Price: $99.99 (retail), around $80 on discount
Hardware Tested On: iPad AKA new iPad AKA iPad 3
Sound Quality Rating:
Re-use Value Rating:
While the Logitech Mini Speakers won’t fill a concert hall with sound, they aren’t meant to. They are meant to be a great option to carry with you and use at the office, in a hotel room, the car, etc. For that, we are very impressed with the Logitech Mini Speakers.
With their compact size comes surprisingly great sound. This makes the Logitech mini speakers a great, convenient, and cheap way to broadcast sound from your iPhone or iPad.
Using Bluetooth to receive sound from your iOS or other compatible device, it’s an easy setup. Once paired, you can select the Mini Speakers for sound output like you would any Bluetooth or AirPlay output device. You can control these speakers either from your device or from the capacitive buttons on the top of the speakers. Volume, next/previous track, play/pause and a speakerphone feature are available. Using this for a Bluetooth speakerphone is a secondary, yet very useful feature.
The size is great and not indicative of the sound these speakers produce. A little bigger than a slightly squished baseball, these red and black or all black speakers are easy to toss in a bag or drawer. They charge via USB and can hold a charge for up to 10 hours of playback. Also impressive for the size.
While there are other options for small Bluetooth speakers, these easily come in on the low end of the price scale at only $99 retail. A great deal when other small portable speakers of this quality are up to twice the price.
If you are looking for a good set of portable, personal, Bluetooth speakers, the Logitech Mini Speakers are a great, and cheap option. Give them a shot.
Fresh off the announcement of their solar-charging bluetooth keyboard case for the iPad, Logitech is back with a new solar-charging keyboard, the Wireless Solar Keyboard K760. However, there’s one powerful feature in this keyboard that will make it extremely attractive to power users: it has the ability to pair and switch between multiple devices. This means that it could easily be connected to the Mac, then taken to another room with the iPad, and then on the go with the iPhone, with its ability to switch between three devices. The multiple device support, combined with the fact that it doesn’t need to have its batteries replaced, and its similar layout to the official Apple Bluetooth keyboard, may make it a more attractive option for anyone shopping for an Apple-compatible keyboard. Now, if only they could find a way to make the Magic Trackpad solar-powered. That thing eats through AA batteries like Pac-Man. The Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 will be available this June for an MSRP of $79.99.
With all of Apple’s relatively recent success in the smartphone and tablet market, we can forget sometimes that what kicked off their modern dominance was a device that simply played music. BICOM, Inc. has been recognizing how important music is to the company with their playGo series of iOS receiver systems. The newest model, the playGo AP1, is their biggest leap forward yet.
Previous playGo models used USB interfaces but the playGo AP1 instead streams audio wirelessly using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Apple’s own AirPlay functionality. Music from iOS devices, iTunes and other services like Pandora, Rhapsody, and Spotify are wirelessly pushed to speakers with their high-fidelity audio intact. The playGO AP1 also retains built in USB for compatibility with older devices.
Unfortunately, the project is still in need of funding. However, interested buyers can check out the playGo AP1 Kickstarter page and purchase one early for $199. The funding deadline in July 5th and if it’s a success, expect to see the playGo AP1 released shortly thereafter.
Hardware Tested On: iPad AKA new iPad AKA iPad 3
Re-use Value Rating:
In what seems like a never-ending streamofiPadkeyboardcases, I have yet to find the perfect one. Instead, I’ve stuck with the Apple Wireless Keyboard wrapped in an Incase Origami case. But that’s not ideal as it’s two pieces.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover isn’t a traditional case. It’s more of a super-Smart Cover replacement. Not only does it have a pretty decent keyboard, it also has the magnetic hinge we are used to from the Smart Cover to connect it to the iPad 2 or 3.
So let’s just get right to the meat of this review — how’s the keyboard? In a word, excellent. It’s probably the best small size keyboard (less than 100% size keys) I’ve used. It’s checks off all of the key features I look at for an iPad keyboard like inverted-T navigation keys, two large shift keys, and properly placed backspace and return keys. It also includes a full list of function keys to automate features like iPad home, media keys, etc.
They keyboard device itself resembles an upside-down iPad 2. It connects, as mentioned, via a magnetic hinge to the iPad 2 / new iPad. While the connection is good, it doesn’t feel quite as strong as the Smart Cover, though good enough to stay connected. When closed, it stays closed easily, also due to magnets. Those same magnets are used to wake the device when the case is opened.
And this case uses magnets like crazy. In addition to the above, similar features to the Smart Cover, this case uses magnets in a way we haven’t seen before. The iPad, when placed into a resting slot in landscape orientation, snaps in and is held secure with magnets. There’s a very good connection here and the keyboard can safely be used on the lap without concern of the iPad slipping out. Unfortunately, this only works in landscape mode.
The one issue is what to do with the keyboard half when not using the keyboard, if you just want to use the iPad itself, and not the keyboard. You can’t fold it behind the iPad itself — the hinge doesn’t work that way. Your only choices are to either use the iPad like an open book, or disconnect it and use the iPad alone. The issue with that is now you have two pieces to deal with. It would have been great it there were at least a way to snap the keyboard onto the back of the iPad (maybe with magnets?) to keep it secure. If you try to hold them together, they slip and it feels risky.
The issues with the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard are very minor, even the above problem of how to hold it when not using the keyboard. Overall, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the best integrated keyboard iPad case we’ve tested. Looks amazing, and works really well.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keybaord Cover is available for $99.99 directly from Logitech and many other retailer and online (like Amazon).
Developer: Ion Audio
Price: $89.99 MSRP
Hardware Tested On: iPad 2
Re-use Value Rating:
ION Audio has refreshed the original iCade as the iCade Core, acting as a more compact version of the original controller. Functionally, it’s identical; the buttons feel slightly softer compared to the original iCade, but hardware-wise, it is identical and has the same compatibility.
The benefit to the iCade Core is that it I just so much more portable and versatile. Want to play on the couch with the iCade in the lap? Go for it. It’s also much better for playing on a TV via HDMI. Also? There’s no assembly required.
The drawback is of course that it just does not look as cool without the arcade cabinet. The iPad stand does have some room to slide around in the space carved out for it, so having a case might be a good safety mechanism. As well, one of the things I would like to see would be at least a key combination to call up the software keyboard, because until it idles out or Bluetooth is manually turned off, the iCade Core will take over keyboard input.
Bottom line, I must say that while both systems are functionally identical, the iCade Core’s increased portability and practicality makes it a superior option to the classic iCade for iPad owners, unless of course the original arcade-cabinet style is being used as a decoration somewhere.
Logitech has announced a new iPad accessory that’s a really bright idea – literally. The Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is a folio-style case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard that will work for typing on the iPad, with support for the iPad 2 and the new iPad. The internal rechargeable batteries are charged by light, whether it be the sun, or even light from indoor lamps. The battery capacity is such that Logitech claims that on a full charge, the battery will last 2 years at a rate of 2 hours daily usage. This sounds bold, but the Logitech Keyboard Case by Zagg can easily go months between charges as well.
The solar cells appear to be on the outer side of the folio holding the keyboard, so it appears as if charging while typing is not possible. The case is designed to hold the iPad in two ways: one for typing, and the other for media watching, where only the front row of keys which contains media keys is available. The case is expected to retail for $129.99, and can be preordered now from Logitech’s website.
Developer: Ion Audio
Price: $69.99 MSRP
Hardware Tested On: iPod touch 4
Re-use Value Rating:
One of the new iCade models that ION Audio is putting out is the iPhone and iPod touch version of the iCade, the iCade Mobile. The controller repurposes the iCade’s joystick into a d-pad, the left 4 buttons into face buttons, and the right 4 buttons into shoulder buttons. The controller is overall about as wide as the iPad’s screen without the bezel. It fits both the iPhone and iPod touch, though it isn’t wide enough to fit even a thin case. All device keys and buttons (except for the home button) become inaccessible due to the hardware design. The holder can be spun around to be viewable in both landscape and portrait though.
The important thing to understand is that the iCade Mobile is technically the same as the iCade, so developers do not need to add specific support for their games to make the iCade Mobile work. Two issues that pop up though are that first, some games do not have iCade enabled on the iPhone side despite supporting it on the iPad, such as Super Crate Box.
Second, games that have chosen non-protocol uses for the buttons have odd control schemes on the iCade Mobile. For example, Mystery of the Japanese Werewolf, a fun platformer that has iCade support, has controls configured for the original iCade where the right 6 buttons alternate between jump and attack, and the red buttons on the left column are pause. On the iCade Mobile, this means that the bottom and left buttons are pause, and the top and right face buttons are jump and attack respectively. These issues are ones that will need to be addressed by developers via simple configuration tweaks.
The iCade Mobile succeeds not in that it makes the iPhone into an arcade machine, but that it makes it into a capable handheld system. It feels like now I’m playing some lost Game Boy Advance games, especially in landscape mode. The d-pad and buttons work very well for platforming and action games, especially the kinds of retro games that beg for controllers. While it’s a wide controller, it’s still ergonomic. The controller handily still turns off after a few minutes of inactivity, and it actually has a dedicated on/off switch.
The inaccessible hardware buttons would be a problem solved by the addition of Bluetooth system keys like the ones on Bluetooth keyboards. This would make it possible to adjust volume, and call up the soft keyboard. The latter functionality would be perfect for downloading more iCade-compatible games.
That’s the great thing about the iCade: it’s become the de facto standard for external controllers with a wide array of support. There are more games coming on a regular basis with iCade compatibility. Heck, this could even be used as a controller for an iPad. This is definitely the iOS external controller to get.
Update: This review was published on April 27th. As of May 27th, the hinge on the cover has indeed broken. An iPad case company claiming to provide the kind of protection that Hammerhead does should surely last more than a month with light use. I’ve changed the scores above to reflect this.
The Hammerhead Capo case is a solid, good looking basic case for $40. It comes in black, blue, white, red or orange leather-grained polyurethane. It covers the whole iPad, with molded open areas for the dock port, headphone jack, rear camera, and volume buttons.
The top, folio-style cover is hinged to the back area, and features a hinged fold in the middle. The top cover meets the iPad glass with a soft, fuzzy material to protect from scratches, and auto locks and wakes the iPad on closing or opening the top flap.
The flap folds behind the iPad in a triangle shape with a little clip that seats within a spot on the back for three not-too-different landscape viewing angles. The clip also keeps the case closed, but did not actually snap into place in the back of the case, so did not feel as solid or stable as I’d prefer.
The Capo case also allows for a typing mode, Smart Cover-style, that uses the hinge as the stopping point for the case and iPad. This may not be tenable in the long run, as the hinge is only made of plastic, but it worked well and felt fairly solid in our testing.
The iPad 2 fits into this case extremely well, which makes sense as it was engineered for that devices specific dimensions. The new iPad fits almost as well, to the point that it’s perfectly usable for Apple’s newer tablet. The Capo case kept both iPads safe and snug in a variety of bags, as well. It feels good in the hand, too, with much less bulk than similarly protective cases I’ve used. The Capo case adds very little weight, and the faux-leather grain provides a nice “grippy” texture, making this a wonderful case for the minimalist iPad user.
The bottom line here is that the Capo case by Hammerhead is a solid-feeling protective case for an attractive price point. The new iPad and the iPad 2 I tested it with both felt secure and well-protected, and the case is my current favorite full-protection, non-keyboard case for my new iPad.
Anyone as remotely geeky as I am has been immediately drawn to this post because of the picture of this obviously awesome iPhone mount. This mount, the Galileo, functions in even cooler ways than it looks. The Galileo is an iOS-controlled, robotic, tilting, 360-turning mount for the iPhone.
This crazy thing is perfect for photographers, cinematographers, and just any gadget crazy techie (me) who wants to play with this thing. It can turn at 200 degrees per second and is controlled by another iOS device (I’m already imagining the possibilities of using this thing with my iPad). Its function is basically up to the user’s imagination. There’s an image on the Galileo’s Kickstarter page showing the mount on a skateboard about to go under a car (and an iPad to watch what it sees). There will even be an SDK for app developers!
The Kickstarter page has already raised over $250,000 (the goal was $100,000) and has 21 more days to go. The most popular pledge is $85 (the lowest to receive the product when it’s released). The Galileo is set to retail at $129.95 when it’s released (estimated June 2012) so pledging for $85 (along with the other 1400 backers) is a steal. Check out the Kickstarter page here and the video below for a demonstration.
I’ve had all three iPads. My first iPad was the 32GB WiFi original, then the 16GB WiFi iPad 2, and now the 32GB WiFi iPad (third-gen). I made a huge mistake buying the 16GB version for my last iPad 2. The second I decided to start putting movies and TV shows on my iPad 2 was the moment I regretted it. Kingston now sells a “flash drive” that may help others in similar situations with their iOS devices.
The Wi-Drive is a portable drive (16 or 32GB) that connects to WiFi and extends storage for iOS devices. Along with the free Wi-Drive app, the drive can be loaded up with files from a desktop or laptop and stream those files to an iOS device. It can even share the data with up to three different users at the same time.
The drive is about the size of an iPhone 4, so it fits in most pockets and bags. A USB cable transfers files from computers to the drive. The 16GB version is available on Amazon for $44 and the 32GB version for $95.
Noted synthesizer and keyboard manufacturer Korg has announced a new iPad-compatible MIDI keyboard for use with various iPad music apps. The microKEY25 is a 25-key MIDI keyboard with a joystick, octave adjustment buttons, arpeggiator and sustain buttons. The keys themselves are velocity-sensing, designed to play chords, and to be customizable using Korg KONTROL Editor software for PC and Mac.
The keyboard connects to the iPad by way of its USB output to the Camera Connection Kit’s USB adapter. When used with MIDI-compatible apps, like Korg’s own iMS-20, it can send keyboard commands to play music and use its key functions to adjust various commands. It is compatible with GarageBand and its built-in MIDI keyboard support. Use VidRhythm to remix videos with the microKEY25. Cross the streams, and use a Korg keyboard to control Animoog! Any app that supports the iOS CoreMIDI framework introduced in iOS 4.2 can be used with a MIDI controller such as this, making it a portable and low-cost option for on-the-go musicians. The keyboard will be available from select music retailers for $69.99.
Ostensibly, the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG is made for the iPad 2, which is how I received it for review. When I got my new iPad, I was ready for it to almost but not quite fit. Luckily, it fits pretty darn well–perhaps even better than with the iPad 2, which some users report as having a bit of looseness to it. So, here’s the review, taking into consideration both the iPad 2 and the new iPad.
Bottom line? This keyboard is a win, making it completely feasible to use an iPad as a laptop replacement. Of course, that really depends on the user, but as a writer, email & web surfer, the addition of a keyboard that is always with the iPad yet still easily removable is the key.
The keyboard itself is solidly built, with a rugged, non-flexible feel to it. The brushed aluminum finish perfectly matches the back of the iPad, and when the iPad is snugged into the keyboard case, face-first, it’s hard not to see it as an actual laptop. It’s like a Macbook Air, in fact, only a bit smaller.
The defining feature of a keyboard is, of course, the feel and usability of the keys. I’ve used several folio-type keyboards with mushy, too-small keys. The Logitech Keyboard Case is not one of those. The keys feel solid under my fingers, with just the right amount of resistance. I’d compare it to my iMac keyboard in feel, while it’s a bit smaller than the standard bluetooth keyboard Apple makes. It only took me a few minutes to get used to the different size of and distance between keys, and I have fairly large hands and fingers.
The New iPad Fits Snugly
I really like the protection offered by the Logitech Keyboard Case, though it does add a bit of weight to the iPad. In my unofficial testing of the weight difference between my 11-inch Macbook Air and the new iPad with the keyboard case attached (read that as holding one in each hand and balancing them, schoolyard-style), I’d have to say that it’s almost as heavy as the Air, if a bit lighter. Ultimately? It’s pretty darn light and useable.
The rubber bumpers on the inside of the case protect from impact damage, and hold on to the iPad when closed in. It’s a very nice way to keep the iPad safe, though I suppose the back of the iPad and the camera can still get scratched. That’s not something that concerns me, personally, though. I’ve not had any problem with either version of the iPad falling out when snugged in tight.
All in all, the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPad 2 is a solid investment for anyone wanting to use their iPad as more of a laptop. Our very own Carter Dotson used his iPad with the keyboard case to report from the show floor of GDC and found it very acceptable. It will snugly fit both the iPad 2 and the new iPad (sorry iPad 1 owners) well, with the advantage going to the new iPad for fit.
Some 3D iPad games like Zen Bound 2 may be able to take advantage of the iPad retina display already. We talk details with Secret Exit, and show you what it will look like.
At GDC last week, I had a great conversation with Jani Kahrama from Secret Exit about the new retina display on the iPad. In particular we discussed Zen Bound 2 [App Store Link], one of my very favorite iOS games. It’s also a game that really shows off iOS devices with it’s fantastic 3D graphics. We were continuing the conversation that so many had started about what it would take to upgrade iPad apps to the new retina display. I don’t have much to add to that conversation other than it’s not easy and will add in many cases considerably to the app size.
The good news is that Zen Bound 2, as it exists now on the App Store will look pretty good on the new iPad and its retina display. It was originally created to display at the maximum resolution that the device supports. This was done to allow the app to be universal on the iPad and iPhone 4S and to future-proof the app. That means that it will run at full resolution on the new iPad, taking full advantage of the retina display.
There is one downside. Initially the user interface elements (buttons, etc) were not created for the higher resolution. So while the elements will be positioned properly, this will mean that initially those items will not be proportional and will be a bit small. An update will be coming in the weeks following the release of the new iPad to fix that issue and increase the resolution of the textures used in the game. This will just make the game look even better.
Let’s take a look at some comparison screens to see how amazing the new screen will really be. Please note that looking at these samples on a computer screen really won’t convey how good they will look on a retina screen. For that, you’ll need the new iPad.
In the sample below you can see the current iPad 2 screen size (768×1024) on the left, how Zen Bound 2 will look like on the new iPad (1536×2048) in the middle, and how Zen Bound 2 will look like once the user interface elements are adjusted (still 1536×2048) on the right. Click on the image for the full size — caution — really large.
For more samples, take a look at the gallery below. Zen Bound 2 will be a great app to show off what the new iPad retina screen can do. It will be one of the first apps I download tomorrow. This is one beautiful app.
Today, Apple unveiled a very expected update to the iPad, but also a very impressive one. In addition, we got a few things we weren’t expecting.
The iPad 3 looks to be a solid update to the iPad 2. Not only do we get an amazing retina display screen and updated internals for a faster device while maintaining the look of the iPad 2, but we also keep the great battery life and price points. Here’s a quick rundown of the new iPad. Which, by the way is called just “the new iPad.” Or perhaps it will end up being known as just iPad like the Macbook and iMac lines.
The new iPad includes an amazing retina display. That means that it has 4x the pixels of the iPad 2. For comparison, that’s even one million more pixels than a 1080p TV. The new iPad will have a resolution of 2048×1536 or 264ppi. That amazing display will really make reading text a dream and less strain on the eye. The new display also has 40% better color saturation than before. It should really pop.
Apple A5X Processor
The increased number of pixels requires more horsepower to push them around quickly. The new iPad will include the Apple A5X processor that has quad-core graphics in a dual core processor. Apple compared that to the current high end for Android devices, the Tegra 3 and noted that the A5X offers four times the performance of that chipset.
5MP Rear Camera
The camera on the iPad gets a boost to 5MP, similar camera to the iPhone 4 in specs. HD video recording, video stabilization, etc. A solid upgrade. But please, don’t be holding up your iPad to take pictures. You’ll look like a dork.
What doesn’t get an upgrade is the front camera. That remains at just VGA resolution. Sorry, no Facetime HD this update.
LTE, Up to 73 Mbps Speed
LTE, the next generation mobile data communication will be available for the new iPad. In the US that will be available on AT&T and Verizon. In Canada available on Telus, Rogers and Bell. The extra speed will really make the downloads fly when using the device away from Wifi.
In addition, the iPad can now be a personal hotspot if the carrier supports it. It will also support GSM 3G when traveling in areas that don’t support LTE.
“It’s the privilege of a lifetime for me to work with the most innovative people on Earth. Only Apple can deliver this kind of innovation in such a beautiful, integrated, and easy to use way. It’s what we love to do, it’s what we stand for.” – Tim Cook
How to get one!
Pre-orders for the new iPad start today and will be available March 16th in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. The prices remain the same as the iPad 2:
iOS 5.1, a minor update to iOS 5 will be available today. It’s a good update with few new features but a lot of fixes. The only new feature highlighted was Siri for Japan.
iOS 5.1 should be available now, check for updates in Settings, General, Software Update.
Apple TV 1080p
Apple announced an update to the hockey puck shaped Apple TV. The new model will support 1080p content, which is now available in the iTunes store TV and Movies section. iCloud will be there to support movies now, in addition to TV shows which were added last year. In addition, the new Apple TV comes with a new streamlined interface that looks more and more like iOS with tiled icons. The Apple TV is actually running a version of iOS, with a different interface.
The updated Apple TV will be available March 16th and maintains the same price, $99.
Of course at 148Apps, we are, obviously, all about the apps. The apps demoed today were a great demonstration of what can be done with the new device. Here’s what we saw:
Sky Gamblers from Namco – This simplified Ace Combat game, sort of a more casual version, shows that the new iPad can and does beat the consoles in the graphics power. While the game itself isn’t as complex as console titles, it will look better.
Sketchbook Ink from Autodesk – Autodesk showed a version of their new app, a line art focused version of Sketchbook. This app can create and export images of up to 100 MP in size. Line art (think Adobe Illustrator) is resolution independent so you can zoom in as far as you like and maintain smooth lines. Sketchbook Ink be available in April.
Infinity Blade: Dungeons from Epic Games — The natural extension to the Infinity Blade franchise I guess. This game appears to be a Diablo like game set in the Infinity Blade world. You quest is to find the Infinity Blade. Created to really exploit the retina display. The new iPad has more memory and of course a higher resolution than the PS3 or Xbox 360 so it’s a dream for game developers. No release date given, it’s just coming soon. Check out the trailer below:
iWork Apps – A free update will be coming to support the new retina display. Still $9.99 per app for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Available today.
Garageband – now includes Smart Strings, a note editor. You can also push your creations back and forth with iCloud. In addition, 4 devices can “jam” in real time. Sounds interesting. Available today.
iMovie – iMovie also updated for retina and 1080p movie editing and exporting. It also includes some new outlining, storyboarding, planning and editing tools.
iPhoto for iPad – The star of the app show had to be iPhoto, a new app, and we’ll have more details soon. But this is, as you would expect, not iPhoto brought to the iPad. It is a reengineered and rethought app focused on touch interaction. From everything we’ve seen they have done an amazing job. It includes some features like photo browsing, editing, effects. Also includes beaming for sending photos between devices and a new feature Photo Journals.
Some of the more interesting and new things in the app include some new gesture types (like swipe in/out from the bezel), some great photo analysis tools like find similar photos, and an auto-correct photo that will not only fix exposure problems but even straighten tilted photos.
All of the editing in iPhoto is non-destructive — that means that you can always go back to the original photo. No need to worry about doing something creative and destroying your original.
Photo Journals are a way to group photos and annotate them with memories, quotes, etc. They can be laid out and then shared via iCloud to any browser.
iPhoto will be $4.99 and available today in the App Store. [App Store Link (will be live soon)]
What We Didn’t See
We didn’t see some thing many expected. Siri for the iPad or Apple TV for one. I’m not convinced that Apple thinks of Siri as the future of user interface that many do. I believe they see it more as a mobile assistant. As such, it really works on the iPhone and iPhone alone. This could change of course as the scope of functions that Siri handles expands in the future.
We didn’t see a preview of iOS 6 — as hoped. iOS 6 is expected to be as big of a change, if not even more of a change as iOS 5.
We didn’t see Facebook integration. Many expected Apple to finally include the same integration in iOS for Facebook as Twitter sees. Well I guess, not yet.
We didn’t see a new accessory. Many thought that Apple would introduce a new back cover to compliment the Smart Cover. Nothing announced — though it could show up in the store later.
Apple made some bold moves today. They introduced an iPad that we’ll not likely see duplicated in hardware design on Android devices before the next iPad is ready. In addition they made some interesting branding moves by dropping the revision number from the iPad line. The next iPad will just be called iPad. And I’m guessing we’ll see all future iPads called the same. Similar to the iMac / Macbook lines where they are all called the same. So we’ll have to denote this as the Winter 2012 iPad I guess.
What we now have is a device that’s more powerful as a game machine than the PS3 or XBox 360. It’s has access to more games and at much cheaper prices. Now we just need to start seeing more AAA titles.
The new iPad is a very solid device created to address many of the outstanding requests of users. A better screen, faster processor, and faster communications. Well done Apple.
My friends and I already use the iPad for our game nights. We play Bleep Word Guessing Game and Jeopardy! HD on occasion. Well a new iPad accessory called Duo Pop has set out to enhance iPad game nights with their popper system.
Duo Pop basically turns the iPad into a game show with four “Poppers” and a transmitted that’s placed near the iPad’s speaker. Similar to Jeopardy, each player’s popper is used to ‘buzz-in’ to answer questions.
User Interface Rating:
Hardware Design Rating:
Bluetooth speakers rock my world. I love being able to run music from my iPhone to a nearby speaker without having to tether it with a cable. While the BT connection does not keep my iPhone charged, the payoff in mobility is worth it.
Logitech’s newest addition to the device genre is by far the best I’ve played with. The sound is amazing for such a small footprint; the lows are deep and rich, the highs successfully bright without becoming too brittle.
The hardware itself is smooth, sleek and rounded. The dip in the middle, where an old school boombox would have held a tape deck, is just right for a hand to grasp it, obviating the need for an extruded handle. The unit feels solid, like it would hold up to some roughness in handling. The plug and line-in jacks are thoughtfully covered with a rubber flap, protecting from dust or mist. In the back of the unit sits a flip out stand, one that folds flat against the boombox for easy travel.
What’s brilliant about a bluetooth speaker system is the ability to play music from any source. I was able to send streams of music to the Logitech device from a Macbook Air, a Mac Mini, an iPhone and an iPad. Pairing is simple and consistent with other bluetooth devices; hold the button for pairing, marked by a big Bluetooth logo, until it flashes blue. Open the preferences on the sound source and choose the Logitech Boombox, already named and ready in the list of devices available.
The only small issues I noticed? The boombox did not wake from sleep when I used my iPhone to start playing again, even when plugged into a wall. It would be nice if, when connected to power, the boombox would wake and connect to the last connected source device. It was only a simple matter of pressing the power button on the Logitech device, though, and the music was restored.
The second issue? Battery life seems a bit short. The length of time the boombox lasts seems limited to one or two albums at a time when not connected to a plug. Enough for a short time out of doors, perhaps, but nothing to rely on for longer periods. The unit does, however, lower the folume and flash a yellow light when the battery life is low–a handy visual feature.
As of now, this is my favorite external speaker for all the Bluetooth capable gadgets around the house. I’ve been using it for gaming, playing music, and watching netflix on my iPad. The Logitech Wireless Boombox for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch got it right with its rich spectrum of sound response, great industrial design curves, and easy pairing of Bluetooth devices.
One of the concerns with 60beat’s GamePad has been whether the device would see enough support from developers to make it worthwhile. As promised by 60beat back when it was announced, February has rolled around and some titles are beginning to support the 60beat.
Both Alien Space and Alien Space Retro from Owens Rodriguez have been updated to support the 60beat. Given the number of dual-stick shooters on iOS and the lack of analog joysticks on the external controller frontrunner, the iCade, dual stick games could spearhead 60beat support thanks to its unique-to-this-platform functionality.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-07-15 :: Category: Games
Katana Jack, a game that claims to have had its graphics hand-painted on the iPad, has also been updated with support for the 60beat. It also supports the Gametel controller, the iCade, and iControlPad, so this free app is a must-download for anyone with an external iOS game controller, if only because it supports them all.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-11-17 :: Category: Games
There’s also No Gravity, a game which started life way back in the days of PSP homebrew development, before seeing legitimate releases on PSN, and now on iOS. Both the Lite and full versions of the game support the controller.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-16 :: Category: Games
There are likely to be more titles that support the controller, and its particular advantages may prove to be a boon to developers looking to support external controls in their games. The total list of games that support the GamePad is available here.
Developer: IK Multimedia
Hardware Price: $69.99
App Price: $19.99, FREE Lite Version Available
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4, iPad 1
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User Interface Rating:
Hardware Integration Rating:
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IK Multimedia is cranking out the iOS music accessories – and the apps to go with them – at an alarmingly fast rate. We’ve reviewed these as we can, from the iKlip music stand and the iRig Mic to the iRig guitar interface, and the company turns out some great products. The iRig MIDI, a keyboard MIDI interface for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, is no different. This is a stellar accessory, and the professional app, SampleTank, that is made to work with it, is as pro as it gets.
MIDI stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface,” making it a protocol for instruments and software to communicate together. MIDI files do not contain actual music, but rather the performance variables of music performances, which can be ported to any MIDI-aware sound source. With the iRig MIDI, the MIDI-capable keyboard or drum pad (not included) becomes the performance source, and the iOS device is where the sounds are output, via SampleTank or other core MIDI app, like Garageband and a host of other compatible music apps.
The iRig MIDI accessory connects to both the iOS device of choice via the 9-Pin dock connector, with the other MIDI jack connected to any MIDI capable device via a thin wire. It has three MIDI ports, allowing users to connect IN/OUT and THRU, as well as a micro USB port to keep the iOS device powered while using it. It’s a great accessory, feels well-manufactured, is small in size, and will allow musicians to use whatever keyboard, drum machine or pedalboard they want to. I used both an M-Audio keyboard as well as the Rockband 3 keyboard and both worked flawlessly. When I plugged in the iRig MIDI for the first time, my iPhone prompted me to download the free iRig Recorder app, which is required for the accessory to work.
SampleTank itself is as full featured a synth app as I’ve seen, and holds its own against my current favorite, Akai’s SynthStation. The difference between these two apps, besides the price tag, is the interface. I’d say that the preference of the user will be the deciding factor. One thing I do not like about the interface for SampleTank is the way the onscreen keyboard is set up. In order to reach higher or lower octaves, the iPhone keyboard interface must of necessity be able to be moved up or down. SampleTank does this by swiping. This is not my favored method, as it keeps me from sliding from one note to another via that same swipe method. SampleTank does well at keeping the complication inherent in such a software product to a minimum, but wasn’t always intuitive to my way of thinking; your mileage may vary. I also found it difficult to get the app keyboard and the hardware keyboard to match in terms of the octaves, which I attribute to the different keyboard hardware and my inability to figure out the interface in the app.
Other than that however, the sampled and synthesized sounds are fantastic, and well worth the price. This is basically a mobile version of award winning desktop software, SampleTank 2, for a fraction of the price. There are over 900 MB of samples for over 500 acoustic, electric and electronic instruments plus a selection of over 1,000 melodic and rhythmic patterns to meet all of the mobile musician’s synth needs. It allows for up to 4 different sounds to be loaded at once for live performance or recording with the built-in recording function. Needless to say, this is a pro-level set of tools in one Universal App.
The iRig MIDI accessory is, bottom line, a fantastically put together MIDI interface for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. SampleTank is a incredibly rich and robust tool to create music on these devices as well; while I personally prefer a different layout, there’s nothing amateur about SampleTank itself.
The new Akai Pro MPC Fly turns any iPad 2 into a full featured MPC (music production center). Not only does it turn an iPad into a portable production center, but it also acts as a protective case opening on hinges to sit upright, lay flat, or close shut for transport. The MPC Fly touts 16 pads with note repeat and swing, and works with any Core MIDI apps. It also works in conjunction with the MPC Fly iPad app.
With the MPC Fly iPad app users can sequence four tracks at once, access library of audio samples and drum kits, use various audio effects on their sequences, pull samples from their iTunes library, and share their work on SoundCloud, Facebook, or Twitter.
The MPC Fly houses it’s own rechargeable lithium-ion battery making it a truly portable solution. It also includes a wall charger, and will charge the iPad while it’s plugged in to the wall. No word yet on how much the MPC will retail for.
Dead phones are a problem that just won’t go away. Mobile technology is advancing faster than battery technology can keep up, and our phones are dying faster than ever. Sure, external batteries exist, but what happens when those die, especially for those who are away from power sources for extended periods of time? There are solar chargers, but that relies, quite obviously, on there being sunlight. In my best infomercial voice, I exclaim, “There’s got to be a better way!” Meet the Powertrekk, the charging solution that’s unlike any that have come before it.
This is because the Powertrekk comes with a fuel cell that can be used to power USB devices. Fuel cells work by converting by a fuel’s chemical energy, from a source such as hydrogen, into electricity through reactions with elements like oxygen. So, for those who paid attention in chemistry, what’s a common liquid source of oxygen that could be added to a hydrogen fuel cell in order to be converted into electricity? Water! Yes, by simply adding water to the Powertrekk’s fuel cell puck, it can be used to charge a device over USB. The Powertrekk also comes with a 1500 mAh internal battery that can be charged over USB, or through the internal fuel cell. The fuel cell itself has a storage capacity of 4 watt-hours, which means that at its maximum output of 5 volts, it has a total 8000 mAh capacity, using Amperage X Voltage = Wattage. In layman’s terms, that’s about enough to charge the iPhone completely about 4 times, assuming maximum battery efficiency. Also, the 5 volt output means that the iPad cannot be charged with the Powertrekk.
Now, the Powertrekk is not an inexpensive solution; the charger is expected to sell for US$229 when it is released, and 3 extra fuel cell pucks will cost $12. Still, this could be a useful accessory for those who spend a lot of time away from electrical sources, find solar chargers inefficient, and/or want an environmentally-conscious way to charge their USB devices. The Powertrekk will go on sale in the spring, available from both the Powertrekk website and worldwide through a variety of distributors.
4iiii Innovation has introduced a new set of glasses for athletes, called the Sportiiiis. The Sportiiiis’ strength, especially for iPhone users, will come when the glasses are paired with ANT+ devices. ANT+ is a hardware specification for wireless sensor devices, such as heart rate monitors, that can interact with devices like the Sportiiiis. The app can be used to configure the way ANT+ devices interact with the lights on the Sportiiiis; for example, certain lights can come on at certain heart rates on a heart rate monitor. Or, an ANT+-based pedometer could be used to track distance using the LED lights. Up to 8 sensors can be paired with the Sportiiiis, with the ability to switch between them with a double tap of the unit. These functions can all be programmed in from 4iiii’s upcoming app. The Sportiiis will be available soon from 4iiii’s website, and are on sale at their CES 2012 booth in the North Hall’s ANT+ Pavilion.
It’s been an exceptionally busy first day at CES for music focused experts IK Multimedia with the announcement of 4 different products to come from their stable very soon. It’s of particular interest for DJs of all skill levels with a number of products specifically aimed at that market.
The iRig Mix is one such product. It’s the first mobile mixer for an iOS device, promising to offer the same controls that would be expected from a professional DJ mixer. Including a crossfader, cues, EQ and volume controls all in an impressively compact format, the hardware can be used with a number of different DJ mixing tools.
One of the more clever features behind the iRig Mix is that it can be used for mixing any type of audio source including but not limited to MP3 players or CD players, all supplemented with automatic tempo matching and beat-syncing. Other features within the hardware ensures that musicians as well as DJs can gain benefits from it thanks to the extra guitar/microphone input that can be processed by other aps such as AmpliTube and VocaLive.
The iRig Mix is powered easily via a regular phone charger as well as through a laptop’s USB port for maxiumum convenience.
It’s set for release in February and is priced at $99.99.
What better way of using the iRig Mix than by using IK Multimedia’s DJ Rig app? Set for release soon, it’s a feature rich, double-deck DJ mixing app for iOS devices. Professional functionality oozes throughout the app such as visual cue points, crossfader curves and an on-the-fly sampler with 4 banks of 9 pads. Most originally is the ability to automatically synchronize the app audio with any external audio source thanks to DJ Rig‘s ability to listen to the device’s audio input and determine its BPM tempo.
DJ Rig is set to be available in two formats: a free version offering a reduced set of 6 effects and 1 pad sound bank and the full version priced at $9.99.
Other musicians haven’t been forgotten about with the iRig Mic Cast aiding those in need of a great means to record audio. It’s a pocket-sized piece of hardware that can be attached to the audio port of the iOS device in order to provide crystal-clear audio quality. It’s ideal for recording podcasts, interviews, lectures, speeches or just regular voice memos. Two different sensitivity settings ensure that the sound quality is always strong regardless of if the source is near or distant.
The iRig Mic Cast will be released this quarter, priced at $39.99.
Finally, in this plethora of announcements, is the iRig STOMP, the first stompbox guitar interface for iOS. Guitar and bass players can now integrate signal processing apps into their existing pedalboard setup for enhanced tone shaping and effects processing.
The device is compatible with any guitar/amp/instrument app for maximum flexibility and promises precise adjustments for guitar players who prefer to have ultimate control over the sound they produce.
Set for release in Q2 of this year, the iRig STOMP will cost $59.99.
We’ll be sure to keep track of the developments of all these apps that are bound to revolutionize how musicians create music.
Just as the death of arcades hasn’t stopped Ion Audio from putting out cool, new iCade accessories, they aren’t letting the decline of games like Guitar Hero keep them from getting into the plastic instrument race. However, like their previous Piano Apprentice iPhone accessory, the upcoming Guitar Apprentice isn’t a game. Instead, it’s a musical teaching tool.
The device is a full-sized guitar shell that the iPad docks into. The onscreen frets light up to show players where they need to place their fingers and whether or not they are strumming the right chords. From there, players can learn and record songs with compatible apps like GarageBand and Ion Audio’s own upcoming Guitar Apprentice app.
The Guitar Apprentice accessory will soon hit retail for $99 in America before arriving in the rest of the world. If this works, imagine what other instruments Ion Audio could plug an iPad into. The second image shows that a drum accessory is in the works. What else could be coming? Saxophone Apprentice anyone?
The Tinké plugs directly into an iOS device, and users touch its sensor directly with their finger. By touching this, the device claims that it can measure heart rate, respiratory rate, and the oxygen level in a person’s blood, making it essentially a pulse oximeter for an iOS device. It measures these then rates the person on its “Vita Index”, which is based on the quality of the measured information. Tinké also can track this information over time, so people can see how their health is changing, and preferably for the better! People can share this information with friends and family, with the ability to comment on Vita Indices, to share tips and encouragement. As well, users can share their Vita Scores anonymously, with the ability to compare their scores with other people in their age group.
The Tinké will come in four colors: black, red, white and an aqua blue. Zensorium is currently taking reservations, with a target price of $99, although there is no planned release date for the hardware. As well, there is no indication if this will officially support the iPad. Will the information be cloud-based, or device-based, so users could potentially use the Tinké dongle on their other iOS devices, like iPod touch or iPad, and will the network be available through the web? Plus, will it work? Will all the measurements, especially oxygen measurement, really be accurate based on just using a dongle? Other pulse oximeters are intrusion free, but use a closed design; will the open ended design of Tinké negatively affect measurement? These are important questions to be answered as Tinké reaches its release date in the indefinite future.
Technology continues to amaze and surprise us with steady and fantastic moves to make life easier and more exciting. One crucial problem gets in the way of all of that, however – technology’s kryptonite, if you will. That dastardly villain? Water.
As any poor soul who’s dropped their iPhone into the bath or kitchen sink has discovered, iPhones do many things but swim is not one of them. It’s a grim death and an expensive one at that. Luckily, there are some very clever people out there that are determined to make water damage a thing of the past. That idea? Liquipel.
Liquipel is a process that applies a waterproof coating to the device, thus protecting it from any damage. The coating is microscopically thin ensuring that it’s not visible to the human eye and virtually undectable on the whole. It’s applied to every surface outside and inside of the device to provide optimal protection against liquids.
To say it’s potentially game changing is no exagaration. Such technology could be used very effectively for all manners of items. A YouTube video explains all as to how it works but it’s the video we’ve included below this that truly demonstrates the technology. Pouring water onto an iPhone is something that will fill any owner with dread, yet it continues to work without any difficulty.
It’s worth noting that Liquipel does recommend that such protection shouldn’t encourage users to use their iOS devices purposefully underwater, such as for photography, but it’s still very impressive.
Liquipel requires sending off the iPhone but it only takes a few days for the procedure to be completed. Standard pricing is set at $59 while a priority service is $69. For those worried about scratching, a scratch resistant film can be applied at the same time for a grand total of $79.
For the accident prone, this may well be an utter bargain.
Gaming on a touch screen is pretty effective. As our gaming review archives show, countless titles demonstrate what works so well for iOS devices. However, options are good and many gamers used to physical game controllers prefer to use input devices such as the iCade.
The iCade serves the arcade gaming market perfectly with its chunky, retro appearance but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a more traditional gaming controller. This is where Fructel’s Gametel enters the picture and is set to provide plenty of great functionality to gamers.
Previously only compatible with Android smartphones and tablets, the Gametel clearly has the pedigree to be a great addition to the iOS peripheral market.
The device is smaller than other iOS focused controllers while still offering a 4 way joystick with 4 face buttons as well as 2 shoulder buttons on the back. Comfortable to use with a snug clamp to keep the iOS device steady while Bluetooth does its connectivity magic, the Gametel is looking great hardware wise. A nine hour battery life just goes to back up that idea.
That’s no use without good software support, however. Fortunately, it’s looking good for the console style controller with all iCade suite titles already supported as well as other iOS games such as No Gravity, Silverfish, Super Crossfire HD and Terra Noctis also covered. Regular 148apps readers will note that all these titles are great examples of quality iOS games making it an ideal starting point for such a device. It’s looking pretty attractive to gamers in need of a more console style control system.
No solid release date has yet been given for the GameTel in the US. While it’s available in selected European countries, at the moment it doesn’t support iOS while the relevant app works its way through the approval process. We’ll be sure to keep up to date on any release date for the device.
It is that magic time of the year where electronics manufacturers trot out their prize show ponies at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Aside from being the first big trade show of the year, it is also used as an opportunity for companies to debut their new products. After the standout success of ION Audio’s iCade, at last year’s show, it only seemed like a matter of time before we were treated to their next innovative takes on the peripheral.
Today they were proud to announce that they have not one, but THREE new additions to the iCade line, two of which are aimed at making better use of your more portable iOS devices. Here is the full rundown of what you can expect to see in 2012:
If it wasn’t obvious from simply eyeballing it, this is a miniaturized version of the original iCade cabinet that started it all. Featuring a fully articulated joystick, the device also has four front facing buttons as well as four that are around the back of the cabinet’s assembly. Why exactly are there four buttons around back? Who knows, but you can bet that the first person to figure it out could stand to make quite a bit of money from the App Store. Meant to nestle a iPod Touch or iPhone inside, this is perfect for the arcade junkie on the go.
Just in case you couldn’t tell from the image above, this next re-envisioning of the iCade brand retrofits an iPhone or iPod Touch into something that more resembles the form factor of Sony’s early iterations on the PlayStation Portable. What it lacks in joystick it makes up for in a D-pad, which could be either a really good or really bad thing, depending upon the quality of the materials used to construct the device. Based purely upon the image above there also appears to be some sort of ergonomic hand grips behind the molding of the chassis, which should hopefully ease the wrist strain that has previously been associated with gaming on the smaller iOS hardware.
Remember everything that you liked about the iCade? Well what if we told you that you could have the same functionality, without having to haul around that gigantic cabinet everywhere? The iCade Core will attempt to do this by removing the exterior case assembly and focus on keeping the form factor to a minimum. Simply put, all of the core mechanical pieces of the previous monolith have been shrunk down to fit into a glorified joysick arcade pad. In the back of the station is a grove and docking station where gamers can securely dock their iPad and get back adventuring down retro gaming memory lane.
These all look like great additions to the already outstanding iCade family. What could be coming next an even smaller model for your iPod Nano? We sure hope not, but only time will tell…
Swann, a global leader in security monitoring systems, and also a producer of many remote controlled (RC) helicopter models, has just announced the addition of a new RC helicopter to its fleet that can be controlled via an iOS device. The i-Fly Micro Lightning is an RC helicopter that can be controlled by iOS devices through Swann’s free iFly app and an adapter that fits into the device’s audio jack. The user can control the i-Fly Micro Lighting with on-screen touch controls or by tilting their device in tilt mode. There is also a 3-way infrared control included to control without an iOS device. The little helicopter charges via USB and will fly for up to 8 minutes on a full charge.
The i-Fly Micro Lightning will retail for $69.99, and will be available from Fry’s Electronics, BrandSmart, and other major retailers. The free iFly app is available for download form the Apple App Store and is compatible with iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices running iOS 3.0 or later.
There’s a new gamepad available for iOS devices, and this one should appeal to those who prefer their controllers wired instead of wireless. 60beat’s GamePad, now available, is a $50 external game controller with 6 face buttons, 2 analog joysticks that can click in as buttons, a d-pad, and 2 shoulder buttons. It doesn’t use the dock port or USB to connect – instead it connects through the headphone/mic port, in a similar method to the iRig. While this naturally means the speakers won’t work, a headphone cable splitter is included. As the demo video below shows, games can recognize when the GamePad is plugged in and support all of its controls immediately. This will offer a low-latency way for games to be playable with physical controls.
Will it be popular, though? With no unified gamepad standard defined by Apple, external gamepads have been a kind of chaotic wasteland. The only thing close to a standard has been the iCade, which dozens of games support; the iControlPad offers iCade emulation support along with its own modes of operation. The availability of analog joysticks and an easy setup process should prove intriguing to developers and gamers interested in physical controls. However, the new standard that would need to be implemented would be a challenge; finding some way to make it work with some extra code alongside iCade support would go a long way in terms of adoption.
However, the road to developer and consumer adoption may be tricky indeed. Right now, only 2 games support the GamePad, and while the list is set to expand in February, the price will need to be justified through a more expansive list of games. Still, this wired controller should promise to be a more elegant and easy to use solution than the battery-draining and occasionally laggy Bluetooth keyboard emulation techniques that other external controllers have so far used.
Developer: Seven45 Studios
App Price: Free
Hardware Price: Wired Mic: $69.99, Wireless Mic: $99.99
Version Reviewed: 2.4
Device Reviewed On: iPad 1, Wired Mic
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Hardware Integration Rating:
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Soulo Karaoke is a sing along app with a library of popular and public domain songs to rock out to. It can be used with the iPhone 3GS and up, and both iPad devices. It’s possible to record using the built in microphone on these devices, but the company (and our testing) deosn’t recommend it. Instead, they also sell the Soulo Mic, a $70 – $100 microphone accessory made to be used with the app.
The microphone plugs into the headphone port and has a little headphone jack to connect headphones or an external speaker. The app also allows video to be output to an external screen, like a TV, but not currently through AirPlay; the wireless version of the Soulo mic has a video adapter that can be used. According to the support website, “audio out through HDMI is not currently supported while in recording mode, but the audio will work through an HDMI connection to play back your finished recordings.”
The microphone hardware is solid, if a bit light in the hand, and is fairly sensitive picking up vocal sounds. The only issue I had with the microphone is the fact that, because it uses the headphone port, the audio out MUST be via headphone or external speaker. No using the iPad or iPhone speakers. In addition, everytime I used the app, it reminded me to use the Soulo mic, as all mics would not work as well as that one. This is when I was using the Soulo Mic.
Using the app is straight forward. Users simply tap the large “Start Singing” button on the Home screen, choose a song (it can be previewed as well), and start singing along. The volume of the backing music and the original vocals can be set, as can the level of Pitch Enhancement, Tone, Reverb and Echo. Soulo records all the performances, allowing users to share the recording via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Email. If a performance isn’t good enough to share, it can be deleted or saved to work on later without sharing. Users can also sing along to any song in their device’s iTunes library, though resulting performances cannot be recorded or shared.
Soulo comes with a fairly robust library of pop, rock, country, hip hop, and dance tunes, with a ton able to be purchased in the in-app Music Store for $0.99 each.
Bottom line, Soulo Karaoke is a great Karaoke app. My daughter and I had a ton of fun singing along to the songs we downloaded, and being able to share the tracks is a nice bonus feature. It would be great if AirPlay was an option for larger parties, but even without it, I’d use this instead of a big fancy Karaoke machine most days.