Another look at previously reviewed gadgets

24 May

May 24, 2011

By Geoff Meeker

I’ve reviewed a good number of gizmos and gadgets, since starting this column in 2006. Most often, reviews are based on first impressions, having used a device for days, and sometimes weeks.

That’s fine for figuring out how something works, and if it performs as promised. But nothing gives better insight into the quality of a product than the passage of time. So, this week, something completely different: a look back at previously-reviewed products, to see how I feel about them now (with date of my original review in brackets).

Flip HD

This compact little videocamera (September 2009) takes great quality video and is ideal for excursions where you must travel light. My only reservation is the rechargeable battery pack. It didn’t work on the first camera I purchased, so I exchanged it for another – but that didn’t work either. Fortunately, it works fine with regular AA batteries, so I forgave it that fault.

 

Lenovo Netbook

In essence a miniature laptop computer, with smaller processor and no disc drive, the Lenovo Netbook served me well as a compact vacation computer (August 2009). When that summer ended, my fourteen-year-old son inherited the Lenovo, for school work, chatting with friends, and so on. He ran it hard, toting it from room to room, occasionally dropping it on the floor, until the unit stopped working. I had a new operating system installed and it still works fine – despite a crack in one of the hinges, very near the screen. Definitely a durable product.

Bose Wave, Zeppelin

The Bose Wave was an expensive mistake. Yes, it sounds good when you play a CD, but not as good as a component system, as Bose claims. And when you plug in the iPod, it falls flat. I have come to the conclusion that Bose is over-rated, and gets by more on the virtue of its name than the quality of its products. Which brings me to the Zeppelin (January 2009), a Bowers & Wilkins speaker dock designed specifically for the iPod. The sound quality leaves the Bose Wave in the dust. It’s a quality instrument that seems to improve with age, and is still highly recommended.

Eye TV

Eye TV is a hardware/software combination that turns your computer into a TV set and PVR. Mine worked fine (May 2010), until my computer crashed. When I loaded the back-up onto the new hard drive, the only program that failed to work properly was Eye TV. I have since tried reloading from scratch, to no avail. I can still watch live TV, but can’t program to record upcoming shows. Given more time and effort, this may be fixable, but it’s a disappointment nonetheless.

iPhone 3GS

I still love my iPhone 3 (March 2010), though I want the iPhone 4 even more. These truly are remarkable little devices. However, I have learned that this is one instance where you should buy the extended, three-year warranty. Yes, there is a chance it may break, but the real reason is the battery. After two years, it fades and won’t hold a charge for a full day of use – which is a real bother – and the battery replacement costs more than the extended warranty. So ask for it, and be sure to get it.

Earphones

I reviewed a bunch of earphones (July 2010) and found that the HS Sport (WalMart) was an okay product, at just $15. I take that back. I used the ‘phones frequently, whenever I went walking, but I treated them with care. I was disappointed, then, when the wire snapped off the input, after just six months. They are now useless. But I do have a discovery to share. The next time you’re flying Westjet, ask for the premium earphones, for $10. With great audio, a comfortable fit and solid construction, they compare nicely against earphones at three times the price. Incidentally, the Sennheiser PMX680 ‘phones I also reviewed at the time still work and sound great, and are highly recommended.

Logitech Squeezebox, iTunes Radio

The Logitech Squeezebox (February 2009) worked well enough, in terms of bringing in hundreds of Internet radio stations from around the world, including local channels. However, I didn’t use it enough to warrant the $400 price tag. Furthermore, the free Internet Radio function of iTunes (June 2010) delivers thousands of streaming radio channels, including local CBC, more or less rendering the Logitech hardware obsolete.

Geoff Meeker is a communications consultant with a soft spot for technology. He also writes a blog about the local media scene, which is hosted at http://www.thetelegram.com.

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