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Motorola HX550 – Bluetooth Earpiece

photo 2 I have plenty of headphones that let me shut out the world, but that’s not always convenient.  So now when I want to have a sound track of my life playing while I’m out and about I grab my Motorola HX550.

The HX 550 has got to be the easiest Bluetooth headphone earpiece configuration I’ve ever had connecting a device. By simply flipping open the earpiece, and putting it into your ear start the setup process begins and the earpiece tells you to go into your phone settings and go to Bluetooth. Once you do you’ll see the HX550 headset listed there.  Tap On it and it automatically syncs up.  Connecting the second device is a little trickier because you have to turn the first phone and then do the process again for the 2nd.

photo 4The HX 550 is an amazing earpiece with the ability to support two devices via Bluetooth.  I have my iPad mini connected as well as my iPhone. So here is the scenario, I can start music/audio book/podcast playing with my iPad mini into my ear piece, then when I hop into my car I connect my mini to my stereo via a cassette adapter cutting off the audio to earpiece.

Then my earpiece becomes available to use as a traditional Bluetooth. Another nice feature is when a call comes the headset reads the caller ID to me and I can tap the button to answer.  Once I arrive to my destination I disconnect the car adapter and then resume playing the content via the earpiece and since it’s only in once ear I have my other ear to pay attention to what’s going on in the real world.

photo 5The HX550 also features two microphones one in the back for noise canceling, and of course the forward microphone for your voice.

In fact I used the HX550 to dictate this review into my mini while I’m driving down the interstate headed into the studios. Obviously I’ll need to do some editing once I get to my desk but I can quickly do a brain dump of what it is that I want to talk about inside of my article so I don’t forget anything.

photo 1A coworker and I are constantly talk about we are really living in ‘the future’  we grew up with.  It’s going to be incredible to see what children born with this kind of technology available to them today are going to come up with.  What amazing things could be coming in another 10 to 15 years.

Dictation to digital assistants  with the ability to edit as well. It’s all going to be so crazy cool I already can’t wait to get my Pebble watch, and now with my Bluetooth headphones I am literally going be connected on all kinds of different ways to the web.

To prove how great these HX550 are I did this dictation while driving in my car listening to the radio and my window cracked little bit.  So I’ve got all kinds of noise,and what should be interference coming through and yet this was still able to pick up my voice  with a pretty decent dictation. I have not had any other headphone that talk to me!

The HX550 comes with several different ear hooks and pieces to try and insure a style that will work for a variety of individuals.  This has got to be one of the lightest pieces of technology I’ve ever owned, it is very light weight at 9g, in fact we picked up one for Matt and it’s so comfortable he’s fallen asleep with it in his ear, forgetting that he’s got it on.

In conclusion if you want to have music everywhere you go with the ability to still hear the outside world, the Motorola HX550 is defiantly worth investigation.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Smarter Stand

Brilliant, that’s the best word I can use to describe the Smarter Stand. This is by far my most used Kickstarter project and one of my favorite so far.

The idea is simple, the inventor has built plastic clips that reinforce the Smart Cover/Case at the folds to create a some what adjustable stand. The best part it works GREAT with the iPad mini.

When you don’t need the clips just slide them out of the way and they add little to no weight or bulk to your device. You do need to stick on the non-slip rubber stopper unless you use a Smart Case, I’m not thrilled about that. However, on the mini it’s kind of a welcome addition as it doubles as a grip.

You can pick up the Smarter Stand at Right now there is a special when for the price of two you get three clips for $14.99. You can use the third as a backup, or like us, you can order two and you end up with 3 sets. As any good retailer for the holidays they are offering 15% off a purchase of 3 or more when you use the code HOLIDAYS15 at check out.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe

If you are a child of the 80s or a fan of the cartoons from the time, you should check out He-Man – The Most Powerful Game in the Universe on the iPad. It seems to skip the recent reboot elements and focuses on the art direction from the original. The art is updated but it has the feel of the original.

Part RPG and Part side scroller, you can upgrade and purchase different power-ups to help you get He-Man through the levels. While the game over all is fun, and a better than average side scroller with some nifty little tricks they pull to keep it interesting like the background protecting you from falling items until they get hit and collapse themselves.

However the game is held back by an annoying control system. The left side of the screen is for scrolling left and right and the right part of the screen is for button mashing and jumping. It makes me long for a real game controller so I can really kick-it in the game because right now I can’t get a fine enough control to try and work my way through some of the levels like I could if I had a real controller in hand.

I tried using the ‘Fling’ and it helped a bit with the left – right movement but the jumping was out of the question, I had to remove the right stick because the jump requires more of a swipe.

As you go through the game you can collect ‘lore’ tokens that unlock different pieces of art and bio information. I was able to unlock a piece of ‘production art’ that really looks like a throw back to the 80s toy art that I fondly remember as a child.

There are 7 areas of the map to unlock (27 levels total) and currently I’m in the second stage ‘Snake Mountain’ while I work my way across Eternia towards Castle Grayskull. There is enough fun in the game that I’ll work my way across and there might be some re-play value as they have some ‘Angry Bird’ type scoring for each level and I really like the idea of getting as many stars for each level I can.

All in all if you don’t get annoyed by the controls the game is pretty fun. I’m anxious to see all the different characters and I love the style they’ve selected. Even watching the game credits has fun by having He-Man run through some of the different elements you’ll see and experience while playing the game.

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe is $.99 and available for iOS

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

Review: UpStand for iPad by Just Mobile

ipad on stand with bt keyboard
UpStand with Bluetooth keyboard

The iPad is a great piece of hardware and if you own one you have probably wanted to prop it up at some point so that you don’t have to hold it in you hand.  Perhaps you are currently folding the Smart Cover back on itself to create a stand, as it is designed to.  That works but the inside of the cover, the part that touches the screen, gets dirty very easily…especially when used in the kitchen.  If you are considering purchasing a stand for your iPad the UpStand may well be just what you are looking for.

Designed by Just Mobile, who make a range of stylish accessories for mobile devices, the UpStand is precision engineered with a brushed aluminium finish making it look and feel very Mac-like.  With the iPad in place it looks like a little iMac and is the perfect match for the Apple wireless keyboard.

Rubber Grips Provide Support and Protection

The two small supports upon which the iPad stands are quite deep providing ample room for an iPad 1 or an iPad 2 with a Smart Cover attached. Instead of making the stand the exact depth as the iPad so as to make a snug fit, the UpStand makes use of thin rubber inlays to firmly grip and support the iPad.

UpStand in the Kitchen
Using the UpStand in the kitchen

The rubber fittings not only protect the bottom of the iPad where it rests on these two supports but there is also rubber on all surfaces that touch the iPad preventing the back of the device from being scratched.  You can feel at ease just grabbing the iPad, turning 90 degrees and plonking back on the stand without any concern of it touching the aluminium of the stand.  Once in the stand the rubber grips hold of the iPad tightly, allowing the screen and stand to be twisted left or right as if they are one.  The iPad and stand can be confidently picked up and moved with one hand without fear of the two coming apart.  A ring of rubber on the base also protects the surface the stand is placed on and prevents the UpStand from sliding about.

The position of the iPad when in the stand is high enough above the desk to allow the connector cable to be plugged in while in Portrait mode so that it can be charged while in the stand.

Stand Up, Stand Strong

One aspect that may cause hesitation in some buyers is that the UpStand is not adjustable, so the angle of the screen cannot be tilted up or down. However, the angle is such that I’ve found no need to alter it in the experiments I have carried out using the stand in a variety of different scenarios, whether placed in portrait or landscape position.

UpStand with iPad showing screws
Two screws at the top enable disassembly

The fact that the stand is a fixed solid piece and not adjustable actually adds to it’s sturdiness and could therefore be considered as a positive. The Home button, for example, can be confidently pressed without fear of the stand falling over.  Surprisingly, this is true not only when the iPad is positioned upright in portrait fashion when the Home button positioned at the bottom, but also when placed in landscape position, with the Home button on the side.

Being non-adjustable does mean that the UpStand is not able to be folded up to be carried around with you, though it can be disassembled via two screws to take up less room if packed in a bag for travelling.

The UpStand is Outstanding

The UpStand may seem a little bit pricy at $70 but is ideal for those who are looking for a stand that is both stylish and functional. For anyone who already has the Apple wireless keyboard and an iPad this is the perfect match.  With it’s precision engineered grade brushed aluminium the UpStand turns your iPad into a real iMac-like workstation.

iMac next to iPad
The UpStanding Mini iMac

It’s Outstanding!

…or should I say, UpStanding!

The UpStand can be ordered from the Apple Store or from the Just Mobile website.

Author: Vincent Brown
Twitter: @Vintuitive
GooglePlus: +Vintuitive
Flickr: Vintuitive

ZenBound 2

Secret Exit has this wonderfully crated game called Zen Bound and I recently picked up a copy of Zen Bound 2 and it is a beautiful frustration. And I mean that in a good way.

They call it a “meditative puzzle game of wrapping rope around wooden sculptures.”

Once you are realize that each tag on the ‘Tree of Tribute’ of the level brings you into each challenge, you are pulled into this stunningly rendered environment.

Flowers are the ‘stars’ of achievement for each level and there are 100 levels of which I’ve only tackled 7 and I need to earn 19 more flowers to advance.

The game play is pretty basic, you have an object with a bungee rope attached. The goal is to wrap that object in the rope, covering the surface area, and then tie off the end on nail in the object. And that’s where the challenge begins.

The first few levels are pretty simple, and they even have little paintballs that explode to help color the object to show how much is covered. This is how they lure you into thinking this is a really easy game, but as you start to move up in levels the objects get harder to wrap at 100%.

Maybe due to folded arms, ears sticking out or the trunk of an elephant, some of the objects look deceptively simple. You’ll start to wrap the object by spinning the object and pulling the rope tight around and around. However after spinning the object like mad, you might end up short on rope, so watch your length!

The physics in the game work amazing well, you really feel like you are spinning this virtual object and the bungee cord ‘feels’ really responsive. I think this really pushes the processor because my Nexus 7 gets HOT while playing it. And when you look at the detail you can see why.

Beautiful can’t even really describe how immersive the environment is on this. You really do feel like you’re looking into a virtual world, even tilting the screen tilting makes the objects gravitate to that side and it’s stunningly smooth you have to experience it to understand that you do ‘feel’ like the object.

The best part is that it includes all of ZenBound’s original puzzles and is available on iOS, Google Play, Mac App Store and Steam!

If you like casual puzzle games that are wonderfully frustrating while you work your way through I suggest checking out ZenBound2.

Bily Foster – That iPad Guy

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