Review: Lavievert Gray Felt Case iPad Mini

I’m not normally a fan of sleeve style cases, but with me constantly throwing my tablet into a bag where it gets knocked about this case came in pretty handy. It feels and looks good, a neutral grey felt finish with a light brown splash at the bottom. The case closes using a popper which stays in place nicely and doesn’t pop open, even when it’s knocked about in my bag.

The case is a good fit for my iPad mini, not too tight which comes in handy if you have one of Apple’s magnetic cases attached to your tablet. It also helps to future proof your case, just in case you decide to switch to another similar sized tablet in the future.

Inside you’ll find a soft felt finish which will help to keep your iPad free from any scratches. it also helps to keep the screen clean (well kind of, it wiped my screen free of some finger prints anyway)

So overall I’m impressed. This is a good looking case with a quality finish which won’t break the bank. If you like the look of it from the pictures then you’ll like it more in person. Definitely one worth considering.

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Review: GMYLE® 2500mAh Ultra-Thin Power Bank

This is perhaps the most portable battery I’ve reviewed to date. This slim line, compact device is fantastic to use and easy to carry around no matter what.

I’ve used and reviewed a number of portable batteries, almost everyone of them boasting far more power than this little device. The one thing they all lack in comparison is the super compact design.

Now it does have its draw backs. If you’re going on a long journey and you need a lot of power for multiple devices then this isn’t the product for you. However, if you are looking to use a portable battery on your daily commute or while at work, then this product is far better suited than most others out there.

I’ve found it very convenient to slip this into my jacket pocket, taking it out and attaching it to my phone when needed. The great thing about it is that it fits in my jeans pocket along side my phone without adding any real bulk. Its comfortable to charge and carry at the same time.

Also the fact it has a relatively short cable attached is a good thing as it means you won’t have lengths of cable sticking out of your pocket.

The charge time as relatively fast, only a tiny but slower than plugging my device directly into the mains.

As I mentioned above, if you’re after something with a lot of power for long journeys this isn’t for you. However if its just a daily power boost you require then look no further.

Out of all the power banks I’ve been sent to review, this one is by far the most practical to use on a daily basis.

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Battle Camp Review

Introduction

So I’ve taken one of the more popular Pokemon clones for mobile devices for a spin. Normally these games are pretty poor, trying to emulate Pokemon in almost every way and failing deliver on what Pokemon achieved early in it’s day. Battle Camp promises us something different than the other clones that are available and I have to admit that this monster collection and battle game does bring something new to the table.

Gameplay

The one thing that this does differently is the combat. You have a team of 5 monsters ranging in abilities and elemental types. Now in order to attack or heal you have to match up different elemental stones, in a very similar way to Candy Crush! Match the rocks in order to power up your rock attacks, the leaves to power up your grass attacks, hearts to heal etc. So a Pokemon and Candy Crush mashup! Sounds interesting right?

Well you know what, it is a pretty good combination. The gameplay is addictive and the interesting combat makes up for the lack of exploration offered within the game. There are different areas to adventure to, offering PVP play and trading.

As you battle monsters you capture/collect them. The rarer monsters you collect puzzle parts of, eventually putting them together and hatching them. You can feed your spare monsters to your team, giving them experience and levelling them up. Once they get to the required level you can also evolve them.

Now here’s where the whole game falls down. In app purchases and social networking. You have 5 energy, every time you battle one energy disappears. Your energy recharges over a period of time. The problem is you cannot get your energy past 5 at any time, leaving you constantly waiting for it to recharge, unless of course, you pay for some. It’s a massive pain, to enjoy this game more regularly than every hour or so for more than 5 minutes you need to pay, and every time, not just a one off.

To top it all off, pretty much every time you do something the game pushes you to post it to Facebook, to invite all of your friends to see the new monster you’ve caught. No matter how many times you tell the game no, it still pushes you to do so.

Conclusion

This is a great mobile game, with quite a lot of potential. If the developers threw in some exploration then this could really shape up to be an addictive mobile game that’s also a lot of fun. However they would really need to do something about the energy issue and the in app purchases. I’d be more than happy to pay an upfront cost, or a one time in app purchase in order to give me longer play time.

As it stands this is a game worth checking out, but if you’re looking for something to play on a regular basis it’s not going to deliver. Unless, of course, you’re willing to continually keep paying for more energy and bug your friends on Facebook.

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Warhammer Quest Review

Introduction

I’ve sunk a fair amount of time into Warhammer Quest and must admit I’ve found it to be a pretty good game. It looks fantastic andworks extremely well with touch input. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into making this game.

GameplayImage

Warhammer Quest is a top down dungeon crawler. You take control of four warriors who move from town to town, collecting quests and searching dungeons. There are a number of classes to control and lots of loot to discover.

Combat and movement follows the conventional rules of Games Workshop, giving your warriors a set number of move and combat points per turn. This slows the combat down and forces the player to take a little more time planning their strategy which works fantastically well on the iPad.

One thing that is a little disappointing is that Warhammer Quest is all about searching through dungeons and nothing more. It’s fun for a while but I’ve found myself wishing the game was a little more deep, allowing me more freedom to explore other landscapes or even just the towns I visit.

However for the cost I can’t really complain. They pretty much nailed the gameplay.

Graphics

This isn’t the kind of game that’s going to blow your socks off when it comes to graphics but it still looks good. I loved the art style of the dungeons and the animations of the warriors worked very nicely.

Image

Conclusion

For anyone looking for a casual RPG dungeon crawler this is the game for you. There’s enough content to hold your interest for hours and it’s well worth the price. It’s a great game for killing time and it’s new and original, taking advantage of touch input and making great use of the controls.

Download – iPhone Download – iPad

iPhone 5S Review

Introduction 

Its been a long time since I used an iPhone for personal use. I fell in love with Android some time back and shunned the iPhones seeing them as basic and small so I really expected to dislike the iPhone 5S, in fact I wanted to dislike it. However the opposite has happened, I’ve fallen in love with it.

Look and Feel

Apple have done what Apple do well, built a device that looks and feels amazing. Its superbly lightweight and the screen looks fantastic despite it being relatively small. The iPhone feels premium, beautifully crafted and fantastic to handle.

I’ve been put off the smaller screen of the iPhone for some time now, preferring the mammoth sized displays you find on Androids. However using the iPhone reminded me of what this device is, its a phone. It no longer takes up every bit of space in my pocket and it feels comfortable to hold during lengthy calls. It still does everything else well while at the same time doesn’t over stretch its purpose. With tablets at such reasonable prices why do we also opt for giant displays on our phones?

If you are used to previous generations of Apple devices then you may find yourself in need of new charging or dock accessories as the port in the iPhone 5 and above has changed. There was outcry when this happened but at the end of the day it saved on time and also this device charges up extremely fast.

User Interface

I wasn’t a fan of iOS 7 on the iPad but on the iPhone it works well. Its punchy and sharp and responds extremely fast. Noticeable differences from the previous OS are the complete change of style, new launcher options and revamped multitasking.

We still lack some of the customisation options that you would find in an Android device but iOS 7 is pretty nice. Its fast and intuitive and above all else its extremely simple to use. Like all previous iOS devices Apple have maintained that quality where anyone can pick up a device and find their way around it regardless of experience.

Camera

Here’s where things aren’t quite as good. The camera is an improvement over previous models and the dual LED flash is a welcome addition. I managed to snap some great looking pictures on the go and with the additional camera functions, such as slow motion videos, things got really fun.

However, where the camera falls down is against its competition. Its the best Apple camera on any of its devices but when pitted against competition flagships it falls short. The main devices I have used along side the iPhone 5S are, Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z1 and the Lumia 1020. What we do need to consider however is that they pack a better camera but they are also huge devices when compared to the iPhone. Its a trade off you need to decide on.

Battery

Battery life was surprisingly good, easily lasting me a full day. Its what I’ve come to expect from this kind of device. It won’t blow you away and you’re still going to need to charge this on a daily basis.

What I liked

Surprisingly I loved the size of the device. It felt almost perfect to use as a phone with all the smart added extras. For me it is nearly perfect as I carry a tablet around everywhere I go and have the option of using my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. For some, the size will be a let down, for others a massive bonus.

What I disliked

The price. Yes Apple have made a beautiful and premium device but I still cannot accept that it is worth the asking price. It has lovely features and is well crafted but its a hefty price tag.

Stand Out Feature

The finger print reader for me was the stand out feature. I expected it to be a gimmick, something that rarely worked. Instead I found it to be fully functional and pretty handy. Literally I pressed my thumb on the home key and voila! No need for patterns, codes or pin numbers.

Conclusion

In conclusion I loved the iPhone 5S and I can’t really fault it. Potential buyers need to decide on what they really need from a phone and take a look at what other devices they carry. If you lug a tablet around with you then the iPhone is a nice companion. If you’re looking for an all in one device for heavy browsing on productivity on the go then this device probably isn’t for you.

Is it worth the price tag? Hard to justify really. However its one of the most surprising devices I’ve used in a long time and for once I’ve been pleasantly excited while using the iPhone.

Check it out here: iPhone 5S

Dungeon Hunter 4

Slashy slashy time!
Slashy slashy time!

So I decided to delve into another one of Gameloft’s clones. They make some pretty good mobile games and Dungeon Hunter 4 is no different. It’s a great little game, packed filled with some brilliant RPG elements, fantastic graphics and great controls. The gameplay is fun, button mashing mayhem. I’ve sunk hours into hacking and slashing my way through hordes of enemies and upgrading my loot. For a mobile game this is pretty great fun.

This is something you will see a lot during the game
This is something you will see a lot during the game

Where the fun stops however is Gamelofts insistence on in app purchases. Simple things like using potions more often than every couple of hours will end up costing you gems, and gems will cost you real world cash. In order to progress in the game you need better equipment and the quickest way to get your hands on this is to spend some gems on it. In fact pop up sales will appear in-between loading screens, enticing you to spend spend spend. Now, you can earn all the loot for free and upgrade gathered loot with in gold that you find in game. However this is a long process. I’ve already repeated one level about 20 times in order to grind my way to the higher level equipment.

At the end of the day this game is free to play and you’re not being forced to spend any money. However in app purchases pop up around every corner, leaving me wishing I could just pay for the app up front and have a better in game experience without being pestered every other minute.

I’d recommend giving this app a go if you fancy playing a premium RPG on your mobile device. It others some good old fashioned button mashing fun and is worth giving a chance. Just make sure you avoid the temptation to blow your real world cash on this game, it could turn into a real money pit.

DownloadiPhone    DownloadiPad

Samsung Ativ PC Pro Day by Day

Well my Samsung Ativ PC Pro has just arrived and I’ll be writing my thoughts on the device one day at a time. So far I’m very impressed by it and I look forward to using it more and seeing how it really performs in real world usage. So what will I look at when reviewing this beast?

Samsung

Right now I use a MacBook Air which I absolutely love. Its a great piece of kit and does most things that I need but its getting old and lacks power now. I also love the form factor of something like the Ativ PC Pro and I’m intrigued to see how well it performs as a tablet and also ultrabook. Obviously I do a lot of writing and the Mac has proved to be a great companion for all of my notes and work. I’ll take the Ativ PC Pro for a real spin and see how productive it really can be!

I’ve ordered myself a larger 256GB SSD (http://amzn.to/Z43Ec9) which I will fit into the tablet. This will hopefully be arriving this week and I’ll let you know how well the installation goes!

Day One

I’ve been using the Ativ PC Pro for just over 24 hours now and I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. I felt that I was going to be underwhelmed by this tablet due to the negativity that Windows 8 has received but I’ve got to admit that the OS actually performs very well. The tablet feels premium and performs well handling pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it. I’ve spent most of my time installing my applications and customizing the device but so far I’m impressed.

My first impressions of the OS is that it offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand I have the traditional desktop mode which I’ve spent most time using with my tablet docked in the keyboard. This performs exactly how you would expect from a Windows device. I’ve not had a chance to spend much time with Modern UI but from my brief play it handles well and gives a touch friendly environment. The thing that I love about this device when compared to other tablets is that it offers me everything. There’s no need to worry about where I will download my media content for example, I’ve got the choice to use iTunes or Google Music and I don’t need to worry about converting files. This is a full Windows experience and I love it so far.

So the device itself, what’s it like? Nice, very nice. It’s obviously bigger than your traditional tablet but that suits me just fine. It feels premium and when docked in it’s keyboard it feels and handles like an ultrabook. It’s on the heavy side so one handed use will get uncomfortable after a while and it’s also very long so using this device in portrait seems odd. It has all the ports I require and doesn’t really compromise on anything.

One of the biggest advantages is also the biggest let downs. I went for the Samsung Ativ PC Pro over the Microsoft Surface Pro due to it’s keyboard dock. The keyboard is great to use and the trackpad works well although it is a little on the small side. However the keyboard disconnects that are so widely reported are exceptionally annoying causing the keyboard to disconnect at even the slightest movement. The dock also feels extremely cheap and light which is odd considering how well made the tablet itself feels. It’s a shame that Samsung didn’t really go to the same effort in building the keyboard dock as they did the tablet. What I would have loved to see is something that employs the same materials as the tablet and perhaps uses bluetooth to connect with the tablet to avoid disconnection issues.

I’ve installed a couple of games onto the tablet just to test out how well it handles them. So far I’ve tried out Torchlight 2 and Guild Wars 2 and both games have handled well. As I mentioned I’ve not had a great deal of time yet to really test out the tablet but I’ll get some benchmarks etc in my day 2 experience.

Day Two

Well another day down and I’m still impressed by the Ativ. One thing that has struck me is how well the battery performs. I expected a couple of hours at best but I’ve squeezed over to 5 hours of screen on time and a couple of these were spent playing Guild Wars 2. Considering the power needed to keep this going it doesn’t overheat even when gaming and just keeps on performing.

So when it comes to gaming how well does it actually do it? It’s acceptable but won’t blow your socks off. If you’re looking for something that’s going to act as your gaming machine then look elsewhere, perhaps the Razer Edge? Yes the Ativ can game but it doesn’t deliver stellar performance. My session in Guild Wars was relatively smooth but bear in mind I had to drop all settings to low and lower the resolution to 720. The other problem I faced when gaming with this tablet was the keyboard dock. For whatever reason you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously with the keyboard which makes controlling your character difficult. I just hooked up a bluetooth mouse and problem solved but still it’s just another flaw with the dock.

I also decided to spend a few hours using the Ativ as a tablet because lets face it Windows 8 has been marketed at the touchscreen crowd. Desktop performed reasonably well with only a few icons being too small to hit
but at the end of the day it’s what you would expect. What I really wanted to find out is how well Modern UI performed. It was all lovely, pleasant boring. It just felt like a really dumbed down windows and left me constantly longing for my keyboard and mouse. It’s ok for those occasions when space is limited but in comparison to the likes of Android left me feeling underwhelmed. The other issue with using the Ativ as a tablet only is its weight! After a few minutes of using this I had to rest it somewhere because it is big. It’s also long which makes using it in portrait feel a little bit odd.

So to sum up if you plan on using it as a tablet only it maybe worth looking at other options unless you need the sheer power of this machine. However if like me you want a good mix and a hybrid machine then don’t let my experience of using it as a tablet put you off.

Day Three

I think I’ve got a good grasp of how well this tablet performs now. I went into this wondering if I would be getting rid of my MacBook and using only one device. My expectations were low, Windows 8 hasn’t exactly had a great ride since it’s launch. So what’s the outcome?

I love it! Sure there are things that aren’t up to scratch within the OS but for the most part it does what it needs to and its got a lot of polish and even better it offers a full desktop OS unlike any others offer right now. I can load up all my old applications and also play full PC games on my tablet. No other OS gives me this power right now and that’s where Windows 8 beats Android and iOS hands down.

When it comes to hardware I love pretty much everything about the tablet. It gets a little hot when under heavy load but its not uncomfortable. The biggest let down is the keyboard dock which has an appalling trackpad and is missing so many features. It’s just too light so tips over on non flat surfaces, could have been solved with an additional battery and the disconnection issues… the less said about that the better. If Samsung can manufacture a better dock then this device will be absolutely fantastic.

The tablet market is about to get flooded with Windows 8 devices but in my opinion the Samsung Ativ PC Pro is head and shoulders above the rest. I just really hope that manufactures don’t start pulling out of the Windows 8 space. I thought I was going to hate it but this has been a refreshing experience. It’s a no compromise device and I all I can say is that if you’re in the market for something portable but with power then this is your device.

For a full spec list and current prices check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/Yb7ih6

For a full list of accessories available check out Amazon for details:

http://amzn.to/11Ul2kL