Gadget Reviews

Reviews of the Apple and iOT gadgets out there

Review of the Peel case for the iPhone 7 Plus Review of the Peel case for the iPhone 7 Plus

I've been a huge fan of Peel, a minimalist sueve case for the iPhone, and have been using it for over a year, first with my iPhone 6s Plus, and now with my iPhone 7 Plus. While I've never  been one of those to have a need to have a really light naked case, and usually opt for the practical and thicker iPhone cases, this one case has really got me hooked. 

With the durability of the iPhones improving over the years, having an iPhone case that would give it some protection (and granted if you drop it face down on the edge of a step it will break), with Peel you get both comfortable, elegance and some sense of security of protection. 

The feel of it is amazing, its really so snug that people don't even realize you have a case on. I've been at Apple and they didn't even notice I had a case on. 

What if there was a middle ground? A case that protected from bumps, scratches, and light drops, but didn’t ruin the device’s aesthetic. That was the basis for starting Peel.

It doesn't have any logos to detract from its minimalist design, with a protruded tip to protect the camera lens on the back of the phone, you get a case which is superb. It comes in various colors, and for both the iPhone 7 and Plus variants, for a decent price of $24.95.  

You can go ahead and buy it from their store  and enjoy.

Review of the LG UltraFine 4K Display for the MacBook  Review of the LG UltraFine 4K Display for the MacBook

This week I got my hands on the new 21.5 inch LG UltraFine 4K monitor to complete my MacBook 2016 ecosystem. The reason I had my eye on this monitor is because its the first true monitor that Apple is pushing for its new lineup of MacBooks and MacBook Pros, which now only connect to those laptops via the new USB-C, but they in fact also power them. Mind boggling when you pause to think about it.

Setting up was a breeze, as it should be when it comes to installing a monitor on my MacBook. The specs lay out a stunning 4096-by-2304 resolution, 9.4 million pixels, and to me I completely agree, with it being my first 4K monitor its surreal how crips the graphics are. But what surprised me was when I got to playing with it, the surround sound got me to jump out of my chair.

I hadn’t honestly even realized we did have speakers on this thing, so it was a great bonus.

So besides the one USB-C cable that’s include to power up to 60W of charging power to my MacBook, you also also get 3 downstream USB ports (480 Mbps) for additional power. Since I only just got some USB-C to lightning cables, I can finally make use of those other ports to power my iPhone.

With the first practical hardware with USB-C to connect to my MacBook, in many ways the 21.5-inch display does remove some of the dongle nightmares I’ve had, so I don’t really need more than the one direct port to plug-in to my MacBook. In fact, this is the accidental solution of the modern-day docking system. No docking hardware, just minimal connection to your computer. Plug-in-Plug-out. Apple have also priced it at a promotional price of $524, for the month of November, to promote USB-C peripherals.

LG’s richer younger cousin

There is also the 27-inch 5K LG UltraFine Display coming out in December, with a resolution spec of 5120 x 2880, with a P3 wide color gamut. At a heftier price of $1,299.95, its really expensive, but you get greater real-estate.

Conclusion

There is one downside I have noticed with my MacBook (and its the maximum-spec 2016 model) is that it is slightly sluggish. At a refresh rate of 60, its not ideal for my MacBook but its not un-useable, you just get a slight lag.

So, all-in-all, I’m happy with my purchase of the LG UltraFine 4K monitor at a reasonable price, the quality is great, despite the minor lag on my MacBook, the speakers are fantastic, and with the prospect of having to not have to deal with having other adaptors, its a great screen. Of course this isn’t the only USB-C monitor and LG do have others in the market.

Review of the Pearl Auto Wireless Backup Camera Review of the Pearl Auto Wireless Backup Camera

Today we take one of our favorite gadgets out for a test drive, the Pearl Wireless Backup Camera , by @pearl_auto. In this post, we look at how easy it is to install the backup camera, test it out in real conditions, and rate it.

Many states, including California are passing a safety law making it mandatory for all new cars by 2018, to come with a backup camera, to an effort to reduce back-over accidents that have tragically taken countless lives, many of whom were children. For new car owners therefore, not having a backup camera is no longer an option, but with millions of cars on the road today that don’t have backup cameras installed, this poses a huge legacy problem for the unlucky majority.

With the average life-span of a car in the U.S around 11 years, we will have to wait another decade before the majority of cars do have the latest in-car technologies, including backup-cameras. Going out and installing an after-market backup camera can either be quite costly, with a professional interfering with wires and mechanics of the car, or the owner goes on-to Amazon and buys a wireless backup camera, only to find the video quality (including lag in video feed) utterly unacceptable.

When you give your son or daughter her your hand-me-down car, most likely that car won’t have a backup camera, meaning young and inexperienced drivers will be backing-out and parking without the extra pair of eyes that will keep them from damaging property, or injuring someone.

Pearl Auto have thought about this and have decided to appeal to the millions of backup camera-less car-owners out there, and have released this really nifty wireless backup solution.

The low-down

The Pearl Auto backup camera solution consists of three components, starting with the backup camera that will be mounted on the plate of your car via the Pearl frame. The backup camera consists of two wide-angle HD cameras that intend to work well in both daytime as well as night-time.

Secondly you have the RFID-powered dongle that fits inside your car, which in itself is powered by a Samsung S5 Snapdragon 801 processor to be able to wirelessly communicate with the camera, and process video feeds optimally. It also works as a conduit with the camera to detect obstacles through sonar sensors, and with it’s own speaker, will create a beep when you backup toward an object.

The final piece is your app for your phone, be it an Android or iOS phone, which connects to the dongle. Now, it connects in one of two ways, with the preferred method via an in-car wifi hotspot that it creates, to provide a fast video feed back to your phone, and failing that, it drops down to bluetooth quality, which is admittingly a slightly choppier video feed quality.

So you have the specs, quite promising, and we are certainly keen to see how it fares in the real-world. What we want to look at is how reactive it is, useful, and the quality of the camera in both day and night.

The Test

The Pearl camera kit comes in an attractive packaging, with instructions neatly assorted within the box.

Installation

I have a 2016 Ford Fiesta ST, and believe it or not without a backup camera, so Im the perfect demographic for the Pearl Auto camera kit. Armed with my screw-driver, I go ahead and install the frame onto the back of my Fiesta, and attaching the camera to my surprise was as easy as installing a license plate.

With an included proprietary screw-driver, you ensure your camera is securely installed on your plate and making it harder for thieves to steal it.

It look someone like me, the least handy person with tools you could find, all of two minutes to install the Pearl plate. I simply unscrewing the license plate and embedding it within the Pearl frame, before re-attaching it to the back of my car, and that was it…

The dongle, having been accustomed to using the Automatic car monitoring device, which also plugs in my car’s RFID port, I was expecting this to be just as straight forward. Following the instructions on Pearl App for iOS , which I had installed on my iPhone 7 plus, I got the dongle and phone paired via bluetooth in no time.

And one final thing, in the package you do get a dash or vent mount for your phone, with a magnetic plate, that holds your phone.

With everything set, let’s take this gadget for a test-drive in my Fiesta ST…

The Test Drive

For the first test, I will parallel park driving back home from work, in front of my house, during broad daylight. I launch the Pearl app on my iPhone, as I begin to reverse my car, I manually switch to the wifi hot-spot in Settings, to check out the best in quality. While it was a tad inconvenient having to manually enter the app and go to Wifi, the quality was impressive.

Android users enjoy the advantages of having the active wifi automatically switch to the in-car hotspot, iPhone users are fresh out of luck.

As I continue to back up, when i was within 6 feet, i got the caution alert, which was not only loud, but the screen made a cool visual vibrating alert. When you get to within2 feet, the ‘stop zone’ it would make an even more prominent alert signal to the driver.

Second test, parking at night-time, and this time, being within proximity to my home wifi again, I wanted to test with optimal in-car wifi first, and the vision was spectacular. In my previous Ford Focus, I’ve had a backup camera and unless the street was well-lit at night, the backup camera was a bit fuzzy, so to have this camera outperform the car manufacturer’s camera is quite impressive.

Now for the final test, I allowed the app to drop down to bluetooth connectivity with the camera, as I park near in front of my home again, and while the quality noticeably denigrated, with some lag, it wasn’t un-useable, and definitely not as bad as some reviewers had made it out to be. If I had not experienced Wifi, for me this would still be a useful feature and I wouldn’t be missing anything.

Having said that, this is a known limitation with iOS and perhaps something Apple would fix in the near future, or Pearl will find a more creative solution for, but a minor downer, as far as experience goes. When you start to drive and go beyond 10 miles an hour, you get a convenient app launch screen so you can quickly and safely switch to the Maps app, or music app.

Update: The guys at Pearl Auto have updated their software to now include guidelines so it draws the lines on the road to ensure get a better alignment as you backup.

Conclusion

I think Pearl Auto’s initiative to address of a very under-served and large market is fantastic, and it goes beyond the other cheap cameras you would find on Amazon, and lets car owners avoid costly and complicated mechanic-installed cameras, and instead provides an easy-to-install, cheap camera.

The price is a little bit high, and hopefully it will start to come down, but otherwise, this camera is a fantastic add-on for your car. For me, living in the city, parking is always tight and having an extra pair of eyes to ensure I park safely without hitting the car behind me, makes this backup camera worth it. After all, you can’t put a price on your safety, while your mechanic will certainly put a price on any dents you get on the back of your car.

Pros

  • Easy to install.
  • Great quality in both Wifi and bluetooth.
  • Great potential for future software upgrades. 

Cons

  • A little bit pricey at $600
  • Current iOS limitations with launching the app automatically in Wifi. 

Doron's Rating: 8/10