Tuesday, March 6

Reviewing Accell’s USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station

There was a time when I resisted technology. I thought waiting in line for a product was silly. I didn't care to upgrade to the newest device. I thought Bluetooth was some sort of dog jeans hybrid gone horribly wrong.

Fortunately, I'm a lot more invested in cool new gadgets and devices, since I know tech makes my life easier (for the most part). And something that fits the bill is Accell's USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station.

I'll let the diagram below demonstrate just how versatile this thing is – it features DisplayPort, HDMI 1.3, 3.5mm combo jack (audio/microphone), Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), and 3 USB-A 3.0 connections. The dock is compatible with devices running Windows 7 and newer or Mac OS 10.6 through 10.11.

Just look at all that! I'm at a point in my life where I now have an uncomfortable amount of devices, but this docking station helps keep everything in line. I can charge my iPod (old school!) while listening to a far more current song while also digesting a music video from my youth via the HDMI port. Of course, that would just be a wall of sound (and not the good, Phil Spector kind), but the ability to take care of a handful of things at once is super useful.

It's also far more compact than I would have expected. Look at my hand – admittedly probably slightly larger than the average human hand – envelop it pretty easily. It has a solid weight and appears quite durable, which is terrific for all the klutzes out there, myself included.

Keep this little guy by your normal computer setup and you'll be good to go. For the most basic setups, you can keep your keyboard and mouse all in one place while charging your phone – and most importantly, you don't have to worry about all kinds of cords flailing about. Pretty clutch.

One thing I would strongly recommend is to actually install the driver on your computer (you can grab the latest ones here). Though it's fun to be stubborn and try to use a device right out of the box without looking at the manual or installing any peripheral equipment, you won't get the full experience with this product if you go sans driver. Luckily, installation is a breeze, and you'll be docking before you know it. Give Accell's USB 3.0 Full Function Docking Station a whirl – it'll help you keep on top of all the devices in your life. And in our connected world, that's never a bad thing.

Full product info and specs below:

Product Features:
  • DisplayPort output
  • HDMI 1.3 output
  • 3 USB-A 3.0 ports, including 1 port with BC 1.2 (USB-IF Battery Charging Standard)
  • Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) port
  • 3.5mm audio/microphone port
  • Powered by the DisplayLink™ DL-5900 USB video processor
  • Dimensions: 6in x 3.1in x 1in
  • Weight: 9.7oz (275g)
  • USB-A to USB-B 3.0 cable length: 27.5in (0.7m)
  • DisplayPort single display resolutions up to 4K@30Hz (3840x2160)
  • HDMI 1.3 single display resolutions up to WQHD@50Hz (2560x1440)
  • Dual display resolutions up to 2048x1152@60Hz
  • Supports 10Mbps/100Mbps/1Gbps Ethernet
  • USB-A 3.0 charging output up to 900mA
  • The USB-A port with BC 1.2 supports up to 5V@1.5A of charging output
System Requirements:
  • Windows 7 or above (Latest drivers are available here)
  • Mac OS 10.6 through Mac OS 10.11 (Latest drivers are available here)
  • 1 USB-A 3.0 Port
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Intel HD4000, ATI Radeon HD 5000/AMD Radeon HD 6000, NVIDIA GeForce 400M or better

Sunday, March 4

Let's See a Show! Senses Fail, Reggie and the Full Effect, Have Mercy, and Household

Few things can beat seeing a show in Austin – but getting to PLAY the after party of a killer show? That's even better. My band Burning Years was lucky enough to jam and keep the rock going after the Senses Fail, Reggie and the Full Effect, Have Mercy, and Household show at Barracuda in Austin, and it was glorious. But I'm not here to toot my own horn, so let's take a look at what came before us. 

The opening act of a big ol' show can have a lot of pressure on it. The folks that come out early may have only heard a song or two – or perhaps none at all. The openers have to bring it to set the tone for the entire night.

Luckily, Household delivered. They've got a different sound than the rest of the lineup, opting for more of a minimalist post-punk sound, but I dig it. Sometimes you don't need a lot of glitz and glamour to get the heads bopping and the toes tapping.

Have Mercy
Another new addition to my ear waves, Have Mercy may have been the hardest rockers of the night. The Baltimore band felt right at home in the pleasant outdoor scene, playing banger after banger. Admittedly I did not catch the names of any songs, but I'll definitely be adding these guys to my rotation. Great job, team.

Reggie and the Full Effect
My RatFE experience is primarily limited to "Congratulations Smack and Katy" and its delightful music video, but these fellas know how to put on a synthesizin' good time. They had a lot of banter with the crowd which helped keep the good times rolling throughout. Also anytime keys are involved in a set, it just feels right. Bam.

Senses Fail
The main act of the evening, these boys did not disappoint. Lead singer Buddy Nielsen did a fabulous job of keeping the crowd engaged, swinging his mic stand out with amazing precision so the audience could sing along. He also suggested the incredible idea of handing out roasted chickens to fans at shows as a little added bonus for coming out. I fully support this plan and will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Earlier this year, Senses Fail dropped If There Is Light, It Will Find You, their seventh full length album. I first heard about them back in 2004 or so, when their jam "Buried a Lie" was all over Fuse TV (shout out to the former MuchMusic!). It's so cool to see a CD that harkens back to the old days while having plenty of modern themes and relevant lyrics. Excellent work all around.

All of the fog machines make for a great adventure.
If you get a chance to see this tour, definitely take advantage and see all these folks rock out like crazy. It was a blast. Now check out "Gold Jacket, Green Jacket" off of Senses Fail's new album: