Monday, November 17, 2014

Kobo Arc 64GB Review

I purchased a Kobo Arc 64GB tablet when it was on sale about a month ago in order to replace my old Acer Iconia Tab A100 Android that stopped working.

I thought that I would review the product after using it for over one month.

The Kobo Arc sports a 64GB storage capacity and has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. It comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system,
7-inch colour LCD touchscreen with 1280 x 800 HD resolution, integrated Wi-Fi, and of course USB connectivity.

What I like about the Kobo Arc is that it is relatively fast or at least faster than my old Acer Iconia Tab A100 tablet. It is dual-core so is not as fast and as responsive as some of the other Android tablets that are now quad-core but I still find it relatively responsive. What I like about the 64GB storage capacity is that this capacity (unlike how the Acer Iconia Tab A100 tablet was configured) is not partitioned to appear as external storage and internal storage. What this means is if you're like me where you install a lot of Android applications and don't store a lot of pictures, videos, documents, and music, you are free to use up most of the 64GB on Android applications. For example, on my old Samsung Nexus-S, I have over 4GB of free space left but did not have enough room to install any Android applications because I had already used almost all of the portion of space required for the Android applications. With my newer LG Nexus-4, I could use almost all of the storage space to install the many Android applications that I wanted to use or test without any issues.

One of the first applications that I installed on my Kobo Arc was XBMC (which is now called Kodi and the software can be downloaded from I find the XBMC works very well on it. It would not work on my Acer Iconia Tablet for some reason.

Another application that I installed on it was Netflix and I find that the videos look very nice on the Kobo Arc.

One of the things that I didn't really like was that a lot of applications from the Google Play store that I use regularly were listed as incompatible on the Kobo Arc. For example, most of my banking applications could not be installed from the Google Play store including PayPal nor could the Bell TV application that I sometimes use to watch television shows/episodes. With Android, it is relatively easy to install "incompatible" applications so this is the route that I took for those applications that I wanted to have on my Kobo Arc.

Another negative about this Android tablet is that the built-in encryption feature doesn't work. I like to encrypt almost all my devices as a security measure in case of loss and even though the Kobo Arc has the encryption option within the standard Android Settings menu, it doesn't seem to work. I will allow you to go through the steps of encryption without displaying any error messages but it won't do anything.

I wanted a replacement Android tablet mainly for reading and for watching videos. In terms of the tablet's ability to display the Kobo books that I have, I found it to be relatively responsive in terms of turning the pages and how fast it would display the pages. It was definitely faster than how my Kobo Mini would display the pages or turn to the next page. I use my Kobo Arc for reading newspapers and PDF books. Since you can install Adobe Reader on the Kobo Arc (it is afterall an Android tablet), it does a lot better job at displaying and rendering the PDF books than my old Kobo Mini.

I like the fact that the charging port (unlike the proprietary charging port that my Acer tablet used) is a standard microUSB port.

I am not to crazy about the homepage/skin of the Kobo Arc. It is called Tapestries. You can see a YouTube video on Tapestries *HERE* on YouTube or use the video located below.

If you are interested in the Kobo Arc User Guide in PDF format, you can also download it *HERE* or from the company's own website *HERE*.

If you can get the Kobo Arc on sale at a good price, I have no problems recommending it.

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 that contains an embedded URL link will be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, November 10, 2014

GE or Omni Passive Indoor Antenna Review

I subscribe to satellite and also subscribe to Netflix. Where I live, the satellite signal is very susceptible to the weather (I probably need a larger dish) so I wanted a backup for watching television programs on the HD Smart TV (Samsung UN32EH5300 LED 1080p Smart TV (HDTV)) that I purchased recently.

I already had a passive antenna (from a different manufacturer) that I tested on this television and I was able to get 4 local stations which is all I really needed so I didn't see the point in spending over $100 for an indoor antenna. I purchased this inexpensive antenna and when I got home, I assembled it.

Inside the box was 4 pieces; the base unit, 2 extendable antennas, and the circular antenna. The extendable antennas screwed into the base unit whereas I needed to push the circular antenna firmly into the holes on the base unit.

I connected the antenna to my HD Smart TV and positioned it so that it was facing in the same direction as the passive antenna that I used from another television for my testing. I went into the television menu and scanned for over the air television signals. This time, the television was only able to detect 2 local stations. I tried to reposition the antenna and rescanned for channels and the television only detected 1 local station. Since I wasn't sure whether something changed which could affect the reception of the OTA television signals, I reconnected my other passive antenna and did another rescan and my other passive antenna picked up between 3 to 5 stations depending on its placement (better than the 1-2 local stations that I received with the GE Passive Indoor Antenna).

As such, I returned the antenna and will probably purchase another passive antenna for my Samsung HD Smart TV sometime in the near future.

In terms of whether I would recommend this antenna, I can't really recommend it since it received fewer stations than the other passive antenna that I had from a different manufacturer using the same television in the exact same location. However, if the store has a liberal return policy, you can try it out to see if it gets the television stations that you are interested in.

Although the antenna that I purchased/test was from GE (General Electric), Omni also makes the same (type) of antenna.

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 that contains an embedded URL link will be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Samsung UN32EH5300 LED 1080p Smart HDTV Review

I purchased a Samsung UN32EH5300 LED 1080p Smart TV (HDTV) approximately two weeks ago and after using it I decided to write my review of this television.

This is actually my second Samsung television. I was happy with my first Samsung HDTV purchase (although my first Samsung HDTV purchase was not a Smart TV and was the B2430HD) so when my old CRT television broke, I replaced it with the Samsung UN32EH5300 which was on sale.

This television measures ~32" diagonally. I didn't want a television too large so it was either getting ~32" television or ~40" television. I opted to go for the ~32" television mainly because it was on sale at the time that my old CRT television broke.

It also has 3 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports (one rated as 0.5A and the other rated as 1A), component in, digital audio video out, and an ethernet port.

I wanted a smart television that had Netflix on it since I watch a fair amount of Netflix movies. For my non-smart televisions such as my Samsung B2430HD, I use the LG Smart TV Upgrader Box ST600 or I use my Rikomagic MK802IIIS Android Mini PC (HDMI stick). I felt that having Netflix built into the television would be great.

When plugging my Samsung UN32EH5300 LED Smart TV into the AC outlet and connecting it to the internet, the first thing that it did was upgrade the system software. I liked the fact that it allowed upgrading the system software over the internet as opposed to upgrading it via USB stick. Configuring the television to access my wireless router was simple. The television has a RJ45 network jack but since my wireless router wasn't close enough to the television to connect a network cable, I opted to connect it to the internet using the wireless network.

The television gets the date/time from either manually setting it or from the broadcast stations. Since this television can connect to the internet, I was disappointed that it didn't get the date/time via an NTP server.

To begin with, I only installed 4 applications onto the television. I installed Netflix, NFB (National Film Board), YouTube, and the Accuweather application. I configured the Accuweather application for my home city. It gives the current temperature/weather along with a 6 day forecast (including today). I don't like how the search feature works on the NFB application. To search, it uses the remote control similar to how people would used to enter SMS using an old non-smartphone.

To access the regional settings for the Samsung UN32EH5300 LED Smart TV, I managed to access the country settings in order to get the proper Samsung Apps Store, using the remote control, I pressed: », 2, 8, 9, « (fast forward, 2, 8, 9, rewind). This gave me the country listings and I selected Canada to get the Canada specific applications.

To log out of Netflix, since I could not see the gears/settings icon, I used the arrows on my remote to enter the following sequence: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up. After doing this, I selected Deactivate. I was then given the option to sign in as a different Netflix member. This is also good to do before selling the television to someone else (otherwise the buyer will use your Netflix account on the television).

With Netflix, I initially had a few issues configuring it with my account but I think that the reason for this is that I was using Unblock-Us and the region I set was neither the US nor Canada. After setting Unblock-Us to Canada, I was able to configure Netflix with my account based on my Netflix e-mail address and my Netflix password. After Netflix was configured, I tested Unblock-Us by switching the country to the Netherlands and unlike what happens on my LG Smart TV Upgrader Box ST600 where Netflix wouldn't work if I selected a country other than Canada or the US, the Samsung UN32EH5300 was able to play my Netflix selection from the Netherlands as well as any of the other Unblock-Us countries. Barring any internet connection/speed issues, I was amazed by the the video quality and sound quality of Netflix.

If you are looking for a television that fully supports Netflix with Unblock-Us, you shouldn't have any issues with the Samsung UN32EH5300 and the Unblock-Us service.

I'm not sure if this is the same for other Smart TV brands/manufacturers but I find that it takes a long time to switch from watching television to one of the Smart TV applications.

One of the things that I found annoying with the television is that by default when navigating via the remote control, the television makes a noise (like a "clicking" sound). Removing this "clicking" sound was not intuitive in the menu since it did not appear in the Sound menu.

One of the things that I like about the remote control is that the buttons can light up. Pushing the "light" button on the remote causes the remote control buttons to light up for approximately 1 second after each button is pushed so that it is easy to view the buttons in the dark.

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 that contains an embedded URL link will be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.