Before the arrival of tablets, I used to read books on my computer. Then I moved to iPad, because of its mobility and the tactile feel in my hands. As I started using it, I had to try a few PDF reader apps for reading eBooks. Let me review one such app.
PDF Reader iPad Edition was a bit pricey, especially given that I was looking at the app in order to save money on eBooks, but because of all the positive reviews and interest on the web I decided to go with it. The interface is easy to use, it has the balance between simplicity and many functions that every app should look for, and it enables you to carry as many books with you as you could ever read. Plus, the ability to download almost any .pdf file from the internet on the go can be a real life saver. It’s not without its issues though, like a few interface errors that can sometimes lead to crashes.
You can jump to your .pdf library to open and read your stored PDF’s, jump to the Import section to add new content to your library, even scan and compile new PDF’s from photographs. Managing files is not difficult, and reading your stored. This PDF Reader is is as intuitive as any eBook reader out there. This simplicity of use is important for any utility that could potentially be one of the most used apps on an iPad, so this is definitely something the makers of PDF Reader iPad Edition did well. Users can also copy and paste text from your files, edit them, comment on them, even fill in signatures with the touch screen.
The only issue with the interface was a tendency to stutter while trying to scroll quickly through large lists or through a PDF file. This can be quite a frustration, but only very rarely leads to more complete crashes or bugs. If you read or work from your iPad in almost any capacity, iPad Reader PDF Edition will quickly pay for itself. This app is compatible with iPad and requires iOS 4.3 or later.
On June the 26th 2007, smartphones didn’t exist. Mobile phones, and computers were two very different things. A day later (27/06/2007) Apple launched the iPhone.
You could argue that there were ‘smartphones’ pre-iPhone, but many in the technology industry view the iPhone as the tipping point and birth-date of the modern smartphone – no inverted commas.
With the launch of the iPhone, came the launch of apps. A few years later along came tablets – and what would a tablet be without apps?
In this post I want to explore some of those apps. Not the apps like Angry Birds, Rayman Jungle Run, Skype and Fruit Ninja though, they are what you expect from applications – games and communication. In this post I am going to explore some of the more innovative uses for apps.
Ever desperately needed a mirror just when there are none in sight? Mirror by mmapps mobile, is a free app for Android which turns your phone into a usable mirror! The app even lets you zoom in and out and freeze the mirror, something that no mirror I have ever used does.
The app is available in many different languages, and similar apps are available for iDevices, however mmapps mobile don’t make an ‘i’ version.
Square Wallet is an application which lets you fully embrace mobile payment. With Square Wallet, you can link your credit card to your phone, and then, in a surprisingly large number of retailers, pay for goods, using your phone! The app also lets you track transactions, so you can keep track of what you are buying.
Ten years ago, who would have thought that you could be out and about, and on a device which fits in your hand, and order a bouquet of flowers? Probably not many people!
The flower delivery company Interflora has an app where you can do just that. Naturally its called Interflora, and can be download for free for iDevices – any iPod, iPhone or iPad with iOS 3.0 or later. Interflora is also available to download for Android devices. The app gives you access to a wide range of flowers, information (such as delivery details and a description) and prices; you can even order your gift using the app!
Zite Personalised Magazine
If you like to keep up to date with the latest news, and you like the news your way, then Zite is the perfect app for you.
Zite trawls through your Facebook and Twitter feeds to work out what you like to read. The application then created you your very own personalised magazine to read, and the more you use it, the cleverer it gets, and the more tailored your content become – to a point where it should only be displaying content you really want to read.
Amazon have recently released an augmented reality app called Flow Power, which can identify millions of real life products (using your phones camera), and can then tell you more information about them.
The app ‘knows’ thousands of books, games and CDs, and is able to tell you about almost anything, if you scan the barcode.
Be it a novel, or a box of chocolates, the app can tell you how much it costs and what other people think of it – pretty clever huh?
Following my review of the BlackBerry Curve Case at the end of last year, today I am going to review another product: a KitSound iPod Dock called the XDoc. As always, I will strive to remain impartial.
What is the XDock?
KitSound’s XDock is an iPod dock, radio, alarm clock and time display unit. All iPod docks are different, some focus on portability, others on sound quality, and others on multi-functionality – the KitSound dock is the later.
Considering how small the KitSound XDock is, the speaker (one, on the rear of the unit) packs quite a punch. For casual listening to your tunes, the XDock has a perfectly adequate speaker. If you want to fill a large room with high quality sound, the XDock isn’t cut out for the job. For what I want it for though (waking me up and listening to music), it fits the bill 🙂
How portable is the XDock? Well it isn’t. If you put two AAA batteries in the base of the unit, were there a power cut, or were you to want to move the dock between rooms, then the batteries will keep your settings (i.e. the time and any alarms you have set) but they won’t keep it on. Without a mains power supply, you can’t play music or use the clock.
Clock and Alarms
The clock has a very clever feature. When you dock your iPod, after a few seconds the XDock synchronises the time it displays you with the time on your iPod. Handy if it starts to lose time, or you don’t want to try and set the clock manually, however if you have just come back of a holiday from Italy (moi), and you have forgotten to reset your iPod to the current time, it could be a little annoying if you have just spent 10 minutes trying to set the time! If you set your iPod to the right time (which is much easier than programming the XDock) then the time synchronising feature is very useful.
Unlike most iPod docks, the XDock also has an inbuilt alarm; in fact, it has two! You can choose to be woken up (assuming that’s that you would use the alarm for) to your favourite song, a buzzer, or the radio. I am not going to lie, at first programming the XDock was a little tricky, but all the instructions you need are in the handy User Manual.
XDock User Manual
The XDock User Manual is unlike most instruction manuals, in that it is short (short and sweet encourages more people to read it) and written in a casual, slightly humours way. An example of this can be seen in the section entitled ‘Common Sense…‘ where this list can be found (I have excluded some of the entries).
Give the X-Dock a drink of anything: it is not thirsty, it is full of clever electronics which are no good at swimming, they will all drown and die with puffs of smoke if you get them wet. So no dancing naked with it in the rain either please.
Drop the X-Dock: it won’t like you for it and your warranty will be invalid.
Hit it with a hammer / similar blunt object / run over it with your car / take it base jumping (or any other experience that would be considered traumatic for a little box that just wants to play your tunes and wake you up this list is not exhaustive).
If you get an XDock, my advice would be to read the instructions, as it is hard to use without reading them, and they are worth the read, as I am sure you can see!
Unlike most iPod docks, the XDock comes with built in FM radio, another handy feature. As I said earlier, you can choose what wakes you up, your favourite breakfast show, or your favourite tune. You can also choose what you listen to when using the XDock as a sound system – excluding the beeping sound that you can have as an alarm, that said, I am not sure anyone would want to listen to that 😉
To the best of my knowledge, the XDock is compatible with all iPod’s and iPhones with the standard, Apple iConnector. Any Apple devices with the new Lightning Connector are not compatible. Because of the nature of the slot where your music player/phone slots into the XDock, iPads won’t fit, so if you are looking for an iPad dock, this isn’t the device for you.
You can connect other audio devices to the XDock using the AUX-IN jack at the back of the dock. It is a standard 3.5mm audio jack socket, so the dock is potentially compatible with more devices than just iPods and iPhones.
I like the XDock, and it has been waking me up for a few days now. It is handy to know that if there is a power cut in the night, as long as it returns by the morning, my AAA batteries will ensure that I am still woken up on time.
It would be good if the XDock had a slightly better speaker system, maybe two speakers for stereo sound would be better, but the quality of the mono speaker can’t really be argued with. I would also like it more were it to be portable, but that would probably involve a lot more batteries, so in some ways it is a good thing.
For the price it was at the time I was sent it (just over £30 GBP) I would say it is worth the money. Alarm clock, iPod dock and radio all in one tidy little box. It depends what you want from your iPod dock as to whether you choose a KitSound XDock or not, but I am happy with it for me 🙂
Mobile Fun are the company who sent me the XDock, and they have asked if we would mention that they sell iPhone accessories, so you know where I got the iPod dock from!
With the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has now entered the tablet market with the highly anticipated Microsoft Surface. Surface also marks the introduction of Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed specifically for ARM. Without further ado, here’s our verdict on the Microsoft Surface.
Windows Surface is one of the new hybrid tablets that are emerging, blending touch tablet and traditional laptop functionality into one portable package. The main selling point is the keyboard, which can be effortlessly connected to Windows Surface, allowing for speedy word processing that is normally difficult on touch tablets. Being priced at the same level as the iPad retina display (£479 including keyboard), it’s clear to see who Microsoft have in their crosshairs.
With a 10.6-inch screen, the Surface is perfect for word processing, watching video and doing day to day tasks while remaining portable. It’s incredibly slim (9.3mm), being 1mm slimmer than the iPad retina display. Weighing in at 678g, this device is slightly heavier than other tablets and may cause discomfort when held in the hands for extended periods of time. That being said, there is a nifty kickstand which makes viewing Microsoft Surface extremely convenient.
With many tablet manufacturers pushing screen resolution to the max, people were surprised to see that the resolution was somewhat lacking. With only 148ppi (pixels per inch) things definitely lack clarity when compared with the likes of the iPad 4 or Nexus 10.
The biggest problem with Microsoft Surface is its distinct lack of apps. The marketplace is extremely barren when compared to the likes of the Apple of Android stores. Basic things like Facebook and Twitter don’t have their own apps and can only be accessed through ‘People Hub’. You should only rush to sell your iPad when this problem gets sorted.
Microsoft Surface is powered by a Tegra 3 chip, a highly praised processor that has powered the likes of the HTC One X+. The performance of the Surface is stable for the most part, however there have been many reports of long loading times for apps launching and lag while browsing. Not the most impressive thing about the Surface. However, it does do the job.
One of the best features of Microsoft’s Surface is its wealth of connectivity options, some of the best seen on a touch tablet. The Surface comes with a full sized USB port, Micro SD slot and HD video out. The only disappointment is the lack of mobile internet connectivity for the Surface, giving it limited capabilities when not connected to Wi-Fi.
This is a very promising product from Microsoft, however it still has many problems that need sorting out, in particular the lack of applications. I don’t think it is time to trade in/sell your stuff online just yet to fund the purchase, until Windows fix some of the problems with Surface.
After all the women’s magazines that have been doing the rounds in the market, ‘Live Loud’ comes as a refreshing break for all the men looking for something dealing exclusively with them. Live Loud is a digital monthly publication that features practically everything that catches the fantasy of men on the planet earth! It answers a plethora of questions that all the guys have always wanted answers to, be it questions about relationships or the first things girls notice about boys, it is all in here.
The magazine deals not only with issues like relationships but also has a section devoted to technology and the latest gadgets and equipment! It will provide you with a detailed description of the latest gadgets as well as their use in your daily lives and how user-friendly they are. It will also make you aware of the size of hole that any of these funky-looking gadgets will burn in your pocket, and also if it is worth it or not. It’s like a review for men, by men. Along with that, the magazine also has frequent write-ups on how one can acquire the perfect body, both through a dietary regime as well as work-outs. Some issues of the magazine will also have you looking at some of the most desirable places to go for a holiday. It also gives you the basic information required for a visit to a particular destination and gives you tips on how to go about it.
One of the drawbacks of this app, however, is that it can’t be made accessible to minors who have an impressionable mind. This app contains quite a bit of explicit and sexual content which should not be made accessible to young readers, especially those below 18 years of age.
Apart from that, this app is a light and enjoyable read, almost like a guru to all the men too shy to approach a girl or too meek to even speak to one. It addresses one of the major issues that single men are concerned with- how to pick up a girl with a smooth pick-up line. Each issue has about 70 pages on an average and every page promises to keep you as interested in it, as the previous one.
Live Loud Magazine will therefore cater to the needs of men not only across generations but across nationalities. Be it the geek, the cool stud or the average corporate worker, Live Loud caters to the needs of every man. Live Loud Magazine is compatible with Apple iPad and requires iOS 5.0 or later. The subscription of Live Loud costs $1.99 with the first subscription being only for $0.99. It is also available in over 11 languages.
Managing documents is always difficult, especially when you have a lot of them. Certainly, it is not possible to carry all of them wherever you move. But it is easy to carry your iPhone/iPad anywhere you go. You must be wondering what makes this app so special. With just a few simple clicks of your mobile’s camera, you can manage your documents perfectly using Snap2PDF.
About the app
Snap2PDF is a universal app, designed for both iPhone and iPad, for organizing your whiteboards, receipts, business cards, magazine articles, posters, print outs, coupons and newspaper clippings. All you have to do is take a snap of the document and the app converts it to PDF format right away. Now you can share the converted files through SMS and email. It recognizes various languages like English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Danish etc.
Working of the app
Snap2PDF is a very simple app to handle. Just take snaps of your documents and they get converted to PDF files automatically. You are provided with many options to manage your documents. For creating a PDF document, you can either take a snap using your device’s camera or select a photo from your album. Your PDF documents can be edited and managed, as per your requirements. You can add/delete/rearrange pages in your document effortlessly. You can also organize your documents under different categories by tapping the category, naming it and adding the document to it. Searching for a document can be easily done using the keyword search option. Snap2PDF allows you to share your documents in .pdf format through email. The most convenient feature of this app is that you can create a Dropbox account, select documents and export them to your Dropbox account for safe management. You can open a document as a PDF file in other PDF viewer apps like iBooks, FileExplorer etc. You can make your document search easy by choosing the preferred language of index. There is also an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) facility to automatically pick out blocks of text from images.
Snap2PDF is a very useful app that provides multiple ways of managing, securing and sharing files easily. It costs $2.99 and requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Are you a business-oriented person? Then you would probably be meeting many people every day. It really gets difficult for you to manage all the business cards that pile up on your table and in your wallet. Here comes an app that helps you manage your cards. Yes, ‘WorldCard HD’ is an iPad app which is an intelligent business card manager.
This iPad application is the handiest tool for your business. With ‘WorldCard HD’, you can save contact information of multilingual business cards. This is an app that transfers your business card details to your iPad without manual typing, but by scanning them using the iPad’s camera. One of the notable features of ‘WorldCard HD’ is that it uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize the details. Once you capture the image, you just have to click on the recognize button.
Once you open the app, you see 3 icons, namely Contacts, Favorites and Maps. The home screen displays names in alphabetical order. Under the contacts option, you have several choices. Using them you can add a new contact by capturing the business card details through your iPad’s camera. The app automatically recognizes the name, company information, address, phone number etc. You can also add contacts from your album by enabling the ‘WorldCard HD’ local services in the system settings and can also import contacts from the iPad. You can check the contact details and edit them if required with the edit icon. You can export your contacts to cloud, email etc., with the contact management icon. The Favorites icon allows you to select contacts and add them to your favorites. With the Maps option you can select a contact and find out where he is located. It also gives you the GPS information of the contact.
The Settings option helps you customize your preferences. It has 3 main options namely, Display, General and Cloud and About. With the display option, ‘WorldCard HD’ allows you to set the display sequence of the first name and last name and the indexing criteria can be set as contact name or company name. With the general option, you can set the index to follow any of the orders like English alphabet, Chinese Stroke, Japanese Phonetics etc. The cloud allows you to share or backup your contacts via cloud services (iCloud/Dropbox) option. The help option of the app gives a clear overview of the various functionalities of the app.
‘WorldCard HD’ is available in languages like English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. It is a business app costing $14.99 that requires iOS 4.2 or later versions. The best part of the app is that you can scan multiple cards at the same time. You can also contact your friends through email, Facebook, Twitter etc. Except for the price, the app seems to be the ultimate choice for any business person. With ‘WorldCard HD‘ in your iPad, dealing with business contacts will definitely become easier.
For the past month or so, Samsung and Apple have dominated headlines with their patent trial. Such a case was probably inevitable – how many ways can you design a smartphone? – but any such case would inevitably gather daily headlines. After all, it was Apple and its iconic iPhone vs. Samsung and its status as world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. They’re both kings of the industry in their own ways. Yet they could have a competitor breathing down their necks before they know it.
Lenovo has been around for a while, and in their time they’ve made some waves in the laptop sector. Remember the IBM Thinkpad? In the late 90s and early 00s it seemed as though everyone had one. When IBM exited the consumer electronics business, they sold the brand to Lenovo, who have continued to the line to this day. They’re not quite as ubiquitous these days – the MacBook has taken over the role of the Thinkpad – but it’s still a high-quality Windows offering. In fact, it’s one of the main ways in which Lenovo competes with Apple.
The present: laptops
Let’s face it: laptops won’t be around forever. They’ve evolved to get smaller and smaller, but the latest round of laptops appears to be their evolutionary end. The only way to make them smaller is to remove the hinge, and when you remove the hinge from a laptop you don’t really have a laptop at all anymore. Still, the latest round of laptops, dubbed Ultrabooks, has made quite an impression on the market.
Apple started this trend years ago with the MacBook Air, but that model went through a few generations before it became a viable product. Once Apple got it down other companies followed. Lenovo got right on the trend, coming out with two lines: the ThinkPad, that business-class continuation of the IBM line, and the IdeaPad, a ligthweight, affordable Ultrabook meant for the consumer market. They are directly comparable to the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.
The difference, of course, comes in the price. The 13.3-inch IdeaPad runs more than $450 cheaper than the 13-inch MacBook Air, and more than $250 cheaper than the 11-inch MacBook Air. The ThinkPad compares even better to the MacBook Pro. The Apple faithful might not have much of a need for a different line of laptops, but the average consumer can benefit greatly here. Fact is, most people simply do not need a Mac. PCs can do pretty much the same, and oftentimes more. The saved dollars can go towards products of the future.
The future: tablets
To complete the thought above, when you remove the hinge from a laptop you don’t have a laptop. You have a tablet. While tablets aren’t quite to the level of replacing laptops, they’re certainly travelling that path. Just take a look at the super-thin keyboard cover for the Microsoft Surface. The writing is pretty much on the wall. Soon enough manufacturers will deliver laptops that make us look at laptops like clunky relics of the past.
In this territory, Apple is the undisputed king. People often ask me for advice on buying a tablet. They’ll ask, “is the new iPad worth it? Or should I get an Android tablet?” And I tell them that no, the new iPad isn’t really worth it; the iPad 2 is the second-best tablet on the market, and you can find it at a significant discount. Android tablets just aren’t there yet. But Lenovo has an idea.
First, they’ve put down the idea of competing with Apple on features. Samsung did this with the Galaxy Tab 10.1, pricing it at the same as the iPad. Seeing the two products next to each other, who was going to choose the Galaxy Tab? Lenovo has dipped below the iPad’s $500 base price. They’ve also differentiated, offering four different tablets: three Idea Tablets, ranging from 7 to 10.1 inches, and a ThinkPad tablet, designed for business.
Again, Android has a ways to go when it comes to tablets. But it appears that Lenovo has something going with its segmented offerings and skinned Android interfaces.
Smartphones in the offing?
It would be interesting to see if Lenovo decided to compete on all levels by offering a smartphone. It seems as though everyone’s doing it these days, and with AT&T and Verizon supposedly pushing customers away from the iPhone there might be an opening here. And again there’s a chance for Lenovo to segment its offerings, using Android for consumer and BlackBerry 10 for enterprise.
Yes, BlackBerry is something of an afterthought these days, but they do appear to have a strong offering with their BlackBerry 10 operating system. Problem is, they might need some licensing help to get it off the ground. Lenovo, which already has inroad to enterprise customers, could combine with RIM, which is – or at least was – the enterprise leader. On the other side, creating Android smartphones shouldn’t be such a big deal.
Yet the competition issue comes into play here, too. Apple dominates its own little space, which consumes quite a large portion of the overall market. Samsung seemingly dominates the Android space. No one really dominates the Android tablet space, though, because it hardly exists. But if carriers really are pushing Android smartphones, there could be opportunity there.
Age of the smart consumer
I’d like to believe that we’ll soon enter the era of the smart consumer: one not dominated by fads and iconic brands, but rather by utility. The average consumer does not need a Mac, yet might feel as though they need one because everyone else has one. In truth, many other companies can fit the bill. Lenovo fits right in there.
And if you don’t need a product and can save money buying a comparable one, doesn’t that make the most sense? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to buy a $700 laptop and a $400 tablet for less than you’d spend on just a MacBook Air comparable to the other laptop? It makes sense to me.
With the increase in mobile broadband technology, many people are increasingly turning to mobile dongles (like the ones here) at home instead of traditional connections, which cuts out the need for a fixed-line. However, with mobile broadband there are certain problems that can arise, the most obvious being that of sharing your internet connection with another device.
However, that needn’t be something that you become overly concerned with, as these days there are a variety of ways to share your mobile connection.
Most of the top providers are now offering technology to allow you to do this, such as 3 Mobile’s MiFi. With this you simply purchase the 3 MiFi and you’re away. It works pretty much the same way as a dongle, with one difference.
With a dongle you have to plug it into the machine, with MiFi you don’t, and can therefore connect to multiple devices at the same time. The devices themselves are small and easily portable; however, as is often the case with mobile broadband, internet speeds can be a little slower than hardwiring or even traditional Wi-Fi.
This doesn’t just mean you can connect to another Wi-Fi enabled laptops, games consoles or mobile devices, but also other Wi-Fi enabled devices including cameras, such as the Nikon Coolpix and the Kindle, so with MiFi and similar technologies, you can connect any combination of these, up to five devices. You can follow this link for more information on 3’s MiFi device.
A portable Wi-Fi router is another option for sharing the net. These are now relatively inexpensive and quite straightforward to use. You simply connect to a mobile network and share with other devices. However, do shop around before choosing one, as some are better than others.
Internet connection sharing is another option. By connecting a laptop or PC to the internet, you can then share its connection with other devices. For example if you’re running windows 7 this can be done through the network and Sharing Centre, but can be quite complicated to carry out so is really only useful for advanced users or those who have the time and patience to hit the forums and get step by step instructions.
With different operating systems it works slightly differently so you may have to look up how to do this on yours too, this can be something of a headache.
If you have a 3G enabled phone, you can connect to the 3G broadband connection and then share with other devices. So as long as you have a signal, you can connect to your laptop or another device. However, download speeds are often reduced and quite often you can’t get unlimited data, so if you are sharing a connection you could quickly reach your limit.
The new iPad will allow you to do the same thing, however, despite the device being initially offered as 4G, this technology isn’t yet available in the UK. 4G uses the old terrestrial TV signal waves and widens the spectrum for mobile broadband.
However, Ofcom will be auctioning off the spectrum later in the year and this should be available in 2013 with the top mobile operators and will give even more options for mobile broadband.
PDF is the most common file format used to share and publish documents. That’s why people always look out for apps that can help them handle PDFs on the go.
PDF Reader Pro lets users download, edit and email PDFs right from their iOS devices. Although a little complicated at first, this tool really is indispensable if you need a reliable way to help you keep on top of your workload.
This app is optimized for use on the iPad but works just as well on the iPhone even if the buttons are a little small. The file structure is well laid out, organized and easy to navigate. The search facility is fast and comprehensive – looking into all folders inside the app and not just the folder you are in at the time.
You are able to download single page, as well as full PDF documents, via the in-app browser. It has a scan facility that uses the iOS device’s camera to take pictures of text or pictures and convert them into PDFs. This scan mode is fast and the text is clear and crisp. It also has editing functions to change colors, sharpness, brightness etc. and is something that really adds to the usability of the app.
Once you have scanned or downloaded a PDF, you are able to use a freehand tool to highlight, annotate, mark or just add a personal touch. This is where the bigger screen of the iPad would really help as it can be tricky if you do on the small screen of the iPhone or iPod Touch.
The zip function helps in condensing the size of file; therefore ensuring no extra space is used when saving the documents. Not just able to export, but the app can also import already taken photos from your Photo Albums. The private folder has the option of password protection to ensure security when you are carrying around sensitive information.
As I said PDF Reader Pro has a lot of features. However, the price of this app is slightly on the higher side set at USD 5.99. I think the developer should find a right strategy in terms of pricing to make this app even more successful.
All in all, PDF Reader Pro can help users one who needs quick, on the go, access to a reliable PDF reader, viewer and editor. It is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or later.