As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, we thought we would throw together some of the more interesting review items we received over the past months.
First up is the $299 27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor (I2757FH) that has a vague Mac aesthetic with a silver stand and ultra-thin bezel around the edges. This one comes with two HDMI ports, a VGA port, AUX audio ports, and some small speakers. The 27-inch IPS LED display is very nice, but it is obviously not as crisp as a Thunderbolt Display of the same size. And, after some adjustments to the default washed-out look, I was very happy with the color representation. Front capacitive controls are easy to deal with, and overall build quality is very nice, especially for AOC, but the downsides include: the lack of a USB hub, it is not easily wall-mountable, and the super small and poor tiny 4W speakers. You are definitely going to want to have separate speakers.
This AOC display would be best suited in an office/dorm room/bedroom doing double duty as a PC/Mac external display and perhaps display for an Apple TV/Cable box. Recommended at $299, or check out the USB Display link powered 22-inch display
A Synology Diskstation model DS212 has been quietly sitting in my basement closet for about six months now. It is easily my favorite home Network Attached Server ever and is much more robust than anything else out there—especially for the sub $200 price. In the past, I used a DLink-323 (worked…but few features), a Drobo (mess, with RAID failures), and Apple’s Time Capsule (few features) for my back-ups and file serving needs. I always had some trouble with wireless Time Machine backups even with Apple’s own Time Capsule, but, after six months, I had few backup hiccups with the Synology DiskStation.
And, while it is a reliable backup and file server, Synology has very impressive apps for iOS and Android (as well as a nice web app) that allow you to take all of your music, movies, pictures, and media with you wherever you go so long as there is an internet connection. In fact, it goes well beyond normal NAS functionality and can act as an iTunes Server, DLNA server, AirPlay, VPN, Print server, and most of the other top 30 features a Linux box can do. I have two 3TB WD Green drives on a mirrored RAID 1 setup, and those are quiet, quick to start, and energy efficient. I back up via one of the two external USB 3 ports that can also share a USB printer.
If you have any question to the quality and reliability of Synology DiskStations, just check out Amazon’s top-rated NAS list. Ten of the top 11 devices are Synology. Very-highly recommended (including the larger storage options).
DLP LED Projectors
I reviewed the Epson Megaplex iOS device “traditional” projector in March and loved almost everything about it…except its weight. It is heavy and a pain to carry anywhere. That’s where Texas Instruments comes in with its line of DLP chip projectors.
What TI has done in the past few years with its DLP LED projectors really blows my mind. I have the Telstar/Brookstone–branded 85 Lumen projector that also carries an “almost two-hour” battery charge in the box. This shows a 1080p interpolated (854-by-480 WVGA) display on 60-inch wall display that looks awesome even in somewhat-lit rooms. You can also throw this in your pocket and connect it to iOS devices via A/V cable to the HDMI port. It also has AUX out for big speakers or a small internal speaker that is a bit louder than an iPhone’s built-in speaker.
I’ve had my hands on the $500 Samsung Galaxy Beam (relax Samdroid haters, the phone is unremarkable besides its ability to throw off a projector beam) that uses the same DLP technology with only 15W of power behind it and a much smaller SD display. It has a 2000mW/h battery that also gives it close to two hours of watch time, and, with Android OS, it allows you to watch videos from the web or from DLNA NAS. It also has some cool wake features that project news, weather, and other information as an alarm.
Both of these TI DLP projectors work great for watching videos on the road. On multiple occasions, when travelling with my family, we just threw on a Netflix or Amazon movie and had our own personal movie theater.