See the current flow as you Charge your iPhone or iPad


The last time I was in Atlanta for Photoshop World  I took an Uber car from the airport to the hotel. I couldn’t help but notice the cable the driver was using to charge his iPhone. The reason it stood out is because it had a stream of pulsating LEDs that animated from the USB power supply to the iPhone. This obviously doesn’t charge the device any faster, it’s just cool to look at. I had forgotten about it for a while and then I remembered the cable and found out who made it. Joltz makes a Lightning cable version of this. On the USB side the connector is longer than usual and I’m guessing it houses a chip to control the animation of the LEDs along the cable.

Here’s how it looks in action:

When the cable is not connected to the iDevice the LED light pattern just sits still and eventually turns off/goes to sleep. I like the cable a lot and my only wish is that Joltz would make a longer version. This one is only 3 feet long.  Charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch in style.

You can get the Joltz Pulsating Lightning cable here.

Long and Short Lightning Cables


Ever since I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and got an iPad mini I’ve been slowly but surely replacing my old 3o pin iDevice cables with newer Lightning cables. While the price of Apple’s Lightning cables are a bit on the expensive side, what bugs me more is being limited to a fixed 1m length. While 3rd party 30 pin iDevice cables are a dime a dozen and can be found in many different lengths and configurations, 3rd party Lightning cables are just now starting to become widely available. There were some really cheap knockoffs that appeared early on and as the saying goes you get what you pay for. I tried a few of the different cables and found that either they didn’t work at all, didn’t work reliably or stopped working after a while. One problem is that many of the cheap ones aren’t “reversible.” That’s one of the main benefits of Lighting cables is that there is no front/back up or down. You can plug it in either way and it just works. Many of the cheap ones only worked one way. I did find some 10 foot cheap 3rd party ones that worked properly. However, over time one by one they simply stopped working or started acting very flaky. I decided to wait until some of the trusted brands I’d used in the past. I wanted both shorter cables and longer ones than the 1m Lighting cables that Apple sells.

6 foot and 10 foot Lightning Cables


One of my favorite sources for low price, quality cables and gear is Monoprice has listed both 6 foot and 10 foot Lightning cables for a while now, but they recently started shipping. Before these cables became available I was using USB extension cables to make my Apple cables longer, but I prefer to have a single cable that’s long enough. I bought a few of each length and as I expected they work perfectly. You can get them in either white or black here.


Very short Lightning Cables


CableJive is known for selling a variety of different specialty cables and as I had hoped they just started selling pocket sized 12cm Lighting cables. This cables are short for a variety of different uses when you don’t want a long cable that you’d have to coil up. They are a bit pricey for the length, but they fit the bill for always having a Lightning cable for charging my devices, in my pocket.

Amazon has them here.


Lastly a lower priced 1m Lightning Cable

Amazon has their own brand of cables and they are offering a 1m Lighting Cable for less than Apple sells them for here. Monoprice also has some 1m cables cheaper too, here.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini Review


If I think about my favorite iPad accessories, there’s no question that the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is my favorite. The iPad is great and the on screen keyboard is fine for typing short messages or replies. However, when it comes to heavy text input or writing blog posts like this one, nothing beats a physical keyboard. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the best one on market IMHO. It attaches magnetically and works just like an Apple Smart Cover. Read my original review here.


A physical keyboard for the iPad mini?


When I saw that Logitech introduced an Ultrathin Keyboard mini for the iPad mini, the first thing I thought was “no way! It’s going to be too small.” The thing I like best about the original Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the full size iPads is that it doesn’t feel cramped. It feels like a full-sized keyboard. I figured that the iPad mini was just too small and that if someone made a keyboard, it probably wouldn’t be a good experience. Nevertheless I was tempted and had to try the new Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini. The first thing I did when I took it out of the box was put my fingers on the home row.


I was amazed! It felt fine. Sure it was a little smaller, but not bad at all. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Shift keys on both sides. Other keyboards I’ve tried for the 10″ iPads sometimes remove one of the Shift keys to make the layout fit better. I NEED BOTH SHIFT KEYS! However, Logitech did make a couple of compromises. The Caps Lock key shares the same key as the “A” key and you use the Function key to activate it. The Tab key also shares the same key as the letter “Q”. These were much smarter compromises than eliminating a Shift Key.


Great smart cover like design


Like the regular Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, the Ultrathin Keyboard mini works as a smart cover and a stand for your iPad mini. As you can see in the photo, it shows off finger prints quite well too. It also has a “home” key that works like the home button on your iPad. Not to mention other iPad specific keys like volume controls, find, slideshow and text selection buttons. The Ultrathin Keyboard mini connects via Bluetooth and has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts about 3 months between charges assuming you’d use it 2 hours per day!


The Bottom Line


Many will jump to tell me that “If you use an iPad there is no need for a physical keyboard or a stylus” and to those people I would say that you’re right. “Need” is a strong word, but I would also say that while the iPad and iPad mini work perfectly with your fingers, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times where a physical keyboard wouldn’t make things easier. Not to mention that only the Sith deal in absolutes 😉 The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini and Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover are great for those that want to travel with just an iPad/iPad mini and still get a lot of work done.

You can get the Logitech Ultrathin mini for iPad mini here in black or directly from Logitech in black or white.

You can get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2 and higher here in black or white

Use a Nano SIM Cutter to Cut Your Micro SIM down for iPhone 5 or iPad mini

I remember when the iPhone 4 came out and it required a NEW SIM format (for GSM based iPhones). It required a Micro SIM. This wasn’t a problem if you were buying a new iPhone because it would have a new Micro SIM already installed. However, if you wanted to use a different SIM from another phone or carrier then chances are it was a full sized SIM that you would have to cut down to Micro SIM size. There were several good Micro SIM cutters on the market and I own a couple of them. I even traved with one in my suitcase in case I got to a country that I wanted to buy a pre-paid local SIM and needed to cut it down for my iPhone 4 or 4s. Once again we are faced with a new SIM format. Now the iPhone 5 and iPad mini uses a Nano SIM. This SIM is even smaller AND thinner than the Micro SIM. That of course poses a problem for those that want to move SIMs between devices. As to be expected there are now a few different Nano SIM cutters on the market. Some even come with sandpaper to sand the back of the SIM down to make it slightly thinner. I used one to cut down my AT&T Micro SIM down to Nano SIM size to use in my new iPad mini. My AT&T SIM is originally from my iPad 2 and is grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan. This is GREAT for streaming video on the road, so I wanted the ability to use this SIM in my iPad mini as well. Although this is not the cutter I used in the video, this is the one I’d recommend here.
Here’s a video on how the cut went:

AT&T May Allow FaceTime Over Cellular For All

I’ve been beating up on AT&T a bit lately for their practices that basically punish users (early adopters) of their Unlimited Data Plans. The most recent punishment was when iOS 6 was introduced, Apple finally allowed for FaceTime calls over Cellular on iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 and iPad 3 (or higher). However, once again AT&T said NO to this if you were one of the original iPhone users still grandfathered in to an unlimited data plan. This is the 3rd time in recent history that AT&T has crippled a feature that the device or os could do, just because you weren’t on one of their “newer” ie. non-unlimited data plans. The first one was when iOS supported tethering. Unlimited data plan users still can’t access or add this feature even if they are willing to pay extra for it without leaving their unlimited data plan. The 2nd one was when the iPad allowed tethering and once again AT&T was silent on this issue for all users. Lastly there was the FaceTime over Cellular feature that once again AT&T said NO to all but those on their newest Shared Data Plans. I get it. AT&T wants users to move off those Unlimited Data Plans and they are trying to force the issue by basically crippling the features that your device can do. Is it fair? NO. Do you have a choice? Yep, you can switch plans or switch carriers and that’s exactly what I did with my iPads. Any cellular capable iPad I buy, I now buy the Verizon version. The irony is that back in the day Verizon was the carrier that played these games by disabling features like bluetooth on certain handsets. However, Verizon has changed their ways somewhat and now they say come on it.

AT&T may have changed their tune too

It appears that at least for some, starting yesterday AT&T has quietly been turning on FaceTime over Cellular for All users (iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 3, etc. on iOS 6). There are several reports that users simply turned their iPhones off and back on again and either the feature was already turned on or they were able to enable it without the familiar blue message I still get above. These users that have it working are all claiming that they are on a grandfathered Unlimited Plan. However, there are just as many users like me where the feature still isn’t enabled yet. So perhaps it will take time for it to roll out to all or perhaps it was a mistake, fluke or still not available for “all” users (ie those on Corporate Unlimited Data Plans), but time will tell. If this feature does roll out to all, It will change my attitude towards AT&T to be a bit more favorable than it is right now, and it truly would be a Happy Tech Thanksgiving.

Does it work for you? Did you power your iPhone down and back on again? Are you on the original Unlimited Data Plan? What state are you in? (keep in mind you have to be on iOS 6 and an iPhone 5, iPhone 4s or iPad 3 or higher).


iPad mini WiFi + Cellular First Impressions

Let me start this by saying that I never had any interest in the smaller form factor tablets. Although I already have a Kindle Fire and think the size is PERFECT for eBook readers, I just wasn’t interested in a smaller iPad. That was before the iPad mini was actually introduced. What I didn’t want was a smaller screen at a smaller resolution. I didn’t want some middle device between an iPad and iPhone. However, when the iPad mini was introduced and although it has a smaller form factor it maintains the same original 1024×768 resolution. My interest was piqued. That coupled with compatibility with all of the existing iPad Apps got me to start considering the mini. I’ve always been a fan of smaller, thinner, lighter electronic gadgets. Once I got past my initial bias against smaller tablets, I was able to consider the iPad mini for what it really is. It’s a smaller, thinner, lighter iPad. It’s available in all the same sizes and configurations and costs less. The only real downside is the lack of a retina display. Also the newer 4th generation full size iPad has the faster A6 processor in it. Since I already have the 3rd generation iPad with retina and Verizon 4G LTE, I figured I could skip the 4th generation and look at the mini.

It’s smaller

One of the biggest complaints that I hear about the full size iPad is that it’s hard to hold with one hand and therefore hard to read books on it for extended periods of time. That problem is definitely solved with the iPad mini. It’s small enough to hold easily with one hand and it’s certainly light enough to hold for longer periods of time without fatigue. It feels as light as my iPhone 5, although I know it’s heavier.

Is it too small? A couple of people commented on my Facebook page stating that they thought the iPad mini was too small. I must admit that this thought never crossed my mind. If you are using a smartphone or iPod touch then the iPad mini will definitely not feel too small. It’s still not small enough to fit in a pocket (and even if it does fit in your pocket it’s probably not a good idea). So to answer those concerns, no I don’t think it’s too small.

No Retina Display?

There is no Retina Display on the iPad mini and I wondered would that bother me. When I tried one out in the Apple Store before receiving mine, I could definitely tell a difference. Like most things, I didn’t really appreciate the Retina Display on my 3rd gen iPad until I looked at the iPad mini. It’s noticeable, but not the end of the world. It’s still bright and very easy to see and read. However, if you’re primarily going to be looking at photos on it or using it for a mobile portfolio then you may want to stick with the 3rd or 4th gen iPad with Retina Display or wait for the iPad mini with Retina Display.


It feels the same as my iPad 3rd gen. However, the 4th gen iPad has the A6 chip and has been benchmarking at literally twice the speed of the previous models. This is important for gamers and graphic intensive Apps. If you’re not playing a ton of photo realistic action packed games then you probably wouldn’t notice the difference as much. Since I haven’t tested a 4th gen iPad yet, I can’t really say if the speed difference is noticeable in real world daily use. While the iPad mini doesn’t have the new A6 processor it does have faster WiFi taking advantage of 802.11n 5GHz and that’s definitely welcomed since most people use their iPads on WiFi than 3G/4G.

Will I keep and use both of them?

That’s the $659-$829 question. I purposely bought the largest WiFi-Cellular Verizon version because I figured if the iPad mini totally meets my need and becomes the iPad that I use the most then it’s conceivable that I may ditch (pass on) the full size iPad and just use the mini and if that were to happen then I’d want to have all the same storage and capabilities of the larger one that I’d be giving up. The plan for now is to use the large one when I travel with just an iPad (w/ Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover) and the iPad mini when I travel with both a notebook and an iPad. I’ll also probably use the iPad mini around the house more simply because it’s smaller and lighter. There is definitely one more plus and that is having all my devices on the same connector. It’s a pain having the iPhone 5 on the newer Lightning connector and the 3rd gen iPad on the older 30 pin connector. It would be great to move on and go all Lightning connections. I also really like the newer Smart Covers. They seem to fit/stay on better than the original ones for the iPad 2/3.

My buying advice

If you are buying an iPad for the 1st time then you should go to the Apple Store and pick up hold and check the screen out with your own eyes. Then you can decide which one is best for you. While the iPad mini is definitely smaller, the display doesn’t feel that much smaller since it goes closer to the edge and has the same resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2. If you’re looking to buy a second iPad and gift one to a family member then it’s hard to overlook the price difference in the iPad mini. If you’re on the original iPad, then the iPad mini would definitely make a nice upgrade. The device in Apple’s line up that is starting to look like the odd man out is the iPod touch. A 32GB iPod touch is $299. For $30 more you could get a 16GB iPad mini.