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Category Archives: Reviews

Belkin USB Hub That Fills Your Desk Grommet Hole. Verdict: Ingenious Design!

By Ian Chiu

There’s something besides CPU speed and hard drive space that you will never have enough of, and that’s USB port. So, what do you do to get more of those when your desktop is already heavily cluttered? Belkin has a ingenious idea to slip its USB hubs into your desktop’s grommet holes. The 3″ grommet hub reviewed on Everything USB has 4 raised USB ports with openings on each side for hiding excess cables, and depending on your holes’ size, you may need the 2″ version. One surprising discovery was how well the hub accommodated the larger USB devices. Two devices that the reviewer had problems with in the past fitting into stacked USB ports can now be plugged in with ease. And lastly, since the hub fits snugly in a grommet hole, you won’t have a problem with it flipping or tipping over when multiple cables are connected. Downsides are the lack of activity LEDs and the hassle of drilling your own grommet holes if not present. For full review, hit the link.

[Belkin In-Desk 3" Grommet Hole USB Hub Review @ Everything USB]

MS LifeCam VX-7000 Webcam Review. Verdict: Tight Live! Services Integration

By Ian Chiu

The LifeCam VX-7000 USB webcam is part of the promotional effort by MS’ hardware peripheral department to increase consumers’ awareness of their Windows Live! services. The camera itself isn’t any groundbreaking; you won’t find any motorized base nor auto focus, even though the latter of which is becoming the de facto feature on high-end webcams. The most notable improvement is perhaps the glass element lens for better image quality. Hardware-wise, the VX-7000 hasn’t quite caught up with Logitech and even Creative yet.

However, the VX-7000′s software acts as the heart of the fully integrated Windows Live system, coordinating between the webcam, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player, Windows Live Spaces, and Windows Movie Maker for a complete Microsoft communications package. In real terms, this system means that you can use your webcam to not only video conference with your Windows Messenger-using friends and colleagues, but also record podcasts and video podcasts and upload them to Microsoft’s social networking site to share with others. And this pretty much covers most aspects of the software.

For the full review, hit the link after the video effect demo below.

While I thought Microsoft did a good job constructing a desktop-friendly camera that fits well on any LCD and handles video conferencing and smaller size video podcasts without any problems, I was disappointed to find that the camera’s high definition options were usable only with a sacrifice in quality. As a result, while this camera is a good option for someone looking to make video call or lower resolution podcasts, there are other cameras out there that will accomplish the same task for less money.

[MS LifeCam VX-7000 USB Webcam @ Everything USB]

OCZ ATV “Turbo” Flash Drive Reviewed. Verdict: Fast & Furious

By Ian Chiu

OCZ is known for their high-tolerance RAM & PSUs targeted at PC enthusiasts. When the company entered the USB flash drive market, it wanted to take their products to the top, rather than competing in the “a dime a dozen” category. Its new ATV Turbo thumbdrive, according to Everything USB, is top notch in almost every area. For speed, it consistently stays between 30 to 31MB/s; for durability, the rubber drive survived sub-zero temperature, in a pot of boiling water and in an oven heated to 200 degrees Farenheit for 10 minutes. OCZ even thoughtfully included a holder chained to the drive that fit snugly with the cap to ensure it doesn’t go anywhere. The reviewers only gripe was the lack of encryption software.

For the full review, hit the link.

[OCZ ATV Turbo 4GB Flash Drive @ Everything USB]

My Day In Detroit, Driving The 2008 Lineup Around

me in a 2008 corvette

By David Ponce

When I got the email inviting me to Milford, Michigan to drive the 2008 GM lineup around, I thought it was a joke. But sure enough, it wasn’t, and I’m happy to say, I haven’t had this much fun in a while. I’ll let you know what GM is up to in this article, and just what kind of fun we had, but first, a disclaimer: GM paid my way there, but all the opinions that follow are purely mine.

Other than a retelling of facts, what can you expect in this post? Well, there’s a video, for one. It’s me as a passenger in the ‘vette, while it’s being floored. Expletives ensue. Then I’ll tell you about StabiliTrak, GM’s version of traction control, as well as the surprise of the day: the new Saab 9-3. Oh, and a bunch of pictures.

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OhGizmo Review: Mobile Edge Laptop Backpacks Part 1

Mobile Edge

By Evan Ackerman

New backpack smell always takes me back to the first day of school. And since I’ve been out of school, I haven’t put much thought into replacing my ancient JanSport. But ever since Mobile Edge sent me a couple of their laptop backpacks to check out, my sense of style, my laptop, and my back have all been demanding something new. I was able to meander about with these backpacks for several weeks on a trip up to the Pacific Northwest, and I’ll review them both separately over the next few days. You can be assured that these reviews are unbiased since I had to send the backpacks back (grrr); but it’s worth noting that I was disappointed to have to do so, ’cause I really did (mostly) like them. Read my full review after the jump.Continue Reading

Samsung’s 19″ USB Monitor Tested. Verdict: Amazing What USB Can Do…

By Ian Chiu

Seems the LCD industry has been trying to convince S&P 500 companies to put a second or third monitor on their employees’ desktop. Well, their customers’ IT representatives haven’t been so keen on spending many sleepless nights upgrading thousands of video cards on their PCs. Of course, that’s a market begging to be filled right there and new start-up DisplayLink is doing its bit with an improved USB video card solution that combines a lossless decompression engine, 32MB DDR and a 16-bit graphics co-processor. Basically the data used to stream across PCI Express is now flowing through the USB pipe into the monitor.

So far, IOGear, LG, Samsung and Toshiba have shown interest in this solution. Samsung has raced to be the first to ship a 19″ monitor with USB interface in addition to DVI and VGA. Also unique to this solution is the ability to daisy-chain up to 5 additional monitors via USB. Everything USB has taken a good look at the SyncMaster 940UX 19″ LCD and was quite pleased with the 2D performance. As DisplayLink employs lossless most of the times, text and image clarity are preserved. However, you can notice the lines are more pixelated during full-screen video playback in PowerPoint when the video chipset switches to lossy compression.

Samsung’s SyncMaster 940UX makes for a wonderful monitor in a typical office environment, with great color accuracy, sharpness, and even backlighting to boot. The pixel response time of 15ms+ may not be the best for hardcore gamers, although weekend warriors and light movie watchers will find it more than suitable. The scalable USB interface promises and delivers with its ease of setup and hands-off driver installation, and can keep up with most video tasks albeit with some artifacts and occasional frame drops. Just don’t expect the USB interface to play nicely with 3D games and CAD design programs.

[Samsung SyncMaster 940UX USB Monitor Review @ Everything USB]

iRiver Clix 2 PMP Reviewed. Verdict: iPod nano, Eat Your Heart Out

By Ian Chiu

There’s a bewildering array of choices in the digital music player market, yet everyone seems to pick the iPod nano. We think the iriver clix gen 2 is a great alternative, one that has finally caught up to and in some areas surpassed the market leader. To sum it up, the Clix has has a truly original minimalistic design, starting eith an effective D-Click navigation and not some iPod wheel knock off. It supports both MTP and UMS, plus the ability to rebuild ID3 DB from files – something that is extremely handy for those who prefer to drag and drop their music into the player. With Flash lite support, you’re guaranteed there will be a decent selection of free games. The downsides are the lack of AAC, line-in recording and slow music transfer. If the iRiver still doesn’t impress at least you’ve still got other nice choices, like the Meizu M6 SE. From the review:

Simple navigation, killer sound quality, smooth video, vibrant photos and the brightest, most vivid display I’ve ever seen on an MP3 player put the new iRiver Clix 2 ahead of the competition in most regards. Free games, FM radio and text capabilities sweeten the deal, but what really sets the Clix apart is its ability to operate in either MTP or USB Mass Storage modes with automated database rebuilding. At last, the freedom to switch between Rhapsody, Windows Media Player, WinAmp, iTunes, Mac and Linux without hassle. The only things that could really use improvement are the transfer speeds for music and the bundled headphones. Still, the Clix gen 2 is highly recommended, and finally succeeds in stealing the limelight away from the current market leader.

[iRiver Clix gen 2 4GB Review @ Everything USB]

Seagate FreeAgent Pro Reviewed. Verdict: 750GB, eSATA/USB/FireWire, Backup Software That Works, 5-year Warranty. What’s Not To Like?

By Ian Chiu

Well, everyone yawns at backup software and external hard drives, but it’s fairly certain everyone will also mourn at the loss of their lifetime work when a lighting strike, fire or HDD failure finally hits and obliterates everything he/she worked so hard for. Other people are smart, and actually purchase products like the Seagate FreeAgent Pro. Everything USB has taken a look at what is reportedly ‘the’ backup solution for everyone (except Mac folks). The drive ships with 750GB storage, the highly praised Memeo’s AutoBackup, 2 modules for connecting to USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and eSATA, and a 5-year warranty card. The logo and the strip on the chassis can also glow to remind you of Seagate’s brand, but this functionality can also be turned off, thankfully.

Backups can be such a chore. For the novice computer user, they’re a maze of which folders and backup schemes to pick from. For geeks, they can be slow and inefficient, seeing as they sometimes even have to rely on our memory to press a button! Rather than listen to users scream the proverbial “NOOOOOOOOOO”, Seagate has ramped up the speeds and warranty on their latest external drive, the FreeAgent Pro, and coupled it with Memeo’s powerful yet intuitive backup software.

Pros: Modular interface design; speedy eSATA interface; FireWire interface can be daisy-chained; superb AutoBackup software; silent operation; 5 year warranty.

Cons: Lacks FireWire 800; no Mac backup software; harsh warranty terms.

[Seagate FreeAgent Pro 750GB External HDD Review @ Everything USB]

OhGizmo Review: Playaway Digital Audiobook Player

By Evan Ackerman

Playaway

Playaway, makers of a single-serving digital audiobook player, kindly sent us a review unit last week. Being a fan of audio and books (and free stuff), I volunteered to write it up. The particular audiobook that I’m listening to for this review is The Worst Case Scenario Handbook, read by Penn Jillette and Burt Reynolds. It retails from the Playawaydigital.com website for $34.99. Click on through for a brutally in-depth review.

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