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.


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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.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Gadgeteer: APPLE TV

The Gadgeteer: APPLE TV: APPLE TV ~ Demystified …. © 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BOB SKIDMORE CORRESPONDENT Apple TV is a...

APPLE TV




Demystified….

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Apple TV is a 1080p high definition streaming device that’s been around for some time in various models. This device, like many others, has preloaded apps that allow for the selection of specific television program sources such as THE HISTORY CHANNEL, CNBC, PBS and ABC NEWS. Many other non-network sources including music, HULUPLUS, NETFLIX and SKY NEWS are presently available. SKYNEWS is a British all news channel much like CNN that may be accessed without any fees or special requirements. Apple TV can also access your purchased movies, TV shows, and music with iTunes Match, right from iCloud. You can stream video, games and more from your iPhone, iPad or MAC to your TV by using AirPlay. Videos and photos can also be streamed from PC’s and MAC’s. In short, these apps have the ability to be displayed on your television by means of an optional HDMI cable.

(TIP: If your flat screen has all its HDMI ports in use, a simple fix would be to purchase an HDMI switch such as the Belkin AV10117 4-way with a wireless remote. This will accommodate the Apple TV,  plus leave you with three spares.)


If you do not subscribe to these services via your cable service, or have a TV that does not have preprogrammed apps like NETFLIX, Apple TV is an easy fix. However, many of the apps require that you are serviced by a cable provider that has paid the fees for these offerings. When you initially select the app, it will ask you if your cable provider is among those shown, followed by a form of verification. If your provider is not participating, you will be unable to access the programming from this app. You may think because you receive this channel over cable you would automatically qualify to receive it via Apple TV. Not so, as these fees are over and above what the cable provider pays for cable distribution. Nowhere in the marketing material or manual is this restriction indicated, so take heed. Additional program apps are made available through periodic upgrades. One such recent upgrade features HBO at $15.00 monthly.

(TIP: Apple TV comes preprogrammed with apps. These preloaded apps vary from country-to-country. It’s possible to travel with an Apple TV box loaded with U. S. A. region apps and use it internationally. You may, however, reset the region to other countries listed in the settings app. This should allow access to the apps for that region. You can easily reset the region to the U. S. in the same manner. Since it’s a very compact computer that uses a TV to display the signal, you need not worry about the TV standard of PAL or NTSC. It’s also multi-voltage and requires only a power plug adapter for the specific country you are in. If you purchase an Apple TV box in another country it will come set to the apps specific to that region.)

Apple TV allows for wi-fi or a direct-wired connection with the Internet. Since streaming video is speed and processor dependent you would be well advised to opt for a wired interface to minimize or eliminate buffering. The device also comes with a remote control. Its operation is somewhat clumsy, so if you have an iPhone 6 or iPad you can download a free Bluetooth enabled “remote Apple Essentials” app from the App Store that dramatically improves the process.

A handy under the screen mount, “totalMount”, is an optional accessory. It attaches the Apple TV box under the flat screen making for a simple line-of-site connectivity link between it and the supplied remote.


 Apple TV is a neat device if you have need for the programs that are actually available to you. It does not require a MAC to make it work, although some features may not be available with a PC in the network. Since it works in other countries it can provide you with a limited English speaking program alternative while traveling. If you travel in internationally having SKY NEWS is a benefit since it’s in English and the news coverage does include major U. S. stories.

The 1080p HD picture quality is outstanding, but does require a medium to high speed Internet connection for best results. Apple never pre-releases new product information, however, rumors abound that a new model may be released in June of this year. While no official details have been released by Apple, rumor has it that the new box will support TV, music and purchasable apps, have an expanded memory that goes well beyond the existing 8gb Apple TV boxes and will operate on an improved operating system that will support Siri voice controls. Furthermore, Apple may be planning to launch an online TV service this autumn in partnership with broadcasters possibly including ABC, CBS and FOX. They are also reportedly in talks with U. S. programmers. They plan to offer a “slimmed-down” cable-style bundle of roughly twenty-five channels that will be available to view across Apple TV boxes and Apple iOS devices including iPads and iPhones. Again, these kinds of services make it an ideal travel companion.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP: Apple TV $69.00 (current model) ~ Total Mount $19.95
Belkin AV10117 4-way HDMI switch $34.95

For more information go to: http://apple.co/1cBtcqW

Graphic credits: Apple; Belkin

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.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

APPLE's TIME CAPSULE


Return To The Past With Ease.

© 2015 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BOB SKIDMORE

CORRESPONDENT


Backing up your data stored on laptops can be a chore. The lack of a second hard drive and the mobility factor often times cause us to disregard the need for a backup until a drive failure or a previously deleted document is needed. While various backup methods exist, Apple offers a unique solution for their line of computers.

The Apple TIME CAPSULE is a tower shaped stand-alone device. It not only serves as a superfast Wi-Fi base station, but also as an easy to use backup system. This backup system, available in both 2TB and 3TB versions, automatically back ups any changes made to your Macintosh computers. If a laptop leaves your local network the backup procedure stops, but when the computer is returned it automatically continues with the backup process. The backup works in conjunction with a software program known as TIME MACHINE, included with all modern day Mac’s at no additional cost.

Some stationary Macintosh computers have slots for additional hard drives that can be assigned for backup purposes with the TIME MACHINE software. If that were the case TIME CAPSULE, as a backup feature would not be necessary. However, if you also have a Macintosh PowerBook, TIME CAPSULE is a must have accessory.

TIME CAPSULE’S backup operation is fully automatic. Simply follow the TIME MACHINE prompts for initial setup. Once completed you’re set to backup automatically. It can be programmed to accommodate multiple MAC computers.

(TIP: The TIME MACHINE software catalogs backups on a daily basis. When the backup hard drive or TIME CAPSULE is filled the oldest backup is deleted to create more space for a seamless backup operation. Since cataloged in this manner you can easily go back and find data that you may have previously deleted days, weeks or even months ago and return it to the main drive.)


As I referenced earlier, TIME CAPSULE also serves as a Wi-Fi base station. In other words there is no need to have an additional router to provide Wi-Fi access if you have the TIME CAPSULE installed. Unlike the backup feature, Wi-Fi will be accessible to any brand of laptop, notebook, PC, MAC, smartphone or other Internet dependent device. Printer and hard drive sharing are also possible. Since TIME CAPSULE features simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac, it transmits at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency at the same time. So no matter which band your wireless device uses, it will automatically connect to the best available frequency for the fastest possible results.

TIME CAPSULE is a dependable method of backing up your data from any Macintosh computer. It will not, however, back up from a PC, smartphone or other Internet dependent device. It does provide a superfast Wi-Fi signal for any Wi-Fi enabled device and includes 3 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports for fast-wired connectivity with a desktop computer, network drive, DVR or other device. The reliability and ease of operation make it a superior must have option, especially if you are a MAC user.

GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★

MSRP: (2TB) $299.00  & (3TB) $399.00

For more information go to: http://apple.co/1stMTaZ


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.

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