Tag Archives: review

Mophie’s Juice Pack Air breathes new life into your iPhone


mophie_logoOn this site I sometimes will do a technical heavy post/review and other times I don’t because I don’t feel its an important aspect of what a normal user would want to know.  This is not going to be a technically heavy post because well, I don’t want to take away from the absolute greatness that I feel this product offers.  So if you’re looking for measurements or how much extra weight the case adds to the phone, or what the battery specs are (rechargeable 1200mAh) you need to move along to another site.  If however you’re curious as to how the product preformed for me and my reactions to it, then please, continue!

Juice Pack Air – iPhone 3G & 3GS from Mophie $49.95

PROS

  • Doubles as a protective case
  • Doubles your battery life

CONS

  • uses micro-USB port
  • status LEDs are unreliable for accuracy.

Up front, I’ll admit I was hesitant regarding Mophie’s Juice Pack Air.  My iPhone 3G is on its last legs of life.  Battery lasts absolutely no time at all anymore (we’re talking 100% down to 20% in a matter of hours) especially with my heaving texting/email/Twitter lifestyle.  I’m just fortunate I spend a lot of time traveling and able to keep my phone on charge during those times on the road or I would really being hurting.  I can say that after the very first day of using the Juice Pack Air, I was sold!  I went from my phone only lasting a few hours with normal use (Email, Twitter, Facebook, Texting, phone calls) to lasting the entire day, and I pushed it hard too.  So everything you read is true, the Mophie Juice Pack Air does double your battery life, no matter how bad off your battery is.  It nearly tripled my battery life, its like I have a new phone again.

JPA Purple Front BackNow just a hint of the technical:  The Juice Pack Air has a rechargeable 1200mAh battery, is made from matte plastic that makes it a successful and attractive protective case as well.  The case is divided into top and bottom sections that, when enclosed around the phone, forms a seamless and snug hold that can quickly be taken apart if need be.

On the back of the Juice Pack Air, there are four blue LEDs used to indicate the power that’s left in the battery.  Although it didn’t always seem to be completely accurate, its still nice to have so you have a general idea.  Along with the LEDs you have a on/off switch on the bottom of the case, which gives you the option to use the Juice Pack Air as an extended power supply, or simply as a protective case.

Uclip_image002sing the included cable (a micro-USB) you can connect the Juice Pack Air to your computer just like you would your typical iPhone USB cable, through the USB port, letting you charge the case and sync the iPhone simultaneously.

BOTTOM LINE

If you’re like me, still sucking the life out of your iPhone 3G or 3GS and want to give the old work horse an extra kick, at $50 you can’t pass up the Juice Pack Air.  It does what it promises to do, lives up to the expectations, and you’ll never look back.  Give your iPhone some new life!

Leave a comment

Filed under Opinions, Reviews

Withings Wi-Fi Scale – Reviewed


Okay, for anyone that hasn’t figured it out by the name of the site, I consider myself a geek, and in that, any new, or unique technical gadget just seems to call my name!  So, when I came across a scale that not only was Wi-Fi enabled, but also had a free iPhone app you could download, I was all of it!  (My desire to lose some weight at the somewhat direct suggestion of my doctor was also a helpful push towards this bad boy!)

Features

  • Wi-Fi enabledScreen-shot-2010-02-09-at-9_13_24-AM
  • Backlit screen
  • Battery powered
  • Body mass sensor

Pros

  • Multiple users with automatic user detection based on weight
  • Attractive/Slim design
  • Quick readings
  • Lots of reporting options

Cons

  • Seemingly low battery life
  • Some might argue about the price; $159

So, you might be asking yourself “why does a scale need Wi-Fi?”  Well, I’m here to tell ya, and rest assured, you’ll not wonder “why” anymore after I’m done with ya!

To start off, yes, the scale has Wi-Fi built in,, but that allows it to transmit your data to you Withings site, to your personal, password protect account.  You are also able to post your progress and the data the scale collects on sites like Google Health, Twitter, and others.  The data mentioned that the scale collects is your weight (obviously) but it also collects your fat percentage and your BMI, all of which is transferred over to your account, viewable on the Withings site, and allowing you to keep continual track of your progress nearly effortlessly.  (Well you still have to get yourself up on the scale, so there is SOME effort).

The scale itself looks rather sexy for a scale.  It has a nice contemporary look, with a shiny glass top, and a nice, bright, easy to read LCD display.  Getting the scale set up to use is really rather simple.  After installing the batteries (4 AA) you connect it to your PC or Mac with the included USB cable.  Point your web browser to http://start.withings.com where you can pair you scale with the site, and you’re ready to roll in about 5 minutes!  Its pretty sweet, and simple, rather more simple then I had expected.

Once you setup your account on the Withings website, you can start weighing yourself and have your data uploaded to the site.  Another cool thing about the scale?  I can recognize up to 8 people!  That should be plenty for a normal household with a couple of extras for random guests.  The site itself has some added functions beyond what some might be used to, basically a spreadsheet of data.  You can have graphs showing your progress over time as you weigh yourself, and you can have separate graphs for weight, fat percentage, and BMI.  You can also set goals that you can mark on these graphs, so you can have a visual of how close you’re getting to your goal.

Remember that iPhone app I mentioned before?  You can go out to the App Store, find the Withings app, download it, and you’ll be able to check your stats and progress anytime you like, while on the go!suiviImageTop

BOTTOM LINE

Overall I have been very impressed with e scale itself.  The only issues I’ve had with it has been how quickly it drains the batteries, or seemed to drain the batteries, short of that, I have nothing buy high praises for this scale and feels its worth a look by everyone.  If you’re looking to drop some pounds and want to keep track of your progress, the Withings Wi-Fi Scale is the definite way to go!  I definitely feel it is worth the price tag for what it offers, and is a “must have” product for this years holiday season.

**For more information, checking out Withings at their website, their blog, on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE

android%20 %20scaleWithings has just announced, you can now get their Wiscale app for your Android Smartphone!  Now even more people can enjoy the brilliance of this scale!

1 Comment

Filed under Geekasms, Reviews

Motorola Droid X & Verizon Wireless service–Reviewed by an iPhone and AT&T user


Okay, up front, I have been an AT&T customer for the past 6 years, and have been an iPhone user for the past 2.  With that said, this review is meant more towards the overall experience with the Droid X and Verizon’s service rather then with the technical specifics, you can get those anywhere.

BACKGROUND

I live in a small town in Kentucky, off of I75, and my job has me travelling across at least 36 counties in the southeastern section of the state, through the Daniel Boone forest and the Appalachian Mountains.  The general range I have to travel allowed me an opportunity to not only test a device, but I wanted to test a different service then just AT&T which I have been accustom to.  Verizon Wireless was gracious enough to give me an opportunity to not only demo their service, but also the Motorola Droid X for a couple of weeks.  My first venture with an Android based phone and Verizon.

THE PHONE

droidxThe first and initial impressions I had of the phone was not only its screen size, but the phone’s overall size.  When looking at the side by side, the Droid is noticeably larger then the iPhone, and to some this might be a negative, but after using it, I’d being willing to argue that it is a plus.  Not only was the screen very sharp, maybe not as sharp as the iPhone 4, but sharp none the less, and the larger screen made it nicer to watch videos, look at photos and play, yes; Angry Birds!

The phone comes with four basic function buttons at the bottom of the screen;  Menu, Home, Search, and Back.  As a constant iPhone user, this took a little adjusting to, I found myself having to remember to hit the Menu button for certain options to appear in apps that I was used to bring up with the swipe of a finger.  Nothing really to complain or fuss about, just the nature of the beast and difference between devices.  Call quality was fine for me, and I have no complaints in regards to the quality of the calls.

The device itself runs fast and responds quickly to commands and opening of apps.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of performance, but was impressed by the phone.  The interface took a little getting used to, but it didn’t take very long to grow accustomed to it.  I realize it’s a custom UI for the phone, and differs from other Android based phones, but as this is my first, I have no basis to compare, and won’t attempt to.  I found the IU extremely reasonable on how it functioned, and really have no ill regards towards it in anyway.

Another feature, which I was impressed by somewhat, was the camera.  Pretty much standard for any smartphone anymore, the camera worked well for the shots I took with it, including the built in flash, which was nice being that I’m still in the dark ages with my old school iPhone 3G and am not used to having a flash available on my phone.  One thing that truly impressed me was the video taking capabilities of the phone, as I recorded a few minutes of a basketball game, and had no problem with the video quality and fast movements that came with that recording.

The one draw back, which is something you will see mentioned on nearly all reviews, is the battery life of the phone.  I do a lot of texting, internet, and heavy emailing during the day, and my iPhone has been through the paces.  I have to charge it at least every night, if not plug it up at some point while travelling on the road to ensure I get through the day, so poor battery life is something I’ve just learned to live with currently.  That is one thing I did notice with the Droid X.  I didn’t use it near as heavy as I would my normal phone, and the battery would need to be charged by the evenings, especially if I did any heavy net surfing.  I would say its equivalent to the battery life I currently have on my iPhone 3G, which, isn’t that great, to say the least, but considering some of the aspects of the phone itself, I can see where it would get into having battery life issues.

Technical Specs

  • Verizon Motorola Droid X
  • Android 2.1
  • 4.3” LCD 854×480
  • TI OMAP 3630 1Ghz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8GB Internal, 16BG/32GB (microSD)
  • 8 Megapixel camera
  • 3G, Wifi b/g, BT
  • FM Radio
  • TV Out (HDMI)
  • 4.6 x 2.3 x .047”, 4.6oz
  • 1540mAh battery

THE SERVICE

This is the nuts and bolts of why I truly wanted a chance to do this.  I’m going to be very candid and say I’m accustomed to AT&T’s service.  I only have 3G speed available in one small area of my entire 36 county region, and that is in Somerset, KY.  I have grown accustomed to not only random quick dead spots that will cause dropped called, but full blown dead areas, not only in Rockcastle County, but throughout Eastern Kentucky.  Its something I’ve just learned to live around and know.  I’ve traveled the same roads so much the past few years, I know when and where I can make a call or need to end a call early, and the worst part?  In 6 years, nothing has been done to improve the signal quality.

When I received the Verizon phone, I wasn’t only surprised, but I was amazed.  The data speed in which the phone had, sitting in my living room was above and beyond what I received with my iPhone.  Even in the only AT&T 3G area I’m typically in, the Droid X moved faster on data then my iPhone.  Most dead spots that I had grown accustomed to, were none existent with the Verizon phone.  No dropped calls either.

One hiccup I did have, was while attending a college football game in Lexington, the Verizon service did seem to have a few hiccups while I tried to use it in the stadium, but so does my iPhone unless I turn off 3G, so there isn’t a big surprise there which the crowds at Commonwealth Stadium, I just felt it was something to note.

One other candid comment I’d like to make.  I sent the same request to all major Wireless providers in the area, including a few smaller ones.  I only had 2 respond to my request (One where I voiced desire to not only test a device, but their service in the region).  Verizon was the first to respond and have been very gracious in their support, I hope to work out another deal with the other company (Appalachian Wireless) to demo a product and give a similar report to their service soon.

BOTTOM LINE

As a iPhone user for the past few years, I was impressed with the Droid X’s design and functioning, not only as a phone but as an overall device, as I’m the type that expects a lot out of his device, and will milk it for everything it has.  For now, I’m personally going to stick with my iPhone, mainly because I have a few apps that I rely on, that are not currently available on the Android market.  Although with that said, let me also point out that I found some of the apps available on the Android market, very desirable, and unavailable to myself on my iPhone (NFL anyone).

As for the service.  I came in expecting it to be a little more reliable then AT&T, simply by word of mouth, but I was blown away by the difference between Verizon and AT&T’s signal strength and cell reception in what are typically weak and dead zones, not to mention the data speeds I was able to get around my test area.  When it comes to the iPhone being available on Verizon, I very well could be one of the first in line when it becomes available.

Leave a comment

Filed under Geekasms, Reviews

Logitech Harmony 300 Remote – Reviewed


imageMost homes anymore are better suited for, or already equipped with a universal   remote.  One remote to control them all is the goal, and not only a remote to control them all, but a remote that does a good job at controlling them all!  Up to this point, that’s been my biggest complaint and issue when it came to universal remotes.  I never could find one remote that actually did a good job at controlling all my devices.  Either the remote failed to control certain functions or it just flat-out couldn’t control my device.  Well I was lucky enough to get my hands on Logitech’s $50 universal remote model, the Harmony 300, and seriously, every single issue I’ve ever had with using a universal remote, is a thing of the past!

FEATURES

  • Controls 4 devices
  • “Watch TV” button
  • ergonomic design
  • logical and convenient button placement
  • Uses 2 AA batteries
  • Programmable using a USB cable and software

PROS

  • Affordable price at $49.99
  • Programmable using a PC or Mac
  • Works well at being a “remote”
  • comfortable design

CONS

  • Controls only 4 devices
  • Requires a computer with internet access to configure and program

Logitech is known for many things, and one of the upward trends would be their growing choice of outstanding universal remotes, including their new Harmony line.  The first thing to note is that the Harmony 300 is the only model that lacks a LCD screen, which can be a good and a bad thing (I’ll note that in a bit).  Another drawback that the 300 model has on the other models is that it can not recharge batteries, it is powered by AAs.  The device is also limited to only controlling 4 devices.

One of the aspects of the Harmony remote that sets it above all the rest, and allows it to be such a well-functioning universal remote, is that the 300 uses web-based software that you download from their website MyHarmony.com to allow you to program the remote using your computer and the provided USB cable.  This might seem like a strange added step to simpler remotes, and the idea of your remote needing to sync to your computer similar to how you sync your iPhone with iTunes might seem a bit out there to some, but this is the magic of what makes this remote so great!

By using the software, you’re allowed to search for your specific device(s) using the make and model number, ensuring that the pairing is exact.  If you have difficulty finding your device (like I did with my Dish Network DVR) the program will prompt you to help “teach” the Logitech remote by using your current remote.  In my case, following the prompts allowed the remote to find my device properly, ensuring that the programming was correct.  Beyond just the simple device selection, you’re able to reconfigure your remote to allow certain buttons to function as you wish, allowing you a truly custom remote if you wish to have it, including having 5 “favorite channel” buttons you can program go directly to the channel of your choosing.  You’re also able to set macros, such as programming the “Watch TV” button to power your TV and cable box, then switching the TV to the proper input or channel.

BOTTOM LINE

Although it’s not on the high-end scale when it comes to remotes from Logitech, if you’re looking for a simple, well made remote that gets the job done, and a relatively cheap price, then the Harmony 300 is for you.  Although for just a little more money, you can get the next model up and gain a LCD screen and use the activity-based commands that the other Harmony remotes are known for.  In which case, this would be a great remote for say a kids play room or a bedroom, where you mostly just need a remote to power on, change channels and the volume.  Regardless of use though, the Harmony 300 is a great universal remote.

**For more information, check out the Logitech Harmony 300 at their website, blog, Facebook, or Twitter**

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

LogiPen NOTES: A Digital Pen for Note Taking–Reviewed


clip_image002I’ll come right out and say it, I’m horrible about writing notes down everywhere.  I have sheets of papers with random notes, anywhere from important dates and numbers to website or “To Do” lists.  Notes from work meetings and phone calls will get lost in the mix of random notes and doodles.  Apparently the people at LogiPen had me in mind when they developed their pen and receiver to record notes.  (Obviously they didn’t think of me specifically, but hey, let me have a moment here!)

FEATURES
  • Remotely captures handwritten ink notes and drawings (mobile device)
  • Allows you to upload, save and convert handwritten notes to typed text (including script)
  • Works as a mouse or tablet input device
  • Works with any kind of paper
  • Stores up to 50 full pages of A4 text
  • Recognizes and converts up to 26 languages
  • Gives your computer Tablet PC abilities
  • Compatible with Windows XP™ & Vista™, 7™
  • Let’s you share, print or email your notes and drawings

PROS

  • Small and compact
  • It comes with rechargeable batteries
  • Can be used with any paper
  • Well priced at $98.50

CONS

  • Handwriting to text is unreliable
  • Tries to be two things at once, doesn’t need to try to be a tablet replacement

If your first thought is that the sound of transferring notes to your computer sounds to be somewhat of a task, where just taking your laptop to a meeting sounds more promising, don’t jump to conclusions.  Sure laptops are great, but sometimes you can’t beat an ole fashioned pen and paper (especially if you want to draw unflattering pictures of co workers as you ignore the latest PowerPoint presentation.)  LogiPen isn’t like most digital pens out on the market where you have to use special, expensive paper.  LogiPen allows you to use your own paper with the use of their pen and receiver.

Wireless Digital Pen Reviews BoxThe way LogiPen allows you to do this is that it uses ultrasonic signals.  The way it works is that there is a tiny speaker inside the pen itself that emits a signal anytime you put the pen against your paper.  The signals emitted by the pen are received by the receiver which you have clipped at the top of your page.  The receiver reads the movement of the pen, and records your pen strokes, in what I’ve tested to find in a very accurate method.  (Want to get more technical?  Click here)

What’s even better?  Your receiver doesn’t require to be plugged into any computer to record your notes.  The receiver can hold up to 150 sheets of legal-sized paper, allowing you to choose when you need to import them to your computer using the provided USB cable and LogiManager software.  Once you have your notes imported to your computer, using LogiMangager, you can edit them, import them into a document or you can use MyScript Notes, also included, to translate your handwritten notes into editable text.  I’ll come right out and admit, the convert handwriting to text didn’t go that well unless I made a point to write neatly, which doesn’t fit with making quick notes, and I’m a messy, left handed writer, so the accuracy wasn’t there.  Considering everyone writes in different ways and different styles, I definitely don’t hold it against the software or this product.  However the editing the notes, being able to remove portions of your pen strokes (including just portions of doodles) is nice, along with being able to import into a word document, allowing you to use said notes or being able to copy what information you need.  I found this method to work very well with the notes I kept.

I did have a small hiccup when installing the provided software onto my laptop running Windows 7 in the 64-bit flavor, but this was easily cleared up after I got on LogiPen’s website and downloaded the updated, compatible software for free.

One quick side note, beyond just the ink refill, your pin also comes with a stylus, giving you somewhat of a tablet experience while having your receiver connected to your computer.  If someone was looking for a quick use of a tablet for some reason, this would work well, but I see it as an unneeded extra.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/7520115

LogiPen from Logipen on Vimeo.

Overall, the premise of having your notes digitally stored and saved, while using your own paper, and being able to store pages for a period of time, or digitally editing them is a welcomed breath of fresh air.  The LogiPen is a great tool for people who like to write notes, especially students and people that are in the business of well, being in meetings.  I highly recommend the LogiPen to anyone looking for a quick, none cumbersome way of writing and digitally saving your hand written notes.

System Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows XP™ (SP2), Microsoft Windows VISTA™
  • MAC OS X (Limited features)
  • 50 MB available hard disk space
  • Minimum screen resolution: 1024×768 pixels
  • Windows 32 & 64 bit compatible

Specifications

  • Coverage area: Up to A4 page (standard size: 210 × 297 mm)
  • Resolution: 100 DPI
  • Connector: USB
  • Standards: CE and FCC compliant

Dimensions and Weight

  • Digital Pen: (L) 133 mm (D) 13 – Weight: ~16gr.
  • Receiver unit: (L) 85mm (W) 40 mm (H) 11mm – Weight: ~100gr.

LogiPen NOTES Kit Includes:

  • Digital Pen/Mouse
  • Pen batteries
  • Refill
  • Plastic refill
  • Receiver Unit
  • USB cable
  • Quick Guide
  • My Script
  • CD with LogiPen NOTES application pack

**For more information, check out LogiPen at the website, Facebook, or Twitter**

17 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Learn to count with the fishies: SPLISH SPLASH INN


Title: Splish Splash Inn  Price: $0.99    Developer: Shortstack

ssiSo far on this site, I’ve pointed out apps I felt that were good to entertain and educate toddlers and infants, and until now I haven’t felt like there was an app geared toward older kids that stood out enough to post on; until now that is.  This changed once I found this counting app, with a gorgeous look to it!  With art provided by Divya Srinivasan, a regular contributor to the New Yorker, Splish Splash Inn helps entertain toddlers and preschoolers alike with an engaging interface, helping to teach the ability to count, up to 10.

As a kid who grew up with Sesame Street, and considering The Count as a personal hero, and realizing that until the weather turns cold, its hard to get my kids to sit and watch TV, I really do enjoy watching as my son counts with this app as he opens the door to each room. (And I of course always do The Count ‘s laugh in my head as he counts)

The app, in concept is simple, but in practice outshines all others.  Splish Splash Inn is self paced, as your child can select when and which door he/she wants to click next, only to enter the selected room and watch as they count a set number of a specific sea animal, not only helping with counting skills, but also throwing in a little marine biology in the mix (those sneaky Shortstack folks!)

Splish Splash Inn is the first app from Carolyn Merriman’s new company, Shortstack. She previously was a media producer for Night & Day Studios, where she produced Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild, which were toddler hits and two of my favorite apps, clearly documented here on Geekasms.com previously.start page

Carolyn Merriman draws on her background in child development, education and interactive media to create unique educational apps for younger kids. Merriman previously worked as an educator in the non-profit sector, promoting the healthy development of children 0-6. In recent years, she’s applied her skills to the world of interactive media. While working with Night & Day Studios, she produced Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild, two top-selling kids’ apps featured in The New York Times, USA Today and Wired. Merriman founded Shortstack with the focus of creating developmentally appropriate, high quality apps for young children. Splish Splash Inn is Shortstack’s first release with additional releases planned for 2010 and 2011.

Splish Splash Inn is intended for children 4 and under, and is well worth the $1.99 in The Apps Store.  It is available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

hotel_v2 jellyfish

AppStoreBadgeSM

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews