Z-Edge T4 dash cam review: Great video, a touchscreen, and style for miles, but no GPS

When I pulled the Z-Edge T4 out of its box, I was thinking the company had made a mistake and sent me a digital camera instead. Most dash cams, capable or not, have a rather cheap feel. The T4, on the other hand, has the heft and feel associated with the object I mistook it for.

The T4 is also a very good dash cam with a super-handy 4-inch touch display and a 1080p rear camera. Put bluntly, it’s easily the classiest dash cam system I’ve reviewed. For $170 with a 32GB SD card? Sold. If you don’t need GPS. Dang. For the whole package, the Viofo A129 remains our top pick. 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for buying advance and information on all the dash cams we’ve reviewed.

Design and features

Gushing and consternation aside, the T4 is a somewhat large dark gray and silver camera, measuring approximately 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inch at the lens. As mentioned, it has a huge 4-inch touch display that’s deftly responsive. 

On the top of the camera are the micro-USB power port and the mini-USB port for the rear camera. On the left side of the unit you’ll find the SD card slot (up to 128GB) and the power button. That’s it. The touch display obviates the need for other buttons. The camera sports a 155-degree field of view, and max resolution is 1440p. You can step that down to save storage space if need be.

Note: As to power, there are now OBD II to micro-USB cables available online for around $10, if you want to hardwire the T4 or any other camera without the hassle of splicing or tapping the wiring harness.

The T4’s on-screen interface can’t match that of the PureCam for style, but it’s more efficient, with its large icons and a very well-organized menu system. It’s really a breeze, and with the nicely sensitive touch display—a joy to use.

The camera also features a 180mAh battery, which was enough to keep it chiming in my backpack for a couple of weeks. Alas, the display won’t turn on while the camera isn’t plugged in, so I couldn’t turn off parking mode until I got to an AC outlet. Yes, there’s parking mode, where the camera will use its g-sensor to wake up and record what just woke it up.

The 1080p rear camera is a plain lens on a small, squarish body, not quite as stylishly designed as its front counterpart. But where the front camera employs a suction mount, the rear uses semi-permanent adhesive tape. That means that here in the city, in an unlocked convertible (to avoid a slashed top), I had to remove the bolt and nut that attach the camera to the mount to assure it remained in my possession long enough to review. A bit of a pain, but doable.

The T4 is warrantied for 18 months, though that doesn’t include the theft I was concerned about, and support is promised for life.

But now to flesh out that bad news, i.e., the lack of GPS, which is a way of proving where incidents occurred if the video details are obscure, and therefore a feature we deem necessary for legal purposes. You might never need it, but then again, you might never need a dash cam, or a car. It’s also super-convenient for tracking your travels and landmarking highlights with mapping software.

I’d give the T4 a pass if there were a way to add GPS, but there isn’t. No port, and as far as the company made me aware, no inline USB solution.

Performance

The T4’s day, night and low-light captures are as good as they get. That may kill the suspense, but just look at them yourself, and you tell me if I have to rattle on any further.

front camera day zedge t4 IDG

The T4 has a WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) setting which didn’t show here, but should enhance color for those times you’re simply capturing a view. Day captures are nicely detailed.

The day capture above shows nice detail, and the stabilization, which you can’t see in a still photo, is also quite good. WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) is available, but wasn’t in use in this capture.

rear camera day zedge t4 IDG

The T4’s rear camera captures are better than some system’s front captures. The dark areas in the image above are from the overhanging trees and the close proximity of the window borders in my convertible.

front camera night zedge t4 IDG

Low-light and night captures show nice detail, and are largely free from excessive headlight flare.

Night captures and low-light captures are very nice, capturing lots of detail and not too much headlight flare. The image below shows how much detail will appear in your surroundings when you process the image brightness.

front camera night zedge t4 lightened IDG

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Below is the rear camera, capturing much the same scene as shown in the T4’s forward camera’s captures. It’s not as detailed, but we’ve seen worse from front cameras.

rear camera night zedge t4 IDG

The night captures from the T4’s rear camera are good, though not as detailed as the front camera’s.

I have little to no complaint about any of the video captured by the T4. Note that this was at 1080, not the 1440p it comes set at. The 1440p is slightly more detailed, but eats up storage space faster.

A great dash cam, but darn

The T4 was destined to be the number one dual-camera dash cam system on our charts until the lack of GPS intervened. If that’s of no concern to you, then it’s certainly the classiest dash cam I’m aware of outside of the Owl and PureCam, and it beats them handily in the physical style and feel of the camera. For a standalone unit that doesn’t save video online, it’s darn near perfection. But the lack of GPS is a bit of a buzz kill. Again… Dang.

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Self-healing 3D-printed gel has a future in robots and medicine


luchschen via Getty Images

Robots might be a little more appealing — and more practical — if they’re not made of hard, cold metal or plastic, but of a softer material. Researcher at Brown University believe they’ve developed a new material that could be ideal for “soft robotics.” It’s already demonstrated that it can pick up small, delicate objects, and it could form customized microfluidic devices — sometimes called “labs-on-a-chip” and used for things like spotting aggressive cancers and making life-saving drugs in the field.

The 3D-printed hydrogel is a dual polymer that’s capable of bending, twisting or sticking together when treated with certain chemicals. One polymer has covalent bonds, which provide strength and structural integrity. The other polymer has ionic bonds, which allow more dynamic behaviors like bending and self-adhesion. Together, the polymers create a material that is soft, strong and responsive — ideal for creating a soft, robotic grip.

Brown University

Above, the researchers demonstrated the self-adhering behavior on the tail of a 3-D printed hydrogel salamander.

The hydrogel could also be a promising base for microfluidic devices — used for everything from cancer treatments to liquid-based watch tech and detecting explosives. Until now, it’s been hard to pattern hydrogels with the complex channels and chambers needed in microfluidics. But because this new material is 3D-printed, it can be made in stackable LEGO-like blocks, and “complex microfluidic architectures” can be incorporated into each block. These could create a type of modular system in which blocks with different microfluidic channels could be fit together as needed.

The material isn’t quite ready for use. Researchers say they’re still tweaking the polymers to get even more durability and functionality. If they succeed, this could make building soft robotic components and labs-on-a-chip as simple as snapping together LEGO pieces — or at least significantly easier.

Brown University

Above, the self-adhering behavior was used to make hydrogel building blocks that fit together like LEGO blocks.

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What’s the cost of buying users from Facebook and 13 other ad networks?

Google Search, Google Shopping, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, Snapchat, LinkedIn & more

This post reveals the cost of acquiring a customer on every ad channel my agency has tested. The ad channels include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, Google Search, Google Shopping, Snapchat, LinkedIn and others. Using this data, you can reduce your costs by identifying which channels are a likely fit for your own product. Then you can focus on testing just those channels to start. I’m pulling data from my agency’s experience testing 15+ ad channels and running thousands of ads for dozens of Y Combinator startups.

This post leaves you with a prioritized to-do list of which channels might work for your product, and reference points for how much you can expect to pay if you get those channels to work.

Which ad channels should I use?

We focus on three criteria when assessing ad channels:

  • Profit — You want to earn at least as much as the cost of acquiring a customer. For example, it’s uncommon to acquire an American customer through Facebook for less than $30 USD. So, your profit per customer should be at least $30 to break even. (In reality, it should likely be 3x more to account for meaningful profit and ad channel volatility.)
  • Volume — If your audience doesn’t exist in significant quantities on a given ad channel, it’s likely not worth your time to experiment with it yet. Especially given your effective audience volume is probably smaller than you think: It’s not just a matter of how many people use the channel, but how many who use it also want your product today and can justify its cost.
  • Targeting — The best-fitting ad channels are those that let you narrowly target your desired audience. If they can’t do this, you’ll be forced to target broadly, which wastes dollars on the wrong eyeballs. This means your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is more likely to exceed your profit margin.

In short, to succeed with ad channels, your product should earn sufficient profit and have a sufficiently large targetable audience.

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This fake Mueller report is the ultimate troll

We got got. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report to the Attorney General on Friday afternoon. The investigation looks into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but despite calls for transparency from politicians, Americans, and emboldened mothers on social media, the report hasn’t been released to the public yet. 

Another report has been making the rounds, even if it’s not the one Mueller delivered to William Barr. 

The document, which is a glorious 69 pages long, is titled “Report from the Special Counsel Investigation into Russian Interference During and Before the 2016 Presidential Election.” 

Page 1 is an innocuous table of contents, but pages 2-69 are something even more juicy than any indictment: the lyrics to Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” 

The report concludes with, “69 pages. Nice.” 

Now we wait to see the actual Mueller report.

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Best e-readers for digital-book lovers


With so many models to choose from, it’s hard to believe there are only two major players in this space. Don’t worry, we’ll help you find just the right model.

best e readers

Rob Shultz

Table of Contents

Folks used to think that e-readers would relegate traditional paper books to the scrapyard of the past and destroy the publishing industry as we knew it. But, in the time since the first Kindle e-reader was unveiled in 2007, the dire declarations of what effect the devices might have on our reading habits and on publishers have given way to widespread acceptance from industry wonks and bookworms alike, for one simple reason: E-readers are pretty great.

Lightweight, easily readable in direct sunlight or, on models equipped with a built-in backlight, in the dead of night, an e-reader is an excellent choice for browsing periodicals, documents, comic books, and of course, books. Most are capable of storing thousands of books—and with power-efficient E Ink displays, word aficionados can typically read for weeks at a time before their device’s battery will need to topping off. These are all great features but, as they’re all features that most e-readers share, choosing which device to buy can be daunting. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the device that suits your needs. We’ve assembled reviews of the most popular e-readers on the market today—as well as some you might not have heard of that deserve your attention.

The buying advice you’ll find here is the culmination of months of research and hands-on testing, reinforced by years of experience in hardware journalism and a profound love of reading. We hope you’ll enjoy our in-depth reviews, but if you’re just looking for a quick buying advice, you’ll find our top two picks—and a money-is-no-object recommendation below. Prefer to do your own research? Scroll down to the features we think you should look for in an e-reader.

Updated 3/22/2019 with news of the All-new Kindle, the updated affordable model (starting at $89.99 on Amazon with Special Offers, or $109.99 without Special Offers). Read more about it in our All-new Kindle news story, where we also compare its specs to those of our top pick, the Kindle Paperwhite. It ships April 10. Stay tuned for our review.

The best e-reader for most people: Amazon All-new Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

With the All-new Kindle Paperwhite (available on Amazon), Amazon’s not only managed to catch up to the competition like the Kobo Clara HD, it’s lapped them. The new e-reader’s premium features, reasonable price, and wide variety of content make it the best e-reader for most people. Read our full review.

When you buy a Kindle Paperwhite, you’re not just getting a piece of hardware—you’re investing in access to the largest ecosystem of downloadable text content in the world.Every Kindle owner can access Amazon’s massive online store full of electronic books, magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. That’s something no other e-reader company comes close to competing. Voracious readers can also opt for a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, which provides unlimited monthly access to more than 1.4 million titles. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be able to borrow books from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or from Amazon Prime Reading

Runner-up best e-reader: Kobo Clara HD

Kobo’s Clara HD (available from Rakuten Kobo) appeared at a time when Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite was getting long in the tooth. While the All-New Paperwhite has caught up in features and design, the Clara HD is still a strong competitior, especially if you want to stay free of Amazon’s clutches. The content you lose if you forsake Amazon is the Clara HD’s only major challenge. Read our review.

Best luxury e-reader: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2017

Note: We’ve transitioned our e-reader coverage to PCWorld, starting with this 4.5-star review of the Amazon Kindle Oasis (2017 model). When price is no object, the Kindle Oasis is the e-reader to buy. While it doesn’t have the large display of Kobo’s Aura One, the Oasis provides luxury in the form of choice and brilliant industrial design.

With built in 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can download read books and periodicals on the Oasis’ bright, high-resolution display just about anywhere you go. The Oasis is the lightest e-reader we’ve tested so far, yet can still hold enough power to allow you to read for weeks at a time.

Runner-up luxury e-reader: Kobo Aura One

The Kobo Aura One is a big e-reader with a 7.8-inch, 300 ppi display and twice as much storage as any product we reviewed. We weren’t impressed with its backlight, which the manufacturer claims doesn’t emit the type of blue light that can interrupt sleep cycles, and you can’t get 3G connectivity with any of the Kobo products, but the Kobo Aura One left us happy in every other respect.

Features to look for in an e-reader

When we evaluate e-readers, experience has taught us that there are a few features an electronic reading slab should have to be a winner. To make your search for a great e-reader as pain-free as possible, you’ll want to consider the following:

Backlight You can use an e-reader with an adjustable backlight in almost any environment. The light will illuminate the text, but it won’t disturb others around you (including your bed partner). It’s a feature that adds cost to the e-reader, but we think it’s essential to having a good user experience.

Battery life and charging Part of the appeal of an e-ink reading device, especially when compared to a smartphone or tablet, is how little power it takes to display text and images. If you run across an e-reader that provides less than a few weeks of use before it needs to be recharged, keep running. When the time comes to top off your e-reader’s battery, you shouldn’t have to deal with proprietary cables, AC adapters, or charging docks, either. Look for a device that recharges and/or syncs with your computer via micro USB.

Build quality Owning a piece of technology that’s so light and thin you scarcely remember that it’s in your backpack until you pull it out to use it is a win—but only if its svelte profile and heft don’t come at the cost of durability. We’re not saying that your e-reader should be built like a tank, but it should be able to stand up to the casual abuse it’ll suffer by being knocked around in a purse, backpack, the backseat of a car, or if it’s accidentally knocked off your bedside table.

Connectivity An internet connection delivers the most convenient means of downloading new reading material and connecting to online resources such as dictionaries. Most people find Wi-Fi to be good enough, and every e-reader will have a Wi-Fi adapter onboard, but a 3G connection is a luxury you’ll appreciate every time you’re in the car, on the bus, and anywhere else you can’t log into Wi-Fi. Sure, you could create a hotspot on your phone and connect your e-reader to that, but you’ll never have to think about it if your e-reader is equipped with 3G. Yes, you’ll pay more up front for this option—like we said, it’s a luxury—but that includes the ongoing cost of service for the life of the e-reader.

Content The best e-reader is little more than an expensive paperweight if it doesn’t connect you to vast variety of reading material. This can come through a couple of different channels. Most people will top off their device with fresh reading materials from a well-stocked online store, such as the ones offered by Kobo, Amazon, and Apple’s iBook Store (for Apple products only.) Choose an e-reader that supports a wide range of electronic publishing formats and you’ll be able to draw from a nearly endless supply of free publications via public libraries and other sources.

DRM The acronym stands for digital rights management, it’s a technology designed to protect intellectual property—such as digital books—from being copied and shared.

On-device storage An e-reader typically won’t allow you to download files other than reading material—or in some cases, audio content—so you won’t need the expansive storage that you’d want with a digital audio player, a tablet, or even a smartphone. That said, you’ll want to be able to store a ton of books, magazines, and other publications when you don’t have access to the internet. An e-reader with three or four gigabytes of internal storage is capable of holding thousands of novel-length publications. You’ll also find that some devices come with expandable storage, which can come in dead handy if your reading habits include perusing large PDF files or listening to audio books.

User experience A number of factors will impact an e-reader’s user experience. Resolution is the most important—the higher the better, so as to eliminate jagged edges on letters. Variable font size support, so that you can make the text optimal size for your eyesight. An adjustable backlight, so you can dial it in for the room you’re in or let the device automatically find the right balance between optimal brightness and battery life. A user interface that makes it easy to navigate the book, turn pages, buy new books, make annotations, and share passages with friends.

Our e-reader reviews

We’ve pulled together eight e-reader reviews for this story, and we’ll add new products to the list as they become available (and remove models as they reach end of life). A note about the prices of the Amazon e-readers: You can remove Amazon’s ads from a Kindle’s lock screen before or after you order it. It will cost you $20 either way. The 3G option, of course, must be specified when you order the product, it cannot be added after delivery. That adds $70 the price tag.

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