Supcase LG G3 Unicorn Beetle Premium Case Impressions

I’ve been using the QuickCircle case on my LG G3 for some time now, but decided to give a different case a try. I quite like using the phone without any case, but it can feel quite slim and also very smooth, increasing the risk of it slipping out of my hand. In order to prevent that, I got my hands on the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Premium Case.

Firstly, the case certainly has quite a solid feel to it. It does add a bit of bulk to the otherwise slim phone. It’s not the slimmest case available for the LG G3, but given the protective capability, it’s worth having the extra thickness knowing it can protect your phone a whole lot better.

The back is very smooth, however the edges have a rubber finish to allow for better grip. All the relevant holes have cut-outs, e.g. earphone jack, charging port, the various buttons on the back of the phone. The cut-out on the back exposing the various buttons has a very nice smooth finish to it, allowing your fingers to slide across to the button without feeling any sharpness. I wish I could say the same for the cut-outs at the bottom, e.g. the earphone jack feels quite sharply cut. This wouldn’t be that much of an issue, however my finger always sits there when holding the phone and therefore I feel the sharpness every time I hold the phone.

The front of the case has a raised bezel to allow the phone to be placed screen-first on a flat surface without the screen coming into contact with the surface. This is a nice touch and works very well.

On the whole, I really like how the case fits very snug to the phone and definitely adds protection. The cut-outs could be a bit better, but it’s a small price to pay given the relative cheap price-point of the case and great protection it provides. I purchased it for about £6 from Amazon, so I feel it’s well worth the purchase.

Response MiGuard G5 Home Alarm Impressions

Home security is a super important thing. Many homes are broken into every day, so making sure you have a good security system is an essential to keeping yourself and your possessions safe.

MiGuard G5I recently purchased the Response MiGuard G5 alarm system and gave it a try. The alarm system comes with the following pieces:

  • Alarm panel w/power adaptor, wall mount and desk stand
  • 2x RFID tags
  • 2x Remote controls
  • 1x Motion sensor
  • 1x Door/window sensor

The main selling point in my opinion of the MiGuard G5 alarm system is its SMS alerting functionality. You can pop a SIM card in the back of the panel, which will then send a text message to a number(s) of your choice when the alarm goes off. It also allows you to control the panel via SMS using commands documenting in the instruction manual.

Now, let me run through a few things I tried and why I ultimately felt this wasn’t the best alarm system. The main thing I wanted to cover was the front door (only entrance/exit) with the door/window sensor. This was easy enough to install by just using the double sided stickers provided. Once the panel is armed, opening the door would make the alarm go off. First problem: the alarm is only loud enough to hear if you are inside the house or very nearby. You certainly won’t hear it if you are across the street, depending on where you place the panel inside.

Second problem I had was the two RFID tags didn’t work and one of the remote controls didn’t work either. This made it quite limiting to just one person always being able to use the system.

Third problem was the app. I first though it’s a great idea to have an app to control the panel, since the panel itself has no display. Then I realised that the app is effectively just a wrapper for sending text messages to the SIM card inside the panel. I was expecting the panel to connect to a wireless network and then have an online account to manage all the various things on the panel, including giving push notifications. However this isn’t the case at all and like I said, the app just is a wrapper for sending text messages to the panel.

On the whole, the concept is a good one, but I felt the implementation to be lacking. The main problem with using SMS for most things and the low volume on the panel itself makes it a lacklustre alarm system. You are much better off installing a few IP Cams around your house as most of those have apps to give push notifications, such as EagleEyes and an AV Tech IP Cam – typically a fraction of the price of the MiGuard G5 too.

My Mobile Games – Timberman for iOS Impressions

Every so often I check the App Store to see if there are any noteworthy apps to install on my iPhone. Usually there isn’t too much there, typically apps like Facebook Messenger and Clash of Clans are at the top, but every so often comes along an addictive casual games that’s well worth downloading for some quick fun. Flappy Bird fit into this category perfectly, and now it’s Timberman.

Timberman is quite a simple game. The aim is simple, keep chopping away at a tree while avoiding the branches. You can on either the left or right side of the screen with the tree in the middle. Each time, you chop a chunk of the tree out and the tree drops down a bit. As you keep doing this, branches are also coming down. By tapping on the right or left side, the Timberman switches over to the other side of the tree to avoid the branch. You must keep going in fairly quick succession before the timer runs out.

As you can see, the game mechanic is super simple, yet it’s so addictive. By getting higher scores, you can unlock different characters. As a nod to Flappy Bird, one of the final unlocks is the bird itself, dubbed “Lazy Bird”.

The game sports a retro art style and music theme, the music portraying a sense of urgency as the tree keeps coming down and you have to frantically chop away.

It’s a great little casual game, perfect for a pick up and play in short bursts. The unlocks make you want to achieve a higher score too. Definitely check it out if you’re into these sorts of casual games.

Grim Fandango remake coming to PC, Mac, Linux as well as PS4

This is probably some of the best news to date in video gaming! I’m a huge fan of Grim Fandango, possibly my favourite adventure game ever. For those who never played the Lucasarts classic, it’s an adventure game set in the world of the dead, post life, about a travel agent who sells packages to get through the underworld. Yep, not exactly how you would’ve imagined the afterlife to begin. Manny Calavera has had the worst luck, only managing to sell cheap packages meaning he’ll never pay off his debt.

I don’t want to get into too many spoilers after setting the premise, so I won’t talk more on the story for now. The gameplay is keyboard controlled adventure, very similar to the classic point and click adventure games such as Sam and Max or Broken Sword. I’m definitely excited to see this coming to PC, Mac, Linux as well as the PlayStation 4 (as announced at Sony’s press conference at E3). Whether you’ve played it before or not, it’s a must-have for any fan of adventure games.

Dell Mini 9 Netbook Impressions

In my last blog post, I wrote about installing Lubuntu on the Dell Mini 9. Since then, I’ve been using the Mini 9 quite a bit, almost as a primary machine for day to day use and a bit of work when needed. On the whole, it’s been pretty good especially considering it’s a machine from 2008!

Shell

As I’ve said before, the build quality is superb on the Mini 9. It definitely feels very solid, and my brother used to lug it around in his bag when he used to use it at university – without a case. Even then, there are hardly any scratches on the Mini 9. It has a glossy finish on the front surface, similar to other Inspiron laptops.

The sides are kept pretty clean even with the ports. The left side has the power socket, 2 USB ports and an SD card slot. The right side has an Ethernet port, VGA output, single USB port, fan grill for ventilation and the usual mic and earphone ports.

The front and back of the laptop are kept clean. The front side has just two LED’s, one for power to show whether it’s on or not, and the other for battery to show whether it’s charging. It’s a bit annoying that there isn’t a WiFi LED, but the default operating system has notifications to show whether it’s switched on or not.

Screen & Keyboard/Trackpad

The only things left to talk about hardware wise are the screen and keyboard/trackpad. The screen is 8.9″, supporting a 1024 x 600 resolution – not bad for this screen size.

The keyboard does feel cramped and takes some getting used to. For casual use, it’s fine. For heavy use, I’d recommend using an external keyboard. The buttons on the right side of the keyboard become very compact, making it easy to press the wrong key. The Enter/Return key is a single line key too, so if you’re used to bashing the key you may want to rethink that.

The trackpad is very good for a netbook. It’s responsive and the buttons actually properly press down for good feedback on a click. It may feel a bit tiny especially compared to normal trackpads on other laptops, but certainly usable.

Battery

I haven’t been able to assess how good the battery is on this netbook, since the battery I’ve had since 2008 is fully flat. This means the netbook will only work when plugged in. I’ve ordered a new replacement battery, but in the meantime official specifications state the battery can last up to 5 hours. I reckon realistically you’d be looking at 2-3 hours with WiFi switched on.

Operating System

I never tried the Mini 9 with Windows, but the default operating system was an older version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix. For beginners, it’s probably a fine OS, but for anyone wanting to get a bit more out of their netbook, it’s not too great. Obviously now, it’s massively out of date and not even supported – Ubuntu Netbook Remix was swallowed by Ubuntu and packaged in as part of Ubuntu Desktop.

By default however, it came with a bunch of applications for you to get started right off the bat. It had its own office suite, used Firefox for internet browsing and a range of other useful applications.

It’s also good to know that Windows would work on this, but you’ll need to really customise that installation to fit on the 8GB drive. There are other models of the Mini 9 with 16GB, or you can change the drive yourself.

Performance

The netbook has an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor. These processors were mainly used as they were energy efficient and meant you can get some extra battery life. Performance wise, it allows for an ‘okay’ experience on the whole. It obviously depends on what you’re planning to use the netbook for, but stuff like YouTube videos feel a bit slow. I have been able to watch some 720p videos just fine on this from a hard drive however, but I’ve noticed if you have a chunky file, then it’ll start getting choppy with the audio and video going out of sync.

For stuff like word processing, spreadsheets, etc., the netbook is fine. I even tried Google Drive without any issues, so I’d be quite happy to use the Mini 9 for some productivity related tasks. I’ve tried it for work too, where I remotely connected via LogMeIn through Firefox. This wasn’t too great an experience, partly due to the low resolution meaning I couldn’t see too much of my work screen. Also, the sluggishness is noticeable, the mouse often lagging slightly behind. I’m sure this isn’t due to any connection issues, as I’ve remotely connected from my MacBook Air without any issues.

Summary

So all in all, the Mini 9 is a good netbook for on the go use. The portability of it is great and it’s a solid little machine. If you’re planning on doing some more processor-intensive stuff regularly, you may want to invest in something better – but realistically you’re not going to be going out and buying one of these since they’d only be available second hand from places like eBay.

I’m planning on using it for casual use and may plug it into an external monitor and keyboard/mouse if I need to use it for more work related tasks. I see it as quite a useful netbook to have for on the go – not afraid to chuck it in my bag and for it to take a few knocks!