CamRanger Review – Wireless Camera Control

camranger

I’m finally getting to my CamRanger Review. This is a product I saw several months ago and always wanted to do review of it. I get the question all the time: “Is there a way to wirelessly shoot to my iPad?” I’ve covered many ways that the iPad can fit into a digital photography workflow here and another wireless solution here, but at the time CamRanger wasn’t out yet. CamRanger offers a complete wireless camera control solution for your Nikon or Canon DSLR. It’s a small lightweight box about the size of a smartphone that plugs into your compatible DSLR via a supplied USB cable. It creates a wireless network on its own and therefore doesn’t need a computer or other wireless hotspot. You can connect to it with your iOS devices (such as an iPad or iPhone), Android devices, or a Mac or PC. For my testing I used an iPad Air. Set up was very easy and only required about a minute of reading the instructions. I tested it with my Nikon D600. Once it was set up I was able to work in either direction. I was able to use the iPad to control most aspects of my camera including picking focus points, ISO, shutter speed, f/stops, white balance, etc. and I was able to take shots using the camera and have them show up as I was taking them on the iPad. The latter mode is probably the one I’d use the most out in the field because I really don’t need the remote control functions as much as say a landscape or wildlife photographer would.

Rather than continue to write about it, I recorded this short video of how it works:

 

The Bottom Line

CamRanger works exactly as advertised. It has a range of 150 feet and a battery life of about 5-6 hours. It allows the most control over your DSLR than any other solution I’ve seen and it allows you to shoot directly to your mobile devices. Many of the newer Nikon and Canon DSLR are actually coming with optional wireless connectivity. So if you have a new camera you probably have more options to choose from. However, if you’re working with a slightly older model like the Nikon D700 or Canon 5D Mark II for example, then this may be your only option. CamRanger comes with all the cables, chargers, etc. necessary to get started including a pouch to easily put it on your camera strap or belt.

You can get CamRanger here.

Hey AT&T, I’ll Just Use Skype!

Déjà vu! It’s like 2010/iOS 4 all over again. A couple of years ago Apple updated iOS to include data tethering. This would allow you to use your iPhone’s data connection on another device like your laptop when you’re out and about. Not meant to be your main internet connection, but a nice plus for travelers that need to connect to the internet from their computers when there wasn’t any free WiFi hotspots available. Of course this was great unless you were an AT&T customer. Not only did it take AT&T forever to turn on this feature, but when they did they blocked it from existing customers that were grandfathered into their original unlimited data plans. They feared that all those users now tethering their laptops would bring the AT&T data network to its knees. They were probably right! In order to get tethering you had to be willing to leave your unlimited plan and sign up for a new Data Pro plan and pay extra for tethering.

Fast forward to iOS 6 in 2012

FaceTime with Seal

Apple announced that when iOS 6 comes out this fall that you’ll (finally) be able to use FaceTime over a 3G network. I never really understood why this wasn’t available sooner since there are so many Apps on the App Store that let you do this today. Nonetheless, its’ coming, but wait for it….once again AT&T is saying no no no to those of us who are on unlimited data plans.

Not only that, they’re saying no to everyone on any existing plan! If you want to use FaceTime over 3G you’re going to have to switch to their newly announced Mobile Share plans. This of course didn’t go over well with customers and AT&T all but admitted that they fear that FaceTime over their fragile 3G network would cause everyone harm.

Another reason I’m glad my New iPad is on Verizon

You might remember that when the New iPad came out that I switched from AT&T to Verizon for that device. Since then I’ve been enjoying tethering at no additional cost and I’ll likely enjoy FaceTime on it too over their fast (almost everywhere in the US) 4G LTE network.

I’ll Just Use Skype!

Skype call with Jason iPhone to iPhone over 3G

FaceTime is great and I’ve always wanted it on my 3G/4G network, but I’m grandfathered into a corporate unlimited data plan that my company won’t be changing anytime soon. FaceTime only works with Apple iOS devices and Macs. Skype works with Macs, iOS devices, Windows, and Android devices. It works today over both WiFi and 3G! This means that I can video call just about anyone I know for FREE TODAY! I don’t have to wait for iOS 6 and I don’t have to switch plans, carriers or anything else. Is it as nice as having video chat built-in to the OS and tied to a person’s phone number/email address? No, but it’s more pervasive and less restrictive, available today and works over AT&T’s 3G network (go figure).

Skype call with my buddy Bruce from my iPad to his Windows PC.

You can get Skype for your computer here.

You can get Skype for iPhone/iPod touch here
Skype - Skype Communications S.a.r.l

You can get Skype for iPad here
Skype for iPad - Skype Communications S.a.r.l

You can get Skype for Android here

Best App Site Gets a Make Over

Along with reviewing technology and gadgets, I also review mobile apps. When the App Store came out a few years ago I started doing an “App of the Week” here on my blog. However, I realized that one iOS App per week just wouldn’t cut it seeing how there there hundreds if not thousands of Apps being released every week. So I decided to setup a dedicated site Best App Site so that App reviews could happen more regularly and also not tie up space here for reviews that some may have no interest in. One of Best App Site’s co-authors and web designer Erik Bernskiold just overhauled the site with a new look and feel. Aside from making the site more appealing to the eye, Erik also did quite a bit a work on the backend to make it easier for us to post reviews and to make it easier for visitors to find the reviews they want. The New Best App Site also is even more mobile friendly with a fluid design that quickly adapts to tablets and smartphones.

A big thanks to Erik and I hope that all of you enjoy the new site as much as I do! Head over to bestappsite.com and check it out.

Introducing Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad 2

In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast, I’ll show you the NEW Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad. While there are lots of photo editing Apps for iOS, there are none that are truly like “Photoshop.” Photoshop Touch gives you the power and familiarity of Photoshop tools and techniques on your iPad. Best of all the layered files you create can be opened in Photoshop CS5 on the desktop and continued to be refined.

You can get Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad 2 for $9.99 here from the iTunes

Note:
• Requires iPad 2 and iOS 5. Not available for iPad (first generation).

or here from the Android Market

If you’re looking for a great Stylus to go along with this App, here’s the one I use.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. 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:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media

Your Mac is About to Become More Like an iPad

 

Apple just took the wraps of Mountain Lion – aka Mac OS X 10.8, which is due out later this year. The above video shows a nice walk through of how your Mac is about to become even more like an iPad. Personally I'm looking forward to the AirPlay feature and it's great having the Messages App (now in public beta). What are your thoughts on this direction of the Mac OS? Mac OS X 10.7 Lion left me feeling very underwhelmed, but Mountain Lion looks useful. 

Review: Withings Smart, Connected Scale and Blood Pressure Monitor

If you're watching your weight chances are you have a scale somewhere in your home. If you are health conscious then chances are you get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. The folks over at Withings are aiming to bring these rather mundane tasks to the 21st century with Smart and Connected devices. GEEK ALERT: The objects you're about to read about are cool gadgets. However, make no mistake that there is a very high geek factor at work here. After all, the last time I checked you could pick up a decent bathroom scale for around $25. You stand on it, look down and see your weight. That's pretty much it! When a company figures out a way to bring MORE technology into this and you're interested, then chances are you're a geek 🙂 Now on to our story…

 

The Withings WiFi Scale

I remember way back when this product first came out and saying to myself: "Cool, but I can't bring myself to pay that much for a scale." Then I saw it on sale and I snapped one up. I already knew that the product would be cool and useful, but just a tad too pricy for most. Before we get to the sticker shock let's talk about what it does. The Withings WiFi Scale looks and acts like any other modern day digital scale on the surface. However, inside it has a WiFi chip and USB port. When you first set it up you plug it into your computer via the USB cable just long enough to associate it with your free Withings account and to configure it to connect to your WiFi network. From that point on you can put the USB cable away and place the scale where you want in your home as long as it's within range of your WiFi hotspot. Now when you or a family member steps on it it will not only display the weight (in pounds or KGs – your choice), but it will also transmit the data wirelessly over the internet to your account. You can then view your information/progress at any time via a web browser or via their FREE iOS App.

iTunes

I've been working on my weight now more seriously for the past three years and I have had both successes and set backs. Any tool that can make the tracking easier is a plus for me. Prior to the WiFi scale I was using a regular scale and logging the progress into the Lose It! App. I can remember many times I'd go weigh myself, get busy doing something else and forget to log the number and of course, not remember what it was. Now I don't have to think about logging it. I don't even have to have my mobile devices turned on at the time. All I have to do is step on the WiFi scale and the numbers are automatically logged to my private account online. I look at them when I need to or feel the courage to 🙂

I was impressed by how the scale auto detects different family members and records their weight too. Yes that does mean that you can setup multiple users and whenever any one gets on it will log the weight of that person to the master account and by name.

It's more than just weight. The scale also keeps track of your Body Analysis providing info on Fat mass, Lean mass and BMI (Body Mass Index). 

Convenience doesn't come cheap. The only downside to this wonderful gadget is the price. At $159 you'll have to really really really want one to get one. I can't say "need one" because honestly no one "needs" one of these. Granted it does what no other scale I've seen does, but it does so at a steep price.

You can get the Withings WiFi Scale here for $159.

 

Still much more work to be done… Let's see how far I get by the time I see you at Photoshop World Vegas! (note: I didn't say what year 😉 )

 

Blood Pressure Monitor

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is battery operated device that has a cable attached with a 30 pin iOS dock connector on the end. The idea is that when you're ready to take your blood pressure you plug it in to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and with their native App your iOS device becomes not only the display, but also the record keeper. Again this is pretty cool and geeky stuff. Just like with your weight you can keep track of your readings day to day and even email them to your doctor.  The App works with both devices and can display both your weight progress and blood pressure stats at the same time.

You can get the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor here for $129

 

The Bottom Line

They're useful albeit expensive toys. I haven't had any issues to date with either device and they work as advertised. If your budget can handle it and you like gadgets then you'll love em.

 

 

See them in Action

Continue reading “Review: Withings Smart, Connected Scale and Blood Pressure Monitor”

5 Things That Got My Attention at Macworld Expo 2011

It's been two years since I attended Macworld Expo. I missed last year due to being out of the country. I also have to admit that I didn't really expect the show to last after Apple pulled out two years ago. However, to my pleasant surprise the show is still strong.  It's hard to gauge the show's actual success because trade shows in general are down. With the economy, internet and live webcasts of press briefings people don't feel the need to go to trade shows as much as they use to. I was asked to speak at this year's conference on "Digital Publishing from InDesign to the iPad." My class was on the last day, Saturday afternoon and while the class wasn't overflowing, there were a good number of attendees that were very interested in the topic. So much so that even though I ran over about 10 minutes, no one moved. Everyone stayed til the very end and many participated in a good Q&A session. I was happy with the class overall and have no complaints.

 

What about the show floor?

Macworld is both a Conference and an Expo. The show floor was open throughout the entire show. Walking the show floor is always a treat for me because I always find at least one product that I'm very interested in and had no idea it existed. It also gives me a chance to meet with developers/vendors face to face that I've corresponded with over the months/years. I can't compare this year's show to last year's show because I wasn't there last year, but this year's show was definitely up beat. On some days it was actually hard to get through the aisles because of all the people. 

 

Isn't it just iPhone/iPad Case World now?

There have been many jokes made about Macworld becoming "iPhone Case World". I certainly have felt that way in the past as in years past there were a ton of vendors on the show floor selling nothing but cases for iPhones and iPods. While there were certainly several options to get a case or holder for your iDevice this year too, it didn't feel like one big case tradeshow. There was a good mix of solutions for the Mac and for iDevices too. While most of the big companies don't exhibit anymore, HP was there with a sizable presence showing off their printer line including their AirPrint capable printers

 

5 Cool Things

Whenever two Macworld attendees meetup the question usually comes up "did you see anything cool?" While there wasn't anything that totally blew me away, there were lots of little things. I look at this show as the show you would goto to get "accessories" for your Apple product or iDevice. In other words without Apple you won't be learning about the NEW Apple ________, but you will see many nice add ons in terms of hardware and software. In no particular order, here are 5 things that I saw that got my attention:

 

Dolly Drive

There was a lot of buzz online and in person about a new Cloud based backup service called Dolly Drive. What makes Dolly Drive unique is that they have figured out a way to allow you to use Mac OS X's Time Machine backup feature to the cloud. Now you can do your hourly backups offsite. There are of course a lot of questions that come to mind and the company is new. I spoke with them and will be working with them on testing and reviewing the service. Stay tuned for that. However, it does look promising for those looking for a way to be able to backup and restore files while on the road.

Learn more at their site here.

 

LensPen for your Laptop or Mobile device

I was already a fan of LensPen for my camera lenses. However, I had no idea that they offered solutions for cleaning my laptop and mobile device displays. I picked up a Laptop Pro and ScreenKlean

See their products here.

 

iFusion

More and more people are giving up their landlines and just using their mobile phones. Certainly this is not the first product of its kind, but I liked the aesthetics of it. iFusion lets you dock your iPhone and use a standard handset while you're at your desk to make/receive calls. It's unclear how well this will work or not work, but It caught my eye. I also pinged them about a multiple handset wireless solution to replace what I have now.

Learn more here.

 

OWC SSD Solutions

Other World Computing was on hand with a fairly large presence and while they sell a lot of things that I'm already familiar with this was the first time that I got a chance to check out their SSD replacement hard drive solutions. The one that caught my eye is Data Doubler solution that replaces the optical drive in your MacBook Pro with a second hard drive such as an SSD. With a Solid State Drive you could use it to load your operating system and applications while keeping your original drive for the bulk of your data. This would drastically reduce boot times and application start times.

Learn more here.

Check out their shootout here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shVhpKnzfp4

 

 

iGrill

Whenever I see devices hooked up to (fake) raw meat I have to stop and look. 🙂 The iGrill aims to provide a temperature monitor for you food that has a bluetooth connection to your iDevice/App to let you know when your meat is done or needs to be turned over. Wow! OK, um  I guess. I have no interest in this product as I don't grill, but I gotta give 'em credit for providing the ultimate geek device for the home. The iPod toilet paper dispenser looks on with envy 🙂

You can learn more about iGrill here.

Photographers: MacBook Air vs. iPad

When the iPad arrived in April I had high hopes (I still do) for it to become a great tool for photographers and in many ways it has. More photographers showed their portfolios at Photoshop World this past September electronically than they did in print. Just recently I published my list of 8 Must Have iPad Apps for Photographers. Yes, progress is being made, but yesterday Apple released the long awaited update to the MacBook Air and the more I looked the specs the more it made me think about this new MacBook as a better choice for photographers in the field. 

 

The iPad appeal

The iPad is/was appealing because it was small, lightweight, has a relatively long battery life, relatively large display and is capable of importing images via the Camera Connection Kit. It can do moderate photo editing on the go. Also the instant on and not having to manage a file system are pluses in many ways.

 

The NEW MacBook Air offers so much more for not much more money

The most fair comparison I can make is to compare the 64GB iPad Wi-Fi model ($699) with the new 64GB 11.6" MacBook Air ($999). Yes, the MacBook Air is $300 more and weighs 0.7 lbs. more. The MacBook Air is also a few inches bigger.

 

MacBook Air iPad

Size and weight

Height:
0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
Width:
11.8 inches (29.95 cm)
Depth:
7.56 inches (19.2 cm)
Weight:
2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)1

Size and weight1

Height:
9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
Width:
7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
Depth:
0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
Weight:
1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;

 

 

Once you get past the slightly larger size and weight of the MacBook Air, you can then start to justify it for what it offers over the iPad. The MacBook Air (MBA) has the ability to run your standard Mac applications (or even Windows Applications using Parallels or other Virtualization apps). So instead of trying to find replacement Apps on the iPad, it can actually fun Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5. Instead of having to use the Camera Connection Kit with low power/speed CF Cards/Readers, you can plug in any standard USB Card Reader and Import photos from any memory cards. With the MBA you can also more easily offload your images onto another hard drive just by plugging it in to the USB port and doing a standard file copy. Also since many photographers publish their websites using Adobe Flash, you can view those sites on the MacBook Air by installing the latest Flash Player if you choose to. Lastly, and probably one the biggest reasons is that the you can shoot tethered to a MacBook Air and see your images on the nice big 11.6" display. Lightroom 3 already does native tethering and that means that the MBA can already do this. Yes, the MBA is $300 more, but you get a much more capable device for that $300.

 

What I would have liked to have seen

There are two things that I would have liked to have seen on the MacBook Air. The first is a built-in option for 3G connectivity. That's one of the things I love about my iPad is that I can take it out of my bag and get online pretty much anywhere. Sure I can use my MiFi or a 3G USB Stick, but a contract free 3G option built-in the MBA would have been killer. The next thing I would have loved to have seen is a TRUE HYBRID between these two devices. Imagine a MBA in the same form factor, but if you open the lid and flip it over it becomes an iPad and can run iOS Apps. While it's true that a touch screen on a vertical display would be a pain, there's no reason that the display has to stay vertical if it swiveled and reversed. That would have truly been the best of both worlds!

 

What will I do now?

Believe it or not I have no plans to get a MacBook Air pretty much for the same reasons that I didn't buy myself the first model. When I travel for business I need the most full featured and powerful MacBook Pro available and the MacBook Air just isn't enough muscle for what I do. Since it's not going to replace my current MacBook Pro I see no need to travel with TWO laptops. A MacBook Pro and iPad will continue to be my tools of choice. However, if you're a photographer that doesn't demo software for a living like I do, then the MacBook Air might be a GREAT tool for you! If I didn't need the power of a MacBook Pro, I would seriously consider the Air!

The New Apple TV: New Users Might Love It, Old Users Might Hate It

I've been a fan of Apple's "hobby" Apple TV since day one! I've got more than a couple of them around the house. 🙂 When Apple had their annual iPod event this past September it was rumored that we might see a smaller, more affordable Apple TV and the rumors were true. Apple introduced a much smaller and more more affordable Apple TV. This new box is sooooooo tiny. It's also less than half the price of the model it replaces. As we know, that's rare for Apple products. When the announcement happened I was traveling on business, so I had to rely on various web reports during my breaks to follow the news. The one thing I kept trying to figure out from the scattered reports was, "what did this new one offer that my existing one didn't?" After all we're used to new technology having more bells and whistles to make you want to upgrade. I kept seeing the reports on size, price and Apple's new TV show rental prices as well as Netflix and AirPlay streaming, but that was it. Yes, that was it! This new Apple TV seems to take away as many features much as it adds. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan of Apple TV and I think they will sell more NEW Apple TVs than ever before at the new price point, it's just that I'm not compelled to run out and replace the rest of my existing ones. Let me tell you why…

 

What you get

Like I said, it's SMALL and it runs much cooler than the previous model. One of my Apple TV's is located in a cabinet (this is the one that the new one replaces for me) and I often wonder if the heat build up will fry it? So I'm pleased to see the new one take up less space and run cooler. You also get the new shinny silver aluminum remote. I didn't even take mine out of the box because my Harmony One Remote works just fine with this new model too. On the back you'll find an HDMI port, Optical Audio, Ethernet (there is also built-in 802.11n WiFi) and a USB service port. There is one LED indicator on the front and the power supply is built-in so there is just a power cord and that's it. Nice!

Once you have it setup this is where you'll find the biggest differences from the old to the new. 

 

Out with the OLD Apple TV

The original Apple TV with current interface above

 

The New Apple TV is all about Streaming!

There is no user accessible internal storage. Rumor has it that there is 8GB of flash memory, but I imagine that it's reserved for buffering streaming content. So unlike the previous models there is no way to store TV shows, movies, podcasts or music on the device itself. You'll either have to stream it live from the internet or a Mac/PC on your network (see AirPlay below).

 

In with the NEW Apple TV

The NEW 2010 Apple TV above

 

As a matter of fact Apple has made it clear that it's all about streaming in the new menu structure. YOUR content is now buried under "Computers" instead of being mixed in with the other media choices like TV shows, Movies, etc. Also since there is no storage, there is no requirement to "Sync" with a computer. Unlike the previous model, this new one relies on iTunes Home Sharing if you want to stream your content to the device from your computer. So as long as you are logged in with your Apple ID on your computer and your Apple TV, your content will appear under the Computers section. This is not the end of the world, it will just take some getting used to for previous Apple TV owners. New Apple TV users won't think twice about it.

It seems so un-Apple like to not see any imagery from your library on this screen above

Once you drill down into your computer you will then see your content stream by as usual.

 

 

Rent vs. Buy

Renting makes sense and that's what the 2010 Apple TV is all about. There is NO option to "Buy" content directly from your Apple TV. This will be another thing that existing users would have to adjust to. You can rent movies and TV shows (currently only from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America). TV shows are only $0.99 to rent the HD versions as opposed to buying them for $1.99 for the Standard Def version or $2.99 for the HD version. I really really like this model because the only reason I ever bought TV shows in the past was because there was no option to rent them. I usually only watch them one time after buying them and only buy them because I forgot to TiVo them. As far as movies go, I also rent 99% of the time and this has not really changed on Apple TV. The only thing you can't do is BUY a movie (or any other content) on Apple TV. You can still buy iTunes content on your computer and stream it, but not directly from the Apple TV itself. While many would argue that if it's (a movie) good enough to buy, you probably want the Blu-ray version anyway. Nonetheless, I'm still surprised that Apple doesn't at least allow a "Buy" option of any media they sell and have that content download on your computer instead. Clearly this is possible via Home Sharing since both devices are tied to the same account. So why have to get up go over to the computer to buy something and then go back to the Apple TV just to watch it or listen to it? This would be especially useful for things like music and music videos. By the way, there is no option to access the iTunes store from a Music perspective at all on the new Apple TV. You can only access the music sitting on your computer. 

Continue reading “The New Apple TV: New Users Might Love It, Old Users Might Hate It”

Adobe Releases the Illustrator CS5 HTML 5 Pack!

Adobe is pleased to announce the availability of the Adobe® Illustrator® CS5 HTML5 Pack. This add-on for Illustrator CS5 15.0.1 provides initial support for HTML5 and CSS3, extends SVG capability in Illustrator CS5, and helps you easily design web and device content. In combination with the HTML5 features available in the Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 11.0.3 updater, these new tools allow web designers to take advantage of the latest advancements in HTML5.

While HTML5 and CSS3 will not be finalized for some time, and SVG support in browsers will continue to evolve, the extension provides support for a set of currently implemented features.

 

Benefits of the Illustrator CS5 HTML 5 Pack

  • Efficiently design for web and devices by exporting Illustrator Artboards for unique screen sizes using SVG and CSS3 media queries.
  • Create web widgets with Illustrator by generating dynamic vector art for data driven web work-flows.
  • Take advantage of the latest enhancements to SVG and Canvas to generate interactive web content.
  • Map artwork appearance attributes from designer to developer tools—export from the Illustrator Appearance Panel to CSS3 for streamlined styling of web pages.

Grab it here and get started with Illustrator and HTML 5 today! Don't have Illustrator CS5 yet? Download a FREE fully functional 30 day trial here.