GeekDad Review: HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone

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I’m not big on the whole selfie thing, but there are many occasions when I like to get into the picture for group shots with my family and friends. If we planned things ahead, a proper camera on a tripod with a timer is the usual method for capturing the moments. Spontaneous shots are more likely to be on one of our iPhones. There are self-timer apps available for these siutations, but I think HISY has come up with a much more useful solution: the HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone. Continue reading

Ponder on Your Device Cables

Color Cables

The cables we use to charge our devices probably aren’t given much thought until we can’t find them. They’re there… they work. If you’re like me, you probably think that there’s just not much room for improvement when it comes to these cables, right? Well, the folks at Color Cables proved me wrong. Continue reading

Which is Better for Reading? An E-Reader or a Small Tablet?

tablets and e-readers

Only five years ago this wasn’t a question anyone would ask. Pre iPad, the Kindle and Sony Reader were pretty much the only game in town for digital reading devices. The iPad changed things in 2010, but those early tablets were big and expensive. The real competition between traditional E Ink e-readers and and tablets for consuming the “printed” word didn’t happen until Android tablets went to 7-inches to do an end run around Apple’s domination. Suddenly tablets were roughly the same size as e-readers and not a whole lot more expensive. That resulted in predictions that tablets would doom the the dedicated e-reader the same way smartphones were killing the point-and-shoot pocket camera. The e-reader isn’t dead yet, but should it be? Which is better for digital reading, an e-reader or a small tablet? Continue reading

Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 Review: Samsung Embiggens the Tablet

Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 is big

Samsung, the company that super sized the smartphone with the Galaxy Note, spawning the phablet craze, is at it again. While arch-rival Apple has been busy the past few year making its iPad smaller – because the 9.7-inch form factor was too big and too expensive for many people — Samsung decided to do the opposite. It unveiled the Galaxy NotePro 12.2, a 1.66 pound, $749 (and up) monster of a tablet with a 12.2-inch display packing four million pixels. The company sent me one to play with (a bold move, considering I downsized to an iPad Mini Retina this year), and I put the behemoth through its paces. I didn’t hate it, despite the massive size. In fact, I kinda liked it… Continue reading

2 Months In: The iPad Mini With Retina Display Is Close to the Perfect Tablet

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display

I have the opportunity to play with a lot of different tablets. I own a small collection too —iPads and Android (no Windows versions here, although I have had a handful in the house for testing). I’m a fan of these things. The one that I use almost exclusively these days is my iPad Mini with Retina Display. As far as I’m concerned, Apple has pretty much perfected the tablet with this device. Continue reading

Clash of Clans as an Extension of Cabin Fever-Fuelled Sibling Rivalry

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There are three children in our family and among that trio are a pair of 11 year-olds — identical twin boys. They may be indistinguishable in appearance (at least to those who don’t know them), but their personalities couldn’t be more different. And they’ve reached that stage of sibling rivalry that I had forgotten about from my days at home with my brothers. It’s extreme, it’s loud, it’s very active and it’s driving me a little crazy. Especially in the deep of winter when the Polar Vortex refuses to go somewhere else and as a result, they’re largely trapped indoors. The boys quickly imported that boisterous, energetic, head-scratching mania into Clash of Clans. I can’t keep it straight. In the course of just four hours, Jon had joined our clan twice, been promoted by his brother, demoted once and kicked out of the clan twice. That’s a lot of politics. And it’s gone on like that for days. Continue reading

GeekDad Review: Caseable Customized Case for iPad Air

Caseables customized iPad Air case

Want to really personalize a new iPad Air as a gift? Apple offers engraving, but let’s face it — permanently inscribing something on the back of the iPad limits the ability to sell it or pass it down to someone else later on. A customized case is a perfect alternative. Not only can you present the iPad in a protective case that’s even more personal than an inscription, if the recipient outgrows the iPad a few years down the road they can slip it out and it’s as good as new. While it lacks the heavy duty protection that a ballistic grade case provides and it doesn’t support the iPad’s magnetic on/off capability, the Caseable customized case is an attractive alternative. Handcrafted in Brooklyn, each is unique and reflects the owner’s personality. It’s slim, lightweight, easy to take off if needed and provides sufficient protection for an iPad Air to stay good as new in typical daily use and casually carrying around. Continue reading

GeekDad Review: Nomad Mini 2 Portable Paintbrush Stylus

Nomad Mini 2 Portable Paintbrush Stylus in action.

Around this time last year, I was trying out a Nomad Brush FLeX stylus for my iPad. I’m not much of a digital artist (if the sample photo doesn’t make that clear), but I do enjoy noodling around with a tablet and a digital painting app like ArtRage. The Brush FLeX really ups the experience thanks to its synthetic capacitive brush, and the machined aluminum body felt extremely solid. I’d still recommend looking at it if you’re into this kind of thing. My one complaint about the Brush FLeX was the reliance on a plastic case to keep the bristles from being damaged in transit. A new year and I’ve switched to an iPad Mini. And in keeping with the miniaturization theme Nomad sent me a new Nomad Mini 2 paintbrush stylus. I think I like this one even better… Continue reading

Tis the Season — For Cheap Apps

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Did your kids score a new iOS device for Christmas, or maybe you treated yourself to a new iPod, iPad or iPhone over the holidays? I’m pretty psyched myself after receiving an iPad Mini with Retina display to replace my much-loved (but showing its age) original iPad. Loading an iPad up with games is a heck of a lot cheaper than investing in the cartridges needed to fill up a 3DS library, but the holiday season is the best time to stock up on iOS games. Many developers have some of their top titles on sale for up to 90% off. No line-ups, no parking hassles and you don’t even have to change out of your PJs — just log on to iTunes. For even bigger savings, check for stores that have iTunes cards on sale. Continue reading

An iPad Guy Takes the Surface 2 For a Spin — And No One Gets Hurt

Surface 2 with kickstand

Microsoft didn’t exactly enjoy the warmest reception for its Surface RT tablet. Released just in time for the 2012 holiday season, the consumer-level Windows 8 tablet that ran the ARM-based Windows RT 8 confused buyers (what do you mean it runs only apps and not my Windows software?) and ended up costing Microsoft a $900 million write down. I though the original was innovative — especially its touch type covers — but really had no interest in picking one up, even when they were steeply discounted. I’m an iPad guy (I do have a few Android tablets but I still find that OS a little “meh”) so I’m kind of a tough sell that way. When Microsoft sent me a Surface 2 — the followup to the ill fated Surface RT — frankly, I wasn’t expecting to get a whole lot out of the experience. However, I came to appreciate the Surface 2 as a tablet I can actually get real work done on and that’s something I can’t say about the iPad. Continue reading

GeekDad Review: Sonos Play:1 Compact Wireless Speaker

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I’ve had the opportunity to play with many Sonos products over the years and have watched with interest as the company has expanded from a specialized player found mostly in independent, audiophile stereo stores to a nationally recognized brand with a growing product line. And while it still continues to offer premium equipment, Sonos has also branched out into less expensive gear. Up until a month ago, the price of entry to the Sonos streaming music ecosystem was $329 for a Play:3 speaker plus $59 for a Bridge (needed to connect the wireless speaker to your Wi-Fi network). The latest addition to the Sonos line-up makes the high quality wireless audio even more affordable. The Play:1 which hit shelves in October, goes for $219 but still offers high quality sound and the ability to be integrated (now or later) as part of a larger Sonos music network. Continue reading