Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Satechi R1 Foldable Stand: a simple accessory for a complex world

Nov 1, 2017

The older I get, the more I am willing to look to do more with less, especially with regards to productivity. Especially with regards to smartphones. My go bag is still my version of the Tardis, but now, I really work hard to ensure that the most important stuff resides in it.

It’s not rocket science. I want to carry less things, and still be productive.

If I have decent sized phone (I do), a good data plan with hotspot (check) and a wireless keyboard (yessir), I should be able to do my thing wherever there’s a workable cellular signal.

The Satechi R1 Aluminum Foldable Mobile Stand just helps round out the party.s3

In use, what you see is what you get: a relatively sleek, balanced accessory that holds up a phone or tablet such that it can be used upright. Hey, I admit it. The chrome-y aluminum finish is quite becoming. out the box, it comes flat and unassuming. It unfolds intuitively to reveal two hinges that create a tri-fold of sorts that has a curved holder at the end. The hinges are fairly tight, and require a bit of pressure to adjust.

The item can be tweaked via aforementioned hinges, which allow for the held device to be suspended at the right height and angle. The natural heft and flat base design make it hard to be toppled over.

I tried it out with everything I had: smartphone, 10-inch tablet and even swivel touchscreen Chromebook. It acquitted itself quite well.

The ability to adjust the height is a great feature. Being able to add a few inches to bring a screen closer to one’s eye level is invaluable. I also like the latent ability to prop a laptop dock-style. Since my Chromebook is my go to machine while on the run, I can count on this to work with it.

When it comes right down to it, this piece’s biggest attribute is probably its portability. The ability to securely hold up a mobile device for usage or consumption does not impress me as much as it should, but being portable does. I like the fact that this can be easily tossed in a go bag, or even a pocket if need be. The flexibility is another plus, as it can be used with a phone and even laptop/Chromebook.

Still, with how my workstation is set up, I just might make this a semi-permanent piece. Hey, this is a pretty cool problem to have, no?

Whine? Nitpicking somewhat, but because of the overall tightness, it is difficult to adjust with one hand. Of course, if I had to give up that first world problem for more device surety, I am quite okay.

Almost. Just about.

And how much is this item? Well, at the time of this writing, it is about $39.99 via the Satechi website, though you can pick it up for a bit cheaper on Amazon. Depending on your needs, it can easily be considered a reasonable investment; in these days of commodity electronics, I can understand someone going cheaper too.

A look at the Nyrius ARIES Pro Wireless HDMI System

A look at the Nyrius ARIES Pro Wireless HDMI System

Feb 28, 2017

As we like to say, mobile accessories make the device; a smartphone is just a smartphone, but when paired with the right tool, it extends to something truly magical.

One major turn-off is the presence of unnecessary wire. More specifically, for all the good the HDMI standard has brought, those wires still get on my nerves. And I am also “tied” to something.

Ugh.

We recently got a chance to try out the Aries Pro Wireless HDMI system from Nyrius, which looks to make the wired HDMI experience a bit more of an option versus necessity.

Now that Chromebooks have (or are on the way to obtaining) access to the Play Store, the value of this piece is a mobile accessory jumped a bit.

But what exactly does it to? The two-piece solution allows one to wirelessly tether a source device to an output unit — like a projector or television.

The review package unveils the setup: a receiver portion, an HDMI plug-in transmitter and a few smaller accessories: a right-angle adapter and HDMI cable. For devices that have full HDMI (Type A) inputs, this device is ready to go in plug and play fashion.

Setup is fairly intuitive; the transmitter is plugged into an HDMI slot on the host device, and the receiver connects in the same way with the help of the HDMI cable. Simple as that, really, and you have the potential for screen mirroring.

And it works.

We first tried it with the Acer R11 Chromebook, a unit that has Google Play access, touchscreen and full HDMI out. After a few perfunctory adjustments in the device settings, I had the unit mirrored on a Sony TV quite easily.

nyrius3

Just for kicks, we wanted to see how it would work with a properly equipped Android tablet. Thankfully, we had an RCA tablet, an ultra-affordable unit that has mini-HDMI output. Using a suitable adapter, we plugged in the transmitter (which was also tethered to a USB power). It worked just as well with as the Chromebook, even if the tethering made it a bit awkward.

And the practical uses were fairly far-reaching. Playing games was a biggie, and the right games with a bluetooth controller support made for an interesting solution: with the tablet or Chromebook beside me, I was able to play games on the screen with very little lag, creating a decent console-ish experience.

Similarly, it works well with consumer projectors that have HDMI functionality. In every situation, sound pipes through in step with visuals through the designated audio output device.

There are a few pauses here. One, the necessity for the plugin to be powered, as hinted at above; the setup isn’t the most mobile

Also, when it comes to playing games, it works best with bluetooth controllers, for obvious reasons. With that setup, one could leave the source device all connected up and to the side — but in range of the controller — so that the player can keep eyes on the larger screen.

All in all, it’s a great accessory, just about portable, if a bit of an investment (at $250). In the right hands, it’s invaluable.

F300W Wireless Charging Pad Hardware Review

F300W Wireless Charging Pad Hardware Review

Jan 29, 2017

Truth be told, I have cottoned very, very well to wireless charging. Any concerns with regards to the speed of the process are mostly surpassed by the overall convenience; plus, being an Android old-head, I still have horror stories about damaged charging ports circulating in my brain.

I am still terrified of broken ports.

Incoming USB-C heads are definitely welcome, but I am especially attracted to accessories that allow me to be as wireless as possible. You know, stuff like the Spigen F300w Wireless Charging Pad.

The design is similar to ones we’ve seen before: an angled, tapered structure with deliberate bends that create a stand of sorts. It looks like a hard piece of synthetic material that is bent almost to 90 degrees, and then has a lip to place the device on.

The review unit we received is black, the aforementioned lib also has an LED charging/on indicator, and the back end has in incorporated micro-USB port for power input. When attached to power, the LED light stays red.

spigen2

Usage is fairly intuitive; one places a device with wireless charging capabilities (built-in or added coil) and places it on the pad; if everything is right, the unit’s red light changes to blue. The F300W’s claim to fame is the use of three coils along the charging base; this allows devices to be placed fairly liberally and still make enough contact to charge, even in landscape orientation.

One fantastic current advantage over some wireless chargers is the fact that it uses relatively common micro-USB (B) for input power. While we hear that USB Type-C is the new upcoming standard, most devices still use the former; thus, if one needs to use wired charging for any reason, an extra cable isn’t needed. It’s something small, but definitely a plus.

The design isn’t exactly new, but it helps that it is effective, and, daresay stylish. It is portable enough — maybe — but works well as an accessory that allows the device to be monitored while charging.

Pick up one of these at Mobile Fun for $34.49.

Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jul 28, 2016

Jabra is a well-known entity when it comes to slick, effective Bluetooth accessories, and it is also a company that is seemingly unwilling to rest on its laurels. That combination usually leads to interesting products at set intervals, and we don’t pretend to not be eager to check out its current offerings.

In the Halo Smart Wireless Headphones, Jabra has a consumer-grade product that looks to enhance one’s usage of mobile peripherals via Bluetooth technology. It looks to be durable, technologically savvy and maby even indispensable.

The review package that Jabra sent us reflects the product in its retail manifestation: the headphones, charging cable and extra ear bud pieces. The headphones themselves are in neckband form, with mostly black hard plastic for the exterior. The earbuds are connected to each end of the curved neckband via rubberized cable, and can be held in place by magnets on the neckband. The main piece houses volume and power/pairing button on the one side, and a discrete microphone assembly on the other. The band also stashes a covered micro-USB charging port and a full-fledged rechargeable battery inside.

The neckband is interestingly crafted: quite flexible, but fairly durable at the same time. The whole unit is exceptionally light — officially, the set comes in at 1.34 oz — and the neckband itself is reasonably svelte 5.6 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches.

halo2

The unit promises 17 hours talk time time and an astounding 22 days of standby time. Toss in the advertised water and wind resistance, and we were ready to get going.

Pairing is easy; using the incorporated Bluetooth 4.1, the unit pairs with most receptive electronics easily. As a pair of headphones, they work faithfully, and we didn’t discern any problems across walls inside of the advertised 10 feet, and even a little beyond. As a telephony accessory, they work well too; when connected to an Android device, one can invoke Google Now by tapping the microphone button.

The optional Jabra Assist app (which works with several other Jabra pieces) is the perfect cherry on top, adding some functionality such as battery monitoring, device location, information readouts and more. At $79.99, they are a bit of an investment.

All in all, another compelling device from an industry leader.

Magellan eXplorist TRX7 Hardware Review

Magellan eXplorist TRX7 Hardware Review

Jun 30, 2016

It’s all about mobility in cars it seems, and with good reason, when one comes to realize how keyed in to our mobile devices society has become. Smartdevices are becoming more of a central processing unit that interfaces with every facet of life: at home, work and everything in-between.

As it goes, GPS solutions are obviously on the table, and the Magellan name is synonymous with this sector. Getting to formally checkout its eXplorist TRX Offroad Navigator, we didn’t pretend not to be too eager.

The review package Magellan sent us highlights the whole solution in its retail glory; one gets the navigation display, cabling/charging accessories, mounting pieces and documentation. The display piece is similar in looks to a mid-sized tablet, but with a relatively wide frame and telltale rugged construction, with a rubberized cornerings and sealed off ports. It’s fairly hefty in hand, larger in profile than a traditionally-sized standalone GPS unit, and looks somewhat refined in the all-black presentation. Yep, one gets a 7″ HD touchscreen which is protected by a rugged IP67 casing: made for tough business, as it were. The screen isn’t the most vivid, but it gets the job done.

If the aforementioned similarity to a tablet is intriguing, it’ll be cool to know that the tablet is actually an Android tablet with Android OS 4.2.2 under the hood. As such, navigation should be easy for anyone that has used a tablet, and especially intuitive for Android users.

trx3

Setting up is fairly easy. To use effectively, one must acquire the companion Magellan TRX application via Google Play, create and sign in with a www.myTRXjournal.com account. Signing in with the same credentials on the hardware unit allows the unit and the app to sync.

So, this thing is built for the outdoors, so it got the treatment by way of the trusty 4×4 jeep (which admittedly has been begging for some 4×4 action). The big usability features are the ability to use crowdsourced maps, and to add/share tracks of one’s own. The crowdsourcing aspect is well done, allowing one to vet courses and what equipment one uses.

Frankly, at the end of the review, my biggest regret was not being able to go to more exotic locations; the unit does help enhance such travel that much. It is a bit of an investment, but for true off-roading enthusiasts, is is sure to be a hit.

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones Review

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones Review

Feb 26, 2016

Kinivo usually does its thing well, and we expected the same with its URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones.

The review unit we received reflects the item in its retail presentation; in the box, one gets a zip case with carabiner. The case is semi-hard, and contains the headphones, male-to-male audio cable and micro-USB charging cable. Everything fits together neatly, and the addition of the carry case is a nice touch.

The headphones possess a similarly black finish, with hard plastic exterior parts and soft material for the ear cups. The head band is jointed (which allows for the folding and storage), has a sliding mechanism that allows for adjustment and also has soft material on the inside crown; the right side incorporates toggles for power, volume, play/pause, forwarding and such. At the bottom of that right side, there are also ports for charging and the aforementioned audio cable, plus a useful LED light that gives one an indication of the unit’s charging status.

Altogether, it looks nice physically, and is seemingly well fused out of the box.

To get going, one needs to charge the unit, and this can be accomplished with the included micro-USB cable; when it is ready to go, the LED light turns to solid green. The next step is to pair it to a Bluetooth-enabled audio source, and this should be easy to anyone who has ever paired two Bluetooth devices together: toggle on, search and pair.

urbn2

We put the unit through the paces. Audio comes out crisply, without any discernible interference, though with distance and walls, clarity did decrease (as to be expected). It re-pairs automatically, and keeps a strong connection when in range. It came close to the stated hours of continuous streaming on a charge. To this admittedl non-audiophile’s ears, it did sound like a bit more base could be had, but the sound output is pleasing none-the-less.

The added wired functionality is an added bonus; using the supplied cable and built-in port, one can use the headphones wired to a suitable device when the unit isn’t charged, or when one simply wants to do so. The music fidelity is just as clean.

All in all, one does get a a nice, portable unit for a decent price that works well with mobile devices both wirelessly and otherwise.

Easton Power Sensor Hardware Review

Easton Power Sensor Hardware Review

Jan 26, 2016

Sports metrics is not exactly a new thing; modern athletes and their trainers are mostly used to the concept of collecting and analyzing data as a means to get the edge on opponents.

When it comes to statistics, no sport is nearly as thorough as baseball. Performance has always been measured in hard numbers, so much so numbers are a big part of its hallowed history.

More specifically to performance, it isn’t odd to see players look to quantify their own measurables. Mobility gives us a whole new way to collate such data, and tools like Easton Power Sensor sound like serious, tangible tools that provide real value to baseball players of all ages.

The concept is simple, really… the sensor measures bat swing power and associated data points.

The review package we were sent reflects the accessory in its retail glory; one gets the sensor (which is white, smaller than a cork and akin to a bottle top), a clear bat sleeve (to attach the sensor to the handled end of the bat, a charging pad plus cable and documentation.

easton3

Set up is fairly intuitive. One sets up the charging pad with the included micro-USB cable, and allows the sensor to charge completely (as shown by the green LED light); while the piece iss charging, one can go ahead and grab the companion application Easton Power Sensor off of Google Play. Here, one can register an account, and manage any other equipment attached.

The app prompts one to link to the sensor via bluetooth, which is achieved by turning the sensor over every two seconds till the link is effected; the next thing is to get the clear sleeve, put the sensor in it and attach the union over the narrow end of the bat. After all this is done, the unit is about ready to use.

And use it we did. The simplicity actually encourages one to get out and start swingin’ again, again and again. After a series of swings, we were able to pull up the data via the companion app, and get some hard talking points, like swinging time and more.

It’s an easy tool, but my main gripe surrounds the Android app; syncing isn’t as smooth as one would like (by comparison, the iOS app was fairly flawless). Also, the incorporated battery could probably last longer. At $149.95, it is a bit of an investment.

All in all, it’s a fine accessory; it measures a very important metric, provides latent tips and can be used in softball. It’s fun, intuitive and actually enjoyable to use, and even helps bring out the slugger in all of us.

Immerse Virtual Reality Headset Hardware Review

Immerse Virtual Reality Headset Hardware Review

Sep 28, 2015

Virtual reality is the thing right now, and I’d be lying if I said that I do not find it highly intriguing. With Google leading the mobile charge, one can easily see it ramp up, and Google Play is beginning to see more and more creative app entries.

In terms of hardware, there are options; the cardboard ones are definitely cool, but there are also newer pieces with sturdier materials, like the Immerse Virtual Reality Headset.

At the risk of showing one’s age, it just might remind one of those retro View-Master sets — those cool toys of yesteryear that used clickable reels to piece together a visual story. Like those, this unit is stereoscopic in nature, but is decidedly a bit more contemporary with regards to the way it incorporates technology.

The review unit itself comes in its retail packaging; one gets the headset and documentation. The unit is mostly black and consisting of a hard plastic finish. As noted earlier, picturing a View-Master gets one a rough idea of how it looks, and the strap towards the rear helps hold it in place on one’s head.

Towards the front, there are clips, which, when manipulated, allow the user to open the unit and reveal a hollow cavity with a simple adjustable mechanism that holds the inserted device in place; this allows one to slot in an appropriately sized smartphone that essentially powers the setup.

immerse3

Before setting up, one has to find a VR app; Google Play has several in addition to the few that were suggested on the retail packaging.

When it’s all ready to go, with app installed and running and the whole thing put on, it’s time to go.

Both lenses line up perfectly, and the unit works with surprising effectiveness. Depending on the app selected, it can be a the, uh, immersive experience; it does bring the virtual world to life. At first, it can even be a bit disconcerting — in an interesting way — till the user gets used to it. For such reasons, it’s almost as much fun watching someone else use the unit. Word of caution: make sure to refrain from “walking” into or with the experience!

It’s a fun diversion, but in truth, it’s only as good as the VR software available. The pickings are still relatively sim with regards to “real” games. Without a controller, it is a bit difficult to manipulate the games without constantly opening the unit to get the device out. Also, phablets are iffy, with the 5.7″ screen size ceiling; one also has to watch the device one uses, because if, say, the power button is on the one side, it could press against the internal holding piece and cause problems.

Still, for a relatively cheap solution, the Immerse is pretty enjoyable to use. It does open up a whole new sector to a new type of fan, and is great in groups or when one is solitary.

HUAWEI P8 Lite Hardware Review

HUAWEI P8 Lite Hardware Review

Sep 3, 2015

At this point, it seems fair to wholeheartedly include Huawei on the list of major Android OEMs, and as if to underscore that point, the China-based tech house has been coming to market with some nice Android smartphone hardware. One of its latest pieces, the P8 Lite hearkens to the strategy of being very price conscious, and we were eager to have a look.

We received the white unit to review (there’s also black and gold to pick from, the retail box has the device, charging materials and documentation); it’s a svelte object, packing a multi-touch 1280 x 720 HD screen on a 5.63 x 2.78 x 0.30 inch frame, and weighing in at 4.62 ounces. The white finish is accented by a chrome band which more or less separates the front from the back; the band houses the micro-USB and mics at the bottom, audio port at the top, and power button, volume rocker and sim slots and micro-sd slot on the one side.

The back feels textured, and the top piece on the front houses a subtle speaker grill, a 5 MP front-facing camera, which complements the primary 13 MP BSI camera on the back.

Under the hood, it isn’t shabby either. Out of the box, it comes with Android 4.4.4 OS. To run this , it sports a Snapdragon chip and Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU. It comes with 16 GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128 GB via SD card) and 2 GB RAM and a sealed lithium ion 2200 mAh battery. Wi-fi (plus hotspot), Bluetooth LE, accelerometer, NFC, proximity sensor, compass, ambient light sensor? Check (x7).

Based on specs alone, it seems competitive, and we couldn’t wait to put it through the paces.

Off the bat, from the on button press, the device is pretty snappy. Huawei overlays its skin over Android, and it is a gentle implementation that doesn’t distract too much from the core OS. The screen does do well; it isn’t a vivid as some high-end flagships, but it actually does pretty well in practice.

p8l1

Google’s suite of mobile apps are front and center, and quite responsive; we rocked some heavy hitter games off the Play Store, and didn’t get any lag. The camera works well on conference calls, and the back one takes good snaps in the right lighting.

Call quality (via T-Mobile) was pretty good two. I used it over Bluetooth and without, and audio quality was better than anticipated; the audio and mic openings work well.

And then… we have the price. The $250 asking price is definitely one of the top features, making it a great no-contract mid-range offering.

Now, the aforementioned skin does take a bit of a shine off of Material Design, and the wi-fi direct capabilities are restricted to other Huawei devices.

In the end, the positives are clearly on the weightier side, and as an Android option, it holds its own.

Cellhire Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

Cellhire Mobile Hotspot Hardware Review

Aug 3, 2015

While I admit my appreciation for tablets is still in its infancy, I like the affordability of wi-fi-only models. Of course, this leaves a pretty gaping whole with regards to connectivity, especially on the go; one is at the mercy of locations with public wi-fi access. Now, beyond the inconvenience factor, one has to be concerned with security as well, so signing into the first open network at the truck stop might not be the smartest thing to do. Yes, one can use one’s smartphone’s hotspot, but it might not be fun using it with GPS running… and boy, do those things overheat.

One option that is gaining steam is the personal wi-fi puck, a unit that harnesses phone signals and spits out wireless connection strong enough to connect mobile devices. Brilliant, yes, and so we did look forward to checking out Cellhire’s service. Cellhire does a lot with mobile connectivity, and mobile router’s are right up its alley.

The puck Cellhire sent us was the Samsung V100T 4G LTE Mifi Hotspot, a small, dignified piece, mostly red and black, branded Samsung and packing a T-mobile data SIM. The review package also contained a micro-USB cord and power adapter.

The unit is fairly compact, coming in at 5.15 ounces on a 3.53 x 3.53 X 0.52-inch frame. It has a micro-SD slot for carry-on media, as well as a wrap-arounf cable for connecting to computers via USB or charging smartdevices with its built-in battery pack.

hot3

In practice, it is a great solution… in practice. Streaming off of T-Mobile network was pretty smooth when in range, but it lives and dies by proximity to the towers. On the road trip it was tested, it did go in and out a fair amount, but it did do well closer to major metro areas, which isn’t entirely unexpected. The review unit was tested with seven devices simultaneously, and when a solid network condition existed, it handled multiple Netflix streaming with aplomb.

The connection speeds were beyond tolerable (4G is swift), and the charge time was pretty decent; it lasted through a 4-hour trip easily, with plenty of battery life to spare. It’s also worth noting that the unit works while charging, which is great.

Using it as an internet device more locally, it really flourished, especially deep in its home network area. Speeds were consistent, and it even beat the local library wi-fi speeds. It was stubborn during reconnection at times, but for the most part, it was pretty effective.

To do a lot of management, one does need a browser, and the on-device controls are button-based.

As it is, it worked a bit better than I envisaged. I’d rather use it locally, and it confirms my opinion that it is only as good as the service it is connected to. All in all, Cellhire’s service (details and pricing here) was an engaging revelation.

Gosin Car Mount Hardware Review

Gosin Car Mount Hardware Review

Jul 2, 2015

When it’s all said and done, I prefer accessories that help my mobile devices to be, well, more mobile. Let them roam… do what they are made to do.

One of the first draws to getting a smartphone way back when was the ability to derive GPS voice navigation with the help of software. Having readily available directions on hand is invaluable. So is being safe, so getting a helper piece to hold one’s phone securely — handsfree — is not only smart, it’s legally prudent.

And so we get the Gosin 360° Rotating Car Mount-Air Vent Universal Smartphone Holder.

It’s a mouthful, and the review package Gosin sent us shows why. It is relatively sizable, and comes in two pieces: a portion that ends in a suction piece, and the device holder. On the retail package, diagrams help one get it together, the one piece snaps into the other, and with that, it becomes a unique, multi-jointed unit. All together, it is pretty heavy-duty, but not too heavy, and is constructed with mostly black, hard plastic. Officially, it is under 10 ounces and is 6 x 4.9 x 3.7 inches. Plus, it does not weigh very much as it weighs 9.6 ounces

gosin3

It has several buttons set in which control bending and angling, such that when it is attached to the windshield with the suction control mechanism, it is possible to tweak the whole unit very precisely — and this is not an understatement. It can literally be moved around for the perfect fit/angle. With a little bit of usage, it is possible to place and release device one-handed.

In some aspects, it does feel a bit busy. The physical functionality of the unit also means that it has quite a few moving parts: nuts, buttons, ratchets and more. It also bis a bit bigger in profile than other items of of similar function, which can be an issue on sleeker cars because of the incline of the windshield. Some of the button usage might not feel intuitive at first, but to be fair, it does get easier to use with practice.

Still, it’s a pretty useful solution; it does what it sets out to do safely, and even more importantly, does it effectively. The potential for one-handed usage is invaluable, and the price (under $14.99 via Amazon) is to die for.

The Gosin 360° Rotating Car Mount Air Vent Universal Smartphone Holder has a $4 off coupon code. Applying the Code PM52CCP9 at checkout the price will $4 cheaper than its current price and Free Shipping w/ $35+ Purchase or Free 2-Day Shipping w/ Amazon Prime.

Writing Smart: Neo Smartpen N2 Review

Writing Smart: Neo Smartpen N2 Review

Jun 11, 2015

An opportunity to check out the Neo Smartpen N2? Yes, please…

It looks sleek, but still retains a professional feel. In a meeting of executive ballpoint pens, the N2 wouldn’t look too out of place. It has a dark finish, is angled but still faintly cylindrical and almost pyramidal; with the cover off, it tapers to the writing end. There is a power button and a color LED towards the “bottom” of the pen, and at the very end portion, there is a micro-USB charging port.

The pen is designed in such away that a small camera is incorporated towards the writing end; this is part of the solution that allows the unit to capture written text.

Now, to get the unit going, we charged it with the supplied cable. When the unit is powered on and plugged in, it’s easy to see where the unit is with regards to battery level via the LED light. As soon as the unit was topped off, we were truly ready to go.

One aspect of the solution is the cross-platform Neo Notes app. This apps helps with registering the pen and otherwise getting the pen connected to it via Bluetooth. When it is connected to the app and host device, it allows one to see captured notes.

And how does one capture notes? Simple. The review unit came with an N Notebook, specially designed to work with the N2. When one writes in said notebook, the text automatically shows up digitally in the app; if the app is on and connected to the pen, the written material shows up close to real-time. If not connected, it syncs whenever the smartpen is re-connected. In practice, it all works quite well, as the captured text appears in collated notebooks within the app. And yep, it all syncs with Evernote.

I admit, I was impressed. It’s a cool setup.

As-is, the solution works well, but some of the other features really had me heel-clicking. When a captured note is viewed in the app, one can act on it: it can be shared, or a voice note can be added; it also supports tagging. The feature I was most looking forward to checking out is the transcription.

Reliable handwriting transcription is the holy grail of smartpens; Neo has the popular Myscript transcription engine built in, and it is surprisingly effective. Some live testing is below:

N22

N23

The transcription window allows for some editing, which is simply swell.

My biggest complaint is related to the proprietary paper needed. To be fair, this isn’t that odd with regards to smartpens, but it is something to consider from a refill standpoint. I think the app could be a bit more streamlined in places; as much as I like the transcription, it could be improved upon. Also, with the $169 price tag, this is an investment.

What the N2 does effectively is to make it hard for folks to go elsewhere. It just feels like this sector is getting crowded, but based on this solution, Neo seems to be in a great place.