The BlackBerry KEY2 is one of the last remaining phones with a hardware QWERTY keyboard, but that’s not the only reason it is worth considering for the business user.
Like the BlackBerry KEYone, the KEY2 is powered by Google’s Android operating system. There are plenty of options available in the Android world, but there continue to be a few unique aspects of the KEY2. In addition, some standard features of Android make it compelling for the enterprise user as well.
QWERTY keyboard: After a few years of on-screen keyboards, it definitely takes some practice to use a hardware QWERTY keyboard again. That said, it is an excellent keyboard with good spacing and tactile feedback, shortcuts galore, touch sensitivity that make it wonderful for scrolling without touching the display, and intelligent prediction where you can spend half your time just swiping up to accept the next words presented to you. You can also double tap to activate the cursor in a text field, customize the currency key, and jump around the Hub with a key press.
Security: The DTEK app is designed to raise your awareness of security on your phone so while it may not make your phone more secure automatically, it clearly presents you with different options for security. The KEY2 runs Android 8.1 Oreo and BlackBerry has shown to provide quick monthly Android security updates. The KEY2 runs a version of Android that is mostly stock so updates can be rolled out quicker than phones with custom UIs.
Private Locker: The KEY2 has a secure area called the Private Locker where a secure file explorer, secure photo gallery, and Firefox Focus reside with the option to add other apps. The Firefox Focus browser auto-deletes your browser history upon exiting.
Long battery life: Some recent devices, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the HTC U12 Plus, and LG G7 ThinQ, have disappointed me in regards to battery life and I’ve rarely been able to go a full day with those devices. The large capacity battery and mid-level processor help you go more than a full, busy day with the KEY2 and for business you need a phone that lasts.
BlackBerry Hub: While there are plenty of email and social media apps avaialable, the centralized communications platform provided by BlackBerry Hub means you can spend most of your time in one area of the device. The Hub takes a bit of time adopting, but it can improve your efficiency with practice.
Convenience key: While you can have up to 52 shortcuts via the keyboard and Speed Key, you can also setup the right side Convenience key to launch one app or a quick shortcut pop-up for up to three apps or utilities. This is one other way the BlackBerry KEY2 focuses on efficiency.
Privacy Shade and Redactor: I often see business users with privacy screens on their phones and the BlackBerry KEY2 offers a different approach with a shade that only provides visibility to a few rows of the display at once. You can resize the shade and move it up and down the display with most of your display in hidden mode. There is also a Redactor tool that lets you quickly remove sensitive information from screenshots that you want to share. The Redactor tool provides a more professional look than when you try to use a photo editor and scribble out information.
The BlackBerry KEY2 will be available starting next week for $650.
Just over a month ago I posted my full review of the LG G7 ThinQ and while it earned a respectable rating there were other phones that looked like better choices. However, all is not as it seems and a few of those other phones did not live up to their potential and the LG G7 is one I keep returning to with my T-Mobile SIM.
HTC U12 Plus: The haptic buttons, touchiness of Edge Sense 2.0, and below average battery life are disappointing with the haptic buttons causing near constant frustration. I cannot recommend the HTC U12 Plus to anyone at this time.
Huawei P20 Pro: Excellent phone with wonderful still image capture performance and very long battery life. It’s not available in the US and has an old-school front facing fingerprint scanner with average video performance. It is easy to see why the Huawei P20 Pro is selling well outside the US and is still my current pick for the 10 best smartphones of 2018 so far.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Overall, the S9 Plus has every single thing you could ask for in a smartphone, but the battery life is just average and there is still a bit too much added by Samsung. The price is also rather high when compared to other Androids.
OnePlus 6: This is a rather rather stunning smartphone priced at a reasonable level. It doesn’t have a dust or water resistant rating, has no wireless charging or microSD, and its dual cameras don’t offer much. However, it’s the phone I would pick after the LG G7 out of this list of new Android smartphones.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, the LG G7 offers everything you could want with the newest Snapdragon processor, microSD expansion card, high level of water and dust resistance, MIL-STD 810G drop protection, wireless charging, dual rear cameras with wide-angle lens, reasonable $750 price, US wireless carrier support, attractive color options, and great audio performance. It is also designed well with a width that makes it fit comfortably in one hand with a weight that is lower than most other phones.
The LG G7 also has a dedicated Google Assistant hardware button with Google Lens integrated into the camera app. There was also some news that the Korean version of the LG G7 would be getting the Google Pixel-exclusive AR stickers with Star Wars and Stranger Things characters. Hopefully we see these come to the US model as well.
LG doesn’t get much respect in the mobile space and it hasn’t always done well with phone launches, but the LG G7 is a satisfying smartphone that continues to impress.
While the new KEY2 has an improved keyboard, it also launches at $650. This is $100 more than the KEYone from 2017 and there have been questions from readers about whether this $100 is justified. Taking a closer look at the tale of the tape and comparing specs of these two hardware QWERTY devices, we see the following:
The specs show that the KEY2 has a newer processor, two rear cameras, much more RAM and storage, and is 12 grams lighter than the KEYone. Beyond just the specs, check out seven reasons that the KEY2 is good for business.
The significantly improved amount of RAM, combined with the newer Snapdragon processor, mean the BlackBerry KEY2 is no slouch and can handle anything you throw at it. The dual camera, refined keyboard, and overall improved design also add to the KEY2 and given today’s $900 to $1,000 flagships I think the $649 price is reasonable for this business-focused phone.
The Kasmer fitness tracker is a looker: Not too clunky, a slightly curved screen, and a well-built bracelet strap. It looks like any generic fitness tracker on the market. It has a full-colour screen and looks nice on my wrist. But it does not have the functionality I want.
It seems to have an identity problem — perhaps because it is white labelled and sold through several different vendors. On Amazon, and on the back of the box, the product is called Kasmer, but the App Store app is called IXFit, and the Bluetooth pairing shows I7Plus. For simplicity, I am going to refer to this as the Kasmer.
Unlike the Mgcool band 3 or Star 9 fitness band, it has a colour screen and a metal touch-activated band. The tracker is not too big for small wrists, and the strap is comfortable. The screen, whilst not as bright as other trackers, is readable on dull days and when inside.
There are several screens that show the home screen with time, date, battery, Bluetooth status, and a step counter (long pressing will record workout time, heartbeat, distance, and calories). One screen shows distance travelled and incline, another screen shows heart beat, either instantaneous, or measured over time, and yet another screen to show blood pressure. Plus, a screen that looks like an animated Microsoft Windows logo gets you into the configuration screen.
The Kasmer tracker is IP67 rated, so there is not an issue if you get sweaty or take a shower wearing the tracker.
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The device charges by removing one of the straps to expose the male USB connection. You insert the USB connector into a DC charger to charge the device, which is supposed to take three hours. This connection is really loose and wobbles in the USB port.
If you do not know which side of your USB female port has the metal contact, it is easy to plug the tracker in upside down. Even when the tracker is inserted correctly, it took over five hours to charge. The app also does not show an accurate level of charge, jumping from 5 percent to 20 percent in increments up to 100 percent. It is difficult to see when the tracker is fully charged.
The app looks good, with screens showing steps taken, heart rate, sleep, and a configuration screen to set your profile, add a call, and social media push messages. It also has a smart alarm clock that will beep to wake you up, and there is a remote camera function. It is well written, and the English language is good. So far, all seems really useful for me.
The device is easy to pair with Bluetooth, and when connected to the app, sets the time and date to match your mobile device. You can configure your height and weight and your validated blood pressure to create a baseline.
I have several issues with this tracker. If I record my heart rate from the tracker, it does not sync to the app. Only heart rate monitoring initiated from the app is stored as a historical record.
Blood pressure is not synchronised from either the app to the tracker or from the tracker to the app. I felt that the app heart rate record was lacking in functionality, and the step tracker was unrealistic. It recorded my steps as 16,995 with distance 7.31 miles when all I had done was some gardening and a 1.5 mile dog walk that day.
My other step tracker usually calculates a step count of 6,500 steps for a similar day. The heart-rate history was useless, as I measured heart rate from the tracker — not the app.
The sleep function seemed to be fairly accurate, showing that my deep sleep times are dreadful. I’m a light sleeper, easily disturbed. It also showed accurately my waking times.
Although I configured message push notification across all social platforms, I had no notifications — even though these were all enabled on my Android phone.
I had high hopes for the Kasmer. It is a nice-looking fitness device, and with some more investment in the app and sync functionality, I think it has potential.
If you use the code: 288VY57F you can get a 35-percent discount through Amazon, but I think I will wait until the app improves its features and gives me a historical record of heart rate, blood pressure, and an accurate record of my steps.
CorelDRAW is popular with commercial artists who are often working to deadline, which is why many of the new tools in the 2018 release are quicker ways of doing things you could already do, replacing lots of tedious and time-consuming steps, rather than brand-new features. The new Symmetry tool, for example, is a fantastic shortcut; it produces a mirror image of whatever you select, and keeps the two versions in sync for as long as you like. You can use this to draw half of something like a face (or the pieces of a garment pattern) and then reflect the second half.
Until you click the tools to break the symmetry, you can carry on editing nodes and paths, applying colours and shadows and using the full range of drawing tools on the original half of the drawing and the other will update as well. Or you can choose multiple mirror lines — and what angle they’re at — to produce something more complex like a flower, a border or a mandala. Pick something other than the standard angle for the lines and you can get interesting overlaps, and you can drag the origin point for the reflection around to get very different effects. Drag new objects you draw onto the symmetry and you get a tip on how to add them to the group so they get reflected.
The default outline mode lets you concentrate on any edits you’re doing to the original selection; the full preview mode lets you see the final version, so you can get the full effect, which can be an obvious symmetry or as subtle as you want.
This is a great way to create repeating elements, or just to halve the amount of work you need to do on a complex drawing without a lot of tedious copying and pasting. It’s such a useful tool that the whole logo design for this version of CorelDRAW is a flower created using symmetry.
The new block shadow tool offers the same kind of speedup. Unlike the drop shadow tool, which creates a fairly realistic shadow making objects look three dimensional, as well as making text stand out, the block shadow tool creates a very solid, connected shadow that’s ideal for adding impact on a sign or a screen print — without any fiddly holes or gaps that would make it tricky to cut a stencil. Drag an outline of the object the shadow comes from into position to get the depth and angle of shadow you want, and a fill tool appears on the selection so you can pick the colour quickly. If this is something you do dozens of times a day, it’s going to be much less work.
There are also improvements to existing tools, making them more effective or extending them to cover many more scenarios. If you just want to align nodes to line them up to the edge or centre of a page or distribute them so they’re evenly spaced, you had to do that by hand in previous versions. Now you can align or distribute nodes the way you can objects — even if the nodes are in different curves. For the kind of precise vector work at which CorelDRAW excels, this is another huge time-saver.
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CorelDRAW comes with Corel PHOTO-PAINT, which gets some useful updates, like AfterShot 3 HDR for creating HDR images. The photo-editing tools catch up with the kind of modern photo editing interface Photoshop users will be familiar with; you can interactively straighten photos where the horizon is at an angle or fix the perspective of objects that should be full on rather than running off into the distance. As always, the results depend on the quality of the original photos, but what’s nice is that if you place a photo in CorelDRAW and then choose to straighten or correct the perspective in PHOTO-PAINT, when you get the edited photo back into CorelDRAW it takes up the same space on the canvas so you don’t have to rework your design around a photo that’s been straightened and cropped.
The perspective correction also works inside CorelDRAW. You’ve been able to change the perspective of vector objects before, but now you can do it to bitmaps, which is a fast way of doing product mock-ups. If you want to show what an ad will look like on a billboard or the side of a bus, or what a product box design will look like on the shelf, you can start with a photograph of the billboard, the bus or the supermarket shelf and click and drag the design to match the perspective of its destination; a grid of lines helps you quickly align to the horizon and uprights of the image you’re adding the design to.
For more complex shapes like mugs or car wraps, you can now use the Envelope tool to make a bitmap fit into a specific shape, so you can drag and curve a photo to fit onto the side of a mug. The straight-line mode makes this more realistic, and again it’s a quick way of seeing how something will look.
Little changes offer speedups too. There’s a new keyboard shortcut — Alt-Q — to turn off snapping as you move a selection; while it’s usually helpful to have the selection you’re moving snap to edges, margins and other objects, sometimes you just want to drag something precisely by hand. When you have a dashed outline around an object it can look strange if the end of the dash isn’t in the same place on each corner, so you can down align dashes evenly at the corners or make the corner dashes shorter.
If you use a pen to draw in CorelDRAW, the LiveSketch tool that tidies up the lines you draw is faster and smoother in this release; if you find it hard to draw neatly, this will make your life far easier, and if a line comes out wrong you can draw over it quickly and CorelDRAW combines the two to get the line you were trying to draw. Trained artists who use a lot of short ‘chicken scratch’ strokes to approximate a complex line can still do that and get the final, neat, complex line those strokes produce. Even better, CorelDRAW finally lets you turn the pen over and use the eraser end, and press harder or tilt the pen to change your stroke weight.
The warning that you’re saving a file with fonts that can’t be embedded is going to save a lot of frustration (and like the new indicator that tells you which files you haven’t saved, it’s surprising it wasn’t there already). You can also avoid font problems in the first place by filtering out fonts that can’t be embedded.
The ability to see files from your OneDrive account in the CONNECT content search window is handy (although it can take a while to access large folders), as is the ability to sync the ‘trays’ that store things like the colours you’ve used in a document between your different computers via OneDrive. And if you’re publishing to WordPress, you can save selected objects or the whole image as a JPG, GIF or PNG and upload it into the media folder of a WordPress site straight from the CorelDRAW interface.
Some of the tools you could buy as bonus features are now included as standard — and again, many of them speed up tasks you could spend a long time doing by hand. CorelDRAW has allowed you to fit text along a path for a long time; now you can arrange any objects on a path as well. This is more flexible than distributing objects by spacing them out; you can draw a spiral or a curve and fit your drawing elements along it, choosing the spacing and rotation. The Impact tool adds parallel or radial movement lines — you can make it look as if a cyclist is racing downhill, make a price sticker pop out of the background or fill in fine lines to get the effect of eyelashes.
The PhotoCocktail effect lets you create photo mosaics; the Pointillizer is similar, but you can use vector or bitmap images for the individual points, allowing you to use it for infographics — a map made up of icons for local industries, for example. And the Project Timer tracks how long you’ve been working on a design; it’s tied to a specific file and you can set how many minutes you can be inactive before the timer turns off (looking at a client website to check a name rather than going off to make a cup of tea, for example). It would be nice to see that save into Excel or an accounts package to help designers with invoicing, but like the other updates in this version of CorelDRAW, it’s all about saving time for commercial artists and making their lives as bit easier and less frustrating.
There are plenty of ‘low code’ tools aimed at people who aren’t professional developers but who need to create apps that are essentially databases with mobile interfaces for collecting and viewing data, filling out forms and connecting to plug-and-play services to add more features. FileMaker has become a particularly accessible way of doing this (primarily for iOS, but with a slightly lagging set of options for Android and web), and the latest release, FileMaker 17, is aimed very much at this audience.
Part of that simplification is reducing the number of different versions of FileMaker. The previous FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Advanced are now combined in a single version, FileMaker Pro Advanced (a rather unwieldy name that hopefully will be simplified in a future version). FileMaker Server is the on-premises version for multi-user databases and FileMaker Cloud is an AWS-hosted SaaS version for hosting custom apps in the cloud (now getting new features as they’re added to the platform rather than lagging behind), with FileMaker Pro Advanced the vehicle for building the shared databases. Together with FileMaker Go for iOS and FileMaker WebDirect for running web apps, these components make up the FileMaker Platform. Licences are now based on the number of users, although you can buy licences by the number of connections if you have a lot of mobile and web users.
Thankfully, simplification doesn’t mean taking away features; it means improving the UI, adding more options for mobile development and making it easier to get started. FileMaker has always come with starter apps, but as the platform became more powerful, these apps got a little too complicated to provide a good learning experience. In this release they’re back to being both useful and easy to understand; you can create a blank app with a single table and layout, convert a spreadsheet to a database, or open one or six blank starter apps or 16 sample apps (ranging from a task-management list to an address book to a simple event management system). The latter are basic but functional apps that include scripts as well as the fields, layouts and relational database setup, but they’re also easy enough for beginners to understand and customise.
Whether you start with a blank table, a starter app or an existing FileMaker app, the new Add-on Tables feature is a nice way to add standard components for common data types like notes fields, addresses, attachments and action items. You add them like any other portal field, inserting an Add-on Table and then picking which type of table you want. The table is created at the right size for the fields, and is added into the relationship graph for the database to connect to existing tables, so it works straight away. This is a handy time saver, but it has the potential to become a much bigger gallery than the eleven initial examples, and to work with the increasingly standardised data formats for business objects produced by services like Dynamics and Salesforce (invoices and company details, for example).
FileMaker 17 finally makes it easy to add master-detail layouts to your database where you can see a list of records plus the fields for the current record. This is a very common view, especially for mobile apps, that used to be far too complicated to set up. But when you drag to lay a portal out on the canvas you can just choose to show records from the current table, with a scrolling list for navigation. If you’re adding this to an existing layout you still have to grab all of the items already laid out to move them out of the way by hand to make space; the new group selection option makes that easier, but it would be nice to see a ‘make space’ tool that would move fields, labels and other objects for you.
There are also some very welcome improvements to the layout tools. The palette inspector that gives you quick access to properties, styles and settings for objects used to float over the layout canvas; it now docks on the right-hand side so you never have to move it out of the way.
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Adding a FileMaker Go layout to a database turns it into an app you can use on iOS, and the version 17 release adds drag and drop, plus auto-complete as users type and keyboard shortcuts. FileMaker already supports iPad hardware like the Pencil as well as the camera and the GPS, so you can create a FileMaker app that can scan barcodes, capture signatures, record locations and embed photos and videos. The existing iBeacon support is now more powerful; you can create custom notifications that will appear as the user approaches a geofence, prompting them to start using the app.
For more sophisticated developers, there’s a new GetSensorData function that can capture the full set of sensor data from iOS devices using the gyroscope, accelerometer and Hall effect sensor. You can use everything from the battery status to step count, air pressure, speed and compass heading — useful if you’re using the app to do a survey, or giving users navigation directions in an app.
There are a number of improvements for admins, including a new admin console for FileMaker Server. But the bigger news is the way you can now use FileMaker apps as web services without complicated PHP or XML programming, as long as you have a FileMaker Server licence (or use FileMaker Cloud). The REST API introduced in FileMaker 16 for using a FileMaker database as a data source that you can both read and update is now out of preview and feature-complete. The biggest feature that was missing in the preview of the Data API was scripting, but that’s now supported using automation on the server; it can also now insert data into the container fields that FileMaker uses to store binary objects like embedded video. The licence covers unlimited data transfer to a FileMaker database, and 2GB of data per user per month from the server (shared among all users); you can buy more outbound data in 2GB blocks if you’re serving a lot of images or video in your apps.
A connected data store
It’s still early days (and there are niggles like dates seemingly only returning in US formats), but the Data API could move FileMaker from being an isolated platform where you only keep the data that you use inside the apps you build in FileMaker, and closer to being a data store that you can integrate and orchestrate alongside other databases and applications such as Power BI, Tableau or a CMS like WordPress (there’s already a data connector for Tableau, but as it uses standard JSON other connectors won’t be hard to build). That does still require JSON programming, but also means that other low-code platforms like Salesforce Lightning or Microsoft PowerApps could add FileMaker as a data source to give less advanced developers a way of connecting to it alongside other services.
Annual releases of FileMaker are helping to keep this long-lived tool useful and up to date with new features, and more comprehensive modernisation continues to keep it relevant. On the other hand, since FileMaker runs on both Mac and Windows, it would be nice to see the Windows installer updated so that it didn’t insist on installing Apple Bonjour, multiple .NET frameworks and shortcuts to a quick-access toolbar that hasn’t been in Windows since Windows 7; the installation experience still makes FileMaker feel very long in the tooth.
Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research) Online collaboration has become a critical driver in business success–but which tool is the best fit for your organization’s needs? This side-by-side comparison chart will give you a snapshot view of what the major contenders have to offer.
The 13-inch ThinkPad X1 Tablet is designed to bring tablet computing into the office without compromising on traditional laptop features. It should be the only laptop a mobile professional needs — that’s the idea, anyway, and the bundling of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Pen Pro will please those of a more creative persuasion.
The industrial design and build quality is exactly what you’d expect from the flagship ThinkPad X1 range. With MIL-STD 810G certification, the X1 Tablet should withstand knocks and drops, while the Gorilla Glass-protected touch screen should resist scratches and dings.
As usual with a detachable laptop-tablet hybrid, the bulk of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s components are in the screen section, so that’s the bulkier, heavier element. For the record, the tablet alone weighs 890g and measures 304mm by 225.56mm by 8.9mm (11.96in. x 8.88in. x 0.35in.). With the keyboard section attached the weight increases to 1.27kg and thickness to 15.1mm (0.59in.).
The tablet keyboard sections are held together by strong magnets — and I mean strong. While I don’t recommend it, you can carry the whole unit around by the screen, with the keyboard dangling below, and it won’t fall away.
The tablet’s build is very solid. The durable kickstand hinge supports a wide range of angles, so the screen can easily be set up for comfortable viewing.
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The keyboard is a little less tough, being thin and having a fair amount of flex. Still, it’s fine when the screen and keyboard are linked for transit: the two halves shut together neatly, and the whole thing feels like a solid unit.
The ThinkPad Pen Pro is too fat to sit in a chassis-integrated housing. Thankfully the rather cumbersome stylus holder that occupied a full-size USB port in the original model has been ditched, and there’s now a holder that fits into a dedicated slot on the back of the tablet, beneath the kickstand.
I found this works quite well, but it’s not a perfect solution. The ThinkPad Pen Pro wedges into the holder quite tightly, which is good in that it’s less likely to drop out of the holder of its own accord and get lost, but bad in that it takes quite a yank to get the pen out, ready for use. Also, inexplicably, Lenovo has placed the tablet’s volume rocker so that it’s inaccessible when the ThinkPad Pen Pro is in its holder.
The screen’s 13-inch 3,000-by-2,000-pixel (3K) IPS touch screen delivers superb image quality, although it’s quite reflective. Gorilla Glass 4 should prevent the surface from getting scratched, or worse.
The keyboard is necessarily built into a shallower space than is the case with a conventional laptop. It’s recessed so that the keys don’t damage the screen when the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is closed down, and as a result the feel is slightly less comfortable than usual under the fingers. The keys are all well sized — and that includes the arrow keys and Fn keys — and there’s a large Enter key. I was able to touch type at my normal speed, although the experience is less satisfying than on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen.
The touchpad is responsive, and its size has not been compromised by the two-piece setup. Indeed, Lenovo includes its signature scroll and mouse buttons between the top of the touchpad and the space bar, and also has its signature red TrackPoint between the G, H and B keys.
The 2018 ThinkPad X1 Tablet uses 8th generation Intel Core processors. There are just three preconfigured models on Lenovo’s UK website, and I was sent the mid-range model to review. The top-end option costs just a shade over £2,000 (inc. VAT), but for the money you get a Core i7-8650U processor. None of the preconfigured models have integrated LTE mobile broadband, though.
Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Home, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD £1,479.99 (inc. VAT; £1,233.32 ex. VAT)
Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD £1,849.99 (inc. VAT; £1,541.66 ex. VAT)
Intel Core i7-8650U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD £2,019.99 (inc. VAT; £1,683.32 ex. VAT)
Ports and connectors are closer to what we’d expect to find on a tablet than on a laptop. So, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one of which will be occupied when the device is charging, and a headset jack. And that’s your lot. Well, actually, not quite: there’s a SIM tray for those who want to add LTE mobile broadband, and the caddy has room for a MicroSD card too. This is handy, but whenever a card needs to be used, the tray has to be popped out. Cue the old open-paper-clip manoeuvre, which isn’t an elegant solution for a premium laptop.
There’s a fingerprint reader on the bezel, looking just like the home/biometric button on other tablets. There are two cameras — 2MP and 8MP at the back — and you can add IR as an option if you want to use Windows Hello authentication.
Unlike on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, there’s no ThinkShutter to cover the camera lens when required. Lenovo has created a problem for itself here: if this privacy solution is deemed important enough for the X1 Yoga — and to feature lower down the ThinkPad range, on the ThinkPad T480s for example — why is it absent from the X1 Tablet? Either it matters or it doesn’t.
The stereo speakers deliver plenty of volume, but — as so often on laptops and tablets — there’s a distinct lack of bass. They’ll do the job for video calls and after-hours movie watching, but don’t expect top-quality audio.
Lenovo rates the X1 Tablet’s 42Wh battery for up to 9.5 hours, which seems like a good estimate. In one test session involving writing to the web, a fair bit of streaming and some web browsing, I got through 48 percent of battery life in 4.5 hours. Depending on workloads, it may well be possible to get through a working day from a full charge.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen is compact and portable, and the bundled stylus expands the range of use cases. Many users should find battery life good enough for all-day working, and twin Thunderbolt 3 ports will be handy — although one will be occupied when the battery is charging.
There are some drawbacks: the MicroSD card slot is fiddly to get at, audio quality should be better on a device that’s aimed at mobile professionals and creatives, there’s no ThinkShutter for the camera, and Lenovo still hasn’t provided a perfect external housing for its stylus.
This dash cam comes with a front and rear camera. Fortunately, there is loads of wire to reach the back window of my station wagon. I need to make sure there is slack in the cable so it does not damage the cable when I open the tailgate door.
The C860 is a well-built, high-resolution dash cam with a 2.7-inch TFT screen and 960×240-pixel resolution. It records 1440p (2560 x 1440p at 30fps) at the front and 1080p if you use the front and rear camera simultaneously.
It has a 150 wide -angle view and an F2.0 large aperture lens and will loop in 1-, 3-, or 5-minute loops. Its WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) feature improves the quality of images in low-light conditions — a really useful feature.
It has the ability to take up to 12-megapixel still images and record in-car audio. Fortunately, there is a mute feature in video preview or video mode if you do not want to be reminded of what was said.
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Inside the box is the camera, charger, and cable, a suction mount, which has stayed in its original place for over a week. It also has a sticky mount and extra sticky pads.
There is a rear camera and a really long cable to slot down the length of the car. You do need to provide your own formatted SD card (up to 32GB maximum).
Its collision detection feature will lock the video loop when it detects a bump. Unlike the Thinkware F800 Pro, the collision sensitivity is configurable, so it will not record every pothole or speed bump you drive over.
Its motion detection feature will record incidents even when the car is parked if the vehicle is shaken.
The videos are crisp and clear and license plates are easy to read even in low-light conditions. Files are stored in two folders on the SD card: One for the front camera, and one for the rear. Each video has a time and date watermark, which you must set when initializing the camera.
The camera has warnings such as fatigue driving warnings, which can be configured to alert you after either one, two, or four hours of driving.
As my car switches itself off when I stop for lights, I hardly activated this feature at all. There is also a reminder to turn on the car lights when the ambient light is low — unnecessary in most newer cars with automatic lights.
The camera has a parking monitoring feature that will record any incidents when the car is parked.
You do need to have power to the lighter socket when the car is switched off, although it has a 420mAh battery that will capture issues if you have no power to the camera for a short time.
I found that, unless I shook the car, or bumped into it, then it would not record gentle movements like opening the tailgate. It would record heavy shopping bags thumping into the car, although the rear camera was pointed at the sky by this point.
The C860 also has front collision warning system (FCWS) and a lane departure warning system (LDWS). I never managed to get the lane departure warning to warn me — even if I drifted across the lines regularly.
I liked how easily I could configure this dash cam; the settings were simple to understand, and the buttons were intuitive. However, I felt that the lack of a hard wire option — for permanent parking monitoring — made that feature unusable.
Most cars nowadays have sockets that switch off when the car is turned off, and, as a static monitoring system, you would be better off getting a dash cam that you could hard wire into the car.
However, if parking monitoring is not your primary concern, then this is a well-priced camera that has the main features you need to record traffic issues — front and rear.
Last year BlackBerry released the KEYone, see our full review, and I enjoyed the experience with the keyboard, long battery life, and attractive silver/black finish that looks great in the office.
I’ve now spent more than a week with the new BlackBerry KEY2 and it improves upon the KEYone in every area, including the keyboard that was already solid last year. Sandra will be posting a full review next week, but for now here are a few of my initial thoughts.
I spent years using PDAs and phones with physical keyboards and overall I really like the KEY2 with only a couple of things that bother me.
New keyboard with Speed Key: The new QWERTY has a matte finish, slightly larger keys, and a new Speed Key. So far, I find the move from a glossy finish to a matte finish to be a nice improvement. The Speed Key lets you launch custom shortcuts using nearly all the keys from within any application and not just from the home screen. It definitely takes time to get used to a physical QWERTY again though.
Long battery life: Some recent devices, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the HTC U12 Plus, and LG G7 ThinQ, have disappointed me in regards to battery life and I’ve rarely been able to go a full day with those devices. I’ve had no problems going more than a full, busy day with the KEY2 and for business you need a phone that lasts.
BlackBerry Hub: BlackBerry Hub has always been one of my favorite centralized communications systems and we find it continues on the KEY2. I haven’t noticed any significant changes in the Hub from last year, but will continue to explore this area as I use the KEY2.
Dual cameras: Most flagships have dual cameras today so it’s great to see a mid-range device also include this for 2x optical zoom and depth effects. This is one area where I have a lot more to test, but initial photos show it does better than the KEYone and is more than satisfactory for sharing pics on social networks.
Right side buttons: It’s nice to have all physical buttons on one side and the right is preferred for me since I hold my phone in my left hand. The Convenience Key is very nice to have for quickly launching a preferred application or performing a common function. The power button also has a tactile surface for easy activation.
Smaller display: One sacrifice that is made in having a physical keyboard is display size. While I haven’t seen any real impact on productivity, multimedia experiences are compromised by the smaller 4.5 inch display and spreadsheets are not as easy to work with.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core
Display: 4.5 inch 1620×1080 pixels resolution IPS LCD (433 ppi)
Operating system: Android 8.1 Oreo with May security update
Storage: 64GB internal with microSD expansion card slot
Water and dust resistance: Water repellent nano-coating
Cameras: Dual rear 12 megapixel, 1.28µm pixel, f/1.8 aperture and 1.0µm pixel, f/2.6 cameras. Front 8 megapixel camera
Battery: 3500 mAh with QuickCharge 3.0 support
Wireless connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, FM radio, GPS, Galileo, GLONAS
There aren’t that many opportunities to buy a 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a central twisting hinge these days, as 360-degree rotation has rather stolen this format’s thunder. But Fujitsu continues to support it, with the new Lifebook T938.
This is a solidly built machine that could survive in a bag without a protective sleeve, and it’s not too heavy at 1.3kg. The 13.3-inch screen sits in a relatively large bezel, as you’d expect in a laptop whose screen can be set to face outwards for use in tablet mode. But you might not want to consider holding this laptop in a hand or crook of an arm for very long, as that 1.3kg weight will soon take its toll. The touch-screen’s FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution delivers enough detail, and Fujitsu offers an anti-glare option.
The keyboard is beautifully springy, offering a little more resistance on the downward stroke than usual: I rather like that, although tastes vary. The enter key is double-width and double-height, and the arrow keys are nearly full size. Touch typing at normal speed was no problem at all. The touchpad is nicely responsive and has physical buttons.
The Lifebook T938 runs on Intel 8th generation Intel Core processors, my review sample being fitted with a Core i7-8650U, along with 16GB of RAM. There are also Core i5-8350U and Core i5-8250U options. SSD storage is available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities, in PCIe or SATA III format.
There are lots of security features. The wrist rest houses Fujitsu’s PalmSecure biometric system, which uses vein patterns for user authentication. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the screen section, catering for login when the screen is uppermost and the PalmSecure reader is covered. Even more security is provided by a smartcard slot on the laptop’s left edge.
Fujitsu caters for legacy as well as cutting-edge connections, and there is a good range here: a pair of USB 3 ports and a USB-C port sit alongside a full-size HDMI port and an old-fashioned VGA connector. All of these fit into the base fairly easily. Fujitsu has not found it so easy to fit in a full-size RJ-45 Ethernet connector, and so has opted for a pull-out/pop-out port, as on the Lifebook U938. It’s very clever, but might prove a bit flimsy in the long term. An SD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack round things off. LTE mobile broadband is available as an option.
The battery is removable and a second internal cell provides enough juice to allow you to hot-swap a replacement battery without having to close down the system.
Everything fits together very well, and those legacy ports will certainly enhance this laptop’s appeal for some. Fujitsu fans who want a 13.3-inch convertible with 360-degree rotating screen and an 8th generation Intel Core processor should consider the Lifebook P728.
The price for my review unit has not been confirmed, but a Core i5-8250U version costs £1,276 (inc. VAT; £1,066.33 ex. VAT) online. My Core i7 unit will therefore be a premium-priced system.