From B&H Website

From B&H Website

Please know that I wear the badge  “Tech Nerd” as a compliment. Myself, I have a the pictured wireless 3D printer sitting in my office at home. I call it research. My family calls it a problem. :)

I digress. A teacher recently asked me for advice on how to pick and choose a 3D printer for her high schooler. I started my reply to her, but I realized it might be worth posting in my blog, just in case anyone was facing the same decision. I’ve done some editing of the email, but it generally went like this:

Samantha, It’s great that your high schooler is wanting a 3D printer. There are so many options out there, compared to 10 years ago when it was Makerbot or bust, for the most part. Certainly, there are many build-from-a-kit printers, as well as order-all-the-pieces and build projects, but it might be best to stick with one that’s already put together so he can concentrate on printing, not fixing.

Here is a list of printers that are ranked and mostly available on that might be of interest –
One thing to be concerned about is viability and support from these 3D printer companies. Over the past few years, I’ve seen several go out of business, which means that their printers don’t have support after the company folds. That’s a risk that might make sense to stick with well known companies, but that also increases prices.
Other things to consider:
  1. Will the printer be for just tinkering or eventual real, useable model creation?
  2. What will the size of your printed objects be?  Our 3D printers can print 8x8x8 inch creations with just one color at a time
  3. Most do it yourself printers have the ability to upgrade their products to create larger build plates – allows for expandability
  4. Do you care about proprietary filament printers? It may cost a bit more, but depending on your build volume, you might not notice the price difference
For some reason, I was drawn to XYZ printers – They were one of the early companies to come out with 3D printers that were almost affordable. My builds have been pretty solid, and about the only thing I notice different from our school’s 3D printer builds is that you have to lay down a layer of glue stick goo on the masking tape-like base provided base or the filament won’t stick. It’s also a bit harder to pry off the plate when it’s completed.
There are several models made by XYZ that I’ll point out here. I have the orange one (second one below) for my own personal use:
  • cheapest, ready to go printer I can find
  • 5.9x.5.9×5.9 builds – at the top of the mini-sized builds
  • Decent footprint – would fit on a student-sized desk
  • Proprietary filaments with a chip (You can’t buy off the shelf filament)
  • Looks like it was made by Crayola for kids (It kind of is for kids, but who cares?)
  • No wifi printing
  • Can’t build large objects
The orange printer I have is now on sale at B&H Photo for $189 GREAT PRICE FOR A READY TO GO WITH STARTER FILAMENT –
  • It has all of the pluses and minuses of the above printer, but it can be set up to print wirelessly. A spool of filament costs $20-$25, though sometimes they have sales on their website
Da vinci printer 1.0 – $239 – – From the xyz website. Don’t know how long that will be at that price, but it is an older version than the two above.
  • Use any filament out there
  • Upgraded printhead, better quality
  • 5.9x.5.9×5.9 builds – at the top of the mini-sized builds
  • Decent footprint – would fit on a student-sized desk
  • Can’t build large objects
  • One color at a time
  • A bit older technology means it might not be supported for much longer
I hope this makes things easier vs more confusing for you and your child. Let me know if you have any questions.3dprinter
Rick (MS Tech Nerd)
Perhaps, some of this information will be interesting to you. If not, you got to read martian or greek for the past 3 minutes!
from amazon website

from amazon website

So, the sales of this 7-inch tablet were on fire (ha) over the holiday season. These devices actually went for $35 through Christmas. The regular price is $50. Is this device worth all of the one-click ordering or will it go the way of Amazon’s failed attempt at creating an iPhone and Samsung S6 killer – the horribly received (and even worse functioning) Amazon Fire Phone?

As a person who has owned more 7-inch tablets than a human has a right to (I’m working on it, I’m working on it!), I have tried or owned everything from a Chinese $30 android tablet to the WAAAAAAAY too large iPad Pro. Although the new Kindle Fire is closer on the scale to the cheap 7-inch tablets, I will say that is is quite serviceable and would recommend it to anyone who is trying to figure what the fuss regarding tablets is all about. I now have had this device to use for over a month. I’ll lay out the six areas where tablets are judged – size, build, screen quality, computing speed, battery life, and value. I’ll use a 1-5 scale with 1 being the best and 5, not so much.

  • Size – 3 – this more about thickness and weight. It doesn’t feel svelte, but it’s comfortable in hand, with its rounded edges.
  • Build – 3 – the glass on the front seems pretty sturdy. I haven’t had it long enough to see if it’s scratch resistant. The back is a somewhat slippery plastic panel that sounds hollow when you thump it. It’ll do.
  • Screen Quality – 4 – I’m surprised how nice the screen is. I was expecting a washed out, dark, and pixelated experience, but matched up against one of my higher quality tablets, it held up pretty well. It is an IPS display with 1024 x 600 dimensions. It’s probably the worst at doing what Kindles were meant to do, being an e-reader.
  • Computing speed – 2 – This is not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, but for a sub $50 tablet it manages to do things without wanting to throw it out the window.
  • Battery life – 5 – You could go for three or four days of medium use and only need to charge it at the end of that fourth day. It also maintains a pretty decent charge on stand by. I’ve tried out tablets before that never leave the house because the drain even when not being used and start fading within the first 1/2 hour use.
  • Value – 10 – Yeah, it’s off the scale, but if you are someone that has never tried a tablet out before and wants to experiment, I really think  you can’t go wrong with for your first tablet experience.

I forgot to mention it, but since Amazon is all about you buying stuff from them, this tablet is like an always-on advertisement. When you wake it from sleep, you see an ad for one thing or another. It will also push other ads during different parts of your tablet experience. If you’re used to browsing the web and ignoring the side advertisements, you won’t have a problem with that small nuisance. Finally, if you have Amazon Prime then this really is a no-brainer! Many movies, songs, games, books, and e-magazines are free. If you’re on the fence about this device, give it a go!

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.41.02 AM

From website

Link to deal – Just in case there’s anyone out there who wants to be ostracized and ridiculed because they have a 3D printer in their home! Seriously, 3D printing has come to the masses. Replacement cartridges cost the same as Makerbot cartridges or even less. Know that printing a 1 by 1 inch object takes about 30 minutes. Start making your chess pieces for Dad’s chess set present today!

asus tablet

From Micro Center Website

Link to Micro Center – Last year, I posted a review for an Azpen 7-inch Android tablet. It was serviceable, but quite a step down from the name-brand tablets that are now too many to count. Last year’s tablet was $39. This Asus tablet is $20 more at $59, but I think it is a much better tablet. For one thing, since it’s from a reputable tech company, they will back up their product for a year AND if a software update is out there, there’s a chance this device will allow for the update. It’s not blazing, by any means, but it’s probably just right for those of you who think an iPad is a bit too large and a bit too expensive. C’mon, $59!

Happy to answer any questions if you have any!

nookYeah yeah, nobody wants anything to do with Barnes & Noble’s two e-reader/tablets. Who could blame you? About a year ago they had a fire sale and dropped prices of the Nook HD (7-inch) and Nook HD+ (9.0-inch) tablets to ridiculously low prices, thinking that they were getting out the hardware business completely. After a couple of months, cooler heads prevailed and they back-tracked from definitely getting out to possibly staying in.  (Image from B&N website)

So, now we have these two devices, which have full access to the android google play store, BUT don’t have full access to Amazon’s online goodies. There are pluses and minuses to both the Nook and Kindle tablets, but know that right now, you can get a Nook HD+ on craigslist or ebay for around $100 -$120. A used Kindle HDX on craigslist runs about $250 or around $379 new. The great thing about both of these devices is that it’s easy to wipe them clean to “out of the box” state. BTW – New Nook HD+ 16gb  is $179 new and a new Kindle HDX 16gb is $379. So long as either device doens’t look banged up or scratched, chances are they will act like they’ve never been used.

I have no idea how I got this deal, but someone on craigslist wanted nothing to do with their Nook HD+ and sold it to me for $65. At that price, this device is a steal.

The bottom line – Yes, the Kindle HDX is probably the all-around best ereader/tablet out there today. It has the incredibly cheap (I think) Amazon Prime yearly subscription, that even at a raised to $99 price is a bargain if you buy and use Amazon regularly, it has a speedy quad-core processor, and front and rear hd cameras for pictures, videos and skyping. HOWEVER, is it really $200 better than a Nook HD+? If you don’t use Amazon for much, don’t video conference or have something other than a table to take video and pictures, and like a tablet that has full access to hundreds of thousands of android apps, then the Nook HD+ looks like a bargain for you.