Part multi-tool, part writing instrument, all German engineering. the Cleo Skribent Messograf pen ($23) works great as a writing tool, accepting any Parker-style ballpoint or gel refills. But the chromium-plated brass body also serves as a metric screw thread scale, a tire tread depth scale, and as a 4-inch caliper that measures in both metric and inches. And not to worry, nervous pen-fiddlers — it still uses a standard click-to-open mechanism. [Scouted by Andrew]
Air new Zealand partnered with WETA Workshop on a brand new Hobbit inspired Safety Video. It features cameo appearances including Sir Peter Jackson. Visit http://www.airnzcode.com/hobbitmovie to Find and Unlock the Elvish Code for your chance to win one of six double passes to the World Premiere Screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in New Zealand on the 28th of November 2012
BY TOMMY LY
Like its big brother, the iCade, iCade Mobile aims to enhance your iOS Gaming sessions by providing you with a four-way directional pad, four front-facing buttons, and four shoulder buttons to play your games with. that sounds much better than obscuring your view with on-screen controls, doesn’t it?
More features of the iCade Mobile include:
- Fun and fast mobile gaming for your iPhone or iPod Touch
- Adds physical buttons and d-pad to make your gaming experience better
- Rotating cradle allows for landscape and portrait viewing
- Connects using wireless Bluetooth technology (set up once and you’re good to go!)
- Works with over 100 games and apps (search “iCade” in the app store)
- Ergonomic design lets you play for hours in comfort
- True control with eight action buttons and two-axis directional pad
- Compatibility: iPod Touch (3rd & 4th Gen), iPhone 3/3G/3GS/4/4S
- iPod Touch Insert included
- Batteries: 2 x AA (included)
The iCade Mobile will set you back $69.99, plus the cost of the games you intend to play with it.
Speed isn’t everything, and the other top browsers bring more than enough to the table to make them relevant. We took a look Safari, Chrome, Dolphin, and Atomic Browser.
Safari is your default browser and it’s easily the most used browser on the iPhone. Safari is the easiest to use and since it’s built into every function of iOS, it’s also the most convenient.
Safari’s strengths are pretty obvious. It’s your default browser, so it’s integrated well into every other app straight out of the box. As we mentioned above, it’s also probably the fastest of all your options.
If you’re a Safari desktop user you can sync bookmarks between the devices (and across your iPhone and iPad). It doesn’t transfer your history or anything else, but it keeps everything in line on all of your devices.
Safari is also integrated into everything you do. If you want to open a link in an email, on Twitter, or anywhere else, the default place for that to happen is Safari. As a functioning web browser, Safari does just fine even though it doesn’t have a lot of special features.
The Bad: It’s a Little Boring and Doesn’t Have a Lot of Options
Safari is fine for most things and you won’t find anything terribly wrong with it. That said, the syncing features are a moot point since Safari isn’t that popular of a browser on desktop. It also has a lot of limitations on the amount of tabs you can use, and the fact it forces you into the mobile version of websites is a bit annoying.
More than anything, it’s just a simple, somewhat boring browser. It doesn’t have many features for power users and you can’t add any functionality or change how it works. It also stuffs a lot of it’s most useful features, like Private Browsing, cache clearing, and password info, all the way back in the Settings app instead of inside Safari. This means you have to make a few extra and unnecessary steps just to change up simple settings. For most people, this is fine, but if you’re looking for a bit more from your web browser, Safari is a bit bland.
Who It’s Good For: Most Everyone Who Doesn’t Want to Play Around with Settings
If you’re a Safari user on desktop than Mobile Safari is great because of the bookmark syncing. It’s also the easiest and most accessible one to use. If you open up a lot of links in other apps, or you just don’t want to futz around with settings, Safari is the go-to browser.
Chrome is the newest player on the field, but the fact the desktop version is the number one browser means the iOS versions have a leg up on the competition. I’ve been using the mobile version of Chrome since it was released and have been mostly happy with the results.
The Good: Syncing, Incognito Mode, Speed Dial, and More
Chrome on iOS isn’t as fast as Safari, but it’s not slow by any means. That said, the best feature of mobile Chrome it is the fact it syncs across all your computers. Bookmarks, open tabs, and recently opened tabs on your computer can all be pulled up on the mobile version in an instant. You also get an Incognito mode for browsing privately, and an unlimited amount of tabs.
Chrome has a few subtle, but handy features as well. You get a speed dial page when you create a new tab, and you can open up the desktop version of any mobile site by selecting “Request Desktop Site” from the options menu. You even get some simple gesture browsing with the ability to swipe to the right to change out tabs. If you’d like to use it as to open URLs without jailbreaking, you can do so with a simple bookmarklet.
The Bad: Interface Takes Some Getting Used To, Crashes
The iPhone version of Chrome is smooth and responsive, but it takes a little while to get used to how the tabs and everything else works. Once you do it works like a charm, but unlike Safari you might not be able to hand it to a friend with the expectation they’ll know how to use it. It also has some issues with crashing when you load up more complicated sites. This only happened to me with the iPad version with consistency, but it was still annoying.
Chrome has its share of annoyances as well. For instance, the swipe gesture to change tabs (pull to the right) is easy to trigger on accident. The tabs work great on iPad, but they’re easy to lose track on the iPhone’s smaller screen and the card-stack layout of the tabsis a bit tricky to get the hang of.
Who It’s Good For: Desktop Chrome Browser Users
If you use Chrome as your primary desktop browser and you’re synced up with your Google account, then Chrome for iOS is a fantastic option. It’s fast enough, has lots of great features (seriously, the Desktop View is fantastic), and syncs everything across all of your devices immediately.
As the name suggests, Dolphin is the most playful of the bunch. Its core principle is gesture based control and it offers a very different way to browse the web. It’s our pick for the best web browser on Android, and the iPhone version is just as strong.
The Good: Sidebars, fun Browsing Experience, Webzine Feature
Dolphin is easily the odd-man-out amongst browsers and it’s the only one trying to do something new. For the most part, this comes in the form of using gestures to quickly load up web pages (draw a “T” to go to Twitter, for instance), and browse the app. While that’s Dolphin’s main selling point, it still has a lot of other great features.
One of the the best is the webzine format that works similar to Flipboard and makes browsing your favorite sites a little more fun. It also has a great sidebar function where you can quickly glance at your bookmarks and history without fumbling around.
One of the great things about the Android version of Dolphin is the add-ons. These mini-extensions can do the same sorts of things you do with extensions on your desktop, but on your mobile browser. The iPhone version doesn’t get these.
Dolphin is also a different looking browser that takes a little getting used to. Hand your phone over to a friend and they’ll probably be a bit confused if you give them Dolphin instead of Safari. Still, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and once you do it’s a fun way to browse the web.
Who It’s Good For: Anyone Looking for a Different Way to Browse
Dolphin has a lot of fun features and the gestures make it an enjoyable browser to use for pretty much anybody. That said, it doesn’t have a lot of really powerful features or options. It can do a lot of the things the other browsers can, and it’s certainly the most original on this list. If you want a new way to browse the web and interact with your web browser, Dolphin is for you.
Atomic Web Browser
The Good: Tons of Options, Settings, Browsing Modes
Atomic has a ton of options and settings that we’re not going to list off here. Our favorites include ad block, Dropbox support, and the ability to download files. You can customize Atomic in a lot of ways as well. You can set up themes, turn features on or off, and even configure your own gestures.
It’s also a less weighty browser that doesn’t keep junk around you don’t want. You can automatically delete cookies, clear history, and clear out autofill directly from the app itself. Basically, you can make Atomic into your favorite browser if you’re willing to play around with the settings a bit.
The Bad: It’s a Little Ugly
We didn’t have a lot of complaints when we picked Atomic for our favorite iPhone browser and we still don’t now. It certainly isn’t the prettiest to look at of all the options, but the interface is functional and works well. It’s a little overwhelming to use at first because of all the various settings, but once you get used to Atomic it’s a terrific browser. You can grab a free version, but the full-featured Atomic Browser is $1, making it the only browser on this list you have to pay for.
Who It’s Good For: Power Users Who Like Options
Atomic is all about options. You can easily change nearly any setting, drop into private browsing, run in full screen, and even block ads. If you don’t care about syncing to your desktop browser, Atomic is a good bet.
One last thing we should note is if you’re jailbroken, you can set any of the above browsers as your default browser with the Browser Changer tweak available in the ModMyI repository. Once you set it up, every link you open from any app will be your browser of choice.
We couldn’t cover every single browser on the iPhone, so if you have an opinion about one we didn’t cover, tell us what you love (and hate) about it.
BY BRENT DIRKS
The tablift is deigned to hold the iPad in a stable and optimal viewing position regardless of how uneven the surface it is resting on. The solution uses four, independently adjustable legs for stability. It also has a low center of gravity to protect from tipping over.
Some of the viewing angles possible with the tablift include sitting, reclining, and lying down. The solution, compatible with all three generations of the iPad, also works as a desktop stand with many configurations.
Here’s a quick introduction video about the project. Click here if you can’t see the video.
I have mixed feelings about the tablift. While I think it looks somewhat useful, it seems like the iPad must be out of a case to operate. And while the folded configuration of the stand is pretty compact, it looks really large unfolded.
In 2005, programmer Henrik Warne developed RSI—repetitive stress injury. Over the course of six months, the condition progressed so severely that he considered a career change. Fortunately, through a combination of actions, he managed to get rid of the pain and fully recover.
Early in 2005 the muscles in my forearms started to hurt. In the beginning it was only a slight irritation, but over the course of six months it gradually got worse, until it was so bad I actually thought I would have to switch careers and stop programming altogether. I realized fairly quickly that I had RSI—Repetitive Stress Injury.
After about a month of pain I went to see a doctor. He thought my joints were inflamed, and gave me anti-inflammatory pills (which did not help). A little later I went to see a specialist, and after some tests he concluded that there was nothing wrong with the nerves in my arm. However, he could not answer how I could get rid of the pain.
I also went to a number of physical therapists, and tried many different exercises (e.g. weight training), as well as acupunture and heat treatment. Nothing helped. It was also pretty clear to me that my problem was something they had not previously encountered.
So I started doing my own research on the web, and tried different things. I read the book “It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! RSI Theory & Therapy for computer Professionals” by Jack Bellis and Suparna Damany, which I thought was pretty good.
I also experimented with many different kinds of mice and keyboards. I found that theGoldtouch split keyboard and a gel-filled wrist rest works well for me. The split (and angled) keyboard allows my hands to stay at a more natural angle when typing. The mouse I use is anUllman Penclic Mouse. You hold it like a pen and move it like you move a normal mouse. Since I hold it like I hold a normal pen, I don’t have to turn my hand like I have to when gripping a regular mouse, and this helps a lot.
I also did 10 sessions of rolfing (yes, that’s rolfing, not golfing), which I feel also helped in relieving my muscle pains.
But the biggest part of the solution for me was starting to use a break program that forced me to take regular breaks from typing—before I would program for hours without breaks. At the time I was using Linux, and it was not easy to find a program that worked for Linux. Eventually I found a really great one called WorkPace. I set it up to force me to take micro-pauses for ten seconds every five minutes, and longer breaks (with exercises) every 45 minutes.
A few years ago, when changing jobs, I switched from Linux to Windows, but I kept usingWorkPace. Recently (without changing jobs) I switched to using a Mac, and unfortunately WorkPace is not available for Macs. After some testing I switched to using RSI Guard instead, which is comparable to WorkPace.
I believe that the break-program together with the ergonomic keyboard and mouse really saved me. Over a period of about six months, my problems gradually disappeared, and I can now work without problems.
In the hindsight, it feels pretty obvious that you should treat the cause and not the symptom (just like when fixing bugs). However, none of the doctors and physical therapists I saw realized this. Instead, they were all in one way or another treating the symptoms. This was six and a half years ago, so there may be more awareness today about RSI and computer-related injuries, but you never know.
So my advice is that if you feel any pain when typing, do something about it right away. Don’t ignore it and hope that it will go away by itself, because it most probably won’t. Most people have no problems, and therefore do not pay much attention to ergonomics (why should they—they have no problems). But I was programming for more than ten years without problems, and then it started to happen. It’s called Repetitive Stress Injury for good reason—it is the many repetitions of the same movement over many years that cause the problems.
In my case, the combination of a break program, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse made all the difference—without that, I would probably not be programming today.
The AudioQuest DragonFly is a USB-powered (it doesn’t use batteries or an external power supply) digital-to-analog converter. I usually need some time to get a handle on the sound of a component, but within minutes of plugging in the tiny $249 DAC I knew exactly what made it so special. It sounds clear and clean, so there’s less standing between the music and my ears.
The DragonFly is a bona fide Audio component, designed by Gordon Rankin, a man known in audiophile circles as a great tube electronics engineer, but Rankin is also a computer audio guy. He’s one of the few DAC designers with equal depth of knowledge in analog and digital audio technology.
The DragonFly uses an ESS Sabre DAC, a high-performance chip more typically found in higher-end CD and Blu-ray players. The DragonFly works with MP3s and CD-standard 16-bit/44KHz to 24-bit/96KHz file formats. Inside, there are 107 components mounted on a 0.6×1.7-inch four-layer board including regulators and custom capacitors.
The DragonFly was designed with the audiophile in mind, so instead of relying on a digital volume control that might reduce signal resolution and sound quality, the DragonFly’s volume control works in the analog domain for the best sound quality. The analog volume control tracks the movement of the volume slider on your computer. The DragonFly has a 3.5mm output jack.
It can be used with desktop speakers, like my Emotiva Airmotiv 4s, or a component hi-fi system, or it can directly drive headphones. I tried it all three ways, and the DragonFly’s stunning resolution was always a joy to listen to.
To put the DragonFly’s performance in context I compared it first with the Halide Design DS DAC ($295) that I raved about earlier this year. The DS DAC has a softer and richer sonic balance, which I still like, but the DragonFly’s sound is clearer and more precise. bass is tighter and better defined. Listening over the Airmotiv 4 speakers, the DragonFly’s more expansive stereo image floats freer of the speakers than it does with the DS DAC.
The DragonFly trounced the DS DAC, but how would it fare in a shootout with the $495 Halide Design DAC HD? The DragonFly didn’t win that one; the DAC HD had more bass and sounded more dynamically alive, and had better overall tonality. The stereo image was even bigger, and still had razor-sharp detail. When you hear a truly great DAC, like the DAC HD, on a desktop system, you’re a giant step closer to the sound of a first rate high-end hi-fi.
At first I was less happy with the DragonFly’s sound when I listened to it as a headphone amp. I plugged in the Audio Technica ATH M50 and Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones, and found the DragonFly’s sound lightweight. Bass oomph was lacking, which overemphasized midrange and treble frequencies. Then I popped on my Velodyne vPulse in-ears, and the DragonFly sounded positively awesome! My JH-13 custom-molded in-ears were also fantastic, so all I can say for now is the Dragonfly might not be a great match with some full-size headsets. We’ll see.
Granted, it’s a $249 desktop DAC, so you can’t really expect it to be a giant killer on every application, but the DragonFly still has a lot going for it.
The cube tube works to prevent spills when carrying a full tray of water to the freezer. It also makes it easy to drop the ice into a beverage. Simply fill up the tube, insert the divider, seal and freeze. After the ice cubes are frozen, hit the flexible bottom of the tube against a hard surface to loosen the ice up, and you’re good to go.
Don’t be sh*t out of luck when a huge disaster or emergency strikes and causes an electricaloutage…which is exactly what Sun Flare Systems hopes to avoid with their SOS in a Box: a totally portable (and ultra-high efficient) solar power generator. It can produce up to 800-2,500 Watts of household electricity on demand for when an emergency strikes. the patent-pendngsolar powered backup generator system provides instant solar electrical power in any outage or disaster so you have a virtually endless supply of electricity.
The kit consists of three main components that work together to create a very efficient home power plant, including the generator backup, high efficiency solar panel(s)s and the charge controller. The solar kit works better than any gas generator because in an emergency, gas stations can’t pump gas without electricity, so it’s a waste of a generator! Even a few gallons stored in a gas can means a little electricity for a little while before it gives out, which won’t happen with a solar kit like this.
The Sun Flare Systems SOS in a Box comes in four different models that all provide reliable power when you need it most. Their lowest model is the Marine RV Line for $1,080 that provides 75 Watts of PV power with 25amp MPPT charge controller, with external battery terminals for those consumers who already have their own battery systems and inverters. Their Economy Line sells for $1,348 and features 75 Watts of PV power complete with 800 Watt 110/120 60hz power inverter, 25amp MPPT charge controller, all built in with a 18Amph battery for lite overnight power use. The Commercial Grade is $2,248 and provides double the PVsolar power at 150Watts, 1000watt 110/120 60hz inverter, 25amp MPPT charge controller, and with an increased 36Amph battery, but it’s their Military Grade version that’ll provide the best quality! Price isn’t listed, which means it’s probably pretty expensive.
Buying a wi-fi router these days is no easy task. Long gone are the days where one model rose above the rest: now there are routers with different features, some that focus on range, others that focus on speed, and still others with advanced features like NAS support and traffic shaping options. This week we’re going to take a look at five of the best Home wi-fi routers, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which wireless routers you thought were the bestfor customization, range, signal strength, and features. You responded with more nominees than we could feature here, but a few models really rose out of the pack and were your clear favorites. Here they are:
The polls are closed and the votes are counted! To see which of your top five picks took the prize, head over to our weekly hive five followup post to see and discuss the winner!
The venerable Linksys WRT54G has long been one of the most hackable wireless routers on the market, and while they’re a little trickier to come by these days, they’re still widely available and if you can get your hands on one, you won’t find another router that supports both the DD-WRT and Tomatoalternate router firmwares better and more smoothly. Even though it’s an 802.11g model and lacks 802.11n, and the range and speed of some of its more modern rivals, it’s a rock solid router with a well earned fan base. It may be end-of-life from Linksys’ perspective, but they do keep a well-updated support pagededicated to it. There’s a reason this model has its own entry here.
A number of you nominated the Apple Airport Extreme and Airport Express for their simple configuration, minimal design, and remarkably low price point for what you get. It’s not terribly hackable, and you’re not going to buy an Airport model and go home planning to install custom firmware, but you will be able to slip an Airport Express in your pocket or suitcase and be able to set up or extend a wireless network anywhere you go (or plug it into any set of speakers to make them Airplay compatible), and you will be able to set up an Airport Extreme in a matter of minutes and have a cozy dual band 802.11n blanket over your whole house. The Express sports a pair of 10/100 Ethernet ports on the back, and the Extreme boasts four gigabit Ethernet ports for other devices. Both offer USB ports for connected devices like printers or (in the case of the Extreme) NAS devices. If you want a truly fire-and-forget router, the Airport Extreme is a good choice.
Netgear has come a long way, and its N-series (also known by their model numbers, WNDRXXXX) wireless routers are proof. PC Mag issued the N750/WNDR4000 an Editor’s Choice award (and I’m a happy owner of one!) and the N900/WNDR4500 is one of the most powerful and speedy dual-band 802.11n home routers on the market today. Many of Netgear’s N-series routers are compatible with DD-WRT, but even if you’re not the type to flash your router’s firmware, Netgear’s own firmware offers quality-of-service controls, advanced access and parental controls, support for dynamic DNS, advanced wireless security options, and offer support for NAS devices and printers connected via USB. They range in price, and many of the better ones are definitely on the high-end, but in this case you get what you pay for.
You may not think of ASUS when you think of wireless routers, especially if you haven’t purchased a router in several years, but the ASUS RT series, specifically the ASUS RT-N56 and RT-N66 models, combine great features and sharp looks into a networking package that offers dual-band 802.11n, support for connected devices like printers and NAS devices via USB, and some of the strongest signal strength and range available. Plus, most of ASUS’s models support builds of DD-WRT or Tomato, so if you want even more control over the router’s features, it’s readily available to you. The RT-N66 even has detachable antennae that you can swap out for higher-powered versions that you can either buy (like the Mohu Bounce) or build yourself.
When Linksys started to phase out the WRT54G series, they started to direct customers to the E Series—their easy-to-configure (and sharp-looking) replacement models. Every member of the E Series is an 802.11n router, and many of you praised them—specifically the E4200—for their blend of features, simple setup, range and signal strength, and the fact that many of the E-series routers are compatible with DD-WRT, so you can flash the firmware and get even more features once the router is set up the way you like. Linksys’ price point is attractive as well, and even if you opt not to flash the firmware, you can very affordably buy a router that takes moments to set up and needs little maintenance after the fact. It doesn’t hurt that many of Cisco’s routers specifically support household features like VoIP and traffic shaping for things like torrents, putting some relatively advanced features in the hands of people who may have been intimidated by them before.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all out vote to decide the winner!
No honorable mentions this week, as the next one down the line had fewer than half the nominations of the least nominated member of the top five, but if you think your favorite model got shortchanged, let us know why in the comments below! Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email email@example.com!
Photo by nrkbeta.