Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DROPBOX




DROPBOX ~ What it is and how to maximize its use.

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


While Dropbox is a popular service, it still amazes me how few people know about it, what it does or how to maximize its use. So, if you’re a user, bear with me, as I’m sure you’ll pick up a little insight into what makes it tick.

Most of us at some time or another have the need to email or in some other manner send files containing documents, photos or PDF’s. Email might sound like the logical option, but most often its file size limitation prevents its use. Most email accounts limit the file size to less than 5 megabytes while others may allow up to 10. Beyond that you’re just out of luck! That’s where Dropbox comes in. Dropbox is a service that utilizes the cloud to allow you to transfer files of almost any size from one Dropbox to another. It not only allows you to send such files to others, but from one of your own computers, iPads or smartphones to another. In the latter, it allows transferring this data without the use of a memory stick.

So, what’s needed? First you must subscribe to the Dropbox service. As a private individual you can do this at no cost and have access to a free 2GB Dropbox account. This probably would satisfy most needs, however, additional memory is available as an upgrade with a monthly or yearly subscription to a Dropbox Pro 1TB plan. You can also obtain additional 500MB increments at no cost for each person you recommend that actually signs up. There is, however, a 16GB cap on this offer. Commercial or business users can sign up too, but with a monthly or annual fee.

Since Dropbox is a for-profit business it aggressively promotes its use by its users. You’ll receive notices about having many files and photos automatically stored in your Dropbox. While this may seem handy and nice, it comes at a price. Your Dropbox will soon be full and you will be asked to sign up for a subscription. To avoid such charges you should limit your use to an actual transfer. When you know the transfer was successful and completed remove the file from the Dropbox. This frees up space and makes room for future transfers. Chances are you’ll never run out of space.

(TIP: You’ll know that the recipient has accessed the material in the folder as Dropbox sends an email notice of this activity to you automatically.

When you wish to send someone a large file, you must create a folder with the file(s) in it, and then drag the folder into your Dropbox application. Once in you can click on this folder, select what you wish to do, enter the email address of the recipient and send it. The recipient may not need to be a registered Dropbox user, however, I have experienced that this is not always the case based simply on past usage. Therefore it’s highly suggested that they become s user if at all possible since it is free. They will receive notification that you sent them a file(s) and can then access it. If they drag it to their desktop they will always have access to it.

Dropbox is used by thousands of corporations and individuals alike. It’s fast, safe, economical and an extremely useful tool in this world of on-demand communications. To subscribe simply go to dropbox.com or send me an email bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com and I’ll send you an invite. It couldn’t be simpler.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1byn8Yu

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.

##

Saturday, August 1, 2015

INFOCOMM 2015



Just another technology show, or?

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


INFOCOMM ’15 is an annual audio/visual conference typically in Las Vegas, but this year it was held in Orlando, Florida from June 13 – 19th. It’s not a consumer product or broadcast equipment showcase, but rather a conference aimed at the meeting presentation professionals and those with presentation equipment needs. As technology has broadened in scope, products have overlapped their usefulness into other applications and allied fields, so an attendance of 950 exhibitors and 38,000+ attendees, a 5.6 % increase over last year, is not considered unusual. 


Attendees vary from industry professionals to those with an interest or need for the products exhibited. If you qualify, free exhibit passes are available early in the year, however, late registrants are accommodated at a price. Some free show passes could be available from exhibitors. I always find attending this show useful in gathering facts on these new technologies such as 4K presentation flat screen displays and related acquisition equipment.

(TIP: Since this is a summer show with rotating locations in tropical climates, you would be well advised to dress accordingly. As is always the case in walking this or any other exhibition, comfortable shoes are a must.)

This year’s show had a major 4K flat screen presence. These screens come in many shapes and sizes that are designed for various unique applications such as indoor and outdoor digital signage. Digital signage is much like an advertising poster or billboard. It lends itself to constant message changes and the incorporation of digital computer art. Samsung probably had the best representation of 4K digital signage and displays. I had restricted & escorted press access to view prototypes and learn about concepts that may some day be available. 4K flat screens that incorporate a razor thin bezel and feature clear see-thru, translucent and mirror one-way see-thru surfaces, for applications in the medical and hospitality industry. A display that is wrapped around a wall’s corner; a beverage cooler with a video screen display replacing the traditional glass door, and not shown to me, but discussed as a work in progress, a roll-up flat screen that’s still under research and development. Related Samsung display products such as TV receivers and computer monitors share all this technology. So what I saw at the show may in some form be in the homes and offices of tomorrow. http://smbz.us/1Fx8uzH

Shure, an 80 year-old American audio products company, unveiled a soon to be released MOTIV digital microphone and recording solutions product lineup. It’s made up of 6 recording solutions that individually work with some or all MAC, PC, iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android devices. 


Most impressive to me was the free MOTIV Mobile App that allows you to optimize the new MV88 digital stereo condenser microphone designed for iPhone, iPod and iPad. 


A free recording application is also available should you not have one of the many such apps already available.  http://bit.ly/1IalmC2


SK Telecom demonstrated the Smart Beam Laser video projector that could easily be the World’s smallest laser projector. Measuring a mere 2.2” x 2.2” x 2.2” and weighing 6.88 ounces, it can project a 16 x 9 image from 20” to 150” with 60 ANSI lumens on virtually any surface. It uses a Laser Diode as a light source with auto focus and is battery powered. Connection is via HDMI/MHL wireless (Miracast or Airplay). http://bit.ly/1H9AlgK

Casio also showed four models of what they term LampFree® projectors. These projectors range from 2500 to 4000 lumens and project 60” to 100” screen sizes. They utilize a Casio Laser & LED hybrid illumination process with a projected life of 20,000 hours. Closed captioning included on all models. While still portable, they are physically much larger than the Smart Beam projector. http://bit.ly/1IalyRU

The items I’ve chosen for this article are just a small smattering of what INFOCOMM had to offer. I chose products on the basis of my reader’s interests. I intend to do future articles on 4K technologies and what it means to you. I also plan on a follow-up article on the Shure MOTIV product series. So stay tuned, more is yet to come….

Images: Infocomm, Shure, SK Telecom

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.

##

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

POGUE"S BASICS ~ Book Review


When you don’t know whom, what or where to ask….

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Keeping up with new technology has become more than a challenge for both the techie and the novice. Instruction manuals are no longer or never were packed with the devices you acquired. You’re expected to already know the operation or, at best, download a manual with terms you don’t understand. Features and shortcuts are often built-in, but never disclosed. So from whom, what or where can you find the answers? I don’t normally review books, but this is a worthwhile exception that goes a long way to solving the problem.

POGUE’S BASICS, a 357 page softcover book, is published by Flatiron Books, and written by David Pogue, a tech savvy author. David has a long list of credits including a thirteen year stint as the tech guru at the NEW YORK TIMES; founder of yahootech.com; wrote or co-wrote seven of the FOR DUMMIES series of books; writes a monthly column for SCIENTIFIC AMERICA; tech contributor for CBS’s SUNDAY MORNING and has authored a vast collection of the MISSING MANUAL computer-book series. He has the knack of simplifying and focusing in on what you need to know to maximize the use of your electronic gadgets. His topics include; Smartphones, tablets, cameras, computers (MAC & PC), operating systems, apps and much more. It’s fair to say that anything with a plug or the software necessary to make it work is covered and well within his expertise.

This book is written in an easy to understand format that’s well illustrated. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s indexed by topic making it easy to locate what you need. It’s chocked full of useful tips like, scrolling down a web site by tapping the space bar; recovering photos you accidently trashed; maximizing the use of your phone, tablet, computer, camera, web browser, and navigating email and social networks. In short, it’s so well illustrated and laid out, it’s like having your own personal guru at your command. Consider it a reference book and not something you necessarily have to read cover-to-cover.

Tips include, but are certainly not limited to; bringing back a water soaked phone from the inoperable; the fastest way to charge an iPad; the 10 best apps for your smartphone; using map apps on your phone without an Internet connection; making the verbiage on your screen larger; bypassing lengthy voice mail instructions; junk mail tips; sending photos that don’t bounce back; printing articles without ads; renaming a group of files at one time; making YouTube videos larger and sharper; sign a contract electronically.

I rank this as one of the best resources available for anyone who has an electronic device and accompanying software or apps to make life simpler. It’s probably one of the lowest priced return-on-investments you’ll ever make!

(TIP: While not reviewed in this article, David’s MISSING MANUAL series is also a must have. It’s truly the missing manual that did not come with your computer or various software programs you may have. The topics are numerous, so check your book supplier or Amazon for availability. You’ll also find topics in this series authored by other competent experts.)

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP: Soft cover ~ $19.95 ISBN 978-1-250-05348-0;
E-book edition ~ $9.95 ISBN 978-10250-05384-8

For more information go to: http://amzn.to/1Eta0SU

Graphic credits: Amazon

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.


##

Monday, June 1, 2015

HEADPHONES and EAR BUDS

Multi-purpose ear buds & headphones.

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


In this age of mobile and game devices some form of earpiece almost always becomes a necessity. There’s the ear bud that slips over your ear with a
boom microphone and in-line control capsule. I’ve tested two inexpensive models, the Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT1iS ear bud and the KIDZ GEAR headset.

Audio Technica is a highly respected manufacturer of audio reproductive devices.


The ATH-SPORT1is is their entry into a low-priced consumer product geared towards the ever-expanding mobile market. It’s lightweight with a non-typical pivoting hinge for adjustable comfort. The sound transducer is angled and designed to supposedly provide a better in-ear fit. It’s IXP5 waterproof certified which allows it to be washed after use, but is not submersible. It comes in several active colors making it easy to locate. Flexible plastic ear tips are used with several spares being included. A clothing clip is provided to minimize cable movement in adverse conditions. It comes attached with a 3.5mm, 4 pole, phone plug. My general impression was disappointing, especially considering this is an Audio-Technica product. The ear placement process leaves much to be desired. The angled transducer seems to be more of a hindrance than a feature and the sound quality reproduced is tinny with no low end. The volume level needs to be limited to minimize distortion. However, the microphone produced a very acceptable quality. I would have to say there are better sounding devices out there at a similar or lower price point if the user intends to listen to music.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★

MSRP: $39.95

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1GsWujE

KIDZ GEAR offers a traditional style headset with boom microphone in three colors. These headphones appear to be extremely durable as they are designed for the kids game market.


The earpieces are fully adjustable as is the boom microphone. The sound quality is excellent. The phone plug is also a 4-pole 3.5mm style, typical of what’s required for the smartphone and game market. Two optional adapters are available. One is a splitter allowing two headphones to be used together for music listening purposes as it features a 3.5mm 3 pole plug and two identical jacks. This however does not accommodate the microphone. The second is a 3.5mm, 4 pole adapter, which limits the sound volume level thus preventing hearing loss caused by exposure to constant high sound levels a very thoughtful and useful accessory especially for the youth market. An optional carry pouch is also available.

If you’re using the KIDZ GEAR with gaming devices for audio/visual purposes, this is a perfect fit and hard to beat for the money. For smartphone use this may be bulky when on the move, but fine for home or office use.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP: $29.95

For more information go to: http://bit.ly/1HObZH5

(TIP: Both these earpieces would be suitable for your home wireless phone if it has a jack provided for this purpose. The problem would be that such phones typically use a 2.5mm, 3-pole jack therefore requiring an adapter or replacement of the existing plug. Caution, the wire strands are very fine making soldering of a new plug difficult. The use of headsets or ear buds can be very useful in this type of application. It certainly gives you freedom to move around and eliminates the hollow and annoying sound quality of a speakerphone.)

Graphic credits: Audio-Technica; KIDZ GEAR; Picgifs

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at bob.thegadgeteer.skidmore@gmail.com, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.

##