Posts Tagged usb

This Week at 148Apps: December 8-12, 2014

Happy Holidays from 148Apps!

 

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.

Boulder Jack

 

Boulder Jack is a free-to-play endless runner that mixes up the standard formula by having players view the action from in front of their character rather than behind. For fans of the Crash Bandicoot series, this isn’t a particularly new trick, and the developers of Boulder Jack seem to be keenly aware of this as the game also stars a character that is remarkably similar to Crash. Playing Boulder Jack is very, very similar to other endless runners. Players must swipe left, right, up, and down to move between lanes, leap over obstacles, or slide under others, all in the hopes of outrunning a large boulder. Along the way there are invincibility power-ups, speed boosts, and coins to collect – all of which create some risk vs. reward mechanics, but everything presented gameplay-wise is pretty standard. –Campbell Bird

Space Age

 

Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure is an ambitious adventure game that hearkens back to sci-fi tropes of of the 1960s and 70s – complete with alien saucers, fishbowl helmets, and a deep sense of exploration. While the game achieves this aesthetic beautifully, Space Age suffers when it abandons its roots as a game about exploration and decides to try to be something else. Playing Space Age can be kind of difficult to describe. It’s simultaneously an adventure game, a real-time strategy game, a stealth action game, a puzzler, and something of a visual novel. Going into any one of the available ten missions, players might encounter just one or all of these gameplay elements. One thing is for sure, though: every part of Space Age is oozing with character and style that is super-charming, funny, and endearing. –Campbell Bird

Astro Boy Flight

 

There’s a word that keeps bouncing around my head as I play Astro Boy Flight. Rather appropriately, that word is ‘repetitive’. It sums up this endless 2D shooter, based around the famous Japanese manga character, oh so very well. A few seconds of Astro Boy Flight and you’ll see everything the game offers, with little there to mix things up later on. You glide through the skies, all via a portrait perspective, using one finger to move Astro Boy around. Shooting is done automatically, so your sole method of interaction is via this one finger. Waves of enemies come at you, so you have to line up quickly to shoot them down. This isn’t R-Type though, so it’s not exactly challenging stuff. Instead, you’re more likely to fail because you got bored for a moment and stopped paying attention. –Jennifer Allen

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

 

When you start the game, you’re given the chance to design a character. There are quite a few classes to choose from, as well as several races. Without a knowledge of the system in advance, I had a very hard time designing my character and just picked an elf and went with the basic warrior type. Then I was presented with detailed statistics to tweak, again with no idea of what was good or needed in this game’s world. The walkthrough/tutorial said that if I wanted more help I could consult the full rules on their website (linked within the app). When I went to check it out it was pages and pages long and very hard to digest, so I went with a few random choices instead. Shadowrun: Dragonfall is set in a futuristic world where society has changed dramatically. It’s futuristic cyberpunk meets high fantasy, and information is the commodity everyone trades in. You’re part of a group of criminals that’s been hired to raid someone’s mansion and steal data from them. Of course once we moved into the mansion, we tripped an alarm and security came in to stop us. –Jade Walker

Adobe Premiere Clip

 
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Over the years, Adobe has done a fantastic job of giving us a plethora of powerful yet user-friendly tools for video and graphic editing. They’re doing a pretty good job of converting that magic to iOS. Adobe Premiere Clip is the latest example, allowing you to easily create videos from earlier clips or brand new ones. Taking you step by step through the process, Adobe Premiere Clip can take as long or as brief a time as you want it to. You can choose to just edit one clip or you can bundle a few of them together, creating a montage of your media. Working mostly through dragging and dropping, as well as a few swipes to trim parts out, it doesn’t take long to line things up correctly. In each clip’s case, you can adjust the color, exposure, or shadow effects before moving onto arranging some transitions between each clip. Slow motion effects can also be included. –Jennifer Allen

Sago Mini Road Trip

 
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I am always happy to introduce a new Sago Sago app to readers. As many know, Sago Sago is now a part of the Toca Boca family, which develops charming and colorful apps for toddlers and beyond. Their most recent app, Sago Mini Road Trip, allows children the chance to go on a road trip with their favorite orange cat, Jinga. Young ones will appreciate being able to choose from three destinations among a larger selection of choices such as jungle or desert adventures, as well as travels to the beach, mountains, forest, or city. They also will have a chance to pack their own bags with a variety of clothing, toys, and other objects into their bottomless suitcase, adding as much or as little in the way of personal effects as there is always room in their bag – details that will make both parents as well as children smile. –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

Bitcoin Billionaire

 

At first glance Bitcoin Billionaire hardly seems like a game and in some ways it isn’t. It is in fact a devilishly addictive habit that uses a finely tuned system to show you ads while ensuring you won’t care and will in fact welcome the sight of ads! Bitcoin Billionaire as you might expect is a game about mining the virtual currency known as Bitcoins. After customizing your avatar with clothes and a spiffy pirate bandana it’s simply a matter of tapping the screen as quickly as possible to generate riches; the faster you tap the more Bitcoins you earn. Once a few Bitcoins have been earned, these can be spent on investments like lottery tickets or collectable comic books. These generate a constant stream of income whenever the player is actively mining or not and also while the app is closed. –Allan Curtis

NBA All Net

 
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To say that the card battler is a well worn genre on Android would be the understatement of the year. A basketball card battler is much rarer however. Is NBA All Net swish? NBA All Net’s gameplay is mind numbing and no different to other card battlers on the platform except it’s in the form of basketball. Players simply tap on the “challenge” they would like to play (Which features a description that has nothing to do with the game) and then sit back and watch the game as it unfolds. Players play no role in the game once it has started and it is based on card stats only. Games are dreadfully boring to watch and feature more repetitive animation than an entire season of Scooby Doo so they are best skipped. –Allan Curtis

RAVPower USB Charging Station

 
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I know we’ve been harping on being organized… with good reason, too. With all the devices and accessories, it gets busy. Toss in a kid or two (with their own electronics and such) and a company-issued device, and one begins to approach wired purgatory. So, it makes sense that accessories that help us to more effectively manage these devices will be if a high premium. Thankfully, proprietary cables are not the norm on Android, because solutions like the RAVPower USB Charging Station use cable standardization as a means to being order to chaos. In essence, this series of products looks to a central port for multiple USB cables, theoretically eliminating the need for several plugs and outlets. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week, Pocket Gamer investigated Apple’s ban on nudity in Papers, Please; gave away five amazing iOS games in its Advent Calendar; picked the best MFi controllers for iOS; and reviewed Tales from the Borderlands. All that and loads more, here.

RAVPower Wireless Filehub/Media Drive Hardware Review

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

Read The Full Review »
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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