Steinheil GLAS.t

January 28, 2012

Steinheil advertised a brand new iPhone screen protector called the GLAS.t, and after reading about it, I decided to purchase one to try out. It’s a premium tempered glass screen protector, with oleophobic coating which helps repel oil and fingerprints. It’s total thickness is about 4mm, and that twice as thick as your normal 2mm plastic screen shield.

For the install, I ran the hot shower and installed it in the bathroom, as the humidity will keep the dust down. I was able to get a perfect install, without a speck of dust anywhere on the phone. That made me VERY happy, as I’m a bit OCD when it comes to dust under the screen protector.

You get ONE shot at installing this. You can’t remove it without ruining it. Once it’s on, it’s awesome. It feels like a naked iPhone screen, and CRYSTAL clear. Really nice at repelling oils from your fingers too. There is absolutely zero drag or friction, and it does feel like a brand new screen.

Since it’s 4mm thick, they give you some button covers, that are like a softer material and bubble like, with the same square design on it, so it looks like nothing is there. It helps raise the button so you don’t feel the 4mm gap when using the home button. This is a fantastic feature, and really does help the overall usage.

I’m using the ZooGoo iPhone case, which is a TPU style (only softer) material, and it seems to be OK with it. I tired the Switcheasy Vulcan TPU case, and it started to raise the shield in the corners and sides.

Tolerance is TIGHT on this. You need to line it up exactly perfectly, in one shot. That’s my biggest issue. If you blow this, you’re out $28. I almost had a panic attack making sure I lined it up perfectly. Sweating bullets in a steaming hot bathroom, and holding my breath applying it, like I’m a sniper with a 3 quarter mile head shot… This was nerve-racking. For $28, they should give you 2, or build an installer into the box for a perfect fit.

All in all, if you line it up right, install it in a clean environment, have a steady hand, nerves of steel, and $28 bucks to drop, I say it’s an awesome screen shield worth every penny.

BEWARE, this is going to give a whole of cases trouble. Make sure if you’re using a case with a lay on the table design, it goes over onto the glass enough, so it doesn’t interfere with the edges. It will raise the shield easily since there’s a 4mm edge to snag.

After the install, there IS some slight bubbling along the VERY edges. The instructions say they will go away in a couple of days, I’ll come back and let you know if they do.

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Mic W i266 for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch

December 16, 2011

Mic W i266 for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch

Being a musician, Im always looking for a way for a portable way to record live music, take notes, or capture some unique sound I may want to add into a song at a later time. I’m a stickler for quality, and even when I use my iPhone camera to video record, in many instances the internal microphone just isn’t good enough. Apple has made vast improvements on the iPhone 4S, and what used to be acceptable alternatives to the iPhone 3GS are now inferior to the internal Mic. I’m sure you’ve seen external Mics before. Most are quite small, some are thumb tack shaped, some look like a fat pill. The one thing they all have in common, is they lack in quality to the internal iPhone 4S.

No one has come out with a better, portable headphone port mic… Until now.

After searching for years, and with Blue Mic’s seeming to be dropping the ball on the Mikey for the iPhone 4 series, I found a company called Mic W, and reached out them, explaining my needs, and that I would love to review a Mic. The good people at Mic W sent me out the i266.

The i266 is a cardioid broadcasting microphone, designed specifically for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. This cardioid mic has high sensitivity, and Mic W recommends using it for high quality sound recording, specifically for broadcasting, live radio interviews, and other live applications.

It comes in a clear plastic box with with foam and informational print surrounding the mic. My exact initial impression was “Wow. That’s bigger then I expected.” That’s what she said.

Since every external mic I’ve used is fairly small, I expected more of the same, but with the i266, there is no comparison. This mic is beautifully designed. You can tell the design team wanted something sleek, and industrial, to match the iPhone 4, and they achieved this. It’s made from metal, not plastic, and has real weight to it. Not making it too heavy to carry, but just enough to know you have something solid in your hand. This Mic is PURE class.

I started testing the mic. First I recorded normal speaking into the iPhone, using it’s internal mic, then repeated the test using the i266. Right away, you notice a difference. Where the internal iPhone mic may be slightly better with canceling out room and background noise, the i266 records a richer, more professional sound.

You do get a better sound speaking into the top of the i266, as apposed to the side of the mic (which has holes in it) but this mic is highly sensitive, so getting too close causes distortion. I found keeping the mic about 8 to 12 inches from my face, speaking at a normal level worked best.

Knowing this was a broadcast mic with such high sensitivity, I already knew the answer to this next test, but for the sake of science, and being as thorough as I could be, I tested the mic recording a live band in very high volume. This is not the mic for that, as it distorts horribly, but I knew that, and they don’t advertise the mic for use in that way. I had to try it though. I was that kid when mom said “Don’t touch that pot, it’s hot” the first thing I would do, was touch the pot.

This is only my initial impression, and testing. This is something I need to use much more, field test this, and do another review later down the line.

I have 3 minor complaints…

1) You need to put the iPhone into airplane mode to achieve the best sounding recordings. As with every other mic I’ve tried, you get a periodic static on your recordings if you don’t do this. Audio, or video, if using this mic, use Airplane mode for sure. I was hoping Apple had fixed this, but not yet.

2) I always keep my phone in a case, but to use this microphone, I need to remove the case as the mic’s circumference is large at the base, and will not fit into the headphone jack. This could have been resolved if they had added a small spacer as many companies are doing now, for this very reason. BUT, I did find that an adapter does work, and Mic W sells a kit with an external wire.

3) The mic can’t be bent and repositioned. There is no hinge on this mic, so once it’s plugged in, it points straight up, and that’s it. Now, for interviewing or speaking, this is fine, but if I wanted to use this mic for video recording, I have to keep in mind, the mic’s best position is now facing to the side, and not facing the subject I’m recording. Again, this is solved with an adapter wire, but then I need to clip or mount the mic facing front.

All minor complaints, as the recording quality on this is suburb, and the recording quality outshines the negatives. I would highly recommend this Mic to anyone who needs or wishes to capture broadcast quality audio on their iPhone. Right now, I’d be hard pressed to find a headphone port mic that offers better quality, although, Mic W does have a couple other, higher end models. I can only imaging how great those sound.

Keep an eye on Mic W, they are a major player in the portable audio, with some of the very best design, build quality, and sound quality I’ve come across so far. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

I will be adding a Youtube video on this Mic, and comparison audio in the future.

 

You can check out and purchase the i266 from Mic W by following this link… http://www.mic-w.com/


ZooGue iPhone 4S / 4 Case

November 11, 2011

Today in the mail I received my iPhone 4S case from ZooGue. A couple months back, they had a promotion, pay only the S/H and the case was free for the first 50,000 people. I paid for this, and it wasn’t sent for review.

It’s a TPU style case, but much softer, and more playable then your typical TPU case. My comparison is to the Switcheasy Vulcan. This case has a matte finish to it, and I’d almost say it feels between a silicon case and a TPU. It’s feels soft, but not tacky like silicon.

This case is very thin. The thinest TPU style I have seen yet. It has a nice lay on the table design, and a unique feature is the ridged sides for grip. Not only does this look good, but actually serves a purpose, and works well. The TPU is hard enough where it grips very well in your hand.

All the cut outs on this are perfect, for both my 4S and 4. The images here are the case on my 4, photos taken with the 4S. There is also a screen shield on the front glass. This has enough room, where I can’t see any issue with a back shield on as well, I still think it would be a good fit.

My only criticism would be, I wish the TPU material was a bit harder around the lay on the table design. It pulls away from the edges easier then my Switcheasy Vulcan, but no where near as much as a silicon case, and not a deal breaker by any means.

For only paying S/H, this case is beyond fantastic. Even at the posted price on the ZooGue website at $14.99, this is a great value for the money.

ZooGue’s first offering into the iPhone case market is a home run, and like all the other ZooGue cases, this screams QUALITY.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It comes in Black, Grey or Black.

http://www.zoogue.com/free-iphone-4s-social-shell-case/


iSLIM WALLET CASE FOR IPHONE

November 4, 2011

I have been searching for a wallet style case for my iPhone for awhile now. I’ve wanted the BookBook, but I have a few features that are a must for me, and the BookBook falls short. I’m my many hours of searching, I came across the islim, and decided to give this a try.

For my needs, I wanted a wallet case to carry the many cards I have, and the full use of my phone, with the ability to plug it into my automobile charging cradle. Since I would handle the phone so much out of the wallet, I wanted to be able to keep it in my Switcheasy Vulcan TPU case for added protection.

That’s when I found the islim wallet case. I paid for this case, and it was not sent as a review piece.

I ordered this directly from islimphonewallet.com for $44.99 plus shipping. It arrived in only a few days, so their shipping is very fast. It arrived in a manilla envelope, with a hand written return address and mailing address. Inside the envelope, was a plain black box, just large enough for the wallet to fit inside. The box was crushed, but since this is only a leather wallet, it didn’t harm the product at all.

The wallet itself was wrapped in a white onion skin style paper to protect the surface further. The case smells of real quality leather. To the touch, the leather is very soft, and again, quality. You can feel there is a slight padding on the outside to help protect the phone and the wallets contents.

When open, the left side of the wallet has 4 credit card slots, and 2 pockets for currency, paper, or more cards. On the right side, there are 2 more slots for credit cards, or a drivers license as the front window is a window. Behind those slots is where the iPhone slides in. The phone pocket opens with a slight accordion fold, to accommodate difference sizes, or different phones.

I am able to fit the iPhone 4S into the pocket, while wearing the TPU case, and it just fits, pretty well. The accordion fold is completely open, and it’s about as wide as the wallet can go. In the card slots I have (on the rights side with the phone) A drivers license, State ID, FOID card, Starbucks card, Auto insurance, Medical insurance, Auto warrantee card and an HID gate key, about the thickness of 2 credit cards.

On the left side I have 2 debit cards, one credit card, and a PayPal card. The 2 pockets below have some folded currency, about 5 to 8 bills in each pocket.

All together, this makes for a bulky wallet, but I think for me, the trade off, not having to cary a wallet and a phone is worth it. To be fair, I never carry my wallet or phone in my pants pocket. It’s always in an inside pocket on a leather vest, so the bulk is less cumbersome for me. I don’t think I would be comfortable with this in a pants pocket, it’s just too much. For those of you, who don’t need to carry so many cards, this will be slimmer.

The leather is very soft. It’s so soft, I worry about how well this will hold up to the daily wear and tear. With the extra case on the iPhone, the leather inside the accordion fold is much thinner, and I can see it wearing out quickly. I may be completely wrong, so I’ll update this over time.

For now, I’m going to try this solution for awhile. I’m quite impressed with the material quality, and stitching. This Wallet seems very well made. I love the real leather smell and feel, and I was able to put every card I needed inside the wallet. The only cons, the leather may be too soft, and rip or wear out easily (time will tell) and this is very bulky when fully loaded.

With all that said, I recommend the islim Wallet Case if your looking for this style, with your iPhone easily removable while using a second case.


SQUARE credit card reader

March 3, 2010

I recently received a device from Square, which allows the ability to accept credit card payments directly through the iPhone. For someone like me, who is a traveling musician, this is a game changer, in the way we sell our merchandise. To have the ability to accept credit cards at the mercy booth at club venues is huge. When performing live, most people enjoy consuming alcohol, and like to keep their cash on hand for drinks. This, gives them the ability to continue spending cash at the bar, but opens doors to purchase merchandise using their credit card.

The software is simple to use, and what impressed me the most, is this is very polished. It’s nothing like a 1.0 at all. This feels like Square has spent a very long time, working out all the details, so at public launch, this will be flawless.

Setting up an account with Square is easy. All you need is a checking account, and supply them with your account and routing number. Enter in some other basic information, and you’re up and running. It’s that simple. No set up fees, no credit card monthly service fees… It couldn’t get any easier then this.

How Square makes their money, is charging a small percentage of your charge. You have the ability to either swipe the card, using the provided device for a charge of 2.9% or you can key in the credit card number if you do not have the device handy, for a fee of 3.5%.

The swipe system currently only works with credit cards in the USA, as the reader converts the magnetic strip data into audio, where the software does the rest. In most other corners of the world, their credit cards are the pin and chip style, but Square has mentioned on Twitter, a Euro reader is in the possible future.

I was in Europe recently, and as a test, I used the key in feature on a european VISA card, and it worked, so keep in mind, even in Europe, if the card is VISA, or Mastercard, you should have no problem accepting it. Since this works, I would love to see a currency option on the software, to change from Dollars, to Euros or other forms of currency.

After you enter the amount you are charging, you can enter what the item is in the notes field, or click the camera icon and snap a picture of that item as well. Next, enter or swipe the credit card. Once approved, the customer signs their name on the screen. You can also email a receipt to the customer, which shows the amount spent, the item name entered in the note field, the image you took of their item, and a google map, with a pin to show the exact GPS location of where the transaction took place.

This device is a game changer. I believe in a short amount of time, this device will change the way small business handle money, much the same way PayPal handles money over the internet. I can’t wait to get on the road, and start using my Square, and I suggest, once this goes public, jump on it. Get the software, get the Square device, and enjoy the ability to take credit cards anywhere.


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.