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Posts Tagged ‘Bluetooth’

IK Multimedia releases iKlip Grip Pro – the pro-quality 4-in-1 tripod and video handle for iPhone

December 6, 2016 Comments off
IK Multimedia. Musicians First.

December 6, 2016 IK Multimedia, a leading manufacturer of hardware, accessories, apps and software for iPhone, iPad and Mac, is pleased to announce the availability of the new iKlip Grip Pro – the professional quality 4-in-1 tripod and handle for capturing professional photos and video on the go with any iPhone or compact action video camera. iKlip Grip Pro lets users securely hold their iPhones while using the stand as a compact tabletop tripod, a video handle, a monopod or as a standard tripod adapter. iKlip Grip Pro features an integrated, all-in-one compact design that provides the highest level of convenience for capturing media on the go.
iKlip Grip Pro

Ultimate Control and stability for the best shots
iKlip Grip Pro is the new large-grip, compact multifunctional iPhone and camera stand with an integrated detachable Bluetooth shutter control that is really 4 accessories in one: super secure tabletop tripod, large-grip video handler, monopod handler and standard tripod adapter. iKlip Grip Pro can securely hold any iPhone with or without a case, and features a standard mounting system for connecting small mobile video cameras like GoPro®, compact digital cameras and stand-mount audio field recorders. iKlip Grip Pro features a large, ergonomic handle that expands into a sturdy tripod, an integrated locking extension pole that extends up to 62 cm (24″) for getting those “above the crowd” shots and selfies, plus a detachable Bluetooth shutter control for remote shooting.

Firm Grip – Securely holds any iPhone
The secret to iKlip Grip lies in its ingenious expandable and secure holding bracket that allows users to precisely position their iPhone, with or without a case, at any angle for capturing photos, video and audio. iKlip Grip Pro features an expandable spring-loaded soft-touch rubber bracket that provides secure superior holding power. Repositioning an iPhone is as simple as expanding the brackets to release the iPhone, then re-securing it.Firm Support – the tabletop tripod
iKlip Grip Pro features a new large ergonomic handle design that is super comfortable for most hand sizes. The new larger grip is perfect for stabilizing video and capturing “blur free” photos, especially in zoom modes. The handle base also can be transformed into a compact tabletop tripod for positioning on any relatively level surface for ultra-steady media capture. The trick lies in its ingeniously designed locking mechanism – when closed and locked, iKlip Grip Pro is a handle suited for most “handler” tasks like selfies or ultra-steady video shooting on the go. But when unlocked, the handle’s three legs fold out to form a firm and sturdy tabletop tripod that is ultra-secure and steady. In tripod mode, users can easily shoot steady video and photos from a single location, or use the front-facing camera for hands-free FaceTime™ video chat or live broadcasts like Facebook Live, SnapChat or Periscope productions.
iKlip Grip Pro


Firm Extension

iKlip Grip Pro also features an integrated ultra-stable, locking 4-segment telescopic extension pole. At any time users can simply unlock the pole and extend it to their desired length, up to a max of 63 cm (24.8″). And since the pole is integrated into the design, no additional assembly is required. The pole extension is perfect for the distant “selfie”, but also ideal for getting “above the crowd” for audience-less band shots, closer-than-they-appear shots and anything in between. The extender also works in tripod mode so users can position an iPhone or compact camera at the perfect distance above the tabletop.

Pivoting 360° Positioning
iKlip Grip Pro has a pivoting ball-joint attachment point that provides a full 90° angle adjustment plus 360° rotation capabilities for freely positioning an iPhone in any orientation. This allows users to get just the right angle and position for that perfect shot.

Remote Control
iKlip Grip Pro comes with an integrated yet removable Bluetooth smartphone shutter remote control that lets users wirelessly activate the shutter button in video and photo apps. A holder clip on the handle provides “one handed” thumb-activated shutter control. When using iKlip Grip Pro as a table top tripod, the shutter control easily detaches for capturing shots remotely. The Bluetooth shutter control is universally compatible with iOS 5.0 and above and can be operated up to 10 meters away.

Tripod Adapter
When the spring-loaded iPhone holder is removed from the iKlip Grip Pro, users have two additional uses – a standard UNC ¼” 20 universal tripod and handle for small digital cameras and action video cameras, and a secure grip iPhone holder that can be used on standard tripods. This is convenient for capturing stills and video with an iPhone when a more professional tripod is needed in more challenging situations, and using iKlip Grip Pro with compact action cameras or field recorders.

Pricing and availability
iKlip Grip Pro is available now from Apple Online and Retail Stores worldwide and from the IK online store for only $/€59.99 (excluding taxes).

For more information, please visit:
www.ikmultimedia.com/iklipgrippro

Find iKlip Grip Pro at an Apple Store near you:
www.ikmultimedia.com/iklipgrippro/buy

EasyAcc DP100 Ultra Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker (Review)

March 9, 2016 Comments off

EasyAcc DP100 Ultra Portable Bluetooth SpeakerEasyAcc DP100 Ultra Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker
EasyAcc
Amazon $21.99 (Prime)

The EasyAcc DP100 Bluetooth 4.0 Portable Speaker (DP100) is a small (2.6 x 2.6 x 3.8 inches), coffee cup-sized speaker that is one cool sound machine. The DP100 sports a full 4 Watt 45mm driver that can turn any room into a fully immersed music experience. But please don’t damage your hearing or disturb your neighbors with this speaker. Now this speaker won’t vibrate the car next to you at a traffic light, but it does put out some great volume. And its small size means that it’s ultraportable and easy to carry with you on camping trips, day trips, picnics, and on the days when you can have lunch outside at work.

Features:

  • MicroUSB charging
  • 2,200 mAh capacity
  • Up to 25 hours of continuous play time
  • 10.6 ounces
  • Phone answering
  • 4 Watts
  • 30m/100ft unobstructed connectivity distance.

The DP100 pairs in seconds as you can see on the video, so no matter where you are or who you’re with, someone can connect to the speaker for shared play. You can control volume and all music controls via the soft press buttons on top of the unit. You can also control the speaker from your phone.

At home or in an office, the Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity limitation might be the standard 10m/30ft, but outside where there are no walls or metal frames, you can be separated by 30m/100ft. The cool thing is that you can still hear the speaker at that distance.

EasyAcc makes some great products and the DP100 is no exception. Look for other EasyAcc product reviews here on The Frugal Networker site. Every product from EasyAcc is well made, performs very well, and is priced perfectly.

Why it’s Frugal: The DP100 is frugal because it is a lot of product for a little money. Its solid construction, long battery life, and big sound means that you can keep this little gem for years of enjoyment and that’s frugal.

Check out the video for a good review of what’s in the box, a demonstration of the speedy Bluetooth connectivity, and a good sound sample. I really like the DP100, but did find that I have trouble with the controls. It’s possible that I just haven’t taken the time to learn the controls, but I haven’t really needed to use them either, so it’s a tradeoff. Read the included documentation to find out how to use the device and you’ll be happy. The DP100 is a great little speaker at a great price and it makes a great gift and a nice stocking stuffer.

Rating: 9/10

Recommendation: Buy it. It’s good frugal fun.

IK Multimedia unveils iRig BlueTurn – the first Bluetooth page turner with backlit buttons

January 5, 2016 Comments off

January 5th, 2016 IK Multimedia, the leader in mobile music creation and technology products, is pleased to announce iRig® BlueTurn, the first backlit compact Bluetooth page turning solution for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Android. Portable and streamlined, it’s a small foot controller with two highly visible backlit soft-touch buttons that musicians, performers and more can easily pair with their favorite device for use with a wide range of document viewing apps and software like IK’s iKlip Stage app.

Designed for use on stage and on the road, iRig BlueTurn runs on two AAA batteries and features a rugged, durable enclosure. It’s an ideal companion for musicians who perform from a score, guitar and bass players who practice with tablature, speakers who use notes, presenters who use slides and more.

iRig BlueTurn

Portable page turning
With iRig BlueTurn, it’s easy to take control from the floor. Once it’s paired to a device or computer, its buttons send standard HID messages over Bluetooth LE technology. iRig BlueTurn works with IK’s owniKlip® Stage setlist management app and it’s also compatible with many popular page turning and document viewing apps and software.

iRig BlueTurn‘s buttons can be used in three different modes: They can send Page Up/Page Down, Arrow Up/Arrow Down or Arrow Left/Arrow Right commands depending on whether scrolling or page turning is required. These different modes can be set directly from the hardware when powering up.

Light it up
iRig BlueTurn is made for performers. Its backlit buttons are incredibly handy considering that most performance situations take place in venues with a low amount of ambient light. These buttons have an unobtrusive glow that makes them well suited for use during digital slideshows, while performing music or giving a lecture.

Road ready
iRig BlueTurn is ready to go. It sports a small footprint and an enclosure that’s tough enough to stand up to the rigors of the road. It easily fits into any small bag or backpack, which makes it a great travel companion for the performer on the go. A mobile design, it’s powered by 2 AAA batteries, which last a long time thanks to its ultra-low energy consumption rate.

Pricing and availability
iRig BlueTurn will be available in February 2016 from music and electronics retailers worldwide, and from the IK online store, for only $/€69.99 (excluding taxes).

For more information about iRig BlueTurn, please visit www.irigblueturn.com

To learn more about iKlip Stage, please go to: www.ikmultimedia.com/iklipstage

Introducing the Grip&Shoot Bluetooth Smart Grip for iPhone

April 6, 2015 Comments off

The Grip&Shoot Smart GripThe Bluetooth Smart Grip for iPhone
Grip&Shoot
$99.95 (Black or White)

I’ve seen several iPhoneography camera holders, mounts, and brackets to give the iPhone a more DSLR-type experience. The Grip&Shoot is a little different in that it’s not just a one-trick pony product. It is actually multiple products in one. The current Grip&Shoot (G&S) retail package comes with an iPhone 5 Shooter Case, an iPhone 4S Shooter Case, a Bluetooth Smart Grip, a Grip Adapter, a Carrying Pouch, a Wrist Lanyard, and a late edition includes the JawZ Universal Adapter.

Because there are so many parts to discuss, I’ll cover each one in its own subsection.

iPhone Shooter CaseShooter Cases

The Shooter Cases that come with the G&S package are pretty standard case fare with the exception of the G&S attachment on one side. The cases are actually suitable for regular use. The attachment portion isn’t really obtrusive or inconvenient, so you basically get a free case in the bargain. Two cases currently come with the G&S package, one for the iPhone 4S and one for the iPhone 5.

Bluetooth Smart GripBluetooth Smart Grip

The Smart Grip is really the meat and potatoes of the G&S package and even if you lost all the other parts, this one has the functionality you purchased. It is the Bluetooth connection, the trigger, and the connector for the Shooter Case or for the JawZ universal adapter.

The Smart Grip also has a (+) and a (-) button for zoom in and zoom out functions. You can take photos or start/stop video through the G&S app. The G&S device does not work with any other app on your phone. You must use the G&S app for functionality.

The bottom portion of the G&S Smart Grip is removable and can act as a remote stand for your phone for selfies, group shots, or just to place somewhere that isn’t convenient to stand. You fire the camera from the Smart Grip and you have a stable surface that kind of acts like a tripod, only a lot more portable. It works as a remote shutter release over 100 feet away from the phone.

Smart Grip Detail

Compatible devices:

iOS

  • iPhone: 4S and newer
  • iPod: 3rd Gen and newer
  • iPad: 3rd Gen and newer
  • iPad Mini: All supported

Android (Kit-Kat 4.4 and newer)

  • Nexus 4
  • Nexus 5
  • Asus Nexus 7
  • HTC One
  • Samsung Galaxy S4, S5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3, 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab2
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace3
  • Sony Xperia

Grip AdapterGrip Adapter

OK, I’ll admit that I was going to criticize the G&S for missing one of the most important features of any photo-related device: a tripod interface. Well, wouldn’t you know it…the G&S folks put one on there. It’s part of the so-called Grip Adapter attached to the bottom of the removable stand. You can screw this into a tripod mount on any device that has one and you can also put the G&S device on a tripod after removing the Grip Adapter. So, it really serves two purposes. Three if you count the third one as I wasn’t able to criticize the lack of a tripod mount. You can unscrew the Grip Adapter with a penny and the screw is designed to remain in the adapter and not fall out onto the ground to be lost forever. Indeed, the G&S people thought of everything.

Why it’s Frugal: The G&S package is frugal because it’s so much more than simply a phone grip to steady your phone for pictures. It’s the full package created by someone who knows photography and phoneography. Honestly, it might be the best sub $100 accessory you can buy for your phone. It has everything. If you tried to buy the package components separately, you might end up spending close to $200. It’s a frugal value.

Carrying PouchCarrying Pouch

The Carrying Pouch is a magnetic closure protective case that not only stores your G&S, but also your phone. It features quick open/close flaps for you rapid shooters, a belt clip, and two belt or strap loops for attaching to a purse strap, a camera case strap, or your belt. It has a plush, non-abrasive interior covering to protect your phone and your G&S. Have I said that the G&S designers thought of everything?

Wrist Lanyard

For those of you who are really rapid shooters, the package includes a wrist lanyard that loops through an opening in the Removable Stand. Put it on and let ‘er swing. Handy, thoughtful, and sturdy.

JawZ Universal AdapterThe JawZ Universal Adapter

Finally I get to my favorite G&S accessory: The JawZ Universal Adapter. I already have a case for my phone. I don’t want to remove it to use it with the G&S, so I thought, “Gee, it would be nice if…” And, of course, before I could finish that sentence, I found the adjustable JawZ universal adapter that fits just about any phone, including the case. <Sigh> What’s a techno gadget critic to do when there’s nothing to complain about for a product? Just enjoy the product that was obviously made by someone who knows photography/iPhoneography as well as I do?

As painful as it is to do it, I have to admit that the G&S package is everything you need to be a successful phoneographer. For phone photos and video, I’m not sure it can be beat. And yes, I’m an Apple product bigot here because it was originally touted as a gadget for the iPhone, but apparently the G&S geniuses have extended that functionality to other phones as well. Great job guys. I know it’s not really a criticism, but it’s the best I have for one–that G&S extended its reach to customers other than those who spend a lot of money on Apple stuff.

If you couldn’t tell, I really like the Grip&Shoot Bluetooth Smart Grip package. I think it’s well worth the $99.95 price tag and that anyone who’s into phoneography needs to get one.

Rating: 10/10

Recommendation: Buy it. It’s versatile, rugged, and is an awesome phoneography accessory.

Beacon Audio Phoenix 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Review)

January 22, 2015 Comments off

Beacon AudioPhoenix 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Beacon Audio
$59.95 Amazon (Prime)
$59.95 Beacon Audio (Free Shipping)

The Phoenix 2 portable Bluetooth speaker by Beacon Audio is a coffee cup-sized speaker that delivers big sound, handy two-way phone conversation capability, and long battery life all at a moderate price point. It would make a great gift or a cool conversation starter at any party. No one will believe the volume and depth of sound that you can squeeze out of this tiny box. The two speakers and single subwoofer might be a clue to that volume, although I’m not officially an audiophile.

The range is somewhere between 30 to 80 feet depending on where your music device and the Phoenix 2 are located. Walls, metal objects, and other electronic devices might interfere at varying levels. But outside in good weather with no obstructions, expect to be able to walk pretty far from the speaker or from your phone with no problems.

  •  Two speakers and a subwoofer
  • 360-degree sound
  • Microphone for phone calls
  • Long-lasting (8-10 hours) rechargeable battery
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 3.5mm auxiliary jack
  • USB charge connector
  • Compatible with most devices

The Phoenix 2 Portable Bluetooth SpeakerAs you can see from the video, the Phoenix 2 is small, attractive, and ready to serve. I like it. I can’t find any flaws with it. That said, I do think that the price is a little high. $60 seems a little steep, but I’m kind of cheap, hence the frugal part of this blog. I think that a $30 to $40 range would be much better.

Why it’s Frugal: The Beacon Audio Phoenix 2 portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t particularly frugal. It does deliver an unexpected sound quality, even at the highest volume level, it is a luxury item, especially at the $60 price level.

If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that will pair with just about anything you have and doesn’t require an extra app or any hassle, then the Phoenix 2 is a great choice. It comes in a variety of colors and free shipping from Amazon or the manufacturer, so that’s a big bonus.

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommendation: Buy it. Have fun with it.

Checking Out the CHIC BUDS Porta Party Bluetooth Speakers (Review)

May 16, 2014 1 comment

CHIC BUDS Porta Party Bluetooth SpeakerPorta Party Bluetooth Speakers (Katie)
CHIC BUDS, A Division of FxA
$49.99/$41.94 Amazon (Prime)

I’ve reviewed several Bluetooth speakers on this blog but none as fun or as unique as the Porta Party Bluetooth Speakers by CHIC BUDS. But, I’m a little confused by the company name. On the web site, I’ve seen it as chicBuds and CHIC BUDS, but on the package it’s CHIC BUDS and CH!C BUDS. So, for the purposes of this review, I’m going to use CHIC BUDS because I’ve seen it on the packaging and on the web site that way. It actually doesn’t matter how you spell it, though, because the Porta Party (And, it’s Porta PARTY, not POTTY) is an awesome little speaker with a HUGE sound.

I don’t usually use all caps to describe something but since I’m going with the all caps company name, why not just go all the way. Seriously, this small jar-sized speaker packs a big sound. When I first turned it on, I figured that it would be a small, tinny sound because of the diminutive stature. I was wrong. Really wrong.

There’s no tinny sound from this little pocket-sized bomb. The trebles are loud and clear and the bass is body thumpingly deep. If I were to sum up the sound quality and volume into a single word, it would be, “Impressive.”

If sound alone weren’t enough to sell you on the Porta Party speaker, check out its stats and features:

  • Standard USB/DC charging port
  • Play 30 ft. away from sound source
  • Hands-free call answering
  • Bluetooth music playing
  • Weighs just 8 ounces
  • Uses a 3.5mm audio cable (included)
  • Charge lasts up to 10 hours
  • USB cable included
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Easy device pairing
  • 4.7 x 2.4 x 2.4 inches

In their own words:

“In 2005, the founders of CHIC BUDS recognized a need in the market for technology accessories created specifically for females, and CHIC BUDS was launched.

Today, CHIC BUDS, a division of FxA, continues to be a company of girls designing and developing fashionable, fun and functional tech accessories for all of us girls that heavily rely on technology yet still delight in embracing our own personal style. At CHIC BUDS, we embrace and celebrate individuality and creativity amongst all women and girls which drives us to bring all the hard-working women and girls around the world more fun choices when it comes to their technology accessories. Our product line up not only solves the modern girl’s tech style challenges but also delivers the function we all require.”

So, I know that these speakers are “created specifically for females,” but guys can buy them too and just use them ironically. To me, the Porta Party speakers are kind of like Cosmos, you know, the drink. They’re so good and yet not really something you want your friends to see you drinking. My brother-in-law once asked my wife and me, “Have you guys ever had a Cosmo? They’re yummy!” Yeah, they’re yummy, Scott.

Sound Nerd Info:

  • Transmission distance: 10m/30ft
  • Bluetooth frequency: 2.4GHz-2.48GHz
  • Output: 3W
  • Speaker: Ø40MM, 4Ω
  • Audio bandwidth: 200Hz-20KHz
  • SNR: ≥80dB
  • Li-ion: 3.7V/500mA

Using the Porta Party speaker is very simple. Switch it to the ON position on the bottom of the speaker. Turn on Bluetooth on your device. When ChicBuds Porta Party appears in your Bluetooth device list, tap it to connect. You’re connected. Play music, make a phone call, answer a phone call, and have fun with your tiny boom box (large handle and shoulder not required).

2014-05-15 19.29.56OK, I just thought of something funny to do with your Porta Party speaker. Have a friend call you and answer it on the Porta Party by pressing the Phone button near the bottom edge of the speaker. Put the speaker in your purse. While you’re in a store, have your friend start yelling and screaming, “Let me out of here. Help! I’m trapped in this purse. Stop just looking and help me.”

That should start a party and a conversation.

Hopefully that conversation won’t end with, “You have the right to remain silent…”

One thing to note about the Porta Party speaker. To skip to the next or to the previous song, press the + or – button once. To turn up or to turn down the sound volume, press and hold the corresponding button. If you’re using the speaker as a phone, speak into the Mic located near the Phone and Volume buttons.

To charge the speaker, plug in the supplied USB cable’s small end into the speaker and the other end into your computer’s USB port. Mine charges in 2-3 hours.

My wife and daughter both love the Katie style speaker and have both expressed a desire for one. In fact, to write this review, I found the speaker on my wife’s desk and I didn’t put it there. It had been in my office in the “Review Queue” to my knowledge. I was wrong. Fortunately, it still had a charge on it and I’m currently playing it as I write this. It’s playing my “Workout” playlist on my iPhone 5.

In fact, I thought I had the sound down sufficiently but when “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” by Panic! at the Disco came on, my daughter came in and sang with it. She was supposed to be doing homework.

Why it’s Frugal: The CHIC BUDS Porta Party isn’t frugal. It’s not a frugal device. It’s a luxury device. It’s a fashion-forward accessory that’s fun and powerful enough to provide all the sound you need, but frugal it’s not. And as any woman will tell you, if it looks good (and sounds good), it doesn’t have to be frugal.

The Porta Party Bluetooth speaker is on the upper end of the price range for an electronic gadget like this. $50 is a pretty big chunk of change for this accessory. Fortunately, you can grab one for almost $10 off that MSRP by buying it from Amazon. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, which I strongly recommend, you’ll save shipping costs and get it in two days.

Although I’m kind of complaining about the price tag, $50 is about average for portable Bluetooth speakers. There are some that sell for $40-ish and some sell for as much as $150. The CHIC BUDS Porta Party Bluetooth speaker is very well made and attractive. It should provide years of enjoyment and look darn good doing it.

Rating: 9/10

Recommendation: Have him buy you one or splurge on yourself. You deserve it.

Try Shuttr by Muku Labs for redefined selfies and sneakies (Review)

November 14, 2013 1 comment

Shuttr shuttr_white-1Shuttr, Remote Shutter Release
Muku Labs
$39.99
Compatible with iOS5+, Samsung Galaxy S3/S4/Note 2/3/10.1/ and Nexus 4/7
Dimensions: 2.2 x 0.2 x 1 inches
Weight: 2 ounces

Attention avid Phoneographers! I’m not going to make you wait for the punch line on this one. The Muku Labs’ Shuttr, remote shutter release, is exactly what I’ve been looking for–for a very long time. I love it! I love my iPhone 5 too. It takes great photos. But, it has one limitation–the same limitation as all phone cameras, and cameras in general–it’s awkward to take remote pictures with.

Sure, you can prop it up or use a phone tripod and set the timer but are you really getting the picture you want with a timer? It’s a rare occurrence, if you do.

With the Shuttr, you can use the handy included phone stand or use some other method of planting your phone far enough away from yourself that you don’t look distorted like you’re looking through some psycho’s eyes in a horror movie.

Or, my favorite thing to do with the Shuttr–place my phone around and take candid shots on demand. And as many as I want to take. No silly app and no timer. Just press, press, press as much as you want to grab those stills or to start and pause video.

The Shuttr works great with the standard iPhone‘s native camera app in still or video mode. But what about other apps?

Here’s the list I’ve tested with and my results (iPhone 5, iOS 7.3):
(In no particular order)

Camera Yes
Camera+ Yes
Old Camera No
Sepia Camera No
Old Movie No
Cameo No
Cartoonmatic No
Retro Camera No
360 No
Hipstamatic Yes
Fisheye Cam Yes
Cam Studio+ No
Super Pop Cam No
Pixlromatic Yes
Popstamatic Yes
iDarkroom Yes
Camera360 Yes
Paper Camera/td> No
Duomatic Yes
More Lomo No
SlowShutter Yes
Leme Cam No
TtV Camera Yes
Top Camera Lite No
CrossProcess Yes
Otaku Camera No
Big Lens Yes
Diptic Yes
Orange Cam No
ShakeItPhoto Yes
Momentage No
Momentsia No
Fixel No
Vintagio Yes
Rawporter Yes
Ustream No

Your mileage, of course, may vary. I think some of my problems were due to iOS 7 and not Shuttr. Although, I did notice that the apps that work use the basic Camera app and simply apply filters or effects after the fact. So, chances are that if your camera app uses the built-in, generic Camera app, then Shuttr will likely work.

Shuttr is small enough to fit on your keychain and lightweight enough to take anywhere. I love the Muku Labs Shuttr. It’s one of the best smart phone and tablet accessories that I’ve seen. It feels durable and well made. You can also replace the battery when it gets weak or dies. This is not a throw away device.

Apparently I’m not alone in my praise of the Shuttr. There’s a lot of love for it out there. Every major blog and gadget site has sung its praises and it has all five star reviews on Amazon. You can add mine to that.

The Shuttr comes in either black or white and includes a soft carrying pouch and stand. If the $40 price tag seems high to you, then try to find something else that does the same thing. I hadn’t found anything like it and I receive daily emails from Photojojo.

Shuttr_BluetoothYou connect it via Bluetooth by turning on the Shuttr, opening your Settings, opening Bluetooth settings, and then discovering the Shuttr. Tap the Shuttr listing to pair it. You’re done and the Shuttr is ready to use.

Why it’s frugal: The Shuttr is an essential device if you’re a real Phoneographer–seriously. You should have one. I haven’t found anything that comes close to it at any price, so for me, it’s the most valuable photographic accessory that I have. Its value as a must-have accessory makes it frugal.

Of all the iPhone accessories I’ve played with and used, the Shuttr is one that I’ll always have with me. I might forget my tripod, a USB disk, an EyeFi card, or even my car keys, but you can be sure that I’ll never forget this little gem.

Review: 10/10

Recommendation: Definitely buy it.

The iHome type pro Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad (Review)

October 20, 2013 1 comment

iHomeKBCaseSMiHome type pro Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad
iHome, a division of SDI Technologies, LLC.
Office Depot $99.99

You never know just how your day will turn out or change your whole attitude until you wake up and face what may come head on. I follow a simple routine: I wake up, head to the gym, work out, shower, come home, fix breakfast for my daughter, take a deep breath or two, and then head into my office (a five second commute) to start my work day. And I do all that by 7:30 a.m. Some days I ask myself, “What’s my motivation.” Well, on Monday, I received, via UPS delivery, a new motivation: The iHome type pro Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad. Specifically, my iPad 4.

If you think that I’m being dramatic, you’re probably right. After all, why should I be so excited about an iPad keyboard case thingy? That’s what your formerly cynical self tells you about products like this. But having experienced the iHome keyboard case firsthand, I can tell you honestly that it’s one of the most exciting accessories I’ve ever used.

First, the case opens clamshell style to reveal a standard Apple keyboard–better still, an enhanced Apple-style keyboard–that’s right, it’s an Apple-style keyboard, but enhanced–enhanced with the Command key, the Option key, the Control key, and the fn key. It has the standard function keys along the top (F1 through F12), which perform double duty as special iPad device keys.

Now here’s the enhanced part. Those special iPad keys do stuff that you normally have to tap and swipe for–right there on your keyboard. You can close apps by using the Home key. If you press the Home key twice, it has the same effect as double pressing your Home button twice.

iHomeFkeys

You can change the brightness of your screen with F1/F2, lock/unlock your screen with the F6 key, navigate through your music selections with the F7, F8, and F9 keys, and adjust your sound settings with the F10, F11, and F12 keys. When you need to use your function keys as function keys, press and hold the fn key while pressing the function key that you want to use.

Your iPad fits snuggly into the “screen” area with a couple of simple snaps. You can charge your keyboard case with the included mini USB charger and use it wire free or you can plug it in and use it wired and allow it to charge while you’re using it.

When you close the case, you have a sturdy metal shield on the bottom and a hard plastic cover on the top that creates a protective shell for your keyboard and your iPad. And the whole thing is roughly twice the thickness and just a little larger than your iPad without the keyboard case. The keyboard case feels sturdy too. It feels more like a netbook rather than a tablet plus a keyboard. You can easily carry the combo or slip it into a purse or backpack for easy transport.

I don’t know how long the keyboard’s battery life is because I’ve never had to charge it yet and my iPad has been in the case for several days, switched to the ON position, and not plugged in. I’ve used it quite a bit too. I’ve carried it from room to room, to an outside table, and to the bedroom as a laptop unit used on my ePad pillow desk. I’ve no trouble with it preventing any connectivity to WiFi and have had no issues with the keyboard.

The one exception to its otherwise perfect performance is that it seems that on my iPad, which has iOS 7, three of the keys don’t work–or maybe I should say that I haven’t figured out how to make them work yet. The Internet browser key (F3), the Search key (F4), and the Photos key (F5) have no effect when pressed. I believe it to be an iOS 7 problem because the icons on the keys look like the old symbols for those apps on iOS 6 and previous.

Why it’s frugal: The iHome type pro Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad is frugal because it protects your investment. Spending so much on your iPad means that you need to protect it plus it’s not just a case, you get a top notch keyboard to boot. The Apple Bluetooth keyboard will cost you $69.99 and it can’t be put into a case with your iPad. A great combo at a great price.

I know there are other iPad keyboard/case combos out there but this is the one that I like the best–that’s why you’re seeing it here. The iHome type pro Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad is sturdy, handy, appropriately proportioned for the iPad, attractive, and includes all of the features of an Apple keyboard plus a very nice case rolled into one package. All of your iPad ports remain available while in the case (open or closed) and your mini USB charger port on the keyboard is also exposed for easy connectivity.

Review: 10/10

Recommendation: If you want a sturdy case and a Bluetooth keyboard for your iPad, this is the one to buy.

Announcing the iRig Blueboard: the first wireless MIDI pedalboard controller

October 10, 2013 Comments off

blueboard_guitar_ipad_335bIK Multimedia iRig Blueboard
IK Multimedia
$99.99 / €79.99 MSRP (excluding taxes)

iRig BlueBoard is the first wireless MIDI pedalboard for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac that uses Bluetooth technology to transmit MIDI messages to control app and software functions and features. Musicians can use iRig BlueBoard to control parameters in their favorite music making apps — such as stompbox effects on/off, preset patch-switching on the fly, volume or wah control, or any other MIDI controllable function. Set-up is as simple as turning on the power and launching the iRig BlueBoard companion app and assigning the backlit pads to the desired control function.

iRig BlueBoard uses Bluetooth 4.0 (LE – Low Energy) technology to transmit the actions of its four onboard, backlit foot switches and its two optional external devices to the mobile device or Mac. Then, using the included iRig BlueBoard app (download from the App Store) and software (download from the IK web site User Area), the Bluetooth signals are converted into MIDI messages and routed internally to the music app that’s running on the device.

The Ultimate App Control

Any music app or Mac music-software application that is MIDI compatible (the standard communication protocol for musical instruments) — such as IK’s AmpliTube, VocaLive, SampleTank, iLectric Piano, iGrand Piano — or any other Core-MIDI-compatible app like Apple’s GarageBand, can be controlled wirelessly.

iRig BlueBoard is also expandable — musicians can add up to two standard additional expression pedals or foot switches via the unit’s two TRS 1/4” expansion jacks, allowing for control of continuous rotary functions like wah effects, volume, EQ, gain control, etc.

For a guitarist or vocalist using a mobile multi-FX app like AmpliTube or VocaLive as a sound processor, iRig BlueBoard provides the foot-controlled functionality and convenience of a pedalboard, but with a form factor so compact and portable that it can easily slide into a backpack, a laptop bag or an instrument case. Because it’s wireless, iRig BlueBoard puts musicians on stage without being tethered to their mobile device. The unit’s range is 10 meters (over 32 feet), giving players a great deal of mobility to roam the stage that would be impossible with a wired unit.

Because the foot switches are backlit, they’re easy to see in all lighting conditions, even on a dark stage. The fact that iRig BlueBoard uses wireless Bluetooth leaves all the wired ports of the device free, so they can be used simultaneously by interfaces or controllers that feature the 30-pin or Lightning connector, like IK’s iRig PRO, iRig HD, iRig MIDI or iRig KEYS, and adapters or microphones that use the device mini-jack such as iRig, iRig PRE or iRig Mic.

Ultra Compact, Ultra Portable

iRig BlueBoard is extremely compact, light and portable, measuring only 27 cm wide x 9 cm deep (10.6″ x 3.5″) and only 2 cm (0.8″) tall. It’s extremely lightweight, but with a sturdy, stageworthy chassis and four foot switches made of soft-touch rubber and designed for durability.

iRig BlueBoard is battery powered using 4 standard AAA batteries (included), and because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), it draws very little power giving it extremely long battery life for extended operation.

Rocksteady XS 1.5 with Speakerphone: First Impressions

June 17, 2013 Comments off

RocksteadyXS 1.5 with Speakerphone - sideRocksteady XS 1.5 bluetooth portable speaker with Speakerphone.
Killer Concepts, LLC.
$89.99

Question: What has the exact dimensions of the Rocksteady XS portable bluetooth stereo speaker but with even more cool features?

Answer: The Rocksteady XS 1.5 with Speakerphone.

And if I told you that the new Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone has jawdropping sound, you’d have to believe me. After I paired the new XS with my iPhone 5, I turned on my music to test it for the first time. It was one of those “unboxing” experiences that I didn’t record with video. Thankfully so.  The queued song just happened to be a classic recording of Iron Butterfly‘s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and the first few notes of the intro made me jump and I almost dropped my iPhone. Jawdropping (or phonedropping) is a good description of that experience. My heart was still pounding a few minutes later when the song switched to Flyleaf’s hard-hitting “All Around Me.”

My kids, who are all on summertime vampire slumber hours, all three hit my office door at the same time to find out what the heck was going on. When I showed them the new XS and the fact that I could receive phone calls on it, they all responded, “Cool.” They also looked as if I had just run over their iPhones in the process. (They obviously wanted me to tell them it was for one or more of them) I waved them away while I continued my play–, ahem, research with the new XS.

Ordinarily my kids and my wife all make fun of me and my tech gadgetry. When I showed my wife the Speakerphone feature of the new XS, she picked up the XS and started walking away with it. “Hey, I’m not done with that. I’m writing a review.”

She returned it to me albeit reluctantly. I also told her that the new XS isn’t exclusive to my phone or a single device anymore. You can bluetooth connect two devices simultaneously and, like my Nissan Cube, the new XS remembers the last four devices paired to it for easy connection later.

The new Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone’s other notable features:

Battery Life: >10 hours
Distortion Free > 85dB
Charge USB devices with the USB port
3.5mm Line in music playback
USB stick music playback
Bluetooth streaming music playback
Control music and phone from phone or XS
Bluetooth 3.0 and no pairing PIN
Tough all-aluminum case
Replaceable rechargeable Lithium ion batteries
Longer, higher quality cables (1m USB and 1.2m 3.5mm cable)

And one notable feature that they forgot to tell me about in the literature: Killer sound. Of course I understand that marketing people don’t use phrases like “freakin’ killer” or “blow you away” but wow, just wow. You have to hear it to believe it.

OK, what they did say about the sound quality is this: Proprietary air channels inside to augment the sound range and volume using patent pending air channeling and membrane technology.

Uh, yeah, that’s what I meant by “blow you away” quality. I just didn’t get all geeky with it.

The sound grabs you by the throat and pounds your head. That’s a better way of saying it. And it’s not just the volume, which is important but the clarity and quality of the sound is unreal. I’m glad I don’t understand the magic behind it because I like it. I’m no sound expert but the tone is excellent and I never got any distortion even at the highest setting.

The sheer volume and clarity on this little device is one that could quite possibly drive your neighbors crazy–and if you knew my neighbors, you’d know that’s a pretty short drive.

For the highest setting, I turned my phone’s volume all the way up and then tapped the XS volume + button several times to get the most from it.

Remember the days when party DJs used to bring all that crap with them? Well, frankly, unless you have a huge auditorium, you could start your own DJ business with a phone and two or three of these new XSs. The XS would be really cool for street musicians too who don’t want to lug around a bunch of sound equipment. If I were a street musician, I’d use two of them and I’d have all the attention–even in Las Vegas, where you’ll have street performer overload after a stroll on the strip.

I compared the sound on this little device to my expensive HD TV and there’s no comparison. (I’m going to figure out a way to play my TV through it and give you an update).

The whole point of any sound device is to give you a great listening experience. The Rocksteady XS with Speakerphone will do just that. You’ll be impressed.

But its other features make it a “must have” pairing with your phone or other bluetooth-capable audio devices.

A note about the speakerphone feature. The microphone is located near the Pause/Stop button on the top of the XS. Apparently it’s pretty sensitive because my wife who answered my phone with it was standing about six or more feet away after she pressed the Pause/Stop/Answer/Hangup button. We could both hear each other just fine through it. I think the capability to receive calls through the XS is my personal favorite feature. Well, other than the incredible sound quality, it’s my favorite feature.

The Rocksteady XS 1.5 with Speakerphone is a great value. It is a stand-out in its class and you’ll be happy with it. As of this writing, Amazon.com is out of stock on it, so that should tell you something. It tells me that you’ll be lucky to find one and you should grab it when you do.

My highest recommendation and highest rating: 10/10

In the, “Why is it Frugal?” category, the Rocksteady XS 1.5 with Speakerphone is frugal because it does everything you want it to. In other words, it is the single best device to pair with your phone that I’ve seen in a while. It is more than just a portable speaker, it’s a companion. It’s what you need and its features make it a bargain.

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