Posts Tagged Hardware

SteelSeries Stratus XL Hardware Review

The Stratus XL is definitely a quality controller, but it’s not the best fit for smaller devices.

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Apps Are Us

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

GoatPunks

 
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GoatPunks is kind of a hard game to wrap your mind around, but let’s try anyway. Players control a goat (naturally) competing for domination on a mountain full of other player-controlled goats. They can earn a few points by knocking opponents off of their perch or collecting rabbits that pop up and grant various abilities. But the real jackpot comes from making it to the top and staying there until the end. However, heavy are the horns that wear the crown, and although top players can try to defend their position by raining thunder and fire on their foes below, get usurped and they’ll tumble all the way back to the bottom where they started. With all of that nonsense, GoatPunks has the potential to be a silly fun multiplayer party game, but the execution is lacking – or maybe it’s just on the wrong platform. The game encourages the quick tactical thinking and local good-natured trash talk of something like Super Smash Bros. but dragging around the goat from block to block feels sluggish and indirect, while silent online matches against strangers are alien and lifeless since it’s hard to tell if anyone even knows what’s going on. Reaching the top of the mountain only to get bumped off at the last minute should be this huge, dramatic reversal, but instead it just becomes an endless series of anticlimaxes set to music that sounds suspiciously “borrowed.” –Jordan Minor

XCOM: Enemy Within

 
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Enemy Unknown was (and still is) a fantastic reimagining of one of the greatest PC strategy games of all time. But Enemy Within is better. This new iteration isn’t a sequel, but rather a kind of rerelease with extra content. However, it’s not simply a few new maps and some new hair styles. Enemy Within boasts a lot more additions than just maps – although it does have those, too. There’s a new human faction to fight against that goes by the name of Exalt, and they exist purely to muck-up your operation. In order to deal with them, you’ll need to send one of your agents to infiltrate several of their numerous cells – then send an extraction squad in after them to collect vital information. Once you’ve completed enough of these missions, you should be able to narrow down the location of the radical faction’s HQ and can shut them down for good. But be warned: Exalt has access to many the same goodies that your own soldiers do, which means you’ll need to change up your tactics. –Rob Rich

Candy Crush Soda Saga

 
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Had your fix of Candy Crush Saga and you’re still desperate for more? Well, Candy Crush Soda Saga will be perfect for you then, as it’s a lot like the previous game. It offers up a few new game modes to try out, but ultimately it’s more match-3 gaming done well – albeit with plenty of opportunities for monetization. As before, you’ll be matching candies to gain points and work towards the next stage. There are bottles of fizzy drinks, too. Hence the name, and the new mode: Soda. Soda involves matching up bottles with candies in order to release purple soda up the screen, eventually freeing some candy bears. The same method of playing might apply, but the fact you have a slightly different aim does make a difference. –Jennifer Allen

Super Secret Service

 
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Super Secret Service makes a great candidate. From its first speech to election night it says and does all the right things. But like most politicians, it can’t keep every fantastic promise it makes, and by the time the next voting day comes around it probably won’t deserve a second term. If all of those metaphors didn’t make it obvious enough, Super Secret Service is rather political. Specifically, the game is about protecting the President of the United States using an endless supply of expendable secret service agents, each with their own names and birthdays. Reactionary radicals and hoodlums in hockey masks are trying to throw things at the POTUS and ruin his big speech, so by tapping the screen, agents will leap in to take the bullet. –Jordan Minor

This Is My Car: Mechanics for Kids

 
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This is My Car – Mechanics for Kids allows children a chance to peak under the hood of a car as they scroll their vehicle through different stations, allowing them to peel back the exterior and interior layers of their car that include technical information delivered in a well thought-out manner that they will appreciate. As my son – now six years old – becomes older, his questions about the way things work such as the engine of a car or its brakes become more and more complex. Although my husband and I feel capable of explaining such concepts, I appreciate being able to use this app as a tool to explain in detail the inner workings of vehicles – now with visuals that my son can easily follow. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Dragon Quest

 
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If you’re in to old school RPGs and you haven’t played the first Dragon Quest, then you’re in for a treat. Ah, the first Dragon Quest. Although I did not play it when I was young, I did manage to pick the game up later on. And as a RPG lover (especially turn-based ones), I loved what I saw and played. Now I that game is out on Android (for a very cheap price, I might add), I is time for everyone to relieve one of the classic and leading RPGs of all time. Well, if you’ve got the time, that is. –Wesley Akkerman

Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece

 
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I really, really wanna get down to the nitty-gritty with this one: what’s up with the Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece? Yes… it’s sleek, as the retail unit Jabra sent us shows: different shades of grey with orange accents, gently-sized at 2.57 x 0.61 x 0.95 inches and 0.28 ounces. Coverable micro-USB port, bluetooth 4.0, NFC and A2DP support, plus retail packaging that also contains micro-USB, earhooks and eargels. There is a dedicated button for Google Now, as well as an answer/redial button incorporated towards the rear and LED. Pairing it with a device is easy and intuitive after the requisite pre-charge. –Tre Lawrence

Circle

 
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If you still can’t get enough of Flappy Bird clones, then here’s another one for ya. When it comes to games that look and feel like Flappy Bird… Well, you got a lot of choice. When you look back at the game, it is actually quite unbelievable what that game did. It did not only make one guy very rich (by mistake?), but it also gave life to a new genre, we’ve called the ‘one button gameplay’ here on Android Rundown. If you can’t can enough of those games, here is another one. –Wesley Akkerman

This week was all about the guides, as Pocket Gamer laid out the steps to complete sci-fi adventure Space Age, comic book puzzler Framed, and those awesome new levels for Monument Valley. All that, plus XCOM, Anki Drive, and iPhone 6 vs Nexus 6, right here.

And finally: What is AppSpy? Is it a website about video games? Is it a state of mind? Is it an energy beverage? It’s all those things (except that last one), and we’d love for you to come pay us a visit. This week we’ve been talking about playable Angry Birds cakes, that new Borderlands game, and endless amounts of golf.

Logitech Protection + Power iPhone5/5S Case Hardware Review

While this case has a great fit and is easy to get on and off, the battery is borderline non-functional.

Read The Full Review »

Oh no, it’s not that kind of ‘skin.’ I’m talking about the kind of skins you can put on electronic devices to dress them up a bit.

These oversized stickers come with a backing that makes removing air bubbles easier, are custom cut to fit whatever device you order them for, and are available in all sorts of styles. I mean a lot. It’s Redbubble. The site is full of all sorts of interesting artwork, and if you don’t like what you see you can always make your own like I did.

These new skins should be rolling out later this week and will be available for a number of different devices, including the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5s, and 5C as well as the iPad Air, Mini, and Gen 2/3/4.

Image Source: Upoyk - Redbubble

Image Source: Upoyk (Redbubble)

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Pokemon TCG

 
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I’ve been playing and enjoying collectable card games for 20 years, now – yeah, I’m old, shut up. While Magic: the Gathering has always been my main game, I’ve tried and enjoyed several others over the years. One of my favorites was always Pokémon, but at my age (I said shut up!) almost none of my peers play. The only way I could enjoy a game was to go to a tournament and play almost entirely against children. Since that’s as awkward as it sounds, I haven’t played in years. Now there’s a solution to that problem. And unlike Magic’s foray into iPad, Pokémon TCG allows a great deal of freedom. –Jade Walker

Diner Dash

 
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Almost a decade after its launch, the classic time management franchise Diner Dash has returned once again to cause stress headaches in a whole new generation of mobile gamers. It’s been about four years since the last entry in the series – Diner Dash 5: BOOM! – and PlayFirst has revamped the venerable workhorse into a mash-up of classic and all-new styles. And, for the first time ever, the series has embraced the free-to-play model. How well do Flo and the crew make the transition to freemium? Well, let’s take a look, shall we? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone these days who isn’t at least passingly familiar with the basic concept of Diner Dash. Players are in charge of Flo, a good-natured (but doubtlessly exhausted) waitress whose job is to seat, serve, and generally keep happy all of the customers of her restaurant – many of whom have specific quirks and needs. Unfortunately, as Flo is only one person with two hands, she can only do so much at a time. This leaves her sprinting about madly to take orders, make coffee, clean up dirty tables, and more, all before customers lose their patience and leave. You really have to wonder why this place doesn’t hire at least a busboy, right? –Rob Thomas

Air Supply-SOS

 
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Sheep aren’t loaded with natural defenses. They’re great at standing around, chewing their cud, and waiting to be sheared. That’s about it. That’s why Air Supply – SOS calls on players to foil the Time Travel Company: a greedy organization that kidnaps sheep, robs their fluffy down, and makes clothing. Though these distressed sheep are quantum sheep, they’re still incapable of defending themselves. Do the right thing. Save Our Sheep (“SOS” – get it?). Air Supply is a shooter inspired by the classic ZX Spectrum game Jetpac. Players endure waves of aliens while catching the quantum sheep that fall from the sky. The sheep need to be returned to the rocket ship waiting at the bottom of the screen. Once the requisite number is loaded, the player gets to progress to the next level (often accompanied by a “sheepy hug” of thanksgiving). –Nadia Oxford

Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary

 
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Like in the original, players control Rockford: a scrappy young spelunker exploring a series of caves. But these aren’t just ordinary caves; they’re full of gems, and to open up the exit Rockford must collect a certain number of gems before time runs off. From that description, one might think that gem-collecting would be, if not a difficult process, then at least one that took some thinking. But in Boulder Dash, most of the initial free levels can be beaten by tracing the most straightforward route through the dirt and collecting the obvious gems in plain sight. Players spend the majority of the game performing this deeply uninteresting act again and again. Sure there are a few enemies, but with Rockford’s ability to move basically anywhere and survive anything short of a falling rock, there’s far too little in the player’s way. It almost makes one wish the controls weren’t as smooth and forgiving as they are. Later worlds do ramp up the challenge, but the dull and lengthy introduction discourages players from grinding and earning the stars necessary to unlock the more interesting content for free. –Jordan Minor

Bug Mazing-Adventures in Learning

 
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Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning is a new title from Little Bit Studio, the developers known for their series of apps such as Bugs and Buttons, Bugs and Numbers, and a recent favorite, Bug Art. As the name may suggest, Bug Mazing is a maze app with a bug theme that includes activities such as working with numbers, letters, colors and tracing in ways that children will find engaging and adults will appreciate for their educational value. Nature is a big part of these apps and the landscape may either be beautiful and pristine with flowers and insects like bees and ladybugs or include worn details that are possibly less beautiful, but I find these details quite interesting. It also includes a fantasy adventure theme as well as bugs that are styled with different adventure elements, such as Indiana Jones’ hat and other details. A narrator gives encouragement while on each exploration and valuable coins and precious gems are collected as rewards. Each area of this app includes different levels of difficulty and unique bugs select. Do note the selection of languages that is also included within this app – always a nice touch. Multiple children can also keep their own games separate, which is good for at home or the classroom. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Entwined Challenge

 
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Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be. The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment. As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence. –Tre Lawrence

Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger

 
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Yes, batteries in mobile devices have gotten better, but in the spirit of being prepared, it just makes sense to have a backup plan. Way back when, getting a couple extra OEM batteries was sufficient. Now, sealed batteries are more commonplace, and having multiple devices at any given time is not unheard of; in any case, all those extra batteries start to add up. Nah, it makes sense to have a portable battery, and when it comes to mobile power solutions, few are as capable of Antec; hence, checking out the new LifeBar 10 Portable Charger is far from a chore. –Tre Lawrence

Withings Smart Body Analyzer

 
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Health tools with a mobile component are especially compelling, and as such, we jumped at an opportunity to check out the Withings Smart Body Connected Scale. The black (white is an option) review unit Withings sent us is pretty much ready to go. At first glance, the first thing that comes to mind is that somehow, the product pictures do not do it justice. It looks like a chiseled dark colored slab. frankly, it look dashing, managing to be modern without being Jetson-silly. The full dark look is accented, and the silver center piece highlights the whole package. The expected display is digital in nature, and still manages to effect art. The battery compartment is at the bottom of the unit, and there is a tab preventing the batteries from cycling; beneath that are two buttons for syncing and selecting units. It looks like a “traditional” scale, but clearly wants people to know it has an extra trick or two up its sleeve. Officially, it comes in at 12.8 x 12.8 x 0.90 inches and 4.62 lbs. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer covered Apple and Google’s big announcements, wrote a massive guide for The Silent Age: Episode Two, tackled GamerGate, and picked 11 iOS games that you may never get to play. All that and loads more, right here.

Photo Oct 16, 1 44 23 PMIn a move that surprised nobody, mostly because we all saw it coming, Apple has unveiled their latest iPad: the iPad Air 2. It’s the new thing you need to buy, naturally.

The iPad Air 2 is, of course, even thinner than the original Air – 6.1mm, to be exact. It also uses a special anti-reflective coating to reduce reflections, which Apple claims has never been done in a tablet before. Touch ID will also be available on the new iPad, and it’ll ship with iOS 8.1, but you’re probably more interested in performance and such.

Photo Oct 16, 1 44 33 PMThe tablet will use an all-new A8X processor, which (at the moment) will only be available in the iPad Air 2. The result is 40% faster CPU performance, and apps that can run over twice as fast – up to 180X faster than the original iPad. It’s also got a 10-hour battery life, which is decent I suppose.

The iSight Camera has been updated as well, with 8 MP, 1080p HD video, and the ability to take all sort of fancy shots – slow-mo videos, 43 MP panoramas, burst photos, timelapse, and dual microphones. There’s also an improved Facetime camera for the front that allows for improved facial detection and burst selfies (hurray?).

Photo Oct 16, 1 49 00 PMThe online features have been improved as well, with faster wifi (up to 866MBps) and faster LTE (20 LTE bands).

The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB for the wifi models. There’s also going to be a new iPad Mini 3, with a 7.9″ Retina display, a 5MP iSight camera, 1080p HD video recording, the improved FaceTime camera, Touch ID, and the improved wifi (802.11n with MIMO). Both new iPads will be available for preorder starting tomorrow and they’ll ship by the end of next week.

Photo Oct 16, 2 03 13 PM

applewatch09At long last, a brand new Apple product category is almost here. In 2015, five years after rewriting the whole tablet rulebook with the iPad, Apple looks to do the same to wearable technology with the Apple Watch. However, while watching its debut during the most recent Apple press conference, I couldn’t help but notice a disturbing trend amidst all the talk of fitness integration, luxury gold bands, revolutionary payment systems, and elegant digital crowns: when it comes to how we actually communicate with each other, Apple Watch seems like a big step back.


Continue reading Use Your Words – The Apple Watch and the Devolution of Language »

The Misfit Flash is the newly-released fitness and sleep monitor from Misfit.

Similar to the Misfit Shine, Flash can be worn anywhere, including the user’s wrist, keychain, or lapel. It also has many of the same features as the Shine. The user can track their steps, sleep patterns, calories burned, and because Flash is waterproof it can even track swimming. Flash comes in several colors including lemon-lime Zest, funky Fuschia, and minimalist Frost to make matching your unique style easy.

“Flash is the only fully featured activity and sleep tracker in the world for under $50, making it an incredible value,” said Tim Golnik, VP of Product and Design at Misfit.

The Misfit Flash will be available in October, but you can pre-order yours now on the Misfit site for $49.99.

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Phonejoy Bluetooth Game Controller Hardware Review

The Phonejoy bluetooth game controller is a slick little attachment that accommodates all sorts of devices and orientations.

Read The Full Review »

Zivix has announced that their guitar-in-your-pocket, jamstik, is now available at select Apple retail stores and Apple’s Online Store. 

jamstik is a portable digital instrument you can use to learn, play, and create music on the go. It serves as a MIDI-enabled controller for multiple apps like jamTutor, jamMix, and Garage Band, and jamstik uses real strings and frets to give musicians a realistic experience while playing. The controller connects to your Apple devices wirelessly, making it an ideal instrument to carry around with you.

You can buy jamstik for $299.99 on the Zivix site now.

Petcube Lets You Stay Connected with Your Pet, Even When You’re Not Home

Posted by on August 15th, 2014
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Petcube is a WiFi camera and app combo that can let you keep your pet company while you’re away. The Camera is a small cube that you place anywhere in your home that might have a good view of your pet and is still in range of your WiFi. Then, using the app, you can see what they’re up to, give them some exercise with a built-in laser pointer, and share photos and updates of your furry friend.

The camera is in preorder sales right now and will be shipping October. You can buy one for $179 – which is $20 off the retail price. The Petcube app is available today for free on the app store and, while the camera is not available as of yet, you can still use the app to post adorable pic of your pets.

iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua S Case Hardware Review

The iBattz Mojo Refuel Aqua S Case is a very functional case with a few small flaws.

Read The Full Review »

BiteMyApple.co has announced that they will begin shipping their new iblazr today. iblazr is a synchronized flash for iPhone, iPad, and Android that allows users to take better illuminated shots.

Chris Johnson, Founder of BiteMyApple, said “Smartphones and tablets allow us to take high-quality photos anywhere, but the built-in flash isn’t enough during low-light settings. The iblazr provides users with the same illumination capabilities that a high-end camera provides. You can use the small external flash with your front or back camera so you’ll get the perfect shot or selfie every time.”

The iblazr has its own built-in, rechargeable 200mAh battery that provides more than 1,000 flashes or up to 40 minutes of constant light mode for videos. This means it won’t kill your phone’s battery while you take a video of your cat doing something ridiculous.

The Iblazr is available now for $49.99 on BiteMyApple.co.

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source: iblazr on BiteMyApple.co

Lifetrak Zone C410 Fitness Tracker

While the standalone performance of the Zone C410 is pretty awesome, the integration with iOS seems a bit of an afterthought. But the year long battery make some of the limitations easier to understand.

Read The Full Review »

Misfit Shine Activity Tracker Hardware Review

The Misfit Shine is a great fitness tracker that only suffers from minor design issues.

Read The Full Review »

As nice as it was to see such a strong representation of mobile games and devices at E3 this year, it also means more work when trying to figure out which were the most noteworthy. Seriously, there was a lot of great stuff on display and picking just a few to highlight wasn’t easy. With that said, here are our notables from E3 2014 in no particular order.

Phonejoy

phonejoy2I stumbled upon the Phonejoy completely by accident, but I’m very glad I did. It’s nice and compact, well-made, and easily attaches to iOS devices of any size and in any orientation. Unfortunately the version that’s available now isn’t MFi, but one is in the works – and you can be sure that once we find out about a release date we’ll be sharing that info with you. Until then, the current Phonejoy model will still work just fine with other games that still support third party controllers like the iCade.

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike

cloudbSquare Enix has apparently been developing an iOS game based entirely around that Golden Saucer mini-game from Final Fantasy VII without bothering to tell anyone about it. For shame, Square Enix. But while Final Fantasy VII G-Bike seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, it’s definitely looking like a badass runner/driver/whatever you want to call it. Would that other 3D runners had this game’s sense of style and production values!

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

I’m a Monster Hunter nerd, sure, but the reason Freedom Unite has made the list is because it genuinely impressed me. It looks like a fantastic port, plays very well, and even manages to add a couple of elements that the original PSP release was missing – namely legitimate online play and a lock-on feature. As someone who’s already sunk hundreds of hours into the original Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this one when it officially comes stateside.

The Gamevice

Gamevice-iPadMini.106I’ve yet to get my hands on the final version of the Gamevice, but the “beta” version I was able to play around with last week was definitely cool. It’s uses are sadly limited to only the iPad Mini, but the combination of controller and iOS device make for a great handheld gaming setup. And because the Gamevice is essentially in two separate pieces that attach on either side of the Mini, it should also be pretty easy to tote around. Just in case.

Hitman Sniper

SNIPER_Vista_1401975809Between Hitman Go [GET LINK] and now Hitman Sniper, Square Enix Montreal is definitely a developer worth keeping an eye on. What could have been something as basic as a first-person shooting gallery with a Hitman theme is actually a very clever (and unorthodox) approach to something sort of like a puzzle game. It isn’t just fun to play around with the various interactive elements in each level, either. The constant competition with other players who are close to your rank on the leaderboards also acts as a great incentive to keep aiming (*rimhot*) for the high score.

Just Dance Now

I don’t dance, and there’s about a 99% chance I’ll never play Just Dance Now when it comes out, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by what I saw at Ubisoft’s booth last week. The game is being developed with accessibility as its main focus, which is something I wish more developers took the time to consider. And not only is it being made to work with older iOS devices, it’s also supposed to take it easy on your bandwidth. So it’ll run on your old clunker and won’t double your phone bill if you end up playing over 3G/4G. Seriously, big thumbs-up to Ubisoft for this one.

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Image Source: whatculture

Image Source: whatculture

I can’t name names, I can’t mention developers, and there’s a good chance I can’t talk about genre. But if I’m obscure enough I don’t see the harm in saying that this thing I played that I can’t go into detail about was actually a whole lot of fun and probably the biggest surprise for me personally at the show. I know that’s not much to go on but it’ll all make sense in time. Suffice it to say, when a developer really cares and knows what they’re doing just about anything can be a hit.
[Please note that the game in-question has nothing to do with Futurama. I just like Futurama and needed an image.]

snappgrip for iPhone 5 & 5S Hardware Review

The snappgrip is an interesting idea for an iPhone camera peripheral, but a couple of odd quirks hold it back.

Read The Full Review »

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Panzer Tactics HD

 
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It feels like this battle has been going on for weeks. Reports come pouring in across the command table – scouts have spotted enemy troops deploying along a ridge to the east of our main base, obviously trying to gain a flanking position. My own infantry is entrenched in the forests surrounding our target, waiting for tank reinforcements that have been suppressed by enemy air forces since they were deployed. But as the weather shifts and the rain begins to fall, suddenly those enemy planes can’t engage. And as my tanks roll forward, I give the order to end this battle once and for all. –Andrew Fisher

Tales of the Adventure Company

 
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Tales of the Adventure Company is a lite role-playing game that sets up dungeon-crawling as a minesweeper-like grid. Although the game feels very familiar because of its borrowed mechanics, Tales of the Adventure Company prevents itself from feeling like an also-ran with its unique party system, turn limits, and combat system. In every play session of Tales of the Adventure Company, players must advance their party of heroes through a series of gridded levels in their quest to defeat a specific boss-like enemy type. This is done by tapping on a 5×5 grid to explore the dungeon, find enemies, and befriend new party members. Players must not be too thorough in their searches though, as every session of the game has a turn limit that produces a fail state if hit. This time pressure is largely what makes Tales of the Adventure Company stick out from other dungeon-crawlers, as players must be extremely strategic about how they choose to explore. –Campbell Bird

Habbo

 
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My initial response to the mobile version of Habbo Hotel being released was, “is that thing still going?” Well apparently yes, it is, and it’s just as popular as it ever was. My last encounter with it was back in my early teens, when I thought nothing of joining an open chat room and spouting rubbish for everyone to hear. For those who don’t know, Habbo Hotel is a hugely popular online community with a near-infinite number of fully customizable, user-built rooms for people to explore and chat in. From mock Starbucks and popular game shows, to luxury pads and swimming pools, users are free to let their imaginations run wild. –Lee Hamlet

Outernauts: Monster Battle

 
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When Insomniac Games, developers of PlayStation classics like Spyro, Ratchet and Clank, and Resistance, release a game on iOS it’s pretty hard not to get excited. The developer’s strong pedigree even overpowers the seemingly cynical nature of Outernauts: Monster Battle‘s design and premise. While the game may ultimately just be a freemium take on Pokémon, its harmonious balance of systems at least makes it a very good freemium take on Pokémon. There are lots of things for players to do in Outernauts, a simplified port of a two-year-old Facebook game, but they all revolve around the cast of collectible creatures. Insomniac can create sci-fi infused Saturday morning cartoon universes in its sleep, and it turns out that’s a useful skill when designing a bunch of colorful elemental monsters. While some of the basic ideas might be a little generic, such as Equifoal the grass horse or Molto the fire pig, the characters themselves are full of personality. Meanwhile, the world is slick, vibrant, and uses sounds like ambient space tones or powerful lightning blasts to great effect. –Jordan Minor

Wren V5AP Wireless Speaker

 
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We live in a world where most everything is getting smaller all the time. Computers, spacecraft, even the world itself when you stop and think about it. But while smaller isn’t always better, it can still be difficult to shake preconceptions that are burned into our brains all the time. Which is probably why my first impression of the Wren V5AP wireless speaker wasn’t an incredibly positive one. When I unboxed the V5AP for the first time it struck me as kind of large and bit weighty; I also had trouble figuring out where in the apartment to put it. Once a spot was found, I still had to wrestle with it. My first attempt at connecting it to my wifi network via a direct connection between my iPhone 5 and the speaker was a bust – the included cables aren’t Lightning compatible, and when I tried to use my own cables they just didn’t work. –Rob Rich

Silly Family

 
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I would like to let readers know about a new app for iPad that I find to be a refreshingly new idea in puzzle apps. Silly Family is an app where players need to grasp the concept of a family tree – a game that demands focus as they label members of a family based on their understanding of roundabout information they are given about their familial relationships. The heart of this application will ask players to identify a member of the family, answering questions such as “Ivar is Sven’s mother’s husband’s brother” or “Ponk is Gloop’s brother’s sister’s mother’s sister” – complicated ways of identifying family members as “uncle” or “auntie” as players work through the tree, labeling characters after they have been identified. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Colossus Escape

 
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Colossus Escape is at its heart a very standard runner. The player strides along, jumping over pits, killing enemies and avoiding other hazards. The basic run and jump gameplay is mixed up with Quick time events where the player must swipe a pattern on the screen quickly or die. Unlike most runners there is a hit points system in colossus escape and it’s possible to take a few hits without dying instantly. This is very uncommon in the endless runner genre. –Allan Curtis

Push Panic

 
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Four years ago, Dutch developer Barry Kostjens and Dutch art designer Ricardo de Zoete brought Push Panic on to iOS. Now, four years later, the duo brings the classic fast-paced puzzle game to Android. Did it stand the test of time? In Push Panic, players have to tap falling blocks of the same color. That’s the base of the game – to spice things up a bit, Kostjens and De Zoete thought of some neat gameplay mechanics to make sure players will not get bored real fast with the concept. One of those concepts is that the game offers realistic physics. It sounds more uncommon than it actually is and it works in favor of the game. Blocks can fall on top or stumble next to each other, making it hard to predict where to blocks will fall and what players can do with them afterwards. –Wesley Akkerman

Mini Dodge Ninja

 
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Unless you’ve been under a rock in a wireless dead zone for the past few months, you’ve probably heard of Flappy Bird. The simple screen-tapping game took the world by storm and caused its creator so much stress that he decided to take down the game. Since then, a plethora of similar apps have invaded the Google Play Store in attempts to recreate the worldwide frenzy that was Flappy Bird, including Mini Dodge Ninja. Mini Dodge Ninja takes some elements and makes them its own, but it is an obvious duplication of the Flappy Bird formula, right down to the bird main character. While gameplay is similar to Flappy Bird, Mini Dodge Ninja offers a significantly greater challenge in a less vibrant setting. –Ryan Bloom

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer picked the best games of May and most anticipated games of June. The guys also went hands-on with Modern Combat 5, found 12 hidden features in iOS 8, and produced an exhaustive guide to skills in iOS role-player Battleheart Legacy. All that and loads more, here.

Wren V5AP Wireless Speaker Hardware Review

The Wren V5AP wireless speaker can be a little unwieldy, but once it’s properly set up it fills its roll quite well.

Read The Full Review »

Like to take photos with your iPad? Olloclip finally has a product for you. The Olloclip 4-in-1 iPad Photo Lens clips on to the iPad and its camera lens, offering fisheye, wide-angle, and 10x & 15x macro lenses for zoom.

The clip-on lens supports iPad Mini (original and Retina) and iPad Air, and will be available for $69.99 – expected to ship on June 2. Now, you can buck the absurd social stigma against iPad photography by taking much better photos than those who would dare mock you.

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Hard drive manufacturer Seagate has announced their latest wireless storage product: the Seagate Wireless Plus hard drive. These portable hard drives are available in 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB capacities, and have a battery life of up to 10 hours. Users can connect to these hard drives via wi-fi through the Seagate Media app, which can beam media from the drive via AirPlay.

The hard drives are available now, starting at an MSRP of $149.99.

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RAVPower Wireless Filehub/Media Drive Hardware Review

This 5-in-one media hub provides plenty of muli-function utility.

Read The Full Review »

Sharebrands Stereo Headphones Hardware Review

Sharebrands' Stereo Headphones are a fairly affordable and comfy set of headphones.

Read The Full Review »

Strongarm Universal Mount Hardware Review

The Strongarm Universal Mount is hindered slightly by its need for incredibly smooth surfaces, but it can still be a very effective stand for iOS devices under the right circumstances.

Read The Full Review »

Livescribe 3 Smartpen Review

The Livescribe 3 pen is something that I initially dismissed. I just didn’t think there was a way it would work as well as it was shown. Turns out I was 100% wrong. It’s magic.

Read The Full Review »

Space Pack from Mophie Hardware Review

Double the battery life and add up to 32GB to a iPhone 5/5s for media storage - in one device!

Read The Full Review »

uNu Aero Series Wireless Charging Battery Case for iPhone 5 and 5s Review

Wireless charging added to the iPhone via a paired battery case and charging base from uNu -- works great.

Read The Full Review »

Stratus an MFi Bluetooth Controller from Steel Series Review

A great MFi controller, it has all of the controls one would want. Perhaps it's the best available right now. It's hampered only by it's small size and large price.

Read The Full Review »

Happy New Year from 148Apps!

 

It’s a new year and, as always, an exciting one for all of us here at 148Apps. Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, as well as our end-of-year lists, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

2013 wrAPP-Up: Simogo’s Twin Masterpieces

 
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Most developers get one masterpiece. One magnum opus that they get to unleash on to the world. Simogo released two in 2013 alone. Both Year Walk and Device 6 were absolutely amazing experiences, not just games, and so different from almost everything else this year. –Carter Dotson

2013 wrAPP-Up: Developers, Hardware, and Carter

 
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Sure 148Apps is known far and wide for its diverse array of app reviews, but we also love to spotlight some lesser-known developers, review the occasional piece of useful hardware, and challenge developers to duke it out in their own games. –Chris Kirby

2013 wrAPP-Up: Most Distinct Apps and Games of the Year

 
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Every year, with thousands more apps and games being released on the App Store, it becomes increasingly difficult to single-out just which are the crème de la crème of this ever-growing iOS market – and more specifically, which of them truly set a higher standard in terms of innovation, uniqueness, and individuality. Be it a game designed for the iPhone or iPad, anything developed and released on the iOS market in this day and age has to have that special something to grab our interest and retain it for months to come. In no particular order, here are a selection of the most notable games and apps of 2013 that raised the bar in one way or another. –Lucy Ingram

2013 wrAPP-Up: Why Candy Crush Saga was the Biggest Game of the Year

 
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Candy Crush Saga would be perhaps an ill-fitting choice for the game of 2013: it was hardly the “best” game of the year by traditional “Game of the Year” metrics, and it didn’t even release in 2013. But Candy Crush Saga was still the game that defined mobile gaming in 2013…The thing that was most fascinating about Candy Crush Saga, though? Did anyone really have an unequivocal, gushing love for it? Whenever the game would be brought up, there was always some degree of resentment toward it for being so addictive, in the sense that people just could not stop playing, paying, and bugging their Facebook friends with requests. The thing that was most fascinating about Candy Crush Saga, though? Did anyone really have an unequivocal, gushing love for it? Whenever the game would be brought up, there was always some degree of resentment toward it for being so addictive, in the sense that people just could not stop playing, paying, and bugging their Facebook friends with requests. –Carter Dotson

2013 wrAPP-up: Happy New Year’s Resolution: Fitness Apps for All

 
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It’s the same story every year: not long after the ball drops in Times Square and the champagne runs out, people all over the world face the dreaded New Year’s Resolution. After all the eggnog, fudge, and candy canes, it’s no surprise that losing weight and getting fit tops the list. And these days there are a plethora of digital goodies out there making anyone’s quest for fitness that much easier. Many of these apps even throw the motivation and inspiration in for free. In other words, you’re running out of excuses. You can thank me later. –Stacy Barnes

2013 wrAPP-Up: The App Store’s Experimental Games of the Year

 
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Cynics would have you believe that the App Store is full of Match-3 puzzle games, Endless Runners, and attempts at stealing money through a multitude of in-app purchases. OK, so the App Store isn’t perfect and those games are certainly out there (and a plentiful amount of them are still fun!), but that’s far from all that’s available. In the spirit of it being the end of the year and the ideal time to look back at what the App Store does so well, I took a look at some of the best experimental delights out there. These are titles that are a little bit different from the norm, either in terms of having a very open ended storyline or through offering a way to interact that’s unconventional. As many of us wind down for the Christmas and New Years break, it’s the perfect time to relax and try something a little different. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Top 10 Kickstarter Spotlights of 2013

 
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It’s the end of the year and everyone knows what that means: Top Ten Lists. There are lists for every possible subject, and I figured that it was only appropriate if I looked back and chose ten of my favorite KickStarter projects. All of these projects were successfully funded, and were just a handful of the great KickStarter projects that I had the pleasure of choosing from during 2013. So, as they say, theres no better place to start than the beginning. –Joseph Bertolini

Fleet of One

 
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This is a phrase I didn’t expect to say today, but Fleet Of One is a top-down shoot-em-up that’s quite different from the other space shmups. It also looks quite a bit more logical. If the player is supposed to save the galaxy, as is usually the case, then the least you can do is give him a nice ship. Rather than piloting a flying version of a hybrid compact, the player controls a giant flying saucer with more guns than an army parade. But only two of them can be active at the same time. Oops. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer looked back at 2013 with the best games of the year, interviews with Simogo and Fireproof, and looked ahead to 2014 with a massive list of 50 upcoming iOS games. They also reviewed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, handed out top tips for new iPhone and iPad owners, played the best iOS games of the week, and even chose the best app icons of 2013. See the full week in review here.

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

With less than a week to go before Christmas, the rush is on to find the perfect gift. Why wade through endless streams of furious shoppers when the perfect app is right here? Take a look at what we’ve reviewed this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Remastered

 
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Sure, the Sonic the Hedgehog series is known as a classic now, but for me, the moment when the series jumped from being about “blast processing” and Not-Mario to being a classic in its own right was Sonic 2. It was a rather comprehensive game, laying the groundwork for much of the series’ conventions. So when Christian Whitehead got his chance to helm a remastering as he did with Sonic CD and the original Sonic, there wasn’t too much he could add. But what has been added preserves what made the original game great, modernizes just what needs to be done, and adds one very cool easter egg for die-hard fans. –Carter Dotson

Star Trek: Trexels

 
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For some unknown reason, no one seems to be able to make a decent Star Trek game. Some argue the last time a good Star Trek game came out, it was for the Sega Genesis. Some would even go farther back, saying it was on the NES. Regardless, every Star Trek related game from older PC games up to the most recent one based on the J. J. Abrams adaptation of the series have not received high praise from critics. So, does a simulation/management style mobile game fare any better? –Mike Deneen

Jam Fusion Wireless Stereo Headphones

 
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The Jam Fusion Wireless Headphones are on the budget end of the spectrum for wireless headphones, coming in at just $63 on Amazon currently ($99 list). The headphones offer a modest 6 hour playback time, so make sure they are charged before that long flight. The headphones do have a decent sound, though they’re lacking a bit in the low end. I must admit that I have a big head but I can only judge comfort by the head I have, and these are too tight to use for any length of time. There is not enough give in the arm to allow the on-ear pads to sit comfortably on my ears. –Jeff Scott

Cut the Rope 2

 
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Om Nom just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet candy. Seriously, I think he has a problem. The lengths he would go to were pretty intense before, but in Cut the Rope 2 things are even crazier. He’s got more worlds to snack in, more obstacles to overcome, new creatures to help him, and unfortunately a few unwelcome monetization methods. Spiders have stolen Om Nom’s candy stash using a hot air balloon (naturally), and the little addict is dragged along with them as they make their escape. Literally: his adorable little foot gets tangled in the anchor line and he goes for a ride. Once free, players must stuff him with sweets as they work their way through 120 all-new levels. Cut the Rope 2 is in many ways similar to the original – what with the rope cutting and all – but a number of new elements have also been introduced that change the formula up quite a bit. –Rob Rich

Ridge Racer Slipstream

 
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I’m confident I wasn’t alone in being mildly worried about Ridge Racer Slipstream when a teaser trailer was released for it. Looking like it was going to pursue a freemium route, it made me twitchy. Fortunately, there was little need to worry. Ridge Racer Slipstream is a premium title that’s backed up by the availability of in-app purchases rather than reliant upon them. They’ll speed things along a fair bit, but a lack of an energy bar system is quite reassuring. –Jennifer Allen

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

 
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If anyone were to take a generic straw poll of journalists who reviewed games during the PlayStation 2 era, asking what their “Game of the Generation” was, there is a very good possibility that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would top at least a few lists. Not only was it well received critically, it went on to smash top sales records all over the place. But the question remains: have the last nine years been kind to this storied classic? In the legendary words of Dr. Dre, “HELL YEAH.” –Blake Grundman

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:

AndroidRundown

Sticky Password Manager & Safe

 
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Digital password safes are almost necessities for the productively mobile in this day. There are several options available to Android users, and this is a god thing, as this means only worthy candidates will step into the ring. Enter Sticky Password Manager and Safe from Lamantine Software. Sticky packs AES encryption, and boldly looks to be the consummate password solution; off the bat, I like having the choice if either using the app as a standalone option, or getting in on cloud sync on one or more devices for $20 a year. Signup is a breeze and can be done on mobile device or the web. –Tre Lawrence

Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure

 
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A disintegrating plane. Scattered luggage. Iced up animals. A snowboard. Such is the world of Snow Spin: Snowboard Adventure from Android development vet Ezone.com. To understand the gameplay, one must understand the backstory. It revolves around a successful explorer (Professor Headwind), who, in his travels to exotic locations, has accumulated a veritable horde of exciting items. On the way home, an ill-fated shortcut has dire consequences; his plane breaks apart, strewing his property and plane parts on snow covered mountains. –Tre Lawrence

Castle Raid 2

 
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To say the truth, I’ve only played original Castle Raid for a little while, so my experiences with this sequel aren’t really comparable. I’ve seen enough to suggest that the games aren’t wholly different. Castle Raid 2 is just as fun, has a bit better graphics, more units, and a larger campaign – but the gameplay only differs in details. It’s still a hellish time-sinker, regardless of whether you play it with a friend, or against an AI. Story in Castle Raid 2 spins in a surprising direction from the original. While human armies are fighting against each other, the whole kingdom and nearby lands get overrun by orcs that drive the humans off their own land. This forces the old enemies to band together, and claim their lands back. This means that the blue units are now people, and the red – orcs, both having distinct armies with different looks – although they’re still completely identical in powers, abilities and costs. Honestly, my biggest – and probably, only – peeve with Castle Raid 2 is that I really wanted to see at least two sides with unique units and abilities. That would turn this fine strategy into an amazing one. –Tony Kuzmin

And finally, Pocket Gamer reviewed Walking Dead: Season 2, Republique, Colossatron, Cut the Rope 2, and Ridge Racer Slipstream. The guys chatted to Republique creator Ryan Payton about moving from Kojima to Kickstarter, and picked out the best tablets you can buy. All that, and loads more, here. And, in AppSpy’s latest video wrap-up, you can watch reviews of games like The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They also went hands-on with new releases like Cut the Rope 2, Ridge Racer Slipstream, and Colossatron: Massive World Threat. Click here to see all these games in action.

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