Good/handy/useful light

One cannot have too many flashlights. When I received this flashlight, it was a little bigger than some of the other flashlights I have. The construction is solid and the light output is solid.

To me what sets this apart is that it has a magnetic base. This is very useful when you need your hands to do something else, such is changing a tire or working with tools. Also this flashlight has a nice led strip in the body, so it can turn into a useful worklight. The strip also doubles as an emergency light, which it has red LED’s there too. The main light is your typical zoom-light and it has a cool light color.

This is a solid flashlight that I would recommend to keep in your home or in the car. I wish it used a 14500 or 18650 battery for a longer runtime/brighter light. But I guess you would lose the convenience of using common readily available AAA batteries.

Smarson Bluetooth LED App Controlled Smart Light Bulb

 

I have to admit, I am impressed with this smart LED bulb.  There is so much I can do with this.  This bulb is a 7watt/60watt equivalent.

As soon as I received the bulb and open the package, it had simple instructions for me to download the app.  I liked the QR Code feature, because I have a qr code reader on my iPhone 6 Plus.  I got the app and installed the light bulb.  It was easy and straight forward.

Once I turned it on, I played with the colors for a while, and was having fun.  The feature I like about this bulb, was the ability to change the white balance.  At stores you have to figure out if you want 2700/3500/5000 color temp bulbs.. But sometimes I might want 3000/6000k color temps.. This bulb gives me the flexibility for that.  I know that this bulb cost more than the simple LED bulbs, but in certain areas I can see it being worthwhile.

The other feature I played with is the microphone and color changing feature.  I can see this being pretty cool at a party, or even behind a TV.  I also played with the camera/LED color response.  This would probably be cool say behind a computer.. If your wallpaper is blue, you could use the picture to set the color of the light.

Overall I am very pleased with this light, that I probably will pick up a few more.  I received this product at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Lumia 1020 to iPhone 6 Plus: 2 week evaluation

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Last summer, I upgraded my phone from the iPhone 4S to the Nokia 1020. The reason why I went with the Lumia 1020 is because of two things. First, I wanted a phone built around a camera. The Lumia 1020 was just that, even today it is considered one of the best smartphone cameras out there. Second, I wanted a bigger screen. The iPhone 5S was a disappointment when the specs were officially announced. Yes it was longer, but the width was the same.

I really enjoyed using my Lumia 1020. I loved the integration between Windows Phone 8.0/8.1 and their apps/social media. But again, the main reason why I switched was because of the camera. Even now I am still impressed with the images I am getting out of the Lumia 1020, especially in low light. To me Nokia (now Microsoft) hit a home run with the camera (and specs). I really wish more mobile phone companies would take note and put better cameras in their phones, especially in their flagship phones.

If I enjoyed the Lumia 1020, why did I switch. Well it was primarily because of the apps/apps development. For the most part, WP 8/8.1 has most of the apps or comparable apps. But the the apps would not be updated as fast or have all the features as their Apple/Android counterparts. Also there were a few specific apps that were not available (and probably would not be available to the WP for some time). The apps that I could not live without for those who really want to know are VSCO Cam, Fujifilm PhotoReceiver (I have a lot of Fuji X cameras and enjoy full tethering to these cameras) and Fuji instax SHARE (for my Fuji instax printer). I am sure there might be others, but those are the primary ones.

Now to my 2 week evaluation of the iPhone 6 Plus compared to my “old” Lumia 1020.

Specifications

Iphone_6_specs_vs_Windows_Phone

The chart above lays out all the hardware specs between the two devices. To me they both performed smoothly. I never experienced any lag/slowdown/etc. Now what I am surprised is that Apple only used 1GB of RAM in both of their devices. I would think they would put 2GB of RAM in their latest and greatest flagship devices. I think all other manufactures are putting 2+GB of RAM in their mid to upper devices. Even my almost 2 year old Lumia 1020 has 2GB of RAM. I like that Apple has different storage options available, even though it’s surprising that they went from 16GB to 64GB and no 32GB offering. When I purchased my Lumia the only option was 32GB which they eventually released a 64GB version.

Display

The Lumia 1020 has 4.5” screen and 1280 x 768 resolution AMOLED screen. To me the 1020 is a great balance between size and readability. I like to read a lot of news, websites, etc. The Lumia 1020 had a wonderful display. The colors were accurate, it was sharp, text looks great and the viewing angles were good.

Now the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5” screen and 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LED screen. Just like the Lumia 1020, the iPhone 6 Plus has a stellar display. It is sharp, viewing angles are fantastic, colors look accurate and the text look great.

Comparing the two smart phones, I feel the iPhone 6 Plus is missing some nice features that I enjoyed with the Lumia 1020, such as glance and Sunlight readability mode. While the iPhone 6 Plus is bright (sometimes to bright), I think the Lumia manages/does a better job with their displays.

Camera

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The specifications for both cameras are listed above.

Let’s start with image quality. Both smartphones deliver pretty good image quality, but the Lumia 1020 exhibits a far superior image quality. The images were sharper, there is more detail and better color reproduction.

Here are some comparison samples from someone who compared both cameras.

http://allaboutwindowsphone.com/features/item/20233_Camera_head_to_head_Nokia_Lumi.php

I know not everything is about image quality. There are other factors such as features, camera speed and apps. The iPhone 6 Plus is fast at taking pictures. I was surprised how fast it was. With Lumia 1020, the picture usually turned out better, it was slow. Also Apple camera app has more consumer-friend features integrated into it. Lumia has some of these features built in, but they are hard to get to. But something I fell in love with the Nokia camera app is their camera’s manual controls, which I used all the time. The last thing worth mentioning is there are more apps developed for Apple. Some of my personal favorites are Snapseed and VSCO Cam. While Microsoft has a few comparable high quality apps, to me it’s not the same.

Low light capability. One thing Lumia excels at is their lowlight ability (with and without flash). Typically I do not like using flash on my smartphones. The Lumia allows me to capture decent images without flash (most likely due to the larger sensor). When I have to use flash, I am always impressed with the Xenon flash on the Lumia 1020. So far I am not really impressed with the two-tone LED flash on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Build Quality

The iPhone 6 Plus has an aluminum body with a front glass layer. It has a fantastic build quality; there is a premium feel to it. The buttons/style feels similar to my wife’s Samsung S4. While I have not experienced any bending, I can see this phone maybe an issue for a few people. Something I have noticed with the iPhone 6 Plus, it feels like it wants to slip out of your hands (without a case). I have to take extra precautions when it is in my hands. I am sure this feeling will wear off in time. I would definably recommend a case for the iPhone 6 Plus..

The Lumia 1020 has always felt solid in my hands. I have dropped that phone on concrete, asphalt, tile, etc.. And still no scratches.

Battery Life

Coming from a iPhone 4S, the Lumia battery life was stellar. The iPhone 4S had to be constantly charged during the day/all the time. Even with a lot of the apps/features that are known to suck up battery life. When I first bought the Lumia 1020 I was amazed how good the battery life was. I could go a day or two without charging and it would still have some battery life left. With the iPhone 6 Plus, I was concerned the larger screen battery life would be okay. But Apple advertises the battery life on the iPhone 6 Plus was one of its features. Well so far the battery life has been great. I know it can go two days without charging with moderate use. Only time will tell if the iPhone 6 Plus battery will still continue to impress.

Conclusion

There are a few things I miss about my Lumia 1020. First I love the interface, you get a more expressive and useful grid of live tiles. These tiles allow you to display lots of information from weather, calendar, emails, rss feeds, etc. You can organize it the way you like and size any tile the way you like. Having these tiles you can get by without launching any apps. Also I love that you can change your tiles or make it transparent. With Apple, you’re stuck with the same old icons and you can only arrange them into the preset gird that apple allows. Also I can add a lot of useful information on my Windows Phone lock screen; with apple you get a clock and today’s date. There is so much wasted real estate. I am sure that (or hope) that Apple allows more freedom in allowing the owners of their products to customize their devices. Well if not, there is always jailbreaking (Which my phone is currently jailbroken).

Also I miss the integration. Everything was access in certain hubs, from photos to social media feeds. Also I like that MS Office documents were native to the Windows Phones. No additional add-ons/apps. I know that Microsoft just released office apps for iOS, but still it relies on additional apps (that take up a lot of space). And just like android, Windows Phones had cool features built into their OS like swipe typing instead of pushing buttons. I know I can install apps to do this, but again it’s not native.

The iPhone 6 Plus is certainly a fantastic smartphone. Of course, it is overhyped as well as I cannot say I am converted 100% as of yet. But would I do it again, yes I would.

Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-1

Fuji SP-1

A few months ago I saw the Fujifilm Instax SP-1 printer. It first, I though.. meh! It looked cool, but decided that my Canon Selphy CP900 was still my best option for a small compact printer (even though I have Windows 8 issues with this printer). Also I was really set on getting the either the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 (which might still one day appear in my collection) or the Polaroid Socialmatic (which now the price has increased and it will not ship until next year).

Because of the Socialmatic news, I decided to order the Fujifilm SP-1. It was a hard decision between the SP-1 and the Mini 90. Well I received my SP-1 last week, and my opinion has changed. I am glad that I ordered this instead of the Mini 90.

The Share SP-1 uses the same film as the Instax Mini range of cameras and runs off two CR2 batteries, so it’s nice and portable. The batteries will allow about 100 images to be printed.

Here is the Instax SP-1 next to my iPhone 4S and Fuji X100 for size comparison. The Fujifilm SP-1 printer is nicely designed, and rounded.  It’s pretty small, and not very heavy, so it would be quite easy to throw this into a bag or large pocket. The buttons are tactile and well positioned.  There is a neat LED battery indicator and an exposure LED counter telling how many prints are left in the cartridge.

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To print images, you will have to either have a camera that can print directly to the Fuji SP-1 (I am waiting for the Fuji X-T1 to have this feature) or use either the iOS or Android app. Currently I am using this with my iPad Air. Basically I get the images on my device and edit them using VSCO or Snapseed. But you can just print directly from the device. It is pretty easy to connect this printer to my iPad. I turn on the SP-1, go into my iPad’s Wi-Fi settings, and connect with the printer. Then I go to the Instax app and select a big “Connect and print” button. Then I just select the images I want to print and that is it. The images come out in about 10-15 seconds. Just like in the Polaroid days, it takes a few minutes for your image to appear on the Instax films.

Fujifilm SP-1

The Instax app also allows you to use images from Facebook or Instagram. There are a few templates, but I have not played with them yet. Also you can put words/descriptions/etc onto your template before you print. Pretty neat.

20140922_205142000_iOSThe print quality is what you would probably expect from an instant camera. The photos are not super sharp, but again neither were Polaroid’s. This is not expected to replace a true photo printer or prints you would get from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, etc.

I can see this printer being used for many groups. First this printer is great with family and friends, or any type of group settings. I can see myself bringing this to my children’s birthday party and being able to print a few images to give to their friends/parents. Also I plan to use these in my home and office. Having these on my office walls so people can see new photos of my family would be great. Also at home having them in scrapbooks like my parents has a nice nostalgic feel.  My 4 year old son loves the prints, from the time it pops out of the SP-1 to the final photo “magically” appearing.

Fuji SP-1

Another group I can see this being useful are photographers. I can see event and wedding photographers being able to hand some nice small prints to brides/parents/etc and seeing the look on their faces would be priceless. I am sure they would be much happier a physical copy of the picture they can show than just seeing a preview on a camera and waiting for the images. I am looking forward in using the SP-1 at some of my upcoming studio shoots. Also travel photographers and street photographers would find this printer useful. I have read a lot of these type of photographers being able to get some awesome shot then being able to print and give their subjects a photo. Here is an example of this.

Cool things I like about the Fujifilm Instax SP-1 Printer:

  • Very quick to connect.
  • Apps are easy to use, and tells you which images you’ve already printed and how many exposures are left in the cartridge.
  • The printer itself tells you via the green LED lights how many exposures are left on the cartridge.
  • The reprint button is useful.
  • Fast Print time, 8-10 seconds.
  • It’s a small portable device.

A couple of things I’d like to see with the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 improve on in the future:

  • The ability to print direct from a Wi-Fi enabled camera (X-T1 for example) would be awesome. Some of their cameras already have this ability. I know Fuji mentioned that upcoming firmware will allow this ability.
  • A better set of templates and editing options in the App.

Overall, the Fujifilm SP-1 is quite a unique and fun little wireless printer. It is portable and works any android and iOS devices. It’s quick to print and the nice small Instax images are great to share with friends and family right on the spot.

You can buy the Fuji Instax SP-1 printer from Amazon for about $150 dollars.

Fujifilm SP-1