It’s that time of year again… what one of our team members at Crown Computers referred to as “Marketing Season.” Instead of marketing—which you get enough of—we’ll share with you what our team thinks is fun, cool, and interesting, regardless of the season (but also, if you need some gift ideas, like I do). Today we’ll look at some thrilling and geeky fun for everyone in three pieces of gear.
One of the hardest things about using your laptop out in the field is being constrained to the built-in monitor’s size and resolution. If you’re thinking about how to get more precious screen real estate on your desk, the answers are surprisingly simple these days, even with a laptop: plug in more monitors, and if you need to, plug in a Thunderbolt dock first.
To set up an extra panel to fit all of your extra windows on the go, you’ll need a portable monitor. There are some interesting triple-screen setups that unfold around the built-in screen, but typically, these monitors plug in via USB 3 and cost $100 for an HD resolution screen, up to $300 for a 4k screen. In my experience, the HD screens aren’t super performant, but work well for business usag, or just playing back HD content in the background while you work.
Having a router when traveling with your family can be a great way to keep your devices and make sure you get the highest quality connection possible. Hotels are particularly noisy places, for instance, in the radio band, because there might be a wireless access point in every room. If you have a laptop that you use for watching content, you could plug an ethernet cable in and get the full throughput of your hotel’s modem.
Most travel routers have VPN software pre-installed, so you can get to your home VPN or a privacy-oriented service on every one of your devices without setting them up individually. Set up the wireless router at home and the SSID and key will be ready to go with minimal set up, when you should be focusing on enjoying your trip.
Single-board computers have been getting much faster and more function in the past few years. These days, a computer the size of a credit card can run pretty much any games from previous decades. Some sellers will preload one of these SBCs with something like 100,000 games from years ago, all on one device. Since the device is just a small Linux computer, you get an HDMI output, and about four USB ports to plug in controllers of your choice.
A new device that’s making a splash this year is the Flipper Zero. It bills itself as a development tool to help you test wireless protocols, GPIO pins, and access control systems. All of that is to say: it’s a “hacking box.” For example, it can be programmed to use its 125 kHz antenna to debug and diagnose problems with wireless key entry systems. This could be a really handy tool for someone who is learning about the protocol, or wants to set up a personal use case for what is usually an enterprise security solution. With that kind of power, it’s up to the user to keep their use ethical.
Meta Quest 3 VR Headset
Another approach to getting a bigger screen is Meta’s Quest 3 virtual reality headset. While the promise of virtual reality is to be an immersive entertainment system, it seems that there are a few rough edges that need to be worked out. The Quest 3 continues to advance toward an immersive experience, with improvements on the clarity of the image, as well as important improvements like passthrough and augmented reality—for being able to see the room that you’re in through a camera.
Users have noted that it’s WiFi 6e and high refresh rate give you a super-smooth experience when gaming, but what else might it be useful for? How about learning the piano in augmented reality? With impressive apps that overlay the real world with extra information, there’s really no telling what kind of cool things will be available in the future. At the very least, normal, rectangular content should look really nice on the high-resolution screens, which simulate a very large television no matter what room of the house you’re in.
While remote controlled flying drones haven’t got a lot of attention recently, the technology in them has been steadily improving. More miniaturization and battery life means that flying a remote controlled drone has never been as easy or as fun as it is today. As camera technology becomes miniaturized, you get higher resolution and better photography on a device that captures what used to be impossible shots.
When drones came under FAA authority a few years ago, it seemed like anything worth flying would need to be registered, smaller and more efficient designs have come along to get under the weight limit for regulatory compliance. Of course, drones still need to be used according with local and national regulation and law.
One of the best things about drones as a gift or hobby is that they scale all the way down to toys or all the way up to professional photography quality. This means you can enter at any level you’re comfortable, and if you’re a beginner, you can pick up something small to practice with while you’re on the road to masting drone flight.
-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team