Quick Review and Gift Guide: Synology DiskStation, AOC 27″ IPS Monitor, DLP portable projectors

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.

27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor


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

Synology Diskstation NAS… Read more

Sharp’s new 4K IGZO 32-inch display has Apple written all over it

Sharp is announcing a 32-inch 4K monitor today that uses its LGZO LCD tech expected to hit the Japanese market in February 2013. The roughly $5,500 PN-K321 monitor sports a 3,840-by-2,160 resolution and HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. According to Sharp, it will also be the thinnest monitor frame on the market at just 35mm. Even if analysts were wrong about a full-fledged TV set from Apple next year, these new Sharp displays would certainly make a pretty Thunderbolt display.

Sharp will put its IGZO displays in the hands of consumers in the near future, as it recently announced its first 7-inch tablet to take advantage of the technology’s low-power consumption features. Apple decided to not go with Sharps’ IGZO displays for its latest round of iPad launches. It instead sourced display components from AU Optronics, LG Display, and Samsung, but several reports in the past indicated Apple is interested in the technology. Apple was even recently rumored to be potentially making an investment in the failing company—much like Apple partner Foxconn previously agreed to.

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First third-party Lightning to 30-pin adapters show up on Amazon for $10-18 (Ebay too)

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Look what just popped up on Amazon: A company called Nanotch is offering pre-orders for 30-pin to Lightning adapters. There had been concern when a report last month said the 9-pin adapters were only going to cost $10 each and Apple would be the sole manufacturer, but neither looks to be true.

The company listed the following features:

  • Lightning cable adapter for newest generation of Apple products.
  • Adapter to use your new Apple products with older accessories.
  • Use your iPhone 5 with older models of accessories.
  • 20cm cord.
  • Small adapter for easy connection.

There was some controversy in the first few hours of the iPhone 5 pre-orders because Apple’s Store website said a 30-pin adapter was included with the iPhone 5. Apple quickly removed the error but confused some customers in the process.

The Nanotch item is currently listed for pre-order. As with most third-party Amazon sales, buyer beware.

Update: Ebay has these as well and another item, which more closely resembles Apple’s adapter, is from seller ‘iTronz” below and ships next week: Read more

Retina MacBook Pros run three external displays, refreshed Airs get dual external display support

Picture by Gabor Cselle

While Apple already recognized in its support documents for Thunderbolt that the new Retina MacBook Pro supports up to three external displays (as pictured above from Other World Computing’s recent tests of the setup), it has yet to confirm official support for the refreshed Ivy Bridge MacBook Airs. Today, we get word that the new MacBook Airs indeed support two external Thunderbolt displays thanks to the recent “Mac OS X Lion Update (Mid-2012 MacBook Air)” update that “improves external display support.” Apple has not updated the device’s specs page to reflect support for dual external Thunderbolt monitors.

The image below from OWC shows two iMacs running at 2,560-by-1,440 as Thunderbolt displays, and it shows an LG monitor at 1,920-by-1,200 via HDMI. The post noted “moving images and media didn’t create any lag and we were able to play video on all four displays simultaneously.” This makes the new MacBooks the first to support up to four displays at their native resolution. Note: You could theoretically add even more space with AOC DisplayLink displays.

The refreshed MacBook Air with dual external Thunderbolt displays is pictured above, while the MacBook Pro with three displays is below:
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Review: Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector turns your iOS device into a portable home movie theater

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Just seeing Epson’s MegaPlex iOS device projector at tradeshows and in still pictures doesn’t do it justice. Set up in a small, awkward booth and surrounded by bright lights, the projector does not inspire a second look. It was not until I got a private screening at Macworld that I really saw what this thing could do.

The MegaPlex MG-850HD is an incredibly bright 2800 lumen 720P projector with some mighty 10-watt stereo speakers built-in, but it adds something that you would not find in many other high-end consumer projectors: a 30-pin iOS device dock. The dock will accommodate anything from an iPod touch, iPhone, or even any iPad.

Amazon has the MegaPlex MG-850HD for $612. Buy.com has it for $620.

This thing is a Portable. Home. Movie Theater—and I mean that in every sense of the word “portable.” At less than eight pounds and with a sturdy handle, it is easy to pack and take it to the parents’ house, or even move it from the basement to the bedroom. Your iOS device is the “brains” of this thing, and it starts working immediately upon plugging in, so it takes only seconds to set up. You can watch your iTunes, Hulu, or Netflix videos in under a minute after choosing a destination.

Similar to most high-end projectors, this one features manual movable feet to adjust projection angles, focus, zoom, and horizontal keystone. The MegaPlex also does auto-vertical keystone and iris controls to make setting it up at angles surprisingly easy.

This thing boasts some range, as well. With the early spring weather this year, we turned an evening birthday party into an impromptu outdoor movie showing on the backside of our house (with a sheet over a window). The MegaPlex is rated for an over 25-foot diagonal screen, and I can attest that it looks fantastic even before it is fully dark outside.

With that said, something even better happened with the release of the new iPad and 1080P Apple TV…

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Pioneer Airplay 3D Home Theater Receiver with iOS App controls: $300

Amazon offers the Pioneer 840-watt 7.1-Channel 3D Home Theater Receiver, model no. VSX-1021-K, for $299.99 (add it to your cart to see the price). With free shipping, that’s $20 under our mention from last month and the lowest total price we could find by $99. Features include 120 watts per channel into seven channels, Airplay streaming, iPod, iPhone, and iPad App compatibility, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity, five HDMI inputs with 3D passthrough, one HDMI output, and more.

Just last week, the older model, without Airplay, was slashed to the same price.

Videos below: Read more