Switcheasy Vulcan

January 29, 2010

After I picked up the iSkin Solo FX for my wife’s iPhone 3GS, I absolutely loved the material along with the fit and feel. I really thought it COULD be the case, that would replace my long time use of the Speck Candyshell. Stopping me was the color, and the multi circle designs on the back. It’s not at all my style, and looked for a solid black version. They didn’t have the Solo FX in black, but I was thrilled to see they had a regular iSkin Solo in solid black. I ordered 2 of them, I was so excited to see it. When it arrived, I was underwhelmed by the fit. It’s a slightly different feel then the FX, and the case just does’t sit on the phone the way the FX does. Disappointed, I began looking for alternatives, and saw some comparisons to the Switcheasy Vulcan, and placed my order to try it out.

I’ve owned a few Switcheasy cases on the past. I had an original black Capsule Rebel, and I loved the design, but it suffered from the dreaded sagging bottom. I then picked up the Capsule Neo on it’s launch day, and after the install, it became my favorite case for awhile.
Switcheasy produces quality, and some of the very best cases on the market, and most people who use them, know this as well. The Vulcan is no different.
The material is something they call “Hydro Polymer.” It’s very similar to the material on the iSkin Solo. It’s not a hardshell, and not a silicone rubber, but something somewhere in-between. In my opinion, it’s superior to both of those, for great scratch protection, and impact protection. This material is soft, flexible, yet still enough to hold it’s shape. It’s smooth, and slick feeling, and can slide in and out of your pocket easily, but has enough tack where it will stay in your hand. It won’t collect dust, but it IS a fingerprint magnet. The entire chrome bezel is covered, and it creates a very nicer lay on the table design.
Putting the case on is simple, and does require a bit of massaging to line up the camera hole perfectly, and the bottom mic and speaker openings. It’s only takes a second or two, to fit the case dead on.
Switcheasy always gives you a lot of extras as well. In the box, you get a screen shield, microfiber, and the greatest thing in the box, 2 dock covers, and 2 headphone port plugs. They also come in the color of your case, so for me, it’s the smoke colored pieces.
The Vulcan has a slight design on the back, which is subtle, and adds just enough flair to the case. The shape reminds me of the logo from Star Trek, and I’m sure this is why the case is called the Vulcan.
The case adds very little bulk to the phone. It’s close to the iSkin Solo in thickness, but the fit and finish of the Vulcan is superior. The only 2 issues I found with the case, was when putting in the dock connector plug, the lip on the bottom would raise up. This was an instant disappointment, BUT I solved with with a very easy solution, you can see in the video review. The second issue, are the lines along the sides of the phone from the molding process. They feel a bit sharp in your hand, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. At only $19.99 on the Switcheasy site, this to me is a fantastic buy, and highly recommend it.

iSkin Solo FX

January 18, 2010

Today I picked up a new case for my wife’s iPhone. My wife is BRUTAL on cases. It’s not that she drops the phone, or is rough with it. I honestly don’t know how the hell she does it. In the past 6 months, she’s gone through 2 Speck Candy shells, by breaking the bottom plastic piece that goes across the dock port and lower bezel, and 2 Speck See-Thru cases, where the rubber rim that surrounds the bezel has come up from the case.

My wife is sort of… clumsy, so I want the best protection I can give her phone, and yet she wants a “cute” looking case. I HATE silicone cases. They stretch, never fit quite right, attract dust and link, and when dirt particles get under the skin, it will scratch the hell out of the phone. Not a good choice for the Mrs.

I picked up the iSkin Solo FX from the Apple Store today in Blue. This could possibly be the best case for my wife. First, she loved the blue color of the candy shell. The blue on the Solo FX is damn close. She wanted a “cute” case. This has a girlie design, with little circles in it. Bingo. It’s not hard shell, so she can’t crack it, and it’s NOT silicone, so it will retain its form.

This case is a soft, pliable polymer of some sort, too hard to be silicone, too much like plastic to be a rubber… It’s actually a very cool case. If this came in solid black, I might actually use this instead of my Candyshell.

It comes with a mirror screen protector, and some iSkin stickers if you so dare to show off your allegiance to the iSkin Army.

This is well made, and nice looking, and after if goes through the stress test that is my wife, I’ll let you know how it holds up.

ZaggSPARQ Battery Back up

January 14, 2010

The people over at Zagg were kind enough  send me out for review, the ZaggSPARQ. This is a battery backup unit, used to change your USB powered devices. What makes this review unique for me, it’s also the first time I did a video review of a product. I tried to stay away from Video for thaw past year running this blog, and I decided to cave. I will attempt to do both written and video for the rest of my reviews, as I want to reach the most people possible. On to the review…

When traveling on a 10 hour flight to Europe, it’s crucial I have mu iPod, and iPhone with me. The problem is, the battery won’t last the entire trip. I have always carried battery backups with me, and they always meant extra cables. Zagg has come out with a battery back up unit, that solves a few issues I have with my other models.

First, and most importantly, this unit is 6000 mAh. That’s a HUGE amount of power. This will give you 4 FULL charges from a dead iPhone. Simple amazing, and for that alone I’m excited to travel with this. The second feature, is the built in plug, so there’s no need to carry another cord to charge the unit. The addition of the EU adapter for use in central Europe 220 outlets is brilliant, and since I’m between US and Europe all the time, this is a welcome surprise.

The weight of the unit is about 1/2 a pound. Not heavy at all. The size is VERY close the an Apple Airport Extreme, or the power brick on the cord of a MacBook Pro. The unit itself is a black high gloss, which makes it a finger print magnet, and very slick in your hand.

2 USB ports gives this a huge advantage over it’s competitors. The ability to charge 2 devices at once will certainly come in handy on the road, or sitting next to a friend on an airplane.

The ZaggSparq also needs a full 9 hours per charge, so overnight when you sleep should be plenty.

There is one thing on this unit I would fix if given the chance, and that’s the addition of a charging light. When you plug the unit in, you have no idea if it’s charging, or if it’s full charged. A simple LED that would light up Red while charging, and Green when complete would be an improvement.

I will do a follow up on this after I’ve had the chance to road test this for a bit, but already, I think this will be replacing my iMax Power 5000 mAh unit.

The “Thin Lizzy” iPhone Debate: Jailbreak

January 9, 2010

This isn’t a product or app review this time, this is more of an opinion piece I suppose. What ever it is, it’s about the choice to Jailbreak your iPhone, or not. For the longest time, I was one of those people who didn’t want to chance the possibility of hurting the phone in some way where I would brick the unit, or void the warranty. I stayed away from it, and left the iPhone as Apple intended it to be. When I upgraded to the 3GS last July, I decided to Jailbreak the 3G and try it out for myself.

I found some invaluable tools with Jailbreaking. The ability to run apps in the background is a huge reason to do it. Also, customization of the spring board, or a blacklist feature for texts and calls… I can go on and on. There’s a million reasons to do it. I decided to take the plunge an open up my 3GS and enjoy it’s full potential.

I was at an ugly impasse. On one hand, opening up the phone to so many new features is hard to argue against, but Jailbreaking had one major flaw for me… My phones performance suffered greatly. It was less responsive, the battery life would drain much faster, and I had frequent crashes and buggy happenings. I had no choice but to restore back to factory settings.

I thought, perhaps it was something I did, and tried the process again, on both my 3G as well as the two 3GS units I own… They all act the same way for me. So again, a restore on all the units, back to factory default.

Now, I’m not one to preach one way or another. People like to argue back and forth about what you should do, and in the end, it’s 100% your own decision. For me, I LOVED the capabilities of a jailbroken iPhone, but I could not let the performance of the phone suffer for it. I use the iPhone daily, almost as a lifeline. It’s always at my side, taking care of most things I needed my computer for. I need it to work as it’s intended to work, and be reliable, especially when it’s already crippled on the AT&T network. I have enough frustration with dropping calls in my area, the last thing I need is frustration while the phone lags in general use.

Hopefully with future updates, the performance issues I have experienced will be a thing of the past, and I can once again go the way of Thin Lizzy. But until then, I’m more then happy with the solid performance of the UI.