QuNexus Smart Sensor Keyboard Controller from Keith McMillen Instruments

qunexusToday must be MIDI day, as this is the second MIDI product that I am reviewing today. I will have to admit, I am not musical enough to really use these products in my career, but this doesn’t mean that I can recommend this to those who want to be.

Now, I have reviewed products from Keith McMillen Instruments before. I absolutely loved the QuNeo, and recommend it for anyone who even just wants to try DJing. The QuNexus is a different kind of animal as it is a MIDI keyboard controller with about 25 pressure sensitive smart sensor keys. They have that LED illumination thing going on like the QuNeo, and they can detect weird things like finger pressure, tilt, and velocity which translate to pitch bend and modulation in each key.

The QuNexus is designed to plug into all mobile devices with no additional drivers needed. Speaking of mobile, the QuNexus is made for it. Seriously, you can probably drop it and it is still good. I didn’t try it with the one that I tried out, because I’ve got problems with damaging goods that I review.

All in all, the QuNexus is good for portability and playability. Now, that is a quote of the website by Matthew Dear saying essentially the same thing, so all I can do is simply agree with it. You should be able to get it for about $149.00.

The iRig PRO from IK Multimedia

iRigPRO_iPhone5_FRONT_4I am going to say that the iRig PRO from IK Multimedia is not really for me, but this is not because it is an inferior product. In all honesty, the all-in-one audio/MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, and Mac is a very superior product.

If you are not a musician, you might not need the iRig PRO. As it is, if you ever want a compact portable interface for your iDevice to a guitar, bass, keyboard, and MIDI controller for playing, practicing, or recording on the go, then the iRig PRO is for you. The iRig PRO can be used with XLR microphones and has a XLR/1/4″ combo jack for connecting microphones and instruments. Just to let you know, the unit is ultra-portable as it comes with 3 connector cables including Lightning, 30-pin, and USB.

You might notice the simplicity of the control, and you are right. It is essentially an input gain control knob, and there is a serious elimination of noise with a new high-definition preamp design.

Of course, what is a device like this without some sort of free app. The AmpliTube app includes 4 exclusive gear models in order to create a personal recording studio. Other apps are VocaLive, SampleTank, and iGrand Piano, and they are free.

If you are interested in this, head on over to the IK Multimedia web site and lay down $149.99 for it.

Speculative Fiction Saturday/Sunday: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and other LOTR stuff

hobbit desolation of smaugJust in case you have noticed, I usually do Speculative Fiction reviews on Saturday, but I forgot. There, I said it, and I even promised that I would review this film. I feel bad, because I’m going to give this next movie a mixed review.

This is my feeling on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which covers the rest of the Hobbit prequel trilogy, so far. It feels like Peter Jackson is doing the same thing as George Lucas. That is, once the landmark trilogy has been made and name made, make a prequel trilogy that is of lesser quality. I feel no reason to make any Jar-Jar related comments about Episode I with the new Hobbit trilogy.

As it is, I liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The reason why is because I felt that Peter Jackson bought the magic of The Lord of the Rings back, but it just isn’t the same. Maybe it is because there are just some things that you just can’t bring back to their original glory.

I will have to question the method that The Hobbit was brought to the screen. I know everyone has said this, but it seems odd that each of The Lord of the Rings books was made into a 3-hour movies with source material that was 300-500 pages per book. And yet The Hobbit is being made into three movies. This is quite similar to the habit of franchises like Twilight, Harry Potter, and now The Hunger Games to put the last book into two movies.

Personally, I think there is a lot to be said by spreading out a book into a few movies, because it gives the film the opportunity to cover all the book’s nuances. The good thing about Tolkien’s Middle Earth is that there are a lot of things you can put in it if your source material is not enough to fill the length of a movie. I have heard that much of the stuff in The Hobbit movies have been taken from The Silmarillion, which is another Tolkien book.

I have the same feelings about the Hobbit movies as I do about most comic-book movies. That is, they pack them full of stuff from the source material so they are bursting with way too much plot and unnecessary characters. In the case of Desolation, it has Legolas. Legolas is not in the book, what is he doing here?

Another main concern with these Hobbit movies is they depend too much on computer generated effects. There is one scene in the film where the dwarves make an escape via barrels down a river. There is one scene where a barrel rolls and hits several orcs, and it looks just awesome, but it couldn’t be done without CG. One of the things that I liked about The Lord of the Rings films is how Peter Jackson used a lot of real costumes with miniatures along with CG to make the world really come to life in a realistic way. In The Hobbit series, it feels like a lot of the effects are done with CG, and it feels artificial. There are some exceptions, like this whole town on a river that feels like something they actual built.

Another mistake that Desolation makes is that characters seem to be living in a world of cartoon physics. I already mentioned a shot in the barrel escape, but there is a scene where an arrow is blocked with another arrow. I am totally serious about that. I actually took me a minute before I realized what happened, and how atrocious that would be. I mean, you really have to time that right. If you can shoot an arrow, could you not shoot the archer a half-second earlier? Talk about a close call.

Okay, I had a lot of negative things to say about about Desolation, but I have just as many negative things to say about The Two Towers. I think it is the weakest of the LOTR trilogy, but it still has very awesome scenes. The Two Towers also have scenes that are drawn out unnecessarily, and same with Desolation. I’ll give you a spoiler alert and say that scenes with the dragon are way drawn out.

The Tablio Portable Laptop Desk

TablioIt really is interesting to see how much portable computing technology has made it so everyone has a laptop, but it isn’t always convenient for your lap.

The Tablio is essentially a wooden thing that is on top of a tray type thing. I don’t know how to describe it other than that, but it is welcome. The wooden thing holds your 13-15 inch laptop, and gives it proper insulation, while the tray thing can extend on both sides to hold your mouse.

This is, of course, a Kickstarter project, because it is so cool that it never is available in stores yet. It has met its goals, so you should be able to purchase it for $87-97.


Office finally comes to the iPad

office-for-ipadI don’t know if you know this, but I do a little tutoring work as well as my writing. The other day, I was reviewing a paper on an iPad, and I couldn’t look at this document on Word.

That is no longer the case, as Microsoft Office has finally come on the iPad. This includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Is it hard to believe that Microsoft would partner with Apple to create this? No, not really.

This is of course one of those particular apps the you will need to get an Office 365 subscription. There is a 30-day trial option as well.

The ATH-AX5iS SonicFuel Over-ear Headphones

ath_ax5is_bk_1_sq I have reviewed Audio-Technica products before, like the ATH-CKX5iS and other SonicFuel in-ear headphones. Now I am reviewing the SonicFuel over-the-head headphones.

There is a reason that the ATH-AX5iS by Audio-Technica is labelled “over-ear headphones for smartphones”. I used this on my computer, and I found that I had to turn up the volume. I will have to say that the sound is terrific, with deep bass tones. I found that I didn’t have to do any more volume adjustment when I plugged it into my Galaxy S III.

Of course, it is always tricky to review headphones, because it really is all about the sound and all. I’ll talk about the other features like the in-line mic, and the volume and track controls on the cord. The cord is nice and flat in order to resist tangles, and this is starting to become a standard in headphones. The only feature that I wished it had was a glowing Audio-Technica logo on the sides, sort of like the SteelSeries Siberia Elite.

If you want the ATH-AX5iS SonicFuel Over-ear headphones for smartphones, check it out on the Audio-Technica site in black or gun-metal gray for $89.95.

Facebook buys Oculus Rift

occulus-vr-dk2-002-612x640I’m sure that you heard about the Oculus Rift, a Virtual reality system that we at The Geek Church have covered many a time. Well, I have some either good news or bad news, depending on how you interpret it. Yeah, Facebook bought or, ahem, acquired Oculus Rift for about 2 billion.

I’m not certain what inspired this action on Facebook’s part, but not everyone is glad at this. This doesn’t appear to be the usual geek-venting that you see whenever big tech business purchases some company that would be better left alone. A tweet from Minecraft creator Markus Persson revealed that he had intended to do some deal with Oculus Rift, but he cancelled it.

So far, Facebook hasn’t exactly changed Instagram when they acquired that. I am not certain if Facebook wants to use the VR experience of Oculus Rift in order to transmit a virtual experience from one Facebook user to the other, but why else would the social media giant purchase it? How is this going to compete with Sony’s Project Morpheus?


Rufus Cuff could be the new method of communicating

rufus-cuff-wrist-communicatorRemember when I said that I didn’t want a smartwatch? Yeah, I sort of recanted on that one. I guess I sort of realized that there are some uses for a smartwatch, and this Rufus Cuff could be a start of a new trend.

The Rufus Cuff has a three-inch touchscreen and it has the ability to be a speakerphone and video chat. Oh, it also has the ability to read alerts and send you all those cool notifications. The only thing that it doesn’t do is actually be a phone.

Yeah, it isn’t like the Galaxy Gear, which can be used as a phone a la Dick Tracy. You need a phone to make this work, but it can do both iPhone and Android. It does have GPS, body monitor, and a lost phone locator.

Seriously, it doesn’t have a phone? That’s like that watch in Spy Kids 2 that doesn’t tell time. Well, this is a crowdfunded project, so we’ll see what the future is.


ToneFone is the heaviest iPhone case, and it’s supposed to be that way

tonefone_2Generally, whenever I report on an iPhone case, I usually report on how light it is and how well it protects. In the case of the ToneFone, it is a matter of how heavy it is.

As you can see in the image with the pretty model, this is an iPhone case that is designed to be a dumbbell. Insert a joke here that contrasts dumbbell with smartphone. You can get the ToneFone in 1kg or 1.5kg, and work your arms while you are on the iPhone.

Okay, you probably aren’t going to be doing a lot of stuff on your phone when your pumping it at the gym. My Source said that this product could be a joke, and I have to admit there is a lack of practicality to the product.

Well, you can try it out for about £22.90, and you can find it on the Desirable Body’s Website.


Hands on with the Stick N Find

tech.specs.iconI had a chance to try out a former crowdfunded product known as the Stick N Find, and I will say that it is quite an impressive product. If you are not familiar with it, it is a little round spot that you can track through Bluetooth to find your lost stuff.

So if you have something like your keys or some other not losable possession, you can just stick a Stick N Find on it thanks to the included 3M adhesive tape. You can then use the app to essentially find your Stick N Find tokens on a radar screen, and it will even give an approximate length of distance to your item.

I must admit that I had a hard time figuring out how to use it. I couldn’t get it to pair via Bluetooth without the app, but once I got it working, I could easily find the tokens anywhere in the house. The range is about 100 feet, and you can even turn on an instant alert so an alarm will go off when your phone comes in range. I know that because I set it up for that, and it went off without me knowing what the heck it was.

If you are interested in this Stick N Find, you can get it on the official site for about $49.99. I think it is a good investment for keeping something within your range, at a good price range. You can quote me on that.