Belkin manages to shoehorn a full QWERTY into its Portable Keyboard Case for iPad mini, but it doesn't offer a great typing experience.
The iPad mini, like its larger sibling, is great for a lot of things, but typing anything longer than a short email message here or there isn't one of them. Design, Setup, and Keyboard Unlike the ZAGGkeys Mini 7, which uses a thick rubber shell and kickstand, the Portable Keyboard Case resembles more traditional keyboard folio cases. Along the right edge are a micro USB port for charging with the included cable, a power switch, a pairing button, and an LED indicator light.
The keyboard itself, while offering tactile feedback and a full QWERTY layout, isn't very comfortable.
Before joining the consumer electronics team at PCMag, Eugene worked at local news station NY1 doing everything from camera work to writing scripts.
The latest 13-inch Retina Apple MacBook Pro gives you top-notch performance and more than 13 hours of battery life in a beautifully designed laptop. The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, Retina Display (2014) ($1,299, as tested) is the newest base model in the line, with a 2,560-by-1,600-resolution screen, speedy Intel processor, and excellent connectivity, particularly with its pair of 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 ports. Design and Features Design-wise, if you've seen one 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, you've seen them all.
The high-contrast keys are visible in both bright light and in a totally darkened room, thanks to efficient backlighting.
The Retina Display has a 2,560-by-1,600 resolution, which translates into a 16:10 aspect ratio.
The 128GB Flash Storage module (analogous to a solid-state drive on other systems) has a somewhat low capacity for a high-end ultraportable or ultrabook, but it's sufficient if you tote along a speedy Thunderbolt portable drive for your video files or database files. Performance The Intel Core i5-4278U processor with built-in Intel Iris 5100 graphics helps the MacBook Pro score some of the fastest multimedia test times, compared with ultrabooks like the Acer Aspire S7-392-5410, the Dell XPS 13 Touch, and the Toshiba Kirabook 13 i7s Touch. Wacom's Intuos Creative Stylus 2 is the best iPad stylus we've tested to date, as it offers the most accuracy and comfort while demanding less of your money. Wacom's Intuos Creative Stylus 2 performs about as well as our previous Editors' Choices, the Adonit Jot Touch and Adobe's Ink and Slide combo.
Just above the rocker button is a tiny blue notification LED that indicates power and Bluetooth connection status. The Intuos Creative Stylus 2 connects to the iPad 3 or newer, as well as the iPad Mini or newer using Bluetooth Smart, which makes for quick pairing.
Depending on the app you chose, you'll be able to benefit from the Creative Stylus 2's pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, and programmable shortcut features.
PerformanceWacom's Intuos Creative Stylus 2's 2.9mm nib is much thinner than its predecessor, which had a larger tip that made it difficult to see exactly where your input was being registered on the iPad's screen.
Palm rejection was slightly better than with other styli in my tests, as there were very few errant markings where my palm was resting. The new $349 Huawei GX8 is a well-built, midrange Android smartphone that will be sold unlocked. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the ultimate kitchen-sink Android phone for 2013, and MetroPCS brings it with low monthly rates.
If you're the kind of person who gets angry about carrier logos on phones, you're in luck here.
Since we're on T-Mobile's network now, we get a few key T-Mobile features that MetroPCS customers didn't get before, most notably Wi-Fi calling. Note: The slideshow below is of the T-Mobile Galaxy S4, which is identical except for the T-Mobile logo on the back. Pricing PlansThe real difference here is on pricing plans, and now we need to do some math. That savings only happens if you don't intend to sell your used phone on eBay, of course, as you have to turn in the used phone to take advantage of Jump. AT&T and Verizon are more expensive, but they offer much wider LTE coverage and better international roaming plans than Sprint and T-Mobile do.
ConclusionsIf you're shopping for a high-end smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 on MetroPCS is an affordable option measured over one or two years. The Canon Pixma iX6820 Wireless Inkjet Printer is a low-cost option for a micro or home office that needs to print on paper as large as 13 by 19 inches. The Canon Pixma iX6820 Wireless Inkjet Printer ($199.99) offers almost the same set of features as the Canon Pixma iX6520 Inkjet Business Printer.
There aren't many single-function printers that are both affordable enough for even a home office and able to print on larger than letter- and legal-size paper. Having only one tray makes the Pixma iX6820 best suited as a second printer to supplement a letter-size printer you already have. Unfortunately, Canon doesn't put this information in the quick-start guide, and doesn't ship a magic decoder ring with the printer.
Speed and Output Quality For my tests, I connected the printer to a wired network and installed the driver on a system running Windows Vista. Output quality was uneven, with the printer scoring a little below par for text and graphics and a little above standard for photos. Clearly, if you want a single printer for all of your printing needs, the Editors' Choice Epson WF-7010 will give you better paper handling than the Canon Pixma iX6820 Wireless Inkjet Printer, and better speed. But while keyboard cases are genuinely useful for the full-sized iPad, the small footprint of the iPad mini doesn't allow for very spacious keyboards built into cases. A thin, suede-like outer flap folds around an inner frame for the iPad mini and a black plastic keyboard. Setup and pairing works like any other Bluetooth keyboard; simply flip the switch into the On position, press the Pair button, and enter the pairing code provided by the iPad mini. The chiclet style keys provide a bit more travel than the ZAGGkeys Mini 7's, but they're noticeably smaller.
If there are doubts about the full-sized iPad as a productivity tool, those are only heightened by the iPad mini's compact build. It lasted more than 13 hours on our battery rundown test while topping our performance benchmark tests.


This year's iteration has the same, familiar all-aluminum exterior and glossy glass covering the 13.3-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen. The keyboard feel is very good, with convex keys and solid springs to help ensure that any typos are your own fault. In comparison, the Acer Aspire S7-392-5410's 1,920-by-1,080-resolution display and the Toshiba Kirabook 13 i7s Touch's 2,560-by-1,440-resolution screen both have a 16:9 aspect ratio. There's an HDMI port, a headset jack, an SD card reader, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports on its outer edges.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with a one-year warranty, and 90 days of phone technical support. It finished the Cinebench R15 test with 279 points, the Handbrake test in a scant 2 minutes 32 seconds, and the Photoshop CS6 test in 4:11.
Yet, it's a little more comfortable, and it's not as easy to accidentally press the shortcut buttons, either, which are minor, but important factors to consider. It tapers down to about a 0.8-inch diameter at the grip, which makes it very comfortable to use. At the very top of the stylus is a removable, but still attached, rubber cover that hides a micro USB port, used for charging with the included cable. For example, all three work with most of the aforementioned apps, although some only support one or two of them.
The new nib is about the same size as similar iPad styli, like the Jot Touch and Ink and Slide.
Pressure sensitivity also worked well, and was on par with other iPad styli we've tested to date—except for Wacom's Fineline, which is designed for note-taking rather than drawing and has about half the levels of pressure sensitivity as the Adobe and Adonit styli.
The MetroPCS Galaxy S4 is almost exactly the same as the T-Mobile Galaxy S4, so read our full review of T-Mobile's device for more details. There's nothing on the physical body of the phone to say "MetroPCS"—the little logo on the back, which all the other carriers use, is gone. The Galaxy S4 had no problems seeing T-Mobile's new LTE network in Manhattan and getting 9-10Mbps both up and down; the phone also supports HSPA+ 42 where LTE isn't available.
Over two years, that would cost $2,040, so you're essentially paying $291 extra for the privilege of the financing. T-Mobile's new Jump plan lets you switch out your phone more frequently at the cost of $10 extra per month.
But Sprint has a much slower 3G fallback network than T-Mobile does where LTE isn't available, and it forces you to sign a two-year contract.
We'll call it our Editors' Choice on MetroPCS for its high-end power, though we'll also acknowledge that many MetroPCS subscribers may not have $549 up front to spend. Our pick is the $119 LG Optimus L9, which still offers a quality smartphone experience for $430 less. Among the few differences are a slightly faster speed, a little lower quality for text, and a little higher quality for photos. It also offers some mobile-print capability, including printing through the Cloud, support for AirPrint, and support for printing from Android and iOS phones and tablets over Wi-Fi, using Canon's free apps. Additionally, the tray holds only 150 sheets, which would be a little meager if it were your only printer. A company representative says that the information shows on screen during the normal setup, but if you miss it, or, as in my case, can't run the setup program, you'll be left without a clue about how to get the wired network connection working. On our business applications suite (timed with QualityLogic's hardware and software), it came in at a tolerable, but poky, 2.7 pages per minutes (ppm).
Unless you have a particularly critical eye, you'll probably consider it good enough for PowerPoint handouts and the like.
However, if what you need is a tabloid- or supertabloid-size printer to supplement a letter-size model, the Pixma iX6820 can certainly do the job. Belkin is the latest company to try and shoehorn a full QWERTY keyboard into an iPad mini case, with its Portable Keyboard Case for iPad mini ($79.99 direct). The flap snaps closed magnetically and folds back into a small triangle for propping up the tablet for typing. On top of that, the keyboard layout is unorthodox and somewhat awkward—for instance, the Space Bar is far too small and the Backspace button is in line with the top row of letters, instead of numbers, like on most keyboards.
Simply put, I'm not sure there is enough real estate within the dimensions of the mini to fit a truly comfortable keyboard.
Outside of work Eugene enjoys TV, loud music, and making generally healthy and responsible life choices. These improvements help the latest 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro replace the previous version as our Editors' Choice for high-end ultraportable laptops.
The glass-covered trackpad supports one-, two- and three-finger multitouch gestures, and you can connect most Bluetooth keyboards, mice, and external trackpads to the system in seconds. The extra pixels can give photo, video, or spreadsheet editors the ability to clearly display images that would overwhelm a screen with a lower resolution.
There's built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi for a speedy connection to the Internet and any network you connect to. It was able to beat the other systems because its processor has a higher clock speed than even the Core i7 processor in the Toshiba Kirabook. For $40 less than the Jot Touch and $120 less than the Ink and Slide, combined with an impressive library of compatible apps, the Intuos Creative Stylus 2 is our new Editors' Choice for iPad styli.
The top half of the stylus is made of a dark gray-colored plastic, while the bottom half is a slightly rubberized black plastic, with a chrome ring towards the tip to accent the design.
I was pleased to find the shortcut buttons are tough to accidentally press, but still accessible for enabling shortcuts.
Compatibility with other popular digital art and note-taking apps is on the way, such as Adobe's Line and Sketch apps, Procreate, INKredible, GoodReader, Ink, and Tayasui Sketches. And the Creative Stylus 2's accuracy is similar for drawing—which means it's somewhat accurate, but not quite like good old pen and paper. It's amongst the least expensive and highest-performing styli we've tested, with only FiftyThree's Pencil costing less at $59.95.


MetroPCS is now offering the same Samsung Galaxy S4 as T-Mobile is, on the exact same network, for less money over two years than T-Mobile is charging. They're undeletable, but you don't have to click on them: There's an account manager, visual voicemail, a caller ID app, Rhapsody music, and the horrible MyExtras coupon app.
If you only intend to keep your GS4 for one year and swap it out, you'll pay $1,140 with T-Mobile, so, slightly less than MetroPCS.
You lose a bunch of features: The L9 has slower HSPA+ 21 data speeds (think 6Mbps, not 10Mbps), a lower-resolution screen, and a much lower-resolution camera. The most significant update, however, is the addition of both wired and wireless network support.
Note that for any of these mobile print features to work, you have to connect the printer directly to a network. Unfortunately, the printer offers only one paper tray, which means you can't keep both letter-size and larger-size paper loaded at the same time. I ran into a minor issue with a Windows Vista security feature keeping the setup program from running. If you need to change its default network connection setting (which is set to let the printer connect by Wi-Fi) to let it connect using its Ethernet port instead, you have to hold a button down and count flashes on the status light.
Most people would consider it suitable for most business needs, as long as you don't need to use small fonts. Photos look better than most drugstore prints, making them unusually high quality for a printer aimed at the office. And if you need to connect by Wi-Fi or need the mobile printing features, it can be the better fit.
Unfortunately, the keyboard is just too small, with some awkward layout choices that make it tough to type with ease or speed. That led to a lot of mistaken keystrokes in my tests, especially when trying to type quickly. The ZAGGkeys Mini 9 manages to fit a much more comfortable keyboard in, but, given its bulk, it nearly defeats the purpose of getting the compact tablet in the first place.
Note that your experience may vary, as apps that haven't been updated for the Retina Display may show blockier text and images. Apple, along with a wide selection of third-party vendors, make adapters for DVI, Ethernet, VGA, and even external PCIe card expansion chasses (but devices connected thusly would run at the slower interface's speeds). Oddly enough, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet came the closest in terms of scores for these three tests, on account of its relatively fast Core i5 processor. At 0.7 ounces, it's exactly the same weight as Adonit's Jot Touch, but the Adonit is a bit top-heavy compared with the Wacom, which feels more balanced and adds to its comfort. Many other styli have shortcut buttons that don't offer enough resistance, therefore triggering actions when you don't want them and interrupting your work flow. The Creative Stylus 2 comes with a solid carrying case, which stores the charging cable and spare nib as well as the stylus itself. Still, the nibs on both Adonit and Adobe styli offered a smoother feel across our iPad's screen than the Wacom.
If you're looking for a good, all-round iPad stylus that you can draw and write with, Wacom's Intuos Creative Stylus 2 is the one to get. You have to pay attention to the pricing here, though, because depending on your future plans, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, or even Sprint might be the most affordable Galaxy S4 option.
More MetroPCS apps are buried under a special MetroPCS app store icon, but I'm happy to say you don't have to install them if you don't want to.
But it's still a very capable Android smartphone at a very capable price, and there's no shame in saving money.
If you're looking for an inkjet printer for tabloid- or even larger-size paper, that makes the Pixma iX6820 a better fit for sharing in a micro office, although its paper handling limits that role.
As a point of comparison, the Epson WF-7010 offers two 250-sheet trays and a duplexer, and it can handle paper as large as 13 by 44 inches. At this writing, Canon is still investigating the issue, but the company was able to come up with an easy way to install the driver anyway. A Canon representative said the company is investigating options for addressing this issue.
I had a far more difficult time adjusting to the Portable Keyboard Case than the ZAGGkeys, which itself didn't offer the best typing experience. Logitech recently announced an iPad mini version of its excellent Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, so I'm eager to see how that fares.
In any case, OS X automatically scales items on the screen by default to make some windows show up in approximately 1,280 by 800, which is a good thing.
Thunderbolt 2 has a theoretical maximum throughput of 20Gbps, and can be daisy chained through up to six devices per port (12 devices total).
The included 8GB of system memory can be increased to 16GB for an extra $200 before purchase, but not after.
It still isn't quite the same as using a good old-fashioned pen or pencil and paper, but it's still a pleasure to use and gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. If you run into the same problem with the installation, you should be able to get the workaround by calling Canon's tech support number. There's no dedicated function row like on the ZAGG model, instead you have to hold down the Fn key and use the number keys to access shortcuts like media controls. If it were displaying at true 1-to-1 pixel all the time, then icons, menu items, and text would look tiny.



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Comments

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