Review: Flick Fishing HD

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 12th, 2010, 04:38
Category: iPhone, Review, Software

Those kooky game guys from Manhattan N.Y., Freeverse, released four apps for iPad just in time for the April 3rd debut. Two apps, Warpgate and CastleCraft, are exclusively for iPad. The other two are popular iPhone/Pod touch favorites, NBA Hotshot HD and Flick Fishing HD. I got to play with Flick Fishing HD just minutes after my iPad arrived via UPS.

Flick Fishing has become a very popular angling game at the iTunes App Store. First developed for the iPhone, the game features real motion casting. The new HD edition for the iPad includes all the extras from the iPhone version including the Fishing Pro pack and a MegaGuide. Freeverse has done a nice job with the game’s graphics and music. It’s obvious Flick Fishing HD has been tailored for iPad and it looks – and sounds – spectacular

Don’t know a Plaice from a Pike? Don’t worry, Flick Fishing HD has lots of help while you fish. Tap the game’s colorful icon and you’re presented with four options on an animated background – New Game, Help & Options, Photo Album and Village Shop. Select New Game and you’ll see three game play modes: Go Fishing, Tournament (play against other fishermen locally), and Fish Net (play with others over the internet). Chose your location to fish from a map, flick the iPad and start fishing. The game prompts you to complete the task at hand while you are serenaded with Carribean-style Island music. Somebody hand me a cold beer!

The experienced fisherman can plunge right in and select a challenging location, select the desired bait from their tackle box and cast away. Actually Flick Fishing offers many challenges and you can really get into the tournaments and Fish Net gameplay modes. The MegaGuide, included free with Flick Fishing HD, goes in to the details of the Island, suggesting different bait for each variety of fish, explaining the various locations and even some cheats if you like. Since the game is continually expanded with new content you can look forward to some exciting playtime.

If I had to pick nits with Freeverse I’d ask for more variety to the music – the steel drums get boring after a while. Thankfully you can turn off the music when you tire of it. And I’d like to have a way to search the MegaGuide. As great as the graphics are on this game I found a minor flaw – a few stray pixels were wandering around at the bottom of my iPad’s screen.

Flick Fishing HD is an graphically-rich and entertaining game for the iPad. For US$2.99 you really can’t afford to pass it up.

Flick Fishing HD requires iPhone OS 3.2 or later to install and run.

Review: Apple iPad Cover

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 8th, 2010, 03:30
Category: Accessory, iPad, Review

By Mike DeWalt

So, you’ve bought your iPad – or are thinking about it – and you’re starting to think about accessorizing. You have several options even at this early stage: You can pick up an extra charger, a dock, an external keyboard, a VGA adapter, a USB connector for your camera, and headphones or ear buds. All are worthy additions that some iPad owners will want.

There is however, what I’d consider a “must have” for all iPad owners … and that’s some kind of cover or case. I’ve had my iPad since Saturday morning and it came to work naked with me on Monday and Tuesday … and that wasn’t good. Without a cover it’s more prone to bumps, scratches, and drops. Also, the screen seems to collect greasy finger smudges and it’s tough to carry it around naked without getting the screen even more smudged up.

So, I was pleased that my official US$39 Apple iPad case arrived late yesterday afternoon. My initial impressions are somewhat mixed. In terms of the form factor, I’m 100% sold. This is absolutely the type of case I need. The iPad slides into the right side, it’s a snug and secure fit, the screen is uncovered and there are cutouts for all the do-dads … on/off button, dock connector, speaker, headphone jack, etc. The left side folds over the screen like a book cover. Think legal pad folio.

The material is very slightly padded, but not so much that it makes the sleek iPad bulky. The cover is mostly rigid and offers decent protection. The surface of the material is matt with a very fine texture. The cover can fold backward and clip into a flap on the back of the case to make it a nifty little stand that you can use in portrait or landscape mode.

All-in-all a very good form factor and a reasonable value for 39 bucks. So, why did I say my impressions were mixed? Three reasons:

1. The edges are a bit sharp and stiff where the seams are joined (pinched together). It would have been better if they were rounded around the edge.

2. The “stand” feature is a great idea and should work fine on dry land. However, I’m not so sure it’s stable enough to use on a train or plane table without falling over.

3. The iPad itself looks like a million bucks. It feels and looks like a very high quality product … really nice. The Apple iPad cover is a bit more “utilitarian”. It works, it looks OK, and the price is fine. In other words, iPad=Filet Mignon … iPad Case=a good hot dog.

The Bottom Line:
I’ll happily use this case … I’m glad I have it because a naked iPad is a recipe for trouble in my hands. But I’ll keep my eye out for something better down the road once the 3rd party suppliers get cranked up.

Review: iPad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 5th, 2010, 04:19
Category: News, Review

By Michael DeWalt

Arrival and Unpacking:
At about 10 AM Saturday morning, Santa, otherwise known as the UPS guy, rang the doorbell. The anticipation was intense, but it’s here — the iPad has landed. To be more specific, an iPad Wi-Fi 64GB is now in hand. It took willpower not to just rip into the box, but I held back and took a few photos of the unveiling.

The picture above is the package as it was delivered. After the wait and all the hype it seemed…well…a little less grand than I’d envisioned.

Inside, the packaging was simple and efficient with recyclable cardboard packaging. All’s well so far.

Inside the box there’s not much – the iPad, a one page document that basically just points out what the buttons do, and underneath that rests the 10W power adapter and sync cable. That’s it. If you’re looking for ear buds, stop, they’re not included.

Before turning it on I decided to plug it in, just for good measure. As it turns out that was a waste of time, it was fully charged out of the box. For a size reference, it’s parked next to a MacBook Air.

First Impressions:
Mobility and weight are important as I spend about 30% of my time on the road, or more accurately, on airplanes. So, I was pleasantly surprised at how light it felt when I picked it up for the first time. It’s subjective I know, but to me it felt “light”. At a pound and a half it’s about half the weight of the MacBook Air, but a little more than double the weight of my first generation Kindle.

Durability is high on my list of desirable attributes, but, like all new expensive electronic gadgets, I’ll treat it like a newborn baby for the first week or two. I babied the Kindle for a while … but now it gets tossed around and travels without a cover. The iPad feels more substantial than the Kindle, and not just because it’s bigger. Apple knows how to build a device that not only looks great, but oozes quality.

The First Sync:
Before turning it on I plugged it into a Mac Pro and fired up iTunes. Make sure you’re using iTunes 9.1, you’ll need it to sync. Below are several screen shots that show registration and syncing. If you’ve ever set up an iPod or iPhone the process will be very familiar.




Using the iPad:
iPad navigation is almost identically to the iPod Touch and iPhone, and that’s not surprising since it uses the iPhone OS. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate.

Keyboard and Controls:
The touch screen keyboard is available in both portrait and landscape modes. If you have more than an ID and password to type you’ll appreciate the added size of the keyboard in landscape mode. Most people will find that it works just fine for a device like this. I found it to be accurate and relatively speedy, even with my chunky fingers. The keyboard makes a satisfying “click” through the speaker with each key press, though you can turn the click off if you want. Typing an email, note, or web address was absolutely no problem. However, if you’re a budding writer working on your novel, you probably don’t want to do it on an iPad unless you spring for the external keyboard.

In terms of buttons and switches, there aren’t many. It’s a super-slick package with the “Home” button near the dock port, an on/off button on the top, a button to lock out rotation, and a volume toggle. That’s it.

Battery Life:
After two days of significant use I think it’s safe to say that, in normal use the battery shouldn’t be a concern. The design theory seems to have been “use it all day on a full charge, plug it in before you go to bed, then do it all over again the next day.” I had it on for about six hours on Saturday and the indicator still said over 50%. Yes, I know that’s not as great as a Kindle, buy hey, so what. If I can go full out all day that’s fine, I don’t mind charging it overnight.

Web Browsing and Email:
If you’ve used Safari on a Mac, PC, or iPhone you’ll be right at home. You can open multiple windows and jump between them, just like the iPhone. During the initial set up and registration process I turned on the MobileMe sync and my email, contacts, calendar, and bookmarks all synced flawlessly. One piece of advice on bookmarks … using the bookmark bar really speeds browsing. The screen is big enough to give up a little real estate for it. In general, the web browsing experience is much more like using a laptop than an iPhone. However, as widely reported, Adobe Flash is a no-go. That makes many sites less rich and some downright unusable.

Mail was a pleasant surprise and for whatever reason, using my finger in place of the mouse seemed more “right” than with any other app, except maybe “Photos”. Mail layout is simple and intuitive. One problem though is printing … it doesn’t. Sure, you can pick up a third party app and get the job done, but there’s no built-in ability to print anything

In summary, Safari and Mail are easy and intuitive … except no Flash in Safari, less than perfect attachment options in Mail, and no printing ability.

Media – Video and Music:
Media is where the iPad really shines. Movies look stunning – a rich crisp screen and plenty of processor power for smooth playback. A few of my recent Blu-ray movie purchases have included digital copies (Zombieland and Sherlock Holmes), and they not only look great, they have chapters with thumbnails … like movies downloaded from the iTunes Movie Store. Music Videos and TV shows look great as well. Movie and TV downloads from the iTunes store worked fine and transferred to my Mac Pro when I synced the iPad.

Since the iPad is essentially a mobile device you’ll often be around other people when you use it – on the train, airplanes, in the library, waiting rooms, airports, etc. So, you’ll probably use ear buds or headphones to listen. That said, the built-in speaker develops enough volume that it’s a usable option. If I’m in a hotel room and want to watch a TV show or movie I’d be happy to prop it up and jack up the speaker volume. It’s not what you’d call hi-fi quality, but it’s definitely usable.

Using the iPod app was easy. In particular, I like the “Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres, Composers” bar at the bottom of the screen which makes it easy to browse your music collection. One minor complaint though, when you browse by genre you get a list of all the songs in that genre. It would have been better to group them by artist or album within genre.

Once you get a song playing you get album artwork filling the screen, and it looks great. While you’re playing music can hit the home button, fire up a different app, and music will continue to play while you’re checking email or playing a killer game of solitaire.

Photo Browsing:
The Photo app syncs with either your iPhoto library or a folder of pictures. If you sync with iPhoto you can do it all or just the albums, events or faces you want. I synced about 2,000 photos in two dozen albums and it all worked fine.

Viewing your pictures couldn’t be easier. When you open the Photo app it shows your albums as stacks of photos. Tap one and thumbnails appear. Tap a thumbnail and the picture opens. You can flick through the pictures like on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can zoom and shrink with the pinch and expand gesture, you can run a slideshow, email pictures, and copy pictures. There aren’t any editing tools built in, but hey, this is a viewer and a darned good one.

iBooks and the Bookstore … and the Kindle App:
I’m a big fan of the Kindle. I’ve downloaded and read about 50 books on my first generation Kindle. Sure it has its quirks, but it’s been a great reader. I’m giving to my daughter.

The Kindle app for the iPad is a better experience than reading Kindle books on the Kindle itself. The books in your Kindle library show up with colorful covers, it’s fast, and the screen is crisp and easy to read. With the Kindle app I was able to log into my account, select the books I wanted moved to the iPad, and I ordered a new book (from the Amazon Website). All in all it was easy to get all of my current Kindle content on the iPad.

The iBooks app is excellent. You can read one page at a time in portrait mode or two pages at a time in landscape. You can go to the table of contents and jump to a chapter, you can change the font and font size. With illustrations and photos in color and the bigger screen this will definitely be a platform for textbooks. What’s currently missing though, is an ability to annotate and highlight.

The bookstore has over 50,000 titles at introduction, but is way behind Amazon. I’m sure Apple’s store will increase, and that’ll be great, but the iPad isn’t closed. If I can’t find what I want I can always shop the Kindle store and use the Kindle app.

A lot’s been written about the E ink screen versus the iPad’s LED-backlit glossy screen. Yes, if you want to read in the bright sunshine the LED screen will be a problem. That said, I’ve never found myself reading that way. For me the problem has been just the opposite. I frequently read in low light situations… in bed and on a dim evening flight. I think the bright screen will be just fine. I’ve done three separate one-hour book-reading sessions so far and not experienced any noticeable eye strain. It is heavier though, and I find myself changing hands often.

Bottom line… it’s a good book reader and my daughter will be the proud owner of a used Kindle.

Using the iPad for business – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote:
So far so good … the iPad is great for movies, music, and books, and it’s a decent platform for browsing the web and using email. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short as a business tool.

What I wanted to see was relatively modest:
1. Ability to read and write Microsoft Office formats,
2. Reasonable formatting compatibility,
3. Ease of use … the ability to modify existing documents and create relatively basic documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go, and
4. Conveniently get files on and off the iPad to share.

So, how does it perform? It’s easy to create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations – much easier and more usable than I expected. There are several built in templates that make it easy to get quick professional looking work done.

It’ll read Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats, and in my tests it did a decent (but not perfect) job of formatting. It’ll also save your word processing documents in Microsoft Word format. What it absolutely does not do is save in Excel and PowerPoint formats. That’s a problem for me. When I’m on the road I mostly read and review material that’s emailed to me, but once in a while I need to edit or create a spreadsheet or presentation and send it back to the office. Yes, you can email it as a PDF or iWork format … but I work in a Windows world and Microsoft Office compatibility is a must. This is a serious flaw in Numbers and Keynote and it’ll need to be addressed either by Apple or an easy to use third party app.

Another problem is the ability to get work to and from your iPad. There are two options, email or syncing with iTunes on your computer. That’s a real pain. A USB port would have been good. 95% of the time I’ll be able to travel with the iPad and leave my laptop and Kindle at home… but better integration with MS Office and a USB port would have really sealed the deal.

The Bottom Line:
The iPad is without a doubt a ground breaking device, is crazy good at what it does best, but has its flaws, particularly as a business tool.

Pros – Instant on (no time consuming boot up), large vibrant screen for such a portable device, great battery life, good web and email experience, great video & music player, usable built in speaker, very good book reader (including my already purchased Kindle library), great build quality, and large and growing selection of apps.

Cons – Only partially file compatibility with Microsoft Office, limited ability to get files on and off, limited ability to add multiple attachments to email, and no built in ability to print. Also, the glossy screen looks fantastic, but is highly prone to smudgy fingerprints.

Debatable – The on screen keyboard is good, but it’s still not like a real keyboard. Love for the keyboard will likely be inversely proportional to the amount of typing being done.

Summary:
After a few days of heavy use and review am I happy I bought an iPad? Absolutely. For at least the next three months I’ll be an early adopting geek rock star. It’ll be the focus of attention at meetings when I pop it out to take notes, people will stop and stare when I’m reading an ibook on the train, and all the people watching movies on their Nano at 35,000 feet will bow down in awe. So, yes, I’m very happy with it. However, it wants to be connected at all times. I’m already feeling a need for 3G.

OWC releases additional Do-It-Yourself upgrade kits for Apple notebooks, Mac minis

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 2nd, 2010, 07:15
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

Peripherals provider and all-around-useful company Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the release of over 50 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Storage Upgrade Kits for Apple’s notebooks and Mac mini computers.

Per Macsimum News, suggested retail pricing starts at US$67.99 for a model that consists of a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive up to 1TB, an OWC brand FireWire and/or USB 2.0 bus powered 2.5-inch portable external enclosure, and a five piece installation tool kit.

With an OWC DIY Storage Upgrade Kit, Mac and PC notebook users and Mac mini users can upgrade their computer’s internal hard drive to a new larger capacity and/or faster speed, transfer their data to the new drive, and then continue using the “old” drive by installing it into the provided OWC enclosure for a “new” pocket-sized external drive.

Toshiba rolls out 750GB, 1TB notebook hard drives

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 05:26
Category: hard drive, Hardware

toshiba_logo_500px_red

Electronics manufacturer Toshiba announced the release of its MK7559GSXP (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) notebook drive Wednesday night. Per Electronista, the 2.5″ notebook drive is the first to hold 750GB but reach the same 9.5mm height as most slimmer notebook hard drives. As such, it can provide the capacity expected of a desktop hard drive but fit into thin-and-light notebooks like the MacBook Pro as well as all-in-one desktops and digital media hubs.

Despite featuring about 17% more capacity, the new SATA II drive consumes about 14% less power than the 640GB predecessor it’s set to replace and could extend the theoretical battery life. The units spins at just 5,400RPM, but its very high density, two-platter design may compensate for the perceived drop in access speed.

In tandem with the thin drive, Toshiba is rolling out the MKxx59GSM line, which brings 750GB and 1TB drives but in a taller three-platter, 12.5mm profile more suited to desktop replacement notebooks and other computers where thinness isn’t an absolute priority. Either rotates at the same speed but is slightly less energy-efficient.

All three of the disks are due to start sampling for system builders in April and should enter mass production soon afterwards.

Rumor: Apple Could Release Verizon iPhone at Jan. 27th Media Event, Additional Tablet Specs Emerge

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 21st, 2010, 05:03
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

verizon-logo-470x310

Albeit a new generation iPhone isn’t expected until June, Apple could use its January 27th media event at the Yerba Buena to announce a Verizon handset next week.

Per AppleInsider, Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek has stated that he expects Apple to announce a Verizon iPhone as well as introduce iPhone OS 4.0. The Verizon iPhone could fall under the category of Steve Jobs’ “One More Thing…” used at the end of his product announcement speeches.

Misek said he believes tiered data plans are imminent with most wireless carriers in the U.S., but his checks with industry sources indicate that a Verizon-capable iPhone would still carry an unlimited data plan. He also said that the new handset will run on both CDMA and GSM networks.

“Together with our semi-conductor partners, we have ascertained that there is a reasonable chance the Asian supply chain is prepping for mass production of a new iPhone in March, for availability in late Q2, likely June,” he said.

In addition, he predicted the new handset will have different pricing than Apple’s current model. However, he said, sources have not provided any details on prices.

Misek also stated that he expects Apple to release an LTE-capable “4GS” iPhone in June 2011.

Per Apple’s long-anticipated tablet, analyst Ashok Humar of Northeast Securities has stated that he believes the tablet will be available in a subsidized model through Verizon at launch.

Kumar has offered his thoughts as to the tablet’s specs, which he believes will be manufactured by Samsung and will be based on the Cortex-A8 ARM architecture, rather than the new Cortex-A9, with a speed of about 1GHz.

As for a Verizon-compatible iPhone, Kumar disagrees with Misek that the handset would be a world phone capable of both CDMA and GSM networks. Kumar has stated that dual-mode chips from Qualcomm will not likely see enough availability for a June iPhone launch. Instead, Kumar expects a separate CDMA-only phone to be introduced in 2010, alongside the existing GSM-only models.

Six days and we’ll see what’s what, homegeese. Six days.

iFixIt Posts Teardown Gallery, Video for White Unibody MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 22nd, 2009, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook

143393-09macbook386_original

On Tuesday, the ultimate nerds over at iFixIt published a full teardown gallery of Apple’s new white unibody MacBook laptop that is in turn replacing the low-end US$999 white polycarbonate MacBook notebook.

Some of the major changes include:

- Polycarbonate unibody construction.

- Display featuring LED backlighting.

- A multi-touch glass trackpad.

- Integrated battery.

- No more FireWire or IR port.

- No external battery indicator.

- No Mini-DVI port, replaced by a Mini DisplayPort.

iFixit has highlighted several interesting aspects of the new design:

-The new battery is only 5 more watt-hours than the previous version’s yet it adds two hours of run time, meaning the machine is markedly more efficient.

-The battery is actually lighter than the older model.

-Unlike the earlier model, AirPort and Bluetooth share the same board, and all three antenna cables route into the display, meaning a possible improvement in Bluetooth range.

-The MacBook has exactly the same GPU and CPU as the baseline 13″ MacBook Pro.

Since a picture’s worth quite a few words, take a gander at the video:



Head on over, take a gander and if you pick up a new unit for yourself, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple Releases Magic Mouse, Says Goodbye to Mighty Mouse

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, 04:20
Category: Hardware, News

sc001

If you weren’t sure what to make of Apple’s 2005 Mighty Mouse design, it’s not a concern anymore. Per Macworld, Apple left its 2005 Mighty Mouse design behind and introduced a wireless Magic Mouse that incorporates a multi-touch surface on its top side.

The new mouse, which ships standard with the new iMac models announced today, does more than let you right- and left-click. Users can use a single finger to scroll around in any direction in supported applications.

The Magic Mouse also supports swipe gestures, though not the same ones you’ll find in Apple’s multi-touch trackpads. Swiping left with two fingers in Safari will move you back a page, and in a stack of images in iPhoto, swiping left or right with two fingers will take you to the previous or next photo, respectively.

Users can still pick up a wired version of the Mighty Mouse (which has now been rebranded as the “Apple Mouse after the company lost its rights to use the “Mighty Mouse” trademark earlier this month). In addition, the Magic Mouse uses laser tracking instead of optical tracking to make it usable on different types of surfaces.

The Magic Mouse is powered by two AA batteries, and Apple says they’ll power the mouse for approximately four months. The device can detect when it’s not in use and manage power appropriately—a power switch on the bottom can turn it on or off.

In addition to being packaged with the new redesigned iMac, the Magic Mouse is available on its own for US$69. It requires Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0.

Apple Releases Unibody MacBook to Replace White MacBook Design

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, 04:21
Category: Hardware, MacBook, News

143393-09macbook386_original

Apple Inc. on Tuesday announced an updated, unibody version to its low end MacBook notebook. The new model, available immediately, is still covered in white polycarbonate but features the same unibody construction and bright LED-backlit screens as Apple’s other laptops, as well as the same glass multi-touch trackpad found in the MacBook Pro line.

According to Macworld, the new 13.3″ MacBook still retails for US$999, but is powered by a 2.26GHz processor. It also features 2GB of 1066MHz RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, and a 250GB hard drive.

The new notebook weighs in at 4.7 pounds compared to 5 pounds for the old design and now features a non-swappable battery. Apple says that will boost battery life for the MacBook to seven hours, up from five hours in the previous model; it also means users will have to pay US$129 for replacement batteries from Apple. As a result of the battery change, the bottom of the laptop has no feet—instead, the entire bottom surface is rubberized, save for eight screws.

The redesigned MacBook case introduces at least one other change from the previous model—the FireWire 400 port is gone and Apple’s MacBook Pro offerings are now the only Apple portables with FireWire ports.

If you want to vent your spleen about the new notebook, let us know in the comments.

Apple Releases Performance Update 1.0 Patch for Certain Macs

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 15th, 2009, 03:46
Category: Hardware, Software

applelogo1.jpg

Early Thursday, Apple released Performance Update 1.0, a firmware fix for Macs experiencing occasional hard drive stalls under the Mac OS X 10.5 and Mac OS X 10.6 operating systems.

The patch, a 300 kilobyte download available via Software Update, affects the following machines:

- MacBook Air (Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53GHz, Mid 2009)
- iMac (20-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009)
- MacBook (13-inch, Early 2009), MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008)
- iMac (24-inch, Early 2009)
- iMac (20-inch, Early 2009)
- Mac mini (Early 2009)

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or Mac OS X 10.6.1 (for the Snow Leopard version) to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update, please let us know how it worked in the comments.