Tag Archives: review

Elite CommandAR Smartphone Game Controller Review

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of AppGear for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I first experienced augmented reality, I was rather amazed. Through the computer's camera lens, I was able to see something that really wasn't there in real life. But, it was there! But, it really wasn't. 

You could talk about augmented reality to someone who has never experienced it first hand, and that would still not be enough to explain just how transformative an experience it is. I've tried, too — explaining that it's a lot like finally being able to see something like an imaginary friend. With special glasses, a completely different world opens up to you. 

I see "AR" apps aplenty, but few as immersive as I would want them to be. As someone who is more of a casual gamer, I definitely appreciate gaming experiences that are simple to understand, visually compelling, and addictive. 

I picked up the AppGear Elite CommandAR, inserted the required array of batteries, plugged the audio cable into my smartphone's headphone jack, installed a compatible game, and… was firing away at moving targets within moments. Then, I was laughing — having almost too much fun, spinning around my home office and trying to target these floating orbs that weren't really there.

Elite CommandAR in Action

It was the controller that made all the difference to me, to tell you the truth. I've played AR games on smartphone surfaces alone — and while they're certainly fine, there's something to be said about holding onto an object that further thrusts you into an experience that an augmented reality world can provide. 

The Elite CommandAR was light enough to hold onto for a period of time without introducing too much fatigue. Of course, I'm really not accustomed to holding my arms out or up for anything for tasks that take longer than a minute — and, yes, this toy gun (despite appearing like it would work with a single hand) was designed to be held by both hands. The trigger could be pulled comfortably by either pointer finger — but the other controls were positioned and optimized for left-handed operation (while holding onto the gun's grip with your right hand). 

The trigger was quite responsive; I never felt like there was a delay in between the time I'd press a button and something would happen on-screen. Same goes for any of the other controller buttons. 

The suggested games, themselves, were engaging enough to keep me from wanting to put the plastic pistol down! I found myself walking to a more open space (than what's available to me in my home office), spinning around to fight virtual enemies through a very comfortable viewfinder — my smartphone. 

And that's the kicker: not only does it work well with iOS, but Android as well. Too many products these days are locked into a single vertical. This way, you could battle a friend in the 2-player co-op mode and not have to be running on the same smartphone platform.

Elite CommandAR Smartphone Game Controller Review

So, yeah — you could continue to play games on that single flat screen device. But when it comes to first-person shooters… I tell ya, I'd rather be holding onto something that feels like a gun instead of merely tapping a screen. It's far more compelling an experience that way — and the Elite CommandAR provides a perfect compliment to software that's easy to manage and plays well.

I'd much rather play a game on my smartphone than connect to a cumbersome console. With Elite CommandAR, I was untethered and free to take the screen with me wherever I wanted to play. Mobile gaming, as I've been saying for years, will kill consoles eventually — and these types of accessories serve to bring that future into the present. 

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Do You Have a New MacBook Air?

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Angelo is one of our Lockergnome bloggers, writing about all things Android. He recently purchased a 13″ MacBook Air and recorded the unboxing for us. The video is short, sweet and to the point – and Angelo is as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.

The new MacBook Air is likely the thinnest – and lightest – notebook on the market. It’s sleek design has people all over the world drooling… including those who aren’t normally OS X users.

The machine wakes from sleep in an instant and is build around Flash storage. This keeps your device light – almost like air. The battery is built to last – and last – and last. It boasts a high-resolution, pixel-perfect display. I have to admit, the display IS gorgeous.

The 13″ MacBook Air comes standard with a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory and NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics. You can choose from either 128GB or 256GB of Flash storage.

I love the enthusiasm that Angelo has. What is the last item you bought or received that made you this excited?

Where Do You Find Reviews?

I have told you that you need to research before buying anything so many times that I have had nightmares about it. I dream that you go out and grab any old product off of the shelf, simply because it is shiny and new. You didn’t do your homework. You just took whatever caught your eye, took the toy home and then proceeded to become disillusioned. I warned you, didn’t I? The problem is, no one seems to be listening. The Pew Research Center says that only 58% of you are researching purchases online before you buy.

This Pew study doesn’t distinguish how the “online research” happens. This can include doing simple searches, heading to a product website or asking for opinions via a social networking service. Any of these methods of obtaining information will work. It doesn’t matter how you do your research, it simply matters that you do. That which sounds too good to be true usually is, young grasshopper.

If you are in the market for a new product – ANY product – don’t just read the specs listed by the manufacturer. Don’t make a decision based on how good something looks, or even how shiny it is. Read reviews. Talk to people who have bought or tested the same item. Do a few online searches. Heck, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there aren’t complaints lodged against the company you want to purchase from.

Do your research.

The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia Book Review

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Wicket and Pixie were as excited as I am about the newest addition to our library. The Star Wars Complete Encyclopedia is crammed full of every detail you could possibly need to know. The secrets of the galaxy far far away will be revealed within the pages. Luckily for my dogs, the books are also full of illustrations. They can’t exactly read very well.

Thirty years’ worth of information is packed inside of these little beauties. You’ll find everything Star Wars from science and technology to history, geography, culture, biography and ecology! This encyclopedia was last updated over ten years ago, so you can imagine what new treasures you’ll uncover with this edition. In that decade, there have been four new feature films, several official novels, new comic books and several video games. All of this has been included for your learning enjoyment.

To give you a small taste of what you’ll find:

  • Character portraits of both the renowned (Luke Skywalker, Queen Amidala, Darth Vader) and the obscure (Tnun Bdu, Tycho Celchu, Bib Fortuna)
  • The natives and customs of planets as diverse as Tatooine and Hoth, Dagobah and Kashyyyk
  • The rituals, secrets, and traditions of Jedi Knights and Sith Lords
  • A timeline of major events in Star Wars history, from the Clone Wars and the inception of the Empire to the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and the invasion of the monstrous Yuuzhan Vong

I have a feeling I won’t be sleeping much this weekend. I’ll be too busy reading every line of these three tomes to remember to pass out. I want to have the world’s geekiest library one day, so help me out by sending me your book suggestions.

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Which Photo Book Printing Service is the Best?

Jason Dun is likely either the craziest man on the face of the earth… or the most dedicated one. I received an email from him not long ago to tell me of an extensive and exhaustive photo book review he had written. I admit that I am not a superstar. I couldn’t get through all 15,000 words. However, I did get through quite a lot of it. I learned a few things, and wanted to share this awesome work with you.

The entire project started in early 2009 when Jason’s wife learned she was expecting their son. Jason wanted to create a unique and amazing baby book for Logan, and spent countless hours creating something magical. “I had painstakingly created all the pages in FotoFusion, exported each page as a high-resolution JPEG file, and dropped the images into full-page layouts. I incorporated my green-screen scanning technique to add objects to the book, and once I was finished – a process that took eight months of work and around 200 hours in total – I had the book printed with Picaboo. The results were a complete disaster.”

He knew there had to be a better way, so he set off to research. He learned pretty quickly that there really are no (until now) comprehensive reviews to be found comparing photo book print services. He knew it would be insane to take on such a task himself. After all, it could require a lot of money – and even more time. However, Jason is a crazy man and he dove in to this project lens first.

The result is a work of art itself. He has broken down the review into twelve separate print services and gives a very insightful (and detailed) look into the process he went through. In the end, he chose to use the book printed by Inkubook. He stated: “…and it boils down to this: when I pick up the Inkubook version of this baby book and flip through it, I feel like it’s a good representation of the effort I put into creating the book in the first place. That’s about all you can ask for, right?”

Well done, Jason. This review is sure to come in handy for many people… and will provide companies with much food for thought as to how they can improve their services.

Apple iPad Unboxing

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Yes, we had quite a few of you tune in for the live delivery and unboxing of Apple’s first iPad product. Was it worth the wait? Only time will tell. There wasn’t much to the box, really – and setup was certainly a breeze. I went on to demonstrate quite a few features after unwrapping my package. *ahem*

The one that I unboxed in this video is the Wi-Fi version, of course, since it’s the only one available right now. I do have the 3G version on order already, so am likely to give THIS one away at some point in the future. Stay tuned for details on that. Even if you don’t think you want an iPad… would you really turn it down if it’s free?

To all of you who claim that the iPad is “nothing more than an iPod Touch with a bigger screen” I say: THAT IS THE POINT. Dang. Seriously, folks…

It is true that you can sync an iPhone and an iPad both to the same computer and install the same apps. However, the problem is that I have 557 apps sitting on my iPhone right now. I’m going to have to go through and de-select the ones I don’t want on my iPad.

Note: If you’re an iPad app developer (or know of one), I’m interested in reviewing your app.

I know that watching me sync the iPad for the first time may not have been an exciting experience for all of you. I also know that the true beauty of the screen didn’t translate too well in the video. However, trust me when I say this is a really nice screen.

I was shocked at how fast thing load on my iPad. I wasn’t as happy trying to type something in with the iPad on Portrait mode. My hands are just too big. I think I’ll have to use Landscape mode all the time. It’s pretty cool to see how smoothly the transformation is when switching between the two modes. You have to hold the device pretty steady, though. It seems to be almost too sensitive, and will change modes if you move the machine just a tad too much in any direction.

Did you get an iPad yesterday? If so, what apps did you get? I’m curious to know, because discovering new things is part of the fun. Let’s hear your first thoughts. Leave us a follow-up comment.

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Unboxing the Apple iPad Live

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I started the countdown 24 hours ahead of time for my iPad unboxing. UPS was kind enough to make a mistake, and delivered it early! I set it out on my desk, and spent the day teasing everyone about the fact that I was going to get to open it early. I nearly burst at the seams trying to wait, trust me. I was dying to get my hands on my new iPad on this specific date.

Now that you’re mad at me because this wasn’t a real unboxing, why not join us on the live stream on Saturday? The real iPad will be arriving, and I WILL be unboxing it live.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Yelp Slammed With Class-Action Suit

Once again, consumer review site Yelp is being accusedof being in the extortion business. Two law firms – one in Miami and one in LA – have filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court alleging unfair business practices by local business review and rating website operator Yelp.

Yelp is a website where consumers can go to post their reviews of places they have visited. For instance, I recently had a bad experience at Rock Bottom in Bellevue, and I posted to Yelp about it. Many companies, though, don’t like having negative reviews posted about them, and attempt to get them removed.

In the present lawsuit, a veterinary hospital has reportedly been trying to get a negative review removed from Yelp’s site. They are claiming that Yelp officials refuse to remove the post, unless the vet clinic ponies up approximately $300.00 per month! Yelp, of course, denies these allegations, but this isn’t even the first time something like this has come up. The prior allegations were fought out in blog posts on the Internet. This time, Yelp is going to have to defend itself in court.

Since we don’t know the entire story, it’s difficult to comment on. If the vet service simply wants a bad review removed so that they don’t lose any business, then shame on them. Every business is going to have its good and bad days. If anyone from Yelp truly contacted the vet and tried to extort money… I hope that the judge throws the book at them. In this day and age, it’s hard to believe people are still stupid enough to stoop to that level.

Creative Vado HD 3rd Generation Video Camera Review

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Ever since I purchased it, I’ve been pretty happy with my Creative Vado HD first generation. I really like it because it has a wide-angle lens. Now, I have in my possession the Creative Vado 3rd Generation! It definitely looks a lot different than the one I already had, that’s for sure. Let’s see how it works!

They’ve improved things with the 3rd Gen. The file format now records in MP4, which is good for both Mac and Windows users. There’s also an audio jack on the top. That allows you to not only listen, but also to plug in an external microphone, as well. It still has the same wide-angle lens, which is a very good thing.

It can record up to two hours, or longer if you use lower resolution. However, if you use the HD Plus format, you can only record one hour. The additions to the Vado HD are nice. Theoretically, it makes it better than previous versions. However, if you didn’t notice, there’s already fingerprints all over it. Even though I’ve only had it for two weeks, it’s all smudgy and icky. I’m grateful to Creative for sending this to me for review. However, I just don’t like the glossy finish.

Another thing I don’t like about the Vado HD is that the only button on the back is really the record button. Do you know how many times I accidentally brushed the wrong buttons during or before recording? You have to be extremely careful when recording. This is the problem with touch controls.

Yes, it’s nice that they have the audio jack. But at least with the first and second generation versions, I didn’t have to be so careful not to press the wrong button at the wrong time. The color is more true-to-life than in older models, and I am happy with that.

Do you own – or have you used – a Vado recorder? What are your thoughts on them? I’m giving this one a 3.5 out of five stars. I really don’t like the glossy look, and I am not happy with the touch screen.

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Sony DSC-WX1 Review

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Sony recently sent me their new DSC-WX1 to play with and review in conjunction with an upcoming Sweep Panorama photo contest. I can tell you that I’m excited about this camera. I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I do enjoy snapping shots whenever I can. This camera has some amazing settings options, as well as extremely clean and clear pictures. Even with all of the various modes and settings, it’s not one that is difficult to figure out and operate, unlike other cameras I’ve tried in the past. Even without a flash or tripod, this camera does an amazing job of capturing excellent quality shots indoors. Now that is impressive.

I have to tell you about the most amazing part of this camera prior to the other things. I am so stunned by the Sweep Panorama option. You know how you take a series of shots to make a panorama? Then you have to use software to stitch them together. Well, with the Sweep Panorama option on this camera, you don’t have to do all of that. Choose this option, click the shutter, and slowly move your camera in the direction of the arrow. The camera will stitch the shots together FOR you. That, to me, is worth double the money one of these babies cost!

The DSC-WX features a 10.2 megapixel “Exmor R” CMOS sensor to give you amazing performance in low light settings. The camera also features 10 frames per second burst shooting – which is handy as heck when you’re trying to capture action moments.

The 10.2 mega-pixel WX1 camera has a 2.7-inch LCD display. It’s barely over three quarters of an inch thick. This is an excellent choice for those of you photographers who want to carry a compact digital camera that packs a heck of a lot of power and performance.

The more I use it, the more I love this camera. Thanks to Sony for sending this to me to review. Keep your eyes here for details of the Sweep Panorama contest that will be coming soon.

[awsbullet:sony dsc-wx1]

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