Monday, April 29, 2013

Sony Glasstron Personal LCD Monitor Glasses PLM-A35 Review

I've used the Sony Glasstron Personal LCD Monitor Glasses PLM-A35 for awhile and decided to write a review of the product. The product is a few years old so if interested in the product, you will have to purchase it second hand.

According to the specifications, the glasses simulate watching a 50" display approximately 7 feet away from you. I find the picture quality to be "adequate" for watching a movie or television show or playing a video game. The resolution isn't high enough to do any reading at least for more than a few minutes.

The glasses are attached to a small box (roughly the same size as a regular sized computer mouse). On the box, there is the volume control, a series of on/off switches, the brightness control, an S-Video port, an A/V port with what seems to be a proprietary cable that outputs to the standard 3 RCA (yellow - video, red & white for audio) cables, and the AC adapter port. The box also houses an optional battery.

The glasses have 2 earphone buds. The earphone buds also attach to the side of the glasses when not in use. I find that the cable attached to the earphone buds to be on the short side. They do reach my ears but I find it to be somewhat tight.

I've used the Sony Glasstron Personal LCD Monitor glasses when playing video games or for watching DVDs or VHS cassettes (or plugged into my Tivo or television receiver box) when I don't want to disturb the other people in the room. It is extremely useful for watching a video in the bedroom in bed when you don't want to disturb the person next to you.

The glasses are meant for adults only and have a safety feature that powers itself off after 3 hours of continued use. When using the glasses and you are close to the 3 hour time limit, you will see a warning message flash on the screen for a few seconds prior to the glasses powering itself off. There is an over-ride button but I would only recommend using the over-ride button for a few minutes after the 3 hour time limit. Continued prolonged use of the glasses can cause eye fatigue. Over-riding the safety feature can cause damage to the eyes.

The negative thing with the Sony Glasstron Personal LCD Monitor Glasses is that it is not for everyone. According to the documentation, certain people will experience eye fatigue, nausea, or dizziness. Personally, I've never had any issues with using the glasses. However when I lent it to one of my friends, he did find that it was causing to give him headaches.

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 which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, April 22, 2013

XBMC Media Center Review

I've been testing out the XBMC Media Center on my Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC as well as on my LG Nexus-4 for a few days and I thought that I would write a review on it as well as detail how to install it on Android devices. I attempted to install it on my old Samsung Nexus-S but even though it installed, I was forced to uninstall it because I couldn't get it to run consistently so I didn't want it to occupy space on my device when it wouldn't always run. I also tried installing it on my Acer Iconia Tab A100 Android tablet but the XBMC program was not compatible with the device.

To install XBMC onto your Android device, the first thing that you should do is to download it from the XBMC site at You must also enable your Android device to accept 3rd party applications by going into Settings -> Security -> Unknown sources (enable this option). After doing this and having the XBMC APK file, you must execute/install the APK file onto your Android device. There are many ways of doing this depending on the particular Android device. In my case, I used my Dropbox account in order to get the XBMC APK file onto my Android device and install it. The installation takes a few minutes to complete and after it is fully extracted/installed onto your Android device, you should have the XBMC program.

Once the XBMC program is installed, the next step is to launch it and configure it for at least 1 add-on. There are various add-ons available and various repositories. I won't detail any particular one but you can find various sources for things ranging from movies, videos, and television shows. By configuring the proper add-ons and repositories, people can get media on par or better than what is available on the various Netflix sites even when using a service like Unblock-Us with Netflix which allows me to get the Netflix selections from 10 countries (Canada, US, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, & Finland).

I highly recommend installing XBMC on your Android device (or another compatible device/platform) if your device supports it. I find it to be a useful additional resource for videos/media that can't be found on Netflix, YouTube, NFB, or some of the television broadcaster's own websites. On another note, I attempted to install XBMC on my jailbroken iPhone 3GS but because my iPhone 3GS is on iOS 4.01, XBMC is not compatible on it (even though according to the documentation on the XBMC website that it is compatible with iOS 4.x and above). XBMC works very well on both my Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC device as well as on my LG Nexus-4.

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 which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mini Keyboard UKB-500-RF Review

I purchased a Mini Keyboard UKB-500-RF because I wanted an easy way to control the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC device that I wrote about last week and thought that I would write a review of it and my experience with this product when used in conjunction with the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC.

According to the specifications for the product, it supports HTPC, Windows OS (Windows 2000, XP, Windows CE, Windows Vista, Windows 7), Linux OS (Debian-3.1, Redhat-9.0, Ubuntu-8.10, Fedora-7.0 tested), MacOS, Xbox 360, & PS3. I was assured that it would work with the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC and it does work with it. I haven't tested the device with any of the other supported products and have used it exclusively on with m MK802IIIS device.

The device is powered by a proprietary rechargeable battery but it can also use 2 x AAA batteries. You can charge the proprietary rechargeable battery by connecting the Mini Keyboard UKB-500-RF via a USB cable (the device has a mini-USB port for charging). However, if using 2 x AAA batteries in the unit, it won't charge the batteries via the same mini-USB cable.

I find that the keyboard works fairly well with the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC device. The only thing is that sometimes when I use the trackpad to move the pointer to a different area of the screen, it will detect a click when I didn't click on any application or menu option. I find that also when using the trackpad, it will detect that I am scrolling across the screens when my finger touches the right side of the trackpad (where the scroll bars indicators are located). The trackpad isn't as responsive as the trackpad on most laptops that I've used but it does get the job done.

The QWERTY keyboard itself feels comfortable and typing on it is easy. Using the keyboard is not as good as using a real keyboard or any of the built-in phone keyboards that I've used (Treo 600, Treo 650, Treo 680, Blackberry Bold 9700) but it also gets the job done.

To use the keyboard with your device (PC, PS3, XBOX 360, Android device, etc.), you must connect the USB receiver to your device. In terms of the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC device, it recognized the keyboard without any issues (no installation of any software necessary).

I use the UKB-500-RF keyboard about 10 feet away from the Rikomagic MK802IIIS device and generally there aren't any issues with me controlling the Rikomagic MK802IIIS. As mentioned, it will sometimes scroll when my finger accidentally touches the area on the right side of the trackpad and when I'm moving the pointer across the screen, it will sometimes detect a "click" or "double-click" when I didn't do either, however this in my opinion is a minor inconvenience based on the price that I paid for the unit and the fact that I don't use the keyboard for long periods of time. I basically just use it to select the Android application that I want to launch and then use the application for a brief period of time with the keyboard (ex: I will launch Netflix and then start the Netflix movie/video that I want to watch).

Overall, even based on minor inconveniences that I mentioned above, I have no problems recommending the Mini Keyboard UKB-500RF to connect to an Android device. I have tested it briefly (maybe 10 minutes in total) on a Windows 7 PC and I find that it works relatively well. I would not use the device on a regular-sized computer (I bought the UKB-500RF mainly to use with my Rikomagic MK802III device) unless I needed to be away from the computer itself (ex: giving a presentation) since in my opinion having this mini-keyboard connected to a PC doesn't really make sense since a regular keyboard and regular mouse are much more responsive. Not only that, it is easier to type on a full-sized regular keyboard and by using a mouse instead of a trackpad, there generally isn't an issue with the computer detecting a "double-click" when you did not double-click on anything.

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 which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC Review

I was searching for a device to use on my HD televisions since I had the LG Smart TV Upgrader ST600 Box connected to my main television set (I purchased the TV Pad for my parents). I was using my Acer Iconia Tab A100 on my HD television (using a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable) when I wanted to watch Netflix programming outside of the Canadian and the US Netflix selection using the Unblock-Us service but I thought that there must be a better solution.

Enter the Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC. The device is slightly larger than my USB SD card reader and my Nokia CS-18 Internet Stick.

The device plugs into an HDMI port on your HD television/monitor. The unit comes with a small HDMI extension cable, a micro-USB male to USB male cable, and a micro-USB male to USB female adapter. The Rikomagic MK802IIIS includes a small HDMI extension cable in case it is difficult to plug the device into your television's HDMI port. The included micro-USB male to USB male cable is provided since the device is powered by USB (micro-USB port) and most HD televisions have a USB port that it can be connected to in order to supply power to the unit. In my current set-up, I don't use the micro-USB male to USB female adapter but it can be used in order to plug an external memory/disk drive to the unit or a wired mouse/keyboard to the unit. The Rikomagic MK802IIIS also has a port for adding a micro-SD memory card. The device is wireless and there isn't a port for wired ethernet connection but I suppose that you can perhaps use a micro-USB (or USB) to ethernet adapter. I will probably purchase such an adapter and test it on my unit in about a month.

According to the specs on the MK802IIIS, it has a dual-core CPU and a quad-core graphics processor. I find the MK802IIIS to be very responsive. As mentioned, I use the device mainly to watch Netflix and YouTube videos and I find that the MK802IIIS does this very well.

Here is a list of some of the things that I don't really like about the Rikomagic MK802IIIS:

1) On one of the HD television that I tried, there was either something wrong with the unit itself or the USB port on the HD television did not supply enough power for certain tasks and the unit would power off. For example, when I went into the Google Play store, the unit would immediately power off or when I went to Netflix, it would power itself off immediately. When I plugged my micro-USB AC adapter to the unit and performed the same task, it didn't power itself off. On another HD television that I tried, the unit did not power itself off when it was powered by the television's USB port.

2) The ability of the Rikomagic MK802IIIS to lock onto the wireless signal (even when my wireless router was within 2 feet of the device) was sometimes problematic. Whenever it didn't connect to my wireless router, I would sometimes have to reboot my wireless router (although my other devices were able to connect to this wireless router without the need to reboot it occasionally). This is why I am looking for a wired solution for it although it isn't a high priority for me. When the unit locked onto my wireless signal (remember that my wireless router is within 2 feet of the television that I wanted to use), there was no problems maintaining the signal.

3) The included version of Android (v 4.1.1) on the Rikomagic MK802IIIS doesn't come with the Android default screen locking feature. This is a problem because if you configure the device to use your Google account (for Gmail, Calendar, and the GooglePlay store) and later lose the device (or it is stolen), the person has access to your Google account on the device. To prevent this from happening, I downloaded a program/application locking app so that in order to launch any particular app on the MK802IIIS, a password was required.

4) The first time I connected the device to the internet, the device immediately updated/downloaded the GoogleMaps and StreetView application but after the download, there was no GoogleMaps application on the device nor can you launch it or redownload it for the device.

Here is my list of the Rikomagic MK802IIIS positive aspects:

1) As stated previously, it plays Netflix videos very well. I find the video quality to be amazing. This is of course dependent on your internet connection speed as well as the type of HD television you have.

2) It includes the actual Google Play store as opposed to some third party Android application store.

3) The MK802IIIS has multiple resolutions. I'm not sure what the maximum resolution is but on the television that I was using I was provided with resolutions of 1920x1080p-60, 1920x1080p-50, 1280x720p-60, 1280x720p-50, 720x576p-50, & 720x480p-60. On another HD television that I tried, I didn't see as many resolution options so it is probably dependent on the television used.

4) Rikomagic included an application called eHome Media Center on the MK802IIIS which allows the MK802IIIS to either function as a media server (enabling you to play videos stored/connected to the MK802IIIS) or a media player (enabling you to play videos onto the connected television from a media storage device such as a media drive or a media computer). On a secondary note, I tried to copy this program onto my other Android devices (Acer tablet, LG Nexus-4, and Samsung Nexus-S) and even though the program installed on these devices and ran, it was not able to see my media drive or my media computer on the same network.

5) The MK802IIIS comes pre-rooted so you can run applications requiring root access. The only thing that you might want to do is to download SuperUser from the Google Play store so that you have control over the which programs have root access to the system.

6) There is a free Android application called MK802III Remote Client available at the Google Play store that will allow you to remotely control the MK802IIIS device via your internal network (both your Android device and the MK802IIIS must be on the same network).

I'm not sure if this was an issue with the television that I connected my MK802IIIS to or the resolution that I selected or a problem with the MK802IIIS unit itself but occasionally/randomly (maybe after ~5 hours of viewing Netflix, the television would turn black for ~1 second and then would resume the Netflix playback.

Overall, even based on some of the issues that I mentioned above, I have no problems recommending the Rikomagic MK802IIIS unless the issues that I mentioned above is a show-stopper for the person (ex: the person wants to use Googlemaps on the device).

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 which contains a URL link (whether it is embedded or not) will automatically be labelled as spam and will not be posted.

Monday, April 1, 2013

MiniSIM to MicroSIM Cutter Usage/Review

One of the things that I encountered after purchasing my new LG Nexus-4 was that most of my SIM cards were the "normal" miniSIM and not the microSIM required in the newer phones such as the LG Nexus-4.

Where I used to work, they had a SIM cutter to cut miniSIMs into microSIMs. Because the SIM card that I was using in my Samsung Nexus-S was a T-Mobile miniSIM and I was going to use my LG Nexus-4 as an upgrade to my Samsung Nexus-S, I needed to either convert/cut my T-Mobile miniSIM into a microSIM or I needed to purchase/get a new T-Mobile microSIM and transfer my account from the miniSIM onto the microSIM. I didn't want to go through some of the problems that I had when I first purchased my T-Mobile SIM from the US and have it shipped to Canada so I opted to cut my T-Mobile miniSIM into a microSIM. Since I live in Canada, it also wasn't very convenient for me to purchase a new T-Mobile microSIM.

I wanted to ask a friend where I used to work to cut it for me but because of a scheduling issue, this was not possible during the period that I wanted to do this. I saw a MiniSIM to MicroSIM cutter on sale (under $5) and it was relatively inexpensive compared to how much it would cost me to purchase replacement microSIMs for all the different miniSIMs that I had so I decided to purchase it. Since I have a lot of active miniSIMs, I thought that having my own person MiniSIM to MicroSIM cutter would be useful and based on my purchase of price under $5 (average price is around $7).

I've seen/used the microSIM cutter where I used to work in order to test various work phones so I knew what it involved. I've also done research on the internet and seen various videos and tutorials on how to manually cut the miniSIM into a microSIM using a tracing tool and a knife so I know that a miniSIM could be used in a cellphone which required a microSIM as long as you were able to get the SIM card to microSIM size without damaging it. Rather than taking my chances at manually tracing/cutting my miniSIM, I decided to use a miniSIM to microSIM cutter.

The SIM cutter is basically roughly the size of a small stapler and functions similar to a paper hole puncher. The miniSIM card goes into a slot and you squeeze on the lever causing the SIM cutter to punch out a microSIM card sized piece that you are able to put into your microSIM card phone. Before punching out the microSIM, I placed my finger on the top of the SIM card while it was in the SIM cutter to make sure that it was firmly in place and didn't move while I squeezed the SIM cutter handle and cut the SIM card. After punching out the SIM card, I found that the new microSIM card piece was a bit rough along the edges where it was cut/punched out of the original card but the modified/cut SIM card fit into my LG Nexus-4 without any issues. Just as a precautionary measure, I decided to sand it along the top of the cut SIM card (not the side with the gold contacts) just to make sure that the SIM card wouldn't be lodged/stuck in the SIM slot of my phone.

I powered on my LG Nexus-4 with my recently cut SIM card and it powered on without any issues. It also was able to lock onto the cellular network without any issues as well. I did not try making/receiving a call unnecessarily because of the roaming charges but because the phone showed that it had locked onto the proper cellular network, I don't expect any issues with this.

If you have any comments/questions 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 an comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.