- Dreamweaver CS5: Upgrade: $199, New: $399
- CS5 Web Premium (which includes Dreamweaver): Upgrade: $599, New: $1799
- CS5 Master Collection (which includes Dreamweaver) : Upgrade: from $899, New: $2599
Adobe continues to improve its entire CS suite of products with CS5, and I had the chance to have a quick first look of Dreamweaver CS5′s new features. This is not a simple product, and it was already packed with features. And now there is even more, with a few older features tossed out if they were replaced with even better ones. I will give a brief overview and comments on the new features here.
Upon launching, I have to say, the user interface has not changed drastically from my previous version,
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Taking the Plunge and Finally Going iPhone — or not!
So I have wanted an iPhone for a long time. I have watched with envy as the first, second, and third generation phones came, and many of my friends were having a great time playing with them, while I sat with my trusty old Treo, trying to convince myself that it was just as good.
It was not! Oh, it did what it needed to do, and had most of the same functions actually, but it was just no where near as fun. So I got an iPod touch, but that was still not an iPhone.
AT&T has announced new data plans for mobile Internet, claiming these plans will make it “more affordable to more people…”, but this is just not so. One giant hole in this make it more affordable idea is there is no longer an unlimited data plan for iPad customers. That kind of makes this a LOT more expensive actually, not more affordable as AT&T claims.
AT&T now offers two mobile data plans: DataPlus, which provides 200 MB of data for $15 per month, with additional 200 MB chunks (or part thereof) costing another $15, and the DataPro plan, which gives 2 GB of data for $25 per month, with each additional GB (or part thereof) costing another $10.
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In December 2009, Apple bought Lala. On June 1st, 2010 Apple closed down the cloud-based Lala music service and no reasons were given by Apple. (Lala music subscribers should go to the old lala site location for more info.)
Lala used to sell streaming versions of a song for 10 cents. For that dime, you could stream those songs to a number of devices. You could also buy and download an MP3, and those prices were closer to what Apple charged. Continue reading »
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2.4G Wireless Motormouse
Every once in a while, I see a product that just makes me smile, and this is one of those products. Computer mice have become so boring and predictable, and admit it, they are just not very much fun. Sure, Apple has created some new, novel, and very cool mice, and Microsoft has some great multifunction devices as well, but they are still boring mice in the end.
Noise-Reducing AUX Audio Cable
About a year ago, I reviewed two devices from Kensington called The LiquidAux and LiquidAux Deluxe. These devices attached to your cigarette lighter or car power plug, and then to your “AUX” input of your car’s stereo. You then dock or connect your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPod to the device, and you can now listen to you music through your car’s own stereo. It even came with a small remote you attach to your steering wheel to wirelessly control your music. I loved the idea, and have the Deluxe model still in my car, and use it almost daily. But sadly it had one flaw that I listed in that review: “Cons: Needs better power supply filtering…” Sadly, I can hear all kinds of whines and humming being passed from my car’s noisy power system through my iPod, and into my stereo, and it drives me nuts.
The CarMD diagnostic tool is a "Do It Yourself" (and sadly, "As Seen on TV") device that connects to your vehicle’s On Board Diagnostic Port (OBD2) and lets you understand what is going on under the hood. Unlike some devices that read and display data from the OBD2 connector real-time (like real time gauges), this device has one function, and one function only: To help you understand what, if anything, is wrong with your car using this device and your computer, and it supports Mac and PC alike.
The device is fairly easy to use, but I suggest reading the small instruction booklet before you start. I didn’t (who reads instructions these days?), and I ended up entering some bogus info into the CarMD database for my car, which I could not remove.
To get started, one would think you should start by installing the software that comes with the unit. You would think, but this is not the case. Of course, not reading the instructions, as I said, I did what most people would do after opening the box, inserting the batteries, and playing with the hardware for a few minutes, I started by installing the software onto my Mac. I then created my account on the CarMD web site as it instructed, it then asked me to connect the device to "marry it" to my account, and BAM, the data already inside the device, which was NOT for my car, was immediately transferred to my account and counted as the first of the limited 6 monthly reports one is allowed. It was also telling me that my car had unusual problems, which the hybrid car I own could not have. Obviously, some test data was still in the device and got downloaded to my account.
OK, not knowing how this incorrect data might be used in reference to my car in the future (can CarFax see this?) and since you are limited to just six reports a month, I decided to email customer support to get this removed. I am sorry to say, customer service was not good! After a number of email exchanges where it was obvious either the person had language problems, or I was simply asking for something that their email scripts did not allow for, and after them offering me a number of solutions that had nothing to do with my request, they finally told me basically, "too bad, we will not remove it." OK, we ALL know that people never read instructions, installing software is typically the first step, so I am sure this was not a unique problem, and yet they have no a procedure to correct an incorrect recording when it occurs. Oh well… it was time to try it out correctly ( and this time I will read the instructions. )
I was supposed to start by installing the batteries and pressing the small button on the device’s front to turn it on. The LEDs will flash, the display SHOULD show a 0 (although not an issue if it shows something else), and the green LED will light. It is ready. NOW, before installing the CD software, take the unit out to you car, connect it to the OBD2 connector, record the car’s diagnostic data, and THEN bring it back to your computer to register.
OK, lets start again. Since i was already powered up and ready to go, I connected the device the my car. If you know where your OBD2 connector is, your ready to go. If not, CarMD has a guide on their web site to display the connector location for your car, looking up my make, model, and year.
I plugged the CarMD unit into the OBD2 connector of my Prius, turned on the ignition, and waited a few seconds. The CarMD read the status of my vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system, beeped to indicate it was done, and then one of three LEDs lit up. On my Prius, the light was green and the display read zero. I repeated a second test on my wife’s VW Turbo Beetle, was it was also green and displayed zero.
These LEDs tell you something right away. If green lights, your vehicle is OK and the device didn’t detect any stored diagnostic codes in your car. CarMD also claims from this data that your vehicle should pass an emissions test. Not an issue for my Prius, it is exempt from emission tests, but good news on my wife’s VW!
If yellow lights up, it means one of two things. Either it indicates your diagnostic system was recently reset and the internal monitors have not completed their tests, or there is a problem pending in your car, but not yet serious enough to turn on the check engine light.
If red lights up, your check engine light is probably also lit, and there are problem codes stored in your car. The LCD display will show "FAIL" and any of the stored codes can be viewed on the device by pressing the large button to scroll through the codes.
The LCD shows the diagnostic codes found, if any, the total number of error codes found (in the upper right of the display), and it may also display a series of icons in the upper left that indicate emission control problems. But what do these all mean? The booklet that comes with the device does not list any of these codes or icons, and while I can find some of them on the web, it would still take me hours to figure out what it all meant. But fear not, this is where CarMD really shines.
BUT, when using this device, it is really not very useful unless your Check Engine Light is actually on, as that indicates a problem with the car. Well, given that our two cars showed green, meaning no problems, I need to find a car with problems to really check this out. Since you are allowed to register up to three cars with one device (a limitation in my view) I needed to find another car with a problem.
Lucky for me, along came my friend Andy in his 2001 Mercedes SLK, and his check-engine light WAS on! Perfect. We looked up his connector location (hidden behind a small panel) and plugged in the device, and turned on the key. A few second later, it beeped and immediately turned on the red LED. The LCD display showed 3 error codes, P0455, PO300 and P0303 and some of those little icons along the top left of the display were also blinking.
So now that I have some real data in the device, its was back to my computer to find out what it all means. I connected the device to my Mac with the provided USB cable. The software was already installed, but this would have been the time to install it if I had not. The installer adds a small software application that acts as a conduit which connects your device to the CardMD website. The software must be running, and is installed to launch at start-up. When you connect the CarMD device, the small application should open a browser window to CarMD diagnostic website, although a few time I had to bring it to the front to get it to activate, this typically works. The first time you connect you will create an account and register/pair your device. After that, future connections will promote you to login to your account.
The CarMD device will then upload all its data to the website, including your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), which will be used on later scans to make sure the data goes to the right car. Once the data is transferred, you will be presented with a basic summary and the ability to run a full report. You get to do 6 full reports a month, and only "red light" reports count against this limit, but then again, if you got a green light, why would you need a report?
If there were problems, as in the case of the Mercedes, running a report will present you a summary report, as well as a cost estimate to repair. CarMD has a very large database of problem codes cross-referenced to a large number of repair shops, data they have been collecting for over 10 years now, and gives a fairly accurate summary of the costs to repair. This can be quite valuable if you take the car in for repair, as you will know if the estimate given is reasonable or not. The site also gives you a breakdown of parts needs as well by pressing the View Details, or going to the "My Cure" tab in the report.
In the MyCure view, you will see a parts cost, and an estimate of the labor based your car, your zip code and the diagnostic codes reported. Keep in mind that this is just an guess based on the codes and their experience, but that large database means it has a good chance of being correct.
On the MyDiagnosis tab, you will see detailed explanation of each of your problem codes, and suggestions as to what may have caused that code to fire. For example, in the picture above, the unit reported there was a "Major Leak in Purge Control System", and a detailed explanation of what that means, and some possible causes of that error.
So what does this all mean? With all this information at hand, you may find some problems that can be fixed yourself. For example, a bad gas cap can cause the Check Engine light to turn on, and this device will tell you to check for that. A $5 gas cap, or maybe one that is just loose, is a lot cheaper than a $125hour service call to discover the same thing. And it will make taking it to the shop a lot easier as well, and will even print a full report for you to take with you. This could save you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary repair costs.
Many problems, when solved, will cause the check engine light to go off after a short time, however, some may not, and this device will not turn it off for you. In fact, it will not send any codes into your car at all, and will not make adjustments to any car features. If that is what you are looking for, consider something like ScanGuage II, or other OBD device that can alter you car’s functions.
And even though you can only register 3 cars, you can still plug the device into any car you like and see what codes appear. If you are shopping for a used car, for example, carry this with you and check them out. If you really want the car, and you get a red light and a few codes, might be worth registering that car and printing a report. Imagine knowing what it would cost to fix the car before you buy it. Or imagine seeing dozens of codes appear and deciding to pass because of the unseen problems (and maybe even a removed check engine light?)
What I like
This is a simple to use device that will help you know what is wrong with your car. While $99 might seem a bit expensive, the information it provides could easily save you more than that with the first problem it finds. And if buying a used car, this could be invaluable to keep you from buying a lemon.
And if your not near a computer, you can also call a toll free number, give them your account info, and get a diagnostic report over the phone.
And even though I screwed up and did not read the directions, this is an easy to use device. If you follow the instructions, it will be up and running in just a few minutes, and a few minutes later, you will know whats wrong with your car. It was designed to be easy, and it is.
What I do not like
I was initially bothered that one only gets 6 reports a month, and can only register 3 cars, but I guess they have to set some limits somewhere, otherwise you could just pass it around to all your friends and they would sell very few. So for personal use, you can check your 3 cars each twice a month, and frankly, that seem like more than enough for most uses.
Like I said above, I found their customer service to be seriously lacking, but typically, unless the unit breaks, there should be very little reason to call them, so this is not really an issue for most users.
The small application on the Mac has no QUIT menu. To exit the app, you have to right click the dock icon and select Quit. The app has a blank CardMD menu. Small oversight, but novice users may not know how to stop this app from running.
Ok, this is a nit pick, but I also feel they should loose the "As Seen On TV" commercials. This is a well built product that performs well, and is backed by a solid company. But frankly, almost every product I have ever seen from "As Seen On TV" has turned out to be junk, and I think these ads cheapens the "image" of the device. I am not sure I would have taken it seriously f I saw it was advertised there.
Lastly, there are a number of additional things you can do on the website that cost more money. For example. on the Mercedes, I was told that that there were 226 Technical Service Bulletins for the car. The bad news is that they cost you $1.99 each to download and view. While I can understand why they do not just give them all away, for the $99 this device costs, they could have thrown in a few. However, they do offer a $19.95 "Premium Membership" that gives unlimited access to these bulletins, so I guess if you want them, you can get them all for the price of 10. Not a bad deal, but still would have been nice to get a few tossed in.
MyMac Rating: 8 out of 10. It does exactly what it needs to, is simple, and could save you money.
PCSync Version 6
Price: $39.94, on special now for $19.97
Many people own more than one computer. Often one is a work machine and one is personal, or you own a desktop machine and a laptop. Or, like many, just own several computers. And when you have more than one computer, you immediately begin to have problems with file synchronization. Files created (or updated) on one machine are not the same any more on the other. Which one is newer? Did I make a change over there? I cannot recall. On which machine did I leave that file?
A program called PCSync on Windows has helped users deal with this problem cleanly and securely for quite some time, and they have recently released version 6. When I heard that Laplink now had a Macintosh client for PCSync, I was excited. Now, my iMac on my desk and my MacBook Pro can be atomically synchronized, right? Well, no!!! Sadly, this is not the case. However, a call to Laplink told me that a full featured Macintosh version of PCSync is close to being ready.
For now, PCSync 6 is just a Windows piece of software (Windows XP, 2003, Vista and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) are all officially supported), and they have added a Macintosh "add on." So today, this is not a true Sync solution for the Mac, or between Macs, but rather a system allowing you to sync between a Mac and a PC, or migrate from the PC to the Mac with ease.
OK, that still sounded good, but was it? The interface on the Mac side is rather sparse, and simply sets up a client on the Mac for the PC software. You can not initiate a sync, nor can you cause changes on the Mac side to be synced with the PC, or vice-versa. This all has to be handled on the Windows machine. Too bad really. But since more people move from PC to Mac than from Mac to PC, I guess starting there is OK for now. And I am told the full Mac version coming soon will add full functionality to the Mac side. More on that when it happens.
Now, I still wanted to see this work between a PC and a Mac, because there are picture, music, and document files that I would like to keep in sync between my MacBook and my Windows 7 machine. So, I installed the Mac client. First off, it appears that you can only pick two folders to sync. Really? Why not just create a list and let me add folders to the list? Turns out, once connected on the PC side, you will see that you can set up any number of folders to sync, and these settings on the Mac simply set one of two "default paths" that the PC sees for file selection. That was not spelled out very well in the Quick Start guide.
However, your home folder is automatically added as a fixed, non-changable "default path" on the PC, and that is not good. If I wanted to use this with others to sync, say, a shared workspace folder, I would be required to expose my home folder as well. Hopefully later additions will add some control of what I can open to sync, and allow me to remove this fixed point as well. Also, you will need to use these other two access paths to pick any files and/or folders you wish to sync that live above the Mac user’s home folder. If you do not set these appropriately, then only files at the user’s home folder and below are visible to the PC. This was a bit confusing at first.
Picking my Music folder and my Pictures folder to get started, I wanted to sync them with similar folders on my PC. But wait, what will it do with the iTunes library? And what will it do with the iPhoto library? Nope, no "exclude" button. This could also be a serious problem. Rather than risk loosing files, I cleared these other paths for now.
Now, over on the PC side, I had to now "connect" to my Mac. On the left of the screen is "Connections" and listed are Local, Laplink Ethernet cable, Network, or USB. I was expecting my Mac to just show up under Ethernet. Nope, I have to add it first. So I select New Connection from the menu, and I am offered three choices of connections, and I pick Ethernet. Of my 4 Macs, only the Mac running PCSync showed up in the "add list", which I selected, but then it requested a user name and password. Which user name and password? I tried tried several different ways of using my system one, that did not work.
Looking back at the Mac side, I did not see any place to add a user and password. So I finally did an RTFM ( Trying to read the documentation was a bad experience. It was rather light, poorly presented, and there is no Search function, so you are left to scanning it to find what you need), and finally looked at the quick start guide. OH! See, there it is a small circle with ">>" inside. Press that, and it slides open an authentication entry area, where I can add a user name and password. Sadly, I have to do this every time I launch the program, it does not seem to stick when I quit the program. I entered a user name and password, and closed it. Back on the PC side, I tried again, and again, and again. I could not get this to connect. Finally, I turned off all security, left off the user name and password, and tried the manual connection by entering an IP and port, and it finally connected. This was difficult, and even customer service could not help me make it work correctly. OK, I am connected, and saved this so I do not have to do it again, I hope.
Once I got over the connection issues, the rest of the program went fairly smoothly, and the functionality ran as expected. Hopefully I will not need the help documentation again.
After it connected, I was presented with a dialog to pick what syncs with what. Again, the interface is rather poor, not because of what is presented, which is fine, but because it shows up in a fixed sized dialog with too much information crammed in the small space, and you cannot stretch it. You can resize the columns, but it accomplishes nothing, as the text inside does not redraw. This is what it looked like, rather cramped:
Here, I can add, remove, and edit how each item will sync, and what it syncs with on the other side, as well as pick what file types I want to be considered in the sync, either from a list, or by adding my own to the list.
Clicking on edit for each line item offered a reasonable amount of choice on how things sync. I can move an entire folder either direction, or "sync" them with help on conflict resolution (what if the item is newer on both machines for example) in both directions. I can even limit the type of files that get moved. You should allow some time to set this up exactly the way you want it, but once you do, it gives you a lot of power. And you can create many different Synchronization Jobs lists, and save different parameters in each one. That part is what has made PCSync so great on the PC for all this time. Bad interface aside, once set up, it does what you want it to quite well.
So I made some choices and hit enter. I decided to move stuff both ways, but to a newly created folder on the Mac, so this first transfer would really be only one way, to the Mac, for now. After some scanning, I was presented with a dialog of what will be transferred (above). This gives you one last chance to abort before files start moving. Once you say RUN, everything gets done automatically, including the creation of any missing folders, and it runs fairly fast too.
You can set up syncs to run on a schedule, but the programs on both machines must be kept running all the time. You can also run any one of many Synchronization Jobs manually by selecting the job and pressing the run button. So now that it was done syncing my folder, I pressed RUN again for this same job, and it showed zero files to move since all was up-to-date. Cool, seems to work.
Just to test that, I added a few new files to the newly created "Windows PC" folder on my Mac (my sync point), and one file in Windows "Documents." I pressed run again, and got this dialog:
This time, you can see only the new files showed up, three in total as expected. Again, pressing RUN transferred the files as expected. So now I have a few folders automatically syncing between my Mac and PC, and I can add more points if I wish.
In addition to synchronization, there is also a simple "File Transfer" feature to let you move files in either direction manually. Pressing this button brought up an interface similar to those in many FTP programs, with a browsing list of the local computer’s files and folders on the left, and the same for the remote computer on the right. Using this interface, you can simply pick and choose what files to move in either direction from any location on either machine.
I found transfer speeds to be rather quick. On PC to PC, I know that Laplink’s "SpeedSync" technology only transfers the modified sections of a file, and reassembles it at the target, improving transfer speeds greatly. It was not clear if this was also working from PC to Mac, but I suspect so. In a few tests, it seemed that updates ran about twice as fast compared to simply moving the files with the Finder.
There Were Some Problems
As I said above, the connection process is broken, and required a lot of trial and error to just get ANY connection to work between the PC and the Mac, and even then, I could ONLY use the manual entry of the IP and port method.
There is something called the Migration Wizard, new in this version, which is supposed to be a great help if you have decided to move from a PC to a Mac. This Wizard is supposed to automate the process of gathering and moving your most important files, music, video, etc., and transferring them to the Mac for you. But whenever I tried to use this feature, the menu item was grayed out. I did notice that adding a new connection to my Mac defaulted to the name "Migrate to Mac", so maybe it is automatic now? But looking a where things were going to be put, I am not sure this was going to be all that helpful, other than to make sure they ended up on the Mac somewhere! I guess that is better than doing them by hand.
Also, unfortunately, when the Mac program launches, it launches in "host not running" mode, and the user must press "Start Host" to get it going. So a simple chron job or launching at start-up is not going to help you out here. Also, all the settings you used last time are forgotten when it relaunches. Remember, for me to get it to connect, I had to turn off SSL and Authentication, but when it relaunched, these were both back on by default. Also, the user name and password I entered were also missing, but since I was not using them, no big deal. Still quite annoying that this just does not restart where it left off the previous run. (Note to Laplink, add the ability to launch at start-up and please, remember my settings, programs have been doing that for years!)
Another issue for me is when a file gets deleted on one side it does not sync properly in my view. I deleted a file on the PC side of a "synced both ways folder" job, and ran sync again. It told me no synchronization was necessary, even though now a file existed in the Mac folder that was no longer in the matching Windows folder. This was not the behavior I was expecting, rather that after I deleted the Windows side file, the program would replace it with the version from the Mac side. That did not happen.
MyMac Rating: 6 out of 10. This is a great tool on the PC side, but it is not really Mac ready at this time, unless you just need PC to Mac syncing.
Pros: Strong on features and does a great job once you get it up and running, with complex syncing jobs, automation, and migration features. Amazing transfer speeds.
Cons: Not a full Mac product yet, the Mac application behaves badly, and set up is a real chore. Documentation is poor. Networking issues, connecting and adding machines is problematic at best.
The Little Digital Video Book.
by Michael Rubin
ISBN 978-0-321-57262-1 224 pages paperback
Price: $24.99 US
When it comes to getting a digital video camera, you typically come about it in one of two ways. Either someone gave it to you as a gift, or you just bought it because your old one just broke. But in both cases, you probably obtained it just a few short days before you actually need to use it. Sadly, these cameras are a bit more complex than you typically expect, and you are not going to have those 3 to 4 weeks you need to figure out how it works. So what do you do?
Oh sure, you can crack open the well written user manual…. OK, so they are not so well written, typically translated directly from a foreign language, and do nothing to help you actually shoot video. Now what? You go and get this book, The Little Digital Video Book, Second Edition by Michael Rubin (there is no relation), you sit down and spend a few hours reading the 215 pages, seven chapters of useful info, and doing the assignments at the end of each chapter, and you will be up and running on no time. Because that is what this book is all about, getting you up to speed quickly in preparing, shooting, editing, and finishing your video. Continue reading »
Here is a quick look at what you can expect to find in each chapter:
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Digital Chocolate’s catch phrase is “Seize the Minute” and I find it quite fitting. Their games are great when you just have a few minutes to play, as their typically shorter waves let you grab a quick play anytime. But most of their games also have good depth and play well for the long term too, and get difficult enough to keep the challenge going through to the end.
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Charging Dock with Mini Battery Pack for iPhone and iPod
I have an iPod touch, and I use it so much, it always seem to be running out of power. Sure, I should just remember to connect it to my computer before I go to bed each night, and it would be all charged in the morning. Why that seems so simple, in reality, I like to listen to music before I go to sleep, so my iPod is usually on the nightstand, and I am not getting up, gong downstairs, just to go plug it in . Or, I simply forget to plug it in because it is not convenient. In either case, the battery runs down and needs charging. What I need is a simple solution that can sit on my nightstand.
One solution, reviewed by Rich Lefko here, another Kensington product, did not quite do it for me. I loved the idea, I just wanted something easier to use, and take up a little less space on my nightstand.
So Kensington sent me their "Charging Dock with Mimi Battery Pack for iPhone and iPod" to try out. This is a rather small, low profile, square docking stand (3.375" Wide x 2.56" Long x 1" High) with a standard iPod connector on it. But, it also holds an extra battery, and both your iPod (or iPhone) and the extra battery charge from a single USB cable attached to either your computer, or to the included AC wall adapter.
But what amazed me was just how versatile this package was. First, the charging dock is simple. On the top is a docking spot for your device (and they include a removable adapter to let you dock with or without a case on your device) and battery charging connector, while on back is a single mini-USB connector. That is it. They include a 48" long standard mini-USB to standard USB cable, one end which attaches to the back of the dock, the other to a power source. You can either charge your device (and the battery) by plugging the standard USB cable end into the included USB wall power adapter, or, you can connect the same USB cable to your computer. And, when connected this way to your computer, not are you charging the iPod/iPhone and extra battery, but the dock is active to the computer, so you can sync and backup as well.
When on the go, the small external battery (approx. 2.375" Wide x 2" Long x 3/8" High) which slips easily into a pocket, backpack, or purse, can be used for extra power on your iPod or iPhone. The battery has 3 small blue LEDs to indicate the charge level while charging, and a green/red LED to indicate the state of the charging and power. The battery has a standard iPhone connector on one end, and a mini-USB plug on the other (which plugs into the doc to charge.) To use as extra power, simply attach it to the iPhone or iPod, and it starts charging. Kensington claims this mini battery extends play time up to 30 hours of music or 6 hours of video on a 3rd generation iPod nano, or 3 hours of talk on a standard iPhone. Your mileage may vary of course, but suffice it to say that I did get a lot more video and music time while traveling with this.
And, should you need to charge the external battery, you do not actually need the doc. Simply connect the same included USB cable to one of the two power sources mentioned above, and the other end directly to the battery WHILE connect to your device, and it will charge both the battery and your iPod/iPhone at the same time.
Additionally, the battery has a plastic cover to protect the iPhone connector, but that same cover doubles as a foot to let the battery act as a stand for your iPhone or iPod touch. Simply put the notch in the battery cover over the end of the battery, and it holds your iPhone in landscape mode at an adjustable angle, perfect when sitting on my desk at work. And, I could leave the USB cable connected, giving me power as well.
Lastly, the small included USB AC power adapter is world ready, and comes with a detachable outlet plug. While only the plug for the US was included in my package, I assume that other connectors are available from Kensington.
Overall, this was a very cool little device, but there are a few small issues I had using this with my iPod touch:
• When docked, the earphone jack on an iPhone touch is not accessible. I really would have liked to see an earphone jack on the back of the dock to let me listen to music on my headphones, or use this as a dock for my stereo system while docked.
• Without a case on your iPod, the small adapter guides the iPod easily onto the connector. But with a case on the touch, it was difficult to dock, as the adapter needs to be removed when using any kind of a case.
• While the dock worked as an active sync connection, connecting the battery to the iPod and then the USB cable to the computer did not pass through the docking signals, it only charged. Not sure why.
• The connector on the battery needs to be more secure when attaching to the phone or iPod. It too easily falls off. And it is almost impossible to leave connected if you have a case on your device.
• When attached, the battery covers the iPod Touch’s earphone jack as well. So there is no listening to music or watching videos with headphones while the battery is connected to the device.
• The LEDs on the battery light during charging, but there is no way to know the remaining capacity of the battery without connecting it to a device, which then lights one of the three blue LEDs. A small button on the battery would have been welcome here to check the charge.
Most of these problems are minor, and in regular use, they did not really matter, as I simply used the battery for charging while idle.
iPhone 3G, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod nano (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th gen), iPod classic, iPod mini, and iPod (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th gen) devices.
Simple, convenient, easy to use
Versatile; many different ways to charge and use power
Charges device and battery at the same time
Dock allows syncing while charging
World ready power supply
Dock blocks the earphone jack on iPod touch
Battery blocks the earphone jack on iPod touch when attached
Not easy to doc or use battery with a case installed on phone or iPod
Battery connector does not attach well to device
Note: All hardware products reviewed by me are on loan for the review period only. In the event I am allowed to keep a product, such a decision is made by the company only after the review has been published, and thus has no baring on the review outcome. Most software products and books reviewed are not returned as per policies of these companies on returns. Under no circumstances am I paid by anyone to positively review any product, nor do I receive any other in-kind compensation.
IDR350m Increased Dynamic Range Earphones with mic and tapLine™ control
There are a lot of choices when it comes to earphones for your iPhone, iPod, or iPod Touch, so a company needs to do something just a little bit differently to get noticed, and the $49.95 IDR350m earphones from Scosche are worth a look.
I do not ask much from a set of earphones. They need to have good sound quality, play music fairly well, eliminate some outside noise, and be comfortable. Some might say they even need to look good. But that is about it. But these went a little further
So lets have a look at each of these requirements one at a time:
Neat Receipts for Mac
Price: $229.95, on sale $199.95
I like to keep track of my expenses and bills using Quicken. I put EVERYTHING into Quicken. But one of the major drawbacks of doing that is getting all my receipts into Quicken easily, so they tend to pile up. Currently, I must hand copy each and every one of these little pieces of papers into Quicken, and then I am left with a large box of little slips of paper, which take up room and are not easy to manage over time. There has to be a better way.
And now there just may be a better way of keeping track of your documents, business cards, and receipts. Save them on your computer. And this cool little product will make that job much easier. I was given a chance to review NeatReceipts for Mac by Neat, and I must say, this little gadget made the job of getting data into my computer and Quicken easier, and let me throw away all the little pieces of paper too.
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Liquid AUX and LiquidAUX Deluxe
Price: LiquidAUX Deluxe – $79.95 MSRP. LiquidAUX – $59.95 MSRP.
http://www.kensington.com/ (select Country, and the look under “Play” and then “Auxiliary Car Kits”)
There are many devices for iPods that transmit your music from the iPod to your car stereo over a hopefully empty FM channel . There are several problems with this. First, you need to find an FM station that is empty, and in larger cities, this can be difficult. Second, I have tried several, and some do not work well at all or cannot be heard on any FM channel. Lastly, this is a radio channel, so it will be subject to interference and noise, and the music is limited to the bandwidth of the rather cheap FM transmitter, so sound quality typically suffers.
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Eye-fi explorer card
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OK, I hear you saying, “Hey Owen, SD cards have been around for a long time. You high or something?” Well, regardless of my memory state, no card like THIS has been around for a long time. Yes, this is a memory card that works just like any other SD memory card for your camera, but this one adds a new twist as well. This card has a WiFi radio built into it! Yep, a 2 GB memory card and a WiFi radio all in one small, SD sized memory card.
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Do you want to program the iPhone or iPod touch, the Mac, or maybe even an Android phone from Google, and you have no idea where to start? One option to learning all this is sitting in a class, you could always find a company like Edison Labs (http://www.edisonlabs.net) (shameless plug) and sign up for some training classes in these topics, where experienced teachers will bring you up to speed on the topic of your choice. There are a number of companies who offer such training classes across the US, but many of those assume you have some programming experience already. But what if you want to start from scratch, or just need a head start before taking such a class? What else can you do?
Turn to books. There are a LOT of books released recently, or updated and rereleased on these subjects, and here are a few books of interest to cover these topics.
Network Space 500 GB Central Storage Ethernet Disk
Price: 500 GB at $149 , 1 TB at $199
NAS, or Network Attached Storage is all the rage these days. Made very simple, NAS is basically a hard drive attached somewhere in your network that is accessible to computers on your network. Typically, however, NAS drives are anything but simple, requiring complex account, permissions, and volume set-up and administration. And that is both the good news and bad news with La Cie’s “network space”, which they call a “Central Storage Ethernet Disk” rather than a NAS drive.