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Entertainment &Hardware &Mobile Phones &Online Video &Reviews &Software &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 24 Nov 2010

Review: AirPlay on AppleTV

Review: AirPlay on AppleTV

Apple released the iOS update to version 4.2.1 this week, which adds several desirable features to the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. I upgraded our iPad and AppleTV to the latest version and gave it a quick test. But first, an explanation of features.

Added features with 4.2

  • Multitasking on iPad The iPhone and iPod touch has had multi tasking since early this year. With the 4.2 upgrade, the iPad now has multitasking ability. This is the most requested feature for the iPad.
  • Folders on iPad Folders allows simple drag-and-drop functionality to organize apps and files.
  • AirPrint This is one feature I was looking forward to. The print feature is available in the apps, but it won’t find the printer, and there is no printer setup screen anywhere. I’ve looked up a few sources to find out how to get it to work, and it seems Apple hasn’t released an accompanying AirPrint application for Mac or PC. We’ll have to wait on this.
  • AirPlay Probably the most exciting upgrade, AirPlay allows content on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to stream to a local AppleTV wirelessly. I’ve used the feature and find it compelling. More on this later

AirPlay

  • Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch Helps track down and secure lost devices and private data. This is a feature many new “smart” portable devices are adding.
  • Game Center Game Center appeared on the home screen automatically after the update. I haven’t used it much, but it seems like a great gateway to find new games.
  • iTunes TV show rentals TV show rentals are available. I checked it out on iTunes, but I’m still not sure why anyone would spend the money to do this if they already had cable or satellite. On the other hand, I cancelled my cable service and probably wouldn’t mind spending the $15.99 for the season pass to AMC’s The Walking Dead.
  • Unified mail box All email accounts go into a unified inbox.
  • Find text on web pages Exactly as it sounds. Helps find relevant information.
  • Reply to calendar invitations RSVP to invitations directly from the calendar app. Works with Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft Exchange.
  • Enhanced enterprise support Stronger security features and device management.

Testing AirPlay

How does AirPlay work? Simple. When viewing photos or video, or listening to audio, you just select the AirPlay button, and then chose where you want the content to go. I tried it out with AppleTV. See the video below.

[vimeo 17160353]

With AirPlay, I would recommend the AppleTV to any iPad owner. It’s one of the cheapest accessories you can get for the thing, and it’s just so cool. It’s true that you can stream this content from your computer to an AppleTV or similar device (Roku, Boxee, etc), but if you have an iPad, you might be downloading stuff on the fly and want to watch it as soon as you get home.

Or even with the iPhone or iPod touch, AirPlay is compelling. Imagine this scenario: you’ve got music playing on ear buds, and when you get home, you simply hit the AirPlay button and transfer it immediately to your home speakers without having to fidget through a separate device.

With this new iOS update, iTunes has also been upgraded to also include AirPlay. I tried this out as well, and it works great. The only issue is there isn’t a conflict resolution, so whichever device selects an end point last gets immediate access regardless of whatever else was being shared. An example was streaming audio from the local PC to the AppleTV, and then using the iPad content. The iPad immediately streamed to the AppleTV. iTunes on the PC didn’t recognize this change.

Also coming to the market are audio/video receivers, speakers, iPod docks, and more with AirPlay. So from the portable device or from iTunes, you can stream audio to whichever device you chose. This seems like it has great potential.

There were a few other bugs with AirPlay, but I don’t imagine how an app developer wouldn’t include this in the future. It’s just too convenient.

nob &Reviews Wes Novack on 24 Jun 2010

Victorinox Dual Pro X Swiss army knife review

Victorinox Dual Pro X Swiss army knife review

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Victorinox Swiss Army. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was recently sent the Victorinox Dual Pro X red Swiss army knife to review. Victorinox is the original Swiss army knife manufacturer, so their knives carry quite a good reputation. You can’t get a more authentic Swiss army knife than a Victorinox.

Who hasn’t heard of a Swiss army knife? I remember seeing them often as a kid, with the smooth red sides and the swiss cross emblazoned across the surface. There seemed to be an almost infinite number of little tools and trinkets that you could pop out from inside of a Swiss army knife.

The Dual Pro X continues the Swiss army knife tradition, with improved features, such as the nylon non-slip grip.

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – the package

Victorinox-dual-pro-x-knife-review-package

The Dual Pro X came shipped in a small, simple box that the knife fit into snugly. The box contained the Dual Pro X knife itself and an instructional paper.

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – specifications

Here are the product details, as listed on the manufacturer’s website:

Size: 111 mm | 4 3/8 inch

One-Hand Locking Blade
One-Hand Serrated Locking Seat Belt Cutter
Phillips Screwdriver
Can Opener with
-Small Screwdriver
Bottle Opener with
-Large Locking Screwdriver
-Wire Stripper
Reamer
Key Ring

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – the knife

Victorinox-dual-pro-x-knife-review-closed

With the Dual Pro X completely compacted, it measures just 4 3/8 inches and easily fits into a pocket.

Victorinox-dual-pro-x-knife-review-open

With both knives extended simultaneously, the Dual Pro X measures approximately 10 3/4 inches. With just the large blade extended, it measures approximately 7 3/4 inches.

Here’s an even better photo of the knife, straight from the manufacturer.

victorinox-dual-pro-x-review-official

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – video demonstration

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – testing it out

I went to work testing the Dual Pro X Swiss army knife, in both indoor and outdoor situations.

Inside, the Dual Pro X was a very useful tool that helped me get my surround sound system installed in my living room. I used all of the Dual Pro X screwdrivers (small flathead, large flathead, Philips), the knife, the wire stripper and a few of the other tools as well.

Below is a photo of one of my wall-mounted Polk Audio surround sound speakers, which I used the Dual Pro X to get installed.

Victorinox-dual-pro-x-knife-review-speaker

Outside, the Dual Pro X Swiss army knife has helped me with my gardening and other work. Specifically, it has recently helped me prune and trim my tomato plant in my backyard garden.

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – Positives

Made from quality materials
Manufactured by the creator of the original Swiss army knife
Modern design
Non-slip grip
Easy to use and operate
Includes many useful tools
Large knife
Knives are sharp
Knife locking mechanism works well
Collapses into a small size for easily storing in your pocket
Lifetime limited warranty

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – Negatives

Priced higher than other Swiss army knives
Philips screwdriver tool can be difficult to use in cramped areas due to perpendicular locking position

Victorinox Dual Pro X knife review – Summary and conclusion

After using the Victorinox Dual Pro X Swiss army knife over the last few weeks, I’ve had almost 100% positive experiences with it. And although it might be priced higher than some other utility knives, this is a top of the line product, with a large knife and made with “first class steel”, according to the manufacturer. The non-slip grip works well and all of the tools included are useful. All of the individual tools can be extracted and lock into positions that make them easy to use.

I’m happy to have the Dual Pro X as the newest multi-tool in my toolkit. I will most certainly be using it for countless jobs around the house and it will definitely be accompanying me on camping trips.

More from Victorinox

Check out swissarmy.com to view more of the Dual Pro X. Fan (Like) the Victorinox Swiss Army Facebook fan page and participate in Share the Adventure for a chance to win great products and compete for a $25,000 Ultimate Adventure.

Reviews Wes Novack on 22 Jun 2010

XShot 2.0 Selfie Stick review – camera extender

XShot 2.0 Selfie Stick review – camera extender

The good folks over at XShot were kind enough to send me their XShot 2.0 Selfie Stick camera extender to review.

The XShot 2.0 is a unique camera accessory that functions as a monopod arm extension, allowing you to easily take photos of yourself and others without the need to ask someone else to take the photo.

XShot 2.0 review – retail package

The device arrived in a clean looking hard plastic retail package that had to be opened with scissors.

Xshot 2.0 camera accessory review

The package included the XShot 2.0 itself, an attached lanyard and a cardboard insert that provides specifications and instructions.

Let’s take a look at the features and specifications as described by the manufacturer.

XShot 2.0 review – Features

Durable Metal Shaft
Lightweight
Extends to 37″ / 94 cm
Closes to 9″ / 22.9 cm
Fits all compact cameras
Fits easily in pocket
New support for heavier cameras
New variable length positioning

XShot 2.0 review – Specifications

XShot Weight: 5 oz (142g)
Extends to: 37″ / 94 cm
Closes to: 9″ / 22.9 cm
Max Camera Weight: 1.25 lb (570 g)
P / N: XS2379

XShot 2.0 Selfie Stick review – testing it out

After removing the XShot 2.0 from the packaging, I started playing around with it and testing it out. Instructions are included on the cardboard insert inside of the package, but in reality, it’s instinctively easy to use and doesn’t really require an explanation.

I’ve used the XShot 2.0 to take both photos and videos, using both my Canon SD960 IS camera/camcorder and my Flip Mino HD compact camcorder. Each time I’ve used the XShot 2.0, it has performed wonderfully and allowed me to produce stunning content.

Below is a photo that I took using the XShot 2.0, during our recent trip to St Thomas.

XShot 2.0 review photo

This is definitely one of my favorite photos from the entire vacation. The funny thing is that we actually had someone else snap a few photos of us from across the table before we took this one. When we looked at the photos later, it was no contest, the photo taken with the XShot was by far superior to the photos taken from across the table.

Below is a video demonstration of me using the XShot 2.0 on Sapphire Beach on St Thomas Island, in the US Virgin islands. It was a bit windy the day that I recorded this video, so please excuse the audio noise caused by the wind.

As you can see from the video, the XShot 2.0 can help you capture some excellent videos of yourself, including 360 degree spins to help your viewers get a fully immersive view of your location and surroundings. If you record videos of yourself, then the XShot 2.0 can be an invaluable tool to utilize.

XShot 2.0 review – Positives

Easy to use
Light weight
Take your own photos & video without asking others for help
Extends your reach
Capture unique angles and perspectives
Gets rid of the annoying extended arm seen in many self photos
Compacts down to 9″ to easily fit in a pocket or bag
Rubber non-slip grip & lanyard helps to prevent drops
Easily record video while you turn 360 degrees
Keeps a camera up high to record video or take photos above water

XShot 2.0 review – Negatives

A bit large for a pants pocket

XShot 2.0 review – Summary and conclusion

In my experience using the XShot 2.0, there are virtually zero negatives to be found with the product. The only VERY minor complaint is that it doesn’t quite fit comfortably in a pants pocket, which could result in it being left behind on some occasions. It looks like XShot is already aware of this though, as they’ve now released a new, even more compact version named the pocket XShot, which should comfortably fit in a pocket.

You might also get some strange looks from others while using the XShot, but that can be a good thing! Using the XShot has sparked conversations with strangers and passerby’s, who want to know more about why I have a stick attached to my camera.

The bottom-line is that the XShot 2.0 makes a fantastic addition to any photographer’s toolkit, from the seasoned professional photographer down to the every day, point-and-shoot casual photo snapper. I highly recommend the XShot 2.0, it’s a wonderful accessory that will undoubtedly allow you to capture better photos and better video.

You can pick up the XShot 2.0 Selfie Stick on the XShot website.

Hardware &Reviews Wes Novack on 21 Apr 2009

Flip Mino HD review

Flip Mino HD review

Pure Digital Technologies Inc was kind enough to send us a review unit of The Flip Mino HD, “The world’s smallest HD camcorder”. To prepare for this review, we tested out the pocket-sized Flip Mino HD over the last few months.

Pure Digital has revolutionized the home video camcorder market by creating simple to operate, compact digital camcorders that anyone can use. Over 1 million Flip camcorders have been sold so far and the number grows monthly.

Before we dig into the review, let’s take a look at the product details found on the manufacturers website.

Flip Mino HD review: Product Features & Specifications

Recording Time: 60 min.
Internal Memory: 4GB
MSRP: $229.99
Designable: Yes
Colors: Black, Grey
LCD Size: 1.5″ (diagonal)
LCD Type: Transflectiv TFT (for bright daylight)
Video Resolution: 1280 x 720
Sensor: 1/4.5″ HD CMOS Sensor 2.2µm pixels
Light Sensitivity: Ultra low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec) with automatic low light detection
Video Compression: Pure Digital Video Engine 3.0
Frame Rate: 30 fps (constant frame rate, progressive scan)
Average Bitrate: 9.0Mbps (auto-adaptive algorithm)
Video Format: H.264 video compression, AAC audio compression, MP4 file format
White Balance & Exposure: Automatic white balance and black level calibration, Automatic exposure control with dynamic exposure compensation
Lens Type: Fixed Focus (1.5m to infinity)
Aperture: f/2.4 (fast lens for great results in low-light environments)
Zoom: Smooth multi-step 2x digital
Battery type: Internal Lithium-Ion Rechargeable
Battery life: Up to 2 hrs of use between charges
Charge time: Via computer USB port – approx 3 hrs, Via Power Adapter – approx 2 hrs
Interface: Touch-sensitive capacitive buttons
Power-up Time: Less than 4 seconds
Power Saver (Auto Shut-Down): Yes
Play All Function: Yes
Pause, FF/Rewind: Yes
Set Date/Time Function: Yes
Dimensions (H x W x D): 3.94″ x 1.97″ x 0.63″
Weight: 3.3oz
PC Connection: Built-in flip-out USB arm (up to USB 2.0 speed)
Speaker: Built-in speaker
Microphone: Built-in, wide-range, omni-directional
TV-Out: NTSC (cable included)
Tripod Mount: Yes
Software: Built-in Flip Video Program
Included Accessories: Soft Case, TV cable, wrist strap, quickstart guide

Flip Mino HD review: Inside the box

Next, we take a look at what’s inside the box. The Flip Mino HD comes delivered in a sleek box packaging that includes the Flip Mino HD itself, a lanyard strap, a carrying bag that doubles as a lens cloth, a quick start guide, a warranty insert and a set of standard yellow/red/white audio/video cables for connecting to a TV.

flip-mino-hd-review-inside-the-box

Below are two different photos of the Flip Mino itself, with its signature flip out USB plug protruding from the top right of the device in the image on the right.

flip-mino-hd-review-pics

The Flip camcorders get their name from this built in USB plug, which flips out after you hit a switch on the top left side of the device.

Flip Mino HD review: Video examples

For the videos embedded in this review, we used video recorded at two different locations. The first was outdoors, at the Matsuri Festival of Japan, at Heritage park in downtown Phoenix, AZ. The second was indoors, at the Twestival Phoenix, which took place at the Half Moon Sports Grill in Phoenix. These videos can help you get a glimpse into the audio and video quality of the Flip Mino HD camcorder. Please take note that the Vimeo web service compresses the video, so the source video files are actually an even higher quality.

Flip Mino HD review: Matsuri Festival of Japan

Flip Mino HD review: Twestival Phoenix

Drawing from our experience with the Flip Mino HD over the last few months, we would like to wrap this review up with our list of positives, negatives and some final thoughts.

Flip Mino HD review Positives

Low cost HD camcorder
720p widescreen HD recording
Ultra compact size
Simple to use
Good Audio & Video quality
Integrated USB plug removes the need for cables
Tripod compatible
Lens cloth carry bag included
Simple editing & upload software included
User customizable graphics

Flip Mino HD review Negatives

No optical zoom
No image stabilization
No card slot for expanded storage
No component cables included (for HD output to TV)
Cannot be used as a webcam
No DVD Video authoring or burning software included

Flip Mino HD review Final thoughts

The Flip Mino HD camcorder has quickly become one of our favorite gadgets. Due to the compact size, it is easy to take the Flip along with you just about anywhere you go. Just drop it in your pocket and pop it out when you’re ready to capture some video. The audio & video quality are very good, vastly superior to similar compact HD camcorders made by Aiptek (we also own an Aiptek A-HD).

The few negatives that we found with the Flip Mino HD are far outweighed by its positives and its low price. The Flip Mino HD is perfect for the casual video maker, the video blogger or anyone else looking for a compact, highly portable camcorder. We can easily give the Flip Mino HD our recommendation.

Flip Mino HD Availability

At the time of this review, the Flip Mino HD can be purchased for $209 at Amazon or straight from the manufacturer at TheFlip.com.

Videos were edited using Pinnacle Studio 12 software on Windows XP.

If you’re looking for more Flip action, we also recently reviewed the Flip Mino camcorder (non-HD version).

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