Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kingston SSDNow mS200 mSATA SSD 3.0 Review

Computers are continually getting faster and faster and components seem to be getting smaller and smaller. Along with that mSATA drives are also gaining in popularity. Not only are they fast like their full sized mSATA counterparts, they are also significantly smaller in size. Up for review today is a 256 Gb mSATA drive from Kingston.

Features and specs:
Form factor: mSATA
SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s), SATA Rev. 2.0 (3Gb/s), SATA Rev. 1.0 (1.5Gb/s)
Capacities1: 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Encryption: AES 128bit
Sequential Read/Write2:
30GB – 550 MB/s / 510MB/s
60GB, 120GB – 550 MB/s / 520MB/s
240GB – 540 MB/s / 530MB/s
480GB – 530 MB/s / 340MB/s
Maximum 4k Read/Write2:
30GB – up to 86,000 / up to 77,000 IOPS
60GB – up to 86,000 / up to 79,000 IOPS
120GB – up to 86,000 / up to 48,000 IOPS
240GB – up to 72,000 / up to 40,000 IOPS
480GB – up to 72,000 / up to 18,000 IOPS
Random 4k Read/Write2:
30GB – up to 7,500 / up to 71,000 IOPS
60GB – up to 14,000 / up to 77,000 IOPS
120GB – up to 17,000 / up to 45,000 IOPS
240GB – up to 21,000 / up to 41,000 IOPS
480GB – up to 21,000 / up to 13,000 IOPS
PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score: 60,000
Power Consumption:
0.4W Idle / 1.2 (TYP) Read / 1.8 W (TYP) Write
Storage temperatures: -40°C ~ 85°C
Operating temperatures: 0°C ~ 70°C
Dimensions: 50.88mm x 30mm
Weight: 6.86g
TRIM: Supported
Vibration operating: 2.17G Peak
Vibration non-operating: 20G Peak
MTTF: 1,000,000 Hrs
30GB: two-year warranty with free technical support
60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB: three-year warranty with free technical support
Total Bytes Written (TBW)3:
30GB: 121TB, 3 DWPD4

 60GB: 218TB, 3 DWPD4
120GB: 337TB, 2 DWPD4
240GB: 585TB, 2 DWPD4
480GB: 1562TB, 3 DWPD4

The Kingston mSATA drive came in a small, plastic molded box, much like you typically find in memory sticks. It was just a standard box custom molded to fit the devise with a clear plastic cover so you can see the device. Quality of materials as well as construction was very good, similar to your standard computer components such as memory sticks. You could see the sanforce controller chip as well as the actual memory chips in other devices slaughtered to the board. Sautered connections were clean and secure as I have come to expect with Kingston components. Overall, it was a well made product.

mSATA drives have come long way having the same speed as a standard SSD drive, they are significantly smaller and now their capacities can be found in excess of even 256 Gb. With that size and capacity, they make for a legitimate option for a primary drive in a modern laptop with a mSATA slot. Previously used by some manufacturers to improve drive speed and performance, they can now be used such as with the Kingston drive as a full primary drive instead of just as a catch. When compared to a traditional platter based hard drive, these SSD drives can be very fast. Especially when paired with a controller such as the sanforce as Kingstone had done with this drive.

Installation was quite simple. It was a lot similar to upgrading to higher speed memory. My Lenovo laptop came with a mSATA slot and even came with a small 32Gb cache drive to improve the performance of my standard platter drive. Installation was very simple having the computer powered off, I simpley took off the back cover, unscrewed the one screw holding the mSATA drive in place took out the included small included mSATA drive, slid the new Kingston drive into place then pressing down on the drive, I reattached the screw to hold the drive in place. After reattaching the bottom cover to my laptop, I was then ready to reinstall windows onto my new Kingston mSATA memory drive.

Performance was impressive!  As listed from the specs, it will go up to 540MB/s read and 530MB/s write.  And as you can see from ATTO Disk Benchmark, it was over 550MB/s read, and just a hair under the 530MB/s write.  It you want screaming performance in a small size, this mSATA drive is the way to go!  With an MSRP is $249, it is a good value, especially when space is a premium.  Based on it's design, features, quality, and specs, the Kingston SSDNow mS200 mSATA drive has earned our Editor's Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website as

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kingston 64GB DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 Review by Kirk Spencer

Today we're going to review the Kingston 64GB DataTraveler microDuo 3.0. This little guy is super small and has a trick up its sleeve. The drive measures in at just over an inch. This thing is super portable, easy and light enough to attach to a key chain so you never leave it behind. This USB 3.0 drive has two tips. One of the tips is a regular USB 3.0 tip that you can plug into any old computer. The other tip is a micro USB 2.0 OTG tip which you can plug into Android 4.0+ devices which at the time of writing this is 85.7% of the Android market.


We always enjoy seeing how fast USB 3.0 is. Some drives are definitely quicker than others, so let's take a look:
From the results of this ATTO benchmark you can see that our best read speed is just over 100 MB/s. The write speeds were between 60 and 70 MB/s. It's definitely not the fastest we've seen from Kingston, but this also isn't their HyperX line.
This result from CrystalDiskMark paints a different picture and one that is closer to our real world experience. Most of the files I want to have access to on my phone or from my phone are pictures, music and videos. Here's what we got while transferring a video file:


We were super excited to try out the OTG feature with this little drive. To access the micro USB OTG tip you simple pull the black and silver sections in opposite directions. The silver piece pivots and exposes the micro USB OTG tip. It's quite the design but it's not without repercussions
On the surface, I really like the design of this drive. What we noticed is that there's no nice way of plugging it in and leaving the phone on a flat surface. The best option was to hang the phone off the edge. I don't like either option. The first puts pressure on the USB port of the phone which could lead to ruining the phone's USB port. The second option leaves my phone sticking out over an edge which puts it at a higher risk of getting knocked off. I found myself going with the second option most of the time and taking extra care not to bump the phone.
The black piece can be pulled off easily enough; however, it still does not let the phone lay flat due to a bump on the silver piece. For this reason it would still need to stick out off of a surface. The good news is, you have options. A book is easy enough to use and certainly less risk that the edge of a desk.



The drive is extremely small. It solves a problem for android users of transferring files from phone to computer or even phone to phone. It is reasonably fast read speeds.


The phone cannot lay flat without putting pressure on the USB port. The write speeds leave some room for improvement.


The drive is only $37.59 off Amazon. For the price and the awesome solution to sharing files between android phones and between phone and computer it's worth it. Don't expect the speeds you would get from a HyperX drive, but it's hard to argue that point when the cost is so low the drive is so versatile.  Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Kingston 64GB DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 has earned our Value Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Elite Screens Yard Master 100" Outdoor Projection Screen Review by Jenafer Roy

Video has come a long way. I remember the days when IT guys would bring home the business projectors to watch movies on the family room wall. Our first projector was a business one with a sheet! This was about 20 years ago.  Not only have projectors been perfected for home theater, they have also made their way to the outdoors. Up for review today is an excellent, portable outdoor screen from Elite Screens Yard Master 100" outdoor screen.

Features and specs:
• Ideal for any outdoor activities, such as camping, parks or movies in the backyard
• The outdoor DynaBrite Material is durable 24/7, rain or shine
• Available in diagonal sizes 100", 120", 150", 180" and 200" in 16:9 aspect ratio
• Also available with rear projection material, in diagonal sizes 103" and 123" in 16:9 aspect ratio
• Heavy-duty frame construction for all types of weather
• Setup and Takedown is simple and quick with portable carrying bag for easy storage/transportation
• Kit includes ropes and 8 stakes for wind stability
• Durable aluminum wheeled travel case included for easy storage/transportation (OMS150H / OMS180H / OMS200H models only)

The screen came shipped in a standard box opening the box revealed two carrying bags inside one of the zippered bags was the screen fabric. Inside the other zippered bag was the steel frame, broken down into multiple labeled pieces. The bags were made out of a heavy duty nylon weave material. The pole pieces appeared to be made out of steel or another type of durable metal with little metal pop up pins to hold the connections securely in place. Quality of materials used was very good and the same could be said for the quality of construction. The fabric for the screen appeared to be part nylon or polyester but also had some spandex type material with stretch to it. The stitching appeared very good as well. All in all, this looked like a product that would last quite a while. Included in the package were the two bags, one with the screen fabric and the other with the poles along with the instruction manual, stakes and rope for securing the screen in case of inclement weather.

Putting the screen together was fairly simple. And the included instructions were easy to follow. Each pole had a label sticker with a letter on it corresponding slots they were to match up with. The included storage bag was even labeled with each letter so you knew which piece stored where in the bag. I thought that was really cool. Once the frame was put together it was then just a matter of sliding the material over the frame. On the bottom of the screen were about 5 or 6 metal loops attached to Velcro straps to cinch down the screen for a tight tension that made for a good looking image to view. The included stakes worked well for securing the screen to the ground in the backyard. The only complaint, if you could even call it that, was that the labels were little round stickers with the letter printed on them, if they were to come off, it might make set up a bit more difficult. I would recommend that they be wrapped with a bit of clear tape to keep them from getting scratched or coming off. I had a few stickers that were both. But that is an easy fix.

Now that it was set up, I was able to take a step back and look at the end result. I was pleased to see that I was not surprised. This is the type of product I have come to expect from Elite Screens. They really do make an excellent functioning as well as attractive looking product. And I could tell all of my nieces and nephews were all excited for the test run in the backyard.

Kudos to Elite Screens for continuing with their expected high quality products. The quality and features were very good, everything was very well labeled so it was easy to set up and put away and will give years of use to those looking for such a well made product. At an MSRP of $249 it has an excellent bang for your buck.  And everyone had a blast using it. It’s easy to think of Elite Screens as the Babe Ruth of their industry. If you’re looking for a high quality product with a lot of bang for your buck, Elite screens is constantly hitting it out of the park.  Based on their design, features quality and performance the Elite Screen Yard Master 100"Outdoor Screen has earned our Editors Choice Award!  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter Tent Review

If you like to spend time outdoors then you probably have gone through your share of gear.  And after all, some of the best ways to use your electronics gear is to take it outdoors. After all, you won't capture that beautiful sunset in your living room. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to outdoor gear, design and quality usually means longer life and more comfort away from home. One such company that fits that mold is Alps Mountaineering. Up for review today is their Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3, in their Outfitter Series.

Features and specs:


  • Free Standing 3 Pole Design with 7000 Series Aluminum Poles
  • Easy Assembly with Pole Clips that quickly snap over the tent poles
  • 75D 185T Polyester Fly resists UV damage and stays taut
  • Factory Sealed Fly & Floor Seams gives best weather protection
  • 210D 110T Nylon Oxford Floor with 1500mm Coating
  • Extra Large #10 Zippers on Doors and Vestibules
  • Easy entry with 2 Doors (both with zippered mesh windows)
  • 2 Vestibules for gear storage and extra weather protection
  • Weatherproof Fly Buckles On for maximum adjustability and protection
  • Multiple Fly Vents increase ventilation


Base Size: 6'8 x 8'
Center Height: 4'2
Vestibule Depth: 36"
Tent Area: 48 sq. ft.
Vestibule Area: 36 sq. ft.
Tent & Fly Weight: 8 lb. 1 oz.
Total Weight: 8 lb. 12 oz.
Packed Size: 8" x 24"
Pole Diameter: 8.5 mm
Color: Tan/Green/Tan
Style: Three-pole Free Standing
Use Rating: 3 Season
Sleeps: Three

The Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter came shipped in a standard box. Opening the box yielded the tent’s carrying bag with everything stored within, a well protected tent body, rain fly, a loft, poles, stakes and their corresponding bags.  The outside of the bag showed pictures of the tent along with the instructions sewn into the bag. The tent fabric was made of a very good quality nylon. Being the Outfitter Series, they use a much larger, more durable zipper with a more durable nylon floor. The quality of materials was excellent as was the quality of the construction. Stitching was tight, the seams were sealed, it was put together very well. It was obvious that this is a premium product. I really liked the small lightweight yet strong aluminum poles, made out of 7005 series aluminum.

Having reviewed Alps Mountaineering products before, including their Extreme 2 Backpacking Tent, it was only natural to jump at the opportunity to review their Extreme 3 Outfitter tent from the Outfitter Series. The Extreme 2 Series tent was a similar, premium product with a focus on lightweight for backpacking, while the Outfitter Series is designed more for the long haul. Not that the Extreme 2 Backpacking Tent won’t last years of use, it’s just a little more delicate. Being a Scoutmaster and seeing the abuse and the demands that a tent can receive with a lot of use, the Outfitter Series just used some of the features such as larger zippers that just are more capable of handling that abuse. Yet while the floor is a bit more durable than the Extreme 2, one thing that I would have liked to have seen used is an even more durable tent floor with a more solid nylon material, like on nylon tarps. Other than that, this tent was truly amazing.

Setting up the tent was very simple. It was basically a matter of pulling out the ground cover (a separate accessory, yet highly recommended to reduce ware on the tent floor) and unpacking the tent body, poles, stakes and rain cover. Once unpacked, setting up the tent was as easy as assembling the poles, attaching them to the grommets, hooking them to the body and snapping the rain fly (if needed) into place. The three pole design is extremely sturdy, so much so that I’m a bit surprised that it wasn’t classified as a four season tent. When I reviewed the Extreme 2 tent, it was taken on a winter campout and in the morning, I awoke to an additional 3 inches of snow that had fallen during the night and it didn’t even flinch! Once set up it is freestanding and unless you are in a strong windstorm you don’t even need to necessarily sorry about staking it down. The same goes for the rain fly. Unless you are in a rainstorm, with a good amount of wind, you don’t really need to stake it down either. Staking down the rain fly would give you a lot more room in both of the side vestibules, but if there is no wind, the snaps at each of the four corners that secure it to the body of the tent will easily hold it into place. I also liked the included loft. Hooking it up to the inside top of the tent was as easy as attaching the hooks at each corner. And it made for a great spot to hang your personal items such as: keys, wallet, flashlight or all. It was actually quite large and could hold several items.

The Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 used the typical tent size rating.  While it is classified as a three man tent, and it could fit three men, but only if they didn’t need any person space.  I’m more comfortable using it as a two man tent and then we can bring in some gear as well.

In the end, the Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 tent is an ideal tent for just about any situation. It’s well designed, very well put together with high quality materials to give years of use. The Aluminum poles are light-weight and very easy to use. And I love the color coded ends for the tabs sew into the body of the tent, matching the ends of the tent poles, making it just that much easier to set up. And the snaps for the rain fly is just a continuation in the Alps Mountaineering simplicity of setup. If you do any camping at all, I highly recommend the Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter Tent. With an MSRP of $320, I can think of a few big name tents that I would choose the Alps Mountaineering over. Base on their design, features, quality and performance The Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter has earned our Editor’s Choice award. For more info and complete specs check out their website at

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alps Mountaineering Comfort XL Self Inflating Air Pad Review

It seems like with the demands of everyday life, things can just get more and more stressful. With that it’s easy to turn to the outdoors to get away from the stress for some enjoyable relief.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable while doing so. One product often used to help provide a good night’s sleep is a nice air mattress. Up for review today is a great one from Alps Mountaineering. It is their Comfort XL Self-Inflating Air Pad.

Features and specs:
  • Jet Stream Wave Foam
  • Faster Inflating and Deflating
  • Brushed "Suede-like" Top Fabric
  • Extra Comfort and Less Sliding
  • Anti-Slip "PVC Dots" Bottom Fabric
  • Slides Less on Tent Floor
  • Non-corrosive Brass Valves
  • Long-term Durability
  • Additional XL and XXL Features: Thicker Pillow Area, Extra Comfort, 2 Valves and Faster Inflating
Regular715000320" x 72" x 1.5"2 lbs. 10 oz.4.5" x 21"Backpacking$79.99
Long725000325" x 77" x 2"4 lbs. 1 oz.6.5" x 26"Camping$99.99
XL735000330" x 77" x 3"6 lbs. 7 oz.8" x 31"Luxury Camping$149.99
XXL745000330" x 77" x 4"8 lbs. 7 oz.11" x 31"Luxury Camping$189.99

The product came shipped in a standard box. Upon opening the box, I saw the mattress, a nylon stuff bag and instructions. Also included, a rarity with such products, was a repair kit. That was really cool! The nylon stuff bag was a typical stuff bag with a pull cord at the top to cinch closed the bag during storage and a spring loaded plastic holder to keep it closed and secure. The mattress itself had a soft velvety finish on top. The bottom was covered with small rubber dots to help keep it in place while in your tent so you don’t slide around at night. The Valve was made of high quality brass with a round cap that screwed open and closed. Quality of materials was excellent as was quality of construction.

According to the specs, this XL model was 3 inches tall, which I thought was hard to believe. But after getting it, with it being new I opened up the valves and kept it open for a couple of days to fully inflate and was surprised that it actually was right about 3 inches when fully inflated! I also liked having dual brass valves which made for faster inflating and deflating with its larger size. Having done a lot of camping, one thing I don’t like is sleeping on the hard ground, especially if it’s rocky. Having it inflated, I thought I would put it to the ultimate test and just laid it down on my hard tile floor to see how it would do.  I didn’t want to expect too much from the pad, but lying down on it on the floor, I couldn’t feel the tiles of the floor under me. What was even more impressive to me was when I kneeled down on the mattress, to lay down, I had all my weight on just my knees and I couldn’t feel the hard tiles. I was expecting to be comfortable and not feel the ground, especially given its thickness. But to not feel anything when I dropped on my knees was just…WOW. The slightly raised end with a built in pillow was also a nice touch, although it was only slight.  So I still needed a pillow. The inside of the mattress had some type of foam. Depending on how you like your bed, whether it is firm or soft, you could fill the mattress accordingly.

Having had it open for a while to fully inflate and to do an official test, it was now time to deflate it and store it until I had a campout of its test run. Opening up both valves made for an easy deflation and I was able to get it tight enough to where it easily fit into the storage bag. Once deflated, screwing the valves closed easily kept the mattress form self inflating again. I know that tents can sometimes be a nightmare to get it folded exactly right to fit back into the bag, but I had no such problem with this mattress. And after having it in the bag, it was just a matter of closing the draw sting and it was ready for storage until further use. And I kept the repair kit in the bag, just in case it’s ever needed, I’ll know where it is!

Now it was time to put it to the test for a real campout. Setting up the mattress was extremely simple, it was just a matter of pulling it out of the bag, unrolling it where I wanted to sleep and opening the valves. Then once I had my desires firmness, I just closed both the valves. Done. It was that easy. Sleeping that night was really nice. Better than a regular blowup mattress. Plus I don’t need to worry about either manually blowing up the mattress or remembering to pack the pump and making sure the pump had sufficient power. The Alps Mountaineering Comfort XL Air Pad is self inflating. Once it was time to pack up, it was as easy to take down as it was to put up. Just open up both valves and tightly roll up the mattress. It deflated as I did so. Once tightly rolled, close both valves and secure in storage bag.

I’ve reviewed Alps Mountaineering products in the past and given the opportunity to do so again was a no brainer. The Alps Mountaineering Comfort XL Air Pad was a little bulkier and heavier than most self inflating mattresses. But most of my camping is not backpacking, so I would rather have a more comfortable mattress, even if that meant a bit more bulk and weight to an item. If you are looking for a similar product, you can’t go wrong with the Alps Mountaineering Comfort Air Pad. If you are more of a backpacker and size and weight is an issue, they have other products that are worth your consideration. They also have an excellent warranty and stand behind their products. Based on their design, feature, quality and performance, the Alps Mountaineering Comfort XL Air Pad has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Vivitek Qumi Q7 LED Pico Projector Review by Jeff Roy

Long gone are the days that projectors were only used for business, standard definition, and very bulky. Now, not only are they extremely portable and even high definition. They are also economical. They even work great for multimedia. Enter the Vivitek Qumi Q7. It is a pico LED powered 720p projector.

Features and specs:

Key features

  • Up to 800 ANSI lumens of brightness with a 30,000:1 contrast ratio
  • LED light source with up to 30,000 hours of operation
  • High definition (HD) resolution with large widescreen image projection up to 107”
  • Direct 3D and 2D-3D conversion through HDMI
  • Built-in MS Office® and Adobe™ PDF document viewer
  • Multimedia player for playback of audio, photo and video files
  • Embedded web browser* for surfing the Internet (*Wireless dongle required)
  • Ability to wirelessly* project video, photos, websites and more over a wireless LAN
  • MHL device compatibility for streaming of video and audio content from a compatible mobile device
  • USB slot and 4 GB of onboard memory for additional content and memory expansion

Native Resolution
WXGA (1280 x 800)
Brightness800 ANSI Lumens
Contrast Ratio30,000:1
Max. ResolutionUXGA (1600 x 1200) @60Hz
Native Aspect Ratio16:10
Lamp Life and Type30,000 Hours LED
Display TypeSingle chip DLP® Technology by Texas Instruments
Chip SizeDMD
Throw Ratio1.3 - 1.43 : 1
Image Size (Diagonal)29" - 107"
Projection Distance0.8 - 3 m
Zoom Ratio1.1x
Speakers2W x 2 (Stereo)
Video CompatibilitySDTV(480i, 576i), EDTV (480p, 576p), HDTV (720p, 1080i/p), NTSC (M, 3.58/4.43 MHz), PAL (B, D, G, H, I, M, N), SECAM (B, D, G, K, K1, L)
I/O Connection PortsVGA-In (15pin D-Sub), HDMI, Composite Video, Audio-In (RCA), Audio-Out (Mini-Jack), USB type A for Display(Frame display) and JPG reader(Photo: Jpeg / Video: Mpeg4,H.264)
Dimensions (W x D x H)238 x 180 x 40 mm
Weight1,4 kg
Noise Level33dB/38dB (Eco-Movie / Normal-User)
PowerSupply: AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz Consumption: 141W/120W (Normal/Eco Mode), <0 .5w="" mode="" tandby="" td="">
3D Ready(DLP link, PC+Video)Yes
Remote Control P/N5041825100
Standard AccessoriesVGA Cable, HDMI Cable, HDMI-MHL Cable, User Manual (CD), Lens Cap, Carrying Case, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card (by region), Remote Controller (with battery), AC Power Cord
Optional AccessoriesRemote Control P/N: 5041825100
WarrantyStandard Warranty: 3 years projector / 1 year on lamp or 1000 hours whichever comes first
UPC Code814964 338549 (W) 814964 338532 (B) 

The Vivitek Qumi Q7 came in a standard box with printed specs and pictures of the device. Also included was the user’s guide, remote, storage bag and multiple cables. Construction is mostly plastic. Quality of materials used as well as fit and finish seemed very good. It felt fairly solid in hand.

I liked its efficient design. Both of its sides were almost entirely vents, as well as over half of the front. This should provide very good ventilation and should also help with performance and give a longer life. On the back are all the connections for power, USB, multiple HDMI, VGA, composite, audio out, and IR.
On the top are all of the controls, including focus and zoom add to all of this the fact that it also uses LED so there is no lamp to worry about replacing. It even does 3D! I can’t help but to be eager to see how it performs! 

Although I admit I am a bit skeptical at it using DLP, as I am prone to seeing the rainbow effect.
Setting up the Vivitek Q7 was rather simple. It was just a matter of plugging in the HDMI and power cables. Following the on screen menus was simple enough. While it accepts 1080p signs, it was obviously not 1080p. But the WXGA native resolution did look good. It also wasn’t a light torch, but at 800 lumens it threw a decently bright image. While it is big for a pico projector, it is also significantly brighter than a typical pocket projector. 

Now it’s time to see how it actually performs. For an entry level projector, I was fairly impressed. If you are not looking for an overly bright image, you could go up to 100 inches. Overall the image was a tad soft. Skin tones looked natural. Resolution was good. Blacks looked pretty black. Shadow detail could be quite a bit better, but was sufficient at this price point. Out of the box, the image was a tad warm, but I was able to improve that with the settings. Color saturation was good without appearing to be over saturated. Using the focus wheel on the front of the projector took some time to get right. It was rather stiff, so it was easy to over shoot where you wanted to have it. I was able to get the focus right. Once focused, it had an ok sharp image, but not as sharp as I would like. Being made using DLP. I was able to see the occasional rainbow. But I am also sensitive to them. The fan is also fairly loud.

Overall the Vivitek Qumi Q7 is a good product. It is bright enough to throw a large image. While it does not support native 1080p, it will display blu-ray, and it can also do 3D. While the fan was also loud for a home theater projector, it’s size makes for easy portability. And the image did look good for its price point. And I love that it is LED, so there’s no need to worry about bulb life. With an MSRP of $999, it is fairly priced. Based on it’s design, features, quality, and performance, the Vivitek Qumi Q7 has earned our Value Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ACS Pro 17 Custom Molded Hearing Protection

When it comes to sound, it is easy to think of high quality speakers, head phones and good music. But it is easy to forget about protecting our hearing. After all, hearing protection should be even more important. ACS makes some amazing custom molded in-ear-monitors. Many may not realize that they make some excellent custom molded ear plugs.  Up for review today is the ACS Pro 17 Custom Molded Hearing  Protection.

Features and specs:
Tailor made for you
The PRO-17 is custom-made using soft medical-grade silicone so you get the very best in isolation and fit allowing you to wear them for hours at a time without fatigue or discomfort. Each earpiece is manufactured to the highest standards ensuring you get a comfortable, discreet and effective hearing protector that can be fitted quickly, easily and securely every time.
Build Material40 Shore Silicone with SteriTouch
Mold TypeCanal Mold
Standard ColorClear
Items included...
  • Carry Pouch
  • Wax Pick
  • Comfort Cream
  • Care and Instruction Booklet
Optional extra's...
  • Grips to aid removal 
  • Cording - $10.00
  • Color (see chart below*) - $10.00
  • Laser Etching - up to 10 characters - Available soon in the US!
The custom ear plugs came in a small box. Opening the box revealed the owner’s manual, wax loop, and a small zippered leather carry case. Opening the case showed the two small custom ear plugs. I loved the soft medical grade silicon that they are made out of. Quality of materials used was excellent as was the quality of construction. 

Having previously reviewed the ACS Tl IEM, I was already familiar with their quality.  How well did they work? Perfectly! Providing -17db of noise reduction, they are not designed to block out all noise. They were just designed to significantly reduce it. And they are designed to provide a flat response across the entire frequency spectrum.  Not only that, their vented design reduces occlusion, so vocals sound more natural. But reducing noise level is only part of the equation. Wearing them in your ears, and at times for extended periods of time. So having them be comfortable is also a huge piece of the puzzle. This was achieved in spades. The ACS performed perfectly as designed. They significantly reduced noise, was built well to provide years of use, and they were comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time.

An additional nice feature is they are future customizable.  The included filter of this model provides -17db of noise reduction, but you can use different filters.  Depending on the loudness of your environment, you can easily swap out the filter for a more robust filter to further reduce noise.  So there is no need to have more than one molded ear plug, just get different filters.

Bottom line, I would easily recommend the ACS Pro 17! They performed just as advertised. And I loved the soft silicone which made them comfortable to wear, even for long periods of time. I even forgot that I was wearing them! With an MSRP of $185, they are worth every penny for the protection they provide.  Based on their design, features, quality and performance, they have earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more info, check out their website at

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