Streaming Media: Google Chromecast vs. Roku Stick

The idea behind Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player is enticing – broadcast to your HDTV whatever you would watch on your smartphone or tablet, from Netflix and Hulu to movies, music, and photos stored on your computer.  After six months of frustration with it, however, I know for sure of just about one thing it can do without issue: fly fast across the room.


You Gotta See This: The Best Monitor Deal Around

Picked up a MacMini today. It’s a terrific little computer. I got the 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, which sells for $694. I’ll dedicate it to be used for Quickbooks and a couple of other programs. With a terabyte of storage and 8 Gigs of RAM, it will serve us well.


But what really has me excited is the awesome monitor I’m using with it: The 28-inch ViewSonic VX2858Sml. At $249 it is an amazing deal. Especially since I was seriously considering a 27-inch Apple Cinema Display. That baby costs just under $1,000.

Break Your Paper Addiction: The Best in Scanners

The dream for many is to go paperless and thanks to advances in scanner technology, it’s a lot closer to reality now than ever before. I have some recommendations that can help you digitize that mountain of paper that surrounds you.

Going paperless: The best in scanners

There’s always something in real life that we want to bring into our digital life and that’s the reason there are scanners – but wait – aren’t scanners just a funny kind of cameras and don’t we already have a camera in the smart phone? So why not just use the smart phone to grab a snapshot of the page or whatever – why bother with a scanner at all?

Review: Don’t Run Out of Battery Juice

Power. We all need more of it.

I used to run out of juice about 4 p.m. most days on my iPhone. About an hour later, the tablet died.

No longer. I carry back up.

That’s because with so many of us using smartphones and tablets all day long and more and more USB devices becoming “necessities” for daily life, the standard batteries that accompany our gadgets just don’t cut it for all-day use.


The Mophie

That’s why I always carry the Mophie Powerstation Duo External 12000 mAh Battery.

The Powerstation Duo was developed to ensure you have enough power to keep them fully charged when you need it most. You can charge your phone and tablet together or share a port with a friend in need when outlets aren’t an option. You can get eight phone chargings from a single charge to the Mophie.

It’s the most powerful battery pack on the market, yet it easily fits on a backpack or briefcase. About $129 on Amazon.

Review: Wilson Cell Phone Booster

I do a lot of traveling around the country in an RV. Besides, this blog, I am a travel writer and a free lance journalist and I have to constantly be connected to the Internet.


Many of the places I go have marginal cellular coverage. That’s where the Wilson Sleek 4G Cell Phone Booster comes in so handy for us.

First impressions of the iPhone 6 Plus

iphone6pluswith5That’s my old iPhone 5 on the left. The new gigantic iPhone 6 Plus on the right.


For as 10 million other people have done over the past two weeks, I’ve upgraded to the new and very large iPhone 6 Plus.

It’s massive 5.5 inch size was a big reason.

I spend a lot of time online. Too much, in fact. And my eyes and my thumbs appreciate the extra real estate the new iPhone provides.

The first thing I did after transferring all my apps and settings over from iCloud (a process that took about 45 minutes on my home Wi-Fi network) was head out to the RV and see if the new phone fits in the Wilson Sleek cell phone booster I use for connectivity while boondocking in areas with weak cellular service. It does. The Sleek has adjustable arms that grip the 6 Plus just fine.

The only time I use the Sleek with a cell phone is when I need to make a call in a marginal area. The rest of the time, my Verizon Mi-Fi data card provides the Internet connection for my various devices. But it’s nice to know that the new iPhone 6 Plus will fit.

Besides the larger screen size, there are eight main reasons why I chose the iPhone 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 Plus i the Wilson Sleek cell phone booster cradle

The iPhone 6 Plus i the Wilson Sleek cell phone booster cradle

But before I list them…please… be nice. Like religion and politics, conversations about computers, mobile devices and brand loyalties can get real nasty. So if you don’t want or need these features, or if you use another platform or operating system, then good for you. This post is not aimed at you. This is for the many who do use the iPhone and are wondering what the new big one is like.

Here are the eight things I like most about this new phone, compared to the iPhone 5 I had been using:

  1. The new camera on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is the best Ive seen on any smartphone, especially with the new features on the iOS 8 operating system like slow motion and time lapse photography. I’ll do some demos for you later this week.
  2. Image stabilization is now available for the videos I shoot on the iPhone 6 Plus when my professional video camera is unavailable. I do a lot of video reporting on social media on my RV travel blog and the iPhone 6 Plus will make it even easier.
  3. The 6 Plus is faster and reputedly has a longer battery life. Since I just got it, I haven’t been able to put that to the test. But I will.
  4. The new Swype keyboard option (that’s the one thing I liked the most during my brief fling with the Android OS and Samsung some months back) lets me really input text fast, with fewer fat finger mistakes.
  5. The soon-to-be available Apple Pay, the  new short-range wireless payments system for the 6 and 6 Plus, which integrates with Touch ID. It will supposedly be released as a software update within the next month or so. This is going to be huge.
  6. Lots of memory. For those like who take a lot of photos and videos, like to watch movies and load up on music, the new 128GB storage limit on the 6 is almost enough of a reason to upgrade.
  7. The iPhone 6 Plus has full HD, 1920 x 1080 display. That’s not yet available on other iPhone models, including the 6.
  8. The iPhone 6 offers absolutely fantastic health and fitness functionality. Well… maybe not just yet. They’re still working a couple of unexpected last minute glitches out of a couple apps. But those apps – I’ve seen a preview of them – are coming soon.

As I am getting used to the iPhone 6 Plus, I was surprised that I have not been challenged in using it as a phone. It is big and I’ve seen others say it just feels weird held up to your ear. As I write this, I just finished a half hour radio interview using my new iPhone 6 Plus and it was very comfortable.

Ironically, that interview was about two problems that have cropped up with Apple’s new phones.

The first is, if you put in in your pocket and then sit on it without a case… it will bend. That doesn’t seem unusual to me. It is thin and super light. So thin it would have to bend when someone sat on it, especially without a protective case. I bought the leather case Apple sells with the iPhone. It does fit in my front pockets. It is too big for a breast pocket on some of my shirts. Not all, but some. But I would never think about sitting on it. So I don’t think this will be a issue for me.

The second problem was on an update that Apple pushed through for the iOS 8 operating system. It was out just one hour when the company was swamped by reports that after updating the OS, iPhone 6 users lost cellular and data connectivity. Apple quickly pulled the update to see what the problem is.recent

If you want to see some three of my favorite things the new iOS 8 system does, here’s one of my recent NBC-TV PC Mike segments:

So, overall, my first impressions of the iPhone 6 Plus are very favorable. I have a large iPad that I seldom use, except to read books or watch movies. Sometimes, I just leave it at home rather than tote it along on a trip, only to wish I had brought it when we’re stuck inside because or rain. I think this new 5.5 inch iPhone will replace the tablet for books.  I will try some movies and get back to you on that. But with 128 GB of storage, I’ll be able to download them to the device, besides streaming them on Netflix or Amazon.

Lastly,  another contributing factor to my decision to upgrade is the fact that I use my smartphone for so much more than just making or receiving telephone calls. I really use it more as a miniature computer than a phone. So this iPhone 6 Plus will come in very handy, I suspect.

I’ll let you know more after a week or so.

If you think you’d like to upgrade but wonder what you can do with your old phone, check out the video below. It’s another PC Mike NBC-TV segment I did on places that offer trade-ins for old phones and other gadgets and gizmos.