Review: iPad Air 2 Case ESR Illustrators Series

Although the design of this case isn’t my style, I’ve got to admit it looks nice and my wife loves it. The pictures are subtle and well designed, and the colours are great. The overall quality is exceptionally high end and functionality wise you can’t go wrong. The case is also nice and compact, without being too thick or adding too much weight.

The case itself will lock and unlock your iPad when closing and opening it which comes in very handy. It’s also a perfect fit for my iPad Air 2, clipping nicely into place and holding the device tightly in place.

One thing that I like most about this case is the ability to rotate the iPad so you can either stand it up landscape or portrait. After using the apple magnetic case this is definitely welcome, especially when typing documents.

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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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Apple announces October 16th event

Well it looks like the time for the latest announcements from Apple are fast approaching! So what can we expect?

Well it’s that time of year when the iPad’s seem to get their refresh. I feel it is a safe assumption that we will see a new iPad Mini and iPad Air wielding touch ID and slimmer designs. Fingers crossed we will see a 13 inch iPad Pro/Plus (with mouse input support)

A refresh to Apples Mac line is most likely incoming, seeing their 27 inch display Mac gain Retina Display and perhaps we will see an updated Macbook Pro’s? Of course to go hand in hand with this I’m sure we will see a final build of Yosemite and find out exactly when it will see a public launch.

Should you be excited? Well I know I am, but only if that 13 inch iPad makes an appearance!

My Top 5 Productivity Apps for the iPad

Introduction

So I decided to throw together a quick list of my top 5 productivity tools and apps for the iPad. These are apps that I use myself and find extremely handy, in fact I couldn't do without them! My iPad has come pretty close to replacing my Macbook and without some of these trusty little apps it wouldn't even come close to achieving that.

So take a peak and see if any of them might help you out.

Pages

Pages is Apples take on Microsoft Word and I'm a big fan. Out of every application I have for my iPad, this is top of my list. The entire user interface is very touch friendly and there are plenty of tools to make your documents look absolutely fantastic. This isn't just some cheap word processor like some you would normally find on a tablet, it's a full blown piece of kit that allows real work to be completed.

Another great feature is that all of your documents will automatically sync with your iCloud information, allowing you to access them anywhere that has an internet connection. If you have an iPhone or Mac then it gets even better, with documents automatically syncing across all of your devices, allowing you to start something on one device then resume it on another.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a mobile and tablet friendly spreadsheet application. It works in the cloud, allowing you to edit on the go through any browser, simply by logging in with your Google information.

The application works great and is pretty touch friendly. Although you probably won't find yourself throwing together huge spreadsheets using this, the app is more than capable and easy to use. As mentioned above, due to it being cloud based you can do some more serious work on a browser and then complete or use the spreadsheets on your iPad. This comes in great if you're using any form of trackers on the go!

Keynote

Keynote is a powerful presentation creation tool. It allows the user to throw together great looking presentations using nothing but their iPad and it's designed from the ground up to work with touch screens. Although sometimes the lack of mouse input and the smaller screen can make things fiddly, the overall experience is pretty good using the app. The app really helps the user by helping to align images and text boxes, helping you to avoid those little mistakes.

When combined with an iPhone the app becomes even more powerful. Not only do you have the same iCloud sync options like you have in Pages, but you also have a host of presentation tools. You can add notes for each of your slides and use your iPhone to view these while also using your iPhone as a remote for your presentation. This comes in really handy when you give the iPad to someone to view and you can guide them through your presentation with nothing in your hands but your iPhone.

Garage Band

Now this might not really be a super productive app, but if you like to create music then this is a very nifty little app. For anyone who has used the app on a Mac then you will immediately feel at home, with a whole host of tools to help you record real instruments or software instruments. It's powerful and I've never had any issues with input lag etc, recording a range of guitars, vocals and bass using this tool to create tracks.

There is a huge range of virtual/software instruments and rum kits to help really flesh your track out and experiment. Editing your tracks couldn't be easier as the app has been designed to work with just touch input. Throw in the fact that like other Apple apps it syncs across iCloud, this makes the app a really valuable tool for those who want to record music on the go!

Dropbox

For all your online storage needs Dropbox is the perfect companion. It is easy to use with a range of mobile apps and desktop apps, synchronizing with a large range of productivity tools. A large range of my desktop applications allow me to save directly to Dropbox and that's the same within my iPad. Although you'll probably already be using iCloud, Dropbox offers better compatibility with other operating systems.

Dropbox also offers a good range of picture and folder back up for your iPad and mobile devices. You can enable auto backup of your photos and built into the tool you can share any files saved, helping you to work collaboratively with others.

iPad Pro/Plus

With rumors of Apples next iPad’s coming up there is one that has really caught my attention, the larger screened iPad. I had it in my head that Apple would align their naming with their Mac and Macbook range, running with a mini, air and pro, but after the announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it looks like maybe Pro won’t be appearing anytime soon. Regardless of the name it comes with, if it does come I’m very excited for it!

Some people think I’m a little mad wanting a larger iPad than my Air that I have already, but the only thing that really lets my iPad Air down right now is the screen size. The device itself is very close to being able to replace my Macbook, but the screen is just a little too small. Rumors suggest that the iPad Pro/Plus will come with a 13 inch display which is perfect. Combined with a keyboard dock then it will offer a near perfect solution for portable productivity.

I do a lot of writing on the go and my iPad Air, keyboard dock and Pages app really make work easy to accomplish. I’ve even gone a little crazy at times and completed Keynote presentations and spreadsheets on my iPad, but due to the screen size things get fiddly.

The 13 inch screen size would help to make things a lot easier to complete, removing the fiddly process of constantly zooming in and out of certain areas on the screen. Even with the added weight and potentially added discomfort of holding something so big, that can be easily cancelled out by using a keyboard dock which normally act as a stand as well.

The only issue I have with the idea of a 13 inch iPad is that iOS doesn’t support mouse input unless you jailbreak. Now if I’m going to go keyboard dock, larger display, and potentially replace my Macbook, then I’d love to see Apple implement this into the software. Considering their refusal to do this in the past, insisting that the touchscreen is the only input needed, this could be unlikely. However there are a lot of things happening over at Apple that they always insisted would never happen, so maybe mouse input will show up?

Only time will tell what new devices are coming. We don’t have long to wait, with Apple usually announcing new iPad’s within October. I’ll be keeping a close eye out and really hope Apple come out with something bigger and if they do, maybe I’ll finally give up my Macbook.

iPad Air Keyboard Case Review

This is a really nice keyboard case, especially for the price. I’m used to using a Belkin, all in one case, which has been fantastic up until recently when it has started to fall apart.

The case itself is very nice, feels great and offers a good level of protection. The lock/unlock function on the case works as advertised which comes in handy. The case feels soft and well made, wrapping around the entire iPad to cover and protect the entire body. All buttons and ports are accessible when the case is closed meaning the user doesn’t have to open the case to use it e.g. charging.

Moving onto the keyboard and I must say I am more than impressed. It’s lightweight and feels solid, the metal casing really adding a premium feel to the device. The keys are slightly smaller than a conventional keyboard but they most certainly aren’t tiny. I found typing on the keyboard to be pleasant and easy to get to grips with. The keyboard has a conventional layout unlike some other iPad keyboards that oddly sacrifice the caps lock and tab keys. The other nice feature is that this keyboard has dedicated functions for all the major operating systems, meaning you can use this with a number of devices, not just your iPad.

So to sum up this is a fantastic buy, especially for the price. Normally in this range you get an average product, but both the case and keyboard feel premium and work fantastically. The only issue I found with the entire package was the magnet that fastens the keyboard to the case when close is not very strong meaning that the keyboard will normally come loose in my bag. Not a massive issue, but slightly annoying.

With a number of styles to select and a fantastic product for the price, this is definitely worth the investment.

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.

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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

My Top 10 Gadgets 2013

Below is a list of my top 10 favourite gadgets that I used throughout 2013. I got to play with a whole load of different toys and enjoyed most of those. Check out my thoughts below and click the links for more details in Amazon.

1: Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch 

 

Recently I took the plunge and upgraded from my 11 inch Macbook Air and I’m very glad I did. The Macbook Pro is a stunning machine. Its fast, responsive and above all the screen is beautiful.  

I’m no Apple fan boy, far from it in fact, but I’ve got a place in my heart reserved for MacBooks. So far my pro has served me well and is a fantastic step up from my Macbook Air. I love the larger screen size and the retina display is to die for. 

The device just feels premium and is everything I could ask for. For what I need, the Macbook Pro Retina is perfect and I would recommend it above everything else. True love has been found in 2013. 

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was my personal phone for the best part of 2013 and I loved it. I recently changed to the Sony Xperia Z1 and find that I miss the screen size and stylus from my Note. Even it’s cheaper plastic finish isn’t enough to put me off, in fact its a bonus, making the device light weight. The Note 2 is easily my favourite phone that I used in 2013. 

Sony hit a niche market with this product. The camera on my phone is one of the biggest features I use and now with the QX10 lens I don’t really need to worry about the camera quality onboard my chosen phone. The device has god battery, is small and compact and relatively easy to use even for an amateur like myself.  

The zoom is absolutely fantastic and snapping pics in low light conditions is amazing. The lens far exceeds any dedicated camera built into a smart phone that I have used so far and that includes the Nokia Lumia 1020. 

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So I felt it was time to upgrade my graphics card in 2013 and I’m glad I did. This was the first year that I played some big name single player games from start to finish and actually enjoyed them. Games like Bioshock Infinite ran like a dead dog on my previous card but after installing my GTX 680 it ran like a dream. 

Nvidias physx also added a little spice compared to my previous AMD card. Its nothing to really shout about but there were a few noticeable differences in certain games that caught my eye, the biggest being in Planet Side 2 with its oddly beautiful teleporter effects. 

2013 was the year that I returned to dedicated portable gaming hardware thanks to Pokemon’s lure. I had always used a tablet or phone for casual gaming, singing the devices praises and condemning portable gaming hardware, saying how redundant it was. It wasn’t until I returned to true hardware controls that I realised how wrong I had been. 

The 3DS is a lovely size and very comfortable to hold. Its got a great sized screen and has a pretty good catalogue of games. I’m glad I made the move back to a portable console and couldn’t be more impressed with this device. 

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I have a love hate relationship with Sony. I want to love their products but I’ve always been unlucky in the past with all my Sony branded products going faulty. So with great reluctance I gave up my note 2 and got myself an Xperia Z1. 

Am I glad I did? Kind of. The camera is hit and miss, half of the time it takes better quality photos than I’ve ever taken before, the other half it captures horrid blurs. It feels so solid and premium unlike most Android devices which is a welcome change and the waterproof feature actually works! Its beyond fast, responding like lightning and very rarely lagging. 

The downside is its huge and my device is already faulty which is a real shame. I’ve had it exchanged and the second unit was faulty so it appears my bad luck with Sony has continued. 

The Nexus 7 is my tablet of choice at the moment. Its a relatively low cost, yet powerful device. Sporting pure Android with no manufacturer interference leaves the Nexus running blazingly fast. 

Its light weight and feels great in the hand, its rubberised back and sides stopping it from sliding all over the place and making it easier to grip. The screen size is both a positive and a negative, small enough for light browsing, gaming and work but too small for anything more. 

Overall I’m impressed with the Nexus and have so far enjoyed using it on the train to work.  

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Ah the iPad mini. This would easily be my device of the year if it wasnt for a certain software update. The iPad mini feels and looks fantastic. The screen size is perfect for on the go work and gaming. Its not too big and not too small, the best tablet size I have used. The battery life was good and it ran smoothly, never skipping a beat. 

So what changed? iOS 7 landed, turning my iPad mini into a horribly slow device. My iPad was so slow it had become unbearable to use. I understand that older Apple hardware begins to run terribly slow as new software updates land but the iPad Mini was still a current device at the time of iOS 7. In my opinion this was a terrible move by Apple. 

I miss my iPad mini as it was easily the best tablet I have ever used. After the way Apple destroyed my device I don’t think I’ll be taking the plunge and updating to the latest model. 

My first Windows 8 tablet. There is huge potential from these hybrid devices but I still don’t feel like any manufacture has gotten dit right so far. I really enjoyed my time with the Ativ Smart PC Pro but it ultimately felt like a jack of all trades. As a tablet it was average and as a laptop it was average. 

The keyboard dock was plagued with disconnection issues and as tablet the device was just too big and bulky. The thing that really killed my experience was Windows 8 which offered a very jarring experience. Modern UI and desktop mode just don’t fit together at all killing any seamless experience you would expect from a device such as this. 

The concept is sound and the potential is massive but I can’t help but feel that these hybrid devices are just lacking. 

So I mentioned already that I have a love hate relationship with Sony and the same applies with the Xperia Tablet Z. I loved the feel of it. Its so slim, with a beautiful screen and gorgeous matte finish. Its probably the nicest looking Android tablet out there. 

However its incredibly slow. Almost everything I did on the device was laggy unless I installed a custom launcher. Web browsing was poor and just navigating menus was slow. I’m not entirely sure what Sony did to this device to make it respond so poorly! Needless to say my time was short lived with this device.

 

 

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.

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