Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The only Iphone case review I’ll ever do – cos it’s also a Li-Polymer battery pack at only 59 grams!

First posted on Iphonelife.com 23 Dec 2010:

I normally don’t pay attention to Iphone cases because I prefer to spend my money on apps, mp3s and epubs. However, after coming across this Exogear iphone battery case in one of the tech forums that I regularly trawl, I must say that this is a bloody good idea and has a fantastically sleek design to go with it.

I’ve seen various battery packs for Iphones but this one from Exogear takes the cake IMHO with to-die-for good looks and at 59 grams, won’t make you feel like you’re walking around with an i-brick in your pocket.

The specs for the battery are pretty good for a long-haul frequent traveller like me though I haven’t verified the actual performance because my wife is probably not reading my blog these few days and hence it won’t be in my xmas stocking; and nobody is sponsoring me for this article.

•Standby time up to additional 300 hrs
•Talk up to additional 7 hrs
•Surf up to additional 6 hrs
•Watch up to additional 10 hrs
•Listen up to additional 40 hrs
•Built -in battery meter
Nate Adcock (also an Iphone Life blogger) reviewed Mophie’s Juice Pack on 4 Dec but I think Exogear’s battery case looks better and is $10 cheaper at $89.95 vs Mophie’s MSRP $99.95. BTW, this is Mophie’s battery specs taken from Nate's post, which makes the Mophie seem slightly better because it is rated at 2000mAh vs Exogear’s 1500mAh.

•Up to 8 add'l hours talk time on 3G; 16 hours 2G
•Up to 7 add'l hours internet on 3G; 11 hours WiFi
•Up to 44 add'l hrs audio playback
•Up to 11 add'l hrs video playback
However, Mophie (also Li-Polymer)weighs in at 70.8 grams versus the raw Exogear case @ 59 grams. So I think the Exogear is probably lighter and therefore wins this round. Mophie also has a 1500mAh Juice Pack Air@ MSRP $79.95 but has worse specs than the Exogear. You decide.

Updated on 29 Dec 2010:

Mophie Juice Pack Air 1500mAh is retailing for about S$109 in Singapore and I've decided to experiment with an OEM battery case from Sim Lim Square (lvl 4 Ipad accessories shop) rated at 1800mAh retailing at S$65. It has doubled my battery life to 2 days of usage (originally, I would have reached the red bar on my iphone every night). Can't find the Exogear anywhere at SLS. I would say that the additional weight is noticeable but I'll rather have the extra battery life. 1800mAh is probably the bare minimum battery capacity IMHO. There's another OEM case offered by an SLS shop on lvl 5 at 2300mAh and $69 but it doesn't have the battery led indicator to show the level of charge remaining.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

British humour about Tech products - I know it's not about the Ipad/Iphone

I've decided to branch out a little from the usual posts about Ipads or Iphone related stuff. It's gonna be slightly random when I come across good stuff like this youtube video of classic British comedy

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How was it for you? ...On Angry Birds Day?

This is a rather belated post about what happened in various cities during Angry Birds Day 11th Dec 2010. And so it seems that Scandinavians, in this case, Rovio, the developers of Angry Birds who hail from Finland, are not great party organisers and therefore the world-wide turn-out was reportedly not fantastic. There were, of course, a small group of hardcore fans who did show up at gatherings in New York and Los Angeles dressed up as – what else – Angry Birds. But by and large, it is likely that the demography and profile of the typical Angry Bird player would mean that he/she would most likely be found doing homework or too busy/embarassesed/not prepared to go public about their addiction at such gatherings.

Over in London, blogger Julien Fourgeaud reported Flash mobs holding Angry Bird signs at Covent Garden (which is a bit like Fanueil Hall in Boston if you’ve never been to London before). However, apparently the security guards at Trafalgar Square (this would be like...er Rockerfeller Center in NYC with much older looking buildings all round) have never heard of the game and were quite disapproving of the gathering there – probably the idea of an Angry ‘something’ Mob got them nervous – understandably so if you have never heard of the game before.

Most other cities reported very sedated celebrations (not a surprise considering the game is not the same as WoW in intensity), revolving around polite gatherings comparing notes about high scores and usually a viewing of the Angry Birds Peace Treaty Video - you’ve probably seen the Angry Birds Peace Treaty video on youtube by now – it first appeared on Israeli TV and is a spoof of the Mid-east peace process. Check it out here on youtube.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Infinity Blade from Epic Games to debut at App Store on 9th Dec!

Remember Epic Citadel? That awesome game app that wasn’t really a game? If you recall sometime ago, Epic Citadel enjoyed a brief moment on various Top App lists several months ago when lots of curious folks downloaded this free demo of the Unreal 3 Engine for the Iphone/Ipad. It didn’t do anything much in terms of fun except let you wander around a medieval castle but the graphics were stunning and controls were intuitive.

(Screenshot courtesy of the makers, EpicGames)

So here comes Infinity Blade which will debut on Thursday 9th Dec at $5.99, promising game-changing visuals and *spoiler alert* a new way of sustaining re-playability by regenerating the player as ‘the son’ (like a multi-generational fruit-fly experiment with experience points) with all of your equipment intact if you, *and you will*, die before completing your quest. Official Trailer’s over here on Youtube.

The price tag is in a way justified if it’s as cool as promised and apparently it’s a universal app, or what I call: ‘D1P2’- download once, play it twice, on both your Ipad and Iphone.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pigs beware! Angry Birds Xmas edition is here and Angry Birds Day is officially 11th Dec 2010

Rovio, the Finnish Developers of top iphone app, Angry Birds, have hinted in their twitter feeds that there will be an Angry Birds Christmas edition. Apparently it’s going to be a free update for those who purchased the Halloween edition but probably a round of $0.99 donations for the rest of us.

Not content to sit on their laurels, it also looks like Angry Birds is going to take on life outside the iphone in a big way (where it started). It’s already possible to purchase Angry Birds T-shirts and plush toys. Now what’s really amazing is that the 11th of December has been declared a world-wide Angry Birds Day (That’s a Saturday BTW). That means there’re going to be flash mobs comprising of Angry Bird fans gathering in most major cities (Android fans are invited too).

Apparently, there’re plans to release console versions of Angry Birds on the Xbox, PS3 and Wii as well. Imagine playing Angry Birds using the Xbox Kinect.....:)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ipad vs Tab: Asian price wars set to spread to North America and perhaps, Europe

Over here in Asia, the competition posed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab and others have prompted rumors that Apple is considering slashing prices in some countries here in Asia. It therefore would be perfectly logical for Apple to make a similar move in North America where I understand that the Tab could be offered at US$400 with a data contract while the cheapest Ipad is still priced at $499 from the Apple store.

Samsung is aggressively entering the tablet market and in some markets such as Singapore, some telcos are even giving away the Tab for free if it is bundled with a new cable tv + internet subscription.

Given that Apple could soon launch their new iOS4.2, it will make sense for Apple to announce an across the board price drop of US100 in conjunction with the launch, and allow them to keep up the pressure on competitors. This will make up for their recent underwhelming Beatles-Itunes announcement.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ipad vs Tab: How not to name your Home/Start Button in Romanian

We all know that the closest competitor to the Ipad is the Samsung Galaxy Tab (or just, "Tab"). We also know that to "Start" something in Romanian is to "Porni", so....check out what happens to the Home Button in Romanian when it gets truncated by the Tab. :) I don't know whether this is a photoshop job but it was reported here at huffingtonpost.com and elsewhere too.
Round 1: Ipad 1-0 Tab

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Smartphone Users see themselves

This is from a blog post by David Averbach of IphoneLife. LOL

Impending iOS4.2 for Ipad: 4.2 random thoughts

The web is abuzz with the impending release of this long overdue update to the Ipad. Having been long accustomed to features such as multitasking and folders on the iPhone, the limitations of iOS 3.2 has become painfully obvious and unbearable.

(1)Will the apple server crash from the sheer demand of 10 million iPad users downloading the os at the same time?

(2) What apps that I hardly use (and deleted to make space for new apps) will i have to download again from the app store now that I have folders?

(3) Which of my ipad apps are going to crash because the app developer did not work on an update for iOS4.2?

(4) Will I lose the wonderful screen rotation lock button becos Steve Jobs prefers a mute button?

(4.2) Why did we spend $9.99 on a printing app just a couple of months ago only for apple to include airprint for free now (not that I am complaining)?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Skyfire browser brings Flash Video to Iphone and Ipad

The Skyfire browser app has reportedly been approved by Apple and that's going to be a pretty exciting development for those of us who have had to forego watching videos from some of our favourite Flash-heavy sites like the Dailyshow, Colbert Report, Collegehumor etc.

Skyfire’s nifty work-around is to stream users’ browser requests for flash video from their servers, thus circumventing the Flash-hating iOS4. CNET has reported about how it is supposed to work: “When you get to a site that plays video, Skyfire will display the usual error message or symbol and then pop up a thumbnail with a "Play" button on it. That's what you press to launch the video playback.”

The downside is, Skyfire will only work for Flash Video. That means no Flash interactivity or Flash games (but who plays flash games nowadays anyway). And it doesn’t work with popular TV-streaming site Hulu cos they said no thanks. (But I’m not based in the US so that doesn’t bother me since Hulu isn’t offered outside the US anyway...)

Given the upside and downside, will we pay for this app at a launch price of $2.99? I predict that it will at least make Top 25. At the moment, Skyfire’s website, blog and facebook entries are all quiet about this momentous approval milestone and I can only guess that their PR guys are celebrating outside the office (guys you need to update your website!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Amazon scores with new app Windowshop but faces ire of Kindle fans

I’m a big fan of Amazon. Actually bought 1000% more e-books from the Kindle store compared to the anaemic shelves of the Ibook store. Price-wise, Amazon has also consistently been cheaper than all the other major e-book retailers. As far as my experience goes, their Kindle app on the Ipad and Iphone has also been relatively bug free and very user-friendly.

So it was a major coup again for Amazon to introduce a new and free app Windowshop for the Ipad that IMHO sets the standards in terms of what a shopping app should be: full of pictures, fast-loading, fast-scrolling, great pricing and a meaningful variety of merchandise.

Don’t get me wrong, Zappos has got a great new shopping app too (But surprisingly, they are so low-key about their app that I struggle to find any mention of it on the Zappos website). And out of preference, I shop at Amazon far too often compared to the others e-retailers. Even in Asia and Singapore, inclusive of freight, Amazon still remains competitive in certain sales categories, such as Blu-ray discs.

But where Amazon might have gone wrong is to seemingly ignore the growing numbers of Kindle fans who are complaining that e-book prices have gone out of whack – some Kindle titles have reportedly exceeded the prices of paperbacks or hardbacks that are on sale. Since last year, a small group of Kindle followers have started what is known as the 9 99 boycott. By placing such tags on e-books that exceed the price of US$9.99, this group wants to draw attention to the uncompetitive pricing of e-books. Some go so far as to say that this is a betrayal by Amazon since e-books incur almost zero marginal costs, and most Kindle fans expect e-books to bring the prices of readership down, given that unlike print, it is extremely inconvenient to share e-books.

So I hope apps for the Iphone and Ipad stay sane (I’m still waiting for Apple to offer Keynotes, Pages and Numbers for a bundle price of $9.99)...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Update Top 10 App List (Oct 2010)

I've updated my Top 10 Ipad app list:

Updated on 20 Oct 2010
1. Cut The Ropes HD
2. Kindle HD
3. Stanza (for reading .cbr files, that's comics!)
4. W.TV HD (free movies - IT'S FOR REAL!)
5. AppsFire
6. Scrabble
7. Skype (Much faster than having to take out and boot up the laptop)
8. Perfect Browser (for tabbed & private browsing)
9. Pleco (chinese dictionary)
10. Labyrinth 2/Medieval

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cut The Rope: The Game App that will dominate 2010

In my Iphone Life blog entry, I mentioned how I was pretty shocked that no one has yet blogged about the latest game app Cut The Rope that has taken hold of my kids for the past few days and globally, has ‘sold 1 million apps in 10 days’. Or maybe folks are just too busy ‘cutting those ropes’ to care :)

I haven’t been very excited about iphone/ipad game apps in a while because I usually don’t care to pay more than $0.99 for a game (I bought Civ Rev, Air Attack and Angry Birds for $0.99) and many games involve far too much time and effort after the initial buzz(Kingdoms at War), or don’t seem to be going anywhere when you get the hang of it (lvl 33 in Godfinger All Stars, what next?).

However, little known Russian app developer, Zeptolab managed to come up with an arcade IQ test type of a puzzle that has hit the sweet spot of Iphone/Ipad gaming: attractive pricing ($0.99 iphone, $1.99 ipad), quick learning curve, simple premise (get the candy to the frog), and yet provide sufficient challenge through ingenuous and well-thought out levels. The graphics are well drawn, and every level is brilliantly designed. The game progressively involves more variety and challenge, but the objective always remains the same – acrobatic manoeuvres in order to get a piece of candy from start to finish.
There’s a little something for everyone in this game, since it is a little bit of an IQ test, but sometimes you need quick reflexes, but always never too difficult to deter anyone since you can always choose to progress to the next level without having to achieve maximum points. There’s a lite version that you can try but if you choose to buy, don’t tear your hair out when you realise that you will need to start all over from the beginning :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Several (actually, 2) ways to go online with my Wifi-only Ipad

Owning a wifi-only Ipad means that it's a constant adventure for me to explore new ways of going online when I'm not at home. One method that I've been successful with is to install and use this nifty free beta software from Connectify (www.connectify.me). Basically, what it does is to convert your wi-fi capable desktop/laptop into a wireless access point. So if you happen to be on a business trip in a hotel that only has an ethernet access point in your room, you can tap that internet connection for your Ipad (or even your Iphone in order to save on expensive 3G data roaming charges). The catch is that the software only works with the Windows 7 OS and I suspect hardware compatibility will have to be checked out (but hey, it's free!)

I had to jump through some hoops to get Connectify to work on my corporate laptop because I didn't have full administrator rights but there were workarounds (in my case, installing the software with help from the IT department).

The second method which I haven't tried, but many folks have had success with, is to use the Huawei E5830 mi-fi router. This Huawei mi-fi router works like a mobile wi-fi access point and since it runs on its own rechargeable battery, allows for true portability. It is small enough to sit in your shirt pocket and allow several wi-fi devices to share one mobile broadband connection. It's something that I've been meaning to purchase but I'm still waiting for prices to drop further. It's currently priced at about S$160 (~US$130) and it would be fantastic for me since I have an unlimited free data plan for my mobile broadband usb stick that should be usable if I transfer the simcard to the mi-fi router.

The lengths people will go for free wifi access...(Oh why didn't I get a 3G Ipad???)

The Huawei E5830 mifi

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Iphone Life blog

I received a pretty nifty email today from a representative of Iphone Life. They've agreed to try me out as one of their bloggers on their fantastic Iphone Life online magazine. I've been following news and reviews from their site for some time now and thought it could be useful for someone (c'est moi!) to offer an asian perspective on the eccentricities of owning an Iphone/Ipad in Singapore. It's made my day cos I think the whole point of blogging is to get your message out there and i think Iphone Life is going to be one of those platforms.

Check out my Iphone Life blog entries here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I might get an Android Tablet (even though I have an Ipad)

Watching Flash videos is a big deal for me. Most folks won't understand why but for me, it sucks to not be able to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from my Ipad. I'm even considering signing on to PlayOn Premium to be able to catch Comedy Central from Singapore without having to boot up my desktop/laptop etc etc. Which brings me to the main point about having an Ipad.

For busy parents with 2 young kids, it is a necessity to be able to surf the net in 3 seconds (from the time you realise you have a 5 minute 'alone-time'), then get called away for 2 hours because of an 'emergency', and then return to continue surfing where you left off, possibly in a different room, because you will have to attend to some other pressing need of the screaming nature in about 15 minutes' time.

It's not complicated..

Update: You need to keep your desktop switched on in order to run the PlayOn app on the Ipad/Iphone (which I haven't managed to succeed yet at getting the router to work with the PlayOn port forwarding settings)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finally an Ipad competitor from Samsung

Finally Samsung has developed an Android based 7" tablet called Galaxy Tab. It's smaller than the Ipad and comes with a USB port and front-rear cameras. Hmmmm i might just get it and pass my Ipad to my kids!

Check out a picture of the Galaxy Tab and the original link here from Slashgear.com.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blogging with Blogbooster app for iphone

This is my first posting from my iphone. I was pretty lucky to download this blogbooster app when it was still free (now $2.99). It syncs well with my blog and has an easy interface. This app will definitely be going into my top 10 app list. Too bad it doesn't yet have an Ipad version but I'm guessing that the iphone version will work just as well - the iphone isn't really suitable for long blog postings given the small keyboard (I've made about 10 typos that I've had to correct so far and at this point, my fingers are seriously cramping...that's all for now...)

Update: My blogbooster app is not working...it's dropping out of my top app list pretty soon if noone fixes this app.

Update 2:I'm now using PenMyBlog for my postings cos it's free. For reasons why I don't want to pay for blogging apps, refer to my previous post below "When we hesitate to pay $0.99 for that killer app"...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When we hesitate to pay for that $0.99 killer app

This cartoon from Oatmeal.com just about sums up our irrational attitudes towards killer apps that we hesitate for days & weeks cos we need to pay $0.99 for them!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just got myself an Iphone 4!!!!

Yeah, it's been a difficult decision, giving up my preference for an android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S. In the end, I got really pissed off with waiting for the Froyo 2.2 update (that would have meant true flash browsing, wifi tethering for my iPad and storage card support for applications), and the lack of android marketplace paid apps access for those of us in Singapore. I was also disappointed that Google Turn by Turn Navigation does not seem to be coming to Singapore In the near future. Furthermore, fring's highly publicized breakup with Skype also meant that the hitherto android advantage of skype video call support had vanished in the near term and Apple's Facetime will be far superior for now.

On the other side, the Iphone 4 pricing was pretty affordable at $280 with the Starhub sun surf 300 plan ($58) per month on a two year contract. Since I was already with Starhub cable tv and broadband, I will also get an additional discount if I switched my cellphone plan to Starhub.

I've also managed to find 1 more cool app to add to my Top 10 List of Ipad apps:

7. Mover (incredibly fuss-free app to transfer photos from Iphone to Ipad)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 months with the Ipad - Top 10 Apps

It's been a hectic 3 months, relocating back to Singapore from Boston and settling down with the family back into life at home. I've also been surfing the app store every now and then looking for interesting apps. Mostly, I use my Ipad as an 'instant-on' web surfing device whenever I have a little time. Nothing else boots up faster than the Ipad for that moment when I need to check something online. However, my Ipad usage has increased ever since I downloaded this wonderful app W.TV . Like some bloggers, I have no idea how W.TV hasn't gotten sued by Hollywood but it's there! I don't see any ads so I have no idea how the company Rumtel gets its revenue from this app.

ANYWAY, 3 months with the Ipad also gives me the knowledge and experience of which app really MATTERS... to me anyway! So here is my top 10 App list:

Compiled on 4 Aug 2010
1. W.TV (free movies - IT'S FOR REAL!)
2. Perfect Browser (allows true tabbed browsing)
3. Scrabble
4. Flight Control HD
5. Kindle for Ipad
6. Skype (Much faster than having to take out and boot up the laptop)
7. ...
8. ...
9. ...
10 ...

Well, I haven't been able to come up with top app 7-10 cos the 1st six are by far much more heavily used on my Ipad than the rest of the 90 apps on my Ipad.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Collegehumor.com video on 'Why I want an Ipad'

Or basically, why nobody really knows why we want an Ipad, but we still want it really badly…

Check out this comedy clip here. It’s really really funny. seriously.

Attended Ipad workshop at Apple Retail Store

The Apple Store is the one at Cambridgeside Galleria (It's like Woodlands Causeway Point packed with the type of stores you find at VivoCity).

I had made an online reservation to attend an Ipad Business workshop from 0900hrs to 1000hrs. Having little experience with Mac software, I wanted to find out more about whether it was worthwhile to download Pages, Keynote and Numbers for my Ipad. Each of them cost $9.99 at the App Store.

Its storefront is totally dominated by Ipad advertising. They are using a Vulcan (Zachary Quinto of the new Star Trek) to sell the product so I guess the Ipad is out-of-this-world :)

I was quite impressed by Keynote more than the other two apps. I've been using Powerpoint for years and it's refreshing to see new transition effects, templates, layouts and font type. Keynote is way cooler if you want to make your presentation stand out from your windows brethren. I could get these apps once I rejoin the workforce and have a better idea what I'll be doing.

However, what has impressed me for some time and I took the opportunity to explore here was the Credit Card Processing capabilities of the Iphone and Ipad.

The cool credit card swipe system used by Apple retail store staff is proprietary but the viable corporate option for SMEs/SMBs (that's Small & Medium Enterprises or Businesses) is to use Square (Free) or Payware (US150). Both systems sell a small credit card scanner that can be snapped onto the Iphone. There are no leasing fees for the scanner but they charge on a per-transaction basis. These are good solutions that can generate cost-savings for retailers with low to medium volume of transactions. Useful to know alternatives to the traditional point-of-sale registers for any start-ups that I might want to set-up in future :)

Read about Square here.

& Payware's website is here.

How did I get my Ipad?

In the US, it's really between ordering online from apple.com or going down to an apple store to shop for one. In my case, it was the mall because I wanted to be able to return the Ipad to the store if there were any problems with it, and not have to go through with returns over the post.

But I had to call the retail store ahead of time and be put on a wait list.

Your iPad will be here before you know it. Keep an eye out for an email from us letting you know it's ready to pick up. When you come in, we'll have Specialists ready to help you set up your iPad so you can start enjoying it right away. We look forward to seeing you at the store.

The Apple Retail Store team

Requested Item(s)
1 iPad Wi-Fi 32GB


And I received a notification a few days later:

The iPad you've been waiting for has arrived, and it's ready for you to pick up. When you come in, we'll have Specialists ready to help you set up your iPad so you can start enjoying it right away. We can't wait to see you at the store.
The Apple Retail Store team
Reservation Expires
Tuesday, May 18
Pickup Location
Apple Store, CambridgeSide

And voila, I joined the elite group of Singaporeans who now own a ginormous Ipod Touch!