driving Dynamics

This is the first Civic Si to offer an adaptive suspension. Which is to say a tap of the SPORT button and the car’s suspension tightens to offer a more compliant, responsive ride. Which mind you is discernible on both surface streets and highways. In fact, it’s almost instantly apparent – you can feel the road’s imperfections – when SPORT mode is engaged. In other words, it’s not just all marketing speak, or a simple remapping of  the throttle or steering. Though it does sharpen both of those aforementioned things. So what’s the net result of SPORT mode? A car with greater versatility perhaps more so than previous generations, since less of a comfort compromise has to incur for day-to-day commuting. My only gripe: I wish the suspension was stiffer.

I should also note the presence of a limited slip diff. Keep in mind the Civic Si is a front wheel drive car. And front wheel drive often is associated with understeer. The Civic Si’s limited slip, however, does a great job of putting the traction down and pulling it through the corners. I had the luxury of driving it on Honda’s proving grounds in the Mojave Desert. It’s a fairly technical course, and while a car with a rear wheel drive system could arguably lap it with a faster time (driver and car dependent), the Si does an admirable job of keep things planted.

The Gear Box

Civic Si Interior

CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Si.

If you’re considering the Civic Si over the regular Civic, it’s likely you’re an “enthusiast”. In other words, you probably know how to drive a manual. And if you don’t, well, you’re screwed. Or you better learn, because the Si ships in manual only. 6 gears to be exact. And while I can’t attest to what Honda says is the best manual gear box in the business – largely because I haven’t driven enough manual gear box cars in recent – I can say it’s excellent, offering short throws, gears that easily slip into place and a notchy feel that further elevates the Si’s prowess to an enthusiast level. To lend credence to that, I long drove a 20th Anniversary 2003 VW GTI, and I thoroughly enjoyed that 6 speed. However, it was far from smooth, with 3rd gear always proving troublesome. Nevertheless, it’s a reasonable benchmark.


Under the hood you’ll find a 1.5l turbo. Sadly, this Si’s (horse) power is on par with the last; 205 horses to be exact. However, torque is up, albeit slightly – 20 lb/ft – to 195. But Honda says it comes in earlier – 2,100 RPM –  than the previous generation thanks to the turbo charger.

Civic Si’s single exhaust port.

In case you’re looking at the regular Civic, you might want to know its peak horsepower is 174. So there is some extra “go” to enjoy if you opt for this model. Sound wise, it’s what you’d expect from a 1.5l engine. It’s not bad, it’s not great. That said, Honda has added a nice touch by making the dual exhaust exit as a single port.


It’s a Civic. And yes, you can get the Si in Coupe and Sedan. There are some differences and ones that are very needed and appreciable in my eye.

2017 Civic Si Spoiler

The 2017 Civic Si’s wing

First is the all black grill. It’s all blacked out and looks slick. Next, is the spoiler. It’s not over the top, though it will likely still egg-on some car’s in its class. Maybe even a Porsche Boxster. I already mentioned the single port exhaust. And lastly are the 18″ wheels (235/40) that give it a sporty more aggressive look. Because these tires are thinner (if you opt for the summer ones), so to speak, it does reduce the Si’s roof height, making it 5mm lower than the normal Civic.

Other Features

Inside you’ll find seats with additional bolster. They’re Honda’s own seat, not a licensed or aftermarket type. The stereo is a no name 450 watt system. It sounds decent, but nor did it test its limits. Android Auto and CarPlay are standard – thank God.

2017 Civic Si Seats

2017 Civic Si Seats with lateral support.

And some other goodies: The brakes are bigger than the regular Civic (i.e. more stopping power). 12.3″ in the rear (1.2″ larger) and 11″ in the front ( .9 bigger). Our Civic Si’s had Honda’s HPD pads, or Honda Development Parts, which add additional stopping power.

Wrap Up

If you’re reading this review, it’s likely that you’ve owned a previous generation Si, or you’re looking to step it up to an enthusiast level car. Personally, I prefer these “skunk works” vehicles over the regular ones, partially because they look different and help separate them from the million other Civics already on the road. The other part? They drive with more prejudice, which is my way of saying they’re not for everyone. The ride comfort suffers from their sporty nature, but that’s what makes them so lovable, attractive and some what niche. Plus, you can throw in some other aftermarket parts for a few more bucks and your Civic Si will be your Civic Si.

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Honda Odyssey Review (2018): The Most Tech Advanced Minivan?

Honda Odyssey Review (2018): The Most Tech Advanced Minivan? Gadget Review – Your lifestyle gadget site

I gotta be straight up: I’m not a minivan guy. I have no kids, rarely do I drive around more than 1 other person at any given time, and long have I loathed the general aesthetic that comes with this type of car. And because of that, I believe I might be the harshest critic of the all too cliche family vehicle.

However, much to my surprise Honda’s all new Odyssey – the 2018 model year to be more specific – is an all around great car. In fact, I might be understating it a bit by, well, stating that. It’s packed with tech, relatively speaking, drives well and fits everyone, adults included, with comfort, as attested by my cohorts who reluctantly, said no one, joined me on a trip to the Big Island. Yes, full disclosure: Honda flew all of us out there and put us up for 3 nights.

Drive Quality

So what’s first? The drive quality. The 2018 Odyssey is a solid driver head to toe. It’s long and big, but doesn’t feel it in any scenario. Even my girlfriend, who was reluctant to park it, had no problem parking it at the end of a beach road and slotting it between two tightly packed cars. On the highway it’s effortless to drive. And while many of you might expect it to be as such, take heed, because not all cars, even the luxury ones are built equally. Of course, with this, there is a slight take; the ride isn’t as supple as a BWM 7-series or a Range Rover, but nor should one expect it to be.

As for off the line power (and sound) it’s everything any family would ever need. I had the benefit of comparing it against Chrysler’s latest minivan, and while that was fine, the Odyssey sounds and drives better, albeit marginally in the latter of the two. That in mind, the Odyssey’s tech package is tighter, better executed as is the interior and stylings of the car.


Honda Odyssey 2018 Interior

Electric slide doors make loading kids and passengers a breeze.

It’s well appointed, for a minivan. The leather, while not anything to write home about, will make cleaning up spills and so forth easy. There is of course a non-leather option. And with that in mind, we were in the top end of the class, so we had all the accoutrements. Aesthetically, though, I didn’t mind spending time in the cabin of the Odyssey.

The traditional gear selector is gone and has been replaced by buttons located on the center console below the 10.5″ system. It looks some acclimation and elicited some hoos and haws from my co-pilots, but nothing they couldn’t live with. Everything is in reach, though the volume knob is to the far left, making it difficult for those sitting in shotgun to control the volume.

Honda Odyssey Moveable Chairs

If you so choose, you can remove seats from the Odyssey.

The center seat in the second row can be removed allowing for two captain’s chairs that can be placed together or set apart.

The second and third rows are both comfortable, even for long drives. If you’re considering an SUV over the Odyssey, take note of the SUV’s back seats. Usually the third row is a joke, at best, affords no leg room, headroom, or accessibility. It’s because of this I can now see why one would opt for a minivan over an SUV.

Tech Features

Honda Odyssey App

The Honda app lets you control climate, rear entertainment media, send a destination to the car and more.

Those who are sporting a compatible device, will enjoy wireless charging for a single phone in the center stack. It’s compatible with two different types: Qi and PMA.  Again, our Odyssey was of the Elite class, so if you’re looking for these types of features, make sure you double check with your dealer.

Honda Odyssey 2018 Tech

The Odyssey’s infotainment is Android based.

The infotainment system. This is a biggy. If notes and memory serve correct, the Android based infotainment system, skinned with a Honda GUI, is not available on all classes. However, most Odysseys will sell with this, which also includes CarPlay. And no, I didn’t get to test the step down. Nevertheless, it was quick, functional and fairly easy to navigate. All the usual features and app you’d expect are there, even a nav app, though with question I was able to determine that it won’t receive OTA (over the air updates) so you’re still better off using your phone if you’re looking for the utmost in accuracy. I did find out that Honda will update this info, in service, 4 times during the life of the vehicle. But don’t get me wrong: we used the nav to return to our hotel and had zero problems.

Honda Cabin Watch

Cabin Watch let’s you view the kids in the back via the car’s 10.5″ infotainment screen.

What’s really cool, is that Honda has created their own smartphone app that connects to the car’s stereo and HVAC system. So occupants, with access granted – only one at a time – can control the HVAC system and what’s playing on the rear entertainment. They can only send directions to the navigation, which is good, because the car’s main screen locks you out when the vehicle is in motion. I was frustrated by this, but after talking to Honda they do this to be in full compliance with set standards, though it’s not a legal stipulation. On that note, there is a WiFi in the car, and if you have a compatible plan with AT&T you can share data with the car’s occupants – it’s easy to setup and get going.

Honda Odyssey 2018 Vacuum

Hidden in the rear is a built-in vacuum cleaner.

Another notable feature, beyond the aforementioned, is Cabin Watch, which let’s you view, via a camera in the Odyssey’s ceiling, what is happening in the second row. It’s complemented by a PA system (Cabin Talk) that let’s the driver or co-pilot speak to the occupants in the back seat. Provided they’re misbehaving while watching the 10″ rear entertainment screen that flips down from the ceiling, plays via a Blu-ray player in the front and works with the included wireless headphones.

Lastly, and not new for this year, is a built-in vacuum system in the trunk. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to suck up crumbs, debris or anything in between. But I think it’s a brilliant addition and could sway any parent with little, messy, kids. It’s just too bad it doesn’t include a shampoo function as well.

Odyssey Vacuum

A built-in vacuum makes clean up much much easier.

Wrap Up

If there are any draw backs to the Honda Odyssey it’s possibly two things. One is a given in any case, and if you haven’t figured it out that’s price. The Honda Odyssey, at the top end draws in close to $47,000. Course it starts at $30,000 so there are options. The other draw back you ask? The HVAC system is excruciatingly loud no matter what intensity the fan is set to.

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How to Use a Point and Shoot Camera

How to Use a Point and Shoot Camera Gadget Review – Your lifestyle gadget site

What Is a Point-and-Shoot Camera?

A point-and-shoot camera is any camera that lets you take pictures fast, without worrying about focusing the lens. Most have built-in flashes and a variety of automatic settings. The lens may zoom in and out, depending on the model, but generally can’t be removed from the camera body. While these cameras aren’t as complicated to use as a DSLR, with some practice you can get some really breathtaking photos from a good point-and-shoot camera. Here are some tips to get you started towards some amazing point-and-shoot photography.

Before Taking Your First Shots

1. Learn Your Modes

Before going out for your first photo shoot with your point-and-shoot camera, take several minutes to read the manual and to examine the settings that your camera comes with. Most point and shoot cameras have a variety of shooting modes for different situations. Knowing which are available to you beforehand can save you a lot of time and frustration, as well as ensuring that you get the perfect picture when the opportunity arises. Here are a few examples:

  • Portrait Mode: Best used whenever you’re taking a picture of someone’s face, or several people in a close group. Creates a soft lighting effect and can add a soft blur to the background. Use this setting on other subjects to make them pop from from their surroundings, in what is called a bokeh effect.
  • Hand-Held Night Mode: While not available on all cameras, this mode allows you to take night shots without needing a tripod. The camera takes a series of photos using a fast shutter and then assembles them into one shot, resulting in a crisp image with enough light that would otherwise be available only with a longer shutter speed and a tripod.
  • Snow or Beach Mode: This mode compensates for white backgrounds, like snow-filled streets or bright sunlight on the sand, without other details being too dark.
  • Miniature or Diarama Mode: Also known as tilt-shift, this mode makes the subject appear to be a miniature model. It’s done by keeping the subject in focus while adding a soft blur to everything in the background and the foreground.

2. Get a Memory Card or Two

Check your camera for a small slot that will accept a memory card, or check your owner’s manual. Most cameras today use micro SD cards for extra storage. This is an inexpensive way to ensure that you always have room for a few extra thousand photos. We recommend SanDisk, a U.S. company that has been recognized for producing quality digital storage for years. The 32GB to 64GB cards are extremely inexpensive and for less than $100 you can get a SanDisk 200GB Ultra 200GB Micro SD memory card. For a few dollars more you can get an even faster 200GB MicroSDXC Class 10 Ultra memory card. You may not notice the speed when taking photos, but you should see a difference when uploading photos to your computer.  If your camera has a larger SD slot, remember that most micro SD cards come with an adapter so you can use them too.

3. Check the Image Quality

camera image quality menu

Increase the image size to get better details.

At their default settings, many point-and-shoot cameras take low-quality photos with small file sizes. This is a good setting if you haven’t added an SD card yet, or if you are just posting photos to Facebook, which reduces large photos anyway. However, if you want to print copies of your pictures, or show them on your new HDTV, you will want to use larger image files with a higher quality. Besides the standard JPG file format, many good point-and-shoot cameras can shoot in RAW mode, just like a DSLR. While RAW files take up a lot of storage space, they give you the highest quality images. In fact, RAW files aren’t even photo files at all, but contain the raw image data that JPGs and GIFs use to assemble an image. Note that you will need a RAW image editor to process these files, like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

Taking Great Photos

1. Stabilize Your Camera

Even under normal lighting situations, the slightest tremble of your hand can make the details in your photos less clear than they would otherwise be. When you take a photo, hold your camera firmly with both hands and keep as still as possible before taking a picture. Keeping your elbows against your chest does a lot to reduce camera shake. If the camera has a viewfinder, rest the top of the camera against your brow to make the camera even more stable. If there is a steady object close by, like a wall or a pillar, lean your arm against it when taking a shot.

night photo taken with tripod

Use a tripod for long-exposure shots.

When taking photos without a flash in low-light situation means a longer shutter speed, so keeping your camera stable is essential. Brace yourself as well as possible and breath steadily. Begin exhaling just before pressing the shutter button and keep exhaling until the shot is complete. With some practice you can actually get shots just as sharp as someone using a tripod. Of course, if you do have a great tripod like the Slik Sprint Pro II, the screw hole on the bottom of many point-and-shoots will probably fit on it. There are also miniature tripods designed just for point-and-shoot cameras, like the JOBY GorillaPod that are portable and extremely flexible.

2. Pre-focus Before You Focus

Focusing a camera can steal precious seconds from the perfect shot. The camera can take even longer to focus if it has been turned off or gone into sleep mode. You can eliminate most of the waiting time by pre-focusing your camera before taking the shot. To do this, point the camera at your subject and press the shutter button half-way down. The camera will make some noise as it focuses and when it stops, release the button.

For action shots, like when you’re waiting for someone to cross the finish line, pre-focus on any object close to where the person will be – including a spot on the ground — before they arrive. Even if the person isn’t exactly where you expected them to be, the camera will take much less time to adjust the focus a short distance than it would a longer distance.

3. Use the Flash Sparingly

Few good pictures ever come from a built-in camera flash. Not only does a flash tend to wash out details and cast dark shadows behind your subject, it can wear down your battery and cause frustrating delays as the camera waits for the flash to charge before engaging the shutter.

When you can’t avoid using a flash, try diffusing its light by taping a small piece of tissue paper over it. In some cases this may make the photo slightly less bright than what you intended, however it’s much easier to brighten a photo than it is to darken an overexposed shot, either with an image editing program or by using the camera’s own image editing options.

4. Avoid the Digital Zoom

When you need to get close and personal to your subject, step in as close as you can first and use the optical zoom second. Using the digital zoom on a point-and-shoot camera will always give you an inferior photo. This is because the digital zoom basically crops and expands your photo as you take the image, which most cameras allow you to do after you take the shot anyway. So using a 2x digital zoom uses half the pixels as a normal shot, while a 4x digital zoom reduces the pixels by four times.

5. Adjust the White Balance

poor white balance

White balance is often distorted when shooting indoors.

If you have ever taken a shot indoors and found everything looks yellow or blue, you’ve experienced an issue with white balance. Most good point-and-shoot cameras give you an option to adjust the white balance for your shot. For a custom white balance, just adjust the setting under the same light that will illuminate your shot until the image on the screen looks good to your eyes. There should also be several pre-settings that change the white balance for you. Settings like day light, cloudy and fluorescent change the white balance for the situations they name. Tungsten is one you may not be familiar with — use it when you are indoors with a lot of incandescent lights to remove the yellow hues. Again, look at the screen, that should be a tell-tale sign.

6. Be Creative and Have Fun

The more photos you take with your point-and-shoot camera, the better you will understand what works and what doesn’t in different situations. When you get a new camera, it’s a good idea to take it out for an afternoon and use different settings for the same photo so you can see how they effect each shot. Explore different compositions by taking photos from different angles and distances. Rather than having your subject centered in every shot, for example, place them near the side of the shot to give them context within their surroundings.

Whether you’re using a cellphone, a point-and-shoot camera, or a DSLR, using different angles almost always creates more interesting pictures. If you simply stand in front of the subject and take the photo at eye-level, the shot is usually uninteresting because that’s the same perspective everyone has of everything they see. Squatting down to a low angle, or finding a safe way to get above your subject will create a photo that is more interesting because it comes from a perspective only toddlers and giraffes normally see.

Whatever your style is for taking photos, your point and shoot camera is a great, light-weight accessory you can bring anywhere. The quality and the range of features will almost always give you better, more memorable photos than what you could ever get with the camera on a smartphone.

The post How to Use a Point and Shoot Camera appeared first on Gadget Review.

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All the IoT Hardware At Collision Conference 2017

All the IoT Hardware At Collision Conference 2017 Gadget Review – Your lifestyle gadget site

Billed as “America’s fastest growing tech conference,” the Collision Conference has grown into an influential industry event that some have compared to South by Southwest, Austin’s huge music-and-tech gathering. The confab in New Orleans attracted nearly 19,000 attendees this past week (compared to the more than 37,000 that descended on SXSW Interactive in 2017).

As its name suggests, Collision is designed to foster the intermingling of ideas and people across various interests, including technology, transportation, music, the environment, education, sports, politics, and more. Much of the convention floor was taken up by rows and rows of digital startups trying to entice investors and customers to check out their offerings. We’ve rounded up some of the more notable products and services here, focusing on connected devices.


The Ecobee4 works with Alexa.

Ecobee unveiled the latest version of its smart-home thermostat. Thanks to a built-in microphone, it’s the first Ecobee that comes with the full functionality of Amazon’s Alexa voice-recognition service. It’s like having a wall-mounted Echo Dot that can also control your home’s climate. Available on Amazon starting May 15.

A startup called Matrix showed off its smart mattress that promises to measure the quality of your sleep based on monitors built into its memory foam construction. Because it can sense whether you’re in light or deep sleep, Matrix can wake you up at the most optimal time, according to its designers. The companion app will also give you recommendations for getting better rest based on your specific sleep habits.

Matrix also says its product is more comfortable to sleep on than similar smart mattresses on the market, such as Eight Sleep. Manufactured in the U.S., Matrix will sell for $1,500 for a queen-size bed.

Seed Speaker

Seed speaker at Collision Con.

Aiming for the high-end “audiophile” market, Recreation Sound Systems came to Collision toting its intricately designed, wooden “Seed” speaker. The custom-made, 600-watt speaker is meant to be a “portable party on wheels,” and features a large metal handle that makes for easier hauling. The Seed sells for a hefty $2,000.

Recreation will also sell the “Harmony Block,” touted as the “world’s first yoga block speaker.” The $400 speaker is expected to appear as an Indiegogo project sometime in July.

“Our mission is to make the world a better sounding place,” said Emily Kussman, Recreation’s marketing manager. “We weren’t satisfied with all of the Bluetooth speakers out on the market so we decided to create our own high audio fidelity portable speakers. We use wood, which resonates sound better, and the components that we put inside the products create richer, cleaner, better sounding speakers.”

In another apparent “first,” the world’s first robotic tennis ball collector made a showing at Collision. While there have been one-off attempts to build an autonomous ball collector, the Tennibot is the first serious product of its kind for the consumer market.

Designed by recent Auburn University graduate Haitham Eletrabi, the device runs on rechargeable batteries and can pick up 70 balls per load within minutes. Think of it as a Roomba for your tennis court. Eletrabi says production on the Tennibot will begin by the end of the year and will be priced at $1,000 each.

Tennibot wasn’t the only robot at Collision. Pepper, the humanoid robot from Japan’s SoftBank Robotics, made a splash with its cute gestures and apparent ability to understand some human emotions. SoftBank says Pepper can read signals like a smile, a frown, the way your move your head, or the tone of your voice. More than 10,000 Pepper robots have been sold in Japan, mostly to businesses that use them to greet and entertain customers.

Pepper Robot

You can now buy Pepper in the U.S. — for a mere $25,000. With the goal of having a “robot in every home,” Softbank plans to roll out more consumer-level robots in the coming years.

Cujo Smart Firewall for the Home

Protects Your Network from Viruses and Hacking

Continuing the unstoppable Internet of Things trend, Cujo showed off its smart firewall for the connected home. The adorable little gadget aims to protect all of the networked devices in your home from hacks, malware, and other cyber threats. It also boasts parental controls to keep your content kid-friendly.

Shipping for $99, Cujo touts “enterprise-level” protection for the consumer who’s worried about privacy and data leakage.

“These days, you never know what’s happening to your devices or your data,” says Indre Deksnyte, Cujo’s vice president of e-commerce. “We hear a lot of user stories. We heard from a customer in Canada who was getting a lot of notifications from Cujo. The security cameras in his house were being hacked. You may get hacked and never know it.”

The post All the IoT Hardware At Collision Conference 2017 appeared first on Gadget Review.

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