Category: Gear

A Couple Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Geek in Your Life – Under $35

 

For all of you that waited until the last minute to get that holiday shopping done, here are a few gift ideas for the geek in your life – and guess what. They’re all under $35! All this stuff can be found at the ever so awesome ThinkGeek.com. Check it out, and submit any ideas of your own!

Read more

Brace Yourselves For Old Tech! – Monster iCarPlay Cassette Adapter Review

 

Alright, this item may be a bit outdated, but believe it or not, some people actually still use these things…*ahem* and I’m one of them. I just don’t like the interference I encounter with the FM transmitters, although I admit I haven’t tried the high end ones, mostly because I’m cheap. I’m a geek on a budget people! With that being said, one can come to the conclusion that I also don’t own a car with an AUX input, because why the hell would I need one of these. I may cry myself to sleep at night. It’s a toss up.

Read more

JARVIS Iron Man 3 App Review for iOS – Making waking up a little less terrible.

 

What geek hasn’t dreamed of having JARVIS in their life? The ability to have an A.I. personal assistant with you at all times would make life just so much more entertaining, not to mention waaaaay more organized. One could only hope that the technology for a real life JARVIS will be developed soon, we certainly are getting closer. And now, Marvel fans, earlier this week the JARVIS app was released for iOS devices.

While the JARVIS app is limited in what it can do and is not a full replacement for Siri (damn it), the awesomeness factor is exponentially higher. The JARVIS iPhone app features a voice controlled interface with the ability to tell you the current date, time, temperature, weather forecast, and even your appointment reminders, all in the JARVIS voice we know from the movies.

photo 2 JARVIS Iron Man 3 App Review for iOS   Making waking up a little less terrible.

Read more

Sound got your down? – Rode VideoMic Review

Alright, here’s a problem everyone encounters. I’m shooting a small budget short film, and the mic we currently have picks up way too much outside noise. Ok, maybe this isn’t a problem for the layman, but it’s something I encountered recently. I wanted to get a mic that was priced as low as possible without sacrificing too much quality. The price was a huge factor for me since the mic was going to be used on the Canon 5D that I just spent what felt like all the money in the world on. Read more

ROKU – “Quality Couch Time”

So I’ve noticed an increasing amount of advertisements for Roku lately, and I have to say I’m a fan of their direct humor. Why lie about our love for Television? Embrace it and watch more of it. This is the message they’re delivering, but lets not discuss the moral example they are setting, lets discuss the device itself.

Roku Billboard OneSeason ROKU   Quality Couch Time

Spoiler alert: I love it.

Having moved around a lot in the last few years, I’ve used various roommate’s devices such as the Apple TV, XBOX 360, PS3, Wii and one of those Blu-ray players that have Netflix on it.. and not having paid for cable in even longer has resulted in copious hours of streaming TV. They all generally provide the same satisfaction but here are the things I like a lot about the Roku.

HBO GO! One of my biggest complaints around the board was the lack of a HBO GO App on most devices. Aside from the XBOX, I hadn’t been able to use my Mom’s HBO account on my TV. Yes I know the XBOX has an app as do some other devices, but I wasn’t really interested in buying a gaming console or a more expensive device or TV just for streaming. Let alone pay for cable and premium channels. Now I realize this isn’t necessarily the fault of the devices, nor do I care to really research it. Most consumers won’t.

roku lt 2 300x226 ROKU   Quality Couch TimeIt’s small and simple! While all the gaming consoles are great at being gaming systems, they weren’t the right fit to fill my need for a streaming device. They’re too big and filled with extra features that at this time I was not interested in. Yes they play Blu-Rays, DVDs, etc. but I already have a Blu-ray player (the cheapest one on Black Friday.. no streaming).

Apple TV was really cool and I loved the integration with iTunes and the iPhone/iPad, but I don’t have an iPhone or iPad (Droid and Tabet-less). I also don’t use iTunes exclusively, my shit’s everywhere. Sorry bout it.

The device is smaller than the Apple TV, but the remote is bigger. I like the size though, isn’t easy to lose. Like the remote for my Macbook I lost years ago.

It’s cheap! Starting at $50? That’s like 5 drinks at a bar. I impulsively spend that much way more than a one time purchase for a Roku. Naturally, I received the Roku 2 XD as a gift (thanks babe!), but that’s besides the point. The 2 XD is only $30 more and you get 1080p – worth it.

Roku partner remote 580x459 300x237 ROKU   Quality Couch TimeApps on Apps! When it comes down to it, the Roku seemed to give me everything I wanted. Plus a whole bunch of apps I didn’t know that I would want and now can’t live without. I noticed a lot of the Blu-Rays I purchased on Black Friday came with Digital Copies, which I was able to save to a Vudu account and watch on my Roku. That’s pretty nifty. The Pandora app is pretty fun for parties, Crackle – which is basically a free Netflix (yes there are ads) had alternate options, a bunch of channels with shows/movies I’ve never heard of – time to explore!, and the ability to search and download new apps and channels all the time. I don’t rememberthe Apple TV ever letting me add and customize it this much..

If you’re considering purchasing one of these devices, you don’t really need someone to sell you on what they do. You already know you want to watch TV/Movies. If you’re looking for games, then get a console. (Though the Roku 2 XS can play Angry Birds and other such games.) All you need to know is that the Roku is one of the cheapest streaming devices, it is fast, works great, has a lot of options including apps that aren’t available elsewhere, and won’t let you down. I haven’t used any of the Android based devices, so maybe those are good too, but in my experience this was the best option and I haven’t regretted it yet.

 

roku2 xs 300x170 ROKU   Quality Couch Time

 

Now excuse me.. I believe I’ve put off watching TV for enough tonight.

LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

 

Looking for the ultimate iPhone case? Tired of replacing the screen or losing your phone to water damage? Well LifeProof cases are the solution.

I recently obtained a LifeProof case for my iPhone 5, and so far, it’s held up to my standards of protecting those valuable and precious electronics.

lifeproof 1 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

LifeProof cases are said to have what they refer to as the “Four Proofs”, waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, and shock proof. Their cases are tested to military standards for shock resistance, with the military standard number to prove it, MIL STD 810 F. Yea that’s right, bask in its glory. The LifeProof website goes into detail about what the standard means exactly, but to sum it up, the case can withstand infrequent and non-repetitive drops and shocks. Basically, you can drop your phone from a normal height with no problem, just don’t do it a bunch.

lifeproof 2 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

One of LifeProof’s most magnificent features is the whole dust proof/waterproof aspect of it. Once again they have the little number to prove what their case can do. IP-68 has a specific meaning to it, where each letter/number stand for a different test it passed and the results of that test. If you want to know exactly what each number or letter means you can go to their website, if not, I’ll just give you the bottom line. You can bring your phone or tablet to the beach, bury it in the sand, and not have to worry any getting in it.

lifeproof 3 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

Don’t want to leave your phone on the beach while you’re in the water? You can freaking bring it in the water with you! If installed correctly, the LifeProof case can withstand immersion in water 6.6 feet deep for 30 minutes. With the use of waterproof headphones and the waterproof headphone adapter, you can listen to music while in the water as well. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the waterproof feature, but not under the usual circumstances. I pretty much never go swimming, but it’s great to see people’s faces when you act like you hate your phone and just dump it into a glass of water. Priceless.

lifeproof 5 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

LifeProof makes an abundance of accessories for you case. Waterproof headphones, bike mounts, armbands, speedometer sensors, and those waterproof headphone adapters mentioned earlier.

There are a couple of drawbacks to the case, not necessarily drawbacks, but little annoyances for me at least. First off is the headphone adapter. The adapter pretty much must be used in order to listen to music over headphones or speakers. The Apple EarPods are practically the only headphones that fit into the headphone access opening, barely. So if you use other headphones or like to plug your phone into speakers, you’re going to have to constantly take the phone in and out of the case. The second little annoyance is the plastic cover over the face of the phone. The plastic is not exactly flush with the screen, and feels unusual to press through to get to the screen. There aren’t any problems with pressing through the screen protector, it just takes some getting used to after having a normal screen protector that sticks on. The third is that the speakers are a little bit muffled because of the waterproofing. It’s not that much of a hindrance, it’s just…noticeable.

lifeproof 4 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

Even with the drawbacks, LifeProof is by far one of the best cases on the market. Its abundance of proofness makes it superior to the Otterbox in certain ways, but the sleekness of the case is not even comparable. The LifeProof case looks waaaay better. If you’re looking for a phone case that will allow you to drop your phone from a three-story window, go with the Otterbox. If you need a phone case that can withstand your everyday lifestyle, occasional clumsiness, and still look great while doing it, LifeProof is the  case that you must have.

 

9 LifeProof iPhone 5 Case

 

 

G.I.A. Rating: 9/10

More information on LifeProof cases can be found at www.LifeProof.com

 

 

iPad Mini

Apple recently announced their new iPad Mini. This thing is the definition of first world problems.

meme iPad Mini

Alright, well with that out of the way, it is a pretty cool little device, I mean c’mon, it’s an iPad…just mini. It has pretty much the same specs as the late 2012 iPads, it’s just slimmer, smaller, lighter (about half the weight of an iPad). The display isn’t out of this world like the full size iPad, as it only has a 1024 x 768 display, aka not retina. The resolution is similar to the iPad 2. So, if you absolutely need to have that intense display, the iPad Mini is not for you, as you’ll just have to settle for just vibrant colors, not insanely vibrant colors.

 iPad Mini

The unibody construction for the iPad mini looks similar to the iPhone 5, showing that awesome two-toned aluminum in either white and silver or black and slate. Also like the iPhone 5, it uses the new Apple Lightning connector, so be sure to have a cable when traveling, as not everyone has at least 8 of these cables lying around the house anymore. If you are anti-carrying a cable around with you at all times, Apple sells an adapter for the lightning connector for an additional $30.

One major noticeable difference is that the iPad Mini has the A5 processor. So, if you need the fastest iPad on the market for your games and immediate web browsing, go with the iPad’s A6x chip. The iPad Mini’s A5 chip is more than capable of handling all the gaming and web browsing, it will just be slightly slower completing tasks.

 iPad Mini

The battery life is pretty nice for a small tablet with this kind of power. With a reported 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, you can use it on most journeys, except if you’re traveling to Mordor, that takes forever.

Here’s a nice little chart for you that breaks down the specs of the iPad Mini in an organized chart that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye:

Screen shot 2012 11 01 at 7.58.07 PM iPad Mini

The iPad mini is a great competitor for other small tablet devices. Its slightly larger screen gives it a small edge over other tablets, without taking away from the whole mini aspect of it. Minus the display and processor, it’s virtually similar to the iPad, allowing Apple customers to choose between products on screen size alone…and maybe pricing. The iPad mini starts at $329 for the 16GB model, while the iPad now starts at $499 for a 16GB model, pretty significant difference for the geek on a budget.

 

8 iPad Mini

 

 

G.I.A. Rating 8/10

More information on the iPad mini can be found on Apple’s website at Apple.com

GoPro Hero3

 

If you’re a cinematographer then you know and have used a GoPro. For the past couple releases of the camera, there have been little things here and there that annoyed users, but we’ve dealt with it because there isn’t anything better for the job. Well, videographer geeks, it’s time to rejoice because GoPro just outdid themselves.

The new GoPro Hero3 White and Silver editions were released earlier this week, but the camera we have all been waiting for is The Hero3 Black Edition, which is set to release November 14th. Let’s start off with a brief overview of the White and Silver Editions before we dive into the specs of the big daddy.

 GoPro Hero3

Need to record you rolling a car into a river, then falling over a waterfall? Yeah, I can do that.

The Hero3 White Edition is great for someone looking for an inexpensive, but excellent versatile camera. It has the same specs as a camera as the original GoPro Hero, however, it is smaller, slimmer, lighter, can take photos, and has built in Wi-Fi. Everything is better with Wi-Fi. GoPro has a free smart phone app that works with your GoPro Hero3 to control it, or remotely see what you’re shooting, awesome. GoPro also sells a remote accessory for the GoPro Hero3 that can operate your camera from up to 600 feet away. I wish my router at home had the range of a Hero3.

The Hero3 White Edition can shoot 1080p and 960p at 30 fps, 720p at 60 or 30 fps, and WVGA at 60 fps if you deem in necessary. The lens has also been swapped out from that intense fish-eye of the Hero to an almost no barrel effect look. Since the fish-eye look is kind of a trademark of the action sports world it hasn’t completely disappeared, but it does give it a nice even balance between the fish-eye and a flat shot. There are swappable third party lenses to remove the fish-eye look altogether if need be.

 GoPro Hero3

Minimal fish-eye

The Hero3 Silver Edition is the same as the Hero2, just smaller, slimmer, lighter, can take photos, and has built in Wi-Fi. Noticing a pattern? Seems pretty simple, upgrade the older cameras a bit so they still sell, and you can get a great camera for a lower price. The Hero3 Silver Edition shoots video at 1080p 30 fps / 960p 48 fps / 720p 60 fps. The still camera has an 11mp sensor and is capable of a 10fps burst.

Now it’s time for the badass edition, the Hero3 Black. This camera is the ultimate of ultimates for a versatile, sturdy, and tough camera. It has the same slim, small, and light design, with built in Wi-Fi, and has the remote included in the package. The Hero3 Black shoots video at 4K Cinema 15 fps / 2.7K cinema 30 fps / 1440p 48 fps / 1080p 60 fps / 960p 100 fps /720p 120 fps and more. Better than 1080p! That’s for all you new iPad users out there. It also has a 12MP sensor with up to 30 fps burst mode. To top it all off, all of the new models have a photo mode that can shoot simultaneously during video recording, either by pressing a button or by presetting it to take a photo at 5, 10, 30, or 60 second intervals. Boom! Specs on the ultimate versatile camera.

 GoPro Hero3

Because they can.

The Hero3 Black Edition includes the Wi-Fi waterproof remote to sweeten the deal, and all the new Hero3 models come with the GoPro waterproof housing, which is rated up to 197 feet. So feel free to take a dive with it, use it in the snow, or when you plunge off a waterfall during some intense river rapid sessions. The Hero3 is the top of the line action cam, and is a must need for shooting action sports, or even as a small stage b-cam setup. It truly can be used to record anything, except for what it’s like to be dipped in lava, that stuff isn’t camera friendly.

91 GoPro Hero3

 

 

G.I.A. Rating 9/10

Prices:

White Edition: $199.99

Silver Edition: $299.99

Black Edition: $399.99

 

Hazah! iPhone 5

 

Apple announced its much-anticipated iPhone 5 today, and it seems that Apple has lost their touch on keeping the new features top secret. If you’re a GIA Agent, there were little to no surprises during the iPhone portion of the keynote. If you spent some time stalking Apple, you’d see that most of the rumors were true.

Here’s the straight to the point updates that you care about, new iPhone 5 specs. If you would like details then continue reading on after the list, if not, then no hard feelings…*sniffle*

-       Thinner, lighter, and longer design

-       A6 chip

-       Larger 4” Retina display

-       Two tone aluminum back casing

-       Ultrafast LTE network (finally)

-       Upgraded battery life

-       Upgraded cameras for the front and back

-       Lighting connector, replacing the current 30-pin connector

-       New Maps and Passbook apps

-       Siri upgrades

-       Ignore with automatic text reply, ignore with reminder, and screen phone calls

Alright, for those of you that stayed to hear the rest of my spiel, you shall be rewarded with the greatest gift I have to offer at this time, details of the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5, if Being Sexy was a Crime, You’d be Guilty as Charge 

The new body of the phone is made from an aluminum backing with a glass front, and the two-toned aluminum back looks absolutely awesome. The thinner and lighter design is a consistent upgrade with all the iPhones, but the new larger screen is what has iPhone fans excited.

The new 326ppi 4” retina display has an excellent 1136×640 resolution. The color saturation has also gotten a 44% boost from the 4s, so that means games are more vibrant, and with the 16:9 aspect ratio you can watch widescreen movies in all of their glory.

 Hazah! iPhone 5

I’m sexy and I know it

They Have Rebuilt it… Bigger… Stronger… Faster…

Apple has integrated their A6 chip, which they claim is twice as fast as the iPhone 4s A5 chip. Apps launch faster, web browsing is quicker, and email attachments appear almost instantly. And there’s even more great news! The new chip is reported to be more power efficient, which means battery life is extended.

Battery Life Expectancy:

-       8 hours LTE browsing time

-       8 hours of 3G talk time

-       10 hours video playback

-       10 hours wifi browsing

-       40 hours music

-       225 stand by time

 Hazah! iPhone 5

As fast as Kenyans!

iPhone 5 gets a camera overhaul.

The new iSight camera is an excellent upgrade from previous iPhone cameras. Its rear camera is eight megapixels that features a 3,264 x 2,448 back illuminated sensor, and a f/2.4 aperture. One of the greatest upgrades is the dynamic low light setting. Hopefully pictures indoors will look better when flash is off. The front camera has also bee upgraded and is now capable of capturing 720p video. The new camera hardware combined with the A6 processor means faster image capture time. Apple has also integrated the ability to capture an image while recording video, along with the ability to capture panoramic images. The camera software and hardware has gotten a major overhaul. Images will be more vibrant, better quality, and FaceTime will finally be in HD.

 Hazah! iPhone 5

“No duckface” should be a part of the user agreement.

Two Apps that won’t Sit in that Random Useless Folder

Google Maps is no longer a standard on the iPhone. With the upgraded iOS 6 Apple’s Maps app is the standard. It has turn-by-turn navigation. The graphics on Maps is more detailed and apparently even when you’re fully zoomed in, panning is smooth. Traffic info is all in real time, and even includes some details on what is causing it in the first place, so you know if it’s a temporary slow down or a major accident.

The Passbook app acts as your person electronic wallet. It can hold all your important electronic valuables such as concert tickets, boarding passes, and gift cards all in one convenient organized location. It is also time and location based, so your tickets automatically appear on your lock screen when you need them. Passbook will tell you when your boarding gate changes and will notify you. Additionally, it knows when you enter a store and will bring your gift card up for you.

 Hazah! iPhone 5

You’ll no longer need to keep that gift card with $0.79 cents left on it in your wallet.

Oh Yeah, There’s a Phone on This Thing

There’s also better call quality on the new iPhone 5. The earpiece has a touch of noise cancelling technology, and the three (front, back, and bottom) microphones work to reduce background noise. Users also now have the ability to screen calls, or ignore them with options. Do Not Disturb screens calls and sends non-pre approved contacts straight to voicemail.  An awesome feature I will use quite a bit is the call ignore with auto-response via text. With just two touches, you can ignore a call and send a premade text message to the caller. You can also ignore and set a reminder to call the number back at either a better time, or location.

 Hazah! iPhone 5

Crazy ex-girlfriend approved

Siri, Because Typing is too Much Effort

Siri can now offer you sports scores, show times, and even make dining reservations. Unfortunately there wasn’t any comment on whether or not the speed has been upgraded, so she might still be a little too slow for most people.

The New Connector, Developed by Thor

Apple has done away with their famous 30-pin connector and replaced it with the new Lightning connector. This eight signal, slim connector was one of the major redesigns to make the new iPhone 5 much thinner. Although data will not be transferred faster and it will not charge quicker, the cable is reported to be more durable, and is also reversible, which means you can plug it in upside down if you deem it necessary.

 Hazah! iPhone 5

The god of Thunder…bolt

Overall, Apple has been playing catch up in the smartphone world. There are plenty of features that just came out with iPhone 5 that have been on other smartphones for years, and seems to lack that wow feature that everyone hoped for. Regardless, because it’s an iPhone, all those features have been made awesome. You can have the awesomeness of all of the features, with the reliability and user-friendly iOS, and that is what all of us iPhone users have been waiting for.

iPhone 5 starts at $199, in colors slate and silver aka black and white, slate just sounds more badass. It’s available for preorder this Friday, and will hit stores in September 21st.

Nyko Charge Base S

Surprising results from a questionable product.

At first glance the Nyko Charge Base S for Xbox 360 seems shady at best. I rarely trust products that try too hard to make their packaging look similar to their more prominent competitor, and Nyko definitely tried too hard.

Features and Contents:

-       Charge base (obviously)

-       Two customer rechargeable batteries (yes two… awesome)

-       Duel port charge base is able to charge two controllers at once.

-       LED display indicates when controller is charged.

-       Super secret USB port in the front for mobile device charging.

 Nyko Charge Base S

Indicators and super secret USB charger door

I’ve had the Nyko Charge Base S for about 8 months now, and I can say that I’m pretty happy with it. One of the major user complaints is that the batteries lose their charge too quickly after owning the product for more than a couple of months. After 8 months of use, I have noticed that the batteries do run out of power slightly quicker than when they were new, but it hasn’t been a nuisance so far, at least for me. However, I’m not gaming for 8 hours everyday on a regular basis, so for some of those more hardcore gamers out there, I can understand how some batteries might lose their charge quickly.

Although, with daily usage and not a nightly recharge, the batteries from my Nyko last for probably 15 hours of gameplay before they need to be charged again. Also, I have never run into one of the biggest pet peeves of gamers, seeing the dreaded “Please reconnect controller” in the middle of an online battle.

reconnect Nyko Charge Base S

In total rage mode, just kickin’ some a— NO! damn you!

The actual charging base is the main reason why this product intrigued me. It’s über convenient to just toss the controller on the charging base, and not have to remove a battery every time it needs charging. The base itself looks pretty sleek. Its nice and slim and the color scheme matches most home theater equipment, so it blends in well. The LED display has a fancy little controller indicating controller one or two and red or green lights under indicator depending on the stage of the charge.

The Nyko Charge Base S is a great value. It retails for about $24.99 at multiple retailers. Considering the Xbox version goes for about the same price and has only one battery, $24.99 seems like a pretty awesome deal.

 Nyko Charge Base S

Overall, this product is for the gamer that isn’t constantly on their Xbox. If your spending hours upon hours…upon hours a day with a controller in your hand, go with the official Xbox batteries and charging equipment of your choice, they tend to last a bit longer. However, if you’re the average gamer, and want to save a couple of bucks, the Nyko Charge Base S is a great alternative.