Just published at Wired is this roundup of alternative SBCs to the Raspberry Pi, looking at devices that are cheaper, more powerful, or more Windows-y.
We’ve picked five single-board computers (known as SBCs) that offer more power or flexibility than the Pi, more inputs and outputs, and more of what your project might need. Which alternative is right for you depends on what you want to do with the device. For homemade robots and other projects that don’t need a screen display, it’s hard to argue with the low cost, processing power, and profusion of in/outputs of the PocketBeagle.
I can finally reveal the reason I have been standing in the yard staring at my laptop screen over the past few weeks: this review of several mesh WiFi systems for Reviewed.com. These systems spread the reach of your WiFi by sharing it amongst several routers that work together, rather than a single router.
…Nest WiFi has an extra trick up its sleeve: it works as a Google Voice Assistant speaker. That means you can ask it to do things, such as play tunes from Spotify while you cook, or control smart devices. That could be a pro or a con depending on how you feel about things talking to you: personally, with three meowing cats and a barky dog, I have enough things in my house talking to me without Google joining in.
Just published at Wired is a review of cell phone keyboards that I wrote a few months back. To my surprise, my long-suffering editor at Wired let my description of the overweight Samsung Note 10+ as a chonker through.
My top pick was the Arteck HB066 Bluetooth Keyboard, a small keyboard that combines a nice foldable design with a consistent key size and a layout that will immediately feel comfortable. None of these choices are as comfortable to use as a full-size keyboard, though, so be prepared to compromise some luxury in the name of portability.
Following up from the USB battery articles I wrote for Reviewed.com is this review of AA rechargeable batteries. Bottom line: most were pretty good but there was a surprising amount of variation.
After hours of testing, we chose the Energizer Recharge Universal (available at Amazon for $20.99) as our best rechargeable batteries. They provide the best balance of capacity and price, holding about 2200 mAh of charge and supporting up to 1000 charge cycles…For a less expensive alternative, we recommend AmazonBasic Rechargeable Batteries (available at Amazon). Each individual cell holds about 1800 mAh of charge so your devices won’t run for as long as they would with the Energizers or other higher capacity batteries.
Looking for a place to park your posterior? Check out this roundup of the best office chairs that I wrote for Toms Guide.
Wherever you park your posterior to do work, it deserves the best office chair to call home. A decent home office chair doesn’t just look cool; it can make you more productive and more focused and keep you feeling comfy during long video calls. It will encourage good posture, which makes working from home easier on your back, and it helps you feel better when you get up from a long day at the (home) office.
My review of the Form 3 3D printer has just been published at Toms Guide. Spoilers: it is pretty good, but it ain’t cheap.
The whole process was clean and generally hassle free, which is a lot different from typical SLA printers that require a lot of tweaking, calibration and other fiddling to get good results. The Form 3 just works.
This 3D printer was fun to review: The Toybox prints toys, like trains and tracks, minifigs and other stuff to nurture your inner child.
So, is this 3D printer going to replace a big box of Legos? No. The prints the Toybox produces are not as high quality as mass-produced plastic blocks, and some users will find the print times frustrating. But for older children who know where not to stick their fingers, and who want to add a creative angle to their play, the Toybox is a great and not overly expensive printer.
I reviewed the Ultimaker S5, the latest high-end FDM printer from the Dutch company Ultimaker. It’s a great 3D printer, but dang, it is expensive.
The Ultimaker S5 is a serious printer for someone who’s serious about 3D printing and has a serious budget to match. We found the S5 performed flawlessly, producing prints large and small in a variety of materials…Still, people that do a lot of printing, be it for a school or at a company, will find the Ultimaker S5 fits their demands, especially if they want the best, most flexible filament 3D printing available, regardless of price.
Just posted: my review of the Monoprice $499 MP Mini Deluxe 3D printer, a low-cost SLA 3D printer. It’s cheap, but also frustratingly quirky, so those who don’t want to spend hours tweaking and fiddling with their printer should avoid it.
The MP Mini Deluxe is the lowest-cost resin printer we’ve yet tested, but it feels like a missed opportunity. It’s a very fussy printer that requires a lot of tweaking and configuration to use, and printing is very hit and miss. Inexperienced users would probably try a couple of prints, then give up in disgust because of the poor software, poor manual, failed prints and general complications of the printer.
Just published: my review of the Parrot Anafi drone, the latest in the craze of folding portable video drones.
The Parrot Anafi has a lot to like. It’s one of the most compact full-featured drones we’ve ever tested, packing into a small, water-bottle-sized package that fits easily into a backpack. And when you reach the destination, it’s easy to take out and fly the drone. The Anafi has a good selection of flight modes to take interesting shots, and the video it captures is pretty good, delivering clean, smooth video with plenty of detail.
But there are a couple of caveats. It’s a small drone, which means it is easily buffeted by wind, and the lack of object avoidance requires more careful piloting. These factors mean we wouldn’t pick the Anafi over the Mavic Air, but it is worth considering if you are looking for a light drone that takes excellent video.