ASUS S1 Pocket Projector Review

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With functionality, portability, and style in mind, ASUS has created a mini projector that delivers on all fronts. Weighing in at 0.75lbs, this powerful projector is great for many applications from boardroom meetings to family movie nights at the cottage. The image is crystal clear with up to 200 lumens of brightness and at just one meter away the image projected is an impressive 41”.

It is able to connect to any compatible device (check your compatibility at www.mhlconsortium.org) with an HDMI and MHL port and has a built-in USB port as well making it great to connect and begin viewing immediately. The user interface is simple and straight forward with easy-access menu buttons on the top of the projector and a focus wheel beside the lens. The menu is very user-friendly, allowing you to change the aspect ratio, brightness, tonal value, and position of the display.

Partnering the video display, the audio playback quality on the device is excellent considering its size and weight. ASUS has installed a 2-watt speaker that produces decent sound on its own without compromising the design. With an earphone plug located in the back of the projector, it allows you to watch video with high fidelity sound in privacy so as not to disturb other people around you. The battery life is excellent as well, with a built in 6,000mAh battery built in allowing you to use the projector for up to 3 hours. Another great feature included is that the battery acts as a power bank for your mobile devices, allowing them to charge even when the projector is turned off.

Portability in mind, the projector comes with a nice leather pouch for protecting the aluminum casing and a larger, yet still compact, nylon carrying case to bring the projector and accompanying power and HDMI/MHL cables with you wherever you go.

 

When I received the ASUS S1 Projector I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never used a projector before and hadn’t thought of buying one for my own personal use, so when I took it out of the box I was looking at it with a completely fresh view. My first instinct was to connect it to my Xbox 360 and turn on a game to see how it handled. I was pleasantly surprised. After a moment to select the language option on the S1 and turning on my Xbox 360 the system intro loaded up in crisp, clear colour instantly and I was greeted by the familiar startup sound. I honestly hadn’t expected the sound to come through the projector so well and I was excited to see I could play with headphones also. It took me a moment but I noticed that the fan inside the projector was extremely quiet and if I hadn’t been specifically listening for any humming or whirring I wouldn’t have heard it at all. As my game loaded, and I began playing, I tested the view of the display from various distances around my room. With a quick flick of the focus wheel I was able to clearly see the screen and read all of the text perfectly. My only concern was that I could see a rainbow effect or artifacts on the image once in a while which I could overlook as it did not take away from my viewing experience.

All in all, I was extremely impressed by the ASUS S1 Mobile LED Projector. It has the flexibility of being able to connect to many devices allowing you to use it for just about anything from business meetings to acting as a secondary TV for that impromptu gaming session with your friends. The ASUS S1 retails for approximately $350 making it a great gift idea for that techie in your family this Christmas.

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LG G Watch review – “Calling Dick Tracy! Come in Dick Tracy!”

Back in March Google lg_g_watchunveiled Android Wear, a lineup that included Motorola and LG. Samsung was absent at time of launch but has since rectified that situation. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of these fancy gadgets recently and I’ll be letting you know what I think. Specifically I’ll be writing about my hands-on experience with the LG G Watch.

The specific title of the Android Wear that I tested was LG-W100 in ‘white gold’ running Android 4.4. It comes with a black watch face, a pewter coloured metal trim and white arm band. The arm band is made of semi-firm rubber which feels as though it could hold up, but may need to be replaced in a few years. Not as firm as your standard Casio watch band, but not so soft that it feels like it will disintegrate under the sheer weight of body temperature and moisture alone. The watch face feels very resilient; I’ve been wearing it for a week and haven’t worried about ruining it once. It has a beautiful little display with good colour and lighting. Overall I find the watch has a really great form factor. Instead of feeling like you’re wearing an iPad micro on your wrist it feels like you’re wearing a funky Swatch – which is very good. I know it might sound picky but if I felt out of place wearing it, I’d take it off and it would lose functionality altogether.

Speaking of functionality it has been a great little help this past week – for two reasons. The first reason is that I’m the type of guy that has trouble with out of sight, out of mind. If notifications aren’t in my face, I have been known to forget about them. This watch has ensured that all important notifications are (quite literally) at my fingertips. The second reason is that at work I’m not allowed to have my phone on my person, for security and productivity reasons. This little G Watch has almost solved all of that. I can be notified about incoming calls, texts, Facebook messages and more. Anything that isn’t urgent gets swiped to the right and reviewed later. If it is urgent I can feel free to make my way to a common area and pickup the call. It is also worth mentioning that there is no camera so the watch doesn’t pose a covert photography security risk. Even better than that: I can now ignore all of those phone calls telling me I’ve won a contest, without having to pull my phone from my back pack while fumbling for the ignore button.

With that said I would like to mention that with my particular phone and this watch – the call feature isn’t great. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 with an OtterBox Defender case. Needless to say the phone is very large, and it takes up a great deal of space in any carry-on. Here’s why I’m mentioning this: it is very difficult to access quickly. If I get a call while the phone is in my pocket I’m better off answering the call by phone than bothering with the watch feature. Sliding the watch feature to the left to answer the call adds this awkward portion to the call where I’m rummaging for the phone in my pants in order to avoid dead air. Meanwhile the speakerphone hasn’t engaged automatically so they can hear what I’m doing but I can’t hear them. It’s like being asked to dance for the first time knowing you literally (not figuratively) have two left feet. I’d be better to use the watch as a ‘call notification’ device. Pick the phone up, and then answer. Coming back to the part where I mentioned speaker phone not turning on by default, one might also infer that this is a nuisance while driving. Phone placed neatly in some niche in your car’s console the phone could easily be used as a Bluetooth speakerphone, right? Unfortunately that’s also wrong. If I get a call while driving and swipe my watch face to answer, I would again be forced to pick up the phone and tap the speaker phone icon. This would not only be dangerous, but also illegal. If LG added a tiny speaker to the watch, they might be able to rectify this whole speaker phone debacle. “Calling Dick Tracy! Come in Dick Tracy!”

I imagine that when Dick went to answer HQ – he might run into a bit of trouble, especially if he was trying to use ‘Ok Google’ while driving to his next destination. To be honest this feature is actually quite good: when you have the ‘Ok Google’ feature queued up you can really get some things done. You can send a text to your best friend, an email to your boss and search for a YouTube video you’ve been meaning to check out. You could also set up alarms, take notes and put reminders into your calendar. All of this can be done with ease and in the span of only a few minutes. The feature could use some tweaks though. To get ‘Ok Google’ working on the LG G Watch you need to wake up screen then speak the phrase. This poses a problem for people who are busy or have their hands full. There are two ways to wake up the screen that I’ve found. They are as follows: tapping the screen, or tilting the watch towards you. This is done similar to the fashion in which Marty might check his watch on the Back to the Future movie posters. It seems rather simple, but if we once again take driving as our example, you’ve just taken away what was once a fully hands free feature. By tapping, you now have to take one hand off the wheel to tap. By twitching the watch towards you, well you can probably see where I’m going with this. Sure, most people drive with one hand anyway, but that is (by rights) illegal and technically very dangerous – I can’t let that be our answer to why this is okay. Please don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy the feature, I’ve made extensive use of it and I like what it can do. However, I don’t really think someone wants to tap (thus using their hands) to use a hands free feature – that sort of feels like they’ve missed the whole point. Maybe if they add a ‘Wake up Google’ feature?

Something LG didn’t miss the point on was the battery life. This thing is fairly resilient considering the screen has been set to always on for the entire time that I’ve been using it. My charging cycle for my devices tends to be overnight, so as an example: I plucked the watch from its charger between 7:45am and 8:00am on Thursday morning and the watch stuck around until about 1 or 2:00am Saturday morning. That’s a decent run for today’s digital devices. I will say though, that a device like this is only going to be useful for someone with access to a power outlet. It isn’t going to be something you take camping or on exercise if you’re in the military. This is the type of device that works well for a busy city going professional at a fairly reasonable price.

My final thoughts on this device were on connectivity. I haven’t had any issues yet. Once you get it paired, the Bluetooth is smooth and problem free. This is something that makes me really, really happy. One of the banes of my earthly existence is poor connectivity. This watch does that perfectly well. Once it’s set up, it will always recognize your device with ease and you’ll never have to wonder if you’re getting your notifications correctly.

In my humble opinion there aren’t many things wrong with this Android Wear watch. It’s simple, easy-to-use and a lot of fun to play with. For the price, I would easily say this makes the short list for anyone looking to get a nice gift for their resident tech-head this holiday season. With a few simple updates, this device could really be the next best thing since having a smartphone at hand. I like it a lot, and I’m sure that I will continue to enjoy its features for years to come.

PROS:
• Durable solid-state construction
• Water resistant and lightweight
• Stylish and comfortable
• Quick processor
• Good voice recognition
• Decent battery life
• Does not pose a security threat
• Reliable Bluetooth connection
• Fair price-point

CONS:
• Somewhat unintuitive setup
• Appears to be running Android for dummies
• Phone feature could be ruled as redundant
• It’s a watch that dies, and can’t simply be rewound
• ‘Ok Google’ not reliably hands free

Massive Steam Free Weekend Starts Tomorrow!

Steam LogoThe largest Free Weekend that Steam has ever hosted starts tomorrow and features quite a few titles that will be free to play beginning Thursday October 16th at 10am Pacific Time (1PM EST).

The list of titles included in this edition of Steam’s Free Weekend are:

  • Awesomenauts (link)
  • Blade Symphony (link)
  • Company of Heroes 2 (link)
  • Don’t Starve (link)
  • Grid 2 (link)
  • Injustice (link)
  • Killing Floor (link)
  • Payday 2 (link)
  • Trine 2 (link)
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (link)

No purchase is necessary to play any of the above titles during this event. You simply need a FREE steam account.