USB Wall Charger Roundup Review: All Ports Are Not Created Equal

Like most average geeks, I assume that when I connect my phone or tablet to a USB power source, it’s going to deliver the level of power it says it will. I don’t know nearly as much about electrical system as some do, so when I saw a crowdfunded gadget called the Legion USB Power Meter, I thought it would be a great tool to help me understand power flow and collect real-world data. So, I dusted off my old tech reviewer’s hat, grabbed a bunch of different USB power sources, and got to work. The goal? To understand if the USB chargers I was using were delivering maximum efficiency and letting me charge my devices as fast as possible. Continue reading USB Wall Charger Roundup Review: All Ports Are Not Created Equal

Mylio: A Cool, But Costly, Photo Organizing Solution


I stumbled across a cool photo organizing/sharing solution called Mylio today. I wanted to check it out because it’s quite clear Google has abandoned Picasa (it’s been at version 3.x for years now) and I’ve been hunting for a more modern solution for photo syncing and sharing. Here’s the rundown of Mylio.

Continue reading Mylio: A Cool, But Costly, Photo Organizing Solution

The Pros and Cons List for the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook 2015

Dell XPS 13 (2015 Edition)

Sometimes the best way to make a rational decision is to weigh the pros and cons. I typically trust my gut and make fairly quick, but reasonably informed, decisions. Every so often I feel torn and need to take a step back to think about the best option. I’m also not above admitting I made an error in judgement. So here’s how I’m looking at the Dell XPS 13. I hope this list helps your purchasing decision on the XPS 13! Continue reading The Pros and Cons List for the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook 2015

First Thoughts on the Dell XPS 13 (2015 Edition)

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on my new Dell XPS 13, but haven’t quite gotten around to it. What I did do tonight was type up a long comment that I posted over on PC World’s review of the XPS 13 (by none other than the legendary Gordon Mah Ung). Another fantastic review is by Lisa Gade of MobileTechReview (the photo below is courtesy of her review).


My comment/mini-review is below:


I now own the Dell XPS 13 – the top-end Core i7 QHD+ model with the 512 GB SSD. It’s quite a machine – Dell did an impressive job with the build quality and the overall package is impressive. It’s expensive though to get that top-end model. The 512 GB SSD upgrade alone was $300. Ouch! I’m ticked that Dell doesn’t allow us to truly customize what we want – I wanted the 1080p display but couldn’t get the 512 GB SSD without also getting the QHD+ display. Why does Apple offer more customization now than Dell? That’s just wrong.

Four main things irk me now:

1) The fact that the M.2 SSD isn’t PCIe and Dell told you they’re planning on releasing a version of the laptop that uses PCIe. What the hell? I just got this thing a few days ago, and it’s already going to be replaced by something newer? Is Dell taking PR lessons from Osborne?

2) Windows 8.1 is still a mess in high DPI mode. Well, to be fair, the OS itself isn’t too awful with the DPI scaling set to 250%, but apps are a mess. Blurry text in TweetDeck. Weird scaling and overlap of UI elements in all sorts of other apps. A magnifying glass in Lightroom the size of a grain of sand. It’s frustrating realizing I have to wait for Windows 10 to supposedly make this all better. Microsoft really wasn’t ready for laptops with screens quite this high-res…they should have been deprecating APIs and forcing developers to code for high-res displays, or found some way to auto-fix the issue.

3) The battery life is nowhere near what Dell claims. I’m used to OEMs being dishonest about real-world battery life, but we’re talking a 50% difference here. I’d say real-world usage of my XPS 13 in productivity and Lightroom (zero gaming) is about 6-7 hours. Good, but not great. And Dell announced great.

4) With all the rumours of Intel releasing Skylake this year, it feels like when Windows 10 comes out there will be a whole new generation of laptops, giving Broadwell U laptops a shelf life of maybe 6-8 months. There’s always something better around the corner, but the delays in Broadwell and the noise that Intel is already making about Skylake makes me concerned Broadwell U will be jumped over very quickly.

All in all,  there’s a LOT to love here, but given that I only buy new laptops about every three years, I’m not sure this is the right one at the right time.

The Story Behind My Epic Photo Book Review


I spent nearly my whole day on Tuesday promoting – via email, Twitter, forum posts, etc. – the longest article I’ve ever published. The topic? A 12-way photo book review. It weighs in at more than 15,000 words, has 87 images on it, and 12 videos. It’s the result of 7 months of work, and took every ounce of effort and willpower for me to complete. I’m one of those people who finds it easy to start projects, but sometimes finds it hard to finish them – and when you’ve got a project this big, with this many spinning plates, pushing through to the end can be a real challenge. One of the unfortunate themes for me in 2008/2009 was “review overload” – I took on too many things to review, said yes too many times, and as a result had far too many things on my reviewer’s to do list…and with this photo book review, I didn’t want to be the guy who requested samples from 12 different companies then doesn’t finish the review. Real artists ship, so I gritted my teeth and pushed through to completion. It was hard – really hard – but I’m glad that I made it through to the end. Continue reading The Story Behind My Epic Photo Book Review