Review: ZAGG Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Mini

I’ve gone on record multiple times about how I feel about using the iPad for productivity. I’m a big iPad fan and the tablets I usually use day to day are Apple products, but the lack of mouse support drives me crazy. I’ve always quickly given up on any experiments with using a Bluetooth keyboard and an iPad in place of my laptop, much as I like the idea of my iPad becoming an ultra-compact travel productivity companion. ZAGG sent me a Folio keyboard case for my iPad Mini with Retina Display, so I thought I’d give the experiment one more shot. I ended up really liking this device. With the right apps, it could actually stand in for my MacBook Air, at least for short bursts of work. In fact, I wrote this post on the ZAGG.

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GeekDad Review: HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone

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.

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tablets and e-readers

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

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?

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Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 is big

Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 Review: Samsung Embiggens the Tablet

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…

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Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display

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

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.

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Caseables customized iPad Air case

GeekDad Review: Caseable Customized Case for iPad Air

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.

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Tis the Season — For Cheap Apps

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.

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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Now Available on iTunes

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was one of the movies to watch for, spiked out by GeekDad’s Doug Cornelius in his Guide to This Summer’s Movies. It got a pretty stellar review from GeekMom’s Amy Kraft. You can buy it on DVD and Blu-Ray starting December 17th, but if you want to get a viewing in before Monday or you just want to skip the madness of malls and holiday shopping crowds altogether, it’s available as a digital download now on Apple’s iTunes.

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4 iPhone Cases Reviewed: M-Edge, Belkin and Radius

While I passed on the iPhone 5s (I’m spoiled by all these big-screened Android phones and decided to give Apple one more chance to come up with a bigger iPhone 6 next year), my wife bought one. In fact, she waited the extra month and a half to get the gold version. ‘Cause gold is better… Anyway, once you have one of Apple’s shiny aluminum and glass bars in your hand, the trick is to keep it shiny. That’s where a protective case comes in. We tested out four iPhone 5s cases in an attempt to find the best one for different use cases. Here are the results.

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Surface 2 with kickstand

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

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.

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I Really Hate UltraViolet: Is It Just Me?

I’m beginning to lose patience with the whole digital movies thing. Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of having a digital copy of a movie and being able to watch it on all our devices is great. In fact, I’m fully onboard with that. We have Apple TVs throughout the house and an iTunes library large enough that the computer hosting it has a 6 TB external hard drive exclusively for that purpose. And I actually buy those movies. But the studios seem determined to mess up a good thing through competing standards for digital downloads. In particular, the insistence on pushing UltraViolet exclusively seems thickheaded.

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What if You Don't Fall in Love with iOS7?

An hour later, he came into my room, his lip quivering. “I hate the new operating system.” He could get used to the new look, the new set-up, but he couldn’t get accustomed to a new sound. Siri’s voice had changed ever so slightly; it was less robotic, less hesitant. The fluidity of sound made him feel as if it wasn’t his Siri anyone.

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Thins and waterproof, Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Review: Sony Xperia Tablet Z

When it comes to mobile devices, I’m pretty solidly in the Apple camp. Between iPods, iPhones and iPads, Apple has a pretty solid “in” around our house. I do own Android versions like a Nook tablet, but they tend to not see the same kind of use that the Apple gear does. Having just spent a week playing with a Sony Xperia Tablet Z, I have to say, the next time I’m shopping for a tablet that’s not an iPad, this thing will be at the very top of my list.

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Ryobi TEK4 AllPlay Revisited: The MP3 Player for Those Who Play Hard and Hate Charging Batteries

I’m a bit of a gadget geek. Between my own electronics collections and writing product reviews for outlets like GeekDad, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to play with gear. With Father’s Day fast approaching, I though I’d revisit one of my favorite portable music devices — one that’s inexpensive to boot — the Ryobi TEK4 AllPlay music player. Basically, this is a ruggedized, ultra long battery life MP3 player built around a rechargeable power tool battery. There’s nothing elegant about it and it does nothing but play music, but it will do that virtually forever. I’ve had one since a 2010 review, and it continues to amaze me with its performance. Amazon’s currently got it on sale for $25 — if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift, it’s pretty hard to beat that price.

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GeekDad Review: Philips Hue

I bit the bullet and bought a Philips Hue connected LED light starter pack back in November of last year. At the time, with a ton of favorable buzz and availability exclusively through Apple (you can now buy Hue gear through Amazon), the bulbs were in short supply. Online lead times quickly stretched into the two month range. My local Apple Store have two kits on the shelf, so I hustled down, pushed through the people standing in line for the iPad Mini launch and snagged a starter pack. I haven’t reviewed the Hue system until now for two reasons. First, there’s a lot of technology packed in one of those bulbs and I wanted to have some sense of durability and reliability — I’ve had more than my share of cool gear that packs it in after a few weeks of use. Second, I wanted to see how a Hue bulb performed under extreme conditions, namely being installed in an outdoor light fixture through a Canadian winter. The verdict? A few quibbles such as price and current availability limited to a single bulb form factor aside, Philips Hue is a showcase for what LED technology and home automation can offer.

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Merrell Men’s Fractal: My New Favorite Shirt

When it comes to clothes, I’m all about comfort, performance and quality. It helps if they look good too. This brings me to a shirt that Merrell was good enough to send me. My family has been rocking their shoes for years now, hitting the urban environments and amusement parks, along with the trails and I’m convinced that when it comes to high performance footwear, this is the company to beat. The shirt has become my new favorite.

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