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Category: Reviews (page 2 of 11)

GarageMate Review: Open Garage Door with Phone!

Buy the GarageMate on Amazon

Video Transcript:

What’s up guys? It’s Andy and I am recently a new homeowner. This is actually my new kitchen and that’s my cat right there in the window sill.

Anyway I apologize for the echo. I wanted to do this video about my garage because I’m a new garage owner as well, and this 1980 garage door opener came with the garage. It’s the only one I have and I was like “There’s got to be a better way to open the garage possibly with, you know, your phone.”

So I went online and this is not a sponsored video by the way, but I found this product called the GarageMate, and you can open your garage over Bluetooth with this thing. It’s $50 on Amazon. I’ll leave a link in the description below so you can check it out.

But I just want to do a video over how to install it and how well it works because I don’t see many videos about this GarageMate product so I wanted to do one and let you guys know, if you’re a garage owner yourself, how it works and how you can set it up and how easy it is to install. So let’s go out to the garage and put this thing up and see how it works.

Alright so we’re in the garage now, and we are going to open up this panel here and the GarageMate works with almost any garage door opener but there are some exceptions. I’ll leave a link to their website so you can check it out and see if it works for your garage door opener that you currently have.

The process is pretty simple, I think you just connect the wires to these terminals right here, the red and white ones. So here’s the GarageMate right here. I’m going to go ahead and open it up and plug it in.

Ok so now I got the GarageMate plugged into power up there and the first thing you want to do is actually connect it to your iPhone so this works for iOS and Android devices and you can pair up to eight devices per one GarageMate receiver.

So once it’s powered on hold the blue button down for about 4 to 5 seconds until the LED starts to blink. Ok and then once it starts blinking you can pull out your phone. Make sure Bluetooth is on then go to the GarageMate app. It’s free and then you click on the gear icon here. Click on “My Garages” and then scan for new receivers. It’s going to, should pick it up in a few seconds and it says “Receiver found” and we want to go ahead and click “Pair”. And it’ll pair to your GarageMate receiver and then you also have a PIN on the back of your receiver that you put in right now and there we go. Success, you have successfully paired your GarageMate receiver. Sweet that was pretty easy.

So now once you’ve paired your GarageMate with your phone as long as you’ve got the red and white wires connected depending on however your garage door opener is set up. That’s how mine is set up. Once those are connected the power is plugged in up there. The receiver – there’s the GarageMate receiver. I’m just going to leave mine in this little white thing. You can leave it dangling down however you want to do it but I think Bluetooth is going to go through this no problem. We’ll test it out though.

Make sure Bluetooth is on your phone, open up the GarageMate app and all you have to do is hit this main garage door button. There you go, works like a charm. I want to test this out a little farther away see how far the Bluetooth will work but there it works. I’ll go ahead and leave that closed. We’ll back up in my car and see how far away it will work.

Alright so now we’re about like 20 feet away, I don’t know, I’m not good at guessing the lengths of things but I’m guessing about 20 feet away. Let’s see if it works. Yep worked great. I’m so far, I’m extremely happy with this. I’ve only opened my garage door twice but I think it seems to be working as expected.

So if you never want to deal with garage remotes again, changing out batteries, buying new ones, losing them, and you want to open your garage door wirelessly over Bluetooth then check out the GarageMate. I think it’s an awesome purchase for $50. It should last you for a long time. Thank you for watching. Make sure you subscribe to this channel if you haven’t already and give it a thumbs up if you liked this video. My name is Andy and I will talk to you guys in the next one.

Don’t Buy the 2016 MacBook Pro Until You Watch This

When Apple first announced the 2016 MacBook Pro I did a video over the top 5 letdowns about the new laptop based on what Apple showed us during the announcement.

Now I’ve owned the 2016 MacBook Pro for almost 3 months, and I’m here to share my experience and give you an update to those letdowns that I was expecting. Is it as bad as I thought it would be? Stick around to find out and at the end of the video I’ll tell you whether you should buy it or not.

Money, Baby

First, let’s address the cost. So many people including me were up in arms about the 2016 MacBook Pro being way overpriced for what you get. I bought the 13″ Touch Bar Space Gray model with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD, which came out to be right around $2,000 USD.

Let’s put that into perspective.

At the time of this recording for $250 less, on Amazon you can get a 2016 Dell XPS 13 with a newer generation 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, double the amount of RAM, same size SSD, but a higher resolution display that’s also a touch screen.

If you’ve seen my Dell XPS 13 vs MacBook Pro video in which both laptops have 6th gen Skylake processors, you know that not all user experiences are created equally just by basing it off of specs alone. But when you’re talking about an exact dollar-to-specification ratio, the 2016 MacBook Pro is certainly overpriced compared to other laptops in its class.

Oh, Performance

The big question is: How well does the 2016 MacBook Pro perform given its seemingly lower specs?

For me, the toughest task I perform on my laptop is editing 4K videos. Since I use Final Cut Pro X, which is optimized for MacOS, I can export a 5-minute 4K video in about 4 minutes on the 2016 MacBook Pro. That’s actually pretty impressive. The lack of a dedicated GPU is its biggest hurdle when rendering videos but overall, Final Cut Pro X works well enough for me to use the MacBook Pro as a video editing machine, albeit not the greatest one.

Other than video editing, as with any other computer with an SSD, normal day to day tasks are handled with ease. Everything from web browsing to office applications are all fast. There’s no lag or stuttering when opening apps or having multiple tabs open in Chrome. The cold bootup time is about 24 seconds which is longer than I expected, but with one of the MacBook Pro’s best new features, Touch ID, getting back into the laptop from sleep mode is dang near instantaneous which is nice.

On the GeekBench tests, which measures overall performance, my MacBook Pro scored a 7606. LaptopMag.com tested two different models of the Kaby Lake Dell XPS 13, with the Core i5 model scoring 7159 and the Core i7 model scoring 7915. That means the 2016 MacBook Pro 13” i5 model falls right in between the i5 and i7 on the Dell XPS 13, which is pretty good since the MacBook Pro has the previous generation CPU.

Overall, I think the 13″ MacBook Pro is the perfect balance of mobility and performance.

New Features, Bruh

As for the new features, the 2nd gen butterfly keyboard is extremely nice to type on in my opinion. I enjoy it very much, and the super large trackpad is a dream. It’s way better than any other trackpad I’ve used.

Battery life has been kind of average, nothing spectacular. On a normal day for me which includes watching YouTube videos, streaming Spotify, browsing the web, typing documents, it lasts about 7 hours on a full charge. I do love how fast it charges from 0-100% in about 90 mins when the lid is closed, though.

What about the “coolest” new feature, the Touch Bar? I called it a gimmick when I first heard about it and honestly, it pretty much is. It really is just a coolness factor for the most part.

Sometimes it is useful in native apps like Final Cut Pro which is nice for me because I use that to edit, but for web browsing I use Chrome, and I’m not going to switch to Safari just because it’s optimized for the Touch Bar.

Given that the Touch Bar changes depending on what app is open, it’s not easy to wire your brain to use it. If you want a quick way to message emojis it’s great. But other than that, the Touch Bar is overhyped and underused.

The other big change is the port selection on the MacBook Pro. It only has USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. No USB-A ports, no SD card slots, no HDMI port, which is kind of a travesty for something labeled as Pro. But hey, at least they remembered to put a headphones jack in. (Too soon?)

Out of the box you cannot connect any of your current USB-A devices or even your latest iPhone which is crazy. If you get the 2016 MacBook Pro, I hope you like using adapters. These USB-C to USB-A adapters are probably a necessity.

On the bright side, USB-C with its universal design and incredibly fast transfer speeds is certainly the way of the future and having four USB-C ports will be really convenient when all devices go that route. But right now, it feels unfriendly.

Worth It?

Is the 2016 MacBook Pro worth it? Well we know it has an awesome design, it has a solid build made of high quality materials, it has a fantastic display, nice sounding speakers, great keyboard and trackpad, good reliable performance. But it is expensive, lacks port variety, and has seemingly lower specs than most of its competitors.

I think you should only consider buying it if you:

  • Don’t mind taking adapters along with the laptop wherever you go or if for some reason you don’t need a variety of ports.
  • Absolutely want the Touch Bar and you think you would get use out of it.
  • Have a high budget and don’t care about the latest and greatest specs.
  • Plan to keep this laptop for 5+ years.

If you don’t meet all those conditions but you still want a MacBook Pro, I would suggest looking at a 2015 MacBook Pro instead. Sometimes you can find a good deal on a refurbished one.

The 2015 model will have older specs but the performance will be similar to the 2016 model and you’ll have a wider variety of ports, along with the MVP MagSafe connector, and most of all you’ll save some money.

Let me know what you decide and if this video helped you out, please give it a thumbs up I would really appreciate it. Also subscribe if you haven’t already. My name is Andy. Thank you for watching and I’ll talk to you in the next one.

Top 3 Reasons to Buy Apple AirPods!

Apple AirPods are Apple’s new wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and they’re not for everyone. In fact, after owning them for a few days and using them for multiple hours on end, I’ve discovered who the AirPods are meant for so in this video I’ll go over my top 3 reasons to buy the Apple AirPods.

AirPods start at $159 so they’re definitely not cheap. However, they do have some cool features that may justify that price tag. In the box you’ll see a magnetic carrying case that doubles as a charger which most other Bluetooth devices don’t offer. Inside the case are the AirPods themselves. There’s a Lightning port at the bottom the case for charging via the included USB-A cable. Don’t get me started on why it’s not USB-C. Let’s just go ahead and start with reason number one:

Unique Features > Audio Quality

Don’t proceed if you’re an audiophile or obsessed with super high quality audio. AirPods are tiny wireless earbuds. I don’t expect people to think that these have superior audio quality. They have good sounding AAC audio but still not the best when it comes to pure audio quality for the price. It’s very similar audio quality to iPhone 7 EarPods (though the AirPods mids seem slightly clearer).

So audio quality takes backseat to the main features, one of which is a processor inside each AirPod called the W1 chip which makes them “smarter” than most Bluetooth headphones. It has instant pairing when you open the case near a compatible iPhone with Bluetooth enabled. A window pops up asking to pair and gives battery percentages. The W1 chip makes AirPods more power efficient leading to long battery life. Apple claims 5 hours on single charge (my first 2 hours used 35%). The case also has its own re-chargeable battery built-in. That means if the case is charged, you can insert your AirPods into the case and it will charge your AirPods. Apple says the case adds an extra 24 hours of use. W1 chip works with small infrared sensors in each AirPod that can detect when you’ve put them in your ears so music will automatically play when you put the AirPods in and music will automatically pause when you take one or both out. The chip also tells your iPhone if you’re only wearing one AirPod at a time. Each AirPod has a built in microphone which is not the greatest mic in the world, but if you want those main features more than having the best audio quality, AirPods are a good choice.

Current Apple User

You can actually pair AirPods with non-Apple devices with the button on the back of the case, but I wouldn’t buy AirPods unless I owned at least 2 of the following: iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or later, Mac with MacOS Sierra or later, or Apple Watch with watchOS 3 or later. The fit is identical to the latest EarPods so if you know the EarPods fit your ears well then AirPods should too. The same can be said if the EarPods don’t fit you well, then the AirPods most likely won’t fit you well either. As for me, the AirPods fit well and it’s a pretty comfortable fit. They’re snug and secure. They don’t seem to come loose even when running at full speed. Great for working out and running. AirPods sync across all your Apple devices through iCloud after initial pairing. If you want to switch over from listening on your iPhone to your Mac, you just select the AirPods from the task bar at the top of your screen. So if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem like me, then the AirPods are a good choice.

Minimalist as Possible

This is where the AirPods are really polarizing. They go full out minimalist which will appeal to some people but cause hatred from others. My current Bluetooth headphones are each under $50 so they’re much cheaper than the AirPods and they have actual buttons for play, pause, and skip. AirPods are completely different.
Obviously there are no cords which means no more messy tangled wires which makes it very simple to manage and a good enough reason in itself to get AirPods if you don’t currently own Bluetooth headphones. I hate wires. However this does mean that it will be easier to lose one of the AirPods since they aren’t connected to each other. If you lose one, Apple will sell you a replacement at a “special discounted rate” of $69 so try not to lose one. AirPods have zero buttons. This means you control everything through Siri which you can activate by double tapping near the top of the AirPods. I’m so used to tapping previous earbuds for the purpose of getting them to settle into my ears, but with AirPods this double-tapping gesture activates Siri where you can tell it to lower your volume or play or pause the music and many other commands. Of course the double tap gesture can be customized in your Bluetooth settings or even turned off completely. I found that voicing commands through Siri works well for the times when I can actually get it to activate. Sometimes it takes many attempts because the AirPods don’t actually have a touch capacitive surface. The double-tapping is detected by the built-in accelerometers so it takes a little more force than with a normal touch surface which can become quite annoying if you’re constantly banging your ear drum. I still prefer to use the controls from my device. So if you want to go on full-on minimalist, the AirPods are a good choice.

I honestly think $99 would be the perfect price for the AirPods. $159 is just a bit too high even with the included battery case and the new W1 chip, but if those 3 reasons I gave resonate with you then you should look into getting them!

Google Wifi Review & Setup!

Google Wifi is not your typical wireless router. It’s a sleek, easy-to-use device that’s designed to be the simplest and most future proof way of filling your home with WiFi. It comes in a 1-pack for $129 or a 3-pack for $299. So you can get just one if you want to replace your current WiFi router in an area up to 1500 sq ft. But one of the main features of Google Wifi is the expandable mesh network which lets you have multiple Google Wifi points that work seamlessly together to fill up an area up to 4500 sq ft with no dead spots. It has a quad-core ARM CPU, blazing fast AC1200 Wi-Fi standard, simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4/5 GHz) with Network Assist Technology, and it’s backwards-compatible with your current devices (supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)

In the box you have the Google Wifi point with two gigabit Ethernet ports, a quick start guide, a 6.5 ft Ethernet cable, and the power cable. To set up Google Wifi you’ll need: a free Google account, an Android or iOS device, high speed internet, and a modem. First connect your power cable to the Google Wifi point then connect the Ethernet cable from your modem into the globe icon port on the Wifi point, then connect the power adapter to an outlet. Next, install the free Google Wifi app on your smartphone or tablet and make sure Bluetooth is turned on as well.

When the app finds your Wifi point it will ask you to scan the QR code that’s on the base of the device or you can type the code manually. Select the location of your Wifi point so you can identify it later. The next steps will ask you to name your Wifi network and create a Wifi password. Google Wifi uses WPA2-PSK security if you were wondering. The app will proceed to create and finalize your network. Tell it how many Wifi points you have then click next and it most likely will start to install available updates. That’s another good thing about Google Wifi, it has automatic security updates. When you see that your Wifi is ready you can go to your WiFi settings and connect to the new Wifi network that you just created.

One of the best features of Google Wifi is the app which not only walks you through the entire setup like we just did, but it’s also the one-stop shop to easily manage your wifi network. Some of the things you can do include network checks which tests your internet download and upload speeds and keeps a history of the speeds for you to compare. You can also test the speed of the Wifi to your device to make sure you have a good base connection.

You can set up Guest Wifi that creates a totally separate wifi network for guests with its own separate name and password. You can enable a feature called Family WiFi Pause which is good for parents who want to turn off Wifi access to their kids devices at certain times. You can also see all the devices that are currently connected to your network along with a list of devices that have connected in the past. You can give priority to a device for a certain period of time. You can see your network data usage. In the settings area you can change various settings of your wifi point, reset it, do some advanced tasks like setting IP reservations, UPnP, port forwarding, or changing DNS servers.

One of the biggest concerns of owning a router made by Google is wondering if Google is spying on your data. Well here’s the clause from the Wifi app. It states in bold: “Google Wifi app and your Wifi points do not track the websites you visit or collect the content of any traffic on your network.”

So I’m not too worried about Google spying on my data traffic. However some of the things I don’t particularly like about Google Wifi is the lack of ethernet ports. Most routers have at least 4 ethernet ports while Google Wifi only has 2. And for $129, it seems like it should definitely have 4 ports. I also wish they offered a 2-pack, instead of just a 1 and 3 pack.

Having said that, I still think Google Wifi is one of the best wireless routers you can get right now because of the automatic updates, the simplicity of setup and management using the free app, the sleek white design, and especially the super fast expandable mesh network for future proofing. I bought it to replace my old wireless router and i’m definitely keeping it.

My question for you is: what router do you have right now and will you be replacing it with Google Wifi? Leave a comment and let me know!

Dell XPS 13 vs MacBook Pro 13″ – Which is Better?

Welcome to the ultimate showdown between the best 13″ laptops: The MacBook Pro 13″ vs the Dell XPS 13.

Both of these models I have were released in 2016 and both of them have the 6th generation Intel Skylake processors in them. Having said that, the XPS 13 and the MacBook Pro that I have are not 100% the same when it comes to the rest of the specs, but this video will focus on the bigger picture, and at the end of this video I’ll share my verdict so you can figure out which one is best for you.

Price

The Dell XPS 13 is obviously cheaper. It’s cheaper overall, they offer more affordable options for under $1000 while the MacBook Pro starts at $1499 in the US. For the models I have here, it’s currently $1699 for the Dell XPS 13 and $1999 for the MacBook Pro. Now to make pricing more fair when you’re shopping, you can compare the non-touch screen of the Dell XPS 13 to the non touch bar model of the MacBook Pro along with other different hardware configurations. But overall, Dell is obviously cheaper so Dell does win the pricing battle.

Ports

Dell has a much wider variety of ports on the XPS 13 featuring one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and an always convenient SD card slot. The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, only has a headphone jack and either two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the non-touch bar model or four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the touch bar model. So that’s a pretty no-brainer; Dell obviously wins the ports battle because they offer more ports than the new MacBook Pro, which Apple went ahead and took away all the ports that you’re used to and replaced them with USB C ports, so nobody has all of those ports for their devices yet, so it’s kind of an inconvenience right now. It will probably be beneficial in the future sometime, but not right now. For right now, Dell does win the ports battle.

Performance

Both the Dell and the MacBook Pro come in configurations of i5 or i7 processors with turbo boost, 8 or 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and SSDs from 128GB to 1TB, and Intel Iris graphics. So the performance really just depends on the configuration you choose. However, I will point out that my XPS 13 has a Core i7 with 16GB of RAM while my MacBook Pro has a Core i5 with just 8GB RAM, and I did a video editing export test and the MacBook Pro handled it way better, 4x better to be exact. Now that test was obviously dependent on the software, and Final Cut Pro X on a Mac is known to usually have faster export times because it’s optimized specifically for the Mac hardware. But since these laptops have so many similar specs, I’m calling this one a tie.

Display

Both of these displays are very beautiful. The Dell XPS 13 comes in at 3200×1800 on that Quad HD InfinityEdge IPS touch display, with super thin bezels, so right off the bat Dell is hard to beat. The MacBook Pro screen still looks great with a resolution of 2560×1600 plus the new P3 color space and at 500 nits, it gets a little brighter than the XPS 13, and in my opinion it does have the advantage of having a 16:10 aspect ratio, but when the display is compared side by side to the Dell XPS 13 you can tell that the XPS display is just better. So Dell does win the display battle. Up next is the battery life. Dell has a slightly bigger battery at 56 wH compared to the 49 wH on the MacBook Pro. However, the non touch bar MacBook Pro has a 55 wH battery, which should be right around the same battery life as the Dell XPS 13. In my test, the XPS 13 went from full charge to 0% in about 8 hours, and the MacBook Pro went from 100%-0% in about 7 hours so you’re getting about an hour longer battery life with the XPS 13; however, the MacBook Pro did charge faster than the Dell XPS 13, actually by 50 minutes faster. It went from 0-100% charge in 90 minutes, while the Dell XPS 13 went from 0-100% in about 140 mins, so the MacBook Pro does charge faster,  but the Dell has a bigger battery and a better battery life, thus winning the battery battle.

Portability

Starting off with the weight, the MacBook Pro 13″ weighs right at three pounds. The Dell XPS 13 weighs right under three pounds at two pounds and fourteen ounces to be exact. The XPS 13 is squeezed into a typical 11″ laptop shell which makes it one of the most portable 13″ laptops out right now. They’re both almost the same exact length, but the MacBook Pro is about a half inch longer in depth. However the MacBook Pro appears to be thinner than the XPS 13. It’s so close, and even though Dell wins the weight battle by two ounces, the MacBook Pro wins the thinness battle by a hair, so that makes it a tie for me. You really can’t go wrong with either of these laptops if you’re planning on being portable and mobile.

Design

Starting off with audio, the speakers on the MacBook Pro just sounded better to me; they have the faux grills on top, so the speakers aren’t really directly under the grills on the MacBook Pro but they do sound better. They’re coming up through the top while the Dell XPS speakers are really small and they’re on the side. So the MacBook Pro just sounded cleaner to me when I was listening to music and vocals and things like that. The MacBook Pro build is very solid, it’s attractive and symmetrical, the space grey looks very sleek, and I can open the lid without the laptop moving. The XPS 13 looks very good with the silver on the outside and the inside has a nice black carbon fiber finish. And I love the battery gauge button that used to be an advantage that MacBooks had until they stopped doing it, but the XPS 13 does have a common issue with coil whine and some trackpad issues with certain software. It’s not symmetrical, and you cannot open the lid without the laptop moving, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference. Both keyboards have backlights; the MacBook Pro’s keys are a little bigger than the Dell’s keys but the biggest difference is the key travel. The MacBook Pro has Apple’s new 2nd generation butterfly mechanism keyboard which is totally subjective to the user but I like the MacBook Pro keyboard a little better than the traditional keyboard on the Dell XPS 13. It feels nicer when typing on it. Some people hate the butterfly mechanism but I’m a fan, especially with the 2nd generation. The MacBook Pro trackpad is king compared to the XPS 13. It’s bigger and works like Apple has always made them even with the Force touch. The Dell trackpad still physically clicks down but I still have issues with the Dell trackpad in Google Chrome. Having said that, the Dell XPS 13 still does have the best trackpad on a Windows machine that I’ve ever used, but just not as good as Apple’s yet. So MacBook Pro wins the overall design category.

OS

Which has the best operating system? This is going to cause a lot of ruckus in the comment section! Windows 10 is fantastic and is the Windows version ever, but MacOS is still superior. You will most likely run into fewer problems in a five year span with a Mac than you would with Windows. Plus, the MacBook Pro can run Windows 10 virtually if you need it while Windows still cannot run MacOS which isn’t Windows fault but it’s still an advantage. Lastly, it is entirely possible and becoming more prevalent for Macs to get viruses but it’s still nowhere near the virus problem that Windows machines face. So as you can tell I think the OS battle goes to the MacBook Pro.

Verdict

Based on those categories that we just went over, if you add them up the Dell XPS 13 does win. Does that mean the MacBook Pro is a bad buy or it’s a bad laptop? No, it’s a good laptop, very expensive, but it’s a good laptop. And it all depends on what you do specifically as a user, depends on what kind of equipment you own, maybe you own an iPhone, maybe you’re invested in the Mac environment. Just like I am, I’m a Final Cut Pro user. It makes more sense for me to own a MacBook Pro because I can edit videos faster than on the Dell XPS 13. But if you are looking at them side by side, the comparison tests we did, I tried to be objective as possible with these tests and the categories. And just prioritize the categories based on your use and then you can find out which one is best for you. But if we’re going side by side with the tests we just did the Dell XPS 13 does seem to be a better laptop and the best 13 inch laptop that you can get right now. Both links to these laptops will be in the description below. Let me know in the comment section below what you think of these laptops, if you own one, if you’re wanting to buy one. Thank you so much for watching. My name is Andy. Make sure you hit that subscribe button and give this video a thumbs up if it helped you out. I will see you guys in the next video.

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