GIFT GUIDE 2014 – The TrackR bravo

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 19th, 2014, 14:03
Category: Accessory, Bluetooth, Gift Guide, iPhone

GIFT GUIDE 2014 - The TrackR bravo - Jason O'Grady

Have you ever said “I wish there was a way to call my keys.” I used to say it all the time while scrambling through my couch cushions looking for my car keys (usually making me late to get somewhere.)

Enter the Bluetooth tracking tag. Introduced in 2009, these small Bluetooth ‘fobs’ can be attached to anything from keyrings, to bags, to kids. Once paired with your smartphone you can find them using the Bluetooth feature on your smartphone via an app. They’re undeniably handy.

My favorite tag – in an overcrowded market – is The TrackR bravo ($29, pre-order).

[I've been testing a pre-production of The TrackR Bravo design and it has the potential to be the best Bluetooth tracker on the market. If you can't wait until Bravo ships in January, keep on reading to find out about TrackR's other tags which are available now.]

TrackR started as Phone Halo in 2009 and introduced its Bluetooth tracker at the Demo conference in spring 2010. The company offers three models, the Sticker and Wallet are shipping now and the super-small Bravo (which raised $1.2M on Indiegogo) and will begin shipping in January 2015.

Read the rest of my review of the TrackR lineup after the jump:

(more…)

djay Pro hits the decks with huge OS X update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 18th, 2014, 13:42
Category: Mac, music, OS X, Software, Uncategorized

djay Pro hits the decks with huge OS X update

Much of the innovation in DJ software has centered on mobile over the past couple of years. The white-hot iOS market has exploded with DJ software lead by Algoriddim‘s revolutionary djay app for iPhone and iPad, which have changed the way DJs play music live.

In additional to its popular iOS apps Algoriddim also offers djay for OS X (first launched in 2006) that today got a major reboot as djay Pro ($49.99, Mac App Store).

djay Pro is a complete rewrite of Algroriddim’s popular DJing application for Yosemite that leverages modern OS X standards like 64-bit, 60 FPS, and native sandboxed iTunes access plus everything they’ve learned from their iOS apps.

I’ve been using djay apps since day one and they’re hands down the best DJ apps on iOS and OS X. Whether you’re a bedroom DJ, spinning the hits at a holiday party or an aspiring club DJ, Algoriddim’s djay is the way to go.

Here’s a video of djay Pro for OS X in action:

GIFT GUIDE 2014 – HiRise Deluxe stand by Twelve South

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 16th, 2014, 09:37
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPhone

HiRise Deluxe stand by Twelve South (Jason O'Grady)

What do you do with you iPhone when you sit down at your desk? You probably plug it in and leave it sitting flat on the surface of your desk. The problem with doing this is that your iPhone is practically invisible when it’s laying flat and not really that useful. If an alert comes in you need to pick up your iPhone to read the screen.

The HiRise Deluxe stand from Twelve South ($60) is a sleek stand that elegantly solves this problem. It allows you to dock your iPhone (or iPad) at a comfortable viewing angle making it more accessible while charging on your desk. It’s perfect for keeping an eye on push notifications while you get your work done, but it’s also convenient for making phone and FaceTime calls.

The new HiRise Deluxe stand features and easy-to-adjust rear support, making it easily to switch between an iPhone and an iPad of different thicknesses. The cable height at the bottom of the stand is also adjustable allowing you to use it with or without a case. If you’re using a thicker, impact-type case on your iPhone simply raise the height of the cable so that it reaches inside the case opening to properly charge the device.

(more…)

Gift Guide 2014: AudioEngine B2 Premium Bluetooth Speaker

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 15th, 2014, 11:19
Category: Accessory, Bluetooth, Hardware, music, Review

AudioEngine B2 Premium Bluetooth Speaker

If you’re looking for a compact Bluetooth speaker I recommend the AudioEngine B2 ($299). The B2 sounds great and has better range than other speakers I’ve tested because of its antenna and specially tuned transmitter. In a two-story, mostly stucco and brick house my iPhone 6 easily reached the B2 speaker on the second floor when I was on the first.

The B2 includes the aptX audio decoder and a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for a beautiful, warm sound. The hand-built walnut cabinet is luxurious and dual front slots really pump the bass. I just wish that it had a battery so that I could toss it in a bag and drag it to the beach.

You can purchase the B2 Bluetooth Speaker in walnut (pictured), zebrawood or black ash from the AudioEngine website.

[Despite my aforementioned problems with Apple’s Bluetooth stack, I was still able to keep a reliable connection to the B2 speaker for over an hour. And to be clear, I think that that’s Apple’s problem and not AudioEngine’s.]

A picture of the backplane after the jump.

(more…)

How Apple blew it with Bluetooth

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 15th, 2014, 08:32
Category: Accessory, Bluetooth, iOS 8, iPhone

How Apple blew it with Bluetooth - Jason O'GradyI use Bluetooth every day.

Bluetooth was rock solid on my iPhone 5s running iOS 7.x. I never thought about about it. It just worked. Every day.

Now I hate all of my Bluetooth gear.

Bluetooth is crappy with my iPhone 6 and iOS 8.1.x. Every one of my Bluetooth devices cuts out, drops out or starts warbling within a couple minutes of use.

After upgrading to an iPhone 6 (and iOS 8.1.2):

  • my BT speaker starts cutting out after a minute or two of streaming
  • my BT earbuds drop out after a song or two, or during app switching
  • my BT headset disconnects one minute into every call

While this is my specific story, I’m not alone. Other people are having trouble with Bluetooth as well, especially with the newest iPhone hardware and iOS 8. I don’t use Bluetooth in my vehicle, but that’s another problem spot for iOS 8 users. The Apple discussion forums are littered with complaints about the iOS 8 Bluetooth stack and some users are having trouble with it on Yosemite (OS X 10.10) too.

I was hoping that iOS 8.1.2 would fix things with Bluetooth but the update did nothing to address my specific issues.

I’ve spoken with several OEMs that are patently furious with Apple over the Bluetooth fiasco, but most won’t speak out publicly for fear of losing access, distribution, etc. The hardware vendors probably have Dan Riccio and Craig Federighi on speed dial because Apple’s poor Bluetooth performance is making their products look bad.

Further reading:

(Blue tooth icon: TrySoda)

The sickest drummer in metal right now uses an iPad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 8th, 2014, 00:28
Category: iPad, music

You’ve got to check out this video os a sick drum solo by Appleman, a drummer without enough room for a full drum kit in his house. According to the description in his YouTube video, he improvised with a copy of GarageBand ($4.99) running on his iPad. Appleman does his thing on a third generation iPad and GarageBand’s Live Rock Kit. As for the guitar, it’s simply:

GarageBand > Instruments > Smart Guitar > HardRock Guitar sound > AUTOPLAY no.1 for the first four bars and then no.2 for the next four bars, pressing “E” (key E Major/♩=120)

(via Digg)

35 percent off iTunes gift cards – if you act fast

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 28th, 2014, 14:32
Category: App Store, Apple, Gift card, iTunes, iTunes Store, retail

Heck, I thought getting 20% off iTunes gift cards was a good deal.

Turns out 35% off is a lot better.

Here’s how to get the deal of the year on iTunes gift cards.

25 percent off iTunes gift cards

(more…)

Yosemite easter egg: mountain tree spirits

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 26th, 2014, 15:51
Category: Apple, OS X, Yosemite

Color me skeptical, but this one came to my attention and was too cool not to share.

A PowerPage reader sent along what he believes to be an easter egg hidden in plain sight in one of Mac OS 10.10 (Yosemite’s) default desktop pictures, a.k.a. “wallpaper.” If you’re running Yosemite, open System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop, then choose Apple > Desktop Pictures and the third option (the grey and green mountain scene:

Yosemite Mountain Sprits hidden in Desktop Pictures?

Click through for the spooky result…

(more…)

How to get 20 percent off everything in the App Store (and iTunes too!)

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014, 14:50
Category: App Store, Apple, Apps, Deals, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iTunes Radio, News

iTunes $100 gift card multipackGosh, I love this time of year.

It’s time to be with your family, copious amounts of eating, football and crazy deals on stuff. While everyone’s hunting for that amazing deal on Black Friday (just say no to Thursday shopping though, please) but there’s one deal in particular that I wait for each November: 20 percent off iTunes gift cards.

It should be obvious, but the benefits to iTunes gift cards are that they can be loaded onto your iTunes account and used for everything from apps, to music, to movies, to TV show, and the list goes on.

I spend about $500 per year on iTunes/App Store content, and it rarely goes on sale, so I stock up on enough iTunes gift cards to get me through the year each November during the gift card sale.

How much do you spend annually in iTunes?

Find out how to get 20 percent off iTunes gift cards after the jump…

(more…)

Review: SurfacePad for iPhone 6 and iPad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 08:14
Category: Accessory, Cases, iPad, iPhone, iPhone 6

SurfacePad iPhone 6 - Jason O'GradySome people use cases on their iPhones, some people don’t. If you’re in the second group I’m going to give you reason to consider a case.

While purists don’t want to cover the iPhone 6′s smooth, elegant curves, it’s easy to scratch its beautiful retina display (and aluminum back) while bouncing around in a pocket, bag or purse with a set of keys – and whatever else you might have in there.

What to do?

The good news is that you don’t have to cover your iPhone with a flak jacket or suit of armor to protect your investment, there’s a nice middle ground.

Enter the SurfacePad for iPhone ($49.99) by Twelve South. Its a slim, leather, folio-type case that adds barely any heft and just enough coverage to protect the front and back of your iPhone – without covering its trademark curves.

The SurfacePad sticks to the back of the iPhone 6 with an adhesive that’s removable and reusable. I didn’t stick mine on straight the first time and removed and reapplied it a couple of times before I got it perfect. The flap wraps around to cover the screen of the iPhone and includes pockets for two cards (like a debit card and driver’s license) on the inside front cover.

When combined with Apple Pay SurfacePad makes a compelling case for ditching the bulky, old-school wallet.

The volume buttons (along the left side) are still usable through the soft Napa leather and there’s a notched cutout for the camera lens and flash. The front flap doubles as a stand (for watching slideshows and movies) when flipped around back and the supple leather both looks and feels great. The contrasting stitching adds a touch of style and distinguishes the SurfacePad from all the anonymous cases on the market.

Don’t get complacent though. Front and rear flaps only provide a limited amount of protection, that while helpful, won’t protect your iPhone from impact against a hard surface. That’s the tradeoff with a case like the SurfacePad, it’s so thin that you won’t notice it in your pocket, but it also won’t protect your iPhone’s edges if you drop it on the sidewalk.

I’ve been using the SurfacePad (with debit card and DL) on my iPhone 6 for a week and haven’t needed to reach for my wallet once. SurfacePad is just the excuse I’ve been looking for to dump my bulky leather wallet for good.

SurfacePad is available in black, red, white and my personal favorite, camel for $39.99 (iPhone 6) and $49.99 (iPhone 6 Plus).

Pictures of the SurfacePad for iPhone 6 – and the similarly beautiful SurfacePad for iPad – after the jump.

(more…)