Category page of all the different Reviews on the web site for products / services.

Google Pixel Watch 3 Month Review

Google Pixel Watch

It had been a while since I had given using a wearable device a try. I had not used one since the original Apple Watch all the way back in 2015. I had switched away from Apple many years ago though to Android phones. Since then I had not seen any reason to try a wearable again although I heard the Samsung Android ones had been improving.

I’d been using a Google Pixel phone for the past several generations as I really like the Google out-of-box experience of having all of the native apps be proper Google apps. It was a clean experience that felt a lot more like Apple. Other Android phones I’d used such as Samsung pushed their own suite of apps which usually were not as good as the native Google apps.

As a fan of the clean first-party OS/application experience I was pretty excited to give the Google Pixel Watch a try. I’ve now had it for 3 months so this will be a 3 month usage review. In this review I’ll cover the good, the bad and the ugly about the Google Pixel Watch.

Let’s begin!

Google Pixel Watch 3 Month Review Read More »

Radxa Rock 3 Compute Module Review

Radxa CM3 - Top View

I’ve reviewed the Pine64 SOQuartz compute module alternative in the past. While it works great Pine64 is working toward mainline support and doesn’t have very many choices available for a well-supported image as mainline kernel support for that board is not quite complete yet.

The Radxa Rock 3 Compute Module (CM3) is Radxa’s current production alternative to a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. They promise that “Radxa CM3, CM3 SODIMM will remain in production until at least Sep 2029” meaning that they have made a very long term commitment to support this board.

In this review I’m going to be taking a look at the Radxa Rock 3 compute module and see how it stacks up against the Pine64 SOQuartz as well as the Raspberry Pi CM4. Let’s begin!

Radxa Rock 3 Compute Module Review Read More »

Minoston Z-wave Smart Plugs w/ Home Assistant Review

Minoston Z-Wave Smart Plug - Installed

I’ve been covering integrating my entire home into Home Assistant here on the site. I want to have the capability to monitor everything going on in my home and control it with an open-source system such as Home Assistant.

Although I have a strong WiFi network in my home there are some areas where using a wireless technology that is more energy efficient (such as Z-wave and Zigbee) makes a lot more sense. These especially include devices that need to run on a battery or are in awkward areas with poor WiFi coverage.

I decided to try the Minoston Z-wave mini plug to see how it integrated with my Home Assistant setup as it was very commonly recommended online. In this review we’ll take a look at this device and see if it’s worth using. Let’s begin!

Minoston Z-wave Smart Plugs w/ Home Assistant Review Read More »

Zooz 700 Z-Wave Door/Window Sensors w/ Home Assistant

Zooz 700 series door/window sensor - Review

I’ve been upgrading all of the devices in my home to work with Home Assistant and eliminate subscriptions to proprietary services. One of the last remaining subscription services I have in my home is the Ring door and window sensors. The Ring ones have honestly been fine but the subscription is not free. Since I know these sensors will be installed in my home for 10+ years it will save me money to switch to something else that has no subscription.

That is why I was excited to see that Zooz has released a new series of Z-Wave door and window sensors that are completely self-managed by either a Z-Wave hub or Home Assistant running as a Z-Wave hub. The advantage of Z-Wave and Zigbee devices is they use much less power than WiFi so it’s a much better suited technology for devices that run on battery power (such as wireless door and window sensors).

In this review I’ll cover the Zooz 700 Z-Wave door and window sensors and cover the upsides and downsides of the system. Let’s get started!

Zooz 700 Z-Wave Door/Window Sensors w/ Home Assistant Read More »

Orange Pi 800 Computer Kit Review

Orange Pi 800 Computer Kit Review

I’m certainly not the first to review the Orange Pi 800 computer kit. It has been available for a while now. That’s exactly why I wanted to take a look at the Orange Pi 800 as a more mature product today.

In this review we’ll take a look at the packaging, build quality, specifications and test the performance of the Orange Pi 800 and see how well it has matured since it’s initial release.

Let’s begin!

Orange Pi 800 Computer Kit Review Read More »

Adafruit Re-programmable USB-C PD to Barrel Jack Cable

Adafruit Re-programmable USB-C PD Cable Review

I have been ordering a lot of gear from Adafruit lately to help build my Home Assistant sensor array for my home (as well as other projects I have going here on the site). I was very confused today when something showed up I didn’t recognize (and wasn’t even aware really existed).

It turns out to be a cable that you plug into a USB-C power adapter that supports PD (power delivery) and output a voltage you program in via a DC barrel jack. In other words this cable lets you turn a USB-PD capable power adapter into a programmable DC jack adapter that could theoretically work with almost anything!

This is a $19.50 cable I’m certain that I didn’t buy that I will return to Adafruit if they would like. Not before we review it first though. Let’s get started!

Adafruit Re-programmable USB-C PD to Barrel Jack Cable Read More »

Radxa Zero SBC Review

Radxa Zero SBC Review

The Radxa Zero has been extremely popular since release and is still pretty hard to find on many major retailers. After trying to get it from a couple of different places I finally received mine this week!

In this review we’ll dive into using the Radxa Zero including the available images, hardware capabilities and what kind of performance to expect. Will the Radxa Zero live up to how popular the board seems to be and how hard it is to get?

Let’s find out!

Radxa Zero SBC Review Read More »

Orange Pi 14 Inch 1080P Portable Monitor Review

Orange Pi Portable Monitor Review

I recently ordered many of the official Orange Pi accessories for review with my Orange Pi 800 order (also coming up for review). The first of these accessories to come was the Orange Pi 14″ 1080P portable monitor. This monitor is meant to be extremely portable and have a low footprint.

Today in this review we’ll take a close look at Orange Pi’s monitor offering and test it with several devices. We’ll examine the build quality, functionality and try to determine whether picking one of these up might be worth it for you and what situations they would be most appropriate for.

Let’s get started!

Orange Pi 14 Inch 1080P Portable Monitor Review Read More »

Pine64 SOQuartz Blade Review

Pine64 SOQuartz Blade Review

I’ve previously reviewed the Pine64 SOQuartz here on the site and found that if you used Armbian it was a feasible alternative to the CM4. The compatibility with other IO boards varies wildly though. We’ve definitely seen mixed experiences using the CM4 Blade when using the SOQuartz for example.

I was curious if I got a hold of one of the official Pine64 SOQuartz Blade boards if the experience would be better. Today we will review the Pine64 SOQuartz Blade IO board and see how well things are working at time of writing.

Let’s begin!

Pine64 SOQuartz Blade Review Read More »

Elikliv 7″ LCD Digital Microscope Review

Elikliv 7" LCD Digital Microscope Review

Recently on the site I’ve been covering my journey exploring the world of microcontrollers. This has been a fun journey but it has required me to work with technology a lot smaller than what I’m used to working with. The boards I’m routinely working with now are so small I can barely see them and read the features on them.

This has exposed some gaps in my tool set such as my former very poor quality soldering iron which I recently replaced with the Pinecil. That was only about a $40 upgrade from Amazon including shipping.

Just today I received the Elikliv 7″ Digital Microscope. It’s one of the most popular selling digital microscopes on Amazon and it cost me less than $100. This was not something I wanted to spend a ton of money on. I just wanted a basic digital microscope to make it much easier to read and work with the smaller microcontrollers / PCBs.

In this review I’ll cover this digital microscope and tell you the pros / cons and whether it’s worth your money if you have a similar use case. Let’s get started!

Elikliv 7″ LCD Digital Microscope Review Read More »

Pine64 Pinecil Soldering Iron Review

Pine64 Pinecil Mini Soldering Iron Review

The Pine64 Pinecil is described as a “smart mini portable soldering iron”. It’s very popular and has incredible Amazon ratings among a crowd that largely is probably unfamiliar with Pine64 as a company that makes single board computers.

I was in dire need of a soldering iron upgrade and Razor Burn mentioned to me in one of the comments on the site that he had the Pinecil and loved it. I’ve investigated other Pine64 products before on the site as well and have other hardware from them. It’s also a RISC-V device!

Today I’ll review the Pinecil and cover why this soldering iron is so popular. Let’s get started!

Pine64 Pinecil Soldering Iron Review Read More »

All Hail the Rock 5B: SBC King of 2023

Radxa Rock 5B Review

With the Raspberry Pi 5 delayed until 2024 and older models unable to be kept in stock the single board computer market is wide open for competitors to really shine this generation. I’ve reviewed dozens of board and spent literally thousands of dollars trying to find boards worthy of your money and that are good enough to step into a lot of the roles people were using Raspberry Pis for.

Today I’m going to be reviewing the Radxa Rock 5B and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been waiting for years for a single board computer to come along that is powerful enough to squarely beat the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. The Rock 5B not only beats it but leaves one wondering how Raspberry Pi is going to catch up.

Let’s get started!

All Hail the Rock 5B: SBC King of 2023 Read More »

StarFive VisionFive 2 High Performance RISC-V SBC Review

StarFive VisionFive 2 - Top View

I’ve reviewed several RISC-V boards on the site at this point including the Lichee RV and the Mango Pi MQ Quad. All of those boards only had a single core CPU though and aren’t suitable for high performance applications.

Today I am going to review what SiFive describes as “the world’s first high-performance RISC-V single board computer (SBC) with an integrated GPU”. We’ll explore the capabilities and performance of the board and see if it lives up to these claims. We’ll also compare it to a Raspberry Pi as it has the same number of CPU cores as a Raspberry Pi.

Let’s get started!

StarFive VisionFive 2 High Performance RISC-V SBC Review Read More »

Google Pixel Buds Pro Review

Google Pixel Buds Pro Review

I’ve had the original Google Pixel Buds buds (first generation) for a couple of years now. That line (and the second generation of it) was cancelled some time ago in favor of the Pixel Buds A Series.

As of late though my original Pixel Buds have been acting up and the left headphone will often be dead when I open the lid for the case. I would have to leave the lid of the charger open after taking the left headphone out and putting it back in again for it to charge correctly and then I would be able to finally use them for whatever I pulled them out to do. It was time for an upgrade.

Today I’m going to review the Pixel Buds Pro series with active noise cancellation. I’ll specifically be comparing them to my original Pixel Buds and the A Series. Let’s get started!

Google Pixel Buds Pro Review Read More »

Mango Pi MQ-Quad SBC Review

MangoPi MQ-Quad Single Board Computer Review

I have reviewed the Mango Pi MQ-Pro (a RISC-V board) in the past and I was impressed enough that I wanted to try one of Mango Pi’s other boards. Unfortunately this one is not a RISC-V board but it is much, much more powerful than the Mango Pi MQ Pro as it has a quad-core processor instead of a single core one.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Mango Pi MQ-Quad single board computer including the available operating systems, the specifications, build quality as well as do some performance benchmarking to see how well the board performs.

Let’s get started!

Mango Pi MQ-Quad SBC Review Read More »