Tag Archives: Review

Zinwell ZIN-5005HD 1080p Media Player/Streamer Review


1. Introduction

If you don’t necessarily need Netflix and you want to save some money, ZIN-5005HD is a good alternative to WD TV Live Plus for example (you can still stream Netflix via DLNA if you have PlayOn). I purchased a WD TV Live Plus for our bedroom and a Zinwell for the kitchen where we usually don’t linger long enough to watch full length movies, and our kitchen TV is not that large anyway. I purchased the Zinwell unit for about $69 during an Amazon Gold Box sale, at the time of writing this review, the price is still a very low $74 with free shipping and no taxes in most of the country. It plays media from your network shares, included USB ports or from a DLNA server.

As a side note, there seem to be a “review war” on Amazon’s product page between Brite-View BV-5005HD “CinemaTube” and Zinwell ZIN-5005HD. The products seem to be similar hardware wise, probably from the same Read More…

Western Digital WD TV Live Plus 1080p Media Player/Streamer Review

1. Introduction

I am using a Windows Media Center HTPC in living-room, where my main home theater system resides, but I wanted to be able to access Netflix/home network content in the bedroom as well, and, due to obvious reasons a full featured PC didn’t quite cut it (noise, form factor, etc). I just wanted something simple, low power and fast to boot, something that my wife will also enjoy. I was familiar with Western Digital’s line of media streamers, but they only supported Netflix via DLNA, when combined with something like PlayOn. Not user friendly enough. Then, the big day has come and WD released their WD TV Live Plus media streamer finally including  Netflix. (Netflix is now what mp3 used to be a while ago, a must have for everything that connects to the TV – Blu-ray players, media streamers, etc) Read More…

Dish Network VIP922 Sling enabled DVR full review

I ordered the Dish Network VIP922 ( VIP 922 ) as soon as I read the announcement that it is available. The current upgrade price is $200, for existing customers, not sure how much for the new customers. The technician was half an hour late, not a big deal and the first thing he wanted to do was to check the dish placement and connections. It looks like, since my last Dish Network installation about two years ago they changed the installing codes and the guy wanted to see if everything is in order, expecting his supervisor to inspect the site later.

1. Installation:

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Ordered my VIP922 Slingbox enabled DVR, will review it on Saturday

After hearing the news about VIP922 availability, I hurried up and placed a call with Dish Network to get mine. After being on hold for about 10 minutes, one of their CSRs replied, but he didn’t seem to know anything about a new DVR, so I was put on hold again while he probably consulted with his colleagues/manager. This time it lasted (I wrote lusted and the spell checker of course didn’t get it 😉 ) just a couple of minutes, he found about the new equipment and after the standard identity check he proceeded to take my order.

Now, I have two VIP722 on my account for the living room and bedroom, so he wanted to know the serial number for the one I want to replace. Apparently they don’t have that info readily available, so I had to log-in into my account to get it (Don’t call them if you don’t have this info). I wanted to replace my main receiver, because the monthly DVR fee will be higher if you have the VIP922 as a secondary receiver.

OK, the next step was the costs. It was announced that, for the existing customers the fee per VIP922 will vary between $200-$400. I guess I was lucky, I got the minimum payment, because I’ve seen people online complaining about being asked for $400. I have been a Dish Network client for about 6 years, grandfathered a dishHD Absolute with locals and together with two VIP722 DVRs I am paying around $60/months. Good thing they didn’t ask me to change my cheap plan (which is not available anymore). I resisted heroically until now.

So, anyway, I had to pay the $200 upgrade fee. On top of that, they wanted to charge me an extra $90 for the technician visit which apparently is required to install this receiver. I tried to convince the CSR to just send it to me to no avail, apparently the software system just didn’t let him do that. Good thing the CSR was a nice guy and advised me how to “trick the system” – add service fee of $6 on my monthly bill and cancel it after the service is performed. The cancellation fee will be $25, but it will still be much cheaper than the $90 quoted.

All in all, everything went smooth and I should expect the new DVR sometime Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned for an in-depth review to follow.

Casio Exilim EX-Z33 Review – My 6 son’s new digital camera

For the last Christmas, I decided to get a cheap and easy to use digital camera for my 6 years old son so he won’t take mine anymore. The requirements were: price under $100, easy to use, rechargeable battery (I hate wasting money on batteries) and as small as possible.

I started to read reviews and compare cameras, and after a while I decided to buy Casio Exilim EZ-Z33 model from Amazon.

Main Features Of Casio EXILIM EX-Z33:

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Camping the green way – LaVieSolar 60 Watt Solar Folding Panel with 12V Charge controller review

I love to go camping (but I don’t have enough time to do it as often as I would like – what else is new?) and I can’t wait for the hot days to return to start going again. Many campgrounds don’t have electricity though and if you have kids, you might need to entertain them when the beauty of the nature doesn’t help. With this article I’ll start a mini-series that will describe some of a more hi-tech camping equipment that I use in the hope it might prove useful to others as well.

As I said, many campgrounds don’t have electricity, and the batteries are expensive and don’t last forever. I needed something renewable to supply power to my portable DVD player or to my Tablet PC while camping. I looked around and it seemed the best way to do it and also feel good about yourself is by using solar energy. Clean and free (except of course, the initial investment). I love shopping on eBay and it was the first place I started looking. After several days of searching and reading the reviews, I found an interesting solar panel folding design, sold byLaVieSolar, that is very easy to carry. The 60W advertised power seemed adequate, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy it (helped in part by the 8% Bing cash back currently offered).

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PDC Acer Aspire 1420P Convertible Tablet PC Review

Intro:

Those fortunate enough to attend last year’s Microsoft PDC conference had a really nice surprise waiting for them at the lobby in the second day. A free Acer Aspire 1420P Convertible Tablet PC for each PDC paying attendee. Happily I was among those fortunate and it soon become my favorite tablet, for the reasons I’ll detail below. After several months of heavy use my wife stole it from me and now it became HER favorite tablet :(.

Details:

I will not detail the aspects common to other devices in the same class, but focus on what make this convertible tablet unique. This model given to PDC attendees was customized specifically for them. Read More…

Viliv X70 Tablet PC Review

1. Introduction

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I am commuting to work by train and bus more than an hour and a half each way, every day. So I won’t get crazy listening to various meaningless discussions around me, or at people yelling their personal issues on their phones, I usually read or blog. For the reading part, sometimes I carry paper books with me, but I like to have more than one book at the time, depending of my mood: The answer to that is of course an eBook reader. Now, Amazon did a really good job with their Kindle and that would have been my first choice, however I want to surf on the Internet as well, so I looked around for a small Tablet PC that can do both tasks, and even some occasional movie watching.

I spent a couple of months watching various forums and I stumbled on some products from Viliv. For the Read More…

Philips NP1100/37 Streamium Network Music Player Review

Intro:

Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock…except the Philips NP1100/37 is not merely a clock even if it looks like one. And if the mouse keeps running away, we’ll conclude that he’s a low-tech mouse with no love for gadgets (and for some weird reason, I remembered that the French translate all the tech words including mouse)

Well, before I bought the Aluratek internet radio for my bedroom, I actually got my appetite opened up by Philips NP1100/37. The long, pompous and official title is “Philips NP1100/37 Streamium Network Music Player with 3.0″ B&W Display” and it is exactly that. It streams music from the internet via the included Rhapsody music service (subscription required). It also streams music from any DLNA server on your network (Windows Media Player is one example, PS3 media server is another one). It also does a glorious job at streaming internet radio stations (over 10,000 at the last count). All these might features come with a puny little remote control. But we’ll talk later about that. Let’s get into some details. Read More…

IPEVO S0-20 WiFi Phone for Skype review

Many of my friends are scattered around the world so I was looking for a cheap solution to stay in touch for quite a while. I am a frequent Skype user for international calls due to their prices and high call quality, so I wanted something that could use Skype service , but without a computer. I used a Linksys Yahoo phone for a while, but I like Skype better for voice so I started to test WiFi Skype phones.

I ended up buying a two pack IPEVO S0-20 WiFi Phone, I kept one phone while giving the other to my parents. We’ve been using them for more than six month now and I want to share my experiences:

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Main features:

1. Call Quality – crisp and clear with only marginal latency.

2.Size – it is about the size of a cell phone and very light.

3.Keypad is lighted and usable in the dark.

4.Wireless – it can connect to an existing WiFi network, B or G and supports all the encryption standards (WEP, WPA, WPA2). I am using currently WPA2 and works like a charm. It will store the access keys for the networks.

5.Screen is very clear, bright and good resolution.The menus are simple and intuitive.

6. Battery life is very long, with at least 3 days between charges. I usually leave mine in the dock while not in use though. You can charge it from the supplied mini dock or directly via a mini-USB cable.

7. Features – most desktop Skype features are available, including adding new contacts, view call history, change status and the balance is always shown on the screen.

Cons/Issues:

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