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The Redragon M711 Cobra Is the Best Gaming Mouse $20 Can Buy – Review Geek

Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $20

Redragon gaming mouse
Eric Schoon

Purchasing budget items can always be a toss-up—you never know just how many corners they cut to offer such a low price. Redragon, however, aims to deliver a mouse that has all the features you want without breaking the bank.

Here’s What We Like

  • High customization
  • Comfortable to use
  • Color-accurate RGB lighting

And What We Don’t

  • Might be too small for some users
  • The software can be difficult to understand

I bought the Redragon M711 Cobra earlier this year when I was looking for a cheap replacement for my previous mouse. I simply wanted a mouse that works; I didn’t care about getting a top of the line product. So, when the M711 arrived at my door, I was impressed with the number of options it has.

Tried and Tested

Redragon M711 Side View
Eric Schoon

The M711 uses the popular “shooter” style mouse design. It’s reasonably slim (5 x 2.6 inches) and quite short (1.6 inches), so anyone who prefers larger mice might find it uncomfortable to use. The mouse has a curved, soft-feeling top that’s nice to the touch. The bottom part of the mouse is mostly made of smooth, hard plastic with slightly textured sides, which adds some grip to the mouse and a premium feel you wouldn’t expect at this price point.

Weighing in at 7.2 ounces, the M711 is easy to move around and ideal for games that require quick movements. The included USB cord is braided and feels durable. Because cords aren’t typically replaceable, an included high-quality one always gives some peace of mind.

Two thumb buttons are on the left side of the mouse. The front thumb button is made of the same material as the top of the mouse while the back thumb button is made of textured plastic. This helps with identifying which button you’re pressing without the need to look down.

Redragon mouse thumb buttons
Eric Schoon

Three plastic buttons on the top of the mouse are used for switching between lighting and DPI profiles. The scroll wheel has a rubber finish on it and scrolls in increments, making it hard to accidentally scroll further than intended—great for games with hotbars.

Fully Featured

As previously mentioned, the M711 has many additional features you can fine-tune in Redragon’s website. Really, any form of programming software is a luxury at this price point, so one as in-depth as this is especially appreciated.

The program allows for full reprogramming of each button on the mouse to do a wide range of actions. Whether you want the scroll wheel to act as a pause/play shortcut or the thumb button to execute a fine-tuned macro, you’re able to make those changes here. You can also fully control the DPI with a range of up to 10,000, which, frankly, is too high for most people, but having the option is nice regardless.

The M711 has full RGB lighting you can customize as well, but it’s limited. Only three of seven available lighting effects give you full control of the colors. Any effects that have multiple colors cannot be changed at all, which can be frustrating if you want to use them but aren’t a fan of the standard rainbow pattern.

Redragon Software

The program itself can be a bit hard to use due to its garish design. Once you learn your way around, however, it becomes an invaluable companion tool to the mouse.

Bang for Your Buck

With its plentiful customization options and comfortable design, the M711 feels like a mouse worth more than $20. It has served me well over the past six months and shows no signs of dying anytime soon. I can comfortably say it’s the best budget gaming accessory I’ve ever used.

top view of RedDragon mouse
Eric Schoon

Whether you’re low on funds or just want a spare mouse, it’s hard to think of a better value than the Redragon M711 Cobra.

Here’s What We Like

  • High customization
  • Comfortable to use
  • Color-accurate RGB lighting

And What We Don’t

  • Might be too small for some users
  • The software can be difficult to understand





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Chrome OS Users Now Have a Logitech Keyboard to Call Their Own – Review Geek

Logitech Made For Google Wireless Mouse Keyboard
Logitech

Accompanying the new hardware that Google unveiled yesterday, Logitech has announced a new keyboard and mouse which are branded as being “Made for Google” as they have features tailored toward being used on Google’s Chrome OS.

The combo is comprised of a Logitech M355 mouse and K580 keyboard. The mouse is a pretty standard affair with wireless connectivity via USB and Bluetooth, an 18 month battery life when using a single AA battery, and a compact oval design that measures only an inch thick. Buttons include right and left click as well as a scroll wheel.

There’s nothing hugely indicative of the Logitech 355 mouse being enhanced for Chrome OS, but the K580 keyboard has a whole row of Chrome OS shortcut keys along with a key for Google Assistant. The K580 keyboard was originally launched with different shortcut keys, but this Google-branded variant has shortcuts that resemble more of what you’d find on a Chromebook.

Logitech Wireless Mouse Keyboard
Logitech

Both versions of the K580 can be paired with several devices at the same time—such as a PC and/or smartphone. The board even has a cradle in the top bezel where you can prop up your phone, and there’s an easy switch button that lets you quickly toggle the keyboard between up to three different devices.

The K580 features a relatively sleek design with low profile scissor switch keys in a compact package, measuring 14.7 x 12.8 x 5.6 inches and weighing 1.2 pounds. The board connects to devices wirelessly for up to 33 feet over Bluetooth or through a USB dongle, and it can run for up to 24 months on two AAA batteries (which are included).

The Logitech M355 Portable Wireless Mouse for Chrome OS is available soon through Google’s online store for $29.99, while the K580 Slim Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard for Chrome OS is going for $49.99 with free shipping. Logitech follows in the steps of accessory maker Brydge, which released a more expensive Chrome OS keyboard last year.

Source: Logitech/Google





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I Can’t Wait To Buy It – Review Geek

Pixelbook Go
Justin Duino

Google announced gadgets and gizmos aplenty today at its annual Made by Google event, and as cool as the Pixel 4 is, the Pixelbook Go might be my favorite gadget that we saw today. It’s a seriously impressive piece of hardware.

At first blush, it may look like just another Chromebook, but that’s not it at all. It honestly seems like the return to Google’s original concept from Chromebook, though with a more modern twist. Everything the company has learned from its past Chromebooks (and Chrome OS in general) are fully realized in the Pixelbook Go.

While it may be easy to think of the Go as a sequel to the original Pixelbook, it’s really more of a lateral movement. Since it’s not a convertible (it doesn’t flip around into tablet mode), it just is what it is—a laptop for the user who wants a laptop. It still has a touchscreen, though, which is really a must on any modern laptop, but especially one that also runs Android apps.

Speaking of the display, Google has opted for a more traditional16:9 panel for the Go’s 13.3-inch display, a departure from the 3:2 format found on the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate. That’s likely to be a hit-and-miss choice from some people, but I personally think it makes a lot of sense for something that’s supposed to be a laptop and not a tablet. That said, most of the models are running at 1920×1080, which is a bit low compared to most modern machines. In my hands-on time with the Go, however, I couldn’t tell the difference compared to the Pixelbook. If you want to make sure you get the most Pixels you possibly can, however, there will be a version with a 4K Molecular Display available.

Moving below the screen is a user favorite from the Pixelbook: the keyboard. The Go’s keyboard is largely the same as the Pixelbook, except now it’s even quieter. The trackpad is also very similar, but it’s a bit larger and features rounded edges instead of the square profile found on the Pixelbook. The Go is very much about refinements.

The Pixelbook Go's keyboard
Justin Duino

Before we get to the Go’s innards, though, I want to quickly talk about the bottom of the device: it’s kinda weird. It’s a textured/ridged bottom that definitely makes it easier to hold and carry, which is the whole point. Google told us that the number one way most laptops get broken is by being dropped, so this is there to help prevent that. And really, if you don’t like how it looks, you’ll never see it when you’re using the laptop anyway.

On the inside, the Pixelbook Go is still quite interesting, because a lot of its components mirror what’s found in Google’s Chrome OS tablet (the Pixel Ste). All models have 8th generation Intel Core processors, along with at least 8 GB of RAM (even in the base model) and a minimum of 64 GB of storage. The sweet spot seems to be the Core i5 model with 16 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, but I can also see how that would be overkill for a lot of users.

If you’re looking for the meat and potatoes for the Pixelbook Go, here it is: this is a killer Chromebook. I’ve been using the Pixelbook as my main laptop for over a year and I’ve had no reason to want to change to anything else…until now. The Go is sleeker, lighter, faster, and, dare I say it, sexier. I can’t wait to get one.

The bottom of the Pixelbook
Yeah, I’m not sure about that texture? Justin Duino

You can snag the Core m3 model with 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for a mere $649, but a couple hundred more with boost the processor to an i5 and storage to 128 GB ($849). If you’re a RAM junkie, then tack on another $100 for an i5/128 model with 16 GB of RAM ($999), or go full boar and grab the i7 model with 16GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and a 4K display for a cool $1,399.

Pre-orders start today for the two base models in Just Black, with the other two builds and No Pink color coming later.





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Here’s Why You Should Buy a Push Block for Your Table Saw – Review Geek

A Microjig Grr-ripper, and orange push block on a table saw.
Josh Hendrickson

Nearly every table saw comes with a single push stick. But that’s not enough. You need at least a push stick and push block to provide proper pressure contacts. Otherwise, your cuts won’t be straight, and you’re risking a severe injury.

Using a table saw always involves some amount of risk. You are moving the material towards and through a sharp spinning blade. Depending on how powerful your table saw is, the blade spins between 3,000 and 5,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). That so fast your eyes can’t keep up.

When it comes down to it, anything capable of cutting through wood can cut through your soft fleshy body. Even without considering the risk of injury, you run the risk of experiencing kickback, and your cut won’t be straight, leaving you with disappointing results.

Kickback is Incredibly Dangerous

Warning: The following section discusses the dangers of table saws and may make some readers squeamish or uneasy; we recommend skipping to the next section if that describes you.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of kickback in woodworking, count yourself lucky. Kickback occurs when the spinning blade of your table saw grabs a piece of the material you are cutting, lifts, and throws it at high speeds. Because the blade spins towards you, the wood, in turn, is thrown in your direction and may hit you hard enough to injure or even kill you.

That isn’t the only danger from kickback. Because the blade is pulling the wood onto it, the process draws your hands towards the blade as well. If you’re lucky, you have minor cuts. But it’s also possible you could lose fingers to the spinning blade.

One form of kickback occurs during a rip cut as some of the wood begins to pass the backside of the blade. If the material drifts away from the rip fence, a corner of the wood can catch the rising teeth of the blade, which pulls the wood onto the blade, leading to a thrown wood piece.

The following is a video demonstrating this type of kickback. Fair warning, the person in the video comes out uninjured (just barely), but it’s still scary to see how close they come to serious injury.

As the video shows, this kickback occurs as your wood piece drifts away from the rip fence and into the blade path. You can prevent this and other forms of kickback by using proper safety equipment and technique. The first piece of equipment is a riving knife.

A tablesaw blade, slightly raised, with a riving knife behind it. A yellow safety switch lays to the side.
The slender piece of metal behind the blade is a riving knife and is crucial for safety. Josh Hendrickson

If you purchased your table saw recently, it came with a slender piece of metal installed just behind the blade. Generally, unless you have a specific reason (like installing Dado blades), you shouldn’t remove it. The riving knife acts as a physical barrier to prevent your wood piece from drifting onto the back teeth of your spinning saw blade.

The second piece of equipment is a push block, or push stick, combined with a technique that applies three points of pressure. In addition to protecting you, that same technique will also give you better-cut results.

Use Three Points of Pressure for Better, Safer Cuts

A piece of wood running through a tablesaw with a push stick and block, and three arrows pointing down, sideways and forward.
The three points of pressure are: forwards towards the blade, inwards towards the fence, and downwards. Josh Hendrickson

Performing a rip cut entails sliding a board across the table saw face while touching the rip fence for guidance to the blade. If your board drifts away from the rip fence, your cut will be crooked (and you may experience kickback).

So when you run the wood through the table saw, you want to apply three points of pressure, as seen in the picture above. (Note: I raised the blade after the cut to help clarify the image.) The first pressure is forward moving. Naturally, to cut wood on a table saw, you need to move the material toward the blade.

The second is downward pressure. That is, pressure coming from above the board towards the table saw top. Pushing downward against the board helps prevent the table saw blade from lifting your board and throwing it at you.

The third is inward pressure. To prevent kickback and maintain straight cuts, you need to apply pressure to the board towards the rip cut fence. You must apply this pressure before the table saw blade, not after. If you try to push inward towards the fence after the blade, you will cause the freshly cut wood to bend in, pinch, which can then lead to kickback.

Maintaining these three points of contact ensures you not only get a straight cut (because you are riding the straight of your rip fence) but will also minimize kickback risk. The general idea is to keep your material moving smoothly through the cut path without allowing drift onto the blade.

A GRR-RIPPER block pushing wood through a blade.
The GRR-RIPPER push block is a single tool solution for three points of pressure. Josh Hendrickson

You can achieve those three points of pressure by using a push stick and a push block. Your table saw likely came with a push stick, and so long as you use the correct technique, it will work well. You should use the push stick for your inward point of contact towards the fence.

Next, lay your push block on the board you intend to cut and apply even pressure down and forward to move the board through the blade. Keep your eyes on the fence to ensure your board isn’t drifting away from it.

While you could, in theory, use two push sticks, you may not get enough downward pressure to prevent kickback. With a push stick, you’re focusing downward force the board’s back corner instead of across the surface.

Alternately, instead of a push stick and push block, you can use a GRR-RIPPER push block. It’s capable of safely providing all three points of pressure in a single tool.

No matter what you use, the most important thing is keeping your fingers far away from the spinning blade. Destroying a push block is much better than the alternative.

The Push Blocks You Should Buy

Now that you know why you need a push block, it’s time to buy one. There are plenty of options to choose from, and anything is better than nothing. But here are a few good picks:

A Good Push Block: Big Horn 10230 Push Stick

An orange Big Horn push block with rubber grips.
Big Horn

You’ll sometimes see the terms push blocks and push sticks used interchangeably, and that’s the case with Big Horn 10230 Push stick. The critical part is the safety features it provides. That includes a spring-loaded tip at the back that extends out for maximum grip on the end of your board. And a rubber-tipped texture along the bottom to increase grip as you push and forward. The closed-construction that surrounds your hand should mean if something goes wrong, it’s likely the stick will hit your blade before your hands do, giving you an extra layer of protection.

A Good Push Block

A Nice Multi-pack: Safety Woodworking Package

Five push sticks and blocks in a bright orange color.
PeachTree Woodworking Supply

If you want plenty of options, this safety package has you covered. It not only has table saw friendly push sticks and push blocks, but it also has push blocks that will work with your router table and jointer. Some of the push blocks feature a thick matter rubber for extra grippy texture. The bright orange color is also pretty helpful when you’re trying to find where in the shop the safety equipment ended up…again.

A Good Multi-pack

A Premium Experience: GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock

A Grr-ripper 3D push block with green turn knobs.
Micro Jig

If you want the best, safest, most comfortable experience, it’s hard to beat the GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock. It’s incredibly adjustable so you can easily work with both thick board and thin boards, wide and narrow cuts. Micro Jug even offers additional accessories for even smaller cuts or advanced techniques like tapered cuts. It may cost more, but you get a premium experience for your money. This single push block is capable of applying all three pressure points, and the rubber textured grips keep the block locked to your wood.

A Premium Experience





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Damn, Google – Review Geek

Pixel 4
Justin Duino

Google unveiled the Pixel 4 (among other things) today at a press event, and it’s the best, most powerful, forward-thinking Pixel to date. I was able to spend some time with the phone after the event, and man, it’s so good.

The Pixel 3 XL was a pretty polarizing device, mostly because of the huge and completely unnecessary notch. The good news here is that the notch is gone on the Pixel 4 and Google is making use of the bezel along the top of the device by absolutely packing it with new tech. Like, new tech—not just “new to Pixel” tech.

I’m talking, of course, about Project Soli and the Pixel 4’s new radar chip. This new chip detects motion near the phone, allowing you to do things like skip tracks or dismiss alarms by simply waving your hand over the phone. But that’s not even the real value in the radar chip—the best part is that it’s part of the Pixel 4’s Face Unlock feature that lets you unlock your phone just by looking at it.

This isn’t Google’s first attempt at letting users unlock their phones with their faces, of course—-Face Unlock has been around for a long time. But here’s the thing: it used to be, well, bad. Like, unusably bad. It could be fooled by a picture and it really wasn’t secure at all. It was a gimmick.

But Face Unlock on the Pixel 4? Nah, man. This ain’t your grandma’s face unlock (lol, does your grandma even know what face unlock is?); this is new. This is Google take on Face ID, which, let’s be honest here, is pretty badass. But I might argue that Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 is badasser. To use it is to love it, believe me.

Pixel 4's camera hump
Justin Duino

And that’s a good thing, because the fingerprint reader is gone—no in-display jankiness, and the Pixel imprint sensor on the back is no more. I know that’s going to be a hard hit for some of you, but trust me, it’s for the best. Face Unlock is the truth.

That also makes for a cleaner overall aesthetic. The back is flat and smooth…for the most part. There is the big ol’ camera bump to house the dual rear shooters—a 12 MP main camera and 16 MP telephoto lens—but otherwise, it’s just a seamless piece of glass. The Clearly White and Oh So Orange units have a “soft touch” glass back, while the Just Black model is polished and shiny. They all look really good in person, though the contrasting color around the camera module takes some getting used to on the White and Orange models.

The Pixel 4 has a 5.7-inch 1080p panel, while the larger XL model packs a 6.3-inch 1440p display. Both are using Google’s new “Smooth Display” feature, which will push the refresh rate “up to 90 Hz.” Having used 90 Hz displays on both the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T, I can tell you that this is something that you want, but I’m slightly bothered by the “up to 90 Hz” wording. That indicates that the display doesn’t always run at 90 Hz, but somehow intelligently manages when it bump the refresh rate and when to bring it back down.

There is, however, a setting in Developer Options that will force the display to always run at 90 Hz, though I’m sure that will come at the expense of battery life (again referencing my experience with recent OnePlus devices). I’ll have to spend more time with the phone and its default settings to see if I can tell when it ramps up or down, then do further testing with the feature enabled all the time. You can expect to see those results in the full review.

Pixel 4 and 4 XL
Justin Duino

Otherwise, we’re looking at standard fare for hardware—the Snapdragon 855+ processor, 6 GB of RAM, and either 64 or 128 GB of storage.

On the software side, it’s basically just Android 10 on a Pixel phone. If you’ve used the 3 or 3a, then you’ve used the 4 as far as software is concerned, at least for the most part. There are some necessary hardware-specific changes, of course, mostly in the camera and settings menu. Otherwise, standard features.

Speaking of the software, let’s talk about Google’s special sauce in the camera. It’s the stuff that has made Pixel phones the best cameras available on phones for a few generations now, and it’s unreal on the Pixel 4. Even with pretty standard hardware, Google is leveraging computational photography to do even more amazing things with 4. It’s real.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the changes in the Pixel 4’s camera:

  • Live HDR+: Realtime HDR previews
  • Dual Exposure Controls: You can not only control the brightness, but also the shadows using sliders.
  • Smarter Automatic White Balancing: Phones have used automatic white balancing for a while, but the Pixel 4 takes it a step further with smarter and more realistic white tones, especially in extreme situations (like snow).
  • Better Portrait Mode: It now works with bigger objects (like motorcycles) and people who are farther away.
  • Night Sight Improvements: Night Sight was already legit, but now it’s better. You can even use it to take pictures of the moon and stars. It’s wild.

Overall, my first impressions of the Pixel 4 are pretty damn positive. I’ve used every generation of Pixel phone, and while some of the decisions along the way have been questionable (like, you know, the Pixel 3), the Pixel 4 feels like a return. The return to what makes Pixels special in the first place—an innovative phone that set trends, not one that follows fads just for the sake of it.





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Apple TV App Now Available on Most Roku Devices – Review Geek

Apple TV on Roku
Roku

Starting today, folks who own a Roku device will be able to stream content from Apple TV. To get started, head to the Roku Channel Store and grab the Apple TV app to begin accessing shows and movies.

After adding the Apple TV app to your Roku device, you’ll be able to sign in with your Apple ID to access your iTunes video library, 4K HD iTunes purchases, Apple TV Channels, Apple recommendations, and Apple TV+ originals. This news comes just two weeks prior to the November 1 debut of Apple TV+, where Apple will premiere exclusive shows and movies.

The app itself is free to download from the Roku Channel Store, but Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 a month after a seven-day free trial. Roku users will be able to subscribe to Apple TV+ directly through the Apple TV app on Roku. Apple TV+ includes access to more than 100,000 movies and shows, while Apple TV Channel subscriptions include premium networks such as Starz and HBO (a separate charge).

The Apple TV app will be available on most Roku devices, but some older models aren’t receiving support for the app. Here’s a full list of the Roku models that will receive the Apple TV app:

Device

Model

Roku TV 7000X, C000X, 8000X
Roku Smart Soundbar 9101X
Onn Roku Smart Soundbar 9100X
Roku Express 3900X, 3930X
Roku Express+ 3910X, 3931X
Roku Streaming Stick 3800X
Roku Streaming Stick+ 3810X, 4620X
Roku Premiere 3920X, 4620X
Roku Premiere+ 3921X, 4630X
Roku Ultra 4640X, 4660X, 4661X, 4670X
Roku Ultra LT 4662X
Roku 2 4205X, 4210X
Roku 3 4200X, 4230X

Along with the US, the Apple TV app is being made available through Roku devices in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Source: Roku





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The Best Uses for Milk Crates (That Aren’t Crating Milk) – Review Geek

A man holding a plastic blue milk crate.
Tim Masters/Shutterstock

Milk crates are sturdy, versatile, boxes that can fill just about any role. Here’s how to turn your cheap milk crates into organizers, storage containers, furniture, and more.

By the way, these projects will work for plastic or wooden milk crates. If you want to save some money, go for the plastic crates. But if you’re worried about style, go ahead and get some wooden crates.

Stackable Storage Bins for Loose Junk

Two milk crates full of kids toys.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Do you have a bunch of crap lying around? Unorganized books, cables, balls of yarn, or DVDs? Maybe its time to throw all that stuff in some milk crates. Milk crates make for fantastic stackable storage bins, and you can keep them just about anywhere in your house.

Of course, small items will slip through your milk crate’s holes (especially if you’re using plastic crates). You can close off those holes by lining the crate with an old shirt or some fabric (hot glue or tape should fix it to the crate). Or, if you’re feeling really thrifty, you can use old grocery bags to hold loose items in crates.

Closet and Under-Bed Organizers

A shelf full of milk crates
humbak/Shutterstock

Need some extra storage in your closet or under your bed? Milk crates are great for organizing clothes, towels, and bedding. You can even add labels to your milk crates to keep everything tidy and easy to identify.

You can take things a step further by placing milk crates (open-side out) on your existing closet shelves. The tops of the milk crates can be used as an extra shelf, and the insides can be used as divided organizers.

Car Trunk Organizers

A woman with a messy trunk. She needs some milk crates!
Myroslava Malovana/Shutterstock

Your trunk may be a jumbled up rat’s nest today, but it could be an organized milk crate haven tomorrow. Milk crates are great for securing loose items in your trunk, like safety equipment, tools, towels, and junk. It’s also nice to have a few empty milk crates in your trunk, just in case you need to move some small items or temperamental groceries.

Again, small items can slip through a milk crate’s holes. You may want to close off the holes by lining the crate with an old shirt or some fabric. And if you’re worried that the milk crates will slide around in your trunk, you can secure them to each other with zip ties.

Stools, Benches, and Shelves

A living room decorated with milk crate furniture
Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

This is where things start to get a little weird. A few cable ties can transform a stack of milk crates into stools, chairs, benches, or shelves. You could even make a milk crate bedframe (if you’re feeling brave).

Milk crate stools and ottomans are easy to make. Just stuff a crate with something (newspaper, a blanket, books) and top it off with a cushion. Make a couple of these, pin them together with zip ties, and you’ve got yourself a bench (or take the cushion off to turn your bench into a TV stand).

If you want to make milk crate shelves, stack a few milk crates on top of one another (face-out) and secure them with zip ties or screws. Wooden milk crates might make safer shelves than plastic milk crates. Plus, they look better.

DIY Planters

A bunch of milk crates full of flowers and herbs
expatpostcards/Shutterstock

Milk crates are a solid alternative to expensive pots and planters. Take a milk crate, line it with burlap or old shirts (to keep the dirt in), and fill it with soil. Bang—you’ve got a super cheap reusable planter.

Bear in mind that plastic milk crates are about 10-inches tall. If you want to grow plants from seeds, you may have to cut down your plastic milk crate planter to make it more shallow (or just use less dirt, I guess).





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Everything Announced Today at Google’s Pixel 4 Event – Review Geek

Google's newly-announced products.
Google

During an event in New York today, Google announced a range of new hardware including the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, Pixelbook Go, Nest Home Mini, and more—much of which we have already detailed in a post published yesterday.

Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

The Pixel 4's motion sense tech
Google

Google’s new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are already listed for pre-order on vendors including B&H Photo and will be shipped October 24:

  • Pixel 4 – 64GB: $799
  • Pixel 4 – 128GB: $899
  • Pixel 4 XL – 64GB: $899
  • Pixel 4 XL – 128GB: $999
The Pixel 4 at Google's event.
Justin Duino

Google says it’s the first smartphone with a built-in radar sensor which is used to power the Pixel 4’s new Motion Sense capabilities, based on the Project Soli “radar” sensor. Motion Sense enables more human interactions with your phone, such as preemptively preparing your camera for a face unlock as the phone begins to detect you reaching for the device so you don’t even have to turn its display on—said to make for the fastest secure face unlock on any smartphone. Gesture controls include the ability to swipe for changing a song or declining a phone call.

The Pixel 4 at Google's event.
Justin Duino

The Pixel 4 has a 5.77-inch 1080p display, the Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3-inch 1440p display—both have 90Hz refresh rates, as is becoming the standard for high-end phones. All variants have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM, as well as a rear 12.2MP f/1.7 dual-pixel camera and 16MP f/2.4 telephoto camera. The Pixel 4 has a roughly 2x telephoto lens, Google’s super res zoom technology for a hybrid of optical and digital zoom, as well as software improvements that enable truer colors in trickier lighting, and real-time HDR+ processing so you can see HDR+ effects on your screen before taking the photo:

  • Live HDR+ with dual exposure controls
  • Learning-base white balancing
  • Wider-range portrait mode
  • Night site with astrophotography
The Pixel 4 at Google's event.
Justin Duino

Google will make the Pixel 4 available through every major US carrier. Colors include Clearly White and Just Black, which are available for all models of the Pixel 4, while “Oh So Orange” seems limited to models with 64GB of storage. Other new features include operating system and application updates that make more use of Google Assistant, new voice recording application with capabilities such as the ability to transcribe what’s being recorded in real time.

Pixelbook Go

The Pixelbook Go in pink and black.
Google

Designed to be light yet powerful and engineered with a magnesium matte finish in colors including “Not Pink” and “Just Black,” the new Pixelbook Go is lighter than the original Pixelbook yet features a battery that is 15% larger for all-day usage. Battery life is quoted at 12 hours and charging has been improved over previous Pixelbooks, with the Go being able to receive a two hours boost to its battery in 20 minutes.

The Pixelbook Go at Google's event.
Justin Duino

Other specs include ultra-quiet keys that feel great to use and a grippy ripple-textured bottom finish. The 13.3-inch Chromebook will have a 1080p or 4K display depending on your preference. Pricing will start at $649 but models will also be available with your choice of a Core m3, i5, or i7 processor, 8GB or 16GB RAM, as well as a 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB SSD. Units configured with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD will be priced at $1,399.

Nest Home Mini

Google's new Nest Mini speaker.
Google

Available for pre-order today at $49 and shipping in 23 countries on October 22, the Nest Home Mini features a familiar design that uses fabric from recycled plastic bottles. It will be available in four colors and now features a wall mount so it’s easier to position the device anywhere in your home.

The Nest Mini at Google's event.
Justin Duino

Key improvements include 2x stronger bass, clearer more natural sound, and third mic to hear you better in noisy environments. Also of note, there’s now a dedicated machine learning chip onboard, allowing core experiences of the Google Assistant to be moved on to the device for the first time instead of connecting to a distant server.

Nest Wifi

The new Google Wifi router and range extender.
Google

Google’s new Nest Wifi Router and Nest Wifi Point has updated hardware and software that brings a 2x speed boost, 25% better coverage, and a package that can cover about 85% of homes in the US.

Like other Nest devices, the new Nest Wifi is designed with aesthetics in mind so the device is placed out in the open instead of being stuffed in a closet where its effectiveness is cut in half. This latest version features a Google Assistant smart speaker built into the device.

The Nest Wifi is available for pre-order starting today and units will ship to eight countries starting November 4. Pricing is set at $269 for a Nest Wifi Router + Point combo, $349 for a Router and two Points, or $169 for a standalone router.

New Pixel Buds

The new Pixel Buds and charging case
Google

With an engineering process that was described like building a ship in a bottle, the new “truly wireless” Pixel Buds pack a lot of hardware in a tiny package. They are equipped with custom speakers and a custom battery along with beamforming mics, voice accelerometers that can detect speech through jawbone, and on-device machine learning chips.

The directional mics are designed to pick up your voice even when you’re in a noisy environment while of course enabling hands-free access to Google Assistant to perform actions such as resuming a podcast, sending a quick text message, getting directions, or even understanding another language with Google Translate.

The new Pixel Buds in many colors.
Google

Google boasted about long range Bluetooth on the Pixel Buds that keeps you connected when your phone isn’t by your side. Indoors they can be connected up to three rooms away while outdoor range spans an entire football field.

The buds fit almost flush with your ear and although they’re small and light, Google says you can expect excellent sound quality (rich bass and clear highs) and a lifespan long enough to be useful. Pixel Buds will be available in 2020 for $179.

Other New Announcements

  • Nest Aware: Getting updated in 2020 with several new features and two pricing plans: $6 per month to cover all devices and feature a 30-day event video history, or $12 per month for 60-day event video history and 10-day 24/7 video history.
  • Stadia: Available November 19th.

Source: Google Event





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The 4 Best Bike Taillights to Keep You Safe on The Road – Review Geek

The LEZYNE Zecto Drive Max mounted on a gravel bike next to a cornfield.
Ian Slack

To stay safe as a cyclist, you have to be seen. There are many ways you can do this, but a bright, blinking red light is one of the best. If you ride bikes, you need a good taillight.

What to Look for in a Bike Taillight

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hundreds of cyclists are killed each year by cars, and thousands more are injured. Just about every cyclist who regularly rides on the road has a close-call horror story to tell you, and the reasons are many.

Like motorcycles, bicycles present a smaller visual profile to drivers, which makes cyclists harder to spot. There’s also the problem of distracted motorists looking at their phones, and drivers who don’t know how to pass bikes properly.

It’s important to do anything you can to keep yourself safe, including always wearing a helmet and colorful clothing. NHTSA statistics also show that more crashes happen in daylight than after dark. This means you need a bike taillight that’s also clearly visible in bright sunlight, so drivers can see you when you’re ahead of them.

The good news is advancing LED technology makes it possible for bike taillights to get brighter each year. For a minimal investment, you can get a lightweight lamp that easily attaches to your bike and is bright enough for drivers to notice in any lighting conditions.

Here are some key things to think about as you look for a new blinky:

  • Replaceable or rechargeable battery: Many budget taillights on the market feature replaceable batteries, but we think rechargeable is the better choice. It’s difficult to know how long replaceable batteries will last, and you don’t want your light to die in the middle of a ride. With rechargeables, the manufacturer provides an estimate of how long the light will burn in each setting. You can also verify that on your own, so you know when you need to recharge your light. Or, you can just recharge it after every ride. It’s a safer, more reliable strategy. It’s also better for the environment because you won’t have to throw batteries in the trash constantly.
  • The lumens rating: The brightness of regular light bulbs is generally measured in wattage. Most people understand the difference between a 100-watt bulb versus a 40-watt bulb. For the new, energy-efficient LED technology, though, watts aren’t an accurate indicator of power. These are measured in lumens—a more exact measurement of the amount of light a device projects. There’s usually a correlation between how much you spend and what you get when it comes to brightness. So, how many lumens do you need? There isn’t a specific answer, but around 100 lumens (or more) is necessary if you want to be easy to see in daylight.
  • Battery life: Another important point to think about when you shop for a bike taillight is battery life. You’ll need to consider the kind of riding you do. For example, an urban commuter might only need one hour of life at a light’s highest setting between charges. However, if you do training rides of four to five hours, long battery life will be at the top of your list.
  • Mounting options: You attach a lot of bike taillights to your seat post or bike frame with convenient rubber mounting straps. These wrap around the tube like a rubber band, so you can mount and remove them quickly. Others have brackets, and you slide the light on and off to recharge it. If you want to attach the light to your helmet, backpack, or clothes, make sure the one you choose includes an appropriate clip to do so. Many lights offer a variety of mounting options in the same package to give you maximum flexibility.
  • Water resistance: If you get caught in the rain, your bike’s taillight will be soaked. The rear wheel also throws up a considerable amount of spray when it’s damp outside—just wear a light-colored jersey and check out the spray pattern on the back when you get home. So, a taillight’s water-resistance rating is important, too. Check out the customer reviews of the light you’re interested in. Find out if the light is well-sealed and if the cover over the recharging port protects it from moisture.

Rather than picking one “best” bike taillight, we recommend a range of options based on price and different needs. If you’re a casual rider, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a good rechargeable light. At higher price levels, you get more options, longer burn times, and some really cool safety features.

Best Budget: Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB

The Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB.
Cygolite

For less than $20, the Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB is a great rechargeable bike taillight. You’ll get 2.5 hours of runtime from the built-in Li-ion battery at its highest, 100-lumen setting. Cygolite claims on lower settings, you can stretch that to a remarkable 270 hours. There are six setting options in total for day and night: Steady, Zoom, SteadyPulse®, Triple Flash, DayLightning®, and Random Flash. Cygolite says the DayLightning mode “emits lightning-like flashes to highlight your presence in the brightest of daytime hours.”

It’s small, water-resistant, and weighs only 59 grams. The package includes a seat post and seat stay mounts. There’s also a clip on the back of the light you can attach to a backpack or your clothes.

Best Budget

Best Mid-Range: LEZYNE Zecto Drive Max

The LEZYNE Zecto Drive Max.
LEZYNE

In the mid-range category, we love the retina-scorching power of the 250-lumen LEZYNE Zecto Drive Max. Not only is it super-bright, but it goes an impressive nine hours between charges in the brightest daylight flash mode.

The Zecto Drive Max has a rugged machined aluminum case and attaches to your bike with an easy-to-use rubber strap. It also has a clip if you want to attach it to your backpack or clothing. The only improvement we’d suggest is some padding on the back of the hard plastic clip so it won’t scratch a bike’s finish. However, a bit of tape does the job.

This light has eight day and night settings and runs a full 24 hours in the 10-lumen mode. It also remembers which mode it was in the previous time you used it and returns to it the next time you turn it on.

Its Lithium-ion battery recharges in two-and-a-half hours via the included micro-USB cable.

Best Mid-Range

Best Premium: See.Sense ACE Rear Light

The See.Sense ACE Rear Light.
See.Sense

Rated at 125 lumens with a runtime of 10 hours, the See.Sense ACE Rear Light is plenty of brightness in a small, 35-gram package. It has built-in sensors that detect traffic and make the light flash brighter and faster when cars are around. The See.Sense ACE also knows when you stop, and it turns into a brake light.

When you connect to your smartphone with the See.Sense app, the ACE warns you when the battery is getting low, and it also can notify emergency contacts if it detects you’ve been in a crash. It’ll even act as an anti-theft alarm and let you know (if you’re in Bluetooth range) that your bike was moved.

One of the more interesting features is that the sensors collect information about road surfaces and dangerous conditions that can be sent to urban planners to suggest road improvements.

The ACE is water-resistant and includes a range of rubber cords and clip accessories to attach to your bike, backpack, or clothing.

Best Premium

See.Sense ACE Rear Light

The See.Sense ACE Rear Light runs for 10 hours at 125 lumens. Its smart technology senses traffic conditions and makes the light brighten and flash faster when cars approach.

Super-Premium Option No. 1: Garmin Varia RTL510

The Garmin Varia RTL510.
Garmin

Approaching what you’d pay for a mid-range bike computer, the Garmin Varia RTL510 bike taillight is packed with technology. It features a rear-facing radar that alerts you when a car approaches behind you. If you pair it with a compatible Garmin or Wahoo computer, the alert appears onscreen.

While detractors might ask why you wouldn’t just install a $10 mirror instead, fans of Garmin radar swear by it. They say it’s changed how they feel about cycling on the road.

You get the first alert when a vehicle enters a range of about 150 meters. The unit can sense how fast the car is traveling, and it sends you a red alert if it’s moving at high speed. It also tracks multiple vehicles simultaneously and can differentiate between a car and your buddy on the bike behind you.

Despite its price tag, the Varia RTL510 only features a 60-lumen daylight flash, but owners say it’s bright enough. You’ll get 15 hours of use before you have to recharge it.

Super-Premium Option No. 1

Super-Premium Option No. 2: CYCLIQ Fly6 CE HD Bike Camera + Rear Light

The CYCLIQ Fly6 CE HD Bike Camera + Rear Light.
CYCLIQ

If you want to record close calls with vehicles so you can give them to the authorities, the CYCLIQ Fly6 CE HD Bike Camera + Rear Light is for you. Its 100-lumen output is paired with a high-definition, 1080p camera that also records audio.

You control the unit through a smartphone app that’s available for both iOS and Android. You can also share your videos through the app.

The camera has image stabilization for smooth footage and “smart looping,” so you don’t run out of space on your SD card (not included). Still, we do recommend you get a high-capacity card, so you don’t lose something that happened at the beginning of a long ride. The Fly6 even has some crafty technology that locks it if you’re in an accident, so the video of what happened can’t be recorded over.

Incredibly, it records video continuously for seven hours in camera-only mode and about four-and-a-half with the light running. When the battery gets low, CYCLIQ says it goes into “HomeSafe” mode and just keeps the light going for up to 30 minutes.

You mount the water-resistant Fly6 with a system similar to a Garmin. It charges in two hours via USB-C cable.

Super-Premium Option No. 2

Regardless of how much you want to spend, if you ride on pavement regularly, you should invest in a bike taillight. The sad statistics show that roads are getting progressively more dangerous for cyclists—especially because of distracted and careless drivers.

Anything that makes you more visible and encourages drivers to pay more attention is well worth the investment.





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What to Expect from Google’s Big Pixel Event Tomorrow, October 15 – Review Geek

The leaked Pixel 4, from Google's tweet.
Google

The yearly smorgasbord of Google-branded consumerism, aka the Pixel Event, is nearly upon us. And in typical Google fashion, pretty much everything has leaked well before the event arrives. We’ll be on-site to break down everything as Google unveils it, but in the meantime let’s look at what we expect to see there.

To be fair, it’s entirely possible that Google will pull out some major surprises—Microsoft certainly did last week at its similar event. But we can say with about 99 percent certainty that we’re going to see this year’s refresh of Google’s flagship Pixel phones and a new self-branded Chromebook. We’ll probably see a lot of new information on forthcoming Google software and services, too. Other things, like a refreshed Google Nest Home Mini and a closer look at the upcoming Stadia, are less certain.

Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

The 2019 Pixel phones might just be the most-leaked Google phones ever, which puts them high up on Michael’s Scale of Massive Tech Hardware Leaks (that I just invented). Pretty much every aspect of these phones’ hardware design, and a good chunk of the new Android 10-based software, has been leaked, some of it in the form of early promotional material from Google itself. The highlights:

The Pixel 4 phone on a black background.
Google “leaked” a more or less complete image of the Pixel 4 months ago. Google
  • One big phone, one little phone, with 6.3-inch and 5.77-inch screens, respectively. The big one will be 1440p, the little one 1080p, with super-smooth 90 Hz refresh rates.
  • The rear-mounted fingerprint sensors are gone, replaced by Google’s brand of face recognition, much like FaceID on modern iPhones. It’s using a front-facing array of cameras and sensors.
  • Speaking of front-facing stuff: That unsightly notch from the Pixel 3 XL is gone, replaced by a thicker top bezel to hold all those IR cameras and sensors. Unlike the 3 and 3 XL, the small and large Pixel 4 phones will look more or less the same, complete with a distinct square-shaped camera cluster on the rear. Multiple unconventional colors will be offered, but that two-tone glass from all three previous pixel generations seems to be gone.

  • Gesture control: Another new tech goodie hidden inside that bezel is a special sensor for detecting hand gestures, which will allow you to perform frequent actions like answering a call or advancing a music track with a wave of your hand. Google calls it Motion Sense, and it’s an offshoot of Project Soli.
  • Cameras: Expect two rear cameras on both phones, 12 MP and 16 MP, with standard and telephoto options up to 8X zoom. (This is probably a combination of some solid sensors and glass, combined with Google’s best-in-class camera software.) A single front-facing conventional camera is hiding in the bezel.
  • Internals: Expect the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset (very snappy, but not the absolute latest model) and 6 GB of RAM (50 percent more than last year), with storage options at 64 GB and 128 GB for both phones. As with previous Pixels, they won’t have MicroSD card slots or dual SIM card slots, and the headphone jack is a thing of the past. Batteries are 2800 mAh and 3700 mAh, with wireless charging.
  • 5G: We’ve heard late-breaking rumors of a 5G model. That will presumably be a spruced-up Pixel 4 XL—those advanced radios are big and power-hungry—and might come later at a much higher price. Speaking of which . . .
  • Prices: We don’t know yet. We would expect them to start at around $800 for the Pixel 4 and $900 for the Pixel 4 XL, with higher prices for storage boosts and that possible 5G variant.
  • Release date: Presumably less than a month after the October 15 announcement, with pre-orders opening day of.

Pixelbook Go

Google has always tried to position its self-branded Chrome OS devices as the cream of the crop, and they have been. But after the critical and sales flop of the Pixel Slate tablet, it looks like they’re hoping to score with a more conventional and less expensive form factor. Hence the Pixelbook Go: a less expensive Google-branded laptop, with a regular (non-convertible) hinge and some cheaper materials.

the Pixelbook Go, a leaked laptop, held up by a model.
9to5Google

According to leaks from 9to5Google, the Chromebook Go looks like Google’s answer to the MacBook Air or Surface Laptop, a step down from the premium notebook category filled by the Pixelbook that’s still more than capable of getting the job done for most users. The leaked hardware uses a 13.3-inch 1080p screen, an Intel Core i3 processor, and 8 GB of RAM. Processor, storage, 4K screen, and memory upgrades should be available too.

The design has a fingerprint sensor for easy unlocking, dual USB-C ports for charging, video out, and accessories, and support for the Pixelbook Pen on its touchscreen. The speakers are front-firing, something that’s becoming rarer as laptop designs continue to slim down. Colors are rumored to be “not pink” (sort of baby pink or salmon, depending on the light) and black.

While it’s certainly more pedestrian than either the Pixelbook or the much-maligned Pixel Slate, the Pixelbook Go seems to be using more premium materials than you’d expect from a budget machine, including a unique ridged plastic insert on the bottom replacing the more usual laptop “feet.” It’s also using the excellent Pixelbook family keyboard. Pricing and release info aren’t available.

New Nest Devices

An updated Nest Home Mini (nee Google Home Mini) has been spotted in regulatory documents, featuring a slimmer design, a headphone jack for connecting to more powerful speakers, and a built-in option for a wall mount. Which is something a lot of people will be happy to see, if the accessory market is anything to go by. We’re also expecting a next-gen version of the Google Wifi mesh networking hardware, this time branded the Nest Wifi. It might feature a built-in speaker, combining Wi-Fi routers and Google Assistant smart speakers into a single, roundish, plastic blob thing.

The G2 wall mount consists of two pieces: a wrap for the plug and a tray for the Home Mini.
Michael Crider

Other New Announcements

What else? We’re not clairvoyant, but here are a few more things we might see, with greater or lesser likelihood:

  • Tons of Google Assistant functionality: Google’s been working overtime to stay competitive in this space, so expect a large amount of time dedicated to new Assistant capabilities, some of which will rely on new hardware in the Pixel 4 and Pixelbook Go, but some of which will come to all users.
  • A new Pixelbook: It’s been two years since the original, convertible Pixelbook hit the market, so it’s due for an upgrade. There have been no leaks on this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bump up to the latest series of Intel processors. Or the Pixelbook Go might be all we get this year. We’ll see.
  • More Stadia announcements: Google’s entry into the streaming game service market is expected to land next month, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see it featured in the consumer presentation. A Stadia freebie subscription with purchase of new Pixel and Pixelbook hardware would make sense.
  • Pixel 4a: If you’re looking for a sequel to Google’s well-received budget phones from earlier this year, that’s unlikely. We might see them as “mid-cycle” options in the first half of 2020, sort of like OnePlus’s T-branded phones.
  • New Wear OS devices: Could go either way. Google seems hesitant to even talk about its wearable platform lately, but a minor leak from a B2B supplier indicates first-party hardware might be on the horizon. The last time Google tried its hand at Pixel-branded wearables, it backed out and left the branding to LG.
  • New Google tablets: No freakin’ way. Google’s not touching the tablet market, at least for the time being.

We’ll be on hand at the Google event in New York City, at 10 a.m. Eastern on October 15. Expect news coverage of all the new hardware, including hands-on reports shortly after.





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