UltraAV Mini DisplayPort Y-Cable Docking Station Review

minidockWhen it comes to Laptops these days manufactures are releasing them with fewer ports to connect gear. Often time you will need to buy either a limited expansion device by the manufacture or you have to make do and constantly unplug and plug in gear.

When Accell sent me their new UltraAV Mini DisplayPort Y-Cable Docking Station I was contemplating where to do the test.. With two Dell XPS 15 inch laptops in my home with my daughter owning one, I knew this would be a great opportunity for her to experience the benefit of having a doc for her mobile  / home life. For the past two weeks she has had it setup in her bedroom, along with a couple of my display port monitors. Today when I asked for her comments and the dock back,  she gave me that look ad said your not taking this away from me are you dad? My answer was yes it has to go back to the company, and she decided at that moment I was going to have to order her one she could keep. I think this is the first review that has cost me money but it is a testament to the dock.

With the Docking Station plugged into just her Display Port &  USB 3.0 port she was able to take advantage of the docking stations features. She loved being able to have three monitors, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, and have the Lan and other peripherals connected to it. Accell has packed a lot into this docking station making it one of the most robust after market docking stations I have seen in a long time. The docking station specs are below.

  • Provides two Mini DisplayPort 1.2 output ports
  • Expands a USB 3.0 port to three USB 3.0 ports
  • Includes one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port
  • AC adapter with US, EU, AUS and UK power plugs
  • DP 1.2 max link rate: 5.4 Gbps (HBR2) per lane
  • DP++ enabled Mini DisplayPort outputs
  • Supports DP 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport (MST)
  • Ethernet supports Wake-on-LAN technology, crossover detection, auto-correction
  • Supports USB 3.0 Charging Downstream Port (CDP)
  • Compliance: DisplayPort 1.2, 1.1a, VESA DDM, HDCP 1.3, DisplayID and EDID 1.4

In a small compact package about the size of your hand you can place it anyplace on your desk or hidden for cable concealment.  Priced at $149.00 you cannot beat the price if you have a computer with a display port dock the best part is the ability to quickly unplug the two connections from the Y cable and go mobile all the while leaving everything on the desk hooked up.

accell2

Second Helpings with the OnePlus 2

Never SettleI’ll have to be honest….this morning’s OnePlus 2 launch event at 3 am was waaayyyy too early to entice me out of my bed when the alarm clock started ringing. I gave it a thump and went back to sleep. Sorry OnePlus but “Never Settle” doesn’t work at 3 in the morning. Still, I reviewed the launch with the help of the VR app and have to give that experience the full thumbs up. The VR part is good if you have Google Cardboard or similar, but even to have a 2D “in the audience” experience at a major launch event was fun and the Android app worked well – there was no faffing about finding the webpage and checking whether the PC has the right plugins. Major win as far as I’m concerned and something that should be taken on for other launch events.

OnePlus 2

With regard to the OnePlus 2 itself, things are much as expected for a flagship phone – 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB storage, though later in the year, there will be a cheaper version with 3GB RAM and 16GB storage. No change in the screen as far as I can tell, with a 5.5″ IPS LCD screen which is excellent in the One. Battery is up from 3100 mAh in the One to 3300 mAh in the 2.

Of course the big change is the inclusion of a fingerprint reader which will quickly unlock the OnePlus 2 with a finger press. Difficult to say how well it will work until I get hold of a 2 but I’m expecting it to be good and useful. The other new feature is the USB C port which is hard to get overly excited about. Yes, reversibility is handy and the flat cable tangle-free but wireless charging would have been even better.

OnePlus 2 USB C

The camera has been given a boost with the addition of an advanced Optical Image Stabilization system and rear-mounted laser focussing which sharpens the camera in microseconds. Sweet. As we knew beforehand, there are dual SIM slots for world-travellers and data hogs.

OnePlus 2 Rear Covers

For styling, the press release says, “Unified by a resilient, lightweight aluminium and magnesium alloy frame and stainless steel accents, the OnePlus 2’s sleek, minimalistic design marries durability and class with an unrivalled premium feel.” Translation – it’s got metal edges, looks cool and expensive.

Size-wise, the 2 is slightly smaller but fatter and a tad heavier this time round by 13g (like you’d notice). There’s going to be a selection of StyleSwap backs available from the original Sandstone Black and Bamboo to the new Kevlar, Black Apricot and Rosewood.

Lollipop-based (5.1) OxygenOS replaces CyanogenOS in the OnePlus 2 and continues the customisations seen in the One, including gestures and themes. There are some new features, including a dark mode for use at night, custom LED notifications and greater app permission control.

If you like what you see, how much is the 2 going to cost and when will it be available? The former is easy: the 64GB version will be GB£289, EU€399 and US$389, which frankly is a bargain. I’ll be ordering one as soon as I can, which brings us to the latter. As with the One, the 2 is going to be sold via invites but assuming you get an invite by hook or by crook, you’ll be able to order from 11 August with delivery around 3 weeks later.

OnePlus 2 Experience

To whet your appetite further, fans can visit one of nine pop up experience centres located around the world on 31 July to sign up for an invite and be one of the first in the world to see the OnePlus 2. Get in line.

 

Everyone Hates Ads that Cover the Screen

Google App Interstitial adWhat do you do when you visit a website that allows you to view the content for a second or two and then covers the entire screen with an ad? If you are like me, you rush to close the browser. A (very narrowly focused) case study by Google reveals that people are not a fan of those types of ads.

Personally, I hate it when websites give me two seconds to look at the article I wanted to read, and then cover the entire screen with an ad. It’s a confusing situation to be in, for about a second or two, until I realize what happened.

Where did that article go? Oh, it’s been buried beneath a huge ad. The next thing I do is close the browser. It’s quicker than trying to figure out where to click on the ad to make it go away. I don’t want to waste time searching for an x to click when I could be visiting a different website that has the same information that I wanted to read about.

I don’t use my phone to surf the internet, but I’m certain that if I did, I’d be equally eager to evade those annoying “in your face” ads. And, I wouldn’t be alone. Google did a case study on their mobile ads for the Google+ app. They used interstitials that covered the screen in an effort to make people aware of their app. They had a feeling that they should remove the ad, but wanted to gather data about it before doing so. Here’s what they found:

9% of the visits to their interstitial page resulted in the “Get App” button being pressed. Some of those who clicked that button already had the app. Some of them never followed through and installed the app. I suspect that these clicks were from people who were just trying to get the ad out of their way.

69% of the visitors to their interstitial page abandoned the page. These people didn’t go to the app store, and they didn’t continue to use the Google+ mobile website. In other words, they were annoyed by the ad that blocked what they wanted to see, so they went somewhere else.

Google then chose to remove the interstitial ad, and replace it with a Smart App Banner. One result was that 1- day active users on their mobile website increased by 17%. They have since retired the annoying interstitial ad that was chasing users away from their website.

If there is a moral to the story, it is this: If you want people to visit your website – don’t cover the entire website with an ad seconds after a person decides to give your website a try.

GNC #1050 Autonomous Mil Robots

Will the military ever have Autonomous Mil Robots personally I think there will always be a man or woman in the loop. I cannot imagine a time in my lifetime that armed drones, robots will be allowed to go full Autonomous. I have a stake of thought provoking and opinionated news for you.

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German Rocket Ride to Space and Back.
Is your Android gonna get hacked.
Galaxy S6 Wireless Charging.
Free tool could have prevented OPM Hack.

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Busy Week in Mobile Phones

It’s going to be a busy week in the mobile phone space with both OnePlus and Motorola expected to announce new Android models. OnePlus hasn’t exactly been quiet in the run up to the event and Motorola’s suffered a few leaks in the process. Either way, it’s going to be fun to see what’s on offer before Google and Apple produce their annual refreshes later in the year. Nokia might be re-entering the smartphone market too but their latest announcement is shrouded in mystery.

ThOnePlus Logoe OnePlus 2 will follow on from the successful One, though with OnePlus stoking the rumour mill, it’s still hard to know fact from fiction. What has been confirmed is that it will have a fingerprint reader, 4GB RAM, a Snapdragon 810 processor, USB C connector and cost less than US$450. Some suggest that there might be more than one version of the 2 inbound, but if there is OnePlus haven’t mentioned so far.

Motorola M LogoOn the Motorola side, the teases us with “Your relationship is about to change” signed, “XGX Moto”. I think we can expect new Moto X and Moto G models and as Motorola tends to go with evolution rather than revolution, they’ll probably be much like last year’s, only better. Some have suggested that the two Xs might mean two models, but I think it’s just supposed to be “XOX” for hugs and kisses.

Nokia LogoFinally, Nokia might be re-entering the mobile phone space. There’s a VIP press conference in Los Angeles but no-one knows for sure whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet or a virtual reality headset. The invites featured “Nowhere” and “Now here” which led to much speculation with nothing concrete to go on. We’ll just have to see.

The OnePlus 2 announcement is at 7 pm PT on 27 July which is a very early 3 am UK time. Motorola have a far more reasonable 9 am ET on 28 July which equates to 2 pm here in the UK. Keep ’em peeled.

 

GNC #1049 Cord Cutting Growing

Cord Cutting is having a steady impact to cable companies business models. I can only see this trend accelerating. I hope you join me in Fort Worth on Friday for my induction into the Podcast Hall of Fame. Lots of tech so please enjoy the show.

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This Ring Light Promises an end to Dull Selfies

Ring lightI’ll admit, as a male growing ever closer to the age of 40, I’m not much of a selfie taker. Regardless, the culture of the selfie is becoming more prominent with each passing day. Like it or not, selfies aren’t going away anytime soon. Proof of this can be found in the proliferation of accessories designed to maximize one’s selfie experience. Most prevalent among these being the selfie stick. And while that particular item may solve one problem when it comes to taking selfies, there are still other pressing selfie-related matters that need to be addressed. Specifically, what do you do when it’s time to take a selfie in low-light conditions? A new ring light called Kira being developed in Japan may have the answer.

This ring light clips onto the top of a smartphone providing a wash of directed, even light towards the holder of the phone. Thus improving the conditions for selfie taking in low-light environments. Kira can easily be stowed in a purse or pocket and then attached to a smartphone as needed. It’s worth nothing that many smartphones don’t have flash LED’s on front-facing cameras. So, Kira is filling a need there. It’s also possible to see uses for this accessory beyond selfies. The ring light could be useful for video chat applications like Skype and FaceTime, too.

Kira is currently raising money thru a Japanese crowdfunding site. No word yet as to when the device might be available for public purchase and/or how much it’ll cost.

3-D Printed Cap Detects When Milk Goes Bad

biohazardWhen exactly does your milk go bad? There’s a helpful “sell-by” date printed on the packaging to give you an idea of the liquid’s shelf life. But at best, that date is an educated guess. Of course, sometimes it’s really obvious when milk has gone sour. But sometimes, it’s not so easy to tell. Fortunately for me, Jen has a keen skill for detecting when food products have gone bad. But on my own, I know I’ve consumed my fair share of food items that were probably better sent down the drain or into the trash.

Once again, new technology comes to the rescue in the battle against spoiled milk. Using 3-D printing, engineers have developed a cap that can be used with milk jugs to determine when the milk has gone bad. The cap uses a special sensor that’s able to detect changes in electrical signals caused by the proliferation of bacteria. To test your milk, all you need to do is tip the container until some of the milk comes in contact with the cap. From there, the cap will indicate if the milk is still good or not.

Researchers are hoping to find ways to expand this technology to other food products, eventually including things like Internet connectivity so food sensors can report directly to computers or smartphone apps. Finally, we’ll able to use an actual product of science to know when our leftovers have become an actual science project of their own!

Hey, Apple. Fix my iMac!

Two iMacsMy wife and I are the proud owners of two 27″ iMacs (seen in the photo to the left). Both machines were manufactured in 2011. They’re identical in terms of model and specifications. And both have been afflicted by the same problem – failed video cards.

The first iMac went down in early 2014. I took it to a local Apple certified repair shop where the problem was identified. The repair tech told me that Apple had put in a special “repair extension program” specifically for this iMac model because there are known issues with the video cards that shipped from the factory. Thanks to this program, Apple covered the cost of the repair and the iMac has worked flawlessly since.

The second iMac (seen to the right in the above photo) was acquired used in late 2014 as a replacement to my wife Jen’s aging MacBook Air (which she had mostly used like a desktop computer). A few days ago, this iMac started acting erratically and the symptoms were very similar to the other iMac’s failing video card. We took the second iMac into the shop and sure enough, the problem was diagnosed as a faulty video card.

But the iMac didn’t result in the same outcome as the first computer. This iMac was apparently originally purchased in May of 2011, which means the repair extension program for this machine expired in May of 2015. A scant two months ago. Due to this technicality, Apple won’t cover the cost of the repair, leaving us with a $500 bill after parts and labor. I recognize that Apple was being generous in even offering the repair extension in the first place. But the fact is, these iMacs were shipped with defective parts. It was only a matter of time before the video card would fail. But too bad for us it didn’t break down three months ago? That’s a lousy way to treat a loyal customer, Apple!

And speaking of us as customers. Here’s a rundown of all of the Apple products we’ve owned over the years:

  • 9 desktop Macs
  • 2 laptop Macs
  • 5 iPhones (and 1 iPod)
  • 2 iPads
  • 1 Time Capsule

Also, I’m legally blind and I live on a somewhat fixed income while my wife is a freelance writer and relies on her computer for work. The $500 repair bill is difficult for us financially and this is compounded by the fact that Jen is losing valuable productivity time while the machine is down.

So, come on, Apple! Wouldn’t it feel great to help us out and just approve the repair of the bad video card? Doesn’t our longtime patronage of your products mean more than a simple technicality in a warranty program? Please, Apple. Fix this iMac!


GNC #1048 Privacy is Lost

First things First apologies on the last show, I talk about that at length today.. Also I think we have entered and area where Privacy is Lost. I do not think that we can find our way back from a online presence that is fraught with to many security breaches.

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