Archive for November 19, 2018

Introducing The Unbound Backpack

Posted in Commentary on November 19, 2018 by itnerd

Efficient, sleek & TSA-approved. This backpack has everything you need, and nothing you don’t. From Solo New York’s new Nomad Collection, inspired by the hustle of the city and the adventure that everyday brings.


The Unbound Backpack offers a full zip, opening to lay flat so there is no need to take your laptop out for most airport screening. This backpack goes for $86.99.

Learn more at and join them on Instagram @SoloNewYork.  

Hitachi Solutions America Named To Microsoft Inner Circle For 15th Consecutive Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 19, 2018 by itnerd

Hitachi Solutions, a leading provider of global industry solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics, has been awarded the prestigious 2018/2019 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics. This is the 15th consecutive year Hitachi Solutions has earned this recognition.

Membership in this elite group is based on sales achievements that rank Hitachi Solutions in the top 1% of the Microsoft global network of partners. Inner Circle members must consistently achieve a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable solutions that help organizations achieve increased success.

The 2018/2019 Inner Circle members were announced at Microsoft Inspire, the annual premier partner event held July 15-19 in Las Vegas. To celebrate this impressive achievement, Hitachi Solutions will join other top honorees at the Inner Circle Summit, to be held Oct. 23, 2018. There, they will have the opportunity to share strategy and network with Microsoft senior leaders and fellow partners.


Martello Receives Two 2018 Best Ottawa Business Awards

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 19, 2018 by itnerd

Martello Technologies Group Inc. accepted two awards from the 2018 Best Ottawa Business Awards (BOBs) for “Deals of the Year: Private Equity” and “Best Business”. The awards were presented at the BOBs gala on Friday, November 16th at the Westin Ottawa.

The BOB awards were given to more than 23 companies in 25 different categories, recognizing a wide range of organizations from diverse industries at the gala amidst VIPs, celebrities, business and community leaders and more than 700 guests.  These awards are organized by the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ottawa Business Journal and supported by dozens of sponsors, including lead sponsor, the University of Ottawa Telfer, School of Management. They recognize Ottawa’s top businesses as well as the people behind them, and celebrate the history of innovation & entrepreneurship in the National Capital Region.

“We are honoured to recognize Martello as the recipient for ‘Deals of the Year: Private Equity’ and ‘Best Business’,” said Ian Faris, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade. “They demonstrate visionary leadership, innovative thinking and play a vital role in making Ottawa the best place to live, work, study, play and invest. We are privileged to have them in Ottawa.”

Each year, the BOBs present a unique opportunity to celebrate the incredible successes achieved by local companies. These awards capture the business achievements realized across sectors from technology to tourism and disciplines from sales to human resources.  Ultimately, the BOBs create a sense of excitement and momentum in Ottawa’s local economy.

Martello maintains a positive track record in acquisition activity. In November, the company announced the completion of its acquisition of Savision, after having acquired Elfiq Networks in December 2017 and Netvitesse in 2014. The Company’s listing on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) in September followed the closure of an oversubscribed $7.5 million private placement in June 2018.

Additionally, the Company’s solutions have continued to be recognized by the technology industry. In November, Martello was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Recognition Award from IEEE Ottawa. In September, Martello received a Frost & Sullivan Leadership Award for NPM (Network Performance Management) and ranked as Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company on the Growth 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies, and in June Martello debuted on the Branham 300 listing of Canada’s top ICT companies.

The IT Nerd’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Posted in Commentary on November 19, 2018 by itnerd

For the fifth year in a row, I am doing a holiday gift guide. This year, I will focus on gifts that caught my eye from my all over the place. I will also give gift suggestions from the various items that I reviewed this year. So, without further delay, let’s get started.


Most thermostats only read the temperature in one place (usually the hallway) which can make other rooms uncomfortable. ecobee4 comes with a room sensor to help manage hot or cold spots. When you place sensors in your favorite rooms, ecobee4 can read the temperature and detect occupancy. That’s how it ensures comfort in the rooms that matter. With Amazon Alexa Voice Service built inside, ecobee4 can perform the many ‘skills’ that come with Alexa. All you have to do is ask, and watch the blue light pipe on top of the thermostat blink in response. For total hands-free control, it can even hear you from across the room. Expect to pay $249.


Enable the binge-watcher in your life with a new 4K Ultra HD resolution Hisense TV, built in with Roku’s innovative SMART TV operating system — newly upgraded with Amazon Prime Video in Canada.  Access to 100,000+ movies and TV episodes including blockbuster films, primetime shows, live sports, news, kids’ programming and music across thousands of free or paid channels like Netflix, Spotify, Google Play, and many more.  They will thank you eventually, just after one more episode. MSRP is $599 CDN.


The new HP Sprocket 2nd Edition, a portable, pocket-sized photo printer, is perfect for the seasoned holiday party-hopper. It’s easier than ever to snap pictures, instantly print from a mobile device, and share in the fun with as many friends connecting to the device at once. It’s available in four new colors – Luna Pearl, Noir, Blush and Lilac. Pricing is $159.99 CAD


The OMEN by HP laptop offers a design built for die-hard gamers, with increased VR capabilities, expansion capabilities, and additional ports. Built to deliver peak performance, optimize the gaming experience and enhance gameplay, the OMEN supports some of the fastest technologies available today with a broad range of options targeted at delivering unprecedented performance across all aspects of gaming. These laptops start at $1599 CDN.

This holiday Nikon is featuring its most portable entry-level DSLR, the D3500. It’s a great option for parents or photography enthusiasts who want to take their photography to the next level. The D3500 uses Bluetooth to create an always-on connection between the camera and a compatible smartphone or tablet, making it easy to share images to social media. You can pick one up at your local Nikon dealer. The body only is $569.95. But you can also get it with a 18-55mm lens for $699.95.

For the experienced photographer, the D7500 offers a great sensor, advanced manual controls, and an 18-140mm kit lens that handles just about any scenario, from portraits to distance shots. You can pick one up at your local Nikon dealer for $1,699.95 for the body only. If you want it with a 18-140mm lens for $2,099.95.

Powerful and portable, the Roku Streaming Stick + gives the gift of entertainment on-the-go all in a powerful stick. Perfect for holiday road trips, the Hotel & Dorm Connect feature lets you connect to wireless networks that only require a browser login, so you can binge-away. Choose your favourite program with the included point-anywhere remote, or just use the Roku app on your smartphone to control the action. MSRP is $89.99.

TCL 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Television, 55” marry superior 4K UHD picture quality with Dolby Vision HDR for a stellar imaging experience. This TCL 5-Series’ TV which goes for $550 CAD comes with HDR Dynamic Contrast technology which uses information embedded in the Dolby Vision content to optimize every scene for an accurate display of details in the bright and dark areas simultaneously. The 5-Series models’ iPQ Engine™ provides precise color replication while HDR Pro Gamma significantly improves HDR performance in any setting.

The Deco M9 Smart Home Mesh System connects and controls all your smart devices with seamless whole-home Wi-Fi coverage. It’s Alexa-compatible and an Internet of Things hub that connects everything with one app. It’s $399.99 CAD

Whether the pro-gamer in your home is trying to defeat a MOB or dominating the battlegrounds, survival is determined within fractions of seconds of network lag. The Archer C5400x Gaming Router automatically prioritizes gaming traffic to ramp up performance for any online match. $449.99. Read the review here.

Sonos has a bunch of deals on their great audio gear between Nov. 22 – 26:

  • $30 off Sonos One (discounted price: $219)
  • $60 off Sonos Beam (discounted price: $439)
  • $150 off Sub (discounted price: $749)

Plus Sonos will have a Holiday Pop-Up at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. Both the Sonos Beam and Sonos One will be featured there.


For some of us, the holidays mean traveling. This holiday season, make sure your home is in good hands while you’re away. Safe by Hub6 uses the security system hardware you already have and frees you from long-term contracts or monthly fees.. It redirects any alerts triggered by your system to your phone, friend, or  HUB6’s Professional Monitoring when you need a back up. Expect to pay $299 CDN.


With the popularity of creative software, more and more creators need a laptop that suits them. The MSi P65 can serve the needs of 3D Animators, Video Editors and 2D Designers. Sporting the Nvidia GeForce® the P65 squeezes incredible performance into the world’s fastest, quietest, and thinnest laptops. Msi’s exclusive True Colour technology offers near perfect colour presentation and powered by an 8th generation Intel, the P65 can keep up with any content creator. Take a look at my first look here. Expect to pay $2,399-$3,499 depending on configuration.

Wherever you’re living, access to high-speed internet is essential for staying connected. TekSavvy allows you to avoid the big telcos by offering high speed internet at an affordable price. You can sign up for an unlimited internet package that offers TekSavvy’s highest speed internet (50 MBPS) for just $57/month for 12 months. Meanwhile the highest speed cable internet package (250 MBPS) goes for just $90/month. TekSavvy puts customers first and Now Magazine readers agree, awarding it Best Internet Service Provider for the last seven years. If you’re tired of getting your internet from the big guys check out TekSavvy, it’s different in a good way.

Grovemade has decided to start their Black Friday sale early! Starting tomorrow and ending Sunday, November 25 at 11:59 pm, the leading designer in handcrafted accessories will offer 20% OFF a large selection of their EDC products. Techies will want to pay attention to their Apple Watch bands which look very stylish.

udoq400 Power Apple.jpg

The first patented multi-device luxury docking/charging luxury station for all mobile devices of every brand and generation, udoq 400 Power for Apple and udoq 400 for Android is a one-size-fits-all station for charging/docking up to five smartphones, tablets, music players, smartwatches, eReaders, and other devices. Created by the minimalist designers of Porsche according to German engineering standards, udoq 400 Power is plug & play ready, made of elegant sturdy high-grade aluminum that’s built to last. udoq organizes multiple devices and cables with an innovative patented process which allows users to quickly and neatly move and slide back and forth all the charging cables (including Lightning, Micro USB, USB-C, 30-Pin, with Adapter for Apple Watch) from multiple devices in one station without the mess and disorganization of tangled cables and lost devices. Price: $139.90-$169.90

Mixcder E7 - lifestyle photo2.jpg

The Mixcder E7 Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth over the ear Hi-Fi stereo headphones with deep bass and built-in microphone deliver on the company’s mission to create premium noise canceling headphones at an affordable price for everyone – at only $59.99. The Mixcder E7 employs Active Noise Canceling (ANC) Technology that continuously detects and reacts to outside noises, analyzing sound waves and blocking out ambient sound by creating inverse waves for a totally immersive experience for beautiful music and sound. Price: $59.99
Do you have any suggestions for additions to this list? If so, please post a comment and share your thoughts.




Review: TCL 43″ Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR ROKU Smart TV – 43S425-CA

Posted in Products with tags on November 19, 2018 by itnerd

If you are Canadian, you likely haven’t heard of TCL. But they’re the fastest growing TV brand in the world. And as of November they’re entering the Canadian market with three ranges of TVs to offer consumers something at every feature point. The entry level is the 3 Series, the mid-range is the 4-Series, and the high end is the 6-Series. I figured that the bulk of TCL’s sales is going to be in the 4-Series range with a maximum size of 65″. Thus I requested and got this:


Meet the TCL 43″ Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR ROKU Smart TV. I’m going to go right to the price and say that’s it’s $399 CDN and here’s what you get for your money:

  • 4K Ultra HD Resolution
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) Technology
  • 4K Creative Pro upscaling engine
  • 120Hz CMI effective refresh rate
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Ethernet port
  • Built in Roku OS which allows you to stream 150,000 movies & TV episodes across thousands of streaming channels

In terms of ports, here’s what you get:


From the top you get the following:

  • USB Port
  • Ethernet
  • Three HDMI
  • Cable Input
  • Analog port that requires a special cable
  • Headphone jack
  • Optical Audio

Another HDMI port or two would have been great. But this is a good amount of ports. And the fact that they are recessed means that if you wall mount this TV, you will still have decent access to the ports.

The first thing that you’re going to notice is the user interface. You’ll see items like “Playstation” and “Cable Box” complete with a live preview. That makes it easy for anyone to use the TV because everything is labeled in a clear and easy to understand manner rather than “HDMI 1” and “HDMI 2”. So much so that my wife who has been known to not watch TV if I am not around to turn it on and switch it to the right device, figured out how to turn this TCL TV on and find a movie to stream without me being present. That’s pretty impressive. So is the setup process. It took maybe about 20 minutes to walk through the menu driven setup process which not only helps you to set things up but to download updates to the Roku OS.

Now I am not a fan of smart TVs. But the built in Roku OS makes this TV a winner. I love Roku products and they have integrated their technology extremely well into the OS. Using a single remote you can watch TV as well as watch everything from Google Play to Netflix. Plus you can download the Roku remote app to your Android or iOS phone to not only give you access to the private listening function which will allow you to route the audio via your phone to a pair of headsets, but it gives you access to some advanced functions to tweak the picture quality and to enable the TV’s “Fast TV Start” mode which will allow the TV to fire up immediately and maintain a WiFi connection to enable updates to the Roku OS be downloaded when the TV is idle. You also get the voice search function which is absent from the remote that comes with the TV. If I had one tip for TCL, they should consider including the more advanced remote that allows for voice search and private listening so that the person buying one of their TVs doesn’t need to download the Roku remote app to do all of that.

But the thing that you care about is the picture quality. It’s shockingly good. HD content via my Rogers box is bright, vivid and detailed. Sport broadcasts look amazing with no motion blur whatsoever. But when you throw 4K content at it, this TV really comes into its own. The TV supports HDR10 from devices like the Xbox One X where games like Shadow Of The Tomb Raider look amazing. Plus any content off the Roku 4K channel simply pops to life. One interesting test that I did is to use the Zwift virtual cycling platform via my MacBook Pro connected via HDMI in 4K. I could now see cracks in the pavement while riding as well as individual blades of grass which was not present at 1080P. Plus the motion was very smooth with no motion blur of any sort. The picture at worst is easily competitive with the big name TV makers out there. As for sound quality, it’s actually pretty decent seeing as the sound from most TVs is sub par for the most part. But the catch is that you have to have the right environment because the speakers are rear firing. Thus they need something like a wall in front of them in a smaller room to perform at their best. Having said that, I suspect most of you will still go out to source a sound bar anyway.

Here’s the bottom line. I would highly recommend this TV to anyone who is looking for a high quality 4K TV and doesn’t want spend big name money. It is also great for someone who is not as “tech savvy” as I am as it so easy to use. It impressed my wife and I so much that TCL won’t be getting this TV back as it is that good. At a price of $399 CDN, you really can’t go wrong with the 43″ Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR ROKU Smart TV from TCL. Just download the Roku remote and you’re good to go.