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Singtrix: Karaoke for Dads, Grads, and Music Enthusiasts (Review)

Singtrix Party BundleSingtrix
Singtrix.com
$349.00 Amazon, Sams, Target

The Singtrix karaoke machine is a microphone, a microphone stand, a “studio”, cables, and a 40-Watt speaker that uses your mobile phone or tablet’s music playlist for background music and helping vocals. It’s billed as “the next-generation karaoke machine that makes bad singers sound good and good singers sound amazing!”

It takes a few minutes to setup the Singtrix unit, because you have to assemble the microphone stand, plug in the cables, connect your phone or tablet, and tune the device. Tuning the device can take a while, as in perhaps an hour to tweak it so that it’s just right for the room you’re in. Tuning involves adjusting your phone or tablet’s volume control, the effects, and the volume, bass, and treble on the speaker. It’s not a trivial task to get it just right, but once you do, the fun begins.

You can adjust the singing voice in your song to very low so that it’s just barely audible as a helping voice. It’s fun to use one of the more than 300 voice effects that are interestingly named for songs that you’ll recognize, but careful not to infringe on copyrights.

The components are well made, clearly marked, and are of decent quality for creating some cool sounds. It’s easy enough to use for just about anyone. The controls are very intuitive and you can choose from no voice enhancement to extreme voice modulation, so there’s almost no limits to the range of possibilities.

The video below is on the Singtrix website, although I wouldn’t have included it there, it does show how versatile the Singtrix is and how impressively you can sound on it. The video shows the Singtrix inventors being a bit stubborn about getting an investment for the product launch, although I’m not completely convinced that the appearance on Shark Tank was for an investment. I think it was probably more along the lines of free advertisement for the product. I would have done the same thing.

This demo video shown in the link below is very good. And it’s 100 percent realistic. You really can get all of these sounds and effects out of the Singtrix.

For myself, I think the Singtrix is a cool, portable PA system. I’m not a singer and not even the Singtrix can make me sound good, but I do like it for its PA capabilities. I think it’s interesting in that respect and would use it for that extensively. My primary problem with the unit, besides how long it takes to get the sound right, is that it doesn’t provide the words to songs. Using an external device for lyrics is difficult because you can’t easily synchronize the song on your Singtrix-connected device to the lyrics.

The StudioMy daughter and her friends who came over and played with it for an entire weekend, much to the chagrin of my wife and myself, loved it for how it made them sound when singing. My daughter explained to me that not having the words display for you is a sacrifice to be able to choose your own songs instead of ones that the company chooses for you.
She went on to say that you can look up karaoke version of your songs on your iPad, while your phone plays the song. She didn’t think there was a problem getting the two synchronized, so she loved it.

  • From the same guys who created Guitar Hero.
  • Features the Singtrix “Studio” vocal effects unit with more than 300 unique, studio-quality vocal effects, including pitch correction and harmonies.
  • Plug in your phone, tablet, or mp3 player to play any song of your choosing while Singtrix lowers the vocals to create your own karaoke track from any song in your library.
  • Bad singers become good singers, good singers become great singers and great singers turn into rockstars!

It must be an age-related complex. I’m used to “old school” karaoke machines and she’s willing to make something work. Your mileage may vary.

40-Watt SpeakerMy best advice is that if you want to use the Singtrix as a karaoke machine, have some teenagers or preteens around to make that work for you, otherwise you’d better know all the lyrics to the songs.

Why it’s Frugal: The Singtrix isn’t frugal. It’s a luxury item that might not be for everyone at the $349 price. That’s not to say it isn’t worth the price; it is, but you should be someone who likes to sing to justify it or have a lot of parties.

I suggest that once you get the settings like you want them, leave them there. Tweaking even a little bit can cost you a lot of time and kids have short attention spans.

I don’t want you to think that this is a negative review because it isn’t. It’s a realistic one. I don’t want you to buy a Singtrix and not be satisfied because it’s a little less than falling-off-a-log simple to setup and use. I really like the Singtrix. It’s fun and you can have hours and hours of fun messing with the different voice effects, speaking like a robot, singing like a girl (if you’re a guy), singing or talking like Barry White, and more.

One final thing to note is that with the speaker pointed out toward your audience, you won’t be able to clearly hear the voice modulation. To you, you’ll sound pretty much the same as you always do, but to people in front of the speaker, your voice has changed. My daughter and friends had a lot of fun with the Singtrix. I had a lot more fun with it pretending that I was announcing plays at a baseball game or singing the National Anthem (poorly) with a lot of enhancement and Broadway stylings like many performers use. Why can’t they just sing it like Francis Scott Key wrote it? Some things shouldn’t be messed with and the National Anthem is one of them.

The Singtrix comes with everything that you need in the box to start singing and having fun. If you’re a good singer, you’ll sound like you’re in a studio. If you’re a bad singer, like me, you’ll need some help and the Singtrix has it with more than 300 voice modulations and controls. If you need to pump up the jam at your next family gathering, party, or kid sleepover; get a Singtrix and get ready to laugh and sing until you lose your voice.

Rating: 8/10

Recommendation: Try it, buy it, but be ready to tweak.

ProGear™ Vault Case For the Apple iPad mini® 1/2/3 by Pelican (Review)

VaultCaseiPadMini_closed_high VaultcaseiPadminihighProGear™ Vault Case For the Apple iPad mini® 1/2/3
Pelican
$79.99 MSRP. $75.00 Amazon (Prime)

When you first open the ProGear™ Vault Case (Vault) for the iPad mini, you notice that it’s made of very strong plastic. In fact, the company boasts that the construction passes military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for durability. And for all its toughness, it doesn’t add a lot of unnecessary bulk or weight to your iPad mini (8.72″ x 6.71″ x 0.71″ (22.1 x 17 x 1.8 cm).

When your iPad mini is in the Vault, with the lid closed (as shown in the first picture above), it’s fully protected, with the exception of your rear-facing camera. The rear-facing camera is protected by being inset into the product, but there’s no plastic shield between the outside world and your camera lens.

With the Vault lid open (as shown in the second picture above), your iPad mini screen is exposed and vulnerable to drops, spills, scratches, and other mishaps. If you drop it screen down, it will take damage.

The Vault’s construction is very solid and would be difficult to break under all but the harshest conditions. If conditions are harsh enough to break the Vault case, then perhaps you’re in an unhealthy and life-threatening situation yourself.

The hinge is a weak spot for most cases, but this one has two steel bars that run on each side of the hinge. It would take a tremendous amount of force to break that hinge. As I wrote earlier, with the lid closed and secured, your iPad mini is well protected from drops, from objects being dropped onto it, and from minor liquid spills or splashes.

Why it’s Frugal: The Pelican ProGear™ Vault Case is frugal because it protects your iPad mini in all but the harshest conditions and situations. For $75.00, protecting your $349+ investment is a good deal and is a frugal choice.

The Lightning charger port and the 3.5mm jack are both protected via attached rubber “plugs” that prevent damage to these two vulnerable areas when the plugs are in place.

  • Military Tough: Tested to Military Specifications (MIL-STD 810G) to survive multiple drops
  • Dust Protection: Ingress Protection (IP54) tested to achieve a full seal design against dust and dirt
  • Guaranteed For Life: You break it, we replace it…forever.™
  • Elastomeric Liner: Absorbs shock and protects electronics
  • Screen Protection: Hard cover protects against impact and abrasion
  • Dual Axis Hinge: Allows for unlimited viewing angles
  • Watertight Seal: Keeps out rain and dust
  • Easy, Tool Free Assembly

With the Vault, you could feel comfortable taking your iPad mini outside, to work, on biking trips, on campouts, in the garage, or in the kitchen without much fear of something terrible happening to your iPad. The lid opens all the way (near 360 degrees) to provide a stand for your iPad mini to hold it at a convenient viewing angle while you work with it in a hands free fashion.

Overall, I like the Vault. I think it’s a well made product that’s durable, simple, effective, and priced well considering its materials and construction. It’s available in various colors and also for the iPad Air.

Rating: 8/10

Recommendation: Buy it, but be aware of its exposed camera port and vulnerabilities when open.

About Pelican

Pelican Products, Inc. is the global leader in the design and manufacture of both high-performance case solutions and advanced portable lighting systems. Their products are used by professionals in the most demanding markets including fire safety, law enforcement, defense / military, aerospace, entertainment, industrial and consumer. Pelican™ products are designed and built to last a lifetime. The company operates in 19 countries, with 28 offices and six manufacturing facilities across the globe. For more information, visit www.pelican.com or www.behrmancap.com.

Domke Next Generation Metro Messenger Photographer’s Bag (Review)

Domke Metro Messenger BagDomke Next Generation Metro Messenger Bag
Tiffen
$349.95

The bag I chose for review is the Domke Next Generation Metro Messenger Bag from Tiffen. This particular bag (pictured right) that I reviewed is a photographer “gig” bag for me. Sure you can haul just about anything in it, including a laptop and accessories. But I’m an avid photographer who carries a camera, multiple lenses, and multiple camera bodies, and sometimes multiple cameras with me. I also throw in my battery charger, a flash unit or two, small lights, various cables, and even film (Yes, film. Don’t judge me). This bag can hold more than you can carry–trust me on that point. I’ve filled it so full and with so many different things that I’m sure the people behind me at the airport were rolling their eyes and taking some heavy sighs at the spectacle. Watching me pull out so much stuff from that bag–I’m sure I looked like a guy pulling clowns out of a Volkswagen at a rodeo. But I don’t care. The bag is capable of holding my stuff, so I’m going to take advantage of its capacity.

The Metro Messenger bag is one tough cookie too. It’s made of Cordura, which is a military-grade nylon blend fabric that’s used to make backpacks, duffle bags, and other stuff for the military. It’s also the material that’s used to make a lot of the new lightweight, super durable luggage that you see in department stores.

I chose the Metro Messenger because not only does it not look like a standard issue photographer’s bag, it can double, as I wrote earlier, as a laptop or other type of tote. The Messenger style bag has a good look for me that’s somewhere between briefcase/satchel and small suitcase. I don’t want to feel like I’m carrying a purse/murse nor do I want to look like I’m toting a really fancy diaper bag. That’s why I chose the evergreen style of the Metro Messenger. It’s classic, smart, and professional without being stuffy or pretentious.

Metro Messenger - Inside LookYou can also tell that this is a substantial bag. In other words, it isn’t some cheap knockoff of a bag that you really want. It IS the bag that you really want without paying the big price for it.

Now you might say that $349.95 isn’t inexpensive, but I’d tell you that you’ll probably never have to buy another one unless it’s a gift for someone. In other words, you’ll likely never have to replace it, so $349.95 is a steal, even if you keep it for just ten years, but you’ll keep it longer because it won’t wear out.

Color – Black
Fabric – Cordura
Laptop Friendly – Yes
Carry Options – Shoulder
Exterior Size – 21 in Long
Weight – 4.50 lbs
Exterior Dimensions – 21″L x 5″W x12″H
Interior Main Dimensions – 16″L x 4.5″W x11.25″H
Internal Laptop Area – 14.25 x 9.5″
Dividers – (2) D6
Webbing Color – Black
Warranty – 2 Years

 

DOMKE NEXT GENERATION METRO MESSENGER – CORDURA BLACK
Satchels, Courier and Messenger Bags

NEXT GENERATION brings evolutionary and revolutionary features to the trusted name of Domke. The Metro Messenger (the grandchild of the F-832) is part of the Metro Series of Satchels, Courier and Messenger Bags. The Metro Messenger , with functionality as the core design inspiration, integrates our patent pending systems for personalizing, protecting and accessing your valuable gear. Also available in RuggedWear Black and RuggedWear Military.

Features:

  • Black color with Sand color webbing
  • Top access with double zipper
  • Rear slide pocket
  • Expandable zippered side pocket
  • Stacked front slide pockets
  • Key-ring strap
  • Secure luggage strap
  • Numbered identity plate
  • Side rain hoods
  • Padded zippered tablet sleeve fits up to 14.25 x 9.5
  • Foam-lined laptop cargo pocket with double zipper
  • “Quiet” system hook and loop silencer
  • Expandable front pockets
  • Custom antique steel hardware
  • Detachable Gripper shoulder and grab strap
  • Domke flap tucks in for anonymity
  • All zippers YKK®
  • Comes with 2 dividers – Additional divider inserts (D6) available in GearProtex Accessories

Accessories:

  • Domke GearProtex Insert System – a revolutionary, customizable insert system that allows you to compartmentalize and organize your contents to create any size or shape using bendable, self-adhering separators.
  • Domke PocketFlex Pocket and Pouch System – an ingenious system of movable, pockets, patches and pouches.  These innovative storage components adhere to all interior surfaces, personalizing your storage.

Why it’s Frugal: The Domke Metro Messenger bag by Tiffen is frugal because it will quite possibly outlast you. I’m pretty sure that if you amortize the price over 20 years, you’ll see that for less than $1.50 per month is a great deal. The bag is tough, attractive, and functional. And it could become an heirloom. What else do you need?

The only negative about this bag is that it only has a shoulder strap and no handle on the top. I don’t always want to shoulder a bag, but it’s required with this one. Yes, it’s a messenger bag, but a top handle would be a very welcome design addition to this near perfect product.

IK Multimedia releases iRig® Pads Editor software for Mac and PC

IK MultimediaMay 14, 2015 – IK Multimedia is pleased to announce iRig® Pads Editor for Mac and PC. It’s the companion application for iRig® Pads that allows musicians to completely edit and customize IK’s popular ultra-portable, universal MIDI groove controller to suit all music production styles and live performance workflows. iRig Pads Editor is available now as a free download on the IK Multimedia web site, under the User Area, for all current iRig Pads owners.

iRig Pads Editor

iRig Pads is IK Multimedia’s 4×4 MIDI pad groove controller for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC. Its ultra-compact footprint makes it an essential instrument for traveling beat makers and other musicians who want to unlock their creativity and make music while on the go. iRig Pads comes pre-loaded with multiple setups that make it easy to control the popular groove making software programs of today. And now users can customize these setups more and even create totally new configurations in a flash to suit their own unique workflow. With total customization, iRig Pads Editor gives iRig Pads the power to be the ultimate mobile pad-based groove controller.

iRig Pads features seamless integration with IK Multimedia’s SampleTank sound and groove workstation for iPhone, iPad, Mac & PC, and IK’s GooveMaker and DJ Rig apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iRig Pads is also MIDI class compliant which means that it can be used with virtually any MIDI-compatible app — like FL Studio Mobile, iMPC Pro or GarageBand — or computer software — like MPC Software, Ableton Live, Maschine and more.

Custom control
iRig Pads Editor features an intuitive single-screen interface that lets musicians quickly reassign controls and features. Musicians can easily edit and save global configurations and individual scenes on their computer, and then transfer them to iRig Pads at will. All of iRig Pads’ surfaces and controllers can be assigned to send specific MIDI messages. iRig Pads Editor lets users assign MIDI messages to any knob, button, pad, slider or attached external controller (like an expression pedal or footswitch).

Deep dive
Users can edit the parameters of a control by simply clicking on it in the iRig Pads Editor interface. They can then assign the desired MIDI control message to the pad, knob, button, slider or external controller plugged into iRig Pads (such as an expression pedal or footswitch). iRig Pads Editor supports Note, Program Change, Control Change, MIDI System Real Time and MIDI Machine Control messages.

Multiple modes
A part of what makes iRig Pads Editor so powerful are its easy-to-use modes:

Note mode lets users assign the MIDI channel and the actual note to transmit. iRig Pads Editor also provides a choice between Temporary and Toggle mode. These modes determine whether note data will sound only while the pad is held down or whether it will “latch” onto the Note On message of the first press and the Note Off message of the second press. Temporary mode is best used when playing single-note instruments, like a drum or bass.

Toggle mode is useful for triggering loops: Musicians just have to tap the pad once to start a chosen loop. iRig Pads will then continue to play until the pad is pressed again. Toggle mode can also be used to send 2 different messages from a single button or pad. This makes it easy for a musician to switch between two different presets: These presets can be instruments — like 2 different bass, lead or pad sounds — but they can also be 2 different loop sets or effects settings. On the fly beat making has never been easier.

Big changes
iRig Pads Editor’s Program Change mode lets musicians set up iRig Pads’ knobs, buttons and pads (or slider) to change and transmit fixed or dynamic MIDI Program Change messages — it also lets users employ toggle mode to switch between 2 Program Change numbers with a single control.

Similarly, in Control Change mode, the user can assign handy MIDI Continuous Controller messages like volume, pan or expression. This mode can also be used to assign CC numbers to a parameter on a device that iRig Pads is controlling, such as a synthesizer, loop player, effects processor or even a full-featured virtual instrument like SampleTank 3. The values transmitted can be variable. For example, users can set it up so that when they tap a pad it sets the MIDI volume to maximum or pans the receiving instrument to a specific point in the stereo field.

iRig Pads Editor can also program iRig Pads to send MIDI System Real Time and MIDI Machine Control messages. This means users can conveniently start, stop, rewind or scan through a track without taking their fingers off iRig Pads.

Pricing and availability
iRig Pads Editor is available now as a complementary download for registered iRig Pads users. Mac and PC compatible versions are available.

iRig Pads is available from music and electronics retailers worldwide for $/€149.99 (excluding taxes) as well as on the IK online store.

For more information, please visit:
www.irigpads.com

To watch a video of iRig Pads Editor in action, please visit:
www.irigpads.com/videos

Warm regards,

Starr Ackerman
USA/CA/SA PR Manager

IK Multimedia. Musicians First.
954-846-9101 ext 313 | www.ikmultimedia.com


About IK Multimedia: IK Multimedia is a computer music technology company that offers a diverse range of affordable and easy-to-use music production tools with great sound quality and a realistic look and feel. With millions of installations worldwide, the IK range has been adopted by musicians of every level, from beginners to professionals, to gain access to high-end, studio-quality gear from their computers or mobile devices. iRig and iRig Pads are trademarks property of IK Multimedia Production. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac are trademarks or service trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Get To Know an MSP: Kalleo Technologies

Kalleo TechnologiesKalleo Technologies
Managed IT Support Services
Paducah, KY
(270) 908-4136
info@kalleo.net
sales@kalleo.net

CEO – Doug Truitt

Kalleo Technologies (Kalleo) CEO, Doug Truitt, and I had a good conversation about his company, its history, the company philosophy, and its services. First, is Kalleo’s interesting location: Paducah, Kentucky. Paducah is a centrally located city that’s surrounded by universities and other industries. Paducah was a strategic location during the American Civil War and remains as a significant railroad hub today.

I can’t really relay Doug’s philosophy better than he can:

After many years of being involved with IT organizations large and small we found that the traditional IT vendor to client relationship was fundamentally flawed. That relationship, typically referred to as a “break-fix” model of IT support, provides little incentive for the IT vendor to prevent clients from experiencing problems.  When something breaks, the client pays the vendor to fix the problem.

We believed – and have subsequently proven – that proactively managing your network always costs less, always improves systems’ uptime, and always improves the IT vendor to client relationship. Kalleo Technologies’ proactive, flat rate approach to IT support ensures our goals and incentives match those of our clients. Because we charge a flat rate for service, we make the same amount of money whether things are running smoothly or whether they are breaking. If things are breaking, our costs go up and our profit goes down, incentivizing us, as your partner, to keep things running smoothly.

Next, is Kalleo’s flat rate philosophy. I really like the Kalleo flat rate approach. It means that you pay a flat rate to engage Kalleo Technologies’ support, but only pay that flat rate whether or not things are broken. For example, you pay a flat rate for January and nothing goes wrong, but in February, there’s major patching to be done or there’s a new virus out that require a lot of hands-on time–you pay the flat rate again for February.

It’s a win-win situation, because regardless of your situation, you know how much you’ll be charged each month for service. And just because you’re being charged without anything being “broken” doesn’t mean that Kalleo isn’t doing anything. They still work in the background, making sure that your systems are updated, patched, and functioning normally.

Peace of mind and proactive maintenance are invaluable to any company. You must realize how important and significant this “behind the scenes” work really is to the smooth operation of your company and its computing assets.

Kalleo’s Support Model:

1. Proactive Maintenance
2. Help Desk Support
3. Rented A/V
4. IT Toolset
5. Vendor Management

Finally, Doug’s team isn’t interested in taking over your IT department, they’re there as staff augmentation, which means that they serve your company on-demand. For example, let’s say that you have a project that requires 20 FTEs working for two weeks–a desktop operating system upgrade for 500 employees. You have four employees in your IT staff. As a managed services provider, Kalleo’s team could come in and execute that migration without disturbing your employees or your full-time staff.

And Kalleo isn’t just a regional provider either, it has customers all around the country including Hawaii. Obviously Kalleo is setup for remote support, so that you don’t have to wait for someone to drive or fly to your location for break/fix, patching, or regular maintenance.

Kalleo Technologies focuses its efforts on three primary verticals:

  • Medical
  • Government
  • Transportation

Kalleo can handle large company IT augmentation and large projects as well as day-to-day support issues.

You can stay connected to Kalleo Technologies through social media at:

Among Kalleo’s extensive list of services, it offers proactive maintenance to ensure your users are up and running all the time, 24 hour monitoring, automated maintenance, remote multi-level Help Desk support, anti-virus support, optimized support tools, and vendor management.

Managed services providers (MSPs), such as Kalleo Technologies, offer companies a leveraged IT sourcing model that is often less expensive, more responsive, and better equipped to handle large projects, special support issues, break/fix, and after hours support than an internal staff is. MSPs employ a variety of IT experts, from help desk personnel up to architect-level professionals, to assist your company in migrations, projects, upgrades, and regular maintenance activities.

IBM_logo

This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.

IK Multimedia releases UltraTuner™ for Apple Watch

2015/04/28 Comments off
April 28, 2015 – IK Multimedia, the pioneer and leader in mobile music creation, is pleased to announce that the latest version of UltraTuner™ for iPhone is now compatible with Apple’s newest device, Apple Watch. Now musicians can accurately tune their instruments straight from their wrist — UltraTuner’s highly visible “STAGE mode” can be viewed on Apple Watch via 2 easy-to-see visualizations. Now it’s even easier than ever before for musicians to keep their instruments in tune no matter whether they’re on stage, in the studio or anywhere in between.
UltraTuner for Apple Watch


Ultra wearable

The latest UltraTuner app can be paired with an Apple Watch when it is installed on an iPhone with the most recent OS. Musicians can now view the tuning information on their Apple Watch in 2 operational modes: UltraTuner’s classic graduated LED “STAGE mode” and a simple “NOTE mode”, custom-designed for the Apple Watch display.

Ultra visible
When viewed on Apple Watch, “stage mode” provides a bright and highly visible display with two large yellow LED-like wing arrays that light up in progressive amounts according to whether the note played is flat or sharp. When the note is in tune, the tuning indicator center bar turns bright neon green. “NOTE mode” shows the musical note letter name that is being played, with arrows below to indicate whether the note is flat or sharp. When the note is in tune, the note name turns bright neon green.

Ultra precise
Beyond the Apple Watch enhancement, the UltraTuner app runs on both iPhone or iPod touch, and can receive an audio signal via either the built-in microphone or through an audio interface like IK’s iRig® HD, iRig 2 or iRig PRO. It sports an advanced and astonishingly quick note-detection engine that delivers accuracy down to +/- 1/100 of a cent, making it ideal for precision tuning and calibration of all instruments from electric guitars to analog synthesizers and beyond.

Pricing and availability
This newest version of UltraTuner, now compatible with the Apple Watch, is available from the App Store for just $/€4.99. UltraTuner for Apple Watch is a free update for existing owners of UltraTuner for iPhone (standalone app only).

For more information, please visit:www.ikmultimedia.com/products/ultratuner Download on the App Store

For more information about IK Multimedia’s iRig line of mobile interfaces and products, please visit:

www.ikmultimedia.com/irig

 

Go Fish: A Technology Journalist’s Torpedo Term

2015/04/25 Comments off

gofishIf I tell you to “Go Fish,” you’d better do so and realize that there’s something awry with the product in question. I’m warning you about something and you should use your Google powers to find out what it is that I’m trying to tell you. I rarely resist telling and writing my opinions, which should be refreshing to you as a reader and as someone who wants to be educated on a particular technology, service, or company.

Allow me to explain.

As a technology journalist, product reviewer, technology writer, columnist, podcaster, videocaster, and full-time “in-the-trenches” technologist, I look at hundreds of products, services, and companies every year from one angle or another in the context of testing them for their print worthiness. I draw on my many years (20+) in this business to make those determinations and I do them with great discernment and caution. I consider it my duty as a journalist, as a writer, and as a fellow technologist to give you honest answers and assessments of those products, services, and companies. You might not always agree with me in those assessments, but know that they are honest and they are well thought out on my part.

The reason that I’m posting this is that I’m asked pretty often on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, and through email if I’ll evaluate a particular product, service, or company. Most of the time, it’s for potential inclusion in an article or in a review. That’s the way it works. Public Relations professionals, company representatives, and interested parties ask me to look at something because they want attention for it. For those that deserve it, I’m more than happy to help out in that effort. However, there are those that don’t deserve it for one reason or another and I don’t bother with them. I don’t normally ‘pan’ a product, service, or company unless it’s something so vile, so dangerous, or so ridiculous that I have to do so.

yardstickThe Rules:

If you ask me if I like product X, service Y, or company Z, and I do, then I’ll tell you that I do. I also tell you why I do. I’ll probably also suggest that you read my articles about that product that you can easily find using your Google powers.

If you ask me and I simply direct you to an article, then it’s a signal that you should ponder it more extensively. It’s not a no, but it’s also not a yes. It’s rather a “You should look into it further and draw your own conclusions.”

If you ask me and I tell you to “Go Fish,” then brother or sister, you should beware. ‘Go Fish’ doesn’t mean that I’m telling you to go jump in the lake, but it does mean that I’m telling you that either I’ve looked and decided not to touch or I’ve looked and am a hater. In either case, you should proceed with caution. You should use your Google powers and search for “Ken Hess Product X” without the quotation marks, where ‘Product X’ is the product, service, or company in question.

Endorsements and Reviews

Just so you know, I’ll never endorse a product that I don’t like. If I like a product and would recommend it to a friend or colleague, then I’ll endorse it. That goes for reviews as well. If I review a product and give it a great review, it’s because I genuinely like the product. I recommend most of the products I’ve reviewed to other people. For example, my wife’s boss was looking for a cover for her iPad mini. I reviewed the Dux case by STM Bags back in January 2015. When she asked, my wife and I recommended this case to her. She promptly bought it and loves it. See how that works?

pet_rockNow, if she had read the review first and purchased the case based on my review of 10/10, and been unhappy because I didn’t give an honest review, that would ruin my credibility with her and with anyone else who read it and bought it. However, we loved the case. My wife uses it on her iPad and won’t ever use anything else (probably).

This is also why it takes me longer than most people to do reviews. I use the product. I don’t just open a box and mess with it for a few minutes. I put the product or service through its paces. I’m not an ‘unboxer.’ When I tell you that a product is good, great, or awesome, you can believe that my experience was just that. As always though, your mileage may vary, but I do my best to give you an honest look.

I love cool technology. I love great products. I get genuinely excited about products, services, and companies. For example, I’ve written several times about a product and company called 2X. It’s an incredible product that’s easy and fun to use. Parallels (another company I’m really excited about) bought it.

I write about my experiences with products and services. I actually use the products that I review. If I wouldn’t use them or if they don’t live up to the marketing hype, I don’t review them. For example, a company sent me a product for review and I was super excited about it and couldn’t wait to show my son. When he came over the next day, I brought it out to show him and during my demonstration, part of the product broke. He tried to fix it. I tried to fix it. I told the company about it and they offered to replace it, but I said no. I just wanted them to know that it had broken and it shouldn’t have. I didn’t abuse it; it just wasn’t made well. I didn’t post the review. It was a $99 item that didn’t last 24 hours under normal use.

torpedoThe Bottom Line

I write about technology. If I see a technology that I like, I write about it. I don’t have to be prompted, prodded, or coerced in any sort of way. I don’t write about everything I see. Some things I prefer not to mention because I don’t like to give bad reviews. I write about technology that is innovative, creative, important, intriguing, disruptive, or a combination of those. If I haven’t written about it, either I haven’t looked at it or I have and I’ve decided against writing about it.

You can ask me (please do) if I’ve seen something or taken a look at a product. If I have and I like it, you’ll know it. If I’ve looked and decided not to touch it, for whatever reason, please heed my advice and go fish.

@kenhess

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