iPhone 6 Plus: 1st Impressions

iPhone6plus_in_my_hand

My iPhone 6 Plus (64GB Gold Unlocked GSM) arrived late yesterday afternoon and everyone has been asking me “how is it?” So I thought I’d give a quick 1st impressions post now. I’ll have a full review on Monday after I have had a chance to really use the iPhone 6 Plus over the weekend.

 

Size

gold_iphone6plust

Yep, it’s BIG! However, it’s not too big. To my surprise using it with one hand and reaching things with my thumb from top to bottom isn’t the problem. Apple includes a new “Reachability” feature that with a double tap on the touch ID sensor (as opposed to a double press of the button, which invokes multitasking), the top of the display scrolls down so that you can reach stuff at the top. For me it’s more a “stretch” reach the opposite side of the display with my thumb. For example, when I’m holding it in my left hand I can barely reach the apps on the far right side of the display.Other than that I love the size.

The Pocket Fit

iphone6plus_in_my_pocket

the shirt pocket and pants pocket test

Yes, I’ve seen all the #bendgate stuff and I just smile. First off ANY aluminum and glass gear is subject to damage in a pocket without a case. I only recently started carrying my iPhone 5s in my pocket over the past couple of months. Prior to that I was always a holster guy. I’ll carry the iPhone 6 Plus in my front pocket and remove it prior to sitting down if I think that there will be added pressure to it. By the way, if you apply enough pressure to ANYTHING, it will bend!

The Camera

iPhone6Plus-shot

The Camera seems awesome and as good as advertised. I’ll spend more time with it over the weekend capturing images. So far I love it.

Speed, Apps, etc.

The speed is noticeable, especially the 802.11ac WiFi. Downloads are MUCH FASTER! I haven’t found any of my 491 installed apps to have any problems so far. No freezes or weirdness. I haven’t had it on battery long enough to judge battery life so you’ll have to wait till Monday for that one.

 

One disappointment so far

iPhone-6-Plus-standard_vs_zoomed

When setting up the iPhone 6 Plus you have a choice between Standard and Zoomed. Apple even lets you preview them to decide. With Zoomed the icons look bigger and better to my eyes, so I went with zoomed. Great! Happy! However, I didn’t realize until a little later in the evening that you give up 3 things with Zoomed. You give up the new landscape display of home screens.

iPhone-6-Plus-expandedkeyboard

You give up the two column display in Mail and you give up the extended landscape keyboard. I switched back to Standard (which requires a reboot) to get these features back and I already miss the larger zoomed icons and display overall. I wish there was a middle ground.

iPhone-6-Plus-landscapehomescreen

 

The Bottome Line – So far, so good

Overall I’m happy that I went with the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6. My eyes definitely like the larger display. Check back Monday for a more detailed look.

 

On a side note – Finally a durable 3rd Party Lightning Cable

newertech_lightning_cable

While this really has nothing to do with the iPhone 6 Plus itself, I think I finally found a DURABLE 3rd party Lightning Cable. I have been frustrated by the quality of 3rd party Lightning cables to date. They either don’t work out of the box, stop working after a while or worse they start to fall apart where the connector connects to the cable. NewerTech makes this cable and I ordered a couple of the 3 meter version. I’m impressed with the way they are constructed. Definitely the best I’ve found so far.

0.5 Meter Length

1 Meter Length

2 Meter Length

3 Meter Length

 

iOS 8 Tips and Tricks




I went with this color laser printer

brother-HL3170CDW

A few weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page asking for recommendations for a new printer. The requirement was that it had to be color and be ready to print when I’m ready to print. In other words I print very infrequently and my frustration with inkjet printers is that some models dry up when not used regularly and take lots of ink just to get the nozzles clean and printing again. My previous office printers had all been Xerox Phaser (dry ink) printers. While these printers have always served me well, it was going to be overkill to get another one as I just don’t print that often anymore. When it comes to photo printing I usually send them out (Mpix, Costco, etc.) So in house high quality photo printing was not a requirement either. I got lots of different recommendations about Canon inkjets, HP laserjets and others. I decided that for the cost of consumables and again the infrequent use, I would be better off this time with color laser. The other requirement was that it had to be wireless. I did look at the Xerox color laser printers, but it seems that Xerox just doesn’t get it when it comes to wireless. In order to go wireless with Xerox I’d have to go with their midrange Phaser 6600, which lists for $499 and still requires a $99 wireless add-on to do WiFi?? WTH! Really Xerox? Wake up! It’s 2014!

My research led me to the Brother HL3170CDW

Not only did this printer meet all of my requirements:

  • Color laser
  • Wireless (WiFi – AirPrint – Google Cloud Print)
  • Automatic Duplex (2-sided) printing
  • Low cost & low cost consumables
  • Quiet
  • Small

But it excelled at all of my requirements as well. Setup went perfectly because I never had to plug in a single cable besides the power cable. The first thing I did after installing the 4 supplied toner cartridges was to power it up and join my WiFi network from the built-in control panel. Next I added it wirelessly to my MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Finally I did a print test from my iPad and iPhone, which both saw it over AirPrint. Yes, this was the out of the box “it just works”, experience that I was looking for. The print quality is good as well. No problems to date.

What’s the downside?

I would say the only downside is that it’s not as fast as I’m used to with my Xerox printers. When I’m talking speed, I’m talking from the time I hit print til the time the printer wakes up, receives the job and prints it. After that it prints at a speedy 23ppm. My only other concern was that while reading other reviews for this printer, people complained that once it goes into “deep sleep” that it falls off the wireless network for AirPrint. In other words you would have to walk over and hit a button to wake it up to print or print from a computer. I’m happy to report that I have not had this issue at all. As a matter of fact I’ve not printed for two days now and it still shows up and ready to print from my iOS devices via AirPrint. It says “deep sleep” on the LCD. Now there is an option to let it power itself OFF after a user defined interval. At that point I would assume that you would have to press a button to turn it back on and that wouldn’t bother me. However, that option is off by default and the deep sleep conserves power (using less than 1 watt of power). I will turn it off when I’m away on business.

 

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a good quality, color laser printer that supports all the latest and greatest wireless protocols as well as printing via USB, then this printer is definitely worth consideration. It fit the bill for what I was looking for at less than half the cost of a Xerox printer with similar features. It’s also less costly to run than typical inkjets.

You can get the Brother HL3170CDW Color Laser Printer here.

 



Don’t buy another USB wall charger for your phone!

no-charger

Your smartphone probably came with a USB wall charger. Chances are you probably need or at least would find it convenient to have more than one. Perhaps one at your desk, one by the bed and maybe one in your travel bag. A quick check shows that the retail price of an Apple USB wall charger is $19. Of course you could get ANY 3rd party wall charger for half that price or less. However, even at $9 for a good quality generic charger you might want to consider a different option. If you’re buying a charger that’s going to have a permanent home under your desk, behind a nightstand, etc. then why not just get a power strip that also has USB ports on it? This way you could plug in your lamp, computer, speaker, etc. and charge your smartphone and/or tablet as well.

power_strip_USB_ports

I just bought 3 of these for use around the home and home office. So far they’re working out GREAT! Unlike most power strips/surge protectors this one has a longer than average 6 foot cord. It has a lighted power switch as well as 2 USB ports that can provide up to 2.1A of power, which is enough to charge an iPad. Also the fact that it’s a surge protector as well doesn’t hurt. The only downside is that the 2.1A is shared between the two ports. This means that you can charge two devices or one device at the full 2.1A speed. Yes, you can charge an iPad (or other tablet) and iPhone (or other smartphone) at the same time, just not two devices that both require 2.1A each.

Here’s the best part: This power strip is on sale for only $14.99, which is less than the cost of a name brand single port USB charger. Get this one and you can use the charger that came with your phone as a travel charger.

My other favorite USB chargers

lenmar_USB_car_charger

For the car, I like this one.

anker_40w_USB

For charging several USB devices at once I like this one.

USB_wall_outlet

For a permanent installation I like this one.

plugbug_1

For charging while traveling to hotel rooms with limited outlets, I like this one.

 

 





8 Tips and Tricks for iOS 8

ios8logo

Today is iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus day as well as many of you upgrading to iOS 8. I though I’d share 8 of my favorite iOS 8 Tips and Tricks that may not be obvious to many.





Great Car Mount for your New iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus

Arkon Mobile Grip 2

I know that many of you have the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus on order. Also many of you have large Android phones. Even if you don’t have a large smartphone, chances are whichever smartphone you have, you have it in a case. There, that should cover 99% of my readers :-)

Time to take a look at a new car mount for your smartphone! The Arkon Mobile Grip 2 may be the answer to all your smartphone car mounting needs. This “sticky” suction mount has been on my dashboard now for about a week and a half and unlike all suction mounts I’ve tried in the past it shows no signs of falling off. This is probably due to the combination of both a good suction mount AND the “tacky” substance that comes standard on the suction cup. It can be dash mounted or mounted on a windshield. Like my favorite vent mount, it offers a “one-handed” mounting and unmountng of your smartphone and its spring loaded design means that you can mount just about any sized device WITHOUT having to remove your case. However, unlike vent mounts, you can not only mount it on your dash or windshield, but it’s more adjustable for better viewing angles. You can also mount your phone in the vertical or horizontal orientation.

arkon_mobile-mobile2-mount_iPhone5s

I was surprised at how much I liked this mount as I really don’t care for suction cup styled mounts, but this one addresses my biggest pet-peeve because it doesn’t fall off the surface you have it mounted to.

 

The Bottom Line

I’m anxiously awaiting my iPhone 6 Plus and now I know I have an easy to use secure mount to put it in in my car. You can get the Arkon Mobile-Grip 2 Mount here.

arkon_mobile-mobile2-mount_iPhone5s-2

 



Harmony Smart Control Review

harmony_smart_control

It has been a while since I’ve looked at smart universal remotes. I’ve been happily using my Harmony One for years. However, it was time to setup a new room with HDTV, Apple TV and TiVo Mini. This means either using 2-3 remotes or just ONE! However, I didn’t want to go with another high-end Harmony, yet I wanted something that was still very good. This lead me to check out the Harmony Smart Control. This setup offers the best of both worlds. You get a regular remote control with physical buttons as well as a “hub” that allows you to control everything with your iOS or Android based smartphone or tablet. While I’ve used this hub before, I like the option of having a physical remote for those times when my iPhone is in use or not handy.

 

How to set it up

The setup was pretty straight forward. You plug in the hub to AC power and then download the Harmony Control app. Since there are no controls on the hub you first have to get it on your WiFi network either via your computer via a USB connection to the Hub or wirelessly to your smartphone via bluetooth. I opted to set it up via my iPhone 5s. The App found the hub and allowed me to key in the password to my WiFi network. Once it was setup on the network the App continued to allow me to set it up. The setup was very typical to Harmony remotes. You simply enter the brand and model names/numbers of the devices you wish to control. Believe it or not, that’s the hard part. Who remembers the model number of their TV? Once I tracked down the info I needed to enter, it was easily able to control each device. Then I setup “Activities” such as “Watch TV” and “Watch Apple TV”. Activities allow you one button options to turn on all the appropriate devices and switch to the appropriate inputs on your TV or receiver. Lastly I added my “Favorite” channels.

 

How does it work?

harmony_smart_hub

Once I set up the Harmony Smart Control, I now have the option of controlling my TV and components via the supplied physical remote OR via my iPhone or iPad using the Harmony Control App. It definitely beats having to have the TiVo remote, TV remote (to properly switch inputs) and the Apple TV remote. Either the App on my iPhone or Harmony remote can control it all. The App is pretty slick too. Not only do you have multiple screens for various controls, you even have a “gesture” screen that allows you to swipe up or down to control TV volume or left or right to change channels. I also like the one touch access to my favorite channels.

 

The Bottom Line

Logitech has hit the right combination of hardware and software with this combo. You have a physical remote that anyone can use AND the ability to use your mobile device to control it via WiFi from any room. I’m happy with this setup and I’m considering getting another one for another room of gear.

You can get the Harmony Smart Control here

You can also just go with the Harmony Ultimate Hub if you just want to use your mobile device.

 



How To Create a Fixed Layout eBook with Adobe InDesign CC

ID-CC-totem

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV I’ll show you how to create a Fixed Layout eBook (epub), with interactivity using Adobe InDesign CC.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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Nikon D810 – 1st Impressions

nikon_d810

This post is long overdue as I’ve had the Nikon D810 in my hot little hands for a few weeks now. However, I wanted to spend some quality time with it both in studio and out in the field. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about taking this DSLR for a spin. I already had preconceived notions about how much I would love the image quality, but hate the file size. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a chance and I must say that I’m really impressed and it’s going to be hard to send it back now that my review period has ended.

 

What’s so cool about the Nikon D810?

wpid13803-KeyanaW-0401_sm.jpg

When the Nikon D800 hit the scene it basically created a new category for Nikon. It wasn’t the D700 replacement that many had hoped for. Instead of was a NEW camera addressing a need that Nikon hadn’t addressed before in a DSLR. It was really targeted to those that needed a higher megapixel camera, but didn’t want to or couldn’t afford a medium format camera. The Nikon D800 and now D810 shoots at 36 megapixels. Wow! Considering that my Nikon D4 only shoots at 16.2MP and my D600 shoots at 24MP, 36MP is 1.5 to 2 times more than what I’m used to. That’s AWESOME on one hand giving me more megapixels to work with especially when cropping is needed, but on the other hand it means that EVERY RAW image I shoot is 1.5 to 2 times larger than I’m used to. This means that memory cards fill up faster, hard drives fill up faster and retouching in Photoshop and cataloging in Lightroom is potentially slower.

Once you get past the pros and cons of the larger RAW files, the next thing that you simply can’t ignore is the incredibly great dynamic range this camera has. This means that highlights that would normally be blown out and shadows that would normally be filled in would actually look better when shot with a Nikon D810. The image quality is STUNNING and noticeably better than that of my other two bodies (although I feel the Nikon D4 performs better in low light).

The next benefit was actually a surprise. My handheld shots are seemingly sharper! Is it possible that this camera performs better when handheld than my other two? It certainly feels that way to me.

The other benefit of the Nikon D810 that is often overlooked is better DSLR video support. The Nikon D810 can shoot 1080p video at 60 fps. I believe it is the first Nikon DSLR that shoots video at 1080p above 30fps.

Lastly the body itself is solid and feels great, not to mention the distinct quieter shutter sounds.

 

What wasn’t so cool?

wpid13801-Star_2-0034-Edit_sm.jpg

Sigh, we’re still seeing new bodies like this one from Nikon that don’t include features that I feel should be standard at this point such as WiFi and GPS. I mentioned above that the RAW files are 36MP. They are and there is no way to “dial them down”. This was a showstopper for me with the Nikon D800 and it’s probably the single reason why I wouldn’t sell my D4 and go with a D810. I just don’t want every click of the shutter to be 36MP. When I tested the Nikon D810 in studio I actually used it as a “2nd body”. I got everything dialed in with my D4 and once I liked what I was seeing on the screen, I would pick up the D810 and shoot some shots too. This way I was getting just the shots I wanted with the D810. While I do love the fact that I can now shoot 1080p video at 60fps, it’s probably time for Nikon to start putting 4K video support in their higher end models.

UPDATE: As blog reader Lamont Baker points out in the comments below, the D810 DOES have an sRAW (small RAW) setting.  I overlooked it initially, but then did some testing and found out some interesting facts that still may not make that big of a difference for me. I was bringing in my Nikon D810 images into Lightroom and converting them to DNG format upon import. This was already bringing the file size down significantly. Even when I switched to sRAW I wasn’t seeing much of a difference. So for the sake of this “1st Impression” post, I decided to test the native NEF format and I was shocked at how much bigger they were than what I was already getting with DNG. A native D810 NEF file uncompressed is 73MB in size (7360×4912), that same file as a DNG is only 43.55MB. The D810 ships with the default of COMPRESSED RAW (not sRAW), but smaller. That native NEF file is 46.39MB in size and as a DNG its 41.53MB. They also have compressed LOSSLESS which is 49.40MB as a NEF and 44.76 as a DNG. Lastly I shot an sRAW file (3680×2456) which weighed in at 27.62MB as a NEF and 41.07MB as a DNG! Huh? Yes, a DNG of an sRAW file is actually bigger than the NEF. My guess is that you can compress what’s already compressed.

This has given me some food for thought and an updated Bottom Line below:

 

The Bottom Line

wpid13805-TLW0022_sm.jpg

It’s hard to go wrong with the Nikon D810. It is the only DSLR that Nikon has released that seriously makes me consider selling my D4 and upgrading/downgrading to it. I’ve said all along that the D4 is overkill for what I do since I don’t need to high fps for what I shoot. However, at the time the D4 was the only body that offered the other features I wanted. Now that the D810 and just announced D750 are here, I could see these two as being my next two new bodies. At least the D750 DOES have built-in WiFi. If you need to print LARGE images, work with challenging lighting conditions, or need a DSLR that rivals medium format cameras, then the D810 is definitely the only body in this game at this price point.

Update: After taking a look at RAW vs sRAW on the D810, it’s even more of a winner. The files even in sRAW (27.62) are still significantly larger than the RAW files of my D4 (15.38MB as DNG), but they are much much much smaller than the original 36MP files of the D800 that kept so many of us away. Having the choice of sRAW definitely makes me want this body even more.

Get the Nikon D810 here.

 

Here are some additional shots (unretouched) from the Nikon D810 to show the dynamic range. Pay attention to the highlights (especially in the Vegas signs) and yet still seeing faces in the shadows under these traditionally bad lighting conditions:

wpid13814-TLW0774_sm.jpg wpid13812-TLW0744_sm.jpg wpid13810-TLW0693_sm.jpg wpid13808-TLW0668_sm.jpg





Did your pre-order an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus today?

iPhone6-Iphone6plus

Today is the day that many have been waiting for. You can pre-order a new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus and have it shipped right to your door. I know that many of you actually prefer the experience of waiting in long lines with others. Also many of you have no interest in the iPhone or will simply stick with their current iPhone for now. Let’s see what you did by clicking the appropriate response below:



Flat Ethernet Cables Are Easier to Hide

flat_ethernet_cable

I recently relocated and I really missed the convenience of having wired ethernet in each room. Sure I have an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station that does 802.11ac, but I still have some devices such as TiVo Mini (review coming soon) that require a hardwired connection. Yes I could go with ethernet over power lines or Moca, but nothing beats gigabit ethernet if you can do it. The challenge was running a cable from living room to my office, from my living room to my master bedroom and not being able to see the cables once in place. Category 6 Ethernet cables are traditionally thick and well, ugly. Sure you can get them in different colors or paint them, but they are still very very noticeable. Some even run them under the carpet or rug and still see a “bump”, not to mention eventually wearing the cable out with foot traffic. My plan was to take the longer route along the wall and baseboard, but tucked in and out of sight. To do this I needed a “flat” ethernet cable.

flat_ethernet_under_baseboard

On the left of this pic you see the cable and on the right you don’t.

I ended up going with a couple of these 50′ white one from Amazon. Although I love buying cables from monoprice.com as they are almost always cheaper, but they only had black ones and at some point the cable does need to come up from the floor and attach to something. White would just looked better and less noticeable than a black cable since the point was all about hiding it. Once installed the cables performed just like regular Cat 6 Ethernet cables and I’m happy to have a more secure network that is faster than the fastest WiFi. Although gigabit speed is not a concern for TiVo or Apple TV since they don’t even have gigabit ethernet ports anyway, it’s nice in my office where my MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display is plugged in while I work and getting gigabit speeds via my Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock to my Mac OS X file server with Drobo 5D as well as my Drobo FS.


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