Posts Tagged usb

Developer: Killer Concepts
Price: $99.99
Device Reviewed With: iPhone 5, iPad mini

Usability Rating: ★★★½☆
Hardware Design Rating: ★★★★☆
Sound Quality Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Pros
+ Innovative design
+ Louder than similar speakers
+ Charges Devices via USB

Cons
- Sounds a bit tinny
- Too easy to drain the battery

The RockSteady XS is a portable, micro Bluetooth speaker designed for use with any audio source that supports the Bluetooth 3.0 protocol, including iPads, iPhones, and other mobile or computing devices. It also includes a audio port for a line in, and a full-sized USB port for audio in and device charging, as well. There are a host of buttons on the front of the unit, which can be used to play, pause, forward, or reverse playback with many audio apps, like Pandora, Music, or Rdio.

The design of this mini speaker is interesting, in that the main speakers face out the two sides of the unit, one on each end of the rectangular casing. There are also holes in the top of the speaker, as well. Overall, this gives the RockSteady XS a distinct advantage over other speakers I’ve tried, with a 100db loudness that belies the diminutive size of the device. There’s a good deal of volume that can be applied before things get distorted, as well. The sound itself is fairly well-balanced, with a tendency for a brittle, tinny sound without some EQ from the sound source, especially at higher volumes.

The speaker itself is made of aluminum, making it both tough and light. There’s a removable battery on the bottom, and you can purchase more from Killer Concepts, making this a great option for someone who needs longer than one battery’s worth of life. In my use of the RockSteady XS, I found the battery life to be similar to that of the other devices I’ve used with an afternoon’s worth of listening at loud volume, on average.

My one big issue with the RockSteady XS is the battery on/off toggle. When I forgot to turn the unit off, which happened more than I’d like to admit, the battery continued to drain while the speaker sat on my desk, or in my bag. There really ought to be an auto-off feature to prevent typical user error like this, though it is nice to be able to definitively know if you’ve turned the speaker off, as well.

Bottom line, the RockSteady XS is a loud micro Bluetooth speaker with an innovative, rugged design that should meet the needs of many a listening environment, from outdoor picnics to dorm parties or hotel rooms. The great utility of the device is a bit offset by the sometimes tinny sound quality and the easily-forgotten toggle switch, but is still a great value considering the removable battery, the 100db sound volume, and the ability to charge a device from the back of the unit.

The iPad is increasingly becoming a must-have tool for professional and amateur musicians alike. The sheer amount of accessories and tools that can be connected to the iPad for music is amazing. The Carbon 49 by Samson is another one of those musical iPad accessories.

The Carbon 49 is a USB MIDI controller designed with the iPad in mind. The MIDI controller has an iPad slot to hold the iPad and it works with almost any iPad synth or music app that supports MIDI. The Carbon 49 can even be powered by the iPad itself for those musicians that need increased mobility and less wiring to worry about. The controller has 49 velocity-sensitive keys, Transpose and Octave buttons, Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels, 14 adjustable performance-related parameters, and a 3-digit, 7-segment LCD screen that displays the controllers behavior.

Since it’s a ‘USB’ MIDI controller, iPad users will also need the iPad Camera Connection Kit to give the iPad a USB slot to hook the Carbon 49 into. The Carbon 49 is selling at various online retailers (like J&R) at $89.99.

Developer: Apple

Price: $29.00
App Reviewed on: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The advantages of working on an iPad are growing by leaps and bounds everyday. Photographers may like the idea of working on this sleek device, but they question how they might get their photos from their camera to the iPad. Like a good pal meeting you at the bar, the camera connection kit is here to buy you a round. The question is, do you take the drink or do you hail a cab and go home now?

The camera connection kit comes with two different ways for you to get your digital images to the iPad. The first is via an SD card reader. Just plug this card reader into the 30-pin dock connecter slot at the “bottom” of your iPad device, shove your camera’s SD card into the slot, and you’re off to the races.

The second option comes in the form of a USB connector, or “dongle,” if you will. Plug this USB connector into the same dock connector as above and attach the USB cable to your camera. The iPad and camera connection kit will do the rest.

Upon connecting your camera, or memory card, the photo app launches and takes you right to the photos on the attached device. You then have the option to import everything or select only those photos you want to bring in. A prompt to keep the photos on your camera or delete them will appear once the import has finished.

A big question is how well it works with raw files. I shoot with a Nikon D90. My average RAW file size is 11megs. My photos also surpass the 2304 x 1536 size restriction on the iPad. Surprisingly, the camera connection kit had no issue reading my RAW files from my D90. The photos are resized within the iPad photo application, letting me do my work with minimal stress.

*EDIT* A commenter pointed out that the files do import on their native sizes and file types. I tested this, and can verify that photos are stored on the iPad in their native formats and resolutions. The apps that you use are forced to work within the restrictions set by iOS and the iPad. *END EDIT*

The build quality of these little connection devices is pretty good. They are made of the classic Apple white plastic. A dust cover is included for the doc connector as well. These are small enough to fit in your pocket, yet sturdy enough to take daily abuse out in the field.

I really only found two issues with these magical connectors. The main issue for many professionals and skilled amateurs will be the above-mentioned resizing of photos. It is nice to work on photos on the iPad, but if you need to edit full resolution images, you are out of luck. Just remind yourself that this is a trade off for being able to work on photos from such a small and light device.

The second issue is a small one. There is a dust cover for the 30-pin dock connector, but nothing to protect the USB or SD card slot. It would have really upped the quality standard if Apple had included some way to keep these areas clean from debris as well.

Is the camera connection kit worth your hard earned $30? It most certainly is. Despite the image sizing issues, this quickly became my travel companion, beating out my laptop. I can work on photos easily and conveniently, without toting a big, heavy battery consuming monster. I just make sure to let clients know that higher resolution images will be available once I get home to my laptop. If you’re looking for a way to ditch the laptop and work on photos on your iPad, you’ve just found your solution!

Discover

Discover

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Discover is a free gem that turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a wireless flash drive combined with a file viewer. With plenty of features, the only real downside to Discover is the ads and some minor lag—but at least you won't hear anyone complaining about the price.

Read The Full Review »
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