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 Amazon.com.

Adobe updates Photoshop Lightroom to 2.2

Adobe has released an update to Lightroom! Now you can download the update to Lightroom 2.2 (Mac/Win). This update addresses bugs and provides RAW support for the following cameras:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II 
  • Canon PowerShot G10 
  • Panasonic DMC-G1
  • Panasonic DMC-FX150
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ28
  • Panasonic DMC-LX3
  • Leica D-LUX 4

This update also includes the final versions of the very popular Camera Profiles used in the Calibration section of the Develop Module. If you were a beta tester of these profiles, you can delete your old/beta profiles from these locations (thanks to Tom Hogarty and John Nack for this info):

  • Mac: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles/
  • XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles 
  • Vista: C:\Users\All Users\AppData\Local\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles ] 

Macworld Expo just died!

According to this press release, this will be Apple’s last Macworld Expo and Steve Jobs will NOT be doing the keynote address. I’m sure this is a huge blow to the show organizers! Without an Apple presence, this show will likely die. Why? Although there are hundreds of Mac based exhibitors, the big draw was Apple, Inc. Without Apple, the show could go on, but most likely will not. You might remember there used to be two Macworld Expos. One on the east coast and one on the west coast. When the show organizers (IDG) decided to move the show to back to Boston (it’s original roots), from NYC, Apple said NO! Once Apple stopped exhibiting, the show died. I predict the same thing for the San Francisco show. So will there be a Macworld Expo in 2010? Maybe, but I’d bet money that there won’t be one in 2011!


Do we really need trade shows  anymore?

Yes and no! Before the web, we relied on trade shows to get the bulk of our info and the ability to see new products. Now the minute a company releases a new product you can do everything except touch it right on the company’s website. If it’s a software product, you can usually download a free trial. With Apple’s growing network of Apple stores, that pretty much satisfies the “touch it” appeal. So it’s not hard to see why they would want to stop spending millions of dollars on trade shows. Apple really doesn’t “need” Macworld Expo.

On the other hand trade shows are great networking opportunities and a great way to see multiple vendors all in one spot. I enjoy going to shows like Macworld Expo and Photoshop World each each year. However, I must say, without an Apple presence, this will likely be my last Macworld Expo as well.

This is unfortunate for the smaller Mac vendors that relied on Macworld Expo each year to showcase their products. Times are a changin’

Netflix comes to TiVo

It’s here! A day I’ve been waiting for. You might remember my review of the LG Blu-ray player that offered Netflix Streaming. I actually only had the player for a few days before seeing the announcement that Netflix was bringing this technology to the boxes that I already had and love. TiVo HD! I boxed up the LG player and returned it to Bestbuy and patiently waited for Netflix/TiVo to roll out this new service. It actually got rolled out last week while I was traveling on business, so I didn’t get a chance to test it until this past weekend. I’m very impressed with the TiVo implementation.


Setup was a breeze

Since I had already gone through it once on the LG player, I kinda knew what to look for on TiVo. Basically you have to activate your TiVo box on your Netflix account. You do this by starting the process on the TiVo, which will display a code. You log into your Netflix account on your computer and enter that code. My activations took less than a minute and my Instant Play Movie queue was on my TiVo’s menu. You are allowed up to 4 Netflix streaming devices per account. Although I had properly deactivated the LG box before returning it, that slot was still taken up as Netflix doesn’t clear it right away. It could take several weeks. I assume that this is by design. This way it stops you from illegally sharing your Netflix account with all of your friends. “Hey Bob, can I watch a movie tonight? Sure, just give me your code and I’ll key it in. Once the movie is over, I’ll delete it.” Luckily for me I only needed the three remaining slots for my 3 TiVo HD’s. Movies are placed in your queue from your computer. Currently there is no way to manage your queue from the TiVo itself (except for removing a movie that you’ve just watched).


Over 12,000 movies is a good start, but…

Netflix offers over 12,000 movies on demand at no additional cost to your Netflix unlimited account, nor are there any added TiVo service charges. While 12,000 movies sounds like a lot, most of these titles are older movies. I haven’t seen very many (if any) new releases available for streaming. Since it doesn’t cost anything more, I’m not really complaining. However, I would love to see a lot more and newer titles in their catalog.


Playback quality

I only watched one movie so far, the original version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and it’s a black and white movie. However, the TiVo did fill my widescreen TV and the quality was better than I expected. I didn’t have any of the issues I had with the LG player which randomly played some widescreen movies in 4:3 format. Streaming started almost right away and played continuously with no hiccups. I haven’t seen anything around HD content yet. However, since Netflix offers HD streaming to XBox 360, there is no reason not to have it on TiVo HD.


How does this compare to Apple TV?

Apple always win for a slick interface and good user experience. However, TiVo and Netflix hit a homerun on this one. Other than wanting newer titles and HD streaming, I have no complaints. Apple TV is still great for that pay-as-you-watch experience when it comes to movies. You only pay when you want to watch something that you don’t already own. With that being said, I think there is room for BOTH models. Netflix’s subscription model is very attractive to me. It’s a monthly charge and I don’t have to think about or worry about how much content I consume. Apple TV would be more popular if Apple offered a choice of a subscription model AND a pay-as-you-watch model. As Netflix continues to bring on the heat, I’m sure Apple is having to re-think their strategies.


The Bottom Line

If you have a TiVo HD and a Netflix account, this is a no brainer. Just do it! If you’re in the market for a better DVR experience than the one that came from your cable company, there is no better choice than TiVo HD. Until Apple offers a subscription model, Netflix will continue to be my primary source for movie rentals. The race is on for streaming full HD. Let’s see who offers the most compelling solution in the coming months! Get a TiVo HD today. Amazon has them for $264.67 (or less). So many choices in home entertainment and so little time to enjoy them 🙂

The Garmin Nuvi 765T GPS Review

I’ve been a longtime fan of Garmin Nuvi’s. However, lately I’ve been carrying my much lower priced Navigon 2100 with me when I travel. Why would I carry a less feature rich device you ask? It’s actually quite simple. Although I love just about everything about the Garmin Nuvi, the one thing I fell in love with on the Navigon is something they call "3D Reality View." It seems that whenever I’m in an unfamiliar area (which is why I’d be using my GPS in the first place), I would always be in the wrong lane. This would either cause me to miss my exit or exit too soon. On the Navigon 2100 whenever I approached a complex highway exchange, the Navigon would throw up photo realistic highway signs that displayed the exact text that was on the real signs with markers for the lane you’re supposed to be in. Once I drove around California with this feature I was hooked! Recently Garmin sent out a survey and I answered the survey about what I liked about the Nuvi and what I wished were better. The one feature I wanted was this form of "lane assist" and the next thing I knew, it was here! I happened to notice an ad for the Garmin Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T and all of these units include a feature called "lane assist." Had I just seen that in text, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to it. However, it was the screen shot that got me!:


Next it was simply just a matter of deciding which of the four models I wanted. This was the one feature that was keeping me from using my existing Garmin and using a lesser model. Don’t get me wrong, the Navigon 2100 is a great GPS for the money (it’s my most frequently read review with well over 110,000 reads)! However, the Garmin Nuvi offers so much more and as well it should since it also costs 3-5 times more. I ran a comparison of these four models to see which one was right me. I immediately eliminated the 755T because I wanted Bluetooth. Garmin Nuvi’s with Bluetooth allow you to also use it as a handsfree speaker phone while you’re driving. Since I use my portable GPS mostly in rental cars, this feature is a big plus. The 775T seems to come with maps of Europe and the 785T comes with MSN support. Neither of these two features were important to me nor did they justify the huge difference in price. So it was the 765T for me! 


Speaking of price

Don’t let Garmin’s retail prices scare you! Nobody would pay these prices! The Garmin Nuvi 765T lists for $599.99 or Garmin’s site. There’s NO WAY I would pay that much for a GPS these days. I started doing some price shopping. Unfortunately I wasn’t seeing the 765T for much under $435 (still much better than retail). I was all set to ask for gift cards for the holidays and I would pool them together to get one. Then it happened! I was looking at Amazon.com a couple of days before Thanksgiving and it was there for only $349! I was stunned! Was this a mistake? I paused for a minute, and then I went for it. The next day after I ordered it, it went back up to the regular price of $435. Prices do fluctuate on Amazon.com all the time. So keep a watch on it. Although it was sold through Amazon, it was actually Car Toys that delivered it. I see right now that their price is a little cheaper right on the Amazon page (on the right side of the page). 


Taking it for a spin


I couldn’t wait to put it to the test. So although I was home and have a GPS built-in to my car, I put the Nuvi 765T on my dash board and ran some errands. It was GREAT! It was fast and responsive. Plotting good routes (all GPSes plot wacky routes at times). Then I came up on an intersection and BAM! There it was, a beautiful photo illustrating which lane I should be in. Although this was it! This was the feature I’d been waiting for Garmin to release, there is still room for improvement. My only issue with the 3D view is that it simply doesn’t stay up long enough. If you’re concentrating on the road, you could actually miss the display when it pops up. It seems to stay up much longer on the Navigon. It’s not the end of the world and it’s something easily fixed via firmware update. So Garmin, if you’re reading this, let’s get this display to stay up a few seconds longer. I also noticed that the Nuvi 765T now displays the current speed limit of the road you’re on. Another cool feature of the Navigon. However, it seems that all the 765T does is display the speed limit whereas my Navigon actually has a programmable warning if you exceed the limit by a set amount. I went 15 MPH over the limit on the Nuvi and not a peep.



True Lane Assist


In addition to the 3D photo that pops up to show you which lane you should be in, the 765T also displays another form of Lane Assist in the upper left corner, which shows you which of the lanes you should/could be in. For example if you’re approaching a 4 lane pass, you may only be able to take the upcoming exit if you’re in one of the two far left lanes. This feature will highlight the lanes you can be in and still make the exit. I like this feature A LOT! 


Why am I back to the Nuvi?

You might be asking at this point, if the Navigon that I already owned had the most important feature to me, why would I spend more money on another Garmin Nuvi? That’s a valid question and here’s the answer. While the Navigon had the one feature that I really loved, the Nuvi had everything else! The Nuvi is more than just a GPS. It’s also a media player, language translator, audiobook player, etc. Sure I have most of these features in my iPhone, but it’s nice having all this in my GPS because it also sports an FM transmitter built-in. This way I can have all of this sound play over the car speakers. The Navigon 2100 has none of this. While these features are nice-to-haves, the most important thing that sets the Nuvi 765T apart is performance and UI. The Navigon units can be sluggish to operate at times. They also have small text that is hard to read depending upon your eyes. The Garmin units use nice big icons and respond almost instantaneously to the touch. Another great feature of the Nuvi is the integration with my computer. With the Nuvi I can mount it on my desktop and drag files to it. I can also download custom points of interest (POI) files to it. I found a great site for getting custom POI files of your favorite stores, restaurants, etc. For example, I have all the PF Chang’s in my Garmin (probably not a good thing 🙂 ). No matter where I am, it will tell me where the closest one is. Same for Best Buy, Apple Stores, Morton Steak Houses, etc. etc. 


The Bottom Line

This is by far the best portable GPS I have owned to date. It’s not perfect, but it does offer the perfect blend of features, price and performance. It is very customizable and Garmin has free utilities for both the Mac and PC. Turn-by-turn voice navigation, fast responsive user interface. Several cool features and the new rubberized coating feels good to the touch. Mine came with the 2009 Map File already loaded and Garmin is pretty good about making timely updates available. If you’re looking for a top of the line, feature rich GPS, this is it!


iPhone App of the Week – Arcade Hoops

After a long week of meetings I can use a little down time. I don’t want to have to think, I don’t want productivity, I just want some good ole fashioned arcade fun! That’s where Arcade Hoops comes in. This iPhone/iPod touch game tries to replicate the arcade/pizza place experience of making as many baskets as you can in the allotted time. It’s a heck of a lot easier than the real thing. Probably a little more fun too and it certainly costs less to play.

It’s all in your finger. You use your finger to flick the balls to the basket. There are two modes: Classic Game and Progressive Game. I like the Progressive game because it keeps getting harder by doing things like moving the basket further away. Very well done.

This is a great casual game when you just want to have fun! So far no crashes or issues. Arcade Hoops goes for $1.99 and is available from the App Store here:

Upgrade Your Garage Door Opener

How big is your garage door opener?

If you’re using the garage door opener that came with your unit, chances are it’s too big! Granted they have come down in size and the average is probably the size of a deck of cards. However, you can actually have one that is much much smaller! Luckily my cars have integrated openers built-in, however my daughter’s car does not. So rather than give her the original remote that came with the garage, I decided to find her a smaller one and one that could actually go on her keychain. 


My search lead me to this Liftmaster 970LM. Now of course I had to find one that was compatible with my existing system and as you would expect there is an online store called Click Away Remotes that sells all kinds of replacement remotes. I got mine through Amazon (which shipped from Click Away Remotes) at a lower price than buying direct. The remote works great and goes right on your keychain. This also provides an extra layer of security because you’re not leaving your remote in your car to be a temptation to thieves. If you’re currently leaving your remote in your car, you might want to reconsider that. In these tough times home invasions are on the rise. If a thief breaks into your car and figures out where you live, the remote would allow them easy access to your house (or at least the valuables in your garage). 

Setup was simple. I trained it using the original remote in less than 5 minutes. Great price, great solution!

NWA’s NEW E-Boarding Pass

My boarding pass, slightly altered to protect the innocent


My boarding pass, slightly altered to protect the innocent



On a recent business trip I decided to give Northwest Airlines’ NEW E-Boarding Pass a shot. The way this works is that if you fly out of one of the currently supported airports (like DTW), you can check in for your flight using your “approved” smartphone/cellphone and actually use your smartphone/cellphone to go through security and board the plane. No paper boarding pass required. 

I had originally planned to get to the airport in plenty of time in case this didn’t work out. However, due to weather and traffic, I got to the airport 10 minutes later than I originally would have. So it had to work! I had no time for error. 


Here’s how it works…

You can check in for your flight up to 24 hours before departure. If you use your cellphone, you can not only check in, but you can request that your boarding pass actually be sent directly to your phone. The E-Boarding Pass is sent to either an e-mail address or mobile phone number in the form of an e-mail, WAP push/link or MMS message. When you arrive to the airport, you show the screen with the 2D barcode on it and they actually have a barcode scanner right there at the TSA station.


One step forward, one step backwards

Now the interesting thing was, I was wondering how they would handle the requirement for showing your boarding pass to the agent standing on the other side of the X-Ray machine. In the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, they require that you show your boarding pass twice before going to your gate. You show it before going through the X-Ray machine to the TSA agent (who typically puts a physical pen mark/initials on your paper boarding pass) and again once you’re on the other side to another agent. The problem is you can’t walk through the X-Ray machine with your phone in hand! When I asked the first agent about this, he said he would, get this, walk over to the other guy and let him know that I was coming through and that I had shown him my phone. I thought, “oooooookkkkkkkkkk.”

After I got through the X-Ray machine (luckily no bag check this time), I told the guy that I didn’t have my boarding pass because it was electronic and on my phone. He said, “I still need to see it!” I said, well we’ll have to wait until my stuff comes through the X-Ray. So he holds up the other people in line until my stuff came through on the belt! I was stunned and thought, this is soooo inefficient. Clearly they haven’t thought this through yet. At a minimum the second guy (if we really need this guy in the first place), should either be double-checking boarding passes before you go through the X-Ray OR at the very end of the conveyor belt. 


I boarded the plane

When I got to my gate, the plane was already boarding. I walked right up and showed my iPhone to the agent. She told me where to hold it so that it could be scanned and I went right onboard. Cool!


The Bottom Line

I love seeing advances in technology like this, but clearly this one needs a little more work. There are also some potential issues. What if your battery dies? Since the iPhone doesn’t yet do MMS, you get a link via SMS to view your boarding pass in Safari. What if your web connection doesn’t work at that given moment as in some cases the iPhone’s Safari needs to be able to connect to the internet to be able to refresh a page. Do we really need boarding passes at all? Couldn’t your ID/Passport be your boarding pass (children/minors would still need them). I’m excited about the possibilities, but right now there are some things that need to be worked out. NWA’s E-Boarding Pass is currently offered on non-stop flights from Indianapolis, IN and Detroit, MI during check-in on nwa.com. If you are departing from IND or DTW you must be checking in as a single passenger on a Northwest operated non-stop flight within the United States.

Page 134 of 163« First...102030...132133134135136...140150160...Last »