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The DRACO iPhone 5 bumper case – give your iPhone a distinctive look

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DRACO iPhone 5 Bumper Case

It would be great to be able to do without a case on the iPhone. No extra cost and no extra weight or size. Plus the iPhone looks pretty damn great just as it is. That is not our reality. The devices cost so much we have to protect them in some shape or form. Personally I have never been a fan of the cases that cover the device surfaces completely. I want to leave something of the iPhone visible. For that reason I have generally gone for a bumper case with screen protector. I was looking for something a little more that the standard bumper and I found the DRACO.

There are a few videos available on how to assemble with detailed close ups on fitting it to your phone so I am not going to get into that level of detail and pics here. Video of DRACO assembly and review by Milkerz5. What I will say is that it is superbly made, you continue to have access to all ports and buttons while the device is wrapped in a superb piece of aircraft grade aluminium. It adds a very unique look to your device while providing excellent protection for a bumper case. So far it has attracted quite a lot of attention and I like the distinctiveness of it. Not too bad on the price either for this high grade product. Really like it.

DRACO iPhone 5 Case - rear

DRACO iPhone 5 Case – rear

DRACO iPhone 5 case - bottom

DRACO iPhone 5 case – bottom

The Logitech iPad Bluetooth Keyboard – well worth the investment!

 Logitech iPad Keyboard


Logitech iPad Keyboard

I have tried a few keyboards over the last couple of years for the iPad.  Most of them in some type of iPad case\cover incorporating a keyboard but a couple that were stand alone type fold up versions.  The case type primarily bulked out the iPad size and did not provide a good enough typing experience to justify the extra size or were completely separate devices so there was the feeling of carrying 2 items around.  I also somewhat felt that if I wanted to use a proper keyboard I should just grab my laptop.  However, after trying out the Logitech keyboard it has changed my point of view. The feedback and general feel on the keyboard is excellent. It’s slick design, look and feel make it seem that it was always part of the iPad. This aesthetics and fitting in with the look and feel is generally very important but especially so when it is an Apple product.  Yes it does bulk out the size a little and it adds some weight but in my opinion the screen real estate you get back by no longer having the keyboard on the screen and improved usability of the iPad more than compensates for this.

  • Excellent keyboard with an Apple look and feel.  Keys are a hard plastic(resin?) and good enough to touch type versus some of those softer rubber or silicon types.
  • Smart connects\hinges to the iPad just like the smart covers
  • When the iPad is sitting in the slot, the viewing angle is excellent and the device feels very secure even though it is not ‘fixed’ (see pic below)
  • Very easy to connect and set up
  • Excellent battery life in the keyboard (6 months at 2 hours per day before recharge – I usually leave it on all day every day and try to recharge it 1 a week)
  • Analogue on/off switch which I really approve of especially when flying.  Quick and easy off! I am tired of gimmicky digital switches on so many products these days.
  • When closed it fully protects screen as with any cover
  • And finally it looks excellent!

While I definitely recommend it as a tool to enhance the iPad there are just a couple of things that frustrated me.  The charger is micro USB – which means carrying yet another cable around. Instead of a charger\cable in the pack I would have preferred a convertor from iPad 30 pin to micro USB so I could carry just one cable\charger (OK yes for latest iPad you would need a lightening convertor).  I was also a little frustrated that you have to sit it directly on the very nicely finished Logitech base when using it.  There are no silicone feet to raise the keyboard flat base up off a table or other flat surface (even a tiny bit would help hugely) which leaves it prone to scratching and marks and you notice every little spec of dust under the keyboard base when you start typing.  So make sure that surface is clean and Logitech please include those little self adhesive feet that come with many other products and I can chose if and where to stick them!  Other than that an excellent little product.

Logitech iPad Keyboard – side profile

Logitech iPad Keboard

Logitech iPad Keyboard – open

Logitech iPad Keyboard – closed

The Moleskine Reporter Bag – The perfect travel companion

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Many of us carry some form of a bag to work. Over the years I have tried many a different type and packed them with everything I needed to get through a day. Newspaper, books, magazines, laptop, charger, notepad, pens, passport, wallet, documents and the list goes on. Even with only carrying the essentials one can see that the bag might weigh you down. However, as tech has improved and as more content is available online and electronically that list of items has shrunk year on year to enable me to move to a bag with what I believe is the perfect size, at least for now (and of course for me)!

From the above pic you can see some of what I carry on a daily basis:

  • iPad and Logitech keyboard (which replace my laptop, newspaper, book, magazine)
  • Evernote Moleskine Notebook and pens
  • Battery to charge my iPad and iPhone if I run short on power (prefer a battery compared with carrying chargers and needing to look for sockets!)
  • Passport
  • Other items often thrown in include wallet, iPhone and sometimes lunch or the odd book that is not available on Kindle.

I normally spend about 3 hours travelling daily. That entails a mix of transport types – car, train, bus and finally a little walk on foot. A few days a month depending on where I am working those travel times may be 8-10 hours. There are many like me and many that travel more. Thus the smaller and lighter the bag the easier the journey, if only a little. The Moleskine bag firstly is water repellant which is very important considering the value of the electronic, water sensitive, items inside. It is very light. It has a rigid base that both protects contents and allows it to stand even when empty which facilitates very easy loading of items into it. It has a zipped pocket inside. The strap is long enough to go across the body. The bag is small enough to fit comfortably at your feet on train or plane which I prefer to overhead. Also while small and neat, if I really need to, it comfortably fits a laptop (granted of the smaller types and up to 13″). The middle pic below is of a 13″ MacBook Air that fits snuggly with lots of room for charger, notebook, etc.

So while the bag is not exactly a tech item it does help facilitate my tech life! For what it offers and the quality of the product I think its excellent value for money. Anyone out there considering reducing the weight and size of what they drag around daily should take a look at this bag (and the tech ;-) I highly recommend it!

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My shelves are paperless thanks to the iPad

Where once there stood books, print-outs and folders there only stands a few ornaments and keepsakes.  The paper is all gone.  I have a couple of posts already on trying to go paperless and honestly it has taken a few years to get here and the final piece has been possible because of the iPad.  After getting rid of filing cabinets in favour of electronic files on Sharepoint I also tried to go paperless with a tablet computer but it all seemed like too much work so paper still played a large part of both my personal and work life.  However, with the addition of the iPad and the growing number of good apps and gadgets that accompany it I am glad to say that now I am truly paperless.  All the papers that sat on my shelves mostly gathering dust are gone.  Donated, recycled or shredded.  Obviously some companies still send paper invoices by post but that is the exception rather than the rule now and mostly outside of my control.  Companies that allow selection of paperless invoicing such as O2 I have selected that option.

So yes I use the iPad!  The apps I use that enable me to go paperless are:

  • Studio Basic + > Using this app in conjunction with the Studio i pen means I really can forget the pen and paper.  From note taking to signing off on invoices it’s all possible and better than the capacitive pens. See post on the Studio i here
  • Evernote > at last I am starting to really use Evernote and using it to store and categorise relevant items on the web, documents and for work.  Easily accessible from any of my computers or mobile devices.
  • Instapaper > Loving this to aggregate pieces from all over the web and then maybe once a week I can flick through and mark items as favourites, send to Evernote, archive or delete.  No more printing of articles and stacked on a shelf
  • Adobe Createpdf > If I get a Powerpoint presentation, Word Document or Excel file that I want to read and mark up I quickly use CreatePDF to turn it into a pdf and then I open it in Studio Basic where I can use the excellent Studio i pen to mark up the document as I would if it were printed on a piece of paper.
  • QuickOffice > For opening any Powerpoint, Excel or Word office document
  • Scanner Pro > This little app is for the iPhone but works on the iPad2 OK.  I can take a pic with the iPad2 with this app and ‘scan’ it straight as a pdf to Evernote, photo library, google docs or share it via email.  No need to walk and look for a scanner or carry the paper around with me.  Scan it and go.
  • Flipboard > For consumption of my favourite web sites. News, tech, cars and more…..
  • Kindle > For all my books both personal and work.  Any good books I had I have purchased the electronic version and recycled\donated the paper ones I had on the shelf.
  • Newsstand – Focus Magazine > The BBC science magazine I subscribe to.  (Excellent app – see post here )
  • Newsstand – The Guardian Newspaper > – For the daily news obviously
  • Zinio – For the F1 Racing magazine > My subscription to the paper mag has ended so from now on I’ll be purchasing the electronic version on Zinio
  • The Journal > For daily news with an Irish focus
  • Dropbox > If needed for file access but I  am favouring Evernote over this lately just for document storage.

In my last post I mentioned Goodreader but while they have added features I feel it is clunky to use and navigate around.  Evernote is a much slicker app.  And for my pdfs and marking up as mentioned I now use Studio Basic.  A few other apps have fallen by the wayside along the way.

I am really enjoying my clutter free desk and note needing to carry books, magazines and print outs when ever I travel or even to and from work.  Its takes some time to get used to and at the start it can be tempting to just print something out of habit but I would recommend it to all.  Spend some time finding the apps you need to lighten your paper load and enjoy only carrying an iPad wherever you go.

The Studio i for iPad. Is it the missing piece?

On the Studio i home page they state  ‘This changes everything’.  Steve Jobs might have disagreed and changing everything may be pushing it just a little but this pen may just be the iPads missing piece.  Yes that is a bold statement. Does it have a missing piece?

It has been well documented the iPad is the first real device that offers the possibility of going paperless.  However, for many, while it may get rid of papers, magazines and books it has not replaced the pen and notepad.  The normal capacitive touch pen is not a good enough replacement for the pen. It is not accurate and can mean an inefficient use of the already limited space on the iPad.  I have mostly gone paperless over the last year.  I have been using the capacitive pen and while it works well it often falls down because of the lack of real accuracy particularly when trying to mark up printed documents or diagrams.

The Studio i changes that.  The pen or stylus has a very slender tip and with it very fine writing is possible.  The pen currently only works in its own native app Studio Basic + but that will change in the coming months as other note taking apps incorporate this hardware (see info at bottom on upcoming support).  Plug the receiver into the iPad data\charging port and start using the pen.  The app is very easy to use and you can very easily change the colour, opacity and line thickness to what is needed.  Take a picture within the app or import a pdf and start making notes on it straight away.  With all the accuracy of a real pen.

The pen like accuracy means that you really can use the full screen efficiently and get the sense of filling a page full of hand written notes.  While there are a couple of small things to get used to I have found I am using it daily and have really grown to like and use the app for all notes and reviewing all reading material.  Also it ignores finger and palm touches.  So you can touch and rest you hand and palm as much as you like and it wont mark or affect you page.  with the pen I can mark up PDFs, take meeting notes, jot down my daily tasks, project notes or just doodle.  You can then load to Dropbox, share on twitter, Facebook or send by email.  You can have multiple notebooks and docs on the go and easily switch between them.  If I get a word doc (or other Microsoft office doc)I need to mark up I can PDF it on the iPad using Adobe Createpdf and then open it in Studio Basic and start writing on it. Simple.

However there are a few things to note with this product

  • It takes a little bit of time to get used to the products little features such as using the ‘ghost’ dot that follows the pen nib around the screen as this is where it will start inking and not exactly where the nib is.  Also you need to hold the pen the same way as when you calibrated it or the point will be a little bit off (or re-calibrate it)
  • There is a very small lag from the pen stroke to the inking on the paper.  (Not so bad on iPad2 but more noticeable on iPad)
  • You have to press down the nib to engage the pen which at the start is a little disconcerting and can be frustrating depending on what you are doing at the start until you are used to it.  Hopefully later versions will make it much more sensitive to pressure.
  • There is less accuracy at each corner of the screen and at the bottom of the screen
  • You can only use the Studio i in Portrait mode

All that said I really do like it and its by far the best product for writing on the iPad.  I think it begins to close off the missing piece for the iPad. At least the missing piece for me.  I am sure as the product and the app develops and other apps take it on board it will become even more valuable. I gave it a quick demo today and one person soon after jumped online and bought one and another 2 people are very interested and want more info.  That is from a 2 minute demo to only a few people.  It is that impressive for those wanting to really utilise the iPad fully.

In March\April more apps will come with support for this product which I am looking forward to trying out:

  • Good Notes (beta version in app store NOW)
  • Noteshelf
  • Notes Plus
  • PDF-notes
  • Ghostwriter
  • Procreate

If you are looking for this product here in Ireland or for any info you should email B-connected info@bconnected.ie  –    www.bconnected.ie .  Its also on amazon.com and I am trying to find out where else for other geographies as I think this would be very appealing for many iPad owners.

The byZero writing demo on YouTube: