Date Joined: 03/09/01
Pros: General phone quality, Android updates, unlocked dual SIMs.
Cons: Signal level, battery life, indoor photos.
Overall Review: 2017-01 I’ve had the ZTE Axon 7 Mini about six weeks. I like the Mini. I choose the Mini due to it being unlocked, having a reasonable price, being shipped with a soft-case, having a 2-year warranty, and having dual SIMs. The fingerprint reader works reliably. I have tested a dual-SIM configuration – no complaints. Appreciate being able to choose one SIM for data service while leaving both SIMs active for receiving calls and texts. This phone is a big step up from a previous generation of ZTE phones I have owned.
My Mini replaces a 2-year old Android cell phone that used the Verizon cellular network. When I activated the Mini I switched from the Verizon to the AT&T cellular network. I thought that would be no problem, since we have an iPhone 5 that also uses the AT&T cellular network, exhibits a low signal level, but always has adequate voice and data service. A bad move. At my home the Mini exhibits a poorer ATA&T signal level then the iPhone and sometimes says “No Service”. I have installed a SIM from a second MVNO that yields identical AT&T signal quality, so this appears to be a ZTE problem.
The Mini camera is adequate, with pleasing colors. All images suffer from enthusiastic image sharpening. But I don’t like the Mini indoor images: the constant f1.9 aperture (and the resulting lack of depth-of-field) which is usually combined with a slow shutter speed and a high ISO.
The Mini battery life is below my expectations. But the battery does charge fairly quickly, so being near a recharging source once during the day seems to provide adequate power. It’s necessary to dig into the Android app and power settings to get the best battery life out of the 7 Mini.
This is the first device I own that uses a Type-C USB connector, so I had to purchase some additional USB Type-C cables.
I could not find a tempered glass screen protector to fit the Mini, and had to settle for a less desirable film-type screen protector. The rounded vertical edges of the 7 Mini prevent the screen protector from sticking at the vertical edges.
I cannot get the Mini to back up my contacts and other settings to my Google account. (That account still has backups from by two previous Android phones.) When will Google provide a version of Android that allows a user to take and restore a complete backup of an Android phone, as can be done with iOS using iTunes?
I was pleasantly surprised two days ago when ZTE updated my Axon 7 Mini from Android 6.x to 7.1.1. The update went smoothly with no problems. Aside from a few changed menus I can see no difference. Unfortunately there is no improvement in battery life and no improvement in cellular signal levels at my home (as I am writing this re-review the Mini has “No service”).
Also, due to the rounded edges of the Mini the film screen protector has peeled off. So far I have had no problems being without the screen protector.
Due to the Minis disappointing AT&T cell service at my home I decided to try a MVNO / T-Mobile service and purchased another SIM. The T-Mobile signal at my home is also very low, also with periods of "No Service". Even with a one-bar signal level and indicated 4G service I am unable to make or receive calls or receive data on the T-Mobile network. Again, a significant disappointment on the way that the Mini handles low cell signal levels. (The Android "Network Cell Info" app indicates that the T-Mobile cell tower is in a different nearby location from the AT&T cell tower.)
After installing the T-Mobile SIM I also noticed on two occasions that when cell signal levels are very low the phone generates noticeable heat, the battery life is very short, and recharging barely keeps up with battery use.
In areas of higher cell signal levels away from my home the Mini performs adequately for both the AT&T and T-Mobile connections.
Pros: Good device.
Cons: No latch indicator on 20/24 pin connector.
Overall Review: The supplied printed instructions were O.K., but viewing the PST-3 YouTube videos made a big difference in understanding the various PST-3 connectors and the LCD display.
The 20/24 pin connector does not indicate which is the latch side. Can be confusing the first time inserting a 20-pin connector.
Accidentally bounced the PST-3 off a hard tile floor and it survived with no damage.
Pros: Works as expected.
Cons: Weight, sharp edges.
Overall Review: The bulk of the 25AU3 enclosure is a chunk of heavy aluminum "u" channel. The top and bottom edges of my enclosure shows cut marks with somewhat sharp edges.
The protective case fits well, will protect the enclosure from cosmetic scratches, and allows the USB cable to be inserted without removing the enclosure from the case. The case significantly ads to the enclosure bulk when being transported and has no storage for the USB cable.
The USB 3.0 cable supplied with my enclosure is not 3.3ft as described on the Newegg site but approximately 23 inches – still adequate.
The supplied printed User’s Manual did not help me much and I was frustrated trying re-latch the open enclosure after inserting a disk drive. Viewing the ORICO 25AU3 YouTube videos was the only cure.
My disk drive did rattle inside the enclosure. Be careful if you pad the drive to keep it from rattling. When I placed a foam pad to the top of my 320GB drive the drive would not properly seat into the SATA connectors. I had to place the foam pad on the bottom of the disk drive.
No problems so far. Performance is about what is expected for a 2.5” USB 3.0 enclosure. The bright color (mine is red) is attractive. While I prefer the older slightly smaller ORICO 2588US3-BK enclosure with rounded edges I would still recommend this enclosure – especially if the protective case is an attractive option.
Pros: Very small form factor, very light weight; metal case; usable lanyard hole; formats to 57.6 GB. Has a sustained throughput when writing a large file and attached to a USB 3.0 port (Win8.1, i7 processor) at 33 MB/sec.
Cons: No activity indicator light. Gets VERY warm to the touch during sustained writing.
Pros: Very small form factor; very light wight; metal case; formats to 28.8GB.
Cons: The Monster Digital 32GB has a sustained throughput when writing a large file and attached to a USB 3.0 port (Win8.1, i7 processor) at a varying inconsistent rate between 11-16 MB/sec. Gets very warm to the touch during sustained writing. No activity indicator light. Don't understand the need for the uUSB port - none of my Android phones will discover a memory stick with a uUSB connector. Clear plastic uUSB cap is very hard to remove. Lanyard hole is VERY small - none of my lanyards will pass through.
Pros: Good value a $30.
Cons: Sound quality Bluetooth vs sound cable.
Overall Review: The Philips SHB9100 Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones easily connected to my desktop WIN 8.1 PC using an old (circa 2006) Zonet USB Bluetooth adapter. The PC switches over from the desktop speakers to the headset when the headset is turned on.
The Bluetooth sound quality is O.K. with adequate volume, slightly weak bass. Some base improvement can be configured from the Windows Control Panel, Sound, Playback, Headphones, Headphone Properties, Enhancement panel.
Sound quality improves when used with the 3.5mm audio cable.
Paired OK with a LG cell phone and an Apple iPad. (The bigger issue is getting the headset to “un-pair” from a device once paired so that the headset can be paired with another device. Probably not the fault of the headset.)
The earphones are on-ear with a good seal, good isolation from outside noises and from sounds escaping from the headset.
The headband is somewhat tight and pressure on the ears, especially for someone wearing glasses, can get little uncomfortable.
Because the headset is not surrounding the ears they will not stay on unless the band is worn directly overhead (no placing the headband behind the neck).
The micro-USB charging cable is very short and is a charge-only (no data) cable. Don’t discard it – use it for charging a phone or tablet in a risky environment to prevent 'Juice-Jacking'.
I have not needed to try the headset microphone.
Can’t find anything about changing the rechargeable battery – guess the headset is disposable once the battery dies.
The headset serves its’ purpose – letting me listen to PC sounds while sharing a home office with my spouse. I can live with this headset at $30 – but would probably have been disappointed if I had paid much more.
Pros: The Orico replaced a tangle of individual chargers at the end of an extension cord in our bedroom. Gave it 4-stars for this.
Cons: Never could get the "Super Charger" to charge our iPad faster than a standard USB supply - may even be slightly slower than the standard iPad charger. Would have given it 5-stars if the iPad charged faster.
Overall Review: Covered the bright blue LED with a small piece of black electrical tape.
Pros: It works.
Overall Review: The reason that I gave it only two stars: Inserting a USB cable into the Syba sockets takes a relatively large force, and the bracket metal is flimsy and flexible, making insertion of a USB cable a challenging proposition. I bent the bracket to try and “pre-stress” the bracket to resist the insertion force, which helped.
Pros: Nice fast CPU.
Cons: This is the first time in many years that I used the in-box Intel cooler and it was hard to fully depress the cooler push-down fasteners. It's easy to think that the cooler is firmly seated when it isn't. Make sure that the cooler push-down fasteners are in all the way - they make a sharp "snap" sound when fully depressed.
Pros: It works!
Overall Review: Heavy weighted base makes it easy to insert and remove disks. Used many times to recover files from disks pulled from broken notebook computers. Both USB and eSATA connections have worked without issues.
Pros: A great product when video content is of high quality.
Cons: The Roku 3 is a five-egg product that gets a three-egg rating due to a limited telephone support policy and a “not-my-problem” attitude by channel partners.
Overall Review: I've owned a Roku since 2010 and now have a Roku 3. I recently had problems with the Netflix channel, which revealed some support issues.
Roku normally provides telephone support for the first 90-days of the warranty – which seems restrictive given the premium price charged for the Roku 3. The 90-day policy seems designed to upsell owners the $19.99 “RokuCare” service plan – an effective 20% price increase over retail.
Calling content channel partners does no good. Content from major channel partners, such as Netflix, could not be provided without their participation – yet they deny responsibility when problems occur.
Some Roku problems might be resolved by owners without contacting Roku if the “hidden” “secret” control codes/panels were more widely known.
Pros: It works?
Cons: The plastic shell is does not easily fit some USB slots. Difficult to insert and remove. I wouldn't care if the flash drives breaks, but pulling out pieces of a USB slot would be ugly.
Plastic shell feels fragile. The construction quality of current Sandisk Cruzer flash drives is below that of older models.
No activity indicator light.
Pros: At a sale price of about $250 or less this is a good camera and a step above many point-and-shoot cameras. The E-PL3 is small and relatively light weight, with acceptable battery life and takes good quality 12-megapixel images. The 14-42mm lens front element does not rotate, making use of a circular polarizer easy. Works well with OM to M 4/3 adapter and older OM 35mm lenses.
Cons: The HDMI output is finicky. It doesn’t work with my SONY 55” TV or with my high-end Dell LCD monitor, but does work when plugged into my Onkyo receiver.
The manual zoom lens requires new operating skills if you have only used a point-and-shoot camera with power zoom. Manual zoom and focusing would be easier with a built-in viewfinder.
This is not an expandable “system” camera - the available Micro Four Thirds lenses are limited.
The included manual does a very poor job of explaining the details of the complex MENU functions. No E-PL3 books are available.
Pros: Comes with 3.5" front panel USB 3.0 IO connector panel.
Cons: This PCI Express Card USB 3.0 adapter failed sometime after installation in early 2013. RMA'd the failed adapter and received a replacement in 2013-04. This card failed again after attaching a Seagate GoFlex external disk drive. This Seagate drive works with no problems on my three other PCs with USB 3.0 ports. Cut loses and ordered a different brand card (same Renesas chip) that works with no problems.
Pros: Not many.
Cons: Driver crashed within first hour of use – had to reboot.
Operations require finger swiping from left or right pad edge – but edges of glass top are square rather than rounded, and that sharp edge gets annoying very quickly.
Similarly, resting the hand on the lower square edge of the pad becomes uncomfortable.
Horizontally scrolling the “Metro” interface with a two finger swipe is very fast – and the speed cannot be changed.
Swiping from the right edge brings up the Charms, but then the pointer must be moved to select a specific charm, then tapped. The three step processes is very tiresome.
Right and left “mouse” buttons are on the underside of the touch pad. When they are “pressed” it imparts a disconcerting “rocking” motion to the entire pad.
I still can’t duplicate some of the “mouse” click combinations. I had to resort to using a mouse with the right hand and the touch pad with the left hand to perform all functions.
Overall Review: While the T650 does impart many WIN8 multi-touch functions it is by no means a substitute for a WIN8 touch screen. I’m getting more appreciative of my mouse. The T650 is not recommended, especially considering the high price. Taking mine back for a refund.
Pros: Tolerances are good with most cut-outs and holes where they should be. Lots of openings for good air flow. Internal metal has no sharp edges.
Cons: Three of the six stacked edge-mounted MB SATA connections are unusable. Those three bottom SATA connections are blocked by the case raised cable management area which is too close to the edge of the MB.
Also: Flimsy plastic DVD door. The 3.5" cage has only two screw holes per drive / per side resulting in the eSATA drives hang out the back of the cage almost two inches. The screw-less 3.5" drive fasteners work well, but rely on plastic-to-metal friction and may not survive lots of drive changes. The large rear fan is only two-wire - not controlled by MB. Rear of case is unpainted - no black finish there to match the rest of the case. Expansion slot covers are break-off, not reusable. Front USB connections are USB 2.0 only - not USB 3.0.
Overall Review: To all case manufacturers: please provide panels to allow the large openings in the top and bottom of the case to be closed off! Bottom case openings do nothing but suck in dust and dirt. Top openings without fans destroy any air-flow cooling strategy.
Pros: Seems to be working OK. i5-2500K CPU with 16GB memory. Running at stock speeds/voltages so far.
Cons: Reduced to three stars due to the SATA sockets, which are oriented parallel to the plane of the MB. In a typical mid-tower case the SATA sockets are immediately adjacent to the drive cages and it is very difficult to maneuver and insert the SATA cables into the MB sockets. Whoever thought that these right-angle SATA sockets were a good idea needs to go back to design school.
Overall Review: Updating the BIOS to F4 seemed to clear up some minor issues.
Pros: A good low-cost case. Nicely finished inside and out with lots of ventilation.
Cons: But I reduced the stars down to four since there are some minor issues.
The 3.5” disk rails have metal pins with two positions, depending on the holes in the drive. The pins are easy to remove, but very hard to insert in the alternate holes. I had to use a wood block with a drilled hole, a contoured wood dowel, and a hammer to the pins into their alternate rail holes.
The bottom 3.5” disk cage was not sized correctly - the disk cage is too wide & the drives rattle in the cage. Fixed by applying a single thickness of electrical tape to the inner sides of the cage slots.
The case PS bottom air intake is smaller than the typical large PS fan. I mounted the PS air intake inside the case for better PS air flow. Also, the case PS air intake has a dust filter that can only be removed by up-ending the PC (poor design).
Overall Review: Being a build project, a little extra “building” was performed. There are no USB 3.0 sockets on the case front. If your MB has the appropriate USB 3.0 header, the Biostar USB 3.0 Cable Bracket mounts in one of the 3.5” external openings. The case has no LED power indicator - I glued an extra LED inside one of the mesh front panels as a power LED. Finally if you are trying to build a “quiet” PC you may want to add a fan speed control to help quiet the supplied case fans.
Pros: The InCharge unit works as a charger and additional battery supply. Cable works as a sync cable with an iPod Touch 4th Gen.
Cons: When the modular 120V wall plug prongs are installed on the rear of the InCharge they stick out the back of the unit and cannot be folded flat. With the 120V prongs installed the unit will not sit flat as shown in one of the product photos and cannot be used as an iPod stand. The modular 120V prongs are not easily removed.
Overall Review: Rating would have been higher than 3 eggs if the prongs folded flat so the unit would easily function as an iPod stand. But at $15 with free shipping it was worth the purchase.
Pros: Reasonably good flat-bed color scanner.
Cons: Purchased in Dec. 2009 as a replacement for an Epson 1640SU Office scanner that had provided many years of excellent document scanning with WINXP and Vista PCs. When compared to the 1640SU Office the V500 has been a disappointment. Sheet-feed scanning is very slow with lots of hesitations and noisy mechanical motions. When used as a B&W flat-bed document scanner there is light-bleed at the top edge of the paper that leaves a ragged black band. The scanner driver "Professional Mode" is fixed at Legal-size and cannot be changed.
Overall Review: In May 2009 the sheet feed mechanism constantly jammed. Epson did not offer a ship-in repair and I needed to carry-in the scanner to an authorized repair shop - the nearest being over 60 miles from my home. The first replacement shipped by Epson was similarly defective. The third sheet feeder worked without jamming - but the repair cost me three trips with over 370 miles of driving and almost one and one-half days of my time. Don't purchase an Epson product unless you know there is an authorized Epson repair facility within close proximity to your location.