Category Archives: Media Blog

What is the Best Charging Device?

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Have you ever been in a situation where someone started telling you how their device was so much better than yours? They have the “best there is,” you know. It’s exceedingly annoying to me to hear those words out of anyone’s mouth. Guess what? There IS NO “best device.” The best is simply defined as what works the best for you.

When was the last time you needed to do something with your device only to find out it was out of power? You can be spec’d to the max, but it doesn’t do much good if the machine refuses to turn on. Your portable devices need go-go juice. And when it comes to helping give your gadgets that sweet nectar, I’ve found what I feel is the best.

USB battery packs are necessary for almost all portable devices. Most devices, like iPhone and Android cell phones, can’t make it through a normal day without reconnecting to power. The i.Sound Portable Power Max is a USB battery pack designed to solve this power limitation. In addition to powering standard devices, the i.Sound Portable Power Max has the 5W charging power required to keep your iPad charged should you find the 10-hour iPad battery life to be too short for your needs. In fact, the i.Sound Portable Power Max Promises 30 additional hours of battery life for the Apple iPad, assuming you aren’t recharging any other devices at the same time.

There are a total of five powered USB ports, which allow you to charge up to five separate devices simultaneously. This little number can charge your iPhone, an iPad, the iPod touch, a Blackberry, a Droid – and – you get the picture. The little LED indicators will let you know how much charge is left on the battery. You can even pick your favorite color – if your favorite happens to be black or silver. What do you know… I prefer all of my devices and gadgets to be black or silver! This was definitely a match made in Heaven.

Yes, the size is a bit cumbersome. You likely won’t want to throw this into your pants pocket. However, it fits nicely in a laptop bag, briefcase or purse. Use it to charge all of your devices overnight or keep it handy during the daytime for those times when your phone just doesn’t have enough juice to get through your hard day.

Don’t let yourself get caught short. Keep some type of external battery or charging device with you at all times.

iPad 2 Screen Protector

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Protecting your iPad screen is a good way to ensure that it doesn’t get scratched. iPad screen protectors reduce glare and cut down on fingerprints. A good iPad screen protector also ensures the device won’t suffer other damage. If you’re anything like me… then you have the best screen protector you can possibly find.

One of the best I’ve found happens to be from Steinheil. I’m already using protection made by them on my iPhone, and have been very happy with the results.

The number one reason I choose to use a screen protector is because I cannot stand fingerprints. The Steinheil Ultra Fine Anti-Fingerprint is very high quality, and has a hard protective surface. It protects the LCD Screen from scratches and features an advanced optical enhancement layer that eliminates fingerprints while providing a good light transmittance – without any silly-looking rainbow effects that you get with other brands.

One drawback with the Smart Cover from Apple is the fact that when removed, three lines are left running across the screen. This has been covered all over the Internet – people don’t think they should have to wipe those off. This screen protector unfortunately doesn’t get rid of this annoying issue, but it does cut down how prominent the lines are.

The company sent me the glossy version they have for sale. I found, however, that it collects just as many fingerprints as if nothing was on the device screen. If you’re looking to keep fingerprints and scuffs at bay, then you definitely want to choose the matte version.

I’m not an expert by any means. I know what works – and what sucks. Unfortunately, many of the screen protectors on the market suck hard core. This is why I’m so happy with the Steinheil. It just works. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.

If you have screen protectors on your device that you feel work even better than the Steinheil, I’d be happy to hear about them – and take a look! I’m always on the hunt for the best of the best – both for my own personal use and to pass on to all of you.

Errands Made Easy with SmartShopper

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The SmartShopper SS-301 Voice-Recognition Grocery-List Organizer makes it easy to build an organized grocery list ready for taking to the store. You say the items on your list, SmartShopper sorts them into categories, and you take a printed list to the store with all your shopping needs laid out in a manner that makes sense. Based on audio tests, the gadget seems to recognize voice fairly well, although presumably there’s also an app for that.

Keep the organizer on your refrigerator with the magnet built-in. This makes it pretty easy for you to touch a button, say out loud whatever you just noticed missing in the fridge and have it stored to your list. You don’t have to hunt down a pen and paper or pray you don’t forget the item when the time does come to make a list. Your lists will print with one click of a button and you can then slip it into your pocket or purse.

Even more, it can keep track of two separate lists, designate quantities and even flag items you may have coupons for. Using the category-management function, you can match your list to the store’s layout, make changes on the fly and even add categories of your own.

The SmartShopper comes with more than 2500 items stored inside its memory to make the voice-recognition function simple. However, you can also teach it new items. This way, you’ll never have to worry that something won’t make it onto your list.

I like to create lists, and this actually makes it easier. While I can certainly use the Notes feature on my iPhone 4 or an app, this seems to somehow be a little better. By printing a tiny list out, I don’t have to fumble with my phone each time I want to add something or see what I’m supposed to be doing.

It does use paper but not ink: the lists are printed using thermal technology – it will never run out of “ink” when you need it most. The device is lightweight and small, so you can take it along with you if you need to.

How do you keep track of your shopping needs? What methods or devices have you found work the best in your life?

Guy Kawasaki Wants You to be Enchanted

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Guy Kawasaki is the original technology evangelist. After championing Apple products from the inside, Guy has gone on to a career that recently includes co-founding Alltop and founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. He was also a featured speaker at Gnomedex in 2007.

His recent book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions explains how to influence what people will do while maintaining the highest standards of ethics. The book explains when and why enchantment is necessary. It outlines the pillars of enchantment: likability, trustworthiness, and a great cause. You can also learn about launching your product, overcoming resistance, making enchantment endure, and using technology. And for those of you who want to avoid the spell of enchantment, there’s a chapter on dispelling the magic of great products too.

With all the new businesses and startups around these days, it sure seems as though there isn’t any evangelism going on. Many people simply feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin. Guy’s book will speak to you on a deep level, and show you how you can be an evangelist for your own business – or for anything you may believe in.

So many companies claim to be excellent when they simply aren’t. Why aren’t more people stepping up to the plate and truly BEING excellent? People have to be trustworthy. There’s a potential disconnect between what PR is claiming about a company and those of us who use the product or service.

What’s the best way to deal with the negativity in life? Guy said you simply ignore it and plow ahead towards your goals. Enchantment isn’t an event – it’s a process. As more people realize this, the easier it will be for them to actually BE enchanted.

The people who will put your book, conference or business over the edge are those who will watch this video. If you get enough of those people, the “A-listers” have to follow you according to Guy.

Guy and I couldn’t help but have a chuckle when remembering the beginning of Twitter five years ago. No one wrote about the service as being the next big thing. No articles exist from back then which talk about how amazing this website would become. Oddly enough, Guy joined Twitter after Dave Winer talked about it during Gnomedex in 2007. At the time, Guy couldn’t figure out why he would care to take the time to DO this. A few weeks later, Guy figured out that once again Dave Winer was right.

To me, transparency is as much a part of enchantment as anything else, including how good a product or service is. Transparency is the key to having people trust in you and your brand. You’re not going to sell yourself in any capacity if no one has faith in you.

What are your thoughts? What do you feel it takes for a business or person to show true enchantment?

iPad 1 Vs. iPad 2 – Speed Test

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The new iPad 2 includes a faster processor. This means that the device runs faster, right? I decided to put the new iteration beside my old first-gen iPad in order to truly put it to the test. I’m willing to bet many of you have already done this, as well. What were your results?

It’s time to pull out some raw speed tests, don’t you think? You might be inclined to do a test within a browser. The iPad 2 certainly was faster inside of the browser and when cold-starting an app. It was slightly faster, yes. I thought it would be far more interesting, though, to try out an app which is far more system intensive – Gravilux.

You can see that the app launched just a hare quicker on the new iPad than it did on the old one. I began by tweaking a couple of settings, such as increasing the size of the dots. When tapping and holding on the screens of both devices, you can see how fluid and seamless the dots begin to move. However, take a look at the iPad 2 – the dots are going just a bit faster… and you can tell this with your own eyes.

This next test not only speaks to the boosted processor but also to the better graphics involved. I increased the number of dots on each screen. I went from 6,400 dots to 14,400 dots. It’s amazing to see how much faster and more fluidly the dots are moving around on the iPad 2. It’s not a huge difference, but it IS noticeable. That, my friends, is what matters.

Several people have posted benchmarks illustrating raw speed numbers from the two devices. I think that the usability (navigating the home screens) there simply isn’t much different. The first generation iPad is not exactly a slouch. Once apps are more optimized for this new version, we may see an even larger difference between the two. These new apps should take advantage of the better processor and graphics baked in to the new device.

I’m assuming that I will sell my first gen iPad at some point in time. I don’t really need two of them lying about the house. I wanted to hang on to it for a while in order to truly test and show you the differences as I see them.

If you know of an even better app or way to compare these two machines side-by-side, drop me a line and let me know. I’d be interested in doing some more field testing.

How Smart is the iPad 2 Smart Cover?

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Would you be smart to buy a iPad Smart Cover? Apple designed the cover with the same brilliance they approach hardware design. The case will fold back to act as a prop when watching movies and videos. It folds up to tilt the screen when you need to type. The case was created to work with your device… the iPad will wake up when the Smart Cover opens and goes to sleep when the cover is closed. All of this sounds fantastic… but does it really stand up to the hype?

What’s interesting is that the magnets on the Smart Cover automagically home in on where they need to be when they come close to your iPad. They lock in place lickety-split. There’s no snapping, sliding or cursing involved when you add your cover like you see with other offerings on the market.

By having the cover control the sleep cycle of the iPad, you’re potentially saving on your battery life. Additionally, it can provide a thin layer of security. Let’s say you are in a coffee shop working on a top-secret presentation and a casual acquaintance walks over to say hello. Slide your Smart Cover in place and your screen won’t be seen by whomever may be nearby. You don’t have to fold your arms over the top of the screen or turn it upside-down. Just let your cover do its job and carry on your conversation.

One issue I’ve had with the Smart Cover is that it takes much more to push buttons – especially the Home button – than it does without the case in place. You have to actually grip the iPad before pressing the Home button, instead of just tapping with a finger. That isn’t really a huge deal, but it is slightly annoying. The device just isn’t as touch-responsive as it was before.

This little cover is definitely worth some money. Is it worth as much as Apple is charging? That is something only you can decide. Who am I to say how much any gadget or item is worth to you?

What are your thoughts? Have you gotten a Smart Cover yet? What are you looking forward to in the near future in terms of other cases and covers that will be released in stores?

Apple Digital AV Adapter for the iPad

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The Apple Digital AV Adapter allows you to mirror anything on your iPad 2 screen to an HDTV or computer monitor with HDMI input. Use this compact little cord to show your apps, presentations and more right on your big-screen television or computer monitor. While most displays render in full 1080p, movies will play at up to 720p.

Watch your movies and slideshows simply by connecting your iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th gen using this av cable. A second 30-ping adapter allows you to charge and sync your device while it is connected to your HDMI display.

As you can see in the video, I can view nearly everything on my iPad right on that television. Audio and video both come through very clearly. My device is not jailbroken in any way: I simply used the av adapter. Being able to output your files onto a much larger screen is nearly priceless in some instances. It has certainly made the iPad even more useful than it already was!

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why – exactly – you would even care to do something like this. After all, you bought the iPad because it is small, light and portable. However, there truly could be instances where you would want or need to see what’s on the device on a much larger screen. Perhaps you have put together a presentation you need to share for work. Instead of praying anyone other than the person next to you can see it on the iPad screen, why not plug it in to an external HDMI display?

Use your iPad to create a slideshow for your parent’s anniversary dinner and share it on a bigger screen with everyone gathered together. Shoot a video on the device to propose to your significant other and broadcast it on the television when she (or he!) least expects it. There are so many things you could do with this one tiny little white cable that it boggles the mind.

Go ahead – grab one for yourself and watch as I grin quietly instead of saying “I told you so.”

iPad 2 Initial Impressions

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I like to give new gadgets a little bit of my time before giving initial impressions or reviews. Too many tech “reviewers” don’t give objects their full attention prior to posting their supposed thoughts. They don’t get to know the ins, outs and quirks of a new device. You have to really USE your new toy quite a bit before you know for a fact that you are giving an honest opinion. This is why I waited a few days before even recording a video about my initial impressions.

After playing around with my iPad 2 the other day, I spent a few hours playing around with it. I’m pretty happy thus far with the upgrade. The speed differences are a little noticeable. There’s not a huge jump in speed, no.. but you can definitely tell the difference. The outside looks great. I happen to like the new design!

One of the noticeable differences in the design is the way that the port is exposed, much like the iPod touch. I’m not sure I really thrilled about this part. I can certainly lock the cable in properly. Since there’s nothing flat for the cable to sit up against, it’s easier for the cable to be jarred.

It’s nice to have a camera on the iPad, yes… even though they don’t work all that well. I’ve written my thoughts about that in a blog post, so I won’t bother to go into it again. I don’t feel the camera is going to be used as a primary one for any of you, anyway. It’s more there to use FaceTime or whatever other online type of video chatting you may need to do.

In terms of graphics capabilities.. they work well enough. They seem to run a bit more smoothly than on the older iteration. As the apps are optimized for this new version, we may see even better differences.

The iPad 2 suffers from the exact same problem as iPad 1 – fingerprints! I cannot wait to find a matte screen protector that will work well for this new device. I can’t stand to see a dirty screen. It just freaks me out. I can’t help it!

The Photo Booth built-in app is a lot of fun. There are many seriously cool effects that you can do with just a few taps, pinches or flicks of a finger. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy making myself look freaky. I saw this event based photo booth people may be interested in.

I did particularly enjoy not having to reorganize this new iPad. When I plugged it in to sync for the first time, it asked me if I wanted to restore from a backup. Uh – yes please! All of my apps and folders magically appeared the way I wanted them.. including many passwords!

As I said the other day, Zen Viewer HD is the best document reader. I’m more than happy with it, and not only because we gave away five copies of the app! There are a ton of excellent features, including easy management of nearly every type of file and media you can think of.

Even with nearly 400 apps, my iPad 2 runs smoothly. Thus far, I’m very happy. Are you?

The Ultimate Spy Camera: Swann PenCam

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At some point in your life, I’m willing to be you’ve wanted to spy on someone. We’ve all harbored a wish to secretly watch or record what’s going on around us. Heck, I know I’ve wished on more than one occasion I had a spy camera, even if it’s likely I’d never really use the daggone thing. We all know I don’t usually leave my house all that often.

However, there are times when something such as the Swann PenCam could come in handy. Let’s say you’re an undercover police officer. It’s not very subtle to carry around a hand-held camera to record things going on around you. Slip this little ink pen in your pocket and turn the camera on. It can record up to an hour’s worth of video. Oh, and if you happen to need to scrawl your John Hancock at any point, just pull the pen out of your pocket and write. It doubles as an actual ink pen!

The video quality in well-lit rooms isn’t half bad. The audio leaves something to be desired when compared with “professional” grade cameras. However, this wasn’t designed to record important gadget reviews or something, y’all. The PenCam is a perfect solution when you need something portable, easy-to-use and perhaps even covert.

Inside the pen, you’ll find a 2GB USB stick that can be plugged straight into your computer for easy back-up. You can also use that USB port to recharge the pen’s battery, giving it about ninety minutes of life before needing to charge again.

The PenCam records AVI video files. Once backed up, you can upload the videos to all of your favorite websites, such as YouTube, Facebook or even (eeep!) MySpace. The size and weight of this handy little gadget makes it perfect for mystery shoppers, law enforcement officials, sales people and even lawyers.

If you ever wondered what I do when I’m not in my office, you now know! I wander around my house talking to myself, vaccum up dog hair and stare at my Windows computer to make sure that the service packs download properly.

Will You be at ceBIT This Week?

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Sprechen Sie Geek? I’m brushing up on the handful of German words I already know because I’m headed there this week to speak at ceBIT. If you’ve never heard of this conference, then you certainly need to have your geek card taken away. ceBIT is billed as “the digital industry’s biggest, most international event. Thanks to its unique combination of exhibition, conferences, keynotes, corporate events and lounges, CeBIT represents an unrivaled tool for doing business and sealing deals.”

Thousands of attendees are expected to grace the conference and exhibit halls with their presence throughout this week. I will be but one lone man navigating my way through the maze of gadgets, gizmos and Germans! If you’re going to be there, be sure to look me up and say hello.

The only device I’m really planning to take with me is my iPhone 4. I’m paying the extra twenty-five bucks in order to use up to 20MB of data while I’m in International territory. However, I plan to connect to the ‘net via WiFi as much as possible. My phone takes fantastic videos and photos, so there’s really no need to pack a lot of extraneous gadgets.

If I see anything interesting – or meet really cool people – I plan to take several videos to share with all of you. So if you know of a particular vendor that you feel would make for an interesting video, then let me know!

The subject of my keynote deals with connecting communities using various technologies available to us. As much as I find the commentary on YouTube difficult to swallow at times, it IS a large part of the communication that goes on within our little corner of the Internet. Yes, I get agitated at times. But hey – I’m human, just like you. Many of us have different facets to our lives. In my mind, that’s what makes a community grow and evolve.

My keynote will be live-streamed. Keep an eye on my Facebook page and my Twitter stream this week. I’ll let you know when the live stream is going and whenever (and wherever!) my keynote may appear.