ZAGG Folio Case for the iPad Air

ZAGG FolioI have reviewed several keyboard from ZAGG, and they are definitely a company that makes some quality products. I’ve had nothing but good things to say about the Rugged Folio and the Slim Book Ultra-Slim Tablet Keyboard and Detachable Case. So is there any change to this one?

Well, I am not certain if it has better protection than the Rugged, but the fact that it can fold down and protect the iPad Air’s screen is good. You can bend it backwards so it can go 135 degrees, for multiple angles.

The good news is ZAGG claims that the Folio is “one of the thinnest available, which means it won’t take up too much space in your backpack. The cover has a leather feel to it, and it feels pretty classy.

By the way, the keyboard has 30 percent more typing area that the competition, However, there is a lot of space above and below the QWERTY keyboard. Oh, by the way, the keys are backlit, so you can type in the dark or something. The backlit keys lead to the question of the battery, it is good for three months in between charges.

So, if you are looking to get a Folio case for the iPad Air, head on over to the ZAGG site and lay down $99.99 for it. I believe that I will be reviewing more ZAGG products in March, so stay tuned.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Hobbit, The Battle of Five Armies

Hobbit The Battle of Five ArmiesWell, some of you might remember my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so it is only a matter of time before I reviewed the third Hobbit movie with The Battle of Five Armies. I’m going to start by saying that the Hobbit movies got progressively worse, but at least that it didn’t get terrible.

Here’s the biggest issue that I have with this movie. Most films follow a three-act structure, with the third act being the big climactic action scene. The Battle of The Five Armies starts with a climactic action scene, and then becomes the the climactic action scene for the entire trilogy, taking up the last two or so hours.

This isn’t to say that the action scenes aren’t great. I have to admit the opening scene where Smaug is killed is pretty scary. I don’t think that is too much of a spoiler, as the second film set it up for that. In fact, that second movie just drew out the battle with the dwarves and the dragon, ending with this over-the-top scene with a giant gold statue melting. What…the…Fudge?

Seeing a dragon destroy a city and then brag about it, saying that he is going to kill the dragonslayer’s son is pretty awesome. Most fantasy stories end this way, but leave it to Tolkien to break fantasy conventions and start new ones. In this case, the dragon has a lot of treasure, and everyone wants it.

This is where the Battle of Five Armies comes in. The Dwarves want it for themselves because Smaug did take a dwarf kingdom, hello? The humans think they are entitled to it because the dragon destroyed their city, and a human did slay Smaug. The elves want it because they think they deserve it for some odd reason. Then the Orcs want it because they are evil, I guess. As for that fifth army, I think it is…the Eagles?

Anyway, from here, the film is all about big fight scenes with massively large armies. Now, one of the things that I loved about the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy was because it was full of battles of large armies, but back then, it was new and awesome. Now it is easier to do it, and it has become possible to actually get sick of it.

The film also has some impossible physics. I mentioned in the second film that there is a scene where an arrow blocks another arrow, a scene that is so stupid that it took me a few minutes to figure out how stupid it was. There is a similar scene where Legolas runs on some bricks as they are falling, and it looks like something out of a Super Mario Brothers game.

Keep in mind, the actual Battle of the Five Armies in the book was covered in a few pages, with only a description of the casualties. I have no idea if Tolkien deliberately minimized what would be an epic scene, or he just had to cut it short because he was going to miss a deadline. I mean, after the dragon was killed the rest is simply epilogue. Which is why this movie doesn’t work, because the whole movie is one epilogue.

Worse yet, the main issue is still not settled by the end of the film. They are all fighting over the treasure, which is revealed to be cursed gold. If it is cursed, then there should be a scene where they blow up the ancient dwarf kingdom, sealing the treasure forever. If the gold isn’t cursed, shouldn’t they all separate it into equal piles, or something, as part of the armistice treaty? Instead, there is nothing in the film, not even a voiceover, saying what happened to the treasure!

Okay, I realize that I’m saying all the negatives, but there are some positives. It is interesting to see that even though this film has far too much going on, it still takes time to focus on his main its main character, Bilbo. He tries to do the best he can in his given situation, but sometimes, badness happens and there is just nothing you can do.

Sadly, this film did not end with a smooth dovetail into The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don’t see any need not to spoil this film, as you really should have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Channel Awesome’s Sage has said, prequels have never worked because we already know how the story ends. In this case, the set up doesn’t work with The Fellowship of the Ring.

You see, at the end of The Battle of Five Armies, Gandalf tells Frodo that he knows he has a ring that can make him invisible. Frodo doesn’t deny it, but he lies and says that he lost the ring. If that were the case, then wouldn’t Gandalf have confronted Frodo about this at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Instead he says, “there are many great rings of power, and none are to be used lightly” and not “I thought you told me that you lost that ring, you liar”.

Wow, I can’t believe how little positive that I had to say about this movie. Yeah, I might not see it anytime again, but it is sadly what the movie-going public wants: action connected to a proven franchise.

KeyMouse could change computer interface everywhere

KeyMouseWhile I was out CES 2015, I saw a device that could change interacting with computers as we know it. Yes, I have seen devices like these before and haven’t changed the world as we know it, but I think there is going to be some changes in computers that could make a KeyMouse rather necessary.

The KeyMouse is when someone takes your keyboard and splits it in two. This isn’t done for ergonomics, but each half of the keyboard is a mouse. Yes, you have a computer keyboard that is a mouse, and two of them, to be exact.

Now, I don’t know what I can do with two mice, just yet. I’ve used one all these years, and I think I have lost a few days of my life as my hand moves from my keyboard to my mouse. I’m not certain what two mice can do, but I think we will be living in a world with more 3D interactions, so wouldn’t two mice come in handy?

Now, I’m sure there might be some kind of learning curve here with using the KeyMouse, but I believe that once you get used to it, it will increase your productivity.

Right now, the KeyMouse is just a Kickstarter project, but it is on its way to receiving its funding from its Kickstarter page. You should be able to get it soon, and I can’t help but wonder how it will affect laptop construction.

LoopPay: Most Accepted Mobile Wallet on the planet

LoopPayI have said several times before on this blog that we are slowly exchanging our wallets and putting them in our smartphone. This is where LoopPay comes in.

What you are seeing here is the LoopPay Card, and it is virtually payment system that is accepted at over 10 million stores and restaurants. It works on Apple products and on any Android device with 4.3 or above.

This how it works:

1) Download, install and launch the LoopPay App – select “Create Account”.

2) Once your account has been created, you’ll be emailed an activation token. Copy or enter the token from your email into the LoopPay app.

3) After successful activation, please follow the LoopPay Startup Wizard instructions to load your cards with the LoopPay reader and configure your LoopPay account.

So how do you pay with this? Well, you have to have a desired default card selected for Button Pay in your application. On the main screen, it says “default accessory card” underneath the payment card. You can set up the card that you want, and set it as the default card.

When you get to the store, you have to tell them that you are using LoopPay. If they don’t know what you mean, just tell the cashier to follow the same procedure of using a credit card. Just place the LoopPay Card in the ceneter of the card slot and press the button on the Card. Should the car you wish to pay not work, select the card you want to pay and tap the screen image of the card to transmit payment.

So, are you wanting to join the mobile pay revolution? Apple thinks so with Apple Pay, but I honestly don’t think it will be long before everyone can get on this system. Head on over to the LoopPay site and check it out for yourself, and while you’re at it, see if you can’t get the case for your phone so you can carry the LoopPay Card out. The LoopPay Card itself costs $49.95.

Range-R knows when you are home

Range-RI’m not a big fan of USA Today, but I see their headlines on my way to work, and I saw that they had on the front cover a device that can see through walls. This is not technically true, as the Range-R motion detector can only detect whether you are moving or breathing.

It reminds me of the movement detectors held by the doomed soldiers in the film Aliens, and it doesn’t have X-ray capability. However, this device has apparently been in use for years by the FBI and U.S. Marshals to check some place before a big raid.

It works using radar pulses, and it can classify you as a “mover” or a “breather”. Yes, as a human being, you can hardly ever escape motion. This device can even work on block, brick, wood, stucco glass, adobe, and even dirt.

You might like that we have this technology that looks like it has been plucked out of science fiction, but with great gadgets comes great responsibility. It looks like those law-enforcement groups that use this device might be breaking a few constitutional rules.

I think USA Today was trying to create a sensational story with this device, and I often ignore their sensationalistic style, but I can’t deny that the use of the Range-R does seem to step on the toes of those that support the private rights of citizens. It looks like I have found my next “hot-button” issue, and this probably won’t be the last time we hear of the Range-R.

Source 1 and Source 2

A summary of the Windows 10 event

Windows 10In case you haven’t heard, there was a big announcement today as far as Windows 10 was concerned. Microsoft even had themselves a conference up in Washington and everything.

The first is that Windows 10 will cost you nothing. That’s right, zip. You will have opportunity to get a free upgrade in the first year for all users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1. Apparently, the company believes this is more of a service rather than a product, and Windows RT users can get in on this action as well.

Then there is the universal apps. This is when you download an app on Windows 10, and it will appear on your Windows phone, and even your Xbox. This could be a game changer right here. Can Apple do that?

Then there is Project Spartan, a new browser that focuses on “snapping” allowing you to freeze a web page and clip out specific segments or add comments. It also allows for reformatting content on websites to make it digestible and integrate like a offline article-reading list.

Oh, did I mention Cortana, the virtual assistant? It will be there. Think of it as a Siri for Windows, as every Source that I have read about it describes it this way.

By the way, Microsoft also pulled the veil off the Surface Hub, an 84-inch 4K all-in-one PC. I suppose that I could write about that, but hey, I don’t know if I can ever afford it.

I can’t stand this stupid Target ad!

Okay, I watch a lot of videos, and I keep seeing the same ads over and over. Target has these ads for their mobile programs that are just annoying, and this one just doesn’t make any sense at all.

I’m just going to pretend that you took the fourteen seconds to watch it. You would not believe how long it took me to find it on YouTube. I tried “Target ad and variations of it”. Apparently, the ad is called “Activate a Clean Slate” if you are interested.

Okay, so this woman is being interviewed for a job, and apparently her potential employer doesn’t like the videos on her cloud. Okay, now I haven’t had a job interview in a while, but is it Standard Operating Procedure for the person interviewing me to check “the videos in my cloud”.

So the interviewer has a right to check the videos on your mobile phone? That is why you need the new mobile plan from Target, because an employer might see you dress up as a fish with techno music in the background. Why is this controversial? Aren’t there more racy videos that wouldn’t get you hired?

What’s worse, the prospective employer is riding a tiger in a portrait behind him. Why is he so offended by this fish vid?

One day, our employers will judge us by the videos on our cloud. On that day, we will not be free! So spread the word, do not care for this video!

Product Shout Out: Phiaton BT 220 NC earbuds, as well as Chord MS 530 and Bride MS 500 headphones

Phiaton BT 220Welcome to a new category on this show that I would like to call, Product Shout Out. I’ve been seeing Phiaton for years at CES, and I think it is time that I take the time to put a spotlight on their products. I’m going to focus today on three particular nice looking ones with the BT 220 NC earphones, the and the.

The BT 220 NC are earbuds that are wireless thanks to the power of Bluetooth 4.0. They have an interesting angled shape, which will allow them to fit very well within the ear-canal. This is a pretty terrific-looking product, and has the customary, if not obligatory, microphone that allows its users to take phone calls.

Phiaton headphones 1What is interesting is how users can take pair their device thanks to the power of NFC. You can connect to two Bluetooth enabled devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. The battery is good for 16 hours worth of call-time, 17 hours of music-listening time, as well as 300 hours of standby.

Then there is the Chord MS 530 M-Series, which also has Bluetooth 4.0 technology and some active noise cancelling technology too, canceling up to 98 percent of ambient background noise. What you can’t see in this visual image of them is how they can fold up.

This one has the dual microphone for capturing calls, and it also has a long battery life of up to 30 hours of talk/music time, or 18 hours of talk/music time with the noise canceling function “on”. Of course, it has the same multipoint connection available for two Bluetooth devices.

Phiaton headphones 2Time to conclude with the Bridge MS 500. These particular headphones go for some serious style, and are also part of the Moderna or M series of headphones.

Just to let you know, these are wired headphones, but don’t let that tangled you up, because the cord is tangle-free. They have that EZ Fold feature similar to the Chord MS 530, and they got the noise isolation thing going on as well.

Okay, so that is not one but three different products from this fine company. Head on over to the Phiaton site and see more.

The Clio Invisible Bluetooth Speaker from Clearview Audio

ClioWhile I was at CES 2015, I had a chance to see the Clio, an invisible 2.1 Bluetooth speaker that you can see here. I couldn’t help but think that I had seen it before, but I just couldn’t place where.

I suppose that the Clio Invisible Bluetooth Speaker is made to fit in within to any room. It isn’t like a regular speaker, which is usually ebony black, but as you can see, it is clear.

I have no idea how it works, but I’ve got to hand it to the company for making it work. Apparently, it is made for some panoramic sound, and it is quite good. I had a chance to sit down with the company and try it out, and I cannot remember they managed to get a car’s windshield to play music.

You should be able to purchase the Clio Bluetooth speaker for about $349.00 on the Clearview Audio site. In case you are wondering, I never found out why the Clio looked so familiar to me. Yeah, I’m sure you probably thought it would end with a link to another article, but I just don’t have anything for you. Well, it won a CES Innovation, last year, so maybe I saw it there.

Tech21 Technology’s Classic Trio, Classic Shell, and Impact Mesh

Tech 21I have had a chance to try out Tech21 technology products before, and they make some very quality products. The color orange is a huge factor, as it is on their packaging and their products. The Orange is some D30 impact material that is that type of putty you can put on your finger, strike with a hammer, and you won’t feel it.

The first item that I will review is the Classic Trio Band Case for the iPhone 6. This is a bumper more of a case, in other words, it is made to protect the sides. These were pretty popular back when the iPhone 4 started having that problem where you couldn’t hold it a certain way.

So, the Classic Trio has Impactology, and I’ll explain what that is later. You should be able to get the Classic Trio for the iPhone 6 for about $29.99 here.

Tech 21 Classic ShellThe next case that I had a chance to review was the Classic Shell with Cover. I think this would be a good time to talk about that whole Impactology that I mentioned earlier.

Impactology is the process that that all the products are subjected to make certain they can withstand the hardness that is life. It is related to the orange material that I mentioned earlier, and it no doubt the secret of Tech21’s success.

Anyway, the Classic Shell is essentially a case for the iPhone Plus, not like the “bumper case” that was the Trio. The Cover is a flap that will protect the front of the iPhone 6 Plus while the D30 material will protect the back. You can get the Classic Shell with Cover for the iPhone 6 Plus for $44.99 on the Tech21 site here.

Tech21The last case that I reviewed is the Impact Mesh case for the Samsung Galaxy S5 case. It is a slim-fitting case that feels very rubbery, and it seems to be transparent enough to perceive some odd mesh pattern, hence the name.

You should be able to get the Tech21 Samsung Galaxy S5 Case with Impact mesh for about $34.99 here. While you are at it, just go to the Tech21 site and see what else they got there.