I’m back in Canada for the winter holidays, and my family did a bit of Boxing Day shopping. Our big ticket item this year was a new TV for my parents, and we ended up getting a 50″ 4K Smart TV in the form of a Samsung UN50KU6270.
The Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone. I did a bit of everything: went to some dinners, traveled a little, and some Black Friday shopping this year as well. This was the probably the most I’ve spent on a Black Friday, because I picked up a new laptop. The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 I got when I started grad school is now over 6 years old and getting a little long in the tooth. I ended up getting a refurbished Dell Latitude E7270 from Dell Outlet, and this post is some first impressions of my new laptop… or should I say “ultrabook”.
I recently bought a new smartphone in the form of a LG G4. I decided to get it because my old phone, a LG G3 Vigor, was lagging and running out of storage. I bought the G3 Vigor from my wireless carrier in a rush because the iPhone I had before broke and I needed a working phone. Soon afterwards I regretted the decision because the G3 Vigor had crappy hardware and only 8GB of storage, but I decided to wait until I paid off the phone. Long story short, I finally paid off the G3 Vigor, and decided to get the G4.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed us by this year. I didn’t do much Black Friday shopping this year, since I don’t think I need to give anybody presents, and there aren’t that many things that I want on sale. The only item I bought was a dash camera for my car. I picked up the Transcend DrivePro 100, and here is what I thought of it so far.
As I posted a little while ago, my iPhone 4S stopped working. I got a new phone, but I still wanted to see if the iPhone was salvageable, so I spent a few bucks and bought some tools on Amazon to open the 4S up to take a peek. Since the phone is dead, I might as well take a look inside for the slim chance that I can find where the problem is. Given how popular iPhones are, instructions on taking the phone apart are easily found online. I followed this set of instructions and managed to remove the logic board from the phone. The iPhone 4S and all the innards I took out can be seen in the photo below. The parts are tiny, but the disassembly is doable with a little bit of patience and organization (so you don’t lose the screws). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the problem, and chances are the phone needs a new logic board, so I just put the whole thing back together and stuff it on a shelf for now. It was a good little exercise.
Speaking of taking stuff apart and then putting them back together without making any repairs, I also took my washing machine apart. The last couple of weeks I noticed that the washer leaves soggy clothes after the spin cycle. The tub spins as far as I could tell, so I took apart the washer to check for clogs in the hoses. I have a pretty common Kenmore direct drive washer, so disassembly instructions were easy to find. The process is actually pretty easy. I went as far as taking the pump out to check for clogs, but I didn’t find anything. The funny thing during the whole process was that I was able to take the washer apart and take the hose clamps off with a small pair of pliers, but then I found that I couldn’t put the clamps back on with my pliers. I ended up having to buy a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers the next day in order to put the hose clamps back on. Below are a few pictures of my washer with its cover off.
I had to get a new smartphone this week, because my old iPhone 4S went kaput. Even though people consider the 4S to be “old”, my phone is only a little over 2 years old. I guess it’s just bad luck, or Apple’s build quality isn’t all it’s made out to be. My iPhone worked perfectly fine until it suddenly froze, and I had to turn the screen off with the reset combination. Then the phone couldn’t be turned on, reset, or restored. Brought it to a local Apple Store, and they said it’s probably a hardware failure, and at this point it isn’t worth spending $200 to fix it.
My cell phone contract was up anyways, so the day after the iPhone died, I went to local AT&T store and got a LG G3 Vigor. I got an Android device because I wanted to change, and the iPhone breaking after 2 years only made the decision more justified. The Vigor is one of the cheaper smartphones AT&T had, but not the cheapest one. I’m not into chasing the latest and greatest, so I wasn’t going to pony up for the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S 5 and such. Now that I think about it though, I probably should have done some more homework before getting the phone, since the specs on the LG aren’t that great for the price they charge. If I wanted more bang for my bucks, I should have ordered a LG/Google Nexus 5 or tried to get one of those Oneplus One invites, but when I was at the store all I wanted was to walk out with a working phone. Since I don’t have a landline, not having my cellphone made me feel a little vulnerable since I couldn’t call anyone in case I got into trouble.
I finally jumped on the media streaming device bandwagon and bought myself a Google Chromecast. I wanted to put my TV to better use since I don’t have cable/satellite, but I didn’t want to spend $50+ for a Roku or similar streamer, so I ended up buying a recertified Chromecast off of Groupon. It was a good deal after the $10 off $25 purchase discount. I finally got my Chromecast a couple days ago, and here are my quick impressions of the device.
The last piece of electronics that I’m bringing home for the holidays is a Google Nexus 7 16GB (2013). My parents have a first-gen iPad, but it’s a little old and doesn’t work quite right these days, so they asked me to pick up a tablet during Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Since I didn’t want to battle the crowds to get one of those discounted iPad Minis, I bought a Nexus 7 instead. The discounts are’t as heavy as the ones of the iPads, but the Nexus 7 ends up being cheaper anyways because it has a much lower MSRP. Combined with the fact that the 2013 Nexus 7 has newer and better hardware than the first gen iPad Mini (the retina iPad Mini is a little out of our price range), the choice wasn’t hard. Ultimately the Nexus 7 will stay home with my parents, but of course I had to give it a little test drive, and here are my impressions of the tablet.
Another piece of electronics I bought during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday period was a car dash camera. As their names indicate, car dash cameras are installed in cars (sometimes on the dashboard) to record what the driver sees. It’s useful for providing evidence in the case of an accident, and also one can use the footage to make a travel movie or something. My dad wanted one of these things so I got one. Car dash cameras range from $20 all the way up to $300+, depending on the manufacturer and the features. I didn’t want to spend too much, so that pretty much limited the choices to some no-brand cameras of questionable reliability. I looked around and ended up getting the what is known as the F70/i1000 dual lens HD dash camera. These are Chinese-made, no-brand cameras that seem to come in various different names and configurations, but all feature a main unit with a small screen and a front lens that records at 1280x720px, and a long wire connected to a rear lens that records at 720x480px. Reviews on Amazon and other shopping places are not that great, with some people getting decent units and others getting bad ones, but I pulled the trigger anyways because this was the only model in that price range that had the features I wanted. Here are my first impressions.