The New Macbook: The Perfect Everyday Laptop Mar12

The New Macbook: The Perfect Everyday Laptop

  The new Macbook is a beauty: lightweight, razor-thin, with a satin aluminum finish and an impressive retina display. Even better, the new Macbook will come in three different Colors: Silver, Space Gray and (drumroll, please!)…Gold.     Yes, gold. Which utterly destroys the simple harmony of the Macbook’s new design. But, for starters, this Macbook is not a computer that will blow your mind. Especially if you consider yourself a techie who always wants the best of the best. The new Macbook is all about your everyday, normal tasks. Want an ultra-thin machine with all the stuff necessary to do the average user’s tasks? Get this beautiful new laptop. But if you want to use image or video editors, game to your heart’s content, use data-intensive tools, give it a pass. When is this Macbook the right computer for you? If you only need a computer for surfing the internet, writing documents or watching movies. And it does those tasks perfectly.     So why is the new Macbook not as high performing as a Macbook Pro? Well, in order to make it so thin, Apple was obliged to using a fanless design, which meant using a processor that doesn’t need one. The solution? The Intel Core M. This processor doesn’t boast the performance of an Core i5 or i7, but it is a great processor that combines both mobility and performance. What are the drawbacks? Of course, by attempting to mix just enough performance with a fanless processor, what you get is a mixed processor that’s not the best in any category. It does it’s job, and admirably so, but we’re not talking the leader in processors here.     In summary, this processing balance combined with Apple’s fluid design make this $1299 laptop a very...

Expert Review: SoundMAGIC E10 Earphones Sep22

Expert Review: SoundMAGIC E10 Earphones

A few days ago, I lost my Urbeats earphones. One day I was energetically poppin’ out moves to my music, and the next…some awfully lucky guy in the metro was picking them up and bringing despair into my life. So I needed new ones. New earphones, that is. Preferably ones that cost less than $100, with a nice design and premium sound quality. Basically, I wanted new Urbeats but without the hefty price tag. Then I found the SoundMAGIC E10 earphones (or are they earbuds…?) The Design: My first impression was that they looked much more expensive than they actually cost. The actual earbuds are cased in metal, with a wire that is sturdy and tangle-free. Which, for those of us who like to abuse our earphones by stepping on, pulling and throwing them, is a great feature. Not only that, but for a low price, the design totally beats out the generic and plasticky look of your typical $20 earphones. I also appreciate that the manufacturer uses different colors in addition to R/L to differentiate between the right and left earbud. Inside the box, they ship with many different styles of rubber in-ear cups, to adjust the earbuds to anyone’s comfort level. And finally, they come with a neat case that is definitely handy for travel and storage. The Sound Quality No joke, but when I first put them on, I was amazed at the sound quality. Mind you, I’m no hard-core audiophile, but to me they sounded almost similar to some of the $100+ headphones that I previously used. Not quite as bassy as some, however the sound was very crisp and the noise isolation worked fantastically. These aren’t better in terms of pure sound quality than other high-end earbuds, but they...

Expert Review: The Jawbone UP Smack-down Jul30

Expert Review: The Jawbone UP Smack-down

First came the Fitbit Flex. Then the Jawbone UP was born. Actually, the Jawbone UP came out in November 2011, while the Fitbit Flex was released in May 2013. Why do I mention this? Because, as you’ll see, those two little dates make all the difference in a comparison between these activity-tracking wristbands. This is the Jawbone UP:     Pros: Best app of them all! Amazing graphs and helpful little tidbits that really serve to encourage you. Carries a battery charge for way longer than its competitors. I always forget to charge my Fitbit Flex every couple of days, so it dies on me quite often. But the Jawbone UP battery lasts twice as long as the Flex–up to 10 days–making it easy to schedule a weekly (or longer) battery charge cycle. Great sleep tracking with higher sensitivity and extra data about sleep cycles. As I mentioned before, I’m a light, fitful sleeper, so the additional information about my sleep cycles would prove more helpful than the vague “restless” or “awake” bars that Fitbit supplies. Greater step-counting accuracy. When compared side-by-side with the Flex and the normal hip pedometer, the UP came consistently closer to the hip pedometer than the Flex.   Cons: #1 and most important: it breaks. A lot. Though covered under warranty, the UP is infamous for its hardware and technical issues. They came out with a second batch which supposedly had all issues fixed…but they weren’t. The Gizko UP belonged to the second batch, which you can determine by the writing inside the band. It’s bulky. If you remember, I particularly appreciated the thin band of the Flex. On the other hand, the UP is fat and square and very blocky. Rafa complained a lot about the thickness of...

Kevo, the Lock of the Future Feb06

Kevo, the Lock of the Future

Last week (although it wasn’t my first time), I left my keys inside the house and I (stupidly) decided to close the door. You could almost watch the door closing in slow motion while I wondered: where are my keys…? And, in the end, I had to wait for a friend to come with my spare set, making fun of me all the while. Yes, it happened again. And yes, I’m dumb. How can you avoid this situation? That’s the thought that plagued me for a good number of hours after my ordeal. How could I keep myself from locking myself out of the house?     After researching a bit, I found Kevo. From the outside it just looks like a regular lock, but here’s the kicker: you can unlock it with your iPhone. On top of that, when you do so, a circle of light around the lock lights up and gives off that high-tech accomplishment feeling. And, best of all, it can save you from bunch of embarrassing situations (use your imagination here).     This isn’t really a review–just a mention of a really cool gadget–but I’ll explain a little about how it works. You basically just install it as you would install any other deadbolt, and voila! The technology is wrapped up conveniently inside, so it looks and feels like your normal, everyday lock. To open, you touch the Kevo with your hand, and if you have an iOS device nearby with the correct e-key, the lock will display a spinning blue light and unlock. The lock comes with a free iOS app (which looks pretty nice) and can be bought in three different finishes as well.     The downside? It costs quite a bit more than a...

Expert Review: Samson Go Mic Jan25

Expert Review: Samson Go Mic

Pretty much any laptop nowadays has an integrated microphone. So why in the world would you care to invest in another one, a USB mic? Well, first off, the sound quality is extremely different. Of course, you can have a normal Skype conversation without any fancy extras hanging off your laptop, and everyone will understand you. But if you want to sound crispier in your calls, start a podcast or create good-quality recordings of any type, a USB mic is a must-have. The main problem that confronts any person thinking of getting another mic is the huge array of not inexpensive and quite extravagant-looking microphones out there. One of the best is the Blue Microphones Yeti. It’s very cool and professional looking; it almost feels like you could podcast 24/7 with it. In fact, with a price of $99.99 on Amazon at the moment, you’ll probably feel like you should be podcasting away all day every day to get the most bang for your buck. And it’s well worth it if you want a really high-grade mic with amazing sound quality. However, let’s assume you’re not a audiophile and just want something in between the Yeti and the run-of-the-mill $10 USB mic. If that’s the case, you should definitely take a look at the Samson Go Mic.     The first thing that struck me was its style and size. It’s much smaller than the Yeti–roughly about a third of the size–but it still has that professional aluminum finish that stands out from the rest. It also folds down into its own base, which makes it really easy to store or travel with, since it is for those with portable needs. It also comes with a nice carrying case. The same base also clips pretty firmly to a laptop screen,...

Trending: Biometric Heart rate Earphones? Jan23

Trending: Biometric Heart rate Earphones?

Today we’re talking about biometrics. Why biometrics? Because Google has us all buzzing about their new prototypes. In fact, a few days ago Google premiered a contact lens prototype for diabetics that warns them when their blood sugar is too high or too low. A simple-seeming new invention, this is truly an amazing step forward in the sense that it’s the first step in integrating two everyday items: contacts and electronics. It brings Google Glass to mind, doesn’t it? Can you imagine being able to integrate all that inside a pair of contacts? And to think, this might be available for nearly anyone in the close future. They’re the contact lenses from Mission Impossible 4 come to real life!     Another “finished” product that caught my eye also integrates common items from our everyday lives: a heart rate monitor and earphones. Today’s heart rate monitors are watch-computers that read data streaming from a chest strap, which measures your heart rate when you work out. When I work out, I hate wearing them because I don’t enjoy the feeling of the strap around me, or the watch when exercising. On top of that, I tend to misplace things at times, so I really wouldn’t want to add another thing in my list of workout stuff to bring to the gym. One thing, however, that I always bring are headphones. I mean, how can you work out in complete silence without listening to your favorite music? Or even work out listening to the grunts of other people as they lift heavy weights…? So what if your indispensable headphones could also monitor your heart rate? Would you use them? LG’s heartrate earphones allow you to do both things.     The trick behind the magic is...

Expert Review: The Fitbit Flex Jan16

Expert Review: The Fitbit Flex

I’m training to move a sports car singlehandedly. Given that it weighs, on average, 3,500 lbs, I think that’s a nice goal for a next-generation superwoman. But I have a teeny problem: my Fitbit Flex doesn’t want to log my heavy weight training as active minutes. I could potentially go in and log my workout manually. And yet, I’m a little lazy. So what am I supposed to do? You see, the Fitbit Flex is your run-of-the-mill activity monitor, a step above the pedometer. Which is good, of course, if that’s what you’re looking for. And, like the untold number of other consumers who thought a fitness monitor would kickstart the inevitable New Year’s resolution, the Gizko team got a pair of Flexes over the holidays. Wearable activity monitors are super trending at the moment, and given the explosion of newly-unveiled products at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas, we decided it was time to take a look at one of the current market leaders. As shown above, the Fitbit Flex is a little tracking device tucked into a lightweight, rubber wristband. It tracks your step count, estimates calorie burn, and records sleep patterns. Most of the other wearable monitors offer similar functionality. The question is: is it actually useful? After two weeks of continuous use, let’s see how it stacks up. Pros: Super unobtrusive, adjustable wristband that comes in two sizes:  small (5.5-6.9 in / 140-176 mm) and large (6.3-8.2 in / 161-209 mm) Comes equipped with a display screen of five LED lights, which sequentially light up as you accomplish each 20% of your daily step goal Water resistant and submersible up to 10 meters, good for running in the rain or for those lazy users who can’t be bothered to remove...

Expert Review: The iMagnet Life-Saver Jan15

Expert Review: The iMagnet Life-Saver

There are many car mounts for smartphones in the market. And most are pretty annoying to use (to say the least): snap in your phone every time you get into the car, working it in those evil plastic grips like you needed an arm workout. Adding to that, these car mounts are usually phone-specific, meaning that if you switch to a new phone you need to change your mount as well–which can add up to some big bucks for some. Given that, today we are going to talk about a potential game-changer: the iMagnet. The cool thing about this mount is how your phone is attached to the mount via magnet. The only thing you need to do when you get into your car is literally put your phone on it. As you can see, it comes in the box with the mount and two different types of metal plates, a square one with a sticker and a round one that you place in between your phone and your case. If you don’t have a case, your only option is to attach the rectangular plate directly onto your phone. I’m a bit neurotic about my phone, so I was a bit worried about scratching the back of it with the circle magnet. Therefore I decided to stick the square piece on the back of my case. Like this: As far as the strength of the magnets, the phone attaches to the mount pretty tightly, and after testing on the back roads of  my local countryside, I can testify that it works so well it seems like it’s glued on. It wouldn’t separate from the mount even when I passed over bumpy, gravel-type roads. I do wonder, however, if the phone would fly to the...

Smartbands: Part Two Jan14

Smartbands: Part Two

Sony SmartBand   Much simpler than any other fitness band but still very promising, the Sony SmartBand also wants to be part of your life. Even though it’s lacking a screen and from the outside it just looks like a fancy bracelet, this band is so much more. The Smartband has the expected sleep and fitness tracking capabilities, and it also vibrates when you receive calls. What’s more, Sony is exploring a new angle in wearable technology–social tracking. The Sony SmartBand promises to record all your important moments, such as the videos that you have watched, the pictures that you have taken, or the games that you have played. The device core (which comes separate from the wristband) will cost around $135, with the colorful bands running from $20 to $27 each. While definitely not on the cheap side, we look forward to seeing if it’s worth the price tag.   Jaybird Reign If you want a 2nd-generation smartband that excels at tracking your exercise and sleep routine without the added bells and whistles, the Reign may be the best choice for you. Jaybird’s Reign is able to detect if you are swimming, walking, or whatever, all by itself via its internal heart rate monitor. When you go to sleep, you no longer have to press a button or tap the device an innumerable amount of times; Reign is smart enough to know when you are sleeping. Not only that, it will give you recommendations about your ideal sleeping time based on your overall activity.  Better yet, it also tells you when you are ready to do exercise based on your heart rate (or, as they call it, your “Go-Zone”). Pricing is expected to be around $200, a bit on the high end of the spectrum, but we think that this band will...

Trending: Smartbands Jan13

Trending: Smartbands

Over the past few weeks, everyone has been talking about fitness trackers–and it seems that they are going to give us more to talk about in the coming months. I, too, recently got a Fitbit Flex as a gift, and it’s been about two weeks since I started using it. My initial impression is that it does its job really well, and at the end of the day you can see how you did that day in terms of steps, calories burned, and distance traveled. Although you almost forget that you’re wearing something around your wrist, we here at Gizko think it would be awesome if you could do much more than tracking your exercise. Think about it: if you’re going to invest in a wristband device, the more functionalities the better, right? It seems that many companies in the 2014 CES thought the same way. Like many of you, I think that the rising demand for wearable bands is going to skyrocket in the coming years. But with so many upcoming choices, how can one keep track of them all? Let’s do a quick roundup of the most exciting wearable gadgets that were showcased at CES 2014. LG Lifeband Touch LG’s approach to wearable technology: integrate a band into your life to such an extent that you will wonder how you ever lived without it. The Lifeband has an OLED touch display that reports your steps/calories (such as other regular sport bands) but it also notifies you of incoming calls and texts, silences calls and chooses your music. The LG Lifeband is an extension of your smartphone, so you’ll never feel disconnected. The design looks pretty nice and sleek, too, though it might feel a bit bulky at times, especially if you are...