Friday, January 22, 2016

Big Sound From A Small Package

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When someone recommends a sound system that costs less than a decent dinner out for two, we get a bit skeptical about it to say the least. Of course, when that speaker setup has a retail of $99.99 and is marked down 73% to hit $26.99, we can’t do much more than laugh. Call us crazy, or stupid, or just plan laugh at us, but we took the bait on this one as we were looking for a nice little speaker for road trips and hotel stays. We wanted big sound in a very small package and we have to say that the Venstar Taco completely fit the bill. Not only was the price on the Venstar Taco dead on, but so was the performance.

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The Venstar Taco features 2, 50mm, 3W acoustic speakers with a unique design that powers them to rival speaker systems costing much more. In fact, it might even be appropriate to say that the Venstar Taco rivals speaker systems as strong as the Beats Pill without stretching too far. The player controls are very simple. On the back of the device, a rubber cover secures the charging port (micro USB) and AUX port. The front features 4 buttons: Reverse/Volume down, Play/Pause/Fast forward/Volume up and Power. To pair the speaker, simply hold the power button for a few seconds until the LED next to it flashes blue and you are all set. Go to the add Bluetooth device on your phone or tablet and scan. It should find your Venstar Taco in seconds.

The performance of the Venstar Taco is, as we said, very good for a $100 device. It’s even better when you figure that the Venstar Taco is under $30 with free Prime shipping. The sound is clean and clear, with even a slight note of a decent low end from the tiny speakers. The lows were noticably better when the speaker was placed on a softer surface that allowed the back side of the Taco to perform a bit better. Hard surfaces led to a bit more tin sound from the speakers, but it was still much better than the sub $70 speakers you find at most retail locations. Overall, the Venstar Taco shined during our play with it.

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The battery is advertised as a full 12 hour playback, but we found that it was much closer to 10 hours, which is still more than enough time to run for most uses. If you need longer, the micro USB port is compatible with popular portable battery chargers like HTC’s Battery Bar and Samsung’s Universal External Battery packs. Both of these packs were able to keep the speaker powered up and playing far beyond the 12 hour mark and can be used to charge it while it hangs in it’s included carrying case.

At the time of publication, the Venstar Taco is currently $26.99 online and includes a carrying case, micro USB cable, 3.5mm male to male AUX cable and instructions. Note, a wall adapter is NOT included with the package, but a standard phone adapter seems to charge the unit without any issues. Be careful not to use a USB 2.0 Quick Charge enabled adapter as it could overheat the battery and cause permanent damage. If you are in the market for a great portable speaker at an even better price, check out the Venstar Taco before they decide to increase the price. You won’t be sorry.

Link: Venstar Taco

GIVmobile & Ptel Mobile Shuttering After 15 Years


There’s no doubt that the competitive marketplace in cellular is claiming quite a few victims. Just recently, the popular social MVNO, Solavei closed it’s doors in December and now we have one of the longest players in the game, Platinum Tel shutting down at the end of January. It’s been a rough time for MVNO’s since carriers began getting more aggressive with their prepaid offerings in house. To think, T-Mobile offers an amazing $40 prepaid plan, Verizon has the same at $45. AT&T’s GoPhone offerings have been solid as well as Sprint’s lower priced prepaid offerings as well. In a statement via chat message, Ptel Mobile gave us the following information.

We regret to inform Ptel Mobile will be discontinuing wireless service as of January 31,2016. We urge subscribers to process their requested Port Outs by January 26, 2016 to ensure successful port outs. Additionally, all wireless accounts will remain active until 1/31/2016 to ensure carrier transfers. At this time we are working to supply details via the site. Currently an SMS has been sent in batches to subscribers to inform of service update. Please note- the next step to take will consist of porting out of Ptel Mobile in order to retain your same number. Here are the following suggested companies for service: Ultra Mobile- 888-777-0446/Simple Mobile-877-878-7908/Metro PCS- 888-863-8768/Ting- 855 846 4389/ LycaMobile- 866-277-3221/T-Mobile- 877-413-5903. To initiate a port request, please contact the new selected service provider. Please supply the new service provider with the phone number as the account number. The 4-digit PIN on the account is 0000. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in this matter. Please visit the link for promotions

The information was also sent out to subscribers via text messaging earlier in the month. No additional information was given on the Ptel Mobile or GIVmobile websites, though the link above does offer users some direct replacement offers that are available locally if needed. If you are a Ptel or GIV subscriber, you only have a few days left to initiate your port before your number becomes lost. Also, it is worth noting that users do forfeit any balances left on their accounts and promo codes that they have available.


Friday, January 8, 2016

OneDrive Users: Prepare For Shrinkage!

Late last year, Microsoft announced that beginning this month, OneDrive users will need to begin to find other storage solutions for their files as their OneDrive’s will become signifcantly smaller over the next few months. The official announcements will be coming out soon, with the actual changes coming later in the year. That said, some users will need to begin acting immediately to get their files offline before the rolling dates end. The timeline for the changes that Microsoft published last year look like this:
January – Notices begin to go out about the changes. Office 365 users will be dropped from unlimited storage to 1TB of storage. Free plan users drop from 15GB to 5GB of space. Paid plans include a 1TB offer for $9.99 a month or 50GB for $1.99 a month.
February to April - Users will have 90 days to access their fires after their notification is sent. After that, your OneDrive files will become archived/read only files that you will have to download within 180 days.
May to October – The last chances to download your OneDrive to a local storage solution, or another cloud service will come during this time frame, unless you upgrade to a fully paid account that will handle your file load.
It’s worth noting as well that Microsoft is discontinuing all of their promotional data allotments during this transition as well. The Photo Upload Credit, the 10 GB Google Drive Match and some additional promotional programs will all lose their data allotments during this change. The Bing Rewards credits will stay active though, as will the ‘Lumia purchase’ credit that some users received. Basically, if you spent money or points on a spiff, you will keep it. If it was a free program that you found your way into, it will go away.
Be prepared for the move as time will fly by on this one. If you are currently using OneDrive as a storage solution for your photos or music, you will need to find other ways to access your data via the cloud or be prepared to pay that $120 a year to keep things as is, as long as you are under that full TB of data total.
You can read more on the change that was announced back in November here.

And This Is Why Windows 10 Mobile Is Struggling…

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It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re surfing Facebook. You scroll through your feed to see a sponsored post from Microsoft about the Lumia 950. It catches your eye, so you begin to read about the new Lumia 950 available from AT&T. It’s a phone that works like my PC? Amazing! It’s the new Lumia 950 with ANDROID 10???

Yes, this is a promotional advertisement for the AT&T Lumia 950 that appeared in my Facebook feed on New Year’s Eve. At first, I found it funny, but then I realized how horrible this makes Windows look. That Windows 10 is so bad, they subliminally put Android in the ad instead of Windows. Wow…

Anyways, Just thought I would share this one with everyone since it was the last Windows 10, I mean Android 10 ad that I saw in 2015. Have you snagged a Lumia 950 for yourself yet? Is it still running Windows or did they pull a fast one on us and switch it all over to an Android version that won’t be out until this summer (and yes that is a dig at how fast they are releasing Android versions at this point…)