QNAP TS-269L Review

Overall: 93% | Hardware: 9 | Software: 5 | Value: 7

Unboxing
The box looks very promising at first with all the logos on it. Open the top and you can see QR codes for different places you can find them and where you can get support. This looks very professional, but there is something missing – a QR code for their forum. I wonder why that is? I have a feeling we will soon find out.
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On unboxing we can see there is a standard “Power Supply” unit, along with a UK plug, 2 ethernet(RJ45) cables, screws and a manual.

Setting up

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This was really easy to set up. You simply place the HDD(s) on the hot swappable trays, screw them in and slide it into the unit.

Booting Up and first impression
I logged into the web GUI and it looked nice and clean and I went through to the control panel to see a fair amount of options but it was very messy and lacking some basic functions I would have expected.
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You cannot change the homescreen in any way at all which makes this feel a little cold compared to the other options out there, but that’s not too important.

Hardware
This has 3 USB2 ports and 2 USB 3 ports, 1 esata and a HDMI output. Plenty of options available here. You can have plenty of devices connected and also use the HDMI on a TV or monitor to show an app called HD Station which shows some apps like youtube and chrome for example on the big screen.
This has a nice dual core intel atom and 1gb RAM inside which is perfect for almost every task you can think of. Some people upgrade to 3gb RAM and run Virtualbox.

Software
The TS-269L can easily carry out all tasks you give to it and still have enough power to do more. This thing is a beast. I have had some issues with the software though so I cannot say it is 100% reliable just yet. Multimedia station is a huge mess and a pain in the ass for getting some stuff done. QTS looks nice from the icons but when you get deeper than that you notice some things that are missing or annoying “features” that shouldnt be there.

The pain of using QTS is you cannot switch to Desktop mode on a tablet; unless you change the URL but not only will most people not know how to do that but it is also hassle.

Mobile Apps
Sadly, this is one of the worst areas for QNAP. The mobile apps havent had any thought at all put into them and hugely lack in function. If you use your tablet or phone often to get media then this is a no go.
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There are separate apps called QManager, QMobile and QFile. Qmanager is good for checking your NAS, QFile is okay but crashes and QMobile is just dreadful.

Customer Service
The community as a whole is good and come together to help people and the (lack of)moderators do work well but there are no anti-spam tools in place making the forum look messy and unprofessional.
Community
I have contacted a few people from QNAP and asked them if they plan on fixing some stuff and commented on the Mobile Apps and they have not responded.

Bottom Line
The good: The QNAP 269L offers great hardware and really good data performance with good apps(QPKG’s) and has amazing build quality.
The Bad: The software is lacking, especially in the Tablet/Mobile area. QNAP does not listen to it’s customers and lack professionalism.
Overall: The hardware itself is amazing and the apps available work good too, it all depends on if it will be just used with computers or if it will be used on multiple devices.

You may also want to read my review on Synology’s DS212J.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |

Smart Baby Monitor by Withings

Type: Tech

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Overall: 93% | Quality: 9 | Value: 7

I was really excited when I heard withings wanted to send me this to review. Was it worth me being excited or was it just the same as all the cheaper ones on the market? The answer lies withing(no pun intended).

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On opening the box I could see straight away that they were aiming for the clean and minimal packaging scheme thats synonymous with Apple products which always makes me squeal with excitement, because let’s face it – you know the company cares and it’s a good indication of quality.

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So, let’s see what it comes with. The actual monitor (camera), an attachment that goes between the camera and a cot/bed, a battery which is another good sign. if your power cuts and this isn’t on a UPS then it will still run along with your router (hopefully)on the UPS. It comes with a manual which is pretty useful, a plug with plenty of different adapters which is always nice to see and a bag you can pile it all in which is also a nice little addition.

For connectivity – it has Bluetooth, WiFi built in and an ethernet port at the back which means you can keep an eye on your baby from anywhere. For example, if you get a baby sitter and go on a date you can check on the baby and not have to worry about rushing home so much.

And what’s more? it sends you instant alerts when it senses noise, motion, temperature and humidity changes.

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This camera comes with a ton of features you wouldn’t expect from any other baby monitoring company. It can sense temperature and humidity – which I have put to the test and have found it to be accurate and it has even helped me realise there was a problem with the humidity in my babies room. This has a good two way audio communication microphone built into it with a very low latency which means you can talk to the monitor and hear the baby at an almost instant rate.

It has a nice night light that can change to variable colours and even go through all the colors. One of my favorite features is that it can play lullaby’s – not just any lullaby’s. popular, good symphonies that sound great.

What about one of the most important things, the camera? Well. I shouldn’t even have to mention how amazing it is. It actually shocked me because its better quality than most security cameras and you can zoom then pan and tilt it too! I will put a few pictures up of the quality sometime this week.

Is this worth the £240 price point or will you be better off saving money and getting something cheaper? The answer is: If you have the cash – go for it. It has tons of features you wont find on a cheaper baby monitor and I cannot recommend it enough.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |

Synology DS212J Review (V2)

Overall: 91% | Hardware: 7 | Software: 9 | Value: 8

Unboxing
Today I review one of my favorite tech gadgets of all time; a NAS (Network Attached Storage) – though, for these devices NAS is an understatement as some can do so much more and even some server tasks. Maybe we should call them SNAS! (Hope the Nintendo fans see what I did there).
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On unboxing we can see there is a standard “Power Supply” unit, along with a UK plug, 1 ethernet(RJ45) cable, screws and a manual.

Setting up
Even-though this came with a manual – I decided not to use it because of my computer building background. So how easy is it?
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You simply unscrew the base, slot in the HDD(s), screw it in place and put the case back on. its really easy – shame you cannot hot swap drives though.

Booting Up and first impression
I logged into the web GUI and started to play around with the control panel and looking at the options at hand – and boy, there are many options which made me get very excited. The GUI looks excellent too!
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The homescreen is modifiable – you can change the theme/colour and decide which “apps” you would like on display too. This makes this device much more personal and welcoming.

Hardware
The DS212J has two USB ports on the back which you can plug in a printer/USB speakers/External HDD or camera. This is okay for most home users but I personally feel that 3 is the minimum amount of ports any NAS should have.
This has a measly 256mb RAM and an 800MHZ ARM cpu. The performance is okay but definitely lacking for some people.

Software
The DS212J carries out all tasks with no issues and is extremely reliable. You can access all your music, videos, photos from any device. Want to watch a few films on an ipad? No problem. Want to watch your house with connected security camera on your friends PC abroad? No problem.

The handy thing for tablet users is that you can turn of “Tablet Mode” instantly and use your tablet as if it was a desktop PC which is extremely handy.

Mobile Apps
One of the best things about Synology is that they clearly care about their customers and do everything they can to keep the community happy and you can clearly see that with the amount of effort they have put into their tablet/phone apps.
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There are separate apps for Music, Films, Photos, Files, Check on your NAS, surveillance Station and Download Station.

Customer Service
The community is great – the forum has great moderators and anti-spam tools in use. Looks professional and everyone appears to be happy. Bit of a shame you cannot use tapatalk though.

I have not had any problems at all to need to contact Synology but I have read up about some people who needed to contact them and when they did they always dealt with everything in a professional manner and helped.

Bottom Line
The good: The Synology DS212j offers amazing software and applications and also knows how to do great apps for tablets and mobiles. They listen to the community.
The Bad: The hardware is lack luster.
Overall: Synology is easily the king of NAS devices when it comes to software and listening to it’s customers, the hardware is lacking for some uses though.

You may also want to read my review on QNAP’s TS-269L.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |

Review of the Month – Tassimo T20!

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Today I received something rather spectacular – a single serve coffee machine(SSC) from Tassimo. I have heard rumors that SSC discs costs much more than traditional ground bags, and there’s apparently a lack of choice. Are the rumors true or just simply jealousy?

Let’s start with the packaging – its all clear and informative, but trust me; Its so easy to use you wont even need to look at them. What we get is the machine, water tank, and a service/cleaning disc.

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Those who have seen my review on the Aeropress know it was annoying to clean after every use. Drip filters are pretty easy, you only need to rinse the coffee jug, and clean the filter after each use. How do we need to clean the tassimo? It’s simple. You don’t really need to – all you have to do is put the service disc and a de-scaler in every few weeks. It even indicates when it needs to be done so you don’t forget and you always know its clean.

How do we brew a coffee? Simply pull up the lid, put the T-Disc in and press the big button and because of its barcode system it will automatically make you the best brew it can. Thats it. What is in the disc? Instant coffee? Nope. it’s proper ground coffee – there are brands like Costa, Twinings, Cadbury and one of my favorites – Carte Noire.

There is so much variety, much more than the competition, and to those who say they want more flavors than what’s on offer – Experiment and make your own flavors – thats what I plan to do, so keep an eye out for my crazy tassimo experiments and see if you like them too.

Now, let’s get onto the big rumor. Disc prices. Let’s do some basic maths.

16 pack of carte noire crema T Discs = £3.80. 3.80/16= 23p per cup of coffee.

24 servings (ground Carte Noire) = £3.80. £3.80/24 = 16p per cup of coffee.

1 Crema from a coffee shop = £2.40. 2.40/1 = £2.40 per cup of coffee.

So as we can see – The tassimo T-Discs are literally over 10 times cheaper than going to a coffee shop and taste just as good but with more variety, where as the ground is 7p less per cup which is a very small price to pay for convenience. And if you wan to come into this matter you could easily counter-argue that these T-Discs are air-tight and the coffee inside wont “run out of date/taste not as good” for a year or two. I have seen people say they found discs in the cupboards they forgot about for years and they still taste just as good; my point being – people throw away ground coffee when they get bored of it or don’t drink it enough, wasting money.

Now let’s get down to the other important facor; taste. Does this taste as good as shop made coffee, ground or instant? This machine is faster than making instant coffee, so how does it fair? Thankfully, this leaps above instant coffee and some of the coffees are better than shop made coffees. I don’t know how. Perhaps the coffee fairies sprinkled some magic dust around Tassimo because I still cannot get around how nice these coffees are and they only take one minute to make.

Highly Recommended.

Scout 2 by STM Bags

Type: Bag

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Overall: 92% | Quality: 9 | unique: 8 | Value: 8

Let’s start with a little story. Go get a nice cup of coffee ready and sit down to get relaxed for an epic tale. One day I was dragging around a huge, heavy, and ugly looking shoulder bag and it was very annoying to carry for more than 10 minutes. I stumbled across STM bags in the past a ton of times but always thought to myself that all my “junk” wouldn’t dare fit in one of the bags I was eyeing up. This is the adventure of me finding a magical bag that really can fit all my junk in. I’m joking about the tale stuff – I think I have been playing too many video games today. But let’s get onto the review.

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I received the bag I liked the look of a lot called Scout 2 and as you can see from the picture above – it is small in size, especially compared to my other bag. I have been thinking about migrating from a huge, heavy bag to a smaller bag for ages but have never been inspired enough to do it. Until I saw this. For people who know me well, you know I carry almost everything with me. So how could I fit it all in here? Well. I won’t say exactly what is where yet because I want to save that for an article in the future!

This can fit a 13″ laptop in and iPads fit in just fine too. Let’s talk about the features. On the back of the bag there is a cutout storage area with a zip at the bottom – I don’t have a clue exactly why there is a zip at the bottom but I have found it useful when I am sitting in a coffee shop somewhere and want to get a notepad out fast I simply unzip and the jobs done.

The strap is a fair lengh and I really love how easy it is to manage. The shoulder guard is huge and comfy beyond belief no matter how much weight I have put into this bag. Let’s open up the clip on the front to have a little look inside.

There is a left and right pouch. On the left is a general space for any goods. On the right is an area for pens and some space still available for other uses.There is a zip just above the pouch area with plenty of deep space. Above the zip is an open area which could be used for anything, even a laptop/tablet would be fine there but I personally use it for a notepad.

Then there is a velcro area for laptops or tablets. This area is one of the most impressive things about this bag for me. It is so thick and protective. I wouldn’t cringe at all if I had a laptop fall of a table in this bag because I know it’s got me covered.

This bag is truly awesome and I would definitely recommend you get one. Especially if you want to downsize and still have plenty of space. My old bag was 17″, this is 13″ and fits everything my old bag had in it. Keep an eye out for my follow-up blog on what I always keep in my bag. I think you might just be shocked by how amazing this bag is.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |

Hawaii Kona by Sea Island

Type: Coffee Beans

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Overall: 93% | Taste: 9 | Aroma: 8 | Value: 3 | Packaging: 9

Today I am reviewing Hawaii Kona – it sounds exotic, but how did it do?

I’ll start by saying it’s packaging is great, as are all sea island coffees. The aroma is really nice and gives a hint as to how nice this brew should taste.

The taste really is quite exotic! It has a nice sweetens to it and a huge kick of subtle character. plenty of different flavors and I think this might have made it’s way into my top 10.

I have tried hundreds of coffees in the past, and it has been extremely rare for a coffee to tick all the boxes but this one almost has.

Definitely recommend you try it!

Thank you for reading. – Judge Shaun.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |

Black & Beyond by Percol

Type: Ground coffee

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Overall: 92% | Taste: 9 | Aroma: 8 | Value: 9 | Packaging: 7

The packaging is good – full of all the info you would hope for. I love the “Adventures in Coffee” slogan too. If I could give some feedback on the packaging to Percol – I would say that it is a shame it isn’t resealable.

The Aroma was great, but what about the taste? Well; that’s what shocked me most! It was dark, intense and had a nice dark chocolate feel yet it is also smooth and sweet at the same time.

This coffee has a nice, subtle character and lingering after taste to it and I cannot recommend it anough.

Thank you for reading. – Judge Shaun.

| Buy from: here | All our reviews are fair | Contact Judge Shaun! |