Review: CarPlay has promise, but the road to perfection is long

This is CarPlay

With Pioneer now offering aftermarket CarPlay support through their existing NEX displays, I got the chance to finally test drive CarPlay (without having to buy a new car) and see how Apple’s driving-optimized iPhone experience performs on the road.

Apple describes CarPlay as “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car” because tasks like making phone calls, sending messages, finding directions, and playing music from your iPhone are completed using Siri and the car’s touch screen rather than fiddling with your phone in your hand.

In short, CarPlay has a lot of promise and already makes a few things easier, but it’s not without its hiccups just yet. I’ll share my hands-on experience with upgrading to CarPlay with an aftermarket Pioneer display including a few interesting tidbits and lots of photos below. Read more

Review: Two weeks with Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (Video)

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What can I say about the iPhone 6 that you don’t know or haven’t already assumed? Not much, actually. It’s running iOS 8, has a great camera, thinner design, and a handful of features that make it different from last year’s iPhone.

This year, Apple has bumped up the display size and released two models. We have the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-Inch iPhone 6 Plus, but if you were paying attention to the rumor mill leading up to the launch, these two models probably weren’t a surprise. That being said, there are still some points I’d like to make about both devices, but instead of creating two reviews, I think it’s safe to combine them so that you can find out which one is right for you…

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Review: Kenu Airframe+ car mount for iPhone 6 Plus

One of the problems the new iPhone 6 models present is where to put it when you’re in the car. You may not want to keep it in your pocket for obvious reasons, especially the iPhone 6 Plus, and the new models are larger and slipperier than ever. Keeping it in the seat next to you probably means it’ll end up on the floor. With the larger displays and new features introduced with iOS 8, using a car mount is more useful than ever. I’ve been trying out Kenu’s Airframe+, which supports even the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus (with a case too), and I’ve found using a car mount offers up a number of benefits. Read more

Review: Intrepid’s Journeyman – an impressive leather messenger bag that can go corporate

Intrepid-messenger-bag-journeyman

Indiana Jones meets bike messenger meets business briefcase is how I’d describe Intrepid’s $369 Journeyman messenger bag. My carrying case of choice over the past 3 months has been this hybrid satchel/briefcase that you carry like a messenger bag comfortably on your back with a big strap holding it up firmly but comfortably across your chest… Read more

Review: 5 inexpensive pocketable Bluetooth speakers from Omaker, Koss, Boombot and Mpow

Best Bluetooth Speakers

We’ve long held that the extra cost of high end Bluetooth speakers from Bose, Ultimate Ears, JBL and Cambridge Audio Minx (all pictured above top row) were well worth the extra money even at prices up near $200 and beyond. But the fact is that not everyone wants to spend a lot of money on a Bluetooth speaker, and portability and ruggedness are often priorities over pure sound. For those people, we went on a search for high quality Bluetooth speakers that cost much less.

Our top 5 are speakers in this category from reviewing about 20 are from Omaker, Koss, Mpow and BoombotRead more

Review: T-Mobile’s $25 Personal CellSpot is a no-brainer for Magenta customers and handover Wifi calling may even win some converts

In all of the hoopla over the new iPhone 6/Plus, T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK got themselves a pretty big exclusive (for now). T-Mobile has been offering Wifi calling for years but it’s recently come to the iPhone – and with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, gets even better with cell/wifi handover. (T-Mobile partnered with Gogo to enable texting and voicemails on participating airline journeys as well).

Wifi calling, for some, may be the type of feature that makes or breaks a carrier relationship. With it, you can make calls anywhere there is a wifi signal. That means basements, country homes and even foreign countries are all now open to making and receiving calls from your carrier phone number… Read more

Review: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100, a wireless ultra-compact portable scanner

Beauty Shot 1

Moving to a paperless life three years ago was an immensely liberating experience. Not only did I free up space by getting rid of a filing cabinet, but I had fast, easy access to all my paperwork no matter where I happened to be. Documents I need access to on the move are stored on my iPhone and iPad. Virtually all that is left in paper form is my passport and driving license.

One key aspect of living paperlessly is scanning any paper documents as soon as they arrive, which is done using a Fujitsu ScanSnap portable scanner. Portability wasn’t the driver for me – I just loved the tiny footprint, allowing me to keep it on my desk permanently while losing next to no desk-space.

Fujitsu has today launched an updated model, this one offering wifi as well as wired scanning, including direct to iPhone and iPad. I’ve been trying it out for the past couple of weeks so that I could share my thoughts the same day it goes on sale …  Read more

Review: Nova wireless flash for iPhone adds a burst of light to your photos from any angle

Nova wireless flash for iPhone

We first told you about the Nova wireless flash for iPhone last fall when it was merely an idea on Kickstarter having just collected enough funding to ship. The campaign successfully raised over $85,000 and the wireless flash for iPhone is now available for purchase with an iOS app available on the App Store. I recently had the chance to test out the Nova wireless flash for iPhone, and below I’ll share a few insights from my experience.

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Review: Apple wireless keyboard for Logic Pro X from EditorsKeys

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There are a few companies that make skins specifically for Apple’s keyboards to add icons for the various shortcuts that pros use daily in apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut. I’ve tried a few in the past, but the benefits never seemed to outweigh the tradeoff of putting a clunky rubber skin over Apple’s masterfully built keyboard. The latest Logic keyboard I received in for review from EditorsKeys, however, has actually won me over and proven up to the task of permanently replacing my stock Apple keyboard. Read more

Mini-review: Lensbaby LM-10, a fun if pricey accessory for iPhonography fans

lm-10

It took a while for Lensbaby’s Kickstarter-funded selective focus lens for the iPhone to make it into production, but the LM-10 is now here and I took it out for a play.

For those not familiar with Lensbaby, the company makes lenses for DSLRs with a bellows lens that provides a small in-focus area, with the rest of the image out of focus. It’s not the same effect as the shallow depth-of-field achieved with a wide-aperture lens, but a less-controllable effect designed to provide fun and unusual images …  Read more

Contrast debuts Contact Center, a simpler Launch Center Pro focused on keeping in touch

Contact Center

If you’re familiar with Launch Center Pro, the iPhone and iPad app we’ve covered that enables powerful automation on iOS, then you may recognize Contrast’s new iPhone app debuting today called Contact Center. While its name sounds like it could be an alternative address book, it’s actually a simpler, easier to learn version of Launch Center Pro focused on staying in touch with your favorite contacts.

Contrast describes Contact Center as allowing you to “automatically paste your clipboard into an email or message, jump right to a contact in WhatsApp, automatically paste your clipboard into an email or message” and more; below we’ll take a look at the new app.

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Review: Parallels Desktop 10 brings even tighter OS X/Windows integration, overall performance improvements

2014-08-26 08-59-52 2014-08-26 09-00-07Last week, Parallels launched the upgrade to v10 of their software and today, you can now get the full version online.

Parallels Desktop has long been one of the go-to applications for using your Mac to virtualize a wide variety of operating systems, and many considered its previous version 9 as more than sufficient for getting this job done. While the software shining point has always been its ability to run Windows truly parallel to the standard Mac OS X desktop, this version of Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac takes multiple strides forward, making it even easier than before to incorporate Windows-only applications—or applications from other x86 operating systems including Android, Chrome, Linux, etc.—into your Mac-based workflow.

Perhaps most importantly, Parallels again ups the ante in speed both in launching and runtime, turning virtualization into a native-feeling experience.

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