Author: Stefan Etienne

Stef’s Select — May/June 2016


This one is very late — bear with me, I’m still tweaking this monthly gear roundup — but here’s my picks for the months of May and June. This gear guide is also getting closet to becoming a sort of lifestyle roundup for things I’m doing in SoHo and generally, around New York City. That however, will probably start happening next month. Also, I apologize to the readers of this small corner of the internet, that I’ve been so tardy, even with monthly updates. Such slack cannot be tolerated.

For now, read on for impressions of gear I messed with for the past two months.

Stef’s Select — April 2016

L1130783Welcome, reader.

As some of you may know, I started writing at TechCrunch. In short, it’s pretty awesome, especially since I’ve been writing about technology for nearly seven years (as of this post), starting when I was just 12-years-old. Now I’m 19, in my first year of college. Smart work does equate positive results.

It’s been a long, incredible journey that really is just getting started.

But of course, I couldn’t leave this site for ruin. It’s easy to get attached, but I think I might have a solution to keeping my old creation updated: longer-form updates. That will include my commentary on gadgets and gear, interesting lifestyle things I come across, and maybe a shoot or two with model friends.

Starting with a new section I’ll call Stef’s Select, where I go over the gear I’ve been testing, say a few kind (or critical) words about it, and of course pair it with my photography. So, here goes…

Samsung Galaxy S7 review: when just a little better can be a lot

L1130292The Samsung Galaxy S7, already? Oh, it’s very real and it’s very fast. But most importantly, it takes the formula seen with the last generation, and instead of completely revamping, makes the necessary tweaks to give a better overall experience.

Samsung hasn’t really done that before: every incarnation of the Galaxy S has been a major physical or internal improvement; the S7 has some of the most subtle changes in recent memory. However, these new subtleties make for a fantastic phone.

The new iPad Pro: a 9.7-inch effort at nabbing Windows users


Apple is essentially tasking the iPad Pro with stealing away Windows users, while also attempting to stamp its own vision of what a “post-PC” world can or will look like.

Enter, the new iPad Pro, a smaller 9.7-inch Retina display at 2048 x 1536 resolution (down from the 12.9″), which is an affair that utilizes a 64-bit A9X chip, a new 12MP iSight camera, 5MP FaceTime camera, iOS 9.3 and a whole suite of typical iPad features like a Lightning connector and four speaker audio. The new iPad Pro still supports the existing Apple Pencil, but requires a new (smaller) Smart Keyboard, straight from Cupertino, of course.

Orders start this Thursday, March 24th for the new iPad Pro, starting at $599 along with its accessory suite.

Via: Apple

The iPhone SE is a $399 6S in a four-inch screen and body

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 2.11.50 PMTake the same formula that makes the iPhone 6S and shrink that down — rather that size it up like the Plus — and you get the iPhone SE. A smaller version for those who just haven’t been sold on the five-inch-and-up screen race, it will have voice over LTE (wth more bands), while being 50% faster than a 5S.

The hardware aspects of the SE aren’t all that exciting — after all, it’s the internals of a 6S paired with the 12MP iSight camera tech that makes it a venerable smartphone shooter.

The iPhone SE will retail for $399 for a 16GB model (too small, indeed), along with a $499 64GB version. Four colors will be offered: rose gold, gold, silver and black. Orders start March 24th for the “new iPhone”.

Via: Apple

Master & Dynamic ME05 Earbuds Review: I Might Have Caved

DSCF2004I don’t normally review earphones, but when I do, they have to be close to the experience of their more powerful, larger counterparts: headphones. Otherwise, I despise them.

My main gripe with the category of earbuds — despite their portability and ease-of-use — is that they’re usually wired and don’t come remotely close to the audio experience of using great headphones, especially noise-cancelling models.

But, Master & Dynamic is definitely in the upper echelon of producing headphones, and when given the chance to check out a review unit ME05 — well, I was much obliged to see if I could learn, or experience something better.

Leica SL Review: To Make Great Creations

DSCF0639This is only the second time I’ve had a Leica camera in my possession for a review — the first time, I reviewed the Q, a masterpiece of a fixed-lens camera. Well, the German camera manufacturer of great esteem has decided to pursue the pro photography market, with another full-frame mirrorless camera, but with some additional touches that put it in a class of its own, costs included.

Want a synopsis? I can say without a doubt, never have I felt more empowered with a camera on the streets of Manhattan.

Facebook Messenger For Android Gets The Material Design Treatment, Finally

facebook-messenger-material-designIt’s always nice when an app gets updated to fall in line with the overarching design formula of the mobile operating system that it runs on. In this case, Facebook Messenger, which is used by millions, got the Material Design treatment for Android. Thus, the app hasn’t been dramatically changed, but it does look nicer — and that’s important, too.

Funny enough, Messenger head David Marcus wrote on Facebook (naturally) why this update took so long, since Material Design debuted back in 2014:

“Any major redesign of an essential app used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is painstakenly [sic] hard, and that’s why we took every precaution to ensure you’d truly enjoy this evolution.”

Via: Facebook