Schneider Optics Interchangeable Lenses

Schneider LogoDigital pictures and cameras on smartphones have changed the photography beyond recognition in the last twenty years and the quality of the imagery is such that innovative filmmakers are using iPhones to record footage. One restriction remains and that is the lens itself; there’s only one and it’s fixed in place. There’s no swapping in a macro lens, though Schneider Optics might have a solution. Todd finds out more from Don.

Schneider Optics iPro Lens systems provides a selection of high quality optical lenses for Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4, including macro, wide-angle, super wide, tele and fisheye. The system works by fitting the smartphone itself into a case and then mounting the lens onto the case with a bayonet connector to ensure the best possible optical alignment. The smallest offset can lead to aberrations and a loss of picture quality, which the iPro Lens case and lens combination avoids.

The iPro Lens is available now for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus variant will be on sale shortly. Lenses cost from $39 to $99, the case is $31 and there are kits available too.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review

edgeWhen you pick you the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge for the very first time you immediately feel the difference. The Curved Edge is just cool to touch, after having used a standard flat screens mobile for years the round smooth edge is truly unique to the feel and touch. While the specifications of the phone itself are incredible I want to focus on my usability of the edge.

First and foremost Android users are going to have to retrain themselves. Instead of swiping to unlock the phone, you just click the home button and then via the edge quickly access the most important apps. I found myself over a couple of weeks customizing the edge menu to the point that it became my central launch point for the majority of important Apps I use on a regular basis. But I will be honest the first few days I kept unlocking the phone and going to the main menu but as I used the device more I found myself saving time bu launching apps from the edge with my thumb.

I loaded Ingress, Mail, Camera, Browser. Google App Folder on my first edge. I then added several apps on the other. By default the Sprint folks that provided the review unit had it loaded with an initial set of apps that indicated to me that they had put some thought into it.

Not only can you scroll the edge side to side they also have a drop menu see below that is loaded with some fun tools, tape measure, voice recorder, flashlight activator, stop watch, countdown times and a ruler.

edge2

Overall Samsung has really outdone themselves.The 5.6 Quad + AMOLED Screen is simply breathtaking.  The images taken with the camera where equally great with a Front 3.7MP and Rear 16MP camera. The Automated F-Stops allow excellent images in dark areas as well. The phone comes with a stylus that is totally unique. They call it S Pen, its like magic you do not even need to touch the screen with it to track. The screen tracked the stylus perfectly, and I could click on hyperlinks from the built in clicker in the stylus. The specifications  of the device are detailed so be sure to review them on the Samsung site.

Here in Hawaii and in Las Vegas Data Speeds where terrific while on the Sprint Network, and calls to and from the device were clear. The phone has good noise isolation as I used the phone as my primary device during CES and callers could hear me fine over the show floor noise. Overall the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a phone that will have everyone wanting to look at the curved screen technology. I encourage you to take a few extra minutes when you visit a retail store to play with this phone.. The edge is beyond useful in getting to apps and functions quick.

 

 

Rapoo announces new tablet cases for Samsung and iPad at CES

rapoo-caseIf you listen to recent analyst reports then you’ll think tablets are falling out of favor. However, reality seems to state otherwise, as devices continue to be released and sell. And where these exist, so exists a market for accessories, in this case….well, cases. A good case can protect your tablet from harm and even make you more productive by providing a physical keyboard.

Rapoo, known for mouse and keyboard, is also in this market. And, at CES 2015 the company unveiled a line of new tablet cases that are just waiting for a buyer.

The company starts off with a new line for your Samsung gear (not the watch). “Rapoo’s Keyboard Cases for Samsung Tablets are compatible with the Samsung 8”, 8.4”, 10.1”, 10.5” and Tab Pro 12.2” models. The protective cases feature a unique multi-model case system in a convenient ultra-slim, lightweight design. The Keyboard Case is paired with the tablet in seconds by way of Bluetooth technology. The cases are available in black, gray, red or blue”.

This is followed by a set of iPad cases to protect your Apple investment. “Rapoo offers two variations of its Keyboard Cases for the iPad, both compatible with iPad mini 1, 2 and 3 and iPad Air. The first variation, the Keyboard Case, features the same design, functions and colors as the Samsung tablets, while also providing an auto on/off function to conserve battery. The second variation, the Keyboard Cover for iPad, is dressed with the sleek iOS aluminum housing. The Bluetooth keyboard cover boasts a 4.5 mm ultra-thin design and features special iPad keys”.

All of these new cases are expected to be available in the spring of this year, with prices ranging from $49.99 to $99.99. You can head to the Rapoo site to keep an eye one things.

Gazelle Sells “Previously Enjoyed” Tech

Gazelle LogoGazelle’s trade-in programme for unwanted smartphones, tablets and other gadgets is well known and has featured in GNC before. If ebay doesn’t work for you then Gazelle is a good way to generate a bit of cash from stuff you don’t need any longer.

In addition to buying gadgets, Gazelle are now in the business of selling with “Gazelle Certified Pre-Owned” which offers a small range of gently used phones and tablets. At the moment it’s mostly iDevices, with the iPhone 4 from $159 and the iPad 2 from $249. The Samsung Galaxy SIII is there too at $159 and I imagine they’ll be extending the range of devices over time.

Store

The phones and tablets are graded and are described as “Certified Like New” or “Certified Good”. On the devices I checked over, the condition doesn’t appear to make any difference to the price but I assume that in some instances the price goes up for the like new ones. Gazelle say that all the devices go through a 30 point inspection to ensure the devices are fully functional and back this up with a 30 day no quibble money back guarantee.

I think the prices aren’t too far away from what you’d pay on ebay and Gazelle offers a much better proposition when it comes to getting what you paid for. A previously enjoyed smartphone or tablet can be ideal for a careless child or tough environments such as the kitchen where you might not want to risk your shiny new top-of-the range iPad Air.

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for Samsung Galaxy Review

Olloclip LogoFor the “point’n’shoot” photographer, smartphones and their built-in cameras have almost completely replaced the compact camera which has seen a huge drop in sales over the past few years. Despite the handiness of the smartphone camera and the myriad of post-processing effects beloved by Instagram, there are times where the problem is getting the right image in the first place. Smartphones with macro or wide-angle lenses aren’t common.

This is where Olloclip saw a gap in the market and via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2011, developed a selection of clip-on lenses for the iPhone and iPad, including macro, fisheye and wide-angle lenses. These have become fairly well-known and I’ve even seen a few people using Olloclips on their iPhone in real life. Not content with Apple owners having all the fun, Olloclip have launched a version of the 4-in-1 lens for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Let’s take a look.

The 4-in-1 lens system for the Galaxy S4 consists of a mounting bracket that holds two macro lenses and two additional feature lenses that screw in on top of the macro lenses. One of the lenses is a fisheye and the other wide-angle. The bracket is well-made, with metal inserts to hold the screw-in lenses and the lenses are glass; by using different threads on the bracket, it’s not possible screw in the wrong lens. The bracket can be attached from the left or the right to get the correct lens in front of the phones camera. Take a look at the pictures of the Olloclip below to see how it all works.

Olloclip with Lenses

Olloclip with Lenses Removed

Samsung with Olloclip

In use, the Olloclip is straightforward – clip on the bracket with the lens you want to use in front of the camera and then start taking pictures using your favourite camera app. Simples!

To test out the Olloclip 4-in-1, I used a Samsung Galaxy S4 borrowed from a colleague and got snapping. Here are a few macro pictures that I took of a coin and the detail is impressive.

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

And here are a few photos of a local landmark using the normal S4 camera, the wide-angle lens and the fisheye lens. I’m no Ansel Adams, that’s for sure.

Native S4 Camera

Olloclip Wide-Angle

Olloclip Fisheye

I was impressed with the Olloclip and with more interesting subject matter, I could have a lot of fun. I particularly liked the macro capabilities and the fisheye was fun too; I was quite surprised at the width of the field of view. Overall, the 4-in-1 was easy to use, clipping on and off in seconds, and significantly increased the photographic possibilities of the Galaxy S4. . On the downside, you do have to remember to bring the Olloclip with you, and the on/off and volume buttons are obstructed by the bracket when in use. The other problem can be with Samsung cases, which often replace the smartphone’s back. If you have one of these cases, you’ll find that the Olloclip won’t clip on and you’ll need to revert to the original case.

The Olloclip 4-in-1 for the Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 is available direct from the website or through other on-line retailers. Priced at a penny under US$70 or GB£60, it’s more than an impulse purchase but if you are photographer or want to get more from your camera, it’s worth forking out for. Hopefully enough Galaxy owners will purchase to persuade Olloclip to look at other popular Android smartphones as well.

Thanks to Olloclip for the review 4-in-1 lens and to Jacinta for the loan of the Galaxy S4.

The Gadget Show Live

Gadget Show LiveThe Gadget Show Live is the UK’s closest thing to CES, but that’s like comparing a boxing match to invading Iraq. Where CES takes over most of Las Vegas, the Gadget Show occupies a couple of halls at the NEC outside Birmingham. Nevertheless I popped over for a day to see the latest and greatest tech on show to us Brits and it was fun. I was there for GNC two years ago and this year the show was definitely bigger with a bit more variety. 3D TV was the thing in 2012, but 2014 is electric vehicles, 4K / UHD TVs and multi-rotor aerial vehicles. That’s not to say there weren’t other niche products and I’ve captured a few in audio interviews that I’ll post over the next few days.

Samsung were demonstrating their curved Ultra HD TVs and all I can say is, “Wow!” The screens were totally amazing – almost more real than real – and the detail was incredible. Even the flat, non-curved, versions were pretty stunning. Although the curved versions still have crazy prices, I can’t help but wonder if flat 4K resolution TVs will only be on-sale for a few short years before curved ones become mainstream.

Curved Samsung Screen

Volkswagen brought along the XL 1, a diesel plug-in hybrid, which surprisingly is not a concept car: it’s for sale if you have a fat enough wallet at somewhere in the region of £100,000. At a more realistic level, VW had a bunch of demonstrator e-up! electric cars, which at a little under £20,000 are much more affordable, though the equivalent petrol version costs closer to £8,000. I took a test drive in one and can report that it’s exactly like driving an automatic car, only quieter and with plenty of low speed torque. Top speed of 80 miles per hour and a range of 100 miles make it a perfect second car for the well off.

XL1 Front

 

XL1 Side

 

XL1 Rear

Sony’s been touting the waterproof features of the Xperia Z2 devices and they put their money where their mouth is at Gadget Show Live with a water-filled tank. Not content to simply leave the smartphone in the bottom, a team of scuba and free divers showed that the Z2 was usable under water to take photos. Outstanding.

Xperia Z2 Underwater

Finally, when I was at the show in 2012, Parrot were showing off the AR.Drone and pretty much had the airspace to themselves. Quadricopters were everywhere this year with DJI‘s mulitrotor devices (below) down to Hubsan’s tiny copters that fit in your hand. The future is three-dimensional but not quite in the way the TV manufacturers were hoping.

Multirotor Aerial Vehicle

There was plenty more and I’ll be putting the interviews out over the next few days – expect content from Sony, Canon, Optoma, Toca Boca, TP-Link, DJI and others.

The Gadget Show Live is on until 13th April 2014.

Messy Apple Divorce

I have a older friend that just upgraded from an iPhone 5 to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The iPhone 5 was his second iPhone and he liked it well enough until the 7.1 update, which made certain interface elements too small. The incoming call screen contact photos were reduced from being large and easily recognizable to a tiny little hard-to-see thumbnail sized bubble. Also the 7.1 update caused a couple of his fitness apps to no longer function properly — opening one of them would make it necessary to reboot the phone every time it was run.

So, after seeing my Note 3, he decided it was time to move up to a bigger screen and the much better battery life offered by the Note 3.

AT&T ported his phone number over to the new device. All seemed well, until his relatives (a son and a couple of grand kids) that still had iPhones using iMessages could not text his new phone. It seems that there is a well-known problem that happens when a phone number is ported away from an iPhone where iMessages has been used for texting with other iPhones.

Doing a Google search for the problem reveals that there are plenty of people experiencing this problem. If you have an iPhone and used iMessages for texting and port the number to a non-iPhone, regardless of whether it’s another smartphone or even a flip phone, iMessages will capture any text messages sent from any other iPhone where iMessages is still in use.

There are a few work-arounds and perhaps a definitive fix. The other people with iPhones with iMessages enabled can go into their settings and disable iMessages and use regular texting, and their texts to the ported number will go through to the non-Apple phone. Another suggestion is for the user that has ported their number to the non-Apple device log in to their Apple account and remove the old device from their list of Apple devices.

The third way, which may be the definitive solution, is to text “help” to 48369. This generates a reply from Apple, to which you reply “stop.” According to someone who spent time on the phone with Apple support this is supposed to take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to resolve the issue.

As people move away from iPhones that use iMessages to larger-screened smartphones because of diminished ability to read tiny print, this is likely to become a more widespread issue, which is useful to be aware of even if you are a die-hard iPhone fan and have no intention of switching.

OtterBox Preserver Series of phone cases

otterbox-logo

Don Baine talked with Jordan Vetter at the Otterbox booth at CES 2014 about the new OtterBox Preserver Series of phone cases.

The Preserver Series is a waterproof and dustproof case that will keep your iPhone 5S, iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4 safe and sound while you enjoy whatever environment you find yourself in.   All the phone’s functions, including the Touch ID sensor on the 5S, remain available while protecting your phone against water, dust and drops. The cases are fully submergible up to 6.6 ft. (2 m) for 30 minutes and can take a drop from up to 6.6 feet (2m) without damage.

otterboxPreserver

The OtterBox Preserver is available now in assorted colors for $89.95 from otterbox.com

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Samsung gives a virtual tour of its booth at CES

If you couldn’t make it out to Las Vegas this week for CES, then you’re probably following the news of all the products being shown off. You also probably found it hard to miss the Samsung show this week, thanks to the Michael Bay meltdown that took place on the stage.

However, if you’ve tired of watching that Samsung video, then the electronics maker has another one for you to watch. This time there are no embarrassing teleprompter errors involved.

The company has put together a virtual tour of its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. The five minute video can be seen below if you’d like a taste of what it’s like to be there.

Samsung Smart Home comes to CES 2014

blue-samsung-logoHome automation has become one of the fastest growing fields in technology, and 2013 saw such innovations as the Philips Hue lighting system, which my colleague Andrew has recently been playing with. Now Samsung is getting in on the game, announcing it will be showing off its new Smart Home technology at this year’s Consumer Electronics show.

“The Samsung Smart Home brand and product logo will debut at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, and the service will be commercially rolled out across Samsung devices and appliances in the first half of 2014. Pursuing its vision for a connected world, Samsung will also collaborate with third-party partners to make the Smart Home service extendible to their products and services, building the foundation for a rapidly-growing ecosystem of connected home services”.

The new technology is designed to bring together your TV with appliances and mobile devices. The plan is for the user to be able control all of this from a single app.

Samsung Smart Home will initially provide three main service features enabling users to connect with their devices from anywhere, anytime: Device Control, Home View and Smart Customer Service.