Convergence and the RCA Touchscreen Tablet Laptop

Whenever I have to do home repair I’m a stickler for using the right tool for the job.  That can end up being a handyman’s nightmare.  A toolbox overflowing with single function devices.  I’ve got tools in the toolbox that I’ve only used one time because it fit some toilet or light fixture.  I can’t even remember for what purpose I bought some of these things.

When it comes to personal technology I also believe in getting the right tool for the job.  I used to dream of having that be-all, end-all product that would take care of every one of my digital needs but I’ve realized that my wish is probably never going to be fulfilled.
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Finding Usability in the EVANPO T95Z

One of the benefits of the technology cycle is that products eventually become more accessible.  When I first got into computers, and Bill Gates still had acne, it was strictly for hobbyists and enthusiasts.  There were too many cryptic things like boot disks and memory management for the average user to deal with.

Those days are long gone and even though we still struggle with the idea of usability, we’re light years ahead of where this all started.  Even a few years ago it would have been unthinkable to recommend Linux to the inexperienced user.  Today it’s quite common for the Facebook grandma to be hooked up with a beefy Ubuntu box.
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Boddenly TV Box and the Life Cycle

When I was writing about the Arduino not too long ago I revisited a belief about consumer electronics that I’ve held for quite some time. I say consumer electronics, but I feel this applies to any number of consumer-oriented products. The basic idea is that all consumer electronics eventually evolve to the point of advancing style over substance.

The reason that the Arduino brought up this point was because I was surprised to see how strongly the sales continue to be for the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and kit PC’s in general. While they are modestly afflicted with the burden of style, like Desktop Computers, they manage to endure and evolve despite not being considered aesthetic.

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Top Selling Products for April

It’s always helpful for me to know what people are interested in reading about.  Since we talk about mainly Stick Computers and TV Boxes here, it goes without saying that most of you are interested in reading about those!  But it’s also surprising sometimes to see the things you’ve purchased that aren’t either Sticks or Boxes.

I thought it might be interesting for readers to know what other readers have deemed purchase-worthy.  Don’t worry, we have no idea who bought what.  That’s between you and Amazon.  Thanks to all who clicked and bought something! It helps us to continue to review great products.

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The Hobbyist and Arduino

In the early stages of development, a tech product like Stick Computers tends to attract a certain category of buyer. The first adopters are generally considered very technical or hobbyist type people. As the product category matures, the user base widens to include all sorts of participants, including the most novice.

If I’m being honest, the first couple of generations of Stick Computers that came on to the market were not very good. There were exceptions, of course, such as the old reliable MK808’s. But many of the others were simply not good. Often they suffered from shoddy manufacturing and inferior components.

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Roku Streaming Stick

I admit I’ve never been a big fan of so-called “Big Box” stores.  These are the giant strip-mall type super-mega stores that sell everything from Pet food to Mattresses to Consumer Electronics.  The main reason that I avoided these places was because I never felt I was allowed to “just browse” without being asked a dozen times “Can I help you find something”?

If a salesperson is knowledgeable about the merchandise they’re selling, it’s one thing, but especially with consumer electronics, I feel confident that I am more familiar with the stuff I’m browsing than whomever it is trying to sell it to me.  In case you are one of those sales guys (or gals) who does know his stuff – I’m not talking about you.  You know who I’m talking about and he probably works at your store, too.

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Intel NUC as a Media Center or Desktop

Prior to 2015 my primary computer of choice was always a laptop.  I’ve used a few different brands over the years, including Dell, HP, Compaq and IBM.  My favorite has been Dell, but that’s probably because I’ve had the least problems with them.  I also like the simplicity of their keyboard layout.  I don’t think I’ve missed a generational change in portable computing power since I bought my first laptop many years ago.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had desktops, too.

As practical as it is to have a laptop for work, I find it less than satisfactory for gaming and other non-work related activities such as media playback.  Like many of you I found it necessary (and convenient) to maintain a desktop computer to satisfy my gaming needs.  Gaming can take a toll on a laptop in many ways, from repeated keypresses to overheated CPU and Graphics processors.  I confess that both my wife and I have fried laptops from even infrequent gaming.  Adobe Flash is the devil incarnate for a GPU.

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Khanka Travel Case for Fire Stick

Because I’ve been somewhat footloose my entire life, I place a high value on things that are small and portable.  It’s the main thing that attracted me to Stick Computing in the first place.  The idea of being able to carry your computer in a shirt pocket was something I dreamed about for years.  Of course today we have many ways of achieving that same goal with either phones, tablets or Mini PC’s.

In addition to hand-held mobile devices, I’ve always been a fan of Laptop computers.  My first “laptop” was actually not called a laptop, but a transportable computer made by Compaq.  I purchased a Compaq portable in the spring of 1984 for a stunning $3,000 and change. It boasted a single half-height 5¼” 360 kB diskette drive and a whopping 10Mb hard disk.  At 28lbs, it was just barely what could be called portable and definitely not laptop.

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Mini Pocket Projectors

For many of us, the primary use of a Stick Computer or TV Box is to display our media. Whether you’re into movies or music, or you prefer getting your content from a DVD collection or Youtube, the basic need is the same. You want a player that’s capable of handling a wide variety of formats and displaying it correctly without distortion or interruption. Hook it up to our monitors and we’re good to go. What more can we ask for, right?

It turns out there is one more thing we can ask our little guys to do. In addition to being great little streamers, there are also a smaller, but growing number of devices that can also directly project media without the need for a TV or Monitor. Having seen some early versions in action I was still a bit skeptical of what sort of performance you might expect from such a compact and inexpensive device, but I have to say that I’ve come away mildly impressed at what you can buy right now.

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4TB My Cloud Personal Network Attached Storage

Stick Computers and TV Boxes add another dimension to your online life. If you’re reading this, you probably already have a number of ways to access your media, be it local or on the Internet. Most of us have at least some sort of phone, smartwatch or tablet for accessing content on the go, a laptop, PC or console for more complex tasks, such as writing or playing games and perhaps a smart, Internet connected device such as the Amazon Dot to make routine tasks even easier.

No matter what devices you own, they all share one thing in common, and that’s a need for storing and accessing data. If your primary device is a tablet or phone, then you’re probably already committed to the idea of using cloud storage for your data needs. Even though your phones and tablets can have storage expanded locally, they don’t come close to storing the file sizes required by large music or video libraries. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is virtually limitless if you have the funds to rent the space.

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