‘Bugs 2’ Drone is Easy to Fly, Delivers Jaw-Dropping Performance

bugs 2

Flying drones is my newest obsession, and I have begun to rack up a few hours with these little angry birds. But now I have this MJX B2C, better known as Bugs 2, and it’s a not a toy but a grown-up drone. I’m ready. To prepare for flying it, I’ve been practicing on the humble toy drones that have the same four-channel flight characteristics, and I am now confident with the two sticks and how they make the drone behave during flight.

I’m glad I had that experience, because now after all the indoor training, I took this Bugs 2 out to a huge field today. Yes, it’s way too big and fast to fly indoors. It was like driving a race car compared to the tiny tricycles I was pedaling before. This thing climbs so high, I can hardly see it or hear it, and the GPS keeps it civilized, returning to my exact spot with a simple button push. It feels about ten times easier to fly than the mini-drones I’ve grown accustomed to.

Perhaps I was overconfident because I crashed it a few times, and once — hard — into a telephone pole, cracking the plastic across its nose. It’s still flightworthy but is now sporting a rugged battle scar.

Bugs 2

Next, I’m going to try taking some stills and video using the B2C’s 1080p camera. I’m starting to wonder if I should have ordered the B2C-W, the Wi-Fi version of Bugs 2 that lets you see video from the drone in real time on your smartphone that you attach to the top of its remote transceiver.

I only wish its battery would last longer than 15 minutes, and additional battery packs weren’t so expensive (prices vary widely from $17 – $40 each). And I wish its battery wasn’t so difficult to remove, where I almost need a pair of pliers to extricate it. But for now, I’m delighted with this fast, powerful and easy-to-fly aircraft.

iPulse Card-Holder Leather Case for iPhone X: Enjoy the Subtle, Luxurious Scent of Real Leather

iPulse Wallet Case
There’s nothing like real leather. That’s what you get with this elegant iPulse card-holder leather case for iPhone X ($24.98). Its compact construction lets the iPhone X seem as slim as it is while allowing room for several credit cards, your driver’s license and a few bills. You’ll be able to go without your wallet!

Looking more closely, you can plainly see the master craftsmanship that went into the creation of this product. It’s simply perfect, with precise stitching along with that natural patina and the unmistakable scent of real leather. Continue reading

Tozo Q2020 Is the Best Drone for the Money I’ve Ever Seen

tozo drone
For the money, you’d have a hard time finding a better drone than the Tozo Q2020 ($35.99). This little aircraft is about the size of your open hand, and it’s loaded with sophisticated features. Best of all, it’s easy to use, once you get the hang of adjusting the trim and flying with four channels.

The problem is, to improve your flying skills with this product, you will need to practice a lot. The easiest thing to facilitate that would be to get another six batteries, so you can keep flying almost continuously. But despite the inadequate instructions, you can look for help on YouTube and then get your hands on, learning how it feels to fly this mini-beast. What fun!

This is the perfect drone for beginners and an especially good intermediate trainer that can take some brutal impacts and emerge unscathed. It’s dependable and will hold up to just about anything. This is a remarkable value.

Samsung 850 Pro SSD Offers World-Class Speed and Dependability, Incredibly Easy Migration

Samsung 850 Pro

My old 120GB SSD was getting way too full, so it was time for an upgrade. What would be the best SSD replacement for a 5-year-old PC? I emailed my trusty PC maker Jon Bach at Puget Systems (who made the best PC I have ever owned) to find out. He recommended this Samsung 850 Pro SSD, one that has never failed on him or any of his customers after installing thousands of these into the computers he sells over the past five years. All that was left was to determine the storage capacity.

Black Friday was right around the corner, so I laid in wait. Sure enough, the price for the Samsung 850 Pro came down about 10% and I jumped for the 1TB version. I was concerned about installation difficulties, mainly migrating all my data from the old drive to the new. My fears were unfounded because Samsung provides a terrific migration software tool. Please note: the easiest way to use this software is to get a cheap $12 USB-to-SATA III adapter for the new SSD, and simply plug it into a USB 3.0 port on your PC. Samsung’s migration software promptly makes a clone for you and then you can replace the old drive with the new. For me, the freshly cloned drive booted up immediately.

Samsung 850 PRO benchmarksAt first, it was difficult to tell anything happened. When I looked at my “this PC” window, there was the new drive C, with a huge cornfield’s worth of space waiting for me. Mission accomplished! I did a few tests and this drive is spectacularly fast! I have what feels like limitless space and limitless speed now (look at the impressive CrystalDiskMark scores above — to give you some context, 10 years ago a 50MB/s read/write speed was considered miraculous). Best of all, I got a relatively new-tech drive that formerly retailed for more than $700 for less than $400. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase of the Samsung 850 Pro.

This LDFAS Apple Watch Band Is One of the Nicest at Any Price

Apple Watch band

If you’re looking for an Apple Watch band that’s as good as the ones Apple sells but costs about 90% less, here’s a candidate from LDFAS. It’s a $31.99 link bracelet with a beautiful, clean look, and its color matches my Space Gray Apple Watch.

This one is unlike any Apple watch band I’ve seen. It’s partly rigid (see my pictures of it to see what I mean) because of the close proximity of the links — they are so close together, they don’t move or bend much. But the band is engineered to fit the wrist perfectly, so it always looks smart and feels perfectly comfortable. Continue reading

Book Review: Fantasyland: a 500-Year View

FantasylandFinally, this crazy era of magical thinking, lies, conspiracy theories and greed makes sense. That’s what Kurt Andersen’s book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History did for me. I feel like I gained crucial wisdom from this brilliant work of nonfiction. He starts 500 years ago and explains in vivid and often humorous detail why Americans are exceptional — and that isn’t a compliment.

Andersen points out how the advertising of the 1600s looked quite different from the way it looks today, but was equally effective. It worked so well, that people starting coming to the New World in astonishing numbers. Because these ancient ad campaigns touted mountains of gold and a Garden of Eden for religious and magical thinking, most of the colonists were self-selected for their greed and gullibility. You can still detect their influence to this day.

This beautifully written book shows how we got to this dangerous and frustrating place, where few can detect falsehoods, nearly everyone has a pet conspiracy theory, people will do anything for money and the vast majority believe in devils, angels, heaven and a sky daddy who keeps them under surveillance 24/7.

Thank you, Mr. Andersen, for enlightening me. Fantasyland turned out to be one of the most illuminating, entertaining and enjoyable books I’ve ever read.

This Mini Drone’s Touchy Controls Will Take a While to Master

mini drone

One thing is certain about this RCtown mini drone: It’s a lot of fun to fly. But there’s one caveat to that: It’s not fun at first if you’re a beginner. It’s like downhill skiing at first — you fall a lot and it’s painful, but you get flashes of the thrills the sport can bring.

The RCtown mini drone is fast. You can get it flying so fast that you can’t think quickly enough to control it at first. But as you develop your skills, you’ll soon be maneuvering this little hotshot all over the place without incident.

If only the left stick (that controls altitude and spin) were less touchy, it would be a lot easier to fly. The slightest movement and it’s out of control. There are slightly bigger drones that automatically stabilize themselves, but not this one. It’s all-manual, all the time. That’s why only intermediate to advanced drone pilots will truly enjoy this challenging aircraft. I would recommend getting a more user-friendly drone that includes several degrees of difficulty in its feature set if you’re just starting out.

It also doesn’t last nearly long enough. See if you can find spare batteries for this one because the fun is over in what feels like less than 5 minutes, and then you must wait about 24-40 minutes for the next round of thrills and spills. Besides those drawbacks, this is one fun toy, and if you can fly this touchy, angry little bird, you can fly anything.

Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headset Nails Speech Recognition

Bluetooth Headset

I have the toughest test in the world for a Bluetooth headset that claims to be “noise canceling,” and this one passed the test with astonishing alacrity.

What’s the test? Speech recognition in a noisy environment. When I connected this bluetooth headset to my laptop (an easy, almost immediate task, by the way), it aced my Nuance NaturallySpeaking application with near-perfect accuracy, performing as well as the multitude of specialized, wired USB headsets I’ve tested over the years. That is no small feat.

Then I connected it to my iPhone, turned the music up to 11, and held a telephone conversation in such a cacophonous din I couldn’t even hear my own voice at all. The person I was talking to could hear me so clearly, she couldn’t believe what she thought was “that soft music in the background” was actually blasting at a rock-concert volume level. We could also clearly hear each other talking at the same time we each were talking (known as dual duplex). Remarkable.

Beyond that, the headset is so comfortable I almost forgot I had it on, and it’s nice and light but doesn’t look or feel cheap. I love it. No wonder this product is aimed at truck drivers. It would work with the loudest truck in the world rumbling underneath you. It’s a keeper. Buy it.