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Entries in bluetooth (4)

Is the iRig BlueBoard the One We've Been Waiting For?

After being announced back in January at NAMM by IK Multimedia, the iRig BlueBoard was released a few weeks ago and we think this is probably the solution guitarists have been waiting for.   

For a long time we have been extolling the iOS Amp Simulation apps as a viable, more portable, alternative for gigging/recording musicians and we think iRig's BlueBoard takes a big leap closer to that reality (and it also works with your Mac!).

Switching it up (and down)

One of the most essential requirements of any guitarist's pedal board is the ability to switch effects on-the-fly and, to be honest, this was the least practical element of using a touch device in a live situation.  

Changing effects just before a solo in a darkened room was a hit-and-miss affair at best, especially when trying to quickly switch from a rhythm to a solo sound.

We haven't been able to try it ourselves yet, but we are hopeful that the BlueBoard, as seen in the video above, will enable us to do this with any MIDI compatible iPad app, including GarageBand, AmpKit, JamUp as well as all of IK's own apps.  

Likes and dislikes

We like the small and portable sizing that makes it likely to slip into a cables bag. The adjustable backlit pedals are going to be really useful in a live situation and we are fond of the blue too.

If we were being picky, the pedals themselves look a bit small, especially if you tend to wear clodhopper boots on stage.  We would have liked twice as many footswitches really (e.g. one row to switch Banks and another row for the effects switching) but the BlueBoard may have been less portable with 8.  

As it is, with some forethought into the patch setup and ordering of the Banks plus the use of one or two external expression pedals, e.g. a Wah, this will suit most guitarists.

Bluetooth 4.0 is supposed to be more efficient but we are not sure how long a set of 4 AAAs are going to last, although they should see you through at least a few gigs if not several more.

What do you think?

Are you a guitarist or other musician looking to use Amp Sims or iPad Instrument apps live?  Would you use the iRig BlueBoard in your live or studio performances?  Let us know in the comments what you think.

Kickstarter Project: Zooka iPad Bluetooth Speaker Bar (and Carry Handle)

This is the Zooka Wireless Speaker Bar for iPad, a new Kickstarter project, which has already hit its $25,000 funding target.

So why are we telling you about it if it has already been funded? Well, we like the clever design and thinking that has gone into the Zooka, it looks like a product we would use and it hits our creative buttons.

Sounds good?

But the Zooka also attempts to address one of the few concerns we have about the current iPad models; poor sound output through the built-in speaker. We can't tell how good it will sound from the video, but they have some good expertise behind the project.

We also like the fact that you can use the Zooka as a carry handle for the iPad and the soft silicone will be kind to your desk or any other surface you decide to rest it on.

Other uses

Got a laptop as well? The Zooka should fit over the open lid, there's even a little cutout for your built-in iSight/webcam.

Zooka on a laptop - Image from Zooka Kickstarter page

No Bluetooth on your laptop? Not a problem, there is a 3.5mm jack on the back of the Zooka.

Got other Bluetooth audio devices like the iPhone? The Zooka currently supports Bluetooth V2.1 so you can stream audio to it from most devices (perfect for taking on holiday with you).

As you'll see from the video, the Zooka angles your iPad so you can use it as a typing stand too. It doesn't look like you can use it stood up to watch movies though, like you can with the Smart Cover, which is a shame.

Colourful choices

You can get the Zooka in a range of colours, and they seem to be thinking about adding more colours as they move towards the first Production run in September, from the comments.

Zooka colour range - Image from Zooka Kickstarter Page

The price

Unless you were one of the fortunate first 50 backers (who got the Zooka for $59) you will have to pay $89 for your Zooka if you order it before the Kickstarter Project finishes and $99 for the full retail price after that. International Shipping is $20 on top.

We thought this was a little high to be honest, until we did a Google shopping search for 'portable bluetooth speakers' and, considering the functionality (including the carry handle and laptop fitting), it is not an outrageous price at all, in fact it seems quite reasonable. 

If you have the extra cash though and fancy a limited edition glow in the dark version, that'll set you back $149, but it is cool.

Zooka 'Glow in the dark' version - Image from Zooka Kickstarter page

If you want to know more then you can get full details, updates and pictures over on the Zooka Kickstarter page.

Feel free let us know what you think of the Zooka in the comments below.

Jorno - An iPad Keyboard In Your Pocket

Image Courtesy of and Copyright Cervantes Mobile LLCThere seems to be a rash of Bluetooth portable keyboard based products at the moment, most incorporated into some kind of folio type of case.

Pocketable

As you will see from the video below, the Bluetooth enabled Jorno from Cervantes Mobile takes a different approach by offering a foldable keyboard like those we used to see for PDAs like the Palm Pilot. It has been designed to work with most mobile devices that support Bluetooth 2.1.

iPad Stand

But the key feature of the Jorno that caught our attention is the integrated and detachable stand which is strong enough to hold our favourite take-everywhere computing device (yes, the iPad!). This is shown in the video and makes the Jorno an interesting proposition for us.

Image Courtesy of and Copyright Cervantes Mobile LLC

Advantage Over Portfolio Cases

The problem, as we see it, with some of the folio type cases with integrated keyboards is there are going to be plenty of times (perhaps the majority) when you want to use your iPad without a keyboard and you would have to keep taking it out of the case or try and manage a keyboard flapping about and getting in your way.

So a keyboard with 'proper' keys that folds down into a very small size when you don't need it so you can drop it in your bag when on the move (or large enough trouser pockets but that might cause some unsightly bulges) is a nice compromise.

A Word on Pricing

The problem here is the price: $99 seems a tad steep in our opinion, especially as you will be buying this in addition to some sort of case for your iPad, but if you still want one you can pre-order now for a 'Spring 2011' release (so sometime soon hopefully), and July in the UK.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you think the Jorno is worth the price and/or something you would use.

A Real Page Turner

We mentioned a few weeks ago the sheet music, page turning, app Masterdaelion that required both an iPad and an iPhone paired together, but what if you haven't got an iPhone? AirTurn have another solution for you.

The AirTurn BT-105 is being launched this coming Tuesday 16th November. It is a little black box with a Bluetooth transmitter that you can place on the floor and connect it to one or two foot switches.

The box basically sends a signal to your iPad that equates to 'Page Up' (Left foot switch) to move back to the previous sheet or 'Page Down' (Right foot switch) to move on to the next sheet. It can be used with apps that allow you to read sheet music in PDF format as well as guitar or other instrument tabs.

Ready to roll 

The press release names a few apps it can already work with:

The BT-105 works with a growing number of iPad apps, including forScoreMusicReader, and unrealBook.

but we would expect more apps to enable Bluetooth as this type of accessory becomes more common for the iPad.

Of course, if you are a musician and also have a Bluetooth equipped computer, the BT-105 will work with any app that accepts Page Up / Page Down commands, even PowerPoint, although we are not sure you want to control presentations with your feet, but you could - let us know if you do!

The BT-105 will retail for $69 and you will have to buy foot switches on top of that if you haven't already got them lying around, so it is not the cheapest musician's hardware accessory, but it does serve a niche.

More technical detail can be found on the BT-105 announcement page and the video below demonstrates how it works in practice. Do let us know if you get one of these units, we would love to hear how well it works for you.