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Steelie Desk and Dash System Review: This magnet is your phone’s new friend
If you’ve got a phone (and who doesn’t, these days?) then you’ve got access to thousands of different accessories for it. Regardless of the manufacturer, you’ll find things to help you do just about anything you want with it. I’m pretty simple, and don’t have too many extra gadgets for mine, besides a case. However, I recently had the chance to test out the Nite Ize Steelie Desk and Dash System for mine, and it’s been interesting.
If you’ve never heard of Nite Ize (pronounced “Night Eyes”), they’re a company that makes various mobile accessories. Their Steelie line has a few different items in it. They all revolve around holding your phone or tablet in some fashion. As you’d guess, the Desk and Dash kit is all about holding your phone in your car, or at your desk.
The kit comes with three pieces. You’ve got the adapter that goes on your phone, a stand that sits on your desk, and another that clips onto the vent in your car. It’s pretty simple, really.
I’ll admit that when I first saw this demoed at CES, I didn’t think I would have much of a use for it. After all, it’s some strange pedestal with a silver ball on top, that’s supposed to help hold your phone, using a magnet that’s stuck to your phone. When you’ve seen as many accessories as I have, you can get a bit cynical about strange-looking ones that you see at a booth, or online.
So to start off with, I put the Magnetic Socket on my phone. Since I don’t like going without a case, I went ahead and stuck it on the olloclip case that I’ve been using. I wasn’t too sure about how well it would stay attached to the case, considering the fact that I’d have to pull the phone away from each of the stands pretty regularly. I’m happy to say that after a month or so, the Magnetic Socket hasn’t budged one bit.
That brings us to the two stands. The tabletop pedestal stand is pretty straightforward. You set it on your desk, and you set the phone on it. It’s not hard to get it to find its home on the stand, thanks to the curved shape of the ball, and the powerful rare earth magnet.
The magnet is strong enough to hold the phone in whatever position that you leave it in. You can easily rotate it to landscape or portrait mode, without any fear that it will fall off. You can almost press the home button without having it come off. I say almost, because sometimes if I’m really careful, I can make it happen. But most of the time I’ll need to put my hand around the back, in order to prevent it from coming off. I wish that it was just a tad more powerful, so that I didn’t have to do this. But the fact that I can’t doesn’t turn me off to the stand at all.
Moving on to the vent mount, it’s super easy to use. There’s a small latch that you pull out, that opens the grips. Slide the grips over one of the fins in your car vent, and then snap the latch back in place. It holds onto the vent pretty well. I’ve only had to re-adjust the grip once in the last month or so. And that involved little more than pushing it back further into the vent.
The ball on the vent mount is a little more exposed, which gives you some new angles to work with on your phone. It’s not much, but depending on the way you have your vent sitting, it’s a nice little touch.
The vent mount is by far my favorite part of the Steelie. When I get into my car, I just quickly tap my phone against it, and let go. It’s just another part of my routine, as I get into the car. I’ll usually leave it in portrait mode, but if I’m turning on the GPS, I can quickly turn it to landscape with just the push of a finger. It’s definitely the easiest car mount that I’ve found for my phone.
If a phone accessory is more hassle than it is useful, I’ll usually stop using it within a couple of weeks. Once the novelty wears off, I’m less inclined to keep messing with it. I’m happy to say that I still use both the desk and the car vent parts of the system after a little over a month. I rightly guessed that I’d enjoy using it in my car more than I do at my desk. However, I do enjoy leaving my phone on the stand while I’m working, as I always know where I set my phone (I have a bad habit of setting it down in random places, otherwise), and I can easily read text messages and notifications with just a glance.
Something else that I found interesting about the Steelie system is that I use it in my kitchen now. I don’t have a stand in there, but if I’m using my phone to watch a video or listen to music, I’ll just slap it up against my fridge, and leave it there. The magnet is plenty strong enough to hold it in place, and it’s really handy when I don’t want to take up precious counter space with my phone.
The Steelie Desk and Dash System retails for $69.99, and I’d say that it’s worth every penny. If you really don’t think that you’ll use it in one place or the other, you can also buy either of them in a kit, or as individual components (if you lose one, or just want a spare). Kudos to Nite Ize for making it possible to just buy a stand, or a replacement socket, without having to jump through any hoops.
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This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.Design and features
The Beam is a diminutive, square black box of a camera. It’s as small as the Garmin Dash Cam 66W we reviewed last year (currently $200 on Amazon), but it lacks a display (that’s provided by your phone), and the lens housing protrudes further. The sensor is a 1080p GalaxyCore GC2053, a model and brand I’ve never experienced before. Recognizable or not, it does the job. Note that the G-sensor is in the camera, not in the phone.
Nexar’s Beam is diminutive, simple, and unobtrusive. Ignore the color treatment in the lens above—it’s not that color naturally.
On the left side of the camera are the power button and micro-SD card slot, while the right is given over to perforations for ventilating the unit. On top are the slot where the suction mount marries to the body, and the mini-USB jack. That’s it. Simple, clean, and easy. If the goal is to be unobtrusive (which to avoid theft, it should be), the Nexar achieves that. Everything else is provided by or done on your phone (iOS or Android).App and connectivity
Nexar has done a nice job on the phone app. It’s stupid-easy to connect the camera to the phone, and the interface is clean, well-organized, intuitive and informative. Of course, you’ll need to create an account for the phone so you can upload videos, etc.
When you’re finished and have uploaded some “rides” (videos), you can check them out at the online portal chúng tôi I didn’t link as you won’t have access unless you buy. Sign-in is easy, as an access code is sent to your phone.
This is the drive playback info page. At this point I had parked on top of my local Lowe’s after hitting the freeway here in San Francisco.
The camera records to the micro SD card, then transfers to the phone as time allows (it’s near-real-time), then gives you the opportunity to save them to the cloud. You can limit the Beam’s use of phone storage to 20-, 50-, or 80 percent of what’s available; once it hits that limit, it will overwrite previous videos. There’s also automatic upload triggered by the G-sensor, as with the Owl. It worked perfectly in my exclusive, proprietary bang-the-dash-cam-on-the-desk tests, and it didn’t trigger falsely while on the road.
Nexar has spent a great deal of time honing the options for a smooth experience.Capture quality
Though the colors may not seem very saturated, they are partly diminished by the overcast skies here in a dreary San Francisco summer. If it weren’t August, I’d call it the June Gloom.
This capture suffers some flare in the lighting, but a great deal of it was my schmutz on my windshield. Notice the date and time. This is what happens when you don’t connect to the phone and Beam battery runs down over a few days.
Note that the night captures have the orange-ish tinge featured by many sensors, but they still reveal quite a lot of detail. Headlight flare is minimal. Some of flare in the image above is due my less-than-stellar cleaning of my windshield. My bad.
I was a bit worried about battery life on my phone with the Nexar app running. When connected to the dash cam and in use, the app’s obviously going to use some juice, so keep the phone charging if you’re on a long trip. The auxiliary power connector with dual USB ports that Nexar includes helps with that. That said, the drain wasn’t as significant as I was expecting, and the Nexar app didn’t seem to affect battery life at all when not in operation.Excellent with the phone
If you need cabin coverage, the front/interior Nexar Pro is $130 on AmazonRemove non-product link with the same cloud features.
Text Blaze Review – Is This Automation Tool Worth It? What Is Text Blaze? Interface
The interface of both the extension as well as the Windows application is similar. The latter can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.Notable Features
Create Shortcuts That You Can Use Anywhere On The Web
Text Blaze lets you create text snippets that you can use anywhere on the web. You can use snippets on Google Docs, Outlook, Salesforce, Epic, Blackboard, or any other web platform of your choice and thereby boost your productivity.
Share Folders With Your Colleagues
Several Dynamic Templates and Formulas
These are the spaces for you to fill in fields like names or dates. You can include drop-down menus, text fields, toggles, and much more. These are editable fields that you can fill in. Text Blaze lets you perform calculations in your templates. You can make your template dynamic with the current date and add in your own formulas as and when needed.
Ran out of ideas for snippets? Or wish to know how a formula works? Apart from a comprehensive knowledge base that tells you how to carry out a function, there are several text templates that you can refer to.
Superb Community Support
Whether it is about asking questions and getting assistance on how to use this text snippet expander, or sharing your knowledge with other users, Text Blaze offers superb community support. You can even suggest new ideas or get updated with the latest news related to the tool.
Available Both As an Extension and Windows App
Text Blaze can be used both as a Google Chrome extension and as a text expander for Windows. So, let’s assume you don’t have access to the internet. In that scenario, you can fire up the Text Blaze Windows application and start working on it.How To Use Text Blaze?
Let’s quickly get down to how you can get started with this text expander for Windows –
1. Download the Text Blaze extension from the Chrome web store or from the website.
3. As soon as you will do that, here is how you can create a text snippet that will expand into the content you want –
On the right-hand side write a short description or Label for your snippet. E.g. – “Please find attached” since in our case, we regularly email a lot of attachments to colleagues and clients.
Type in a Shortcut that you can remember. For instance, we have used “pfa” in this case.
Next, you can head to the next section which is a full-fledged text editor. Here you can type any length of content.
That’s it! The next type when you type in your Shortcut, your text will appear automatically. Wonderful, right?
7. Pin shortcuts to the Chrome toolbar and quickly access snippets on any website.
8. You can even create dynamic snippets where you can include the current date or any of the contents of your clipboard right in your snippet. You can also include dynamic formulas while creating forms.Pricing
Text Blaze is free forever; you can get value immediately upon creating your account and not
have to pay $1.
However, Text Blaze does offer a Pro plan that adds support to all of its features. There are also
business and enterprise plans. Here are the pricing plans –
Name of the Variant Price Features
Basic Free ● Up to 20 snippets
● Up to 2,500 characters in a snippet
● Limited snippet sharing
● Trial forms support
Pro $2.99/ month billed yearly ● Up to 1,000 snippets
● Up to 25,000 characters in a snippet
● Double the snippet sharing
● Full forms support
● Images in snippets
Business $6.99/ month billed yearly ● Up to 4,000 snippets
● Up to 50,000 characters in a snippet
● Unlimited snippet sharing
● Full forms support
● Images in snippets
● Managed multi-user billing
● Snippet change history
● Last editor notifications for snippets
● Create teams with shared folders
● Consolidated organization usage statistics
● Organization-wide access controls
Enterprise Contact the team to inquire about the price ● Everything in Business, and:
● Additional billing options
● SAML Single Sign-On (SSO)
● Event-level action data
● High touch support
● User trainings
● Implementation consulting
● Dedicated feature workCustomer Support
What would you do if you get stuck with some features or say, you have license renewal issues or if you want some other assistance as far as Text Blaze is concerned? One of the first things you can do is to turn to an exhaustive knowledge base where you will find guides, tutorial videos, frequently asked questions, and more such material covering every aspect of Text Blaze.
If you still didn’t get your query resolved, you can send an email to [email protected].
Wrapping UpQuick Reaction:
About the author
Tweak Library Team
Systweak Advanced System Optimizer 3 is one of the best jack-of-all-trades PC fixers we’ve come across. Though a dedicated AV suite might be more thorough for internet security and a dedicated backup suite might be more flexible, ASO 3 covers all the bases in at least moderate depth and isn’t full of lightweight make-weights.
There are a lot of software applications which aim to keep a PC in trim, by assisting with housekeeping tasks and often offering protection and back-up, too. Systweak’s Advanced System Optimizer 3 (ASO 3) has more parts to it than most and the main control panel offers eight areas of expertise.
Registry Optimizers optimises and cleans the Windows Registry. Disk Cleaner and Optimizers offers a System Cleaner and a start-up optimiser, and Windows Optimizers handles driver updates and sets a PC up for game playing.
Security & Privacy covers protection against AV and malware, controls browser security, and provides file shredding and encryption. A quick malware scan took under half a minute, but a deep scan was slow, taking well over an hour.
Under Backup & Recovery, there’s both file backup and, unusually, system backup, as well as an undeleter which can handle recovery from deleted partitions, as well as accidentally deleted files.
File backup is simple to set up, and you can compress the resulting file into one big 7zip archive.
Backup categories such as Documents or Pictures can be used, but you can also select individual files and folders. A simple scheduler is provided, enabling you to automate one or more backup jobs in a set-and-forget manner. You can’t schedule backups more frequently than once a day, though.
On top of all of these tools sits Smart PC Care, which runs most of the obvious protection scans automatically, to give a rundown of the state of a machine. This is the part you can run for free from the Systweak site.Systweak Advanced System Optimizer 3: free scan/paid cure
The problem with the free scan/paid remedy paradigm is that software providers try and play up the problems their software has found. For example, most regular PC users wouldn’t consider a tracking cookie much of a threat, though the less-informed might not know what they are and worry unnecessarily when they’re flagged.
ASO 3 does flag tracking cookies, but doesn’t make a big deal of them, just removing them if you tell it. It spots a lot of other things, though, such as adware and spyware, which are worth knowing about and in our tests was above average in deleting or quarantining what it spotted.
We ran the suite’s AV scan on the same 50 GB of files we use when evaluating purpose-made Internet Security suites and it took 2 mins 2 sec to scan 8761 files, giving a scan rate of 71.8 files/sec. A repeat scan looked at the same number of files in the same time, so there’s no noticeable fingerprinting of files. The number of files scanned is at the lower end of those suites we’ve tested, but very similar to dedicated applications from companies like McAfee, Sophos and ZoneAlarm.
Running a scan while copying a 1 GB file took 55 sec; with no scan the same copy took 41 sec, so only a 34 percent increase, which shows a light resource load. In use, ASO 3 is straightforward in layout, with well-structured menus and pop-up dialogs offering three or four options.Specs Systweak Advanced System Optimizer 3: Specs
Windows XP/Vista/7/8, 32/64 bit
Android Nougat update: Xperia incoming, is your phone next?
Good news for those of you with an Xperia XZ or Xperia X Performance: your wait for Android 7.0 Nougat is about to come to an end. Sony announced this morning that the upgrades to Nougat are beginning to roll out, so if you don’t see the OTA update yet, it’s only a matter of time before it appears. That’s all well and good for Xperia owners, but for the rest of us still waiting, what kind of timetable can we expect before Nougat arrives on our devices?
Ultimately, nailing down an accurate window is going to be difficult for most phones. Depending on what kind of device you have, when you’ll get Nougat depends not only on its manufacturer but also its carrier. Still, some companies have tried to be at least somewhat transparent with their Nougat upgrade plans, making it a little easier for us to theorize when the updates will be arriving.
If you’re using an LG phone, you might just be able to stop reading here because there’s a decent chance your phone already has Nougat. Updates for the G5 have been trickling out of the gate, first in South Korea, then on Sprint here in the US, and most recently on T-Mobile. Just as well, the V20 ships running Nougat out of the box, so anyone who picked up that device is all set. LG is typically pretty good about getting Android updates out the door quickly, so it shouldn’t be long before other versions of the G5 get upgraded to Nougat.
Things are looking encouraging for Samsung owners, too. While there’s no official release date for the Nougat on the S7 and S7 Edge, beta updates have appeared for both devices. It stands to reason that we’ll probably see Nougat officially hit the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge sometime in the next month or two, with updates for devices like the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and Tab S2 hopefully following shortly afterward.
Motorola has actually published a list of devices that will receive updates to Nougat, which is helpful. Folks with a Moto Z and Moto Z Force in their pocket have already received their updates, with other phones like the Moto G family (4th Gen), Moto X family, and the Verizon-exclusive Droid Maxx 2 and Droid Turbo 2 slated to get the update at some point in the new future. If you’re curious about specific time frames for Motorola devices, you can have a look at the company’s Nougat upgrade page, but be aware that at the moment it doesn’t give many specifics.
HTC has already jumped into the Nougat pool as well, with the upgrade process for the unlocked HTC 10 beginning last week. From here, we’ll likely see the other versions of the HTC 10 upgraded to Nougat in the coming weeks and months. Once the roll out to the HTC 10 is complete, the company will shift focus to upgrading the One M9 and One A9. If you own either the M9 or A9, don’t expect to see Nougat until we’re into 2023.
For Nexus devices, things get a little less nebulous. Just a few days back, we heard that Nexus devices will be updated to Android 7.1.1 on December 5. This includes the Nexus 6P, Pixel C, and 5X, so if you’ve got one of those, you’ll be delving deeper into Nougat starting next week.
Sony’s roadmap for Nougat was outlined in a leak back in September, but it’s becoming clear that Sony isn’t going to meet its original plan. In that leaked roadmap, Sony said that the Xperia XZ and X Performance would be getting Nougat in October, so the company is running on a bit of a delayed schedule. Assuming Sony sticks to the order laid out in the roadmap, the Xperia X and X Compact will be next, followed by the Z5 series.
In the end, it’s hard to tell when exactly these phones will get Nougat without manufacturers making official announcements. What’s clear is that these phone companies are all working to get Nougat out to their flagships first, with older phones getting the update to Nougat later. As always, we’ll have more information on these Nougat updates as it’s released, so stay tuned.
Not too long ago, blurry phone camera photos were the best anyone could hope for. Today, everyone expects crystal-clear shots that rival the quality of those taken by a dedicated digital camera.
You may be scratching your head at the blurry pics your phone is suddenly producing, or you just can’t get the focus to work right in the viewfinder before you snap a picture of your cat doing something hilarious for social media. Try a few of these troubleshooting tips to clear up the issue.
Table of Contents1. Clean Your Camera Lens
A dirty camera lens is the most obvious culprit for blurry photos on a phone. Not only can dirt smeared on the lens cause blur or distortion directly, but it can also interfere with the autofocus feature of your phone.
Use a clean microfiber cloth for camera lenses or eyeglasses to wipe your lenses. Do not spray any cleaning agent on the lens or cloth since your phone’s outer camera lens glass may have a coating that reacts poorly to certain chemicals.
If you have a water-resistant phone, you may want to gently rinse the outer camera lens glass with a small amount of clean, fresh water to remove mineral debris such as small sand particles. Although modern outer camera lens glass is made from tough, hard materials such as sapphire, hard minerals trapped between your cloth and the glass can still scratch it.2. Use the Correct Mode
Your camera app likely has many different shooting modes. If you’ve accidentally activated a special mode such as Portrait or Macro Mode, it might be impossible to get your subject in focus for a normal shot. Alternatively, you might need to turn on one of these modes, such as macro mode, when your subject is too close up to the camera to be in focus.3. Take the Protective Film or Screen Protector Off
Let’s start with something that might sound a little silly, but if you’re seeing a slightly fuzzy image in the viewfinder of your app, it might be that you have something on your screen that’s distorting the image.
If you’ve just taken a new phone out of the box, ensure you haven’t left the protective film on the screen. Carefully read the quick-start guide since some phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra) have a factory-applied screen protector that should not be removed unless damaged.
Some screen protectors negatively affect the clarity of your display, making everything appear fuzzy. You can easily check for this by opening a non-camera app and inspecting screen elements such as text. If everything on the screen appears slightly soft, consider taking the screen protector off or replacing it with one that has a better clarity rating.4. Clean Your Screen
Give the phone a good wipe with a clean microfiber cloth to rule out a film of grease on your screen making the image fuzzy.5. Check the Lens For Condensation
If your phone has been exposed to water or high humidity, this may lead to condensation between the lens and outer camera glass. Although the camera may be sealed against liquid ingress, it still needs to let air through to equalize the pressure inside the camera assembly with the outside atmosphere. This is why liquid can condensate onto the inside of the glass if you’re using the phone in conditions closer to the Amazon jungle than comfortable humidity.
If you see condensation inside the camera, the only thing you can do is wait for it to evaporate. Keep the phone at room temperature and at normal humidity to speed up this process. If the problem doesn’t go away or keeps returning, your phone may have suffered water damage, and you’ll need to have a professional evaluate it.6. Take Off Your Phone Case
Most phone cases have ample cutouts for the cameras on your phone, but some models may have too much overlap, especially when you use the widest-angle camera on your phone. For phones that use special sensors to measure distance for focus, the case may partly obscure that sensor even if it doesn’t obscure part of any lens.
While it’s not likely, if you suspect your case is the issue, quickly taking it off and shooting a few test photos to rule out the possibility is a good idea.7. Tap For Focus
Sometimes the autofocus feature on your phone gets things wrong. In most cases, you can rectify this by tapping on the subject you want to focus on in the camera app viewfinder.
On the iPhone camera app, you can tap anywhere in the frame to shift focus, but since Android phone camera apps aren’t standardized, the exact focus adjustment method may differ from one brand of phone to the next. If tapping to focus doesn’t seem to work on your Android phone, consult the camera app’s help file for instructions.8. Switch to a Different Camera
Most modern smartphones are equipped with multiple independent cameras. If your image is blurry, try switching to a camera with a more appropriate focal length. Even if you are on the right camera for the shot you want to take, sometimes switching to a different camera and then switching back can reset whatever temporary glitch is causing issues. The main camera is usually the one with the best clarity, thanks to its higher megapixel count image sensor.
If all of your back cameras are blurry or switching between them doesn’t fix the one that’s a problem, you can also try switching to the selfie camera and then back to the rear cameras. We’ve seen some users report that this helped them.9. Use Manual Mode
By default, your camera app is mostly automated. It tries to select the best focus and exposure settings for you, so you only have to worry about framing and timing your shot if you’re taking a photo of a subject that the autofocus feature can’t handle properly.
Some Android phone camera apps come with a manual or “Pro” mode, making it more like operating a DSLR camera. For example, on a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can select Pro mode and manually your camera settings using the on-screen focus wheel.
While it’s worth checking out our camera settings guide, here are some quick and dirty thing you can do in manual mode to eliminate blur and fuzz:
Use a fast shutter speed, which helps reduce motion blur.
Adjust the ISO for low light scenes.
Many manual modes have a visual focus guide, where the parts of the image that are in focus will be highlighted in a color so you know that the right things are in focus.10. Try a Third-party Camera App
Unfortunately for iPhone users, the default app from Apple does not include a similar manual mode, nor do some brands of Android phone. Your best option is to use a third-party camera app that unlocks manual control of your cameras.
On the iPhone, we suggest ProCamera, although it is somewhat pricey at $15. Camera+ is a good alternative at nearly half the price. If you’re on Android, the best choice in our opinion is Camera FV-5 for $4.99. Some Android phones don’t work well with this app, so either test it within the refund window on Google Play or try the FV-5 Lite app first, but there are many Android camera apps to choose from.11. Force Close The App or Restart Your Phone
Smartphone camera apps aren’t quite as reliable as the firmware you’ll find in a dedicated camera. After all, there are so many running processes on a smartphone, and software bugs are constantly introduced or discovered. If your camera app just doesn’t focus on anything, it might just be a temporary problem with the app.
The first thing to do is force close the app. In iOS, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to the middle, bringing up the app carousel. Swipe left or right until you see your camera app, then swipe it upwards to close.
On Android, press the Android system button on the far left (three vertical lines), and it will bring up the app carousel. Swipe left or right to find the camera app, and swipe it up and off the screen to close it.
If closing and reopening the app doesn’t work, restart your phone completely and try again.12. Check for Camera App Updates
If your camera focus issues are caused by a bug, it’s worth checking if there’s an updated version of the app available for download. Camera app updates can happen either as an individual update or as part of a major operating system update.
This is especially likely if your camera works well with a third-party app but not with the standard app since it suggests that there’s nothing physically wrong with your camera.13. Slap Your Phone Against Your Palm
This last tip may seem a little strange, but slapping your phone against your palm can fix some camera problems. This is because the camera assembly has tiny moving parts that can get stuck in a particular position, stopping the camera from shifting focus.
With your camera activated, firmly yet carefully slap the back of your phone against the heel of your palm. With any luck, this will reset the electromechanical components to their correct positions.14. Send Your Phone for Assessment
If you’ve tried everything on this list and you’re still getting nothing but blurry pictures, it may be time to have a professional look at your phone’s camera since the module itself may need replacement.
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