My Top 10 Gadget Picks for 2008

It’s that time to look back on 2008 and pick my absolute favorite gadgets of 2008. These are the gadgets that either have brought me the most joy or benefited me the most. These are also the gadgets that if something were to happen to, I’d replace with another one just like it immediately. I go through a lot of gadgets in a year, so it’s really hard to narrow it down to just 10, but here goes:


My #1 Favorite Gadget of 2008 is the iPhone 3g

Now with over 10,000 3rd party apps available, this is the gadget that just keeps getting better. I use my iPhone 3g more than any other gadget I own.

Here are my other 9 picks:








For those who are having trouble seeing the widget above:
Logitech Harmony One
Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray Player
Garmin nuvi 765T
Apple TV
Nikon D700
Nkon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
Apple MacBook Pro 15.4in Late 2008 model
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080p projector

Honorable Mention

Another Gadget that I’ve used quite a bit in 2008 is my di-Pro GPS for my Nikon DSLRs.

So what’d you get?


I’ve been reviewing my favorite gadgets, services and apps all year long. Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you got this holiday season (tech wise) that you’re excited about? Use the comments section below. Tell us what it is, why you like it and provide links if you can? Did you get or give anything from my holiday gift guide?

iPhone App of the Week – AccuWeather


Another weather app? What’s my obsession with weather apps?

With all the bad weather we’ve been having this week I’m using my NEW favorite weather app more than ever. Yes it wasn’t long ago that I named MyWeather Mobile as the iPhone App of the Week. After that I got hooked on The Weather Channel app. Now I’m absolutely in love with Accuweather.


Why AccuWeather?

Why not just use the built-in Weather App that’s already included with the iPhone and iPod touch. Anyone that lives or travels near/to snow will identify with what I’m about to say. The built-in Weather App is simply inadequate. Sure it will give the the expected high and low tempurature for the day and even tell me that it’s going to snow or rain, etc. However, what it doesn’t tell me is WHEN? and HOW MUCH? Simply seeing a little icon for Saturday that shows snow is meaningless. I need to know if it’s going to be 1 inch or 12 inches. I travel often, so up to the minute winter weather issue is critical! Now, if you live in, let’s say Florida or Hawaii where the weather is pretty constant, then you probably don’t need this level of information.


AccuWeather is a full featured weather app. In my opinion it’s got the best UI (user interface) of all the ones I’ve tried to date including the one that I paid for (MyWeather Mobile). AccuWeather not only can give me a much more detailed forecast including hourly forecasts, but it can even show me a video of the most recent weather report for my area. Very slick! Very very slick indeed! Of course it’s location based like the others and you can save your favorite locations. You can also see an animated radar weather map. The Risk screen shows you exactly what’s likely to happen whether it be Thunder Storms, Rain, Snow, Ice, Wind, or Fog. 



AccuWeather starts off with a very well designed display of the current conditions. This also includes a nice background photo representing what it’s doing outside right now. Cloudy, Clear, Raining, etc. I not only get to see the current temperature, but also the wind chill factor (feels like). 



The Bottom Line

There are several weather apps out there. Some are free, some cost $, however, AccuWeather is by far the best designed one and most stable one I’ve seen and used to date. Best of all it’s FREE! You can download AccuWeather for the iPhone and iPod touch here from the App Store.


Be sure to check back next Friday for my “Top 10 iPhone Apps of 2008″. Of course I think you already know what one of them will be. :) Some come back and see the other 9.

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Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

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Web Conferencing More Important Than Ever In a Recession

I’m a fan of web conferencing! It just makes sense. I can remember the old days of getting up at the crack of dawn to get on a flight to Chicago for a meeting. My part in the meeting would last an hour at best. Then I was back on the plane home. Keep in mind that this was a one day trip because it was close. If it was further away or the meeting was earlier in the day, then that would be mean flying out the night before, getting a hotel room and hoping that the meeting would end early enough for a return flight right after the meeting. Otherwise, a one day meeting could turn into a three day trip. Thankfully now I have Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro and I have many of my meetings wherever I happen to be as long as I have a good internet connection.


Web Conferencing is NOT just for the big guys

Although Acrobat Connect Pro is aimed at larger organizations, there is a FREE version that is very powerful for most individuals, freelancers and small businesses. It’s called Acrobat Connect NOW. You may remember that I blogged about this when it was code named “Brio”. Now the service has been officially rolled out and access to it is even built-in to the Creative Suite 4 apps with a menu command under the File menu called “Share My Screen.” Although I encourage you to use Adobe apps whenever possible, you can use Connect NOW with any app that you wish to show someone. It could be PowerPoint, iPhoto or whatever.

As a matter of fact I used this technology to present to several users groups in 2007 and 2008 that I otherwise would not have gone to. One of the advantages of Acrobat Connect Pro is that the meetings can be recorded. As a matter of fact you can check out the presentation I did for the North Coast Macintosh Users Group on Adobe Photoshop Elements 6. They were able to distribute this link to all of their members who couldn’t make the live presentation. Other than a low audio problem I was having with my headset, they were able to see and hear the presentation over 2,000 miles away. Once I was done, I turned off the light and walked upstairs and I was home. 


I found this great article listing the “10 Reasons Why Web Conferencing is a Must Have Technology During a Recession“. Definitely worth a read.


How does Adobe Acrobat Connect NOW stack up against the competition?

Sure there are other players in the field. You might have heard of WebEx, Go To Meeting and others. The problem with all the other solutions is that they usually require the meeting participant to install something or somehow change a setting or two on their computers or networks. Acrobat Connect NOW is Adobe Flash based and since 98% of computers on the internet today have the Flash player installed, they can join your meeting without installing anything extra. This also means that Acrobat Connect NOW is fully cross platform. So it doesn’t matter if you’re presenting from a Mac or PC or if your meeting participants are on Mac or PCs. Now if you are sharing your screen there is a small plug-in (Add in) that gets downloaded automatically (upon your approval) and installs automatically. The whole process takes a couple of minutes on average. So even if you walked up to a computer that had never used Acrobat Connect NOW you could log on with your account and start presenting in less than 5 minutes flat.


What do you get for FREE?

With Acrobat Connect NOW you get a static URL for your meeting room that you can use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unlimited use. You can have up to 3 connections/participants in your room at once (including you). However, let’s say that one of your participants is in a conference room with 50 other people connected to a projector? No problem. It will still only count as one participant. You can of course share your screen (any app or document on your screen would be broadcast to the participants). You can even hand off this ability to any of the other participants whether they have an account or not as long as they are in your meeting room. You can even request or grant control of your computer/their computer which is AWESOME for remote troubleshooting/help desk work. You can share your live image via a webcam and of course there is Voice over IP. However, if you want to get on the phone, there is an teleconference number assigned to your account. It’s not toll-free to dial, but it’s there if you need it. There’s also a text chat feature. There’s even a File Share pod to distribute supporting files and a Whiteboard for live brainstorming.

As a matter of fact there are a host of other free very useful services on Check them out!


What’s the catch? Why is this free?

Simple! If you like it, you’ll use it. If you use it, others will be exposed to it. If they like it and need MORE, then they may opt to go to Acrobat Connect Pro. 


What if I need more than 3 people in my room, but don’t need all that comes with Connect Pro?

There is something in the middle of FREE and the higher cost professional option. It’s called Acrobat Connect. With Acrobat Connect, you get up to 15 people in your room at once. It’s $39/Month.


Don’t hesitate

Sign up for your Acrobat Connect Now account NOW!

Travel is a luxury. Communication is not. 

Learn more:

Adobe Acrobat Connect NOW

Adobe Acrobat Connect

Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro

Movie Rental DVDs That You Don’t Have To Return

The last time I was in my local Staples store I noticed a display of DVD Movies. While that doesn’t sound unusual, these DVDs were for rent. However, unlike traditional DVD rentals, you don’t have to bring these back. These disposable DVD’s are by Flexplay.


How does this work?

You go to a store where Flexplay discs are sold. You find a title you want and pay the cashier for it ($4.99 list price). Now you can enjoy the movie whenever you want. I actually had mine for about a month and a half before I actually watched it. Once you break the seal and expose the disc to air, you’ll have 2 days (48 hours) to enjoy the movie (as many times as you like) before it becomes unplayable. After 2 days, you simply recycle the disc. No late fees. No having to return the disc.


The Bottom Line

This is yet another method to enjoy movies on your time without having to buy them. Not every title is available via Flexplay. However, if you want to pick up some classic flicks that you don’t have to worry about when you watch them, then this would be a great way to go. It’s also cool for travelers. As a matter of fact this would be a better way to go in airports than the current InMotion kiosks. Unopened Flexplay DVDs have a one year shelf life. I would like to see the price drop by about $2 and I would be a lot more interested in this format. I like that this format doesn’t take up any hard disk space on your laptop or iPod/iPhone. I also like the fact unlike iTunes movie rentals, there is no requirement whatsoever to be connected to the internet to start watching the movie. 

Learn more at where you can also see a list of titles.

See their promo here:

iPhone App of the Week – iWant

There are quite a few iPhone apps that try to be your one stop shop for all the businesses around you that you may want to go to. While I have tried many of them, for some reason I keep coming back to iWant. iWant is a location based app that allows you to quickly find the closest restaurants, bars, cafes, grocery stores, drug stores, clothing stores, movie theaters/show times, hotels, department stores, banks, gas stations and car rental places.


How well does it work?

The interface is quite simple. Nice big icons that cover each of the above categories. Once you tap a category it will start to display all of the businesses around your current location based on the category you tapped on. It seems to do a pretty good job of finding just about every business I could think of around me in each given category except for the banks. There are three Bank of America banks nearby and it didn’t list any of them. There is a Comerica bank about a block away and it didn’t find that one either. Not sure if there is some brand preference going on or not, but it doesn’t find every business in every category. Even with this shortfall I still like it as I’ve found the same limitation in the other apps I’ve tried as well.


A couple of added benefits

Once you tap on a business, you get to see the address and of course the phone number which you can tap to dial. You also get to see it on the built-in Google Map app for easy directions to if from where you are. The Action menu at the bottom of the screen allows you to email your current location to anyone you like and it will automatically generate a link with your coordinates. This is cool when you are unfamiliar with the area and you’re trying to explain where you are. You also have a built-in option to email the developer. I wish more apps included this ability. You can also easily control the search radius with a slider.


The Bottom Line

It’s hard to go wrong with this app. It’s easy to use, it’s fast and best of all it’s FREE! Download it from the App Store now.

Epson P6000 Multimedia Viewer/Backup Review

One of the things that photographers are constantly concerned about is backing up their photos. While it's pretty easy to do if you're in the studio, it's more challenging when you're out on location. For this reason I have been using Epson Multimedia viewers for the last couple of years. These devices are pretty cool because they are small enough to fit in just about any camera bag and have just about all the functions you would want.


What's built in?

First of all they have a built-in hard drive. The current models come in either 80GB or 160GB capacities. They have a high quality 4 inch LCD screen and both Compact Flash and SD slots built-in. After a shoot you simply take the card out of your camera and put it in the Epson Multimedia Viewer.



Execute the Backup command and it will copy the photos from your card onto its built-in hard drive. Put the card away, don't erase it! The whole point of a backup is to have your data in two or more places. If you erase the card, then you are still vulnerable because the photos will only be in one place.



What other features does it have?

The Epson Multimedia Devices can also play music which is handy for doing impromptu slideshows. You can have your MP3 files already on the device and be ready to play them. The other more important feature is that these devices support Camera RAW files (yes, of course it supports JPGs too) from the most popular cameras today. This means that you can not only backup your cards, but you can use its 4 inch screen to display your pictures. Both the P6000 and P7000 now support 94% of the Adobe RGB color space which means you'll be seeing your photos more true to the way they will actually print instead of the striped down sRGB color space. Lastly there is also video/audio out jacks so that you could hook up your P6000 or P7000 to a TV or projector to show your work on the big screen.


How well does this device perform?

I've had my new one for a few weeks now and I have no real complaints. The backup speed is acceptable and I haven't had any card/image compatibility problems. It seems that with my P3000 there were certain CF and SD cards that couldn't be read (mostly the cheaper off brand cards from friends). Navigating the images is done via a jog wheel, which after working with an iPhone for the past year seems kind of archaic now. I would love to be able to "flick" my images by. Speaking of the interface, it has improved a little since the P3000, but it's time for an over-hall. There are still too many screens, menu options to get to what you want at times.


What about the price?

Here's the biggest problem of them all. These devices are best in class and you'll pay a premium because of that. They are, in my opinion over priced. The 80GB Epson P6000 lists for $599.99 (yes $600 bucks). The 160GB Epson P7000 lists for $799.99 (nope, it's not a typo, $800!). Considering the cost of storage these days and the fact that I don't imagine that there was a ton of RD that went into these latest models, they are easily $200 over priced. Now I have no idea what these cost to manufacture and it's quite possible that I'm missing something here. I admit that. However, there are full blown PC laptops on the market that cost less. For example, here's a Gateway/eMachines laptop that comes with a 160GB hard drive, 15.4 inch LCD, 3GB of RAM, Keyboard, DVD burner, and wireless networking for $599.99. Is this a quality laptop? Probably not, but the fact is it has more components and costs less. It seems that Epson keeps increasing the storage, but never lowers the price. 


The Bottom Line

Although these things are pricy, I do LOVE my P6000 and would never think of going on location for a shoot without it. Once I get back home, I can either copy the cards again to my computer or I can simply plug in my Epson P6000 via the USB cable and copy all the shots that way. Since it does mount on the desktop as a hard drive, I can easily copy my portfolio to it to show perspective clients. Do I recommend them? Yes, if you have the budget for it. They work as advertised and have never let me down. Battery life is decent too and the rechargeable battery is removable and user replaceable. As far as which model to get, I can't really see much of a reason at all to get the P7000. Granted you do get double the hard drive space, but it will also cost you $200 MORE! Seeing how I doubt that I would ever shoot 10 8GB cards worth of shots in one setting, the 80GB model is plenty. I'm also remind that the model I upgraded from only had a 40GB drive and that was never too limiting for me either. So 80GB is more than enough. As for as room for improvement goes, for the prices that these are going for I would at least like to see some wireless/Wi-Fi transfer options. Even an EVDO 3g card slot would be nice too. That way I could not only back up my photos, but I could email them directly from the device to someone. Amazon has the Epson P6000 for $579.20 (or less) and B&H has the Epson P7000 for $799.95.

Surf the Web on your PS3 with Flash and a Keyboard!

Last week my home theater system consisted of a TiVo HD XL, Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Sony PS3 and a Mac mini. Ever since I got the Apple TV, I rarely ever used the Mac mini anymore. The only reason I could think of keeping it in there was the once in a blue moon chance I would want to surf the net without getting up and going to my computer. I had an Apple wireless keyboard and a bluetooth wireless trackball. I’m still kind of puzzled as to why Apple doesn’t include the Safari browser in the Apple TV? Oh well.


This week the Mac mini is history!

I no longer need the Mac mini in my theater because the web browser on the Playstation 3 (PS3) is now usable. This is thanks to the latest firmware update which includes the updated more feature rich version of the Adobe Flash Player including full screen capabilities. However, that was only half the battle. The other problem was a decent keyboard. I’m NOT going to use the onscreen keyboard! Nope, not me! Luckily, my buddy Dave Helmly turned me on to the Logitech wireless keyboard for the PS3.


The Playstation 3 Logitech Cordless Mediaboard Pro

is possibly the longest name for a keyboard in existence today. Aside from that, it’s the missing piece to this solution that makes surfing the web from a PS3 feasible. Not only is it a bluetooth wireless keyboard. It also has an integrated trackpad built right in. Not only is it a good design, but it’s also designed for the PS3. That means that it has the PS3 keys right on the keyboard so you’re not constant reaching for the game controller to navigate your way around.


How well does the PS3’s Web Browser really work?

I was impressed by not only the web browser, but also the Flash integration. I had no problem seeing Flash enabled sites. I was even able to watch some movies in Flash (FLV) format. There were a couple of disappointments. The first one was that I wasn’t able to find a way to resize the window. There was a lot of wasted space on both sides. Maybe there’s a way, but I couldn’t find it. The other disappointment, although not a surprise was that there was no way to watch QuickTime content. Again, I’m not surprised and there is way more Flash content out there than QuickTime content anyway, but it would be nice to have both.

This browser certainly won’t replace the one you use on your Mac or PC, but it’s more than adequate for looking up some information right there on the spot and on the big screen. You can also bookmark your favorite sites. It took me a few minutes to discover the side panel where all of the controls are located.


The Bottom Line

If you have a PS3 and it’s connected to the internet, then there really isn’t much of a reason not to use it for web browsing too. If you are going to use it this way, then don’t hesitate, go buy the Logitech Mediaboard. It’s $59.99 at

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