Author Archive | Damian Chen

L (5)

By hackNY.org on Flickr

Amazon Student is a special service offered by Amazon which – you guessed it – caters specifically to students. Available initially as a free six month trial, the service can be extended after the trial for 50% off the price of a regular Amazon Prime account. So what is it exactly that you’re paying for as a student?

The trial version of Amazon Prime Student includes free two-day shipping for the whole six months, and members will receive email updates on promotions. Amazon Prime Students also get early access to Lightning Deals – 30 minutes before the rest of the public.

Being an Amazon Prime Student member has other bonuses that include having access to Prime Video, a streaming service with access to a large amount of movies and TV shows. You’ll also get free unlimited photo storage with Amazon Drive and a subscription to Twitch Prime with monthly games and exclusive in-game content.

For Canadian and American students who enjoy shopping online, Amazon Prime Student is a great option, especially for the free two day shipping that it comes with. Online shoppers will save money on shipping costs and receive their purchases more quickly – which is also great for last minute gifts! Students who enjoy watching television and movies will benefit as well from the large amount of content available on Prime Video. Photo lovers who may be running out of hard drive space, or wish to keep their content in the cloud will benefit from the unlimited photo storage offered. Amazon Prime Student appears to be a great service with great features.

The biggest con here of course is the price. However, you get six free months to test out the service and see if you like it (and use it) enough to warrant the $7.99 per month fee. Keep in mind that you’ll be switched over to Amazon Prime once your four years are up. If you don’t want to spend the money at that point, you’ll need to find another place to store your photos.

For more information on becoming an Amazon Prime Student, check out their website.

Highlights:

  • Six month Free Trial
  • Free Two-day Shipping
  • Unlimited Photo Storage
  • Prime video streaming service
  • Access to Lightning Deals 30 minutes early
  • 50% off Amazon Prime membership

Amazon

When you’re grinding through those hefty assignments, having a pump-up playlist in the background can make all the difference in keeping you going. With hundreds of bluetooth speakers to choose from, a student-sized budget can really narrow down the options. However, not all inexpensive speakers are poor in quality!

The best, most affordable bluetooth speaker we’ve come across is the DOSS SoundBox Touch, which comes in at a delightful $28.99 and comes in four colours – blue, red, white, and black. It boasts a high-def, 360 degree stereo sound and fingertip controls and up to 12 hours playtime for your all-nighters (though you should expect 9 to 10 hours). It’s sleek and attractive, and both looks and sounds more expensive than it is – which is always a plus!

You’ll only need to connect your phone to the speaker once; from then on, the speaker will automatically connect to the last used device.

Keep in mind this speaker isn’t water-resistant, so you may want to refrain from using it for pool parties, but the sound is loud enough that you’ll be able to add a soundtrack to your sunny days in the park.

Overall, it’s hard to find cons for this device – for the price, the quality is superb!

Sound: 12W high-performance drives; <1% harmonic distortion; 360-degree stereo sound Battery Life: Up to 12 hours at 75% volume; recharge in 3-4 hours
Compatibility: Connect to bluetooth-enabled devices up to 33ft; aux-in; micro SD card
Colors: Black, white, blue, red
Size: 6.6 x 2.9 x 2.7 in
Accessories Storage bag, aux cable, USB charging cable, audio adapter
Price: $28.99 USD
Buy: Amazon

Image from apple.com

Wait, what? Two new iPhones launch at the same time? Why? What’s the difference?

Let’s talk about it.

Design

  • The screen: The iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) has a screen that goes right to the edges, with a small portion that dips down a bit at the top – this houses the front-facing camera and sensors.
  • The back: Both new iPhones have glass backs. Are they durable? We’ll have to see.
  • The home button: Now here’s a point of contention. The home button remains the same on the iPhone 8, however, when it comes to the iPhone X – say goodbye to the home button and hello to Face ID. That’s right, there’s no more physical home button, but there will be a virtual one (tap to turn the phone on, swipe up for the home screen and down for the control centre), so don’t panic just yet. This will be an interesting adjustment, as gone are the fingerprint sensors – so now you can pay with your face.
  • Speaking of Face ID – we’re still undecided on our feelings for this feature. Is it cool? Absolutely. Will it get annoying to hold your phone up to your face to unlock it? Maybe.
  • Headphone jack: Still not on either phone – sorry!
  • Colour: The iPhone X will only come in black and silver, where the iPhone 8 still comes in gold.

Specs

  • A11 bionic processor should lead to longer battery life on both phones
  • Screens: iPhone 8 has the same LCD screen as the 7, while the iPhone X has an OLED screen (what Samsung and LG are using). This allows for more vibrant colours and higher resolution (2,436 x 1,135 pixels).
  • Back cameras: The iPhone X is similar to the iPhone 8 Plus (dual 12MP cameras with an extra sensor as telephoto zoom lens)
  • Front cameras: The iPhone X has a new front-facing camera with Portrait Mode effect (hello, selfies!)
  • Size: physically, the iPhone X is the same size as the iPhone 8 (5.8 inches), but due to the maxed-out screen size, it looks bigger
  • Features: Both new iPhones are water resistant, and can be wirelessly charged (though Apple’s AirPower mat for wireless charging won’t come out until 2018)
  • iOS: Both phones come with iOS 11, which features a new control centre layout that you can customize and updated Siri, along with typical tweaks like more vibrant colours and transitions

Availability

  • The iPhone X starts shipping November 3, and the iPhone 8 starts shipping September 22.

Price

  • iPhone X – starts at $999 US (for 64GB)
  • iPhone 8 – $699 US (for 64GB)

One thing many people have noticed is that Apple has gone from the iPhone 8 to the iPhone X. No iPhone 9. Curious…

Image via pixabay.com

Image via pixabay.com

September Apple announcements have become something students, businesspeople, and the general public look forward to every year. We all want to know what innovative concepts will be in our hands in the coming months, and this year, it was the iPhone 7.

The biggest rumour (well, not a rumour anymore) was that Apple would get rid of the headphone jack. But don’t worry – you still like the feel of your old-school headphones? They’re including a Lightning adapter with each phone, so they’re not obsolete (yet). They’ve announced AirPods, wireless headphones which will quickly connect to your phone (and perhaps get lost just as quickly). But that’s for another day.

The newest iPhone is now water-resistant (thank goodness), so no need to be afraid of splashes any longer. The battery life is longer (supposedly 12 hours), which is always a plus for those classrooms without outlets, and the camera has a larger aperture, plus optical image stabilization to help get clearer pictures. The front-facing camera has also been bumped up from 5MP to 7MP – hello, selfies!

You’ll find the home button on the new iPhone doesn’t feel quite the same, because it’s using Force Touch. It’s no longer a “button”, but it’ll be able to do more things using different pressures – so once you’re used to it, it’ll be great.

Apple has also added stereo speakers to the iPhone – one speaker at the top and one at the bottom, to give you an almost “surround sound” feel. This will be great for adding music to your workouts.

This iPhone is truly next generation, and whether you’re using it on its own or syncing it up with your Apple Watch, it can enhance your regular, mundane activities both at school and at home.

The Details

  • Size: Same as the 6S (4.7 inch screen)
  • Home button: No longer a button, uses Force Touch
  • Water-resistant
  • Camera: rear camera has a larger aperture; front camera now 7MP. Introduced image stabilization
  • Speakers: one at the top, one at the bottom
  • Battery: lasts up to 12 hours
  • Processor: A10 chip is 40% faster than the A9
  • Colours: Jet black (only available in 128, 256GB models), matte black, rose gold, silver, gold
  • Price: Pre-order starting September 16 from $649US

Image by GIR, Voltaire via Kickstarter

Image by GIR, Voltaire via Kickstarter

How many times have you screwed up your coffee in the morning because your brain is still half asleep? Let’s face it, this is a common occurrence. But what if you had a coffee machine that was smarter than you? Introducing the Voltaire Smart Grinder. It not only grinds your beans and brews your coffee – it can also tell you just how fresh your beans are with the connected app. This battery-operated grinder is portable and can last for up to three weeks and grind 3lbs of beans on one charge.

GIR, the company behind Voltaire, explains the science behind stale coffee beans and how the staling process is invisible, but what you need to know is that Voltaire has a sensing platform that figures it all out for you and tells you when to replenish your bean stock via the app. It’s one of the secrets to good coffee.

What we particularly like is the portable aspect – the idea of brewing fresh coffee outside, away from home, or even in your dorm room without using up an outlet is fantastic (why isn’t this a thing yet?).

Voltaire has a collection of companion products as well, that include Ever Cup travel cups (insulated with locking lids to keep drinks hot or cold and spill-free) and an AirVault Smart Container that keeps your beans fresh.

It’s just recently been funded by a Kickstarter campaign, bringing in an amazing $150,241 to get the ball rolling. By just meeting their stretch goal of $150K in the last day of the campaign, GIR is now offering a choice for the metal finishes – copper or silver. If you’re an on-the-go coffee drinker, this is one product to check out.

The Details

  • Use the app to measure bean freshness
  • Stock up on beans through the app
  • It comes in silver or copper finishes (shown above)
  • Add companion products like the AirVault or Ever Cups
  • Battery charge can last up to 3 weeks and grind up to 3lbs of beans
  • Received $150,241 from the Kickstarter campaign in August 2016: now in production
  • Estimated delivery for backers: March 2017
  • Price: not available yet


Check out this video by The Verge at CES 2016.

Think about packing up to move in and out of your dorm. Think specifically about packing up your TV. Packing is probably the wrong word, because you don’t pack it. You carry it out on its own, wrapped in extra sheets or bubble wrap so that nothing else in your backseat accidentally bumps it and cracks the screen.

Now imagine if you could just roll up your TV screen, how much easier that would be. Sounds futuristic? Well, welcome to the future.

At CES this week, LG introduced its 18-inch flexible OLED screen, which they say can be rolled up as tight as a newspaper, or scrunched around. Convenient? Oh yes. But how? OLED (organic LED) lighting doesn’t require the backlighting regular TVs do. That means it can be made very thin, without that back panel – and yet still have that HD quality regular TVs do. 18 inches is pretty small for a screen, but don’t worry, LG’s goal is to transfer this technology to screens 55 inches and up.

LG is still working out some kinks, like dead pixels (empty black pixels that have been damaged – which has happened after playing with it a bit). These aren’t on the market yet – we’re just playing with prototypes, but it’s nice to get a glimpse of the future of our dorm rooms, isn’t it?

The Details:

  • Price: Don’t know yet. They’re still in the prototype stage.
  • Size: Likely starting at 55-in
  • Screen quality: Aiming for 4K
  • Thickness: Less than 1mm

Image by Evic Dong, Flickr

Image by Evic Dong, Flickr

The latest addition to the family of GoPro cameras introduces a smaller and more compact camera than its predecessors in the $399.99 price range. The Session provides customers with many of the same benefits that the larger models have but in a smaller version for the casual user.

With the distinct GoPro look, using the Session should feel no different than with the Hero4 Black or Silver. The lightweight version of the new model and its low profile frame allow it to be used for a variety of angles or heights. Mounting the Session is fairly easy due to its size, and the model is compatible with all GoPro accessories – meaning you won’t be losing out on anything due to the Session’s size. The camera should also be paired with the mobile GoPro app which you can download from both the App Store and the Android market. Unless you’ve purchased the mobile remote already, the GoPro app will allow you change the settings and modes of your camera. Just make sure to pair the two together (Session and App) and you will have full control. The Session is a waterproof camera (including its microUSB and microSD ports) up to 33 feet deep.

Performance wise, the Session is very strong for its small size. There are options to film at upwards of 120 fps, but with lower video quality and vice-versa. While the Session doesn’t come with 4K capabilities, it still provides many of the benefits that make GoPros so popular. Testing the Session demonstrated that it’s just as powerful as its predecessors with few differences. The Session performed just as strongly in different lighting and was great at capturing strong colours. Moving while using the Session was similar to other GoPro models and captured video well, with a few bumps because of the lack of stabilization. The new audio quality implemented into the Session is noticeably better, especially in water environments. The Quick Capture mode that was introduced recently also works very well with only 4-5 seconds from turning on till it captures video.

As for battery life and camera size, the Session is set to last around 2 hours for full use, lasting longer if the camera is idle. The camera size, while obviously smaller at the 1.5 inch sides, is still big enough to capture most videos you’ll need.

For the casual user, the Session is certainly a model that should be considered when looking to purchase a GoPro. It provides all the essential elements that make GoPros amazing, at a cheaper and smaller size. While there are certain aspects of the Session that are noticeably weaker in comparison to its brother, it is still a phenomenal camera built to last.

Highlights:

  • Small size
  • Quick Capture mode
  • Improved audio quality
  • Waterproof
  • Compatible with all GoPro mounts

Cons:

  • Not 4K ready
  • Some stabilization issues
  • Video quality slightly worse than siblings

L (2)

By NVIDIA Corporation on Flickr

Nvidia’s latest release to the Shield lineup, the Nvidia Shield Android TV, introduces a new product that both Nvidia and the market have never produced before. Nvidia’s recent portable devices presented enhanced mobile gameplay where consumers could play on their Nvidia Tablet while also using a dedicated controller. This latest release from Nvidia is big leap forward in terms of specifications of the device and its gaming capabilities.

The design of the Nvidia Shield Android TV is a very slender rectangular shape that can be placed horizontally on a desk or vertically using a Nvidia Shield Stand. A green light emits from the top of the Shield that doubles as an aesthetic feature and an indicator of the battery level. The power button for the device is also placed on the top of the Shield and can be activated by simply swiping over the icon to power on or off. The relatively small size of the Nvidia Shield should allow it to be placed near any television without issue.

Gaming on the Shield can be done primarily by connecting to Nvidia servers and streaming the game onto your TV. Using this streaming method did not affect my game play with any additional lag or latency. The gaming experience was as smooth as playing a disk game on any other dedicated gaming console. The Android TV hub also allows you to also download games onto the device and save them on your storage drive. Similar to loading to a game from a Steam library, this feature should be familiar to most PC gamers. Additionally, the Nvidia Shield allows one to stream a game directly from their own computer equipped with a Nvidia card nearby. Streaming through my PC onto my television similarly resulted in zero latency and I was able to play uninterrupted.

The Nvidia Shield streams through the Android TV hub which comes with access to many of the latest TV shows and movies. While not as popular a streaming platform as Netflix, Android TV has a large quantity of hit TV shows and movies that should satisfy most consumers. The device is also equipped with Google Cast giving it iOS and Android mobile compatibility. The streaming capabilties along with the gaming aspect of the latest Shield product should appeal to a large selection of students. Cheaper than other products on the market, the streaming aspect should be fun for most students who enjoy TV, while the gaming aspect can appease both console and PC gamers.

All in all, the Nvidia Shield Android TV is a very powerful device that takes Nvidia into uncharted territory. Both a gaming and streaming device, the newest Nvidia Shield product is a big step forward for both markets. While possibly limited by the use of Android TV, the Nvidia Shield Android TV is great product that is ahead of the game and truly innovative. Priced at $200 for the basic level, this new product is sure to excite many students who want to stream and game on a powerful device.

Highlights:

  • Small Design
  • Powerful Tegra X1 Processor
  • 256-core GPU
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16 GB Storage, 500GB with Pro Version
  • 4K Ready
  • Gaming and Streaming Capabilities
  • Equipped with Google Cast
  • Can stream from Nvidia GPU in home computer

Cons: 

  • Limited by Android TV
  • Limited Selection of Gaming Titles

Arist Cafe coffee

Arist Cafe

Let’s face it, a lot of us are not morning people. We’re practically unable to function until we’ve had our coffee. Sound like you? We’ve come across an even easier way than usual to get your caffeine fix in the morning – one that doesn’t even require you to get out of bed (and no, Starbucks doesn’t deliver – yet).

Have you ever heard of a “smart coffee machine”? It’s certainly new to us. Coffee machines are pretty easy to use as they are – some are even a one-button push away from fresh, delicious coffee. But now, there’s a Kickstarter project for Arist Cafe, a coffee machine that can create customized coffee straight from your smartphone. You can program it for each coffee drinker to make your specific coffee in the morning, and even remotely ask it to start making you a cup while you’re on your way home.

The Details

  • Use the app to create your coffee (available on iOS, Android, Windows)
  • The app saves your preferences, including what time you usually drink it, how much milk you like, and what temperature you like your coffee at
  • You can choose from 100,000 coffee recipes
  • It recommends choices for you
  • It comes in white, black, or wood (shown above)
  • The reservoir can hold 1 litre of milk, 1 litre of water
  • It can hold 200g of coffee beans (enough for 5 cups of 12oz cappuccinos)
  • If you remove the drip tray, the machine can fill a cup up to 8″ tall
  • Price: $699 as of January 2015
  • Requires wifi or data
  • Stock up on different types of beans through the app
  • Arist Cafe is still seeking Kickstarter funding

Although you may not be able to afford this gadget (yet), it certainly could be an interesting talking point among your friends. Let’s start the debate. Would you buy it?

Here’s the website for more information: https://www.aristcafe.com/

 
 
power2u

One of the worst feelings has to be seeing your phone at 10% and realizing that although you have your charging cable, you forgot your adapter at home. And of course, there’s never a laptop in sight. As much as you try to stare down the wall outlet in front of you, it won’t turn into a USB port. But now, there’s a way it can.

FINALLY.

Power2U looks like a regular wall outlet, except for two vertical USB ports in the middle. Not only can you now plug in two USB devices to charge, but the regular wall sockets are available to be used as well – letting you plug in up to four items at one time.

We were intrigued too. Here’s what you want to know:

 
 

The Details

  • Charge four devices at once
  • Blends into the wall as a standard outlet
  • It’s energy efficient with Smart circuitry, and safety shutters turn off power to the USB ports when not in use
  • Includes easy how-to installation video, manual, mounting screws and matching wallplate
  • Compatible with any device that charges with a USB – iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android tablets and phones, computers, cell phones, gaming systems, digital cameras – and the list goes on
  • It’s available in white, light almond, ivory or black
  • You can buy in bulk – 2, 10, 20 or 100
  • Price: starts at $45.98 for the white 2 pack

Install these at home in your room and your study space so you never need to run around looking for where you left that bulky power adapter. It can be your own DIY project!

More information can be found on the NewerTech website.