Video: Review of Toshiba Chromebook Laptop for under $300

Chromebooks are somewhat hard to position in the market, sitting somewhere between an Android tablet and a Windows laptop.  They run a web based operating system from Google called Chrome OS.  Here we show a video of the Toshiba 13.3 inch Chromebook.

Check the Toshiba Chromebook out here.

The Toshiba is a fully fledged laptop.  Ports wise the Chromebook features 2 USB ports, one HDMI port, a card reader and a headphone port.  The laptop isn’t heavy, in fact it feels to be a very portable laptop whilst still keeping good build quality. The screen is crisp, giving a great picture, and the keyboard feels very sturdy.

Under the hood you have an Intel Celeron processor – this isn’t the most powerful of processors, but power isn’t really what Chromebooks are for.  If you’re wanting to run processor intensive tasks you may want to go for a Windows laptop (see our review of the Dell XPS 13 here).  On board you have 2Gb of RAM and 16GB of storage, whilst this doesn’t sound like much, remember that this is a Chromebook, so almost everything is run and stored in the cloud.

Price wise this comes in at $276.99.  This is a little pricier than some Chromebooks on the market, but it’s worth spending the extra dollars.  Quite honestly some of the Chromebooks out there risk feeling a bit… cheap.  You don’t get this with the Toshiba.  It’s a well built device, and great for those on the road a lot.

Check it out on Amazon here: Toshiba CB35-B3330 13.3 Inch Chromebook (Intel Celeron, 2GB, 16GB SSD, Silver)



Drones for under $50

Drones are cool, we all get that, but they’re kinda pricey. For example, a decent DJI Phantom 3 drone costs $800 on Amazon. In this article we’re going to walk through a few examples of what you can get for a mere $50!

Let’s be clear, for $50 you’re not going to get great flight control, GPS navigation, return to home control, on board computers or decent flight time. However, with the price tag of these devices they’re great for playing around the local park, or with the current cold weather even mucking about indoors. Think of them as entertaining flying cameras for some weekend or vacation fun. And, coming from someone who has trashed a $600 drone by stacking it into a swimming pool, it’s not going to matter that much is you kill your $50 drone.

The cheapest drone on test here is a mere $17.25! Check them out below.

Creazy X5C 6 Axis Quadcopter

Creazy Drone for under $50
Creazy Drone for under $50

This guy is a good old quadcopter; it’s got 4 channels of movement so it can go up and down, back and forth, rotate right and left and fly sideways. Whilst you only get 7 minutes of flight time, for your $50 you do get a spare battery. This is handy because each battery takes 100 minutes to charge – not something you can do when you’re out.

The remote control operates over 2.4GHz which means you get some good distance (unlike devices that run on wifi). To be honest, you’ll find most of the drones here run on 2.4GHz.

There is an onboard camera of dubious quality, only 0.3 MP, however it is enough to take some pictures and record some fun movies. They’re saved to an internal memory card, which is kinda handy.

On Amazon the device is marked down to $50 from $299, so if you can tolerate the poor camera, this looks like a great deal.  

Click here for the latest Amazon price

Lookatool Mini RC Drone

Lookatool Drone for under $50
Lookatool Drone for under $50

Now, this drone looks cool. It has, not four, but six bright orange propellers! It has an on-board camera, but details are a bit thin on the ground; the camera is listed as ‘200W’ which isn’t clear to us what this means. It’s likely though, that you can expect it to be of similar quality to the camera on the Creazy.

Unlike the Creazy, this drone is supplied with only one battery. You get 6-8 minutes of flight time, and whilst the battery charge time is shorter at 60 minutes, this is still not feasible to do whilst you are out.

There’s also no built in memory storage (you need to buy another SD card). This drone looks cool, but apart from its 6 orange props, it is lacking in features.

Click here to see the Lookatool on Amazon

Shensee Drone with 2MP HD Camera

Shensee Drone for $50
Shensee Drone for $50

This drone isn’t as flashy as the Lookatool, however it does have the best spec camera on test with 2MP – significantly more than you’ll get in the Creazy – don’t expect great optics at this price point, but at least the pixel density is a bit better.

It has the standard, 4 prop quadcopter setup and is operated via a 2.4GHz remote control again. Flight time and charge time are similar to the Lookatool, with 8 mins of flight time and 60 mins of charging.

One interesting point is that it is listed as having a return to home feature. On a high end DJI drone this means that, if the drone loses contact with the remote or has a low battery, it will return to the place it took off from. It’s not clear how advanced this feature is within the Shensee, but at least it has something.  Of course, if you are flying indoors this is less important.

Check out the latest Amazon price here.

Cheerson CX-10 Mini

Cheerson Drone for $17.25!!
Cheerson Drone for $17.25!!

Cheap is the name of the game here. This drone is a mere $17.25 with free shipping, so if you are after a bargain this is it.

The drone itself is tiny (it’ll sit in the palm of your hand!), and you don’t get a camera. This means that your fun is going to come from flying this, rather than taking pictures. Flight time is 4-8 minutes and given the device is really small you wouldn’t want to put this in any kind of wind.  This is for indoor flying during the cold winter.

However, given that this is less than the price of a beer and a burger… why not get it?!

Check out the Cheerson on Amazon here.

Which would we get?

If you are after an absolute steal to play with indoors whilst it’s cold out, get the Cheerson.  It really costs hardly anything!  If you want something to take to the park, we’d go for the Creazy as for your $50 you are going to get double the flight time with the spare battery.



The small Apple Watch feature that makes it amazing

There’s a small feature of my Apple Watch that has made me love it.

 

Let’s be honest, the first generation of most new devices are not the best. There’s usually some tweaking that needs to happen. The Apple Watch is no exception, it’s a great device, or more specifically, it will be a great device, but it has its weaknesses.

However, we’re not here to talk about those weaknesses today. There’s a small feature in the Apple Maps application that is great. You put your destination in, plan the route and get going. When you need to turn your watch will buzz on your arm and you’ll have the directions (e.g. ‘turn left onto High Street’) on the screen.

Now, I tried this with driving and it didn’t mean much to me.. I mean.. I have the phone screen right in front of me so don’t find this a valuable add on. However on a recent vacation to Italy I found it invaluable when walking.

You see, with navigation by the phone you’re always walking along with the phone in your hand, checking where you are, if you’ve gone too far or need to turn. It’s really antisocial and it sucks, especially on vacation.

Instead with the Apple Watch, just set everything up, throw your phone in your pocket and go for a nice walk. Chat with people, look around, take in the city you’ve just paid to visit. Your watch will quietly buzz on your arm when you need to turn. You then quickly look at the watch to find out where you need to go. Then you carry on with your vacation.

It’s a small thing, yes, but it’s a great little feature that I used, and will continue to use, constantly when navigating on vacation.

Check out more about the Apple Watch here.

Heimsicherheit Kamera Test: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis und DIY!

Für Heimsicherheit sind nicht weiter große Summen und Geld, komplizierte Installationen und viel Arbeit erfordert. Es gibt moderne und zeitlose Lösungen zu erschwinglichen Preisen. In diesem Artikel werden wir Ihnen eine Auswahl von verschiedenen Produkten vorstellen…

Canary

Canary ist ein relativ neues Produkt auf dem Heimsicherheitsmarkt und hat bereits für viel Gesprächsmaterial gesorgt.

Das Canary ist ein Gerät, das auf einer Oberfläche sitzt (Tisch, Regal, usw.) und erfordert als solches keine Installation. Das Gerät wird von einer mobilen App gesteuert. Die App ist verfügbar für iPhones und Android.

Die Installation ist sehr einfach. Mit Hilfe der App verbinden Sie die Canary Kamera mit Ihrem Wlan Netzwerk, fügen Mitglieder für Ihren Haushalt hinzu und richten das Gerät anschließend für einen optimalen Kamerawinkel aus.

Videos werden per Bewegungsmelder aktiviert und in die Cloud übertragen. Dies ist eine sehr wichtige Funktion, da Sie somit Bildmaterial besitzen, auch wenn ein Einbrecher die Kamera stielt. Wir haben den Bewegungsmelder als recht empfindlich empfunden, da dieser hin und wieder auch von Haustieren aktiviert wurde. Kürzlich Software Aktualisierungen erlauben jedoch die Kontrolle dieser Schwellwerte.

Neben der Überwachung in hochauflösendem Video- und Tonmaterial überwacht die Canary auch die Temperatur, Luftfeuchtigkeit und die Qualität der Luft in Ihrem Zuhause. Dies bedeutet, dass Sie auch bei Feuern alarmiert werden.

Wenn Bewegung in Ihrem Haus festgestellt wird (und die App erkannt hat, dass Sie nicht zuhause sind) werden Sie eine Benachrichtigung mit dem dazugehörenden Video erhalten. Sie können anschließend entweder einen Notruf absetzen oder einen wirkliche lauten Alarm in Ihrem Haus aktivieren.

Hilfreich hierbei ist, und dies war vermutlich nicht gewollt, ist die Tatsache, dass die Canary nicht wie eine Kamera aussieht. Dies bedeutet, dass Sie das Produkt auf einem Tisch aufstellen können und Diebe das Gesicht nicht vor dem Produkt verbergen!

Im Anschluss an die Kosten für das Gerät bietet Ihnen Canary Abonnements die festlegen, wie lange die Videos im Cloud-Dienst des Herstellers gespeichert werden (und somit in der App verfügbar sind).

Zusammenfassend kann gesagt werden, dass die Canary bei diesem Preis ein gut ausgestattetes, nützliches und sehr fähiges Produkt ist. Es erfordert keine physikalische Installation und eignet sich basierend auf die App sehr gut für Mieter, Vermieter und Eigentümer.

Nest Cam

Nest (nun Google) ist bereits seit längerer Teil des Heimautomationsmarktes. Das Nest Thermostat war ein großer Erfolg in den USA und auch der Next Protect Rauchalarm hat Fuß in GB gefasst.

Die Next Cam ist das Heimsicherheitsprodukt (obwohl eine Verwendung über die Sicherheit hinaus angegeben wird) und sieht aus wie eine traditionelle Webcam.

Geliefert wird das Produkt zusammen mit Clips die es erlauben das Produkt an einer Vielzahl von Stellen im Haus anzubringen. Die Kamera erfordert eine Internetverbindung und das gesamte Produkt wird mit Hilfe von mobilen Apps gesteuert. Sollten Sie bereits ein Nest Benutzer sein, dann ist die Kamera dazu in der Lage mit Ihrem Thermostat oder dem Rauchalarm zu kommunizieren.

Im Vergleich zu der Canary speichert das Produkt (in der Cloud) alles und nicht nur Clips mit Hilfe eines Bewegungsmelders. Es bestehen jedoch Algorithmen die festlegen, wann ein Alarm und eine Benachrichtigung an Sie gesendet wird.

Wie auch bei der Canary gibt es verschiedene Speicher Abonnements die festlegen wie lange die Videos für Sie im Internet verfügbar sind.

Wi-Fi Kamera mit PC Software

Diese Option ist eine sehr flexible DIY Lösung. Sie benötigen die folgenden Dinge:

  1. Eine Netzwerkkamera, vorzugsweise mit Wi-Fi Verbindung.
  2. Eine Anwendung um die Aufzeichnung von der Kamera zu steuern.
  3. Ein Computer auf dem die Videos gespeichert werden.

Optional ist eine Art von Cloud Speicherdienst wie Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive oder iCloud.

Zu aller Erst müssen Sie die Kamera konfigurieren. Wie haben die Tenvis Reihe von Kameras hierfür als sehr gutes Produkt mit akzeptabler Bildqualität empfunden. Die Qualität der Bilder ist niedrig und die Farben entsprechen jedoch nicht der Realität. Um die Kamera zu konfigurieren muss diese mit einer Netzwerkverbindung verbunden werden (mit einem physikalischen Netzwerkkabel). Die IP Adresse der Kamera kann anschließend mit dem Tenvis Discovery Tool in Ihrem Netzwerk gefunden werden. Anschließend melden Sie sich mit einem Web Browser auf der Oberfläche der Kamera an und verbinden diese mit Ihrem Wi-Fi Netzwerk. Die Web Oberfläche ist nicht sehr einfach verständlich und an technisch versierte Personen gerichtet.

Sie können die Kamera anschließend in Ihrem Haus herumbewegen (Voraussetzung hierfür ist eine Wi-Fi Abdeckung des Hauses) und eine Live Ansicht der Kamera in Ihrem Netzwerk erhalten.

Als nächstes muss die Software zur Steuerung der Aufzeichnung der Kamera eingerichtet werden. Wir verwenden die gratis iSpy Anwendung. Die Anwendung kann so eingerichtet werden, dass Videos bei Erkennung von Bewegung aufgezeichnet werden. Des Weiteren stehen eine Vielzahl von Optionen bezüglich Videokonfiguration und Speicher zu Verfügung – auch hier, das Programm ist nicht für Laien. Es handelt sich um ein sehr leistungsstarkes Programm.
Dies ist alles, was Sie für Ihr eigenes Videoaufzeichnungssystem erfordern. Wie empfehlen Ihnen die Lagerung von Videomaterial in der Cloud, sodass Sie auch bei einem kaputten oder gestohlenen Computer weiterhin Zugriff auf die Videos haben.

Zusammenfassung

Es gibt keinen wirklich Grund mehr sich für die DIY Lösung zu entscheiden (außer Sie haben eine Webcam im Haus). Die Lösungen von sowohl Canary als auch Next sind sehr umfassend und einfach zu bedienen. Uns gefallen beide Produkte, wurden jedoch die Canary empfehlen, da das Produkt nicht wie eine Kamera aussieht.


Laptops for Data Scientists and Big Data Analysts

Today’s laptops are all becoming smaller in the name of portability.  The knock on effect is that computational power is reduced. However, many big data use cases require the power to run computationally heavy tasks such as high memory simulations or big multi core data analytics. In these cases the low power processors won’t cut it. Here we look at powerful laptops, with high memory and fast processors.

With the release of Intel’s Skylake line-up a mobile version of the Xeon processor range was released. Traditionally only found in big server farms, the Xeon processor opens up, not just more computational power, but access to more memory also. It’s not all about Xeon though. The top end of Intel’s i7 range (even pre Skylake) offer exceptional performance, and some great savings can be made here.

In this review we’re going to focus on laptops with fast processors and lots of memory. Unlike a gaming environment we’re less concerned with GPU performance here (although worth noting). Also, whilst these computers are laptops, they going to be larger than those found on the ultra portable market today.

All of the laptops we discuss here feature multicore processors. Remember that, whilst all contemporary operating systems support multi core CPUs, the software you are running (or more likely, writing), needs to parralelize its computation. If you are restricted to single core execution then you need to look at the single core performance of the laptop’s CPU.

There many good laptops out there. We’ve selected the Lenovo laptop as the Thinkpad range has always been a workhorse, the MSI laptops because MSI have been building exceptional performance laptops for a while now and a MacBook Pro because many coders will be wanting to work on OSX.

Lenovo Thinkpad P70 – A beast with monster memory!

Lenovo Laptop for Data Scientists
Lenovo Laptop for Data Scientists

The Lenovo is the newest laptop on test here and sports a 17.3inch display. It features either a 6th gen i7 processor or the 6th gen Xeon mobile processor (specifically the E3-1505M v5 unit with variable clocking up to 3.70 Ghz). It holds up to 64GB of ECC DDR4 ram, a monstrous amount of memory. This is more than enough more the most insane of analytics tasks – if you need more than this then either there is something wrong with your code, or you are working on such large datasets that a large compute server is the only way.

Quite honestly this laptop is a processing beast, and has a beastly price tag to match. If a 17inch display is what you are after you may wish to look towards the lower end of the range which still features an i7-6700HQ Quad core and still be configured up to 64GB of memory.

The little brother to the P70 is the Lenovo Thinkpad P50. Still with a Xeon option and loads of memory, the P50 has a 15.6inch display, but comes in at with a cheaper price tag.

Click here to see the Lenovo on Amazon (US)

 

MSI W range with 6th gen Intel processors

MSI Laptop for Data Scientists
MSI Laptop for Data Scientists

Advertised as a workstation laptops, the W range offer serious power. The range gives you both Intel i5/i7 and Intel Xeon processor options. Amazon has a convenient browser (click here to see it) that makes it easy to see the differences between models.

The WT72 6QJ model comes with an Intel i7 6700HQ clocked at 2.6GHz and 16GB of memory (although across the W range you can select up to 64GB). Your data is held on an NVMe pCIe SSD which MSI say is 5x faster than other SSDs. Like most, the machine had a 17 inch display with a graphics card kicking loads of grunt. You’ll inevitably be moving large datasets about across your network so it is handy that this laptop has gigabit Ethernet on top of all the usual ports.

The price tag is much more modest here at around the $2000 mark, depending upon the model you chose. MSI have been making performance laptops for a long time now and they know what they are doing. With MSI you get good power, but also good value.

Click here to see the MSI on Amazon

 

MSI GE72 – Budget price with premium power

Great value performance laptop
Great value performance laptop

This MSI holds a 4th generation Intel i7 processor. Whilst this is a few generations behind the current Skylake range (6th gen) don’t thing it is sluggish – it even beats some of the 6th gen processors in performance (although power consumption is generally higher). For $899 on Amazon you score a quad core i7-4720HQ with 12GB of memory, 1TB of storage and a 17 inch display. The processor scores 8110 on the PassMark score sheet across its 4 cores, which is higher than the current i7-6700HQ featured in the laptops above (7982).

This laptop isn’t going to have the latest features, but at this price you are getting some very decent performance and this would make a great data analytics laptop.

Click here to see it on Amazon

 

15 inch Macbook Pro – Good looks, OSX and good performance

Apple Laptop for Data Scientists
Apple Laptop for Data Scientists

Not all the powerful machines are a bit weird. A good old Macbook Pro offers some great performance, and if OSX is the way you like to go this one is for you. Look to the 15 inch Macbook Pro range and you’ll find a laptop with an SSD, 16GB of memory and a Quad core Intel i7-4770HQ which has a PassMark score of 8964. The build quality is obviously fantastic given it’s an Apple machine.

Click here to see the Macbook Pro on Amazon

 

Summary
If you were to ask us, we’d take the MSI laptop with the 4th gen i7 processor. For $899 it is hard to find a better deal for this performance. There are other laptops out there though, so do your research and pick one that works for you.


Password Managers for Mac: Forget forgetting your passwords

You’re probably reading this post because you’re getting fed up with all those passwords. Maybe you just got locked out of an account because you forgot your password? A new set of super secure applications may be able to help you: password managers.

The leader in this space is 1password and the clue is in the name with these guys, you decide upon one password for the 1password application, then let it do the rest. It integrates with your desktop and browser so that, when you need a new password it’ll generate a super secure one for you, and remember it. Next time you need to login the application will sign you in, just using your 1 master password. You don’t need to remember all the different passwords.

1password say you can use the app, not just for passwords but for keeping your whole online identity safe, including all your personal information, too. In addition to your Mac, 1password is available for Windows, iPhones and Android phones so you’re able to login securely on all your devices. 1password actually communicate their value prop very clearly in this video (plus, we love this guy’s dead pan expression):

You install 1password directly on to your Mac from the AppStore. It does cost a few bucks, but this is worth it when you consider what’s a stake – you need a professional application which is super secure that you can trust. You’ll find it directly on the Mac AppStore here:

In the interests of fairness, there are others out there too (all with apps for most desktop and mobile platforms). Some are free, whilst others are paid for check out:




Review of Home Security Cameras: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis and DIY!

Home security no longer needs a massive investment of cash, huge installations and loads of mess. There are modern, contemporary solutions available at a great price. Here we walk you through a few of your options…

Canary
Canary are a relatively new entrant to the home security market, but they are definitely disrupting it.

The canary is a device which sits on a surface (table, shelf, etc) and as such it need no complex installation. The device is controlled and accessed via a mobile app with support for iPhones (find the app here) and Android.


Setup is easy, using the app you hook the Canary up to your wifi network, add members of your household to the device and then position it sensibly so the wide angle camera gets a good shot.

Videos are motion activated and streamed up to the cloud. This is important because if a thief steals the actually canary, you’ll still have all you videos. We’ve found the motion activation to be a bit sensitive, causing it to be set off by pets regularly. Recent software updates enable you to control the sensitivity of this though.

On top of high definition video with audio, the Canary also monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality of your home. This means that you should be alerted to fires also.

When there is movement in the house (and the app has detected that you are not home) you will get a notification with the associated video. You can then take action, either calling the emergency services or setting off a rather loud alarm in your home.

What’s particularly convenient, and perhaps unintended with the Canary, is that it doesn’t actually look like a camera. This means that you can leave it on a table surface and thieves won’t hide their faces from it!

Beyond the cost of the initial device, Canary offer you subscriptions which determine how long your videos are stored in their cloud service for (and hence are available in the app).

All in, for the price, the Canary is a very well equipped, useable and capable device. As it requires no physical installation into the building it is great for renters, but to be honest the usability of the app makes it great for home owners too.

Find it on Amazon here: Canary All-in-One Home Security Device

Nest Cam
Nest (now owned by Google) have been in the home automation market for some time now. Their Nest thermostat has been a massive hit in the US, and their Nest Protect Smoke Alarm has gained good traction in the UK too.

The Nest Cam is their home security offering (although it is advertised as having uses beyond security), and looks a lot like a traditional webcam.

It comes with some handy clips so that it can be mounted in various places around the home. Again, it requires a web connection and everything is accessed through their mobile apps and, a big bonus if you are already a best user, it will talk to your thermostat or smoke alarm.

Unlike the Canary it stores everything (in the cloud) rather than just motion activated clips, although it has ‘algorithms’ which determine when you need to be notified.

As with the Canary there is a storage plan which determines how long the videos are stored online for you.

Find it on Amazon here:Nest Cam Security Camera

Wifi Camera with PC Software

This option is a rather DIY approach, but is very flexible. You will need three things:

  1. A network camera, preferably with a wifi connection
  2. Software to control video recording from the camera
  3. A computer to store the videos on

Optionally you may also require some kind of cloud storage such as Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive or iCloud.

First up you need to configure your camera. We found the Tenvis range acceptable cameras that produce recognisable images. However the quality is low and the colours are just all wrong. To configure the camera you first have to plug it into an ethernet connection (physical network cable), discover the camera’s IP address with the Tenvis discovery tool, log in using the web browser interface and finally connect it to your wifi network. The web interface is not particularly simple and is for the more technically minded.

You can then move your camera around the house (assuming you’re in wifi coverage) and view a live feed from your camera over your home network.

Next you need some software to control the recording of images. We use iSpy which is free and good software. You can configure it to store videos when they are motion activated and you can tweak many many parameters to do with video configuration and storage – again, not for the faint hearted but certainly a powerful tool.

This could be it with you up and running with a video recording system. However, we would recommend that you store the videos in a cloud storage device so that if your computer is corrupted or every stolen you still have your videos.

Summary
There is no real compelling case to go for the DIY solution anymore (unless you have a webcam kicking about the house).  The solutions from both Canary and Nest are very comprehensive and seriously simple to use.  We’d take either, but would recommend the Canary for the simple reason that it doesn’t actually look like a camera!



Google’s USB-C to HDMI adapter working under Windows 10

I’ve been looking for a decent USB-C to HDMI adapter for my laptop for a while now.  I expected my Dell XPS 13 laptop to have a mini display port, but it just comes with a USB-C port.

There are lots of discussions on the web about poor quality USB-C cables, so I wanted a recognized manufacturer. I couldn’t find anything from Belkin etc.

I first invested a phenomenal amount of money in an Apple USB-C to VGA adapter designed for the MacBook (click here to see it on Amazon) on the assumption that it should have Bootcamp available drivers. Whilst this worked, the image quality was rather poor with the image appearing slightly fuzzy. Maybe it’s a driver issue, or some incompatibility with the Dell, but it doesn’t make for a great viewing experience.

I then came across a Google branded USB-C to HDMI adapter designed for the Chromebooks.  This, incidentally, is half the price of the Apple adapter.

The upshot is that, even though it is not designed for a Windows laptop, it works brilliantly.  Windows 10 recognized it immediately with no complicated setup or driver hunting.  The image is crystal clear and audio is delivered over HDMI as it should be.

It’s highly recommended and can be found on the Google Store here.

In fairness, there a few other USB type C to HDMI adapters on Amazon that are from brands I don’t recognize but that may work well, I simply can’t comment.


Zoostorm Home Desktop PC User Review

Zoostorm is a British PC manufacturer that those looking for a well built desktop PC at a good price should look towards.

The model we’re reviewing has an Intel Core-i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1tb hard drive and Windows 10 Home pre installed. All this comes in at just £394.93 with free delivery from Amazon. However, Zoostorm have a wide and comprehensive range of PCs available so there will be other models to suit your requirements.  Amazon has the same spec PC listed, albeit with a slightly different case:

The first thing you notice is that the computer is big, physically. It is not in a slimline or sleek case, it is a good old fashioned tower case. This means it’s more likely going to sit under your desk rather than on it. Computer enthusiasts will like this as you can easily open the case to access all the components but space conscious users may be concerned by this.

The performance for a home PC is good. We’ve used the PC for email, web browsing, editing word documents, photos and video management, and some remote access to work computers. This isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but the price reflects this.

The model we tested didn’t come with wifi. This means that we hooked it up by plugging a network cable into a powerline network (that is a wired network that runs over you home electrical system). We found this to be too slow and eventually installed a wifi card. Installation was easy as the case is so big, and the performance of the card was good. We used the following wifi card:

TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 N900 Wireless Dual Band PCI Express Adapter

The PC doesn’t come with any speakers, so you’ll need some headphones or a set of cheap pc speakers. You’ve probably got some kicking about the house/office.

Build quality wise the tower case is well built and sturdy. There are no corners cut here and the computer feels like a premium product. The computer is supplied with a keyboard and mouse, which are perfectly usable although the mouse in particular has a somewhat budget feel. Again, consider the price though and this becomes more acceptable.

In summary, if you are looking for a slim, small PC this isn’t for you; if you are looking for a powerhouse PC this isn’t for you; however if you are looking for a great value PC with good performance (which can be easily modified and upgraded) then you really should consider a Zoostorm PC.


FreedomPop: mobile data just became free

FreedomPop has been active in the USA for some time now, but it is only recently that they’ve come to the UK.

Why should you care? Free data – that’s why. There have always been deals from the mobile networks and MVNOs that give cheap data, but nobody has given it away completely free before.

FreedomPop uses Three’s network, so they don’t own the infrastructure themselves, but that makes no difference to you the consumer and Three he a very robust data network.

They don’t just do mobile data, they offer free texts and calls too – however this is offered via their app (click here for their iOS app) as a voice over IP solution so you don’t get the QoS you would with a network based voice call. However, we’ve only used FreedomPop for data so we can’t comment on much else.


So, the free allowance gives you 200mb if data per month. Whilst this isn’t a lot (and certainly wouldn’t suffice for heavy usage…but you can upgrade at competitive rates), we find it plenty for staying online between the office and home, etc. It’s worth noting that FreedomPop isn’t our main mobile connection, but the nano SIM has been used in an iPad mini and a 3G dongle with great success.

You do need to pay for the SIM card and to activate it – a total of £7.99. We assume this is to avoid people ordering hundreds of the cards. This is a one off payment though, and seems manageable to us.

You can get a micro or nano SIM card. The nano SIM slotted straight into our iPad mini. For the 3G dongle we needed an adapter such as this to change the nano sim to a full size SIM:

Mudder 5-in-1 Nano Micro Standard SIM Card Adapter Converter Kit

The 3G dongle we’re using is a great bit of kit, it lasts for a whole day of usage and is small enough to stick in your pocket. It is not 4G but can still push up to 21Mbps over a decent 3G connection:

TP-LINK M5350 3G Mi-Fi Hotspot

In summary, this is actually the real deal. You often hear about free data deals which, when you look into them, have unreasonable caveats such as long term contracts. Whilst there is an initial payment of a few quid, this seems like a great deal for lightweight data usage.