Category Archives: Tablet and Accessories

Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Sticky Suction Dashboard & Windshield Mount

Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Mount

The Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Sticky Mount for smartphones and other handheld devices allows you to mount the holder anywhere on a flat surface and hold your phone or device for hands free operation.

Ease of Use, Performance:  4/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy:  4/5

Recommendation:  4/5 Stars

Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Mount

The Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Sticky Suction Mount holds a smartphone on your dashboard or windshield for hands free operation of your phone while driving. The Arkon Suction Mount does a great job of holding a good variety of smartphones and other handheld devices with two sets of feet.

Arkon Slim-Grip Whats in the Box

The Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra holds devices with the four feet that have rubber coated ends and can adjust from about 4 inches to about 7 inches when using the larger feet. The Arkon mount can hold a variety of devices including smartphones and MP3 players as well as car GPS units and smaller tablets.

 

The Arkon Suction Mount holds firm to dashboards and windshields using a sticky suction cup that uses a lever to release and hold it to a flat surface. The arm of the mount is about 3 inches long and uses a knob and teeth to hold it in the position you want.

Android Device in Arkon Mount

The mount itself holds onto the arm using a ball and joint that tightens to lock it in whatever position you want. The ball and joint as well as the adjustable arm allows you to hold your device in a wide variety of positions for a great holder that is easy to use.

 

The feet of the holder allows a variety of sizes while an internal spring holds pressure on your device to hold it in place. The feet all have a pad to hold your device but they also protect your devices from scratching.

Arkon w/ GPS Unit

The suction cup of the mount holds well to smooth and somewhat smooth surfaces like dashboards but it does need to go on a relatively flat surface. I had no problems mounting the Arkon holder on my dashboard and on a wooden box I use as a center console in my minivan.

 

The Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra does a great job of holding devices securely in my vehicle or in various locations around my home on desks and counters. I highly recommend the Arkon Slim-Grip Ultra Sticky Suction Dashboard & Windshield Mount as a great way to hold a wide variety of devices like smartphones and smaller tablets.

ProsSmart Phone Mount in Car

Simple and Easy to Use

Low cost at $25

Cons

Limited from 4 to 7 inches

Slim-Grip Ultra @ Arkon

Incipio feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case for Nexus 7

Incipio feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case for Nexus 7

The Incipio Feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case for the Nexus 7 is a great snap on case for protection of your expensive device that fits well with a rubberized coating to prevent slips.

Ease of Use, Performance: 4/5
Look & Feel: 4/5
Features 4/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Recommendation: 4/5 Stars

Incipio feather Hard Shell Case

The Incipio feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case is a great case to protect your Nexus 7 that has the rubberized coating to prevent slipping while holding the tablet. The Incipio feather case is a great way to protect your Nexus 7 tablet from scratches and drops in a couple of different ways.

Incipio feather Case & Screen Protector

The case itself is made from Incipio’s proprietary Plextonium which is a polycarbonate resin that is flexible yet tough enough to protect your case from scratches and dents. The polycarbonate resin has a smooth but slightly rubberized feel and makes for a great form fitting case.

The Incipio Nexus 7 feather Ultralight Hard Shell Case comes with a clear screen protector that uses tabs on the throw away films that protect the screen protector while placing the protector on the tablet. You simply pull the one film off the screen protector and position the protector on your tablet then pull off the second film that protects the face of the protector after you are sure the protector is in the correct position.

Incipio feather Nexus 7 Case

You can pull off the protector and reposition it but you should try very hard to get it right the first time but I did have to reposition it a few times before I got it right. The tablet case fits up over the sides of the tablet but does leave the shorter sides a little exposed so the screen protector is that added bit of protection.

 

The case itself has the two longer sides that fit over and above the screens surface to give a few millimeters of safety over your screen. The two shorter sides do not come over the front of the screen but do protect the sides of the tablet if dropped and from scratches.

 

The Incipio feather case has cutouts for the USB and audio connections as well as the buttons that are large enough to easily use the various features of the tablet without the case getting in the way. The case has a smooth surface but has a rubberized feel to it that makes a great non slip surface for a good grip on your tablet when carrying and handling it.

Speaker & Connector Slots

The feather Hard Shell Case offers protection for your tablet without getting in the way of using your tablet but you can easily take off the case if you need to. The feather Hard Shell case does make a great protection set for your Nexus 7 and Incipio does sell other feather Ultralight Hard Shell cases for tablets like the iPad and Galaxy.

I highly recommend the Incipio feather Ultralight Hard Shell case for a great way to protect your Nexus 7 tablet for both screen and full device coverage.

Pros
Tough Protection
Rubberized non slip surface
Screen protector included

Cons
Not fully covering body of tablet

Incipio Nexus 7 Hard Shell Case

Nexus 7 feather @ Incipio

Photoshop Touch

Adobe Photoshop Touch

Adobe has brought the Photoshop experience to the handheld devices world with the Photoshop Touch app available for tablet and smartphones with android and Apple editions.

Ease of Use, Performance:  4/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features  5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

photoshop touch

Photoshop Touch is an image editing program for the android based tablets and phones as well as the Apple side of the same devices that is a handy trimmed down version of Photoshop but not by much. Photoshop Touch allows tablet and phone users to edit and perform several basic to advanced editing on images with a version for tablets and a less expensive one for smartphones.

image editing using handheld devices

Photoshop Touch for tablets cost $10 while the smartphone version costs $5 with an easy download from Google Play or the Apple iTunes store with differences in the apps from the smartphone to the tablet versions usually about the devices and not the features. A funny side note to the versions is I was able to install both the tablet and the smartphone versions on a Nexus 7 tablet to compare features and aside from orientation both versions are very similar with outstanding features.

The tutorials that come with the tablet version are not available in the phone version and a few other things are a bit different but you have to really search to find things much different between the versions. The main difference you may notice when picking up both and comparing side by side is the screen which is set for the phone version in portrait while the tablet can be either portrait or landscape.

Photoshop Touch includes layers, all the adjustments for images and a good set of special effects and filters that make the app much more than a simple program and certainly not a watered down version of Photoshop. Photoshop Touch allows you to not only adjust an image using tone, brightness, color and other adjustments with sliders but adding effects using filters for image wide changes to your work.

photoshop tools

The app also has full touch gestures and a few extras like scribble that allows you to edit and use tools with your finger more precisely but zooming will also be an important part of editing. Photoshop Touch works very well for both simple and advanced editing even on the smartphone which you would think was limiting due mainly to size but Adobe handled that well.

Menus and items you are working with will pop up and cover most but not all of your image while slider bars are semitransparent to allow a better view of the adjustment while it’s happening. The filters and adjustments selection pages will cover almost the entire image but you don’t need to see the image while selecting the brightness or tone selections but you have an almost unobstructed view of the image when actually adjusting the various effects.

The image editing software includes all the usual adjustments like crop, clone and layers but you also get full support for the better parts of Photoshop like clone, dodge and burn as well as the Magic Wand and other selection tools. There are four pages of filters with a total of 36 filters for things like glow, colorize and sketch to transform images instantly using a good assortment of the most used and common filters.

photoshopeffects

Photoshop Touch is pretty easy to use and includes some tutorials for the tablet version but help is also available on the phone version if you need it along with online cloud storage with 2 GB free when you buy the app. You can store more images online by paying for additional storage which is all part of the Adobe services you can buy from the company along with the apps themselves but the Cloud storage is purchased through an Adobe account.

Photoshop Touch is great and both versions work extremely well for image editing on the smaller screens of a tablet or phone and I can easily recommend these as the best and only image editing software for tablets and smartphones.

 

Pros:
Easily the most fully featured app for image editing
Versions for tablets, android & iPhones
Tools and menus designed for smaller screen
Features include full use of gestures

Cons:
Layers limited by size of image but well compromised

Photoshop Touch @ Adobe

Photoshop Touch for Tablets @ Google Play

Photoshop Touch for Phones @ Google Play

GoSmart Stylus 200 & 300 Series

GoSmart Stylus 200 & 300 Series

The GoSmart stylus is an unusual but well-designed stylus with a target tip that is Teflon coated to protect your tablet screen but the unique open design tip is where the GoSmart sets itself apart.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features: 5/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

200300seriesstylus

The GoSmart stylus for both the 200 and 300 series are uniquely designed stylus that include an aluminum body with or without magnets to attach to your tablet or other metal surfaces but the tip is what really makes these different. The GoSmart stylus have a unique metal tip that is Teflon coated to protect your screen and is a circle and crosshair design for easily seeing where the exact tip rests on your tablet.

GoSmart 200 & 300 Series Stylus

The crosshair design means you see exactly where the tip of your stylus is at any moment instead of those big fat foam rubber tips that are not as precise for typing and other uses such as drawing and image editing. The tip is on a spring that inserts into the front of the stylus body for an easily replaceable tip that is also available from GoSmart for about $7 while the 200 and 300 series stylus cost about $24 without magnets and $25 with magnets.

The 200 series GoSmart stylus have a plain round body with a plastic colored cap while the 300 series is a tapered body with a rocket fin rubber cap that is also available in a small variety of colors. The caps come in blue, white, red and black while the aluminum body of both series have a nicely textured body for a smooth but comfortable grip on your stylus while using it.

The embedded magnets on the two stylus I received for review are handy for connecting to the side magnets on the iPad tablets to hold the pen or to stick them to steel surfaces like the side of a computer case. I can keep my stylus in handy reach at my desk on the side of the case while the 200 series has the clip on the cap for easy use to clip the stylus on a cover or a pocket.

The 300 series is more of a cute design but if you’re not worried about needing a clip the rocket design is a fun way to approach a stylus but both stylus work equally as well which is fantastic. The tip with its open design allows you to see more of your screen and ensure you are precise when using the stylus which works extremely well for all uses but especially for image editing and drawing.

Tip & Magnet Detail

The Teflon coating ensures you don’t scratch your screen but the GoSmart website does advise using a screen protector to prevent fine scratches which is a good idea to protect your investment. I had no problems using a variety of drawing, sketch and image editing programs like the new Adobe Photoshop Touch tablet image editing program as the stylus worked smoothly but precision is where the main difference can be seen.

Seeing exactly where the tip of the stylus is touching the screen makes image editing and drawing a real ease on your tablet using the precise GoSmart stylus tip design which is easily half the size as traditional foam rubber tips. I highly recommend the GoSmart stylus for precise touch screen use while the 200 or 300 series style is more a personal choice for a professional or a more fun style.

GoSmart Website

GoSmart @ Amazon

Life-Phorm Tablet Stand, Smartphone Stand & Camera Stand

Lethal Protection Life-Phorm Tablet Stand

The Lethal Protection Life-Phorm is a unique tablet stand for use with tablets, smartphones and cameras but simple solutions do not always make for sturdy ways to hold expensive electronics.

Ease of Use, Performance:  3/5

Look & Feel:  3/5
Features  2/5
How much I enjoy 2/5

Recommendation:  2.5/5 Stars

Tablet Stand, Smartphone Stand & Camera Stand

The Life-Phorm by Lethal Protection is a unique stand for tablets, smartphones and even digital cameras but some cautionary use and common sense does come into play when using it. The Life-Phorm is an electronics stand that has six moveable legs that each have three joints so the legs can be adjusted in a variety of configurations.

The base of the stand has a common 1/4 inch threaded bolt and a tightening nut that is easy to use with your hand to secure your electronics or the two metal and rubber coated tablet or smartphone clamp pieces. The clamp holds either a tablet or smartphone using the simple single screw on the back and sliding the clamp pieces against your smartphone or tablet to hold it in place.

The legs all have a screw so you can tighten the leg joints and increase the holding power of each joint and the ends of each leg has a rubber coated hook for holding onto surfaces and uneven objects. The stand can only be used about six inches above a surface so the Life-Phorm does not take the place of more traditional camera tripods.

Tablet Stand Life-Phorm

The Life-Phorm can be used in a lot of varied situations and odd places but the stand should have some kind of tension to hold tablets as I am just not confident enough that it held my tablet well enough. The stand does not use tension to hold the tablet or smartphone so it can slide out the side when working with the stand trying to place it on odd situations.

Unlike some stands that use some kind of tensioned or spring loaded clamp the Life-Phorm simply uses the clamps with the main screw holding them together so the tablet is not held in secure enough. I would be hesitant to secure my iPad tablet that costs several hundred dollars in the Life-Phorm and then hang it in a tree using the clamps that only hold the tablet with the single connection point and no tension.

The Life-Phorm does hold my PlayBook or Next5 tablet but only in portrait view with the clamp only being long enough to hold the longer side of the tablet and not the shorter side. The clamps one piece does have a hinge and opens to about 8 inches to increase the length of the one piece but for some tablets you are out of luck to hold your tablet in the landscape view.

The Life-Phorm is a great concept but a little more design and engineering would have made the device a more secure way to hold your expensive electronics. The Life-Phorm can be used to hold digital cameras but the box shows some disturbing pictures like the camcorder being held to the windscreen of a boat or the iPhone on the handlebars of a bike.

Tablet Stand on Shelf

The Life-Phorm makes a nice way to prop up your tablet or smartphone in some odd situations like on a piano or on a shelf in my kitchen but there is no way I’m trusting a stand like this with my expensive camcorder other than setting it on a table. The stand works well but for the price of about $50 I think it should have some sort of tension clamping system instead of just two clamps that slide together and hold the tablet between their curved ends.

The stand works well enough for a digital camera in a few situations but I found very little use for it while out for a convention recently other than as a stand to prop up my tablet. The Life-Phorm does hold my DSLR securely for taking shots from a table or hanging from the back of a chair but I really am not trusting this stand to hold my thousand dollar camera on the side of a tree.

If you have the money to spare and have found that you just need a stand for your tablet, smartphone, DSLR or point and shoot-camera for odd situations the Life-Phorm may just be what you’re looking for. I just cannot see spending the money on this as it just does not hold my tablet securely enough for the odd situations I was interested in or in the orientation I wanted.

Tablet Stand Life-Phorm with DSLR

The Life-Phorm may fit some situations for some devices but I am looking elsewhere for an all in one stand and DSLR holder that is more secure for my expensive electronics. I just cannot recommend the Life-Phorm unless you have a specific situation in mind with it that holds your device in the orientation you need.

Life Phorm @ Lethal Protection

Life Phorm @ Amazon

Incipio Premium KICKSTAND and Inscribe Executive Stylus

Incipio Premium KICKSTAND PlayBook Case

The Incipio Premium KICKSTAND makes the perfect tablet case for the BlackBerry PlayBook no matter the use and the Inscribe Executive Stylus is the perfect match for use as both pen and stylus.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features  5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total:  4.5/5 Stars

Tablet Case Incipio Premium KICKSTAND and Inscribe Executive Stylus

 

Now that my work is done with the PlayBook I move on to all those accessories and gadgets that come with owning a tablet and Incipio is the first stop for a fantastic case and stylus. The Incipio Premium KICKSTAND has a tough nylon covering for the harder interior that protects the tablet while the tri-fold design and grooved base allows for a hands free stand.

The Incipio KICKSTAND is an excellent case for the PlayBook and is a bit larger all around for good protection with six hold down clips that are part of the back piece for a good way to secure the tablet. The tri-fold design allows the PlayBook to be used while holding with a simple flip open cover or the next opening allows you to form a triangle to set the bottom edge in a slotted groove.

Incipio KICKSTAND

The KICKSTAND has three sides of the tri-fold with the piece with the clips made form a solid plastic while the other two sides seem to be cardboard inside the leather and nylon materials. The three sides all are sewn together and have the plastic or cardboard for rigidity and the one interior section is flat while the two outer pieces are slightly padded for protection.

The front section has a low spot along its length for the elastic band that is part of the back section and is used to secure the cover while not in use but you can use the tablet for music or charging with the cover on. The sides are open but the cover does overhang the sides giving protection to the tablet inside with the clips being on two of the open sides for more protection.

The KICKSTAND is easy to insert your PlayBook into with the clips bending enough to slip the tablet in or you can set the bottom of the tablet into the bottom clips and then snap the tablet down into the top clips then sliding the tablet into the side clips. This motion is actually longer in describing than actually doing and I have found that using the KICKSTAND is actually very simple and easy with all its features.

Back of KICKSTAND

The back cover has a solid plastic grommet used for a hole for the back facing lens while the inner section of the trifold simply has a hole cut in it for the camera to peek through. You can use the tablet upside down in the case but the camera will be covered but I found this worked well when wanting to use the tablet and connect it to my PC for power.

Using the KICKSTAND with the PlayBook so the camera is lined up with the holes also puts the power connector and USB connection on the bottom but when wanting to use the case as a stand and plug in your tablet simply means turning it around. The PlayBook can be oriented in any direction as the home screen rotates so using the tablet with the power and USB connections up works easily.

The KICKSTAND is solidly made and has been the case I have been using with the tablet when taking it anywhere like my First Lego League practice sessions where I use it for video and pictures. The Incipio case makes a great way to protect the tablet as well as use it for a stand while watching videos or just general use when connected to my computer for hands free operation.

Incipio Scribe Stylus Pen

The KICKSTAND holds the tablet at one of two angles and does not slide around when using the touch screen with either my finger or my Incipio Inscribe Stylus which is also a fantastic tool to use with the PlayBook. The Inscribe Executive Stylus is a two in one tool for use with a tablet and is made specifically for capacitive touch screens that is a great writing instrument.

The pen and stylus are at opposite ends with the stylus tip always being ready while the pen is your normal twist out tip that can easily be replaced when the pen cartridge is empty. The pen cartridge is the same used in Parker pens and many generic pens so you can find refills at office supply stores and even Wal-Mart for easy replacement of the pen cartridge.

The Inscribe Executive comes in Red and Black with the ink being black but you can get different colors of ink cartridges if you would like but the black ink is just fine for me and the pen really is a nice quality one.  The pen handles well and when using the tablet stylus you get smooth control from the tip without the smudges or lack of precise pointing that fingers have.

I really like the pen and stylus that gives you the best of both a writing utensil and the stylus that tablets and smartphones require and can easily recommend the Incipio Inscribe Executive Stylus & Pen as a great tool for use with any smartphone or tablet.  The Inscribe Executive makes a great addition to the Incipio Premium KICKSTAND for the PlayBook and both makes a great set for use with the tablet and can be found at the Incipio website, Amazon and other stores websites like Wal-Mart.

The Incipio Premium KICKSTAND costs about $30 while the Incipio Executive Stylus & Pen costs about $25 for a great set that I can easily recommend for your BlayBook.

Incipio Website

BlackBerry PlayBook

PlayBook Review

The BlackBerry PlayBook deserves a second look as an affordable tablet with enough under that capacitive touch screen in the way of hardware to compete against some of those better brands of tablets but a simple option may mar this reviewers recommendation.

Ease of Use, Performance:  1/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features  4/5
How much I enjoy 2/5

Total:  3/5 Stars

BlackBerry PlayBook

Research In Motion or RIM as many have become fond of saying has released a new update in software to their PlayBook tablet and I have the fun task of reviewing this device and its newest operating system release. The PlayBook was first released in April of 2011 and has gone through a few updates in its proprietary operating system but the latest major update brought quite a few new changes.

I did not know much about the tablet and probably receive it because of this new software release but the tablet itself is a nice piece of hardware with its large 1080P video playback capable screen in the 7 inch display. The PlayBook has a lot of features under the hood with available 1 or 1.5 Gigahertz dual core processors depending on the cellular or Wi-Fi only version and comes with 16 to 64 gigabytes of storage.

The 1024 by 600 display is very clear and a great capacitive touch screen that is easily the best tablet device I have reviewed to date but one small feature in its software mars a recommendation, but more on that later. The playbook has its own app world direct from RIM with a wide selection of apps available directly from their App store but you can also use Android based apps with a simple conversion.

There are a lot of apps and games available and companies are constantly reformatting their Android based apps to fit onto the Blackberry system but even then you’re not limited to waiting for them to move to the new system. Apps are merely needing a simple switch to a new format with some tinkering to the settings in order to get most of them to work on the PlayBook so many android apps can simply be converted using an online website for use on your PlayBook.

BlackBerry Playbook Whats in the Box

The PlayBook is very similar to other tablets and even with a different operating system many apps can still work on it with the simple conversion but the main deciding factor is not in your control when dealing with apps. Some Android apps work and others don’t so if there is a specific one you want or need you may be out of luck but I did find plenty of apps to keep the tablet at the center of my interest.

The PlayBook has all the usual hardware you would expect from a more than budget friendly device with a 3.5 mm audio connection near the corner of the same side that the power, volume up and down buttons and a play pause button are.  The power, HDMI and dock connections are on the side opposite from the buttons but it is hard to say what side of this device is the top or side as the orientation can be any which way.

The tablet does something internally that some other tablets do not with the home screen along with many other screens rotating depending on how your tablet is oriented which is a nice feature. I know that many tablets do and don’ have this feature but it is these little things that often make one device more of a pleasure to use but another feature does mar this when it comes to basic usage and even affects the operating system and apps.

I wanted to use the tablet as a security monitor using the Logitech security app that allows me to browse my security cameras on the tablet but a feature of the tablet brought the use of the PlayBook as a security monitor to an end. The screen timeout is only adjustable to a five minute setting and that is the upper limit that you can leave it on without touching the screen or an app keeping it on.

Connections and Controls

Many apps and even native ones from RIM have the feature taken into account and have some part of their app making the screen active but some do not and even ones that are part of the operating system like the update. I found this out when an update came out during the review and I tried updating the tablet with the newest release only to have the tablet go to sleep and pause the update in the middle somewhere.

After five minutes the tablet went to sleep and continued the download when I woke it up from its nap, this was an update from the company and the update was actually paused because I did not reach over and touch the screen to keep it awake. Playing music has no effect on this but when I tried watching my security cameras the screen goes black and the program halts so the tablet is useless for many functions like a desktop clock and calendar.

You either need to find an app to keep the screen awake which I refuse to actually bother with or worse pay for one as I see this as part of the system and RIM should just add the choice to the already available menu options for screen timeout. I asked at the BlackBerry forums, RIM support and the Public Relations Manager I was dealing with for the review and did not get more than a cursory answer to my question.

I simply asked with so many customers on their forum wanting the unlimited timeout why the company does not simply add it but one response was that the company is concerned about screen burn in which was the only answer that made even a lick of sense. Other answers where simply the development team appreciates your feedback and future updates are in the works like the BlackBerry 10 release coming out next year but specifically no mention that the unlimited timeout feature will be added.

PlayBook Desktop Software

I asked in my last email specifically if an executive will give an answer on this as a manager may not have the authority to and we shall see where this question goes as I am sure to update this product in the future as more features become available. I just find it hard to believe and it seems to me that the company is saying that whatever features are here is what we have to deal with and it does not seem to be a big issue with the company.

I can just see a presentation in some conference room and a business suited person at the head of the table showing off his charts or whatever from his tablet and having his wristwatch set to beep every four minutes and forty five seconds to remind him to touch his tablet. While this may seem farfetched I did ask on the forums and one reply said that they had bought the PlayBook for work presentations and he cannot use it for this as the screen timeout interferes with his presentation and just makes him look bad.

Web browsing with support for H264 high definition videos and playing movies to an external monitor or TV screen becomes much less a bonus set of features when the device turns off after five minutes of use unless the app keeps it awake. For many apps this is not an issue like watching video with that external monitor or TV screen connected to the micro HDMI connect as the tablets screen shuts off during playback anyway.

But try to set your tablet as a desk clock and calendar and be ready for a disappointment but some apps will keep the device awake while others won’t, it really depends on the app and what it has been designed to do. This one feature trumps many of the best features I have seen as several times I have come across a use for the tablet that is knocked out of the water by the screen timeout and it gets frustrating to not get a real answer on this issue from the powers that be at RIM.

Other features that are excellent and can sway the decision for many about buying the PlayBook include the nice 3 megapixel and 5 megapixel cameras with 1080P video that works very well and the easily managed apps when using more than one. The general use of the PlayBook really is nice with simple gestures to close apps, go from one to the next when multiple apps are open and even go to settings for each app while the app is open makes a convincing argument for a purchase.

Moving files and syncing with your computer for music and movies works well with the program on your computer and it keeps things handy with one place to go to not only move files back and forth but to backup your PlayBook settings and apps. I am very impressed with a lot of aspects of the PlayBook and will continue to tinker with it as I find the tablet easy to use and quit handy for a lot of uses but I always wind up coming back to the one problem that keeps popping up.

I have been trying some cooking lately as I received a set of cookware and I was using the PlayBook as a recipe book with a recipe open on a website, I had to awaken or swipe the face of the tablet to continue cooking as the screen timeout would kick in. This one feature makes the BlackBerry PlayBook not a recommendation by me as it just does not work as an all-around tablet when you have to either keep waking the thing up or count on an app to keep it awake.

I will continue to try and find the answer of why RIM does not allow users to set what timeout they want instead of being hobbled and having to choose what RIM thinks is best for their product. I just hate to see a good choice in a tablet get so downgraded due to one simple issue and cannot understand why the company does not allow users to decide on their own.

PlayBook @ BlackBerry

Updates on the PlayBook

Video of PlayBook in Use

BlackBerry PlayBook Updates

BlackBerry PlayBook Screen Timeout Issues

Good News, the development team at RIM for the PlayBook has added a never dim functionality, this is the same as the screen timeout according to the RIM Public Relations Manager, to a future update for the PlayBook so the tablet will not go to sleep after only five minutes. This was a major problem with the device but when it does get included in the software I willhave no problem recommending the PlayBook as an affordable tablet with great features and especially useful user gestures and app control.

I have also asked a reviewer who is using the current BlackBerry 10 OS if this update allows users to choose an unlimited timeout in the release that is currently out as I would very much like to know this. If anyone knows if BlackBerry 10 OS allows users to choose an unlimited timeout for the screen in the menu choice or elsewhere int he software please email me about it and I will add it to my review.

I have not heard anything recently but I am hoping that OS 10 is going to include the settings to allow users to set the screen timeout to what they want instead of limiting it to five minutes.

BlackBerry PlayBook

 

BlackBerry Website

MG Android Gaming System

PlayMG Handheld Gaming Device

The MG Android Gaming System is a first of its kind Android based handheld gaming system that uses the Google Play market as its source for games in an Android device that allows kids and parents to game wherever they want.

Ease of Use, Performance:  4.5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features  5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total:  5/5 Stars

MG Handheld Android Gaming System

PlayMG brings a new gaming system to the market with the MG which is a simple handheld Android gaming system that uses Google Play as its gaming and apps store. The MG is a simple design much like many popular Android phones and is close in specs for the size and screen of my Samsung Galaxy Stellar smartphone but the MG is not a smartphone.

The MG comes with the handheld device, an 8 GB micro SD card and instructions for both using the handheld android gaming device and how to set up purchasing accounts for youth and monitoring. The device does not come with yet another power adapter or cord as they figure you probably have one of those lying around but you can add one to your purchase for a reasonable price.

The PlayMG handheld gaming system costs about $149 currently from their site and comes with $10 of preloaded games and a $10 deal when you start the MasterCard SpendSmart card where PlayMG will match the first $10 your load onto the device. The MG does come with a few dozen games but you can spend weeks just checking out the free ones before you even worry about buying any unless you have some specific ones of interest.

The MG does look like a smartphone but it has no cell phone hardware so you connect to the internet over your Wi-Fi connection to download games and apps from the Google Play Store. The MG also has a micro USB connection to charge and connect to your computer so you can easily transfer large files without tying up your Wi-Fi connection or draining the battery.

MG Whats in the Box

The Android based system works well and I have had no problems with my prelaunch model that a simple reset did not solve but you can also use the Google backup service to ensure all your kids games are easily recovered. The MG has a single core processor and plenty of memory for the casual and even first person shooters I tried and no game or app had any problems.

The system did lock up once on me while working with the settings but a simple reset by holding the screen brightness and volume down buttons reset the device and got things working properly without having to reload or change anything. The MG has a volume up and down button, a power button, screen brightness button and onscreen buttons for home, back and menu functions.

The internal battery is an 1880 mAh battery that gives about 3.75 hours of real play time or can be set to standby for 4+ days according to the company. I found this to be pretty accurate in my real world conditions but plugging it in when not in use is a good idea so you have it ready when you want it.

The MG has a few perks that cellphones don’t have in the kid friendly way you buy games and allows parents to load money into an account that kids can spend at their leisure. MasterCard has a youth or teen spending system called SpendSmart that limits spending and monitors activity of the account by parents to help kids with budgeting and responsibility.

SD Card Slot Under Back Cover

PlayMG has set up a system with MasterCard that allows you to load money onto the device and kids can spend what they want but only what you load so when that money is gone the kids don’t spend your life savings on games. This fiscal responsibility is a great way for kids to learn how to budget money but other features of the system also help parents with time management for their kids.

The gaming system uses what they have dubbed Family Collaboration which also has a spending account on the system that comes from MasterCard that alerts parents about kids spending. This system requires you to receive a MasterCard debit card in your teens name but it also has the protection of a regular debit card from a major credit card company and integrates into your Google play account.

The account will lock out spending other than the MasterCard debit card and shows on screen how much the account has for spending using the MG Family Collaboration app. Angry Birds Star Wars, Wreck-it Ralph and other popular games are now available on a handheld gaming system that you don’t have to worry about your kids spending too much on or making phone calls you can’t afford or don’t know about.

The MG allows parents to give kids the same games they have on their phone but in a way that teaches kids to spend money wisely and give parents peace of mind. Parents can receive emails weekly about spending, time spent on the device and what exactly they have downloaded to keep track of their kid’s activities on the MG system.

Google Play on the MG

The MG works well as a teaching tool that kids will understand and learn from if you want to use it but you can also not use the account and notice system and use the MG as a regular Android gaming system. The MG has a 1 Ghz CPU with 1,024 MB of system Ram and 4 gigabytes of internal storage along with an additional 8 gigabytes of storage on the included 8 GB micro SD card for additional space.

You can store a lot of games, books and music but not that many movies will fit but you can watch movies and videos either directly that you download or through the browser. The MG works just like an Android based smart phone without the cell phones ability to make phone calls and it uses a regular Android 4 system and the Google Play market.

The Gorilla Glass 4 inch touch screen means no need to worry about protecting the device like some less expensive cell phones and the device also has the 1.3 megapixel camera for use in games and apps as well as taking quick snapshots. I have also used the MG with a few apps but this is limited to apps that do not use Bluetooth or the phone but you can surf the internet over a Wi-Fi connection and do things like use the device with apps like finance or mail.

You can set up a Gmail account on the MG and use apps to keep your budget and many other things so the MG is not a kid’s only gaming system if you want a quick way to keep and play games without having to tie up your smartphone. I have successfully used a Logitech security system app to view my Logitech home security system on the MG so the system work well enough to view live video streaming over my network.

The MG also has a 3.5 mm audio connection for use as a music player with your favorite set of headphones or external speakers for a better listening experience but the MG speakers do work well enough for gaming.  I much prefer the better clarity that headsets give and the loop on the top makes a great way to securely carry the device on a lanyard or strap.

The MG does have a lot of features and is a great handheld gaming system that I would seriously consider a contender for the future of handheld gaming against those companies like Nintendo and Sony. The MG makes a great way to teach kids money smarts and a way to get back your phone so you can enjoy some of the games you bought for yourself without worry about your kids calling China by accident.

I highly recommend the MG by PlayMG as a fantastic handheld gaming system that has more uses and much more flexibility than those other gaming specific systems. PlayMG will also be coming out with cases, value bundles and more soon so check out their site and remember them for your upcoming gift giving needs.

PlayMG Website