Monday, November 26, 2012

HP Touchstone Charging Dock (for the HP TouchPad) Review

I managed to pick up an HP Touchstone Charging Dock (for the HP TouchPad) at a deeply discounted price during this past weekend  ("Black Friday" weekend sale) in Canada. Considering that the HP TouchPad was discontinued a long time ago and I still use mine mainly for reading PDF documents and checking my e-mail/Facebook (and watching YouTube videos), I didn't mind spending some money to get the HP Touchstone. I believe that the manufacturer's suggested regular price for the HP Touchstone Charging Dock when it was originally released (and HP had not decided to stop producing/selling their HP TouchPad) was $40.

The HP Touchstone Charging Dock looks like a typical stand for any tablet but it includes a USB cable which plugs specifically into the HP USB AC adapter (cylinder-shaped adapter). The USB cable must be plugged into the HP USB AC adapter and not to a computer or a laptop's USB port.

The charging unit works using a method called inductive charging. In order to charge the HP TouchPad, all the consumer has to do is place the HP TouchPad on the charging dock. You don't have to "plug" the HP TouchPad onto the HP Touchstone Charging Dock. Once the HP TouchPad is firmly on the HP Touchstone Charging Dock, the HP TouchPad will start to charge and within a minute or so, the date/time will appear on the HP TouchPad's display screen. There are 3 date/time themes so you can pick the one that you prefer.There are other themes that can be selected like a Facebook collage or for your HP TouchPad to scroll through pictures/images from your device.

In the short time that I've been using the HP Touchstone Charging Dock, I haven't tested whether the HP TouchPad takes takes longer to charge when it is on the dock as opposed to when it is plugged in directly to the USB cable. If it does take longer, it isn't a lot longer.

Having a charger at home (charger that came with my HP TouchPad) and having a charger at work (the HP Touchstone Charging Dock) is a big convenience since I use my HP TouchPad to read PDF documents/books.

If you have any questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender (WN3000RP) Review

I got the opportunity to test the Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender (WN3000RP) and since there were a few deadspots within my place and slightly outside of my place, I decided to give it a try. This universal WiFi range extender supports B, G, and N routers.

To configure the device you have to locate (or roughly locate the half-way point of the range for your wireless router) and plug the extender near this "half-way point." You would then connect to the extender and configure it to access your router. After doing this, you can then configure your devices to access the Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender either via the 1 ethernet port on the device or via WiFi. I've tested it using the network cable (hard-wired) connection and I found that it was "okay" (not great but not what I would consider bad either).

My problem with the device isn't really a problem with the device itself but my place doesn't seem to be ideal for such a device. The reason for this is that there is no power outlet at the half-way point between where my wireless router is situated and where I have a very weak wireless signal. As a result, I have to plug the WiFi Range Extender somewhat close to the wireless router. Because of the distance between the WiFi Range Extender and my wireless router is only about 5 feet, the improvement in the wireless signal near my deadspot/weakspot is not that big of an improvement.

The extender documentation mentions that if both the extender is detected and the wireless router is detected by your wireless device (and the wireless router signal strength is decent), it is preferable to connect to the wireless router since the speed of the extender is slower than the speed that can be obtained from the wireless router.

In terms of whether I can recommend this device, I guess it would depend on whether you have a power outlet near the half-way point of your desired deadspot/weakspot and the wireless router. If you do have a power outlet located in the proper place, I think that this device is a good buy if you can find it on sale.

If you have an questons/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section. Please note that comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will be automatically flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Unblock-Us Review (Part 2)

Based on the number of hits and interest from my previous post/review regarding Unblock-Us as well as some of the changes made to the service, I felt that it was worthy of another blog entry.

Unblock-Us for people unfamiliar with the service allows users to circumvent certain geographical IP location websites/services (such as Netflix, Pandora, etc.). I use it mainly to enhance my Netflix subscription since as of the date of this blog entry, it gives me access to the Netflix content of 9 additional countries. However, I have also used their service to try out Pandora or to access videos from certain US based television websites (NBC, ABC, CBS, Star Trek, etc.) which only allow people located in the US (with US IP addresses) to watch/access.


The current list of 10 countries are US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. You must be an active subscriber to Netflix in order to use Unblock-Us to gain the Netflix content in the other countries. It does not give you access to Netflix if you are not a paid subscriber.

Unblock-Us does not rely on installing any software. There is software that can be installed if you want to automate the IP registration process but installing/using the software is not necessary.

How the service works is that you modify the DNS settings for either your individual device or for your entire network (i.e. your router). You would then log onto Unblock-Us and register your IP address. You have to do this once every time your external IP address changes. If you've configured your router to access Unblock-Us' DNS servers, you would just go to Unblock-Us' website and activate/register your IP address. All your devices on the network will then use Unblock-Us' DNS servers as long as they are connected to the same router.

The instructions are somewhat similar to configuring an individual device except that you will have to manuall configure the DNS server settings on this device to use Unblock-Us' DNS servers and then access Unblock-Us' website on this device in order to activate/register your IP address.

You would then access the website as I normally would and instead of getting a message that the content is not available in my country/region, the video would play. For example, using Unblock-Us' service, I am able to watch video from NBC without getting a message stating that the video is not available in my country/region.

To use their service with Netflix, you would basically follow the same instructions but when you access Unblock-Us' website, you would also specify which country's Netflix content you want to watch. After doing this (if your router is configured to use Unblock-Us), all your devices will attempt to show the Netflix content from the country that you've selected. I use the term "will attempt" because I did experience issues with my LG Smart TV Upgrader Box ST600 accessing Netflix when the country setting on Unblock-Us was set to anything other than Canada or the US. I didn't have any issues viewing the other country's Netflix content when using my Android phone, my iPhone 3GS, my Chromebook, my Windows computer/netbook/laptop, or my Android tablet.

The Unblock-Us service costs ~$5/month and based on my usage, I consider it to be worth the money. It isn't a VPN service so users who have VPN service to another country (ex: the US), might benefit from keeping their VPN service and also subscribing to Unblock-Us.

In terms of whether there is a big difference between Netflix's content in the 10 different countries that can be  chosen from Unblock-Us' website service, I will give a summary in an upcoming blog entry.

EDIT: To get the most out of Unblock-Us, please check out my blog entry on Monday January 7, 2013 (click *HERE*).

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review

I had the good fortune to try out the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones and I decided to write my latest blog on this product. As mentioned in my previous blog on headphones (the Nexxtech Wave Wireless Digital Stereo Headphones), I'm not an audiophile so as long as the headphones don't make clicking/hissing noises or distortion, I will probably not have any issues with the headphones if they serve their purpose (i.e. wireless headphones having decent distance and noise-cancelling headphones having the ability to block out background noise).

The moment I put on the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones, it blocked out some of the noise similar to other headphones that cover the entire ears regardless of whether they are noise-cancelling headphones or not. Once I turned on the noise-cancelling switch I noticed a difference. However, the true test involves using it in an airplane, subway, train, or car where you get the constant low noise. During my trial, I tested it on an airplane (for a trip) as well as on the subway and I was amazed by its performance in blocking out the background noise so that I could hear my music. It really works and it works very well at reducing the constant background aircraft noise.

The only negative point that I can say about these headphones is the price. At a suggested retail price of around $350, unless you travel a lot and like to listen to your music while you travel (or watch the onboard videos/shows/movies while flying), it is one very expensive set of headphones.

A minor point is that the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling headphones are powered by a AAA battery. I would have preferred that it was powered by a AA battery but that is just my personal preference.

The unit comes with a regular audio cable as well as an audio cable that allows for the easy control on select Apple devices such as on an iPhone or iPod. I tested this cable on my iPhone 3GS and I found that it worked well. However, the people whom I was speaking with noticed that I was using some sort of headphones or hands-free device. The headphones also come with an airline adapter plug as well as a very nice storage/travelling case.

For anyone who really wants a set of noise-cancelling headphones that works and has the money to spend on this unit, I have no problems recommending this unit. As mentioned, my only real negative comment is the price-tag which I find expensive for a set of headphones even a set of headphones of this quality.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section. Please note that comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link regardless of whether the link is embedded or not will be automatically flagged as being spam and will not be posted.