1st Impression Prusa i3 MK2

3v9plg5So on the 21st of August I decided to pull the trigger and buy a 3D printer. After a lot of research, I decided that the Prusa i3 MK2 “kit” was going to be a fun project. 8 days later, the kit was delivered to my house.

The box it was shipped in contained the kit, all the tools you need to assemble the printer, the Quality Control testing sheet, and a bag of German Haribo gummy bears. Unfortunately the gummy bears did not survive long.

Assembly time: 12:17:33
Calibration time: 3 days (Im new to 3d printing)

It took me about 12 hours to assemble this beast. And building it was a lot of fun. I had a real sense of joy from completing the build phase of this project. This also resulted in me ordering about 13 different filament rolls from Amazon right away.

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Broken Y-Belt Holder

While building the printer I did manage to break a critical component,

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Spare Y-Belt Holder

the Y Belt holder. Luckily I was able to use a cable tie to tighten the belt, and then printed a spare part.

 

The Y Belt Holder that ships in the Kit is certainly flawed, and may require more infil so that it can withstand the stress of the belt being tightened.

Once built, its time to calibrate this monster. Heres my disclaimer, I have never owned, or built, or used a 3d printer before. The i3 MK2 is my first, and this is probably why I had so much trouble calibrating it. Its going to be a very steep learning curve for some, and others not so much.

However after struggling with it for 3 days, and getting help from the community as well the Prusa support team, the calibration was completed successfully. As a matter of fact, the i3 MK2, is now printing a batman logo. Which should be done by the time I finish the 1st draft of this post. But must confess, about an hour ago, I got so frustrated with my inability to calibrate the printer, that I was starting to think, perhaps this was a mistake. But alas, in the end I managed to triumph.

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Batman Logo

Here are some tips, if your about to build/purchase this printer.

  1. Be very gently with the Y-Belt holder, the one that ships in the Kit is very weak, and can break (see picture). If you do break it, like I did, dont worry, you can fix the belt using a cable tie. You’ll know what I mean once you start building.
  2. To tighten the Y-Belt, id advise you to just put the cables into the y-belt carrier 1st, then loop the other end on the motor bearing. This makes it much easier to tighten the belt.
  3. When reading the assembly manual, read the steps in this order.
    1. The warnings first
    2. then the comments from the community
    3. then the actions for step
  4. When you reach the XYZ Calibration phase, make sure you put a A4 paper on the heatbed, while the nozzle moves around and homes for the 1st phase (1st 4 points). If the nozzle hits the paper, and drags the paper across the surface, turn off the printer and lower the PIMDA probe by about 1 mm. Rinse and repeat until the nozzle doesn’t hit the paper anymore. Do not overcompensate, you will want to make these adjustments in tiny increments.

So in terms of noise, I believe the printer is about 52db loud when active. So its not really loud. Id say its about as loud as some common HP desktop printers, probably even less than that.

The printer comes with all the software required, for both Mac OSX & Windows 10. Soon as your done calibrating, your all set to go.

In case your wondering there are two ways to print.

  • Stand Alone from SD Card
  • Control printer via USB from PC

I have opted to use print standalone via SD card, because if the PC restarts or powers off this would interrupt the print job. Its easy to copy files to the SD card and then insert it into the printer. The job can be started using the printers LCD panel and menu.

Here is something to keep in mind with this printer, you can print all the parts yourself. So in essence, you can pre-print your spare parts, incase something breaks down the line. This makes you completely self-sufficient.

Prusa Support:

Prusa Live Chat support appears to be available 24/7, and they are more than happy to address all your questions, be they technical, or sales questions. And their friendly. To be honest I have never seen this level of support in any industry. I dont know how Joseph manages to maintain such a high quality of support. Its an incredible feat.

Verdict:

Once calibrated I was quite happy with the initial prints.

If you’ve always wanted to print stuff, you cant go wrong with this printer as your 1st buy, at USD 699. And there are many online that will attest to this.

If you don’t want to mess about building yourself, Prusa does sell them pre-built and ready to go, however that will raise the price to USD 899.

Speed: 4/5
Noise: 5/5
Build Quality: 3/5
Print Quality: 4/5

My advice, be daring! Go for the build it yourself kit, its going to be fun building it.

Prusa Gallery

 

Prusa Links

Official Prusa i3 MK2 Help / FAQPrusa i3 MK2 Build InstructionsOfficial Prusa Forums (EN)Prusa 3d online shop

 

 

 

 

 

Xbox One VS Playstation 4

Xbox One VS Playstation 4, how to decide which to get

Xbox One (X1)

X1 Likes

      • You can control the xbox one with Xbox One Smartglass. (PS4 has a similar App)
      • (X1E) X1 SmartGlass App can adjust the volume of your TV
      • (X1E) X1 can turn automatically turn off your TV when you turn off the console
      • X1 provides higher quality headset with mute and volume buttons on controller
      • Just Dance + Kinnect = Loads of Fun for the family
      • Kinnect is the best sensor on the market

X1 Dislikes

      • X1 Controller requires 2x AA batteries
      • X1 Controllers batteries can be easily depleted within a week
      • X1 forces you to patch games, before being able to play them
      • If you remove the disc of the game your patching, the download will fail, and patch progress is halted
      • X1 uses propriety port to connect headsets to controller

Xbox Live (XBL)

XBL Likes

      • Free XBL games you install remain yours, even if your XBL subscription terminates, or lapses.
      • (PS4E) PSN+ is not required to stream or use online apps (Netflix, browser, twitch streaming, etc)
      • Power Supply Unit is internalised in the PS4 case (X1 has a huge external brick
      • PS4 controllers are rechargeable out of the box
      • XBL cloud could bring us some interesting features in the future

XBL Dislikes

      • XBL is required for online multiplayer
      • XBL is required for any/all online activities (Netflix, Skype, Browsing, etc)
      • USD 59.99 per year (USD 10 more expensive than PSN+)
      • Viewing Gamer Cards takes forever to load

X1 Exclusives

      • Forza 5 (Racing Game)
      • Titanfall (SciFi FPS Shooter)
      • Killer Instinct (Arcade Fighter)
      • Ryse Son of Rome (3rd Person Action)
      • Deadrising 3 (Horror Sandbox)

Playstation 4 (PS4)

PS4 Likes

      • You can control the xbox one with PlayStation®App. (X1 has a similar App)
      • PS4 HDD is removable & upgradable 2.5 SATA HDD upgradable up to 2TB
      • Power Supply Unit is internalised in the PS4 case (X1 has a huge external brick
      • PS4 controllers are rechargeable out of the box
      • PS4 controller has a dedicated share button, which instantly starts streaming your gameplay to twitch
      • PS4 will allow you to immediately play “unlatched” games of disc (X1 will force you to patch before you can play)
      • PS4 controller uses standard 3.5mm port for Headsets, this means you can use your headset with your PS4, PC, or anything else

PS4 Dislikes:

      • Setting PS4 controller on flat surface will activate the bottom triggers
      • X1 Controllers batteries can be easily depleted within a week
      • Viewing Gamer Cards takes forever to load
      • Honestly.. the PS4 Eye/Cam sucks in comparison to the Kinnect

Playstation Network Plus (PSN+)

PSN+ Likes

      • USD 49.99 per year (USD 10 cheaper than XBL)
      • (PS4E) PSN+ is not required to stream or use online apps (Netflix, browser, twitch streaming, etc)
      • Power Supply Unit is internalised in the PS4 case (X1 has a huge external brick
      • Driveclub free to PSN+ subscribers

PSN+ Dislikes

      • PSN+ is required to play online multiplayer
      • If your PSN+ membership fails to renew or expires, you lose access to your previously installed free games, and will have to purchase them to play them again.
      • Viewing Gamer Cards takes forever to load

PS4 Exclusives

      • Killzone Shadowfall
      • Driveclub
      • Infamous Second Son
      • Knack

PS4 F2P Games (Available on PC)

      • Warframe (3rd Person FPS)
      • Blacklight Retribution (FPS)
      • DC Universe Online (MMO)
      • PlanetSide 2 (MMO FPS)
      • War Thunder (MMO Flight Sim)

PS4 VS Xbox One Myths

      • XBL and PSN+ both offer comparable latency
      • While PS4 technically has better specs, graphically you will not notice the difference
      • Console games do not interact with other platforms. You can’t play a game on X1 vs PS4 players
      • Both PS4 and X1 are officially Region Free
      • Both PS4 and X1 do not require always on internet connection in order to play
      • Both PS4 & X1 allow you to share, trade, and sell used game discs

My Personal Verdict

Ultimately I believe that PS4 is the better console for the following reasons.

    • PSN+ is cheaper, only required for Multiplayer games
    • I like the PS4 controller better, because I can use both sticks, and still use the upper triggers
    • The PSN+ free games appeal to me more than the XBL free games
    • I can live w/o Titanfall, and the other X1 exclusives do not interest me
    • I can live w/o the Kinnect even though I love it, I guess I won’t buy Just Dance this time
    • Seems to me that developers favour the PS4 see list of F2P PC games available on PS4 above..

However, if your undecided, don’t forget something very important.

If your into community & online gaming with your RL (real life) friends, then you might want to find out what their going for.
If all your RL friends are on the X1, going for the PS4 is going to be very lonely, unless of course you need a that break =)

Please note that this is my opinion, and its based on my having purchased both the PS4 and the X1 primarily to see which one I liked more. I’ve since sold the PS4, and am now using the X1, because… *frowns* sadly my friends are all on the X1 and XBL.
But I am planning to buy the PS4 again very soon =)

If I missed anything, or you’d just like to chime in, feel free to add your comments =)

Sources & Links:

Why I Chose The PS4 Over The Xbox One – YouTubePlayStation®App

Legend

    • (X1E) = Xbox One Exclusive, meaning only available on Xbox One
    • (X1TLE) = Meaning exclusive to Xbox One for a limited time
    • (PS4E) = PS4 Exclusive

Why I sold my Sony VAIO Duo 13.3-Inch Ultrabook and got a rMBP 13″

Sony VAIO SVD13215PX 13.3-Inch Laptop

Why I bought it in the first place?

Being a full time IT professional, and a full time CS student, a hybrid laptop with a digital pen for note taking seemed to be the ideal choice.

So here are the needs I thought the Duo 13 could fill:

  • Digital Note Taking (Both in Class and at work)
  • Some light Java and Python Coding
  • portability
  • long lasting battery life (9+ hours)
  • maybe some light gaming (the likes of hearthstone, hex, etc)

And for USD 1,800 (~ KD 500) I thought I was set, so I ignored my alarmed gut instinct and went ahead with the purchase.

Boy was I in for a surprise…

The Duo 13 Experience!

Digital Note Taking

While many will argue that digital note taking on this tablet is fine… I sincerely disagree. The Duo 13 uses the Ntrig (Duosense 2 dual digitizer 13.3 @1920×1080).

While researching its note taking capabilities, I’ve gotten the impression from other users that this is fine. I’m here to tell you otherwise, it is “Certainly” not fine!

I was aware that you could not stow the pen in the tablet, and I was fine with that, cause I would just slide the pen into my messenger bags pen slot.

The clip they try to sell you on however, that was a total joke. The clip will often disconnect, and your likely to lose your pen, so best that you don’t depend on it.

As for note taking, when taking notes in class, and your ntrig digitizer fails for some unknown reason, you do not have the luxury to ask your professor to “pause” the lecture until you’ve sorted out your technical issues. In this case, restarting the Duo 13 would solve this, only for it to randomly happen again when you least expect it. And I promise this sudden and unpredictable failure will happen often, at least once in every class or meeting.

As for handwriting recognition, try playing an MIT lecture on another device, and take notes (freehand) on the duo 13, then ask One Note to convert to text. Now tell me, are your notes still usable?

No they wont be, because you’ll have to go back and spend another 45 minutes re-formatting your notes so that its not just a wall of text. You’ll also have to correct the spelling and false word recognition due to your shoddy handwriting.

Your notes will often include a mix of text, numbers, diagrams, special characters. Those of you who take discrete math or any advanced science course will know what I’m talking about.

So ultimately the question is: Can I use the Duo 13 as reliable Note Taking tool.

No you cannot, don’t fool yourself, go buy a real Ultrabook, skip the note taking illusion, we’re no where near it today. (Probably why Apple hasn’t built it yet.)

Two in One Hybrid Design

The Display

When I first looked at the amazon listing, looked at the pictures, I knew the slide out display design was not going to work. But I kept an open mind and decided I’d give it a shot, maybe I was wrong.

Turns out I wasn’t wrong. While it may seem cool and appealing, in reality its very counter-productive.

Once you slide out the screen, it locks into a fixed X angle. This is not adjustable.

So you why is this so horrible? Well the display is glossy and will reflect practically any light source, office lighting, etc.

Usually people tolerate the glare because they adjust the angle so that their own reflection (or person) blocks out the pesky neon office lights.

This is usually done by adjusting ones posture and angling the display towards oneself. Problem Solved.

Forget about doing this on the Duo 13, the display is only great in soft lit rooms, and how many of those will you find in the office or in college?

To be fair, in tablet mode this is much less of an issue obviously. However, I use tablet mode exclusively for taking notes, and in this case ntrig has failed me once again.

Its important to note, once the novelty of a touchscreen has worn off, you will only use the touch screen for the following:

  • Windows 8 calculator app
  • Scrolling while browsing the web

In my opinion the UIX for windows 8 touchscreen devices is horrible. This includes 8.1, and I strongly believe that Microsoft needs to can this entire windows 8 design, and start from scratch. And hopefully they’ll have the common sense not to force the touch interface on devices that have a keyboard and mouse. Despite having used windows 8 and 8.1 as a daily OS, I’m still not convinced. Windows 7 was bad, but windows 8 UIX is even worse if that’s even possible.

Keyboard

I’m a touch typist, and to be honest.. I think Sony did an excellent job with the keyboard. Its soft, responsive, and reliable. The short travel distance is something that I adjusted too over the course of a week or so. You’ll end up appreciating the idea of not having to punch the keys so hard to type something. If only Apple gave us the option for short travel keyboards….

However … there is one big caveat, the track pad. Its a narrow strip bellow the space bar, pushed to the right a little bit. Your thumbs will often brush the pad and move the cursor to some random place in your document whilst your typing. Very very annoying, so far, typing this article alone it must have happened at least 4 times. Which brings us to the next point…

The Trackpad

Somewhere (forgot who) someone said it best. At best its a very “crude” tool to move the cursor around. No exaggeration really. When you first test it out, you will think to yourself hmm… I could live with this .. its not too bad. Haha! You will hate it by your 3 month of active use. Its just horrible. Mainly cause its too narrow measuring a depth of 1″ (2.5cm) by length of x” (8cm). Length wise its fine, but the depth is horrid. So even for mainly a text editing task such as writing this post, I do in fact have an external mouse attacked. This leads me to believe that the engineers assumed users would simply use the actual display as a trackpad. This approach doesn’t work very well with plenty of non touch friendly apps.

Duo 13 ports

All the ports are placed on the back of the Duo 13 DC, 3.5m audio jack, 2 x USB 3.0, SD. (Respectively)

Plugging stuff in is very annoying, and you will plug everything in at the office and at home, so that you have enough power to go (attending classes, or at a coffee shop etc..)

Now if you have the screen out, and you need to plug in your mouse, and the DC port, this will frustrate you to no end at least 5 x week.

Just visualize this for a moment:

  1. Lift or angle tablet upwards
  2. Plug in DC and USB mouse
  3. Angle tablet back to surface, while carefully avoiding placing your laptop on the DC  or USB cable

Now imagine doing this at least 5 times a week.

Transport / Sleep Mode

Now this is very critical, isn’t it fair to say, that most of us put our mobile devices (ultraboooks, tablets, etc) to sleep when were on the move? When you get to your next work place which may not have to be on the same day, you just flip open the display and expect to be ready to work or play right? Not with the DUO 13.

Sure you can put it to sleep, but I guarantee you it will “wake up” while its stowed in your messenger bag or whatever you use to transport it.

The side power button will wake it, and the windows hardware button on the front of the display will wake it too if its pressed.

Due to this flaw, I’ve always had to shutdown the Duo 13 every time I moved location. Which is annoyed me to no end.

Gaming

I realize this is not a gaming tablet, however despite this I had no issues playing HEX (http://hextcg.com) If your into collectible card games like Magic the Gathering Online you might want to check out hex or hearthstone. I haven’t tried HS on the Duo 13, but I would expect it to run, and if not, I could always play Hex instead.

Security – Fast Access

Ok its a given face unlock is not secure on most devices. I’m not about to bash on that. Lets discuss something much more serious, Fast Access will unlock your tablet even if it cannot recognize your:

  • Face
  • Password
  • Unlock Pattern
  • Does not stay in sleep mode
  • Horrible Trackpad

Just keep trying, and eventually voila, it unlocks and grants full access. Now that’s just retarded. My advice is to uninstall it ASAP, just login with your password. If you plan on using face unlock, be prepared to sit up and over the display, while hovering an inch above your chair so that the camera can see you. Which is also annoying if you plan to use facelock as minor access deterrent.

Verdict

The bottom line.. for the same money, you can get a much better ultrabook. Be it windows or mac.

This is certainly a white elephant!

Cons

  • More expensive than the rMBP with weaker specs
  • Cannot be used to take digital notes (uses Ntrig)
  • Display has too much glare (cant adjust screen angle)
  • Bundled Software is crap
  • Fast Access is not secure enough even for people with light security requirements
  • certainly a white elephant

Pros

  • Its as light as a Macbook Air (2.9lbs)
  • Excellent keyboard

Specs of my Duo 13

Screen Size 13.3 inches
Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080
Max Screen Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels
Processor 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM 8 GB DDR3-SDRAM
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Hard Drive 256 GB
Graphics Coprocessor Intel HD Graphics 4400
Wireless Type 802.11bgn
Number of USB 3.0 Ports 2
Expand
Other Technical Details
Brand Name Sony
Series VAIO
Item model number SVD13215PXB
Hardware Platform PC
Operating System Windows 8 Professional
Item Weight 2.9 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H 8.27 x 13 x 0.77 inches
Color Black
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Count 2
Computer Memory Type DDR3 SDRAM
Flash Memory Size 256
Hard Drive Interface Serial ATA
Optical Drive Type No
Battery Type Lithium Polymer (LiPo)
Batteries: 1 Lithium Metal batteries required. (included)

Samsung Series 7 Slate (S7S) XE700T Reviewed

Its worth noting that Xcite is currently running a promotion for this fabulous windows 7 slate.

For KD 359.000, you get the Series 7 Slate, with its dock, and Keyboard. Surprisingly this is less expensive than say acquiring it from Amazon.

In this review I will only highlight some of the specs (click the link for the full specs):

  • Intel® Core™ i5-2467M Processor (1.6GHz)
  • PLS Display 11.6″ HD LED backlit Intel HD3000 GPU
    Max Rez: 1366 x 768, (Aspect Ratio 16:9, windows 8 compatible)
  • 64GB SSD Storage (read 250 MB/write 200 MB/s)
  • System boots in 19 seconds
  • Wacom active digitizer and digital pen
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n radio BT v3.0 + HS
  • Cameras Front: HD 2.0 MP Back: HD 2.0 MP
  • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Weighs 934.4g

Now there are a ton of reviews of this tablet on the internet, pretty much all of them say the same thing. All things considered this is currently the best Windows 8 compatible Slate on the market today. And this is something that I can certainly agree on.

But lets cover the most important topic when it concerns this Slate…

Why would I want to buy this Slate?

Slate PC’s are built for a niche market, for very specific needs and industries such as:

  • Engineers (Civil, Mechanical, Architectural)
  • Artists
  • Medical Field (Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, etc)
  • Warehousing
  • Musicians
  • IT Professionals
  • Anyone that wishes to replace paper and pencil with a digital note taking device
  • Windows 8 Tablet Application Developer
  • University Students

All the fields listed above work with drawings or pen and paper heavily. So this tablet would be ideal for them. You could run AutoCad on the go, and still be able to add your annotations to maps, pdfs, or whatever you happen to be working on.

The Pen: Handwriting Recognition & Inkin

Before we talk about the good stuff, its important to note you cannot slide the pen into the tablet for storage. This means you will have to carry the pen separately and this may mean you might end up loosing a few pens until you figure out a system to prevent this.

This is pretty much the main reason why you would want to buy this tablet. It has a Wacom Digitizer enabled display and pen.  Wacom are the leaders in this field, although recently N-Trig has been trying to compete with them (such as the technology used in the HTC Flyer tablet). Its worth noting N-Trig are closing the gap with incredible speed, but its still safe to say, when it comes to digital handwriting and inking Wacom is still the best.

The handwriting recognition on the S7S is a mind-blowing experience, especially for those that have never seen it in action. And this is without any calibration what so ever. It was able to convert my handwritten notes without any errors at all. Its worth noting that I have horrible penmanship, and I wrote notes in both cursive and print. Handwriting recognition is supported for most languages (i.e. English, German, French, Japanese). Unfortunately handwriting recognition does not support Arabic. However you can still take notes in Arabic, except it will just be freehand notes, and not converted to print.

When it comes to taking notes and inking there is virtually no lag between what your pen is doing on the screen and whats actually being drawn on your display. A very satisfying experience.

Entertainment & Games

The S7S has no trouble with playing HD Videos or Music. Flash based games of course are also playable. In terms of heavy gaming however, you might want to reconsider what your gaming needs are.

The S7S is capable of running Star Craft II at medium settings, and should not have any issues with League of Legends, or World of Warcraft. But this is not a portable Crysis on the go solution.
And in all honesty that is pretty much all I need on the go, a quick LOL match during lunch at the office is always entertaining.

In essence any games with heavy GPU requirements will not be suitable for this tablet.

As a reading and media consumption device this tablet will do well, so long as you manage the power consumption carefully.

Battery Life

The S7S’s battery is rated for 7 hours. But real world usage would suggest it will be in the average of 4 hours give or take.

Enabling wifi and looping a movie endlessly will result in a max runtime of 3:33. Keep in mind  this is practically in line with most laptops and netbooks. My own 13″ Macbook Pro doesn’t fare any better.

Conclusion

The S7S is the fastest Windows 8 compatible tablet on the market today, its got an industry leading Wacom digitizer enabled screen and pen. This makes it an excellent inking, note taking device. And the dock can convert it to a workstation in a heartbeat. So if you fit the criteria of a note taking person or you need to draw on a tablet then this is the perfect choice for you.

If you plan on developing Tablet applications for windows 8 tablets, the S7S is the official build/dev device for windows 8 apps.

Alternatively if you’ve got cash to burn, and you would like to explore the world of Windows based Tablets/Slates, then this would be an excellent choice too. Experiencing it for yourself, and learning all the ins and outs will always be worth any amount of money.

But if the pen is not essential to your needs, and your mainly looking for a reading/media consumption device then I would highly recommend that you look for a Android or IOS based tablet instead. They offer up to 10 hours runtime (in terms of real world usage), and probably will cater better towards your needs.