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Performing Stunts With The Helix X4 Stunt Quadcopter

Posted in reviews,Toys,video by Joe Colburn on the December 15th, 2013

RC Helicopters are cool, but I’ve always thought quad-copters are even cooler. The use of four rotors makes them fast, stable, and easier to manipulate mid-air. Still, I never got around to buying one. Then the Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt showed up in the mail. As one of Wal-Mart’s Top 20 Chosen by Kids, I was excited to dive right in.

Air Hogs Elite Helix X4

Usability and Control

With 4 ducted fans and gyro stabilization, the Helix X4 was really easy to get (and keep) in the air, even for a first-timer like myself. I’ve had a few RC helicopters and this was a lot more fun. While a helicopter requires constant attention in the air, the X4 was a little more self-sustaining and as a result, I crashed it far fewer times. The controls are easy to use and understand though not immediately intuitive. By this, I mean that you should always read the manual first. The thing that caught me off guard was how it isn’t ready to fly until it’s really ready. The X4 indicates via its lights when it is stable for launch and then you can get to the fun. The benefit is that it will always have a clean lift-off.

Features and Stunts

Other than the launch procedure, the lights on the front of this quad-copter will also flash orange if the battery is getting low and red when it’s time to land and re-charge. This is a step up from other quad-copters that just drop out of the sky when the batteries are done. Below is a list of other features of the Helix X4:

  • 2.4GHz radio control
  • Gyro stabilization
  • 4-ducted fans
  • 4-channel control
  • Incredibly crash-resistant materials
  • Superior durability
  • Charges from remote or using USB cable (included)
  • Did I mention stunts

Durability and Design

Let’s talk about the durability for a second. I’m super extra nervous-guy careful about my electronics, especially the ones that fly. The problem is, once it’s in the air, there’s not a lot you can do when it crashes. I’ve crashed my share of flying gadgets and much of my X4 flight time was in a cramped office, so I crashed this one even more. The difference this time is that the fans are protected by ducts as an extension of the quad-copter’s body.

The design, to me, is secondary, but also wasn’t lacking. There’s really not a lot of room to make one quad-copter look substantially better than others in it’s class, but the right colors and a little aerodynamics make all the difference.

The controller had a good weight to it and felt right in my hands. It also had features I liked such as the smooth stick control and right-hand placement of the stunt button and control as well as the handle, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the few fake controls that are built onto the controller but don’t do anything seemed out of place and the batteries didn’t seem to stay put very securely – although neither impeded performance in any way.

Helix X4 Stunt Video

With anything as fun as this, I try to include a little video with the review, so here you go!

Conclusions

With the suggested price of $79.99, the Helix X4 Stunt is might be a little more spendy than some of the lesser quad-copters, but it has the features to back it up. If you have limited skills and want to wow friends with some stunts, wrap your hands around one of these and you’ll be set.

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Attracting Younger Employees with BYOD

Posted in Guest Posts,Uncategorized by Rick DelGado on the December 13th, 2013

We’ve all heard about the benefits associated with formally embracing a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy in the workplace: It increases employee productivity, saves on costs, and makes employees happy. However, what too few people are discussing is the possibility of using BYOD to attract the right kind of employees. After all, a recent Unisys report found that 44% of potential job-seekers are more willing to investigate a company if they offer personal iPad support. Add to that the growing number of iPhone and other smart-device users, and you have a substantial chunk of the workforce that views BYOD as an important feature in an employer.

This all makes sense when you look at it from the point of view of a prospective employee. Most new hires—especially those from Generation Y—already own a mobile smart device of some kind. Thus, having a company supply them with a second, work-only device is completely superfluous. No one wants to have multiple smartphones or tablets on their person, and having to alternate between the two when juggling business and personal calls and contacts could get frustrating very quickly.

Businesses are beginning to realize that, rather than having to draw a distinct line between work and leisure, employees prefer to be able to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.

Add to that the increased flexibility and comfort from working with a familiar device, and it only makes sense that the younger generations will want a company that supports BYOD.

Still, BYOD isn’t all advantages. While it is being used to attract the best new hires in the field,it may also catch the eye of certain less-desirable employees. BYOD creates some very well known security problems that could be easily exploited by someone with the desire to do such a thing. By allowing sensitive company data to be accessed by personal devices, the company essentially loses control of it. That data can be copied and shared without restriction, thus potentially compromising valuable company information. To protect themselves, companies will need a detailed BYOD policy, and the digital security to enforce it.

However, at least for now, it seems as though the rewards of BYOD outweigh the costs, and nowhere is this more true than in relation to attracting employees. And as time moves on, more and more employees are going to demand that their employers allow BYOD in one form or another.

With the Millennial Generation slowly moving towards becoming the majority in the modern workplace, most employers are going to find that their workers are more connected and personal-device dependent than ever before. There certainly seems to be a connection between younger workers and a desire for BYOD policies, with six out of ten workers in their 20s and 30s relying on personal devices to do their jobs. These younger employees may not currently make up the majority of the workforce, but as older workers retire and their positions are filled, more and more Millennials will flow in to replace them. Thus, for a company to be competitive—perhaps not today, but in a few years from now—they’ll need to be not simply BYOD supportive, but rather they’ll need to be BYOD reliant.

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Go Big With The Wideboy 3D Printer

Posted in Computers by Joe Colburn on the December 9th, 2013

This post brought to you by Makism. All opinions are 100% mine.

The more I build things with my Arduino and Raspberry Pi, the more I fantasize about getting a 3D printer to build product housings and prototypes.  The cost has been a factor, but I've also worried about the limitations of what I could print.  I was speaking about this at the office just a couple days ago and then I learned about the Makism 3D Printers, specifically the Wideboy.

 photo 352ec763-c67e-463c-8019-45b1ab230afb_zps29167f75.jpg

Benefits Of Going Wide

The amazing thing about 3D printers is that there are so many out there to choose from these days.  The problem is that many are still expensive and don't improve on the print volume you have to work with.  3D Printers can range from $199 to over $24,000 and offer a smaller print volume than the Wideboy's 297mm x 210mm x 150mm.  When I go to maker and tech events, I always see these things printing out keychains and trinkets, but I want something that can print real product-sized products.

No Assembly Required

While the obvious selling point of this 3D printer is identified in its name, another benefit of the Wideboy is the lack of assembly required.  There are printers that are cheaper that you have to put together before you can use them, but the Wideboy is ready to print right out of the box.  It seems like putting one together would be a fun project (especially for someone like me), but I'd be a little heartbroken if I messed it up or had to order a missing part and wait another week or more to get printing.  With the Wideboy, you can dive right in on your larger projects the day it arrives at your door.

What's Bigger Than A Wideboy?

For my needs, the Wideboy is probably going to be plenty and at $1,500, it's about the average price for a 3D printer.  If you have bigger needs and a little room in your budget, the company also makes a Wideboy Pro and a Wideboy Mega, so check out Makism 3D Corp's site for yourself and look through the of Makism 3D Products to find one that might suit your needs.

What Would You Print?

A couple years ago, I thought 3D printers were cool, but couldn't imagine what I would print that would make a 3D printer a practical purchase.  Today, I cound use it to print cases for prototype boards, the frames for the homebrew Google Glass I'm building, prototypes for invention ideas, and the list goes on.  If you had a Wideboy, what would you print with it?  Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

 

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